Leading Alone

leading alone

There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” (1 Kings‬ ‭19‬:‭9-10 NIV)

Feelings of loneliness are one of the greatest challenges you’ll face in leadership. Often times you’ll be out ahead if your followers and get a sense that you’re out walking by yourself.

Maybe you’ve made an unpopular decision. Maybe you a new. Maybe you’re bad at relationships. Maybe you blurted out something and alienated a bunch of people. Maybe…whatever the cause, you find yourself alone. And honestly, this is a dangerous place to be.

Feelings of isolation and loneliness lead to bad decisions. If you feel along long enough, you eventually begin to believe it.

As leaders, we have an obligation to our followers to maintain and create relationships. Why? So we don’t find ourselves alone. Because when we feel like we are alone, we make bad decisions.

Here are vital relationships to keep up (I left God off the list because HE IS the list–He’s first in life, so listing him at the top becomes redundant.):

1. Family
I’m a firm believer in this order for life GOD – FAMILY – MINISTRY. When you miss this, you cannot have success (longterm) in the Christian life. Family must be a priority. Do you spend time with your kids? Do you date your spouse? How about extended family? FAMILY MATTERS

2. Friends
Do you have any? I’m not talking about the crowd of people at the parties that laugh at your witty jokes. I’m talking about ones that know you beyond a surface level. People that can talk to you about life and ones that can spot when you’re about to derail. You don’t have to have a bunch. I only have 4-5, but you have to have them!

3. Coaches & Mentors
Everybody does better with a coach. Who’s helping you grow? Who’s helping you learn? (By the way, if you’re looking for a coach, shoot me an email, we’ll talk.)

4. Spiritual Authorities
This is a hard one for people in the ministry. Who worries about your walk with God? Who’s your pastor? Is it your ministry supervisor? A spiritual father? Do you even have one? Sometimes we get so busy doing ministry, we forget about our first commitment — being with God. How do pastors walk away from the ministry? How do moral failures happen? When we focus more on doing and less on being, that’s how.

Many feelings of loneliness are often self-inflicted. Did you get hurt? Did you have bad relationships in the past? Did your family not value connection? Issues of intimacy can cause the loneliness.

Interestingly, feelings of loneliness and intimacy issues are one of the biggest reasons people pursue pornography. Why? Because pornography opens a door to a relationship–even if it’s a false one or based entirely in fantasy. We know that women are almost just as deeply entrenched in pornography addiction as men. Which says to me, relationships and true intimacy are in grave danger.

Elijah felt all alone, but he wasn’t. God showed up in a mighty way.

Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” (‭1 Kings 19:18‬ NIV)

You aren’t alone either. God is ready to show you where He is in your life. Focus on the relationships that bring you life and you will find true connection and genuine relationship.

I magically created time!!

creating time     I like to think of myself as a pretty smart guy. (I imagine most of us like to think of ourselves this way…) Occasionally, in my day-to-day working, I learn something I already knew. Many people call that “remembering”, but I think learning or re-learning might be more accurate. And often, the things that are worth remembering are worth re-learning again and again. Last week I had occasion to do just that. I’d like to share it with you.

In my current ministry, I wear many hats. There’s a wide range of things I am responsible for. The great thing about our culture is that very few projects given to an individual require them to be the one to “do” the work. When assigned a task, more often than not, the role of the leader is to make sure the task is done – who does it is not really an issue. This is something I had forgotten.

One of my roles is oversee the communications of the church. Printing, design, website, emails, etc. falls under my portfolio. I’ll let you in on a little secret here: I can be a little “particular” about certain aspects of this role. One of things I have done is kept control of the printing and cutting of the sermon series postcards. Partially because I enjoy the methodical nature of producing a quality piece and partly (primarily) because I didn’t really trust anyone else to do it right (read “my way.”)

Over the last few weeks, that has been an increase in the amount of design and printing needed for the church. So much so, that it was beginning to detract from other areas I needed to focus on. Something had to change, I needed note time! How do you create more times? As Bro Jim always says “Use the time of others.” I had to delegate.

Somethings are easy to delegate, but detailed work is hard for me to give up. I guess I have a low trust level on it. Although, I have an employee who is perfectly suited for this type of work. But I couldn’t just dump it on her. I had the teach her the process and create a few new tools to make sure that the projects would be done that way I wanted them to be accomplished. In doing so, I learned (re-learned/remembered) why many leaders fail to delegate. Some of these were true for me and I imagine they are for you as well.

1. You only delegate when you have to.

Really, delegations should come way before the “I’ve got too much to do, so I need help!” But like Maxwell says, “People change when the pain of not changing is greater than the pain of the change…” Think out further. What tasks are you doing that someone else could do? Are you arranging chairs still? Why? Couldn’t a volunteer do it?

