leadership, pastors, health

31 Tips for 2016!

Unknown-1Here is Tip #24 for leaders (especially my pastor friends out there!)… Finish What You Started. Which is why I’m including #25-31 practical tips in this post as well…

It’s so easy to get sidetracked, especially for most visionary type leaders. While we may have done a good job planning, prepping, promoting, praying, and more… we are often too quick to move on to what’s next and forget to follow-through and follow-up on what’s already going. Take a deep breath, gather your team and do your due diligence to see that what gets going, gets done.

#25 – Put down that sticky bun and pick up some clean eating habits. Every day (or meal!) can’t be a “cheat day.” Check out the lifestyle options Advocare has to offer. Yes, I use it. No, I’m not a distributor. I am much healthier than I was last year before I started being a steward of this aging body God has loaned me. Cut way down on the carbs (bread, potatoes and “country fried” anything) and load up on the lean meats, fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and nuts.

#26 – Create a standing work station. I use a cafe table that is adjusted high enough to do the trick. You might check out some actual standing desks such as those at Ready Desk. However you do it, don’t just sit there. Stand up, walk around, stay as mobile as possible throughout the day.

#27 – Pray about it. We miss this one constantly. Stop worrying, waiting, planning and plotting and pray for them, it or whatever you are facing. Find some trusted partners to step up, kneel down and pray with and for you. Worry is a waste. Don’t. Do pray vocally, specifically, passionately and constantly.

#28 – Drink half your weight (in ounces) of water every day… or give it a shot, anyway! AND STOP DRINKING THE EMBALMING FLUID KNOWN AS SODA. Take it from a recovering Diet Mountain Dew addict… it’s not doing you any favors. H2O is a large part of the stuff God made us of. Fill your body with it morning, noon and night.

#29 – Stop focusing (obsessing) on those who are against you and your vision. It’s pride masquerading as “concerned” leadership. Pray for them, whoever “they” are, (“Lord, move them up or move them out.”), deal with them in a redemptive but firm way if needed, and then focus on Jesus. Invest in those who are with you and if you must obsess, obsess on getting it done for God’s glory and the good of others.

#30 – Lighten up. Some of the very best advice my dad has given me is this… “Tommy, the world was doing just fine before the two Tom Pelts came along and will do just fine when we are gone.” Ouch… thanks, dad. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Live, laugh, love and lead light.

#31 – Invest in your family! Date your spouse. Put in overtime with your kids. Make family memories and make no apologies for it. In all of the deathbed conversations I have been privileged to take part in, not one person has lamented not making more money, gaining more position and power, or spending more hours at work. I have, however, heard many wish they could have done more for Christ and with their families.

Take nothing for granted and lead with a grounded sense of gratitude to the Lord for the privilege to learn from and lead with others! There you have it… 31 Tips for Leaders in 2016. Got your own tips? Add them to the discussion thread below!



Do you preach like Ted?

images-4Hey, pastors! Who do you preach like? Whether you are stylistically from the “big pulpit, suit-wearing, finger-pointing, fire & brimstone” or the “real, relaxed and relevant” schools of preaching (or somewhere in between), I hope you enjoy the parody found at the link below. This one pokes fun at the modern “Ted Talk” style communicator that has clearly influenced many pastors today. And, here are a few simple thoughts on communicating while you’re at it…

Preach like YOU. While all should be grounded in His content, I doubt seriously that even Jesus wants you to preach like Jesus. We don’t even know what that sounded like. Over the years I secretly wanted to communicate just like my dad (the teacher), then my father-in-law (the evangelist) in my 20’s, and then others like Andy Stanley in my 30’s. The problem is, people can always see through this more times than not. Thankfully, sounding like me and being OK with it has been a big relief for the last 10 years. Hopefully it has made me a better, if not more authentic, communicator. It only took 20 years to figure this one out!

We all have influencers and this is not only normal, but often good. However, find your voice, your style, your rhythm and be comfortable with it. Ask others who know you (and a few that don’t) to help you with this and keep you honest.

Know your audience. While you don’t want to change your voice (accent) or even language in an obvious over-attempt to be relevant (like some modern politicians), you do want to understand a little bit about the demographic you are communicating with. How do they learn? What are their likes and dislikes? What is happening in their part of the world? What is important to them?

Add a little “shortening.” This was my father-in-law’s kind way of telling me to cut down on the content early in my ministry. I’m still working on this one. The wisdom of Shakespeare still proves true today, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” This is one of many positive takeaways from the “Ted Talk” style of communication.

In simple terms, be true to God’s Word and true to who He has created you to be as a communicator of His Gospel.

Ted Talk Parody  by “This is That”

Looking for something even better than TED? Check out “Q” at qideas


Why Your Church Should Invest in Young Leaders

IMG_7323Why should you and your church invest in young leaders? Whether college age or 20 somethings, volunteers, interns, part or full-time, here are 4 reasons why you should make partnering with young leaders a priority…

1) You are investing in them. The challenge they face is this… ministries post positions but require or “prefer” 3 or 5 years experience. Yet, not everyone wants to give them the chance. This is more than discouraging to many young people I have spoken to. They are eager to answer their unique callings into ministry but hit the experience “wall” time and again. My advice for your church… INVEST! You be the ministry that gives them a shot.

Jiaan&Katelyn2) You are investing in your ministry. Young leaders bring an energy and enthusiasm that is a “shot in the arm” for any lead team and church family. The young leaders we have purposed to partner with over the years have done this and so much more! Sure, they will make some mistakes along the way. Who hasn’t? Who doesn’t? Still, they bring fresh ideas and creative perspectives to the table, especially concerning how to reach their generation for Christ.

3) You are investing in yourself. Fair warning… you and your more seasoned team may just be the ones who gain experience and insight into life and ministry. While it may be all too familiar, 1 Timothy 4:12 applies well here… “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 

4) You are investing in the kingdom of Christ! If you are worried about young people coming, gaining experience and then leaving… your fears may be justified, especially if you are a smaller congregation. However, if you see your role as a mentoring church in the BIG PICTURE of fulfilling the Great Commission, then it is a privilege to do so. Give them a shot. Help them grow. Learn and grow from them and then launch them into new realms of influence for Jesus! Who knows, maybe one will stick around and serve long-term? You won’t know until you try. Either way, it’s about what’s best for Christ and expanding His kingdom in your community..

NickMaryNellThe rewards far outweigh the risks when it comes to partnering with young leaders. They are not the church’s future… they are the kingdom now. And, they are waiting. INVEST!

Leading at Elevation Part 3

IMG_7330You’ve reached your goal, pulled off that event, launched that initiative and otherwise climbed that mountain as a team. Congratulations! Enjoy the view. Take in the moment. Give God glory and thank those who helped you get there. Now, how do you get down? What do you do with the fact that more than 2/3 of all injuries and deaths on peaks such as Mt. Everest happen on the descent?

Here are 4 suggestions for leading well on the way down…

Plan and prepare for coming down well before going up. Talk as a team about what it will look like after the goal is reached or event is over. What will it mean to the overall organization and the leadership team? What do you hope to accomplish and learn? What about the more practical matters… do we come down the same way we went up? Who will clean-up, tear-down, pack-up and otherwise “leave no trace” in order for the next expedition to launch? Don’t be caught off-guard by over-looking the age-old axiom… “What goes up, must come down.”

Take your time. Gravity has a way of encouraging a rapid descent. Resist the temptation to rush down and move on to the next “big thing.” You went up as a team, now come down as one. Watch your step. Be sure to monitor the descent… how is everyone doing along the way? What was their view from the “top?” How are they feeling as they come off the “high?” Divers know this reality in reverse as they explore the depths of the ocean… you can surface too quickly and become very ill, even die if you don’t take your time, giving your body time to adjust at every change in depth.

Leave no trace. If you packed it in, pack it out. Consider how your success will impact other teams, goals, events or initiatives. Talk about this with your team and other teams. Don’t clutter the route that others will be traveling and spaces others will be using. Do your part to clear the way, leave it as you found it or improve it when possible by cleaning up any other messes that may have been made by you or anyone else.

Unpack (and repack) together. Finally, debrief intentionally. Gather shortly after everyone has made it off the mountain. Ask questions, a lot of questions. Then, gain perspectives. Did we accomplish what we set out to accomplish? What went well? What didn’t? What surprises were there? What caught us off-guard or unprepared? How do we improve? How do all of these lessons help us pack for the next trip together?

Reaching great heights as a team is only half the journey. Come down off that mountain as well or better as you gained it’s summit and enjoyed it’s views.


UnknownConnecting with people rarely just “happens.” The best of relationships take purpose and practice!

Use the CONNECT 1-2-3 worksheet to help focus you (and your small group’s) desire to connect with others for Jesus Christ. The concept is simple…

Connect with 1 person who isn’t connected to Jesus. People who are searching for Jesus are all around us. They may or may not know it yet, but He is the answer. Fortunately, we know He is the way, truth and life. Begin to pray for and purpose to connect with them for Christ. Show a genuine interest in them, their families, their hobbies, hopes and hurts. Invite them to join you in a small group, maybe even worship or other event soon. Most importantly, tell them about your own journey of faith in Jesus.

Reconnect with 2 people you have lost contact with. There is no “auto pilot” for healthy relationships. Life happens and, when it does, things aren’t the first things to suffer. Relationships must be purposed. It may be a little awkward at first. However, they may be waiting and wondering themselves, “What happened?” Be honest. Keep it simple. Call them. Text them… get together soon for coffee to catch up. Whatever you do, be intentional about reconnecting with them and encouraging them in Christ.

Encourage 3 people who need it. People have either just been, are, or are about to go through something that will leave them in need of a friend. Be that friend! We are reminded in Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” 

Finally, pray for those “divine appointments” and be as ready as you are grateful for every opportunity God brings you to build relationships that connect people with the Lord Jesus Christ! There are no “chance meetings” for the follower of Jesus.

Get your free pdf here Connect123

Check out the Free Resources page for more downloads including the CONNECT Guide example for guiding people from guest to engaged member!

6 Ways to Help Your Pastor Preach

images-3Do you want your pastor to preach better, deeper, more relevant, maybe even faster? Good luck with that last one! And, who even knows what “better” means? Still, you can be sure that most pastors genuinely hope to continue to grow as a communicator of God’s Word. This is where you come in! Consider 6 things you can do to help your pastor grow as an effective preacher and teacher of God’s Word…

Give them time. While pastors should be disciplined not to rely on the old “Saturday night special” (and blaming the Holy Spirit for it!), they should also be given ample time to prepare daily. Partner with them to carve out some specific time, preferably early in the week (maybe Monday-Wednesday, 8am-noon), for sermon prep. Make sure this is understood by the congregation and that exceptions are truly the exception. Great sermons aren’t simply downloadable or come via inspiration in between hospital and home visits.

Give them space. Is the church pastor’s office really conducive to hearing from God, going deep in His Word, and weaving in real-world application? It very well may be. Still, consider encouraging them to get out (local coffee shop, park, etc) to avoid what can be the “rut” of weekly study. Inspire creativity and even collaboration by encouraging them to get out there.

Give them resources. Do they have a “book allowance” or “professional expense?” Staying up and well-read on what God is doing and saying in the world (both secular and sacred) is vital to communicating well. Two great resources are LOGOS Bible software and Right Now Media. These are both amazing resources for insight and inspiration for all of your church leadership. Consider them as investments, not as expenses.

Give them a break! This an “insider’s tip.” Anytime before or immediately after preaching is NOT the time to bring up the leak in the nursery bathroom or ask them if they can remember to visit your neighbor’s bankers aunt with a hang nail. Are these really pastoral duties, anyway… or duties you and others are just as “called” and maybe even better skilled to perform? Regardless, your pastor needs to be focused solely on communicating God’s Word when it’s time to do so. If they find themselves in conversation with anyone, may I recommend first-time guests? Keep your pastor in “the zone” before and after they preach or teach.

Give them grace. It isn’t easy to hit a home run every week. If your pastor is being true to God’s Word and doing their best to communicate it well… then encourage, encourage, encourage! Besides, what is was a “swing and miss” to you, may have been a “home run” to someone else. That’s just how the Spirit works. Besides, not every message is all about us.

Finally, pray for them. We saved the best for last. If you want your pastor to preach more effectively, pray for them more fervently! Pray for them emotionally, physically, relationally… for their spouse, kids, etc. Pray they will hear from the Lord, gain greater insight into God’s will and Word. How about praying for them to grow as a Christ-follower themselves? The enemy does all he can to distract and discourage your pastor and lead team. Guard them with the power of your prayers! Gather others to pray over them with you throughout the week and before/after they deliver a message to you and others.

Help your pastor preach, teach and lead in the example of God’s Word!

When They Just Don’t Get It

imagesWhat do you do when people don’t get it? You’ve prayed, visioned, planned, packaged and promoted it as a team, but still people aren’t getting the message, let alone getting on board. What’s your next move?

Here are 7 Questions to ask when they don’t get it…

1 – Did we say it simply enough? We may have gathered next-level leaders and detailed a strategic plan for whatever our next big thing is. However, if we can’t communicate it in simple terms, people won’t get behind it. How can they? Complicated is not what people need more of. Less is more when it comes to most visions, messages, and the best-laid plans. Don’t dumb it down. Just keep it simple.

2 – Did we say it long enough? Just because we said it once, doesn’t mean everyone heard it, won’t make it go viral, and won’t automatically spark mass revival. It takes time for most visions and messages to sink in. They may not have gotten the message… yet!

3 – Did we say it often enough? Sometimes even when we know where the fish are, we still have to cast and recast to get them to bite. People are busy and, believe it or not, aren’t focused solely on your agenda. Shocking, I know. Communicate what’s important to your organization through multiple platforms on a consistent basis for greater impact.

4 – Did we say it creative enough? Keep your bait fresh, maybe change the color of your lure or depth of your line? Let others join you in saying it with you or even say it for you. Gather creative people and draw from the successful strategies of others as you seek to motivate people to get the same message, at the same time and move towards a shared goal.

5 – Our we leading by example? Sometimes people can’t hear our message because our actions (or inactions) are speaking too loud. If we aren’t living it, we can forget it. No one can join us in something we are merely talking about. Actions speak louder than words. Lead it by living it.

6 – Is it the right thing? Could we have gotten to this point and, yet, overlooked this little detail? Yes. We simply don’t always get it right. Perhaps we put on blinders and we are the ones not getting the message? Sometimes we “swing and miss” when it comes to everything from a point in a message or speech, a principle for leadership practice, an event or initiative, maybe our methodology or even target audience? Consider that, from time to time, we need to be the one to change not merely what is said and how we say it, but what we are doing or where we are going with it. Maybe it was the right thing at one time, but here and now, it isn’t? Be as willing to change as you challenge others to be.

7 – Maybe they simply don’t want it? We should never jump to this conclusion quickly. Still, after patiently and passionately attempting all of the above, only to find that the fish just aren’t biting and your fellow anglers aren’t really into fishing with you… it may be time to change locations. Please, whatever you do, don’t stop fishing! Perhaps you may need to find another spot, fish a different way and/or go after a different kind of fish? You won’t know until you try. However, make sure you have “fished out” the hole you are in first and that the One who called you to be “fishers of men” is leading the way.

The most important message is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. More than “getting it,” people need to give up and be gotten by it, by Him. Above all, let’s make sure we live and lead this message as Christian leaders.


Lead like there is no “it.”

images-13“If I could just find it, that one thing that will turn this thing around!” We’ve all wished this, maybe even dropped everything and focused on finding “it” or “pulling it off” in hopes that “it” will be the thing that helps us break through and take things to the next level, never to return. Here’s a reality check for all of us, there is no “it.”

Here are 4 ways to Lead like there is no “it…”

1) Get “it” out of your own head. Life and leadership are a process. It is faith, hard work, risk, creativity, passion and perseverance… all wrapped up in the amazing grace of the Lord. Stop with the tunnel vision that has you hanging your