From Leaky Dams to Full Lives

The Biblical book of Jeremiah offers a gloomy reflection on spiritual thirst. In Jeremiah 2:13, God shares, “My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and built cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” In short, Jeremiah is saying we are lousy architects of our own lives.  We are only good at making leaky pools.

I grew up in rural Missouri, playing in the woods behind my house. I spent hours in the woods and creeks behind my home, hiking, exploring, playing, shooting, and occasionally building. My friends and I built forts, but we also, from time to time, endeavored to construct a dam. The hope was to turn a section of a trickling creek into a large pool big enough for us to swim and jump into.

The Storms of Life & The Unshakeable Faithfulness of God

This past Friday, I received one of those phone calls you dread taking. It was the call where you look down at your cell phone, see the Caller ID, and immediately know something is very wrong because that person doesn’t usually call, certainly at that time of day. I hesitantly hit accept, said hello, and sure enough, my dad was on the other end telling me that my mom was in the hospital, having suffered a possible stroke.

Many kids, when getting a call like that, would immediately jump in the car and race to visit. That’s certainly what I wanted to do, but I was a thousand miles away (my mom lives near St. Louis). All I could do was pray. So, I prayed, but if I am being honest, I was praying some rather raw prayers.

My mom is 70, which is young but not super young. She recently went through a round of battling cancer – with all the corresponding radiation and chemo – just last year. And now… this? I was praying for God not to let this be too much for her. To give her strength and peace.

But I was also asking, “God, where are you? Why this? Why now? This seems unfair. Did you somehow forget that my mom leads a Bible study and literally teaches people about you? Did you forget that in her downtime, she volunteers to clean her church, your house, each week? To me, at least, my mom is basically a saint, and this is what you let happen to her? Cancer and now a stroke?” Again, the prayers were pretty raw.

Sustaining Success: Eight Ways to Foster the Development of High-Capacity Leaders on Your Team

Most teams are a mix of people with varying amounts of experience, backgrounds, talents, and abilities. While some team members may just be beginning their careers or journey, others may be further along in their development. On my team, we have everything from a teenager working his first part-time job to my pastor and boss with over 50 years of experience in ministry and dozens of people in between. 

Those further along in their leadership journey likely need to be guided differently than those just starting. Team members further along in their development are more likely to be high-capacity leaders. High-capacity leaders can be challenging to manage. They have high expectations for themselves and others, a constant drive for growth, and are impatient with mediocrity. Many times, it is hard to keep them satisfied or even to hold on to them at all. So, what can a leader do to manage a high-capacity leader?

Empowering Success: 10 Ways Leaders Can Support and Lift Up Struggling Team Members

Leadership is tough. One of leadership’s most significant challenges is finding helpful ways to support struggling team members. All teams will have team members face challenges. As leaders, it is our responsibility to come alongside those having trouble and find ways to allow them to grow and thrive.

Lady Helping Younger Lady

But, before we can help a struggling team member, we must first understand what is causing them to struggle. A team member may be having difficulty in their role for many reasons. For example, they may be failing to succeed due to:

Poor organizational skills: Some individuals struggle with just getting their work organized. They are disorganized and have no system in place for managing their responsibilities. This causes them to miss deadlines and fail to complete their work.

Twelve Ways to Invest in Your Staff

Taking the time to invest in those that work and volunteer for you is crucial. There are probably hundreds of ways to invest in people. Here are twelve easy ideas you can use:

  • Appreciate them for who they are, not just what they do.
  • Celebrate and honor their accomplishments.  Even the small things.
  • Encourage them regularly.
  • Model the values you expect them to exhibit.

Quick Tips for Church Computer Safety

Here are some quick tips we ask all our church staff to abide by in order to keep their own, the churchâs, and other people’s data secure. The applications we use are listed (and we believe they are all great), but there are other great apps to use as well.

  • File Storage – Store everything in Dropbox.  It is our backup software.  We can get your stuff back if your computer crashes. Do not keep stuff on your computer hard drive, desktop, or anywhere other than Dropbox.
  • Passwords – Use a secure password management system. Even a secure digital note is better than a sticky note on your desk.  Our recommended password app is 1Password.  Further, use different passwords for all your accounts, so if one is compromised, they are not all compromised.  Change your passwords often.  Use two-factor authentication when available.
  • Accounts – You should be the only one that knows your passwords and has access to your accounts.  If you have a spouse or kids, they cannot know the password to your work account (the computer, your email, church database, etc.).

How to Treat Others Well

Treating others well is something we should all endeavor to do. For those like myself, that work on a church staff, treating others with love and compassion is part of the job. Recently, at my church, we did a staff training on how to treat and respond to others well, and here is what we shared:

Eight Ways to Have a Great Team

Having a great team and team culture doesn’t just happen.  It takes hard work.  There are many things we can do to strengthen our team’s culture, but here are eight that I believe have the largest positive impact:

Have a Compelling Purpose.  If you are just meeting to meet people will simply not make your gathering/group/team a priority.  Most people have lots of things going on in their lives and they make decisions on what they are going to do based on what they perceive has the most value for them.  If you want a great team, with people who are actively engaged, then make sure they understand why you exist.  What is your team’s compelling purpose

Noticing & Finding Missing Sheep

Sheep have a tendency to wander.  When they do any shepherd that is doing their job notices and goes to find them.  Jesus shared a parable about sheep and their shepherds in Luke chapter 15.  In Jesus’ story there is a shepherd that has a hundred sheep and one goes missing.  Jesus, asks about the shepherd, “Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?”  The implied answer is, “yes.” 

This story has an implied answer, but it also implies something else.  Without stating it, the story makes the assumption that the shepherd was paying close enough attention to notice that he was missing one of his sheep.  A hundred sheep isn’t easy to track, but the shepherd in Jesus’ story was diligent and paying close attention.  He was watching to make sure that no sheep wandered off.  He was always counting, and recounting – 97, 98, 99, hey, where did sheep #100 go?!

Today many pastors struggle to keep track of the sheep in their care.  Some are just not putting in the effort, they are not counting, and sheep are wandering off without them even noticing.  Others are trying, but they don’t have the right systems in place to track their sheep effectively.  So, how can pastors better track their sheep, notice when they are missing, and go after them when they are?