2. You don’t know how to explain what you do.

Intuition is hard to teach. Impossible really. That’s why you have to delegate the right things! Not everything can be delegated, but many things can. What projects are you working on now that someone else could do if you taught them how? I heard a great example of this today. Ted Williams was a great hitter in MLB, but he was an awful hitting coach. One day while trying to teach a young kid how to hit the ball, Ted said “Just watch the seams and you’ll know which way the ball is coming.” The kid responded “You can see the seams?” Intuitive things can’t be delegated, but tasks and projects with clear steps and goals can be. Using the chair example – show a volunteer how to do it right, create a diagram, and then give it away. Create a system that allows someone else to do what you’ve always done.

3. You don’t understand your role.

Jim Wideman is famous for a lot of saying. I could quote you many of them, but one of my favorites (paraphrased here.) “Generals spend time with generals, not deciding who drives the jeep.” Or said another way (also a Brother Jim-ism), “Do what only you can do.” There are certain tasks in your church that only you can do. Then there are tasks that others can do. It is not to imply that certain tasks are beneath you, but certain tasks aren’t your to accomplish. Understanding this appropriately is important. Walking by a piece of trash on the ground because it’s not your job to clean the building is wrong, but that doesn’t mean it’s your job to be the janitor every week either. Finding the right balance is important. There have been times I’ve ended up helping in a class room because the teacher called in or was late, then there have been other times I have asked someone else to do it so I could focus on the right task for me at the time. It’s much like the disciples in Acts 6:

“So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”” (Acts 6:2–4 NIV)

Know your role. What are the things that only you can do?

4. You find your value in the work you do.

This is one of the most dangerous thinking patterns in the church. “If someone else can do it, then they won’t need me anymore.” If we wrap ourselves up in this thinking, we being measuring our worth to the church, volunteers, and God based on the “product.” How many hours did you work this week? How many areas are you involved in? What did you “do” for God this week? Don’t misread this–God wants us to grow His Kingdom and share the Gospel, but our self-worth cannot be wrapped up in productivity.

In his book Soul Keeping, John Ortberg shares a story about an interaction with Dallas Willard. Ortberg asked Willard “What do I need to stay spiritually healthy?” Willard’s response was simple and shocking to Ortberg: “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” That was it. Simple. Don’t be so busy. Don’t rush. When we fail to delegate because we find value in our productivity, we add to the hurry and make spiritual health a difficult task.

So I would encourage you–where are areas you can delegate? What tasks do you need to give up or train someone else to do? What do you need to focus on, but can’t because you are too busy doing something else?




Christian atheists…

Finger     In the era of self-help, one of the greatest challenges that we face is man’s ability to rationalize a way forward. The age of Enlightenment attempted to explain away the necessity of God. This idea can be epitomized by  “I think, therefore I am.”

We face a world full of challenges and issues. Every day each one of us walks through some form of trial of our own. And in our Western, rational mindset, we often trying to find the way forward ourselves. In many ways, the church of today functions no differently than an atheist.

Typically people approach problems with one of two perspectives: who has done this to me? Or what have I done to myself? From this perspective, they then try to proceed forward out of their problem.

It really depends on where they’re starting from for the answers that they seek. They look to external sources such as government assistance, or friends and family. Or if they think it is self-inflicted, they look to how they can improve themselves to change their own circumstances.

This place is no different for the majority of people inside and outside of the church. But the question people ask shouldn’t be who did this to me? Or what did I do to myself? Really it should be how am I trusting in Christ through this?

Moving forward in life isn’t about self-help. Moving forward in life isn’t about self-reliance. Moving forward in life isn’t even about finding the right level of assistance from an outside organization. Moving forward in life is about learning to trust in God. Hebrews 12:2 tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus.

If you think your cleverness, your intelligence, or somebody else’s help is going to be what fixes your situation then you are functioning no different from anything else that doesn’t rely on God as their source their Savior in their salvation. Will God use others? Absolutely!

Is Jesus enough? Even when you don’t have an answer, even when your circumstances are difficult, even when you don’t see a way forward. Is Jesus, without an answer to your problems, sufficient for you?

Emotional Intelligence – Volunteer Training #Leadership #kidmin

Each month I do a training for volunteers in #kidmin. It’s open to whoever wants to come – we are currently covering topics relevant to a leader’s heart.

If you missed the first video (I didn’t record our first session), you can find it here.

In June, I did a training on the importance of Emotional Intelligence.

Here’s the Emotional Intelligence Powerpoint.

For more information about Emotional Intelligence, you can buy the book here: