Going Deep: Book Review

“The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.” – Richard Foster

Teaching and training are, and always had been, important keys to revival. However, these important aspects are often overlooked or given a back seat to the charismatic sermon or new program. Why? Because teaching and training are difficult and time-consuming. It takes hours of hard work and dedication; not to mention patience.

“Disciples [deep people] are not manufactured wholesale. They are produced on by one, because someone has taken the pains to discipline, to instruct, and enlighten, to nurture and train one that is younger.” – Oswald Chambers

When we look at the ministry of Jesus Christ on this earth, we see that Jesus method was teaching and training. For many months, the Lords’s disciples watched Him, listened to Him, and tried to emulate Him. It took time and effort and a handful of failures, but eventually the Word, the Gospel, the message of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit finally reached the core of their souls, and were changed to change the world.

In Going Deep, Gordon MacDonald explores how the Church might go about developing deep people today. This book is a follow-up to his story of a New England congregation struggling with unity, Who Stole My Church. In this sequel, the author picks the story back up, focusing this time on cultivation: how to develop new generations of deepening people who will rise to positions of influence in and beyond their congregation and do it in ways that fit the changing realities of our time.

In his celebrated style, Gordon transports the reader to a fictional setting, telling a story that is full of lessons in leadership. He identifies modern challenges to developing people of depth and offers timeless insight on how to cultivate spiritual maturity and exhibit life-altering faith.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in fulfilling 2 Timothy 2:2. “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.combook review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Ingredients of Change

It’s safe to say that leaders lead for change.  Ministers minister for change.  Communicator communicate for change.  The goal is improvement, forward motion, and positive growth.  Whether it is the lost being saved, the children being raised, or the company succeeding; the goal is positive change.

So what are the ingredients of change?  What ingredient of change are you as a leader?

Photo by David Reese

Today’s popular term is Catalyst.  “Be a catalyst for change.”  I understand what someone means when they say this, and I don’t have a problem with it.  But let’s dig a little deeper.  Are we really the Catalyst?

A Catalyst is “a substance that causes or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected” or “something that causes activity between two or more persons or forces without itself being affected.”

Did you catch that?  A catalyst is not affected.  It doesn’t change!  How well can we lead if we stop changing, growing, and improving?

True leaders are reactants; they react to the catalyst.  And it is my hope that my positive reaction will lead to a chain of positive reactions all around me.

So what is the catalyst?  It is that which causes the change but doesn’t change itself.  In terms of ministry the catalyst is God.  It is His Spirit, His Truth, His Love.  Those things never change but they certainly cause a reaction!

Everyone Communicates, Few Connect by John Maxwell

Confession: I read John Maxwell books religiously as a teenager. I bought everyone and read them as quickly as I could, marking the pages until they were a jumbled mess of unrecognizable scribble. Then I stopped. I begin to feel like I was reading the same simple principles over and over and was wasting my time (I was right and wrong.) Everyone Communicates, Few Connect is the first book written by Mr. Maxwell that I have read in several years, and I am glad that I did!

Mr. Maxwell makes a strong case for the distinction between communicating and really connecting. One sentence sums the message of the book up nicely, “Connecting is everything when it comes to communication.” Now, how do we do that? This book is packed full of principles and practices which can be applied at every level of communication; one-on-one, group, and audience.

Whether you are a detail/list person like me, or someone who enjoys stories and illustrations, you will find Everyone Communicates, Few Connect an easy and enjoyable read. And if you study and apply the principles and practices contained in this read, you will be well on your way to really talking instead of just blowing hot air. As you read, you will quickly pick up on your strengths and your weakness for connecting. I was greatly challenged in several areas by this book and I am sure that you will be too.

Thomas Nelson Link

Amazon Link

Disclaimer: Thomas Nelson provided me with a complimentary copy of “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect” by John C.Maxwell. Opinions expressed are my own and not those of Thomas Nelson.

Chick-fil-A Leadercast: Part 4

My posts this week will be completing my “takeaways” from the Chick-fil-A Leadercast Conference 2010 and after that I will be taking a two-week break while I prepare for vacation, enjoy vacation, and recover from vacation!!!  In looking over last week’s posts, I have decided that this week, I want to spend less time telling you what the speakers said and more time telling you what I thought about what they said.  I’m sorry, the speakers said things much more intelligent than you will find written here, but I don’t really feel like retyping my notes anymore!

Speaker #7: John Maxwell – Leadership expert and best-selling author of…lots of books.

I am sure that most of you have heard of Mr. Maxwell and probably read a few of his books.  I started reading his books when I was about twelve years old and I think I have read all of them with the exception of his most recent book Everyone Communicates, Few Connect.  Mr. Maxwell always has a plethora (3 Amigos!) of practical leadership knowledge, and this event was no exception.  He did, however, say one thing that really stuck out to me.

Allow me to paraphrase: “Real leaders aren’t lonely at the top because they do not see themselves as “at the top”.   They are too busy going down to get others and take them up.”

I guess this caught my attention because I have often heard it said, “Leadership is a lonely place.”  And in a certain sense, I think that is true.  But a lot of the loneliness that we may face as leaders is the result of our focus shifting from those that we are leading (not to mention the One that we are following) to ourselves.

This is why I like Philip so much.  Philip was never too worried about himself.  No one really thinks of him when they are thinking of great leaders of the Bible.  But he was one of the greatest.  He was always finding people and bringing them to Jesus.  He was always willing to go where no one else wanted to go.  It was never about him.  It was about those he was leading, and the One they were following.  Philip understood the art of being a first follower.

Are you lonely?  I will let you in on a little secret…so are they!  They are waiting for someone to lead them, someone to go and get them.  There is your cure to loneliness; share the love of Christ!

Chick-fil-A Leadercast: Part 3

Chick-fil-A Leadercast Conference 2010

Speaker #1: Connie Podesta

Speaker #2: Jim Collins

Speaker #3: Tony Dungy

Speaker #4: Mark Sanborn

I have been sharing some of the wonderful nuggets that I received at the Chick-fil-A Leadercast Conference 2010.  I hope you have enjoyed it so far.  This is a great way for me to process my notes and share what I learned.  For this post, I am going to cover two speakers and try to be very brief…enjoy!

Speaker #3: Tony Dungy – Retired head coach for the Indianapolis Colts & Author

A lot of what Mr. Dungy said can be read about in more detail in one of his books; Quiet Strength and Uncommon.  I have read both books and would recommend them, especially to young men.  For the sake of brevity, I would like to share the one thing that Mr. Dungy said that was, for me, the biggest “takeaway” lesson of the whole conference.  It is a poem that one of his  coaches taught him as a young player.

Talent is God-given, be thankful.
Praise is man-given, be humble.
Conceit is self-given, be careful.

My guess would be that we all need to hear one of those three lines about 90% of the time.  Powerful.  Truth.

Speaker #4: Mark Sanborn – Best-selling author of The Fred Factor.

Mr. Sanborn spoke to us about the power and importance of “story” in our lives.  Our lives are full of story and we cannot afford to be passive actors in the story of our life.  We need to understand other’s story.  We need to learn the story of our teams, and understand that leaders don’t just tell a better story, they make the story better!

There are  3 Levels of Story:

1. Stuck – Many people are stuck in their story and they need someone or something to give them a nudge.  They need to be resold on their value and the value of their story.

2. Struggle –  Struggling with your story is not necessarily a bad place to be.  Struggling is how you get unstuck.  Afterall, there would be no heroes, no victors,  if there were no struggles.  People who are at this stage need to be reminded that no one is exempt from struggling.  They may need to have their definition of failure updated as well.   Failure is something that happens to you, not something that defines who you are.

3. Shaped – At this stage we must look for the lesson and the destination.  Ask yourself, “How does my story impact others?”  I may add, “How does my story impact eternity?”

Be a shaper of stories.  How many “Happily Ever Afters” will you be a part of?

Chick-fil-A Leadercast: Part 2

Chick-fil-A Leadercast Conference 2010

Part 1: Connie Podesta

Part 2: Jim Collins

 This is part two of my series of “Takeaways” from the Chick-fil-A Leadercast Conference 2010.  I was so blessed to be able to attend this year.  Here are a few nuggets from the conference’s second speaker.  This post is a little long, but the lessons are very powerful.   I encourage you to read the entire post.

Speaker #2: Jim Collins – Business & Leadership Guru.  Author of Good to Great, How the Mighty Fall, and coauthor of Built to Last.

Jim Collins spoke to us about the lessons that he has learned from studying failure.  Many leadership and business books focus on success but, “the contrast between success and failure always teaches us more than just studying success.”  When you contrast two companies (or individuals) with similar circumstance but different outcomes, you learn a great deal about the importance of choices and character.  We learn that we are not imprisoned by our circumstances, we are freed by our choices!

Collins found that the stages of failure are very similar to the stages of cancer (This speech was taken from Collin’s book, How the Mighty Fall).  The one major difference; cancer is not self-inflicted, failure is.  The five stages of failure are as follows:

1.  Hubris (Outrageous Arrogance) Born of Success – In other words, there is a serious lack of humility.  The difference between a good company and a great company is not leadership; both have great leadership.  The difference is the type of leadership.  Great companies have a leader marked by humility (this is different from weakness).  These leaders are not self-consumed; their concern is for the team.  A company or an individual who does not display this quality is in the first step of decline.

2.  Undisciplined Pursuit of More – A little taste of success results in an unquenchable thirst for more which often leads to overreaching.  It is possible to grow too fast, to take on more that you can handle.  How do you tell if your growth is disciplined?  By following Packard’s Law:  if growth exceed you ability to fill all your key positions with the right people you have went too far.  Why is this?  Because it all starts with having the right people.  Many times in this stage, a lot of growth in a short period of time causes companies to hire people who aren’t really the best fit for the job.  As a result, everything looks good on the outside, but cancer is spreading on the inside!

3.  Denial of Risk and Peril – We have all been here before.  The facts are staring us in the face but we try to excuse them.  The key at this stage is to practice true leadership as defined by Napoleon (this is my favorite definition of leadership); define reality and give hope.

4.  Grasping for Salvation – This is the stage when the fall actually happens.  As the free fall begins, most companies reach out for help.  This may bring some temporary relief but in most cases it is only prolonging the fall.  The evidence of false hopes and undisciplined growth has now made its way to the surface and is visible to everyone.  Remember, most overnight successes took twenty years or more.

5.  Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death – There is not much to say about this final stage.  The End.

 We learn some very important lessons in leadership and growth by looking at this process of a fall.  We learn that we will make many changes but we must not abandon our values (truth).  As we grow and experience success we must preserve the core and at the same time stimulate progress.  Mr. Collins put it best when he married together two very famous speeches; “We hold these truths to be self-evident” goes with “I have a dream”.

My challenge to you, take a moment and consider what these lessons can teach the Church about growth.  Consider what these lessons can teach you as an Individual about growth.  Let’s not make the same mistakes as those who now lay in the graveyard of the once mighty.

Chick-fil-A Leadercast: Part 1

I had the awesome opportunity to take part in the Chik-fil-a Leadercast Conference 2010 this past Friday.  This ten-year-old conference is all about “developing leaders at all levels, positions, and stages.”  This year was my first opportunity to be a part of this great event but I do hope that  it is not my last.  Over the next couple of weeks, I want to share some of the “takeaways” for me on this blog.  I hope that something that challenged me at Leadercast 2010 will challenge you as well.

Speaker #1: Connie Podesta – Expert in the psychology of human behavior and leadership development.

Ms. Podesta challenged us to ask ourselves two questions; (1) Are you proud of the professional choices that you are making right now? (2) Are you proud of the personal choices that you are making right now?

She went on to make the case that there is no separating the personal life from the professional life.  The choices that we make in our personal life have a great impact on our professional life.  As a matter of fact, the choices that you make from the time you “clock out” until the time that you “clock back in” may have more to do with your success than the time that you are “on the clock.”

I was so glad to hear her talk about the importance of being the same person in the workplace that you are in your personal life.  This is something we all struggle with (if we will be honest).  We live in the age of political correctness.  PC gags and handcuffs the Christian in the workplace.  This should not be!  We will never be proud of both our professional and personal choices if they are not guided by the same truths, values, and principles.

Other Takeaways:

Stop trying to make people happy.  There is not a person in  your life that you can make happy!!!  (They need Jesus for that.)

Happiness will come when we (1) are respectful (2) work hard and (3) serve others. 

Happiness is result of doing right things, making right choices, and serving others!

Character is revealed when what you had planned is so far from your current reality that you can hardly breath, this is when you are revealed for who you truly are at the core.

Attitude Trumps Authority

When it comes to leadership, my guess would be that most of you feel inadequate.  You don’t believe that you have what it takes to really be a leader.  Or maybe you feel limited in who, when, and where you can lead and you feel that you have already reached a plateau in your leadership potential.  Or, could it be that you feel like the “low man on the totem pole” at your church, in your ministry, at your school, or on the job – why would they listen to you?

The reason you feel this way is because you, and many others, have confused authority with leadership.  We believe that before we can lead, we have to have authority over those we are leading.  That is, very simply, not the case.  It is possible to lead from the middle, or even the bottom!

Jesus teaches us how to lead.  When it came to leading people, Jesus was much more about attitude that He was about authority.  He had more authority than anybody, but He knew that authority was not the source of true leadership.  Jesus lead with an attitude of a servant.  This is just simply amazing to me, all power was given to Him in Heaven and in Earth, yet He served the sinner!

In doing this, Jesus demonstrated that anyone can be a leader.  We lead by our attitude.  We lead with love.  We lead best when we serve.  So whatever your context may be, don’t believe that you can’t be a leader.  Find a need.  Be a servant.  You are a leader.

Hey, don’t look now, but that person you just served is following you!

Do you have any examples of leading through serving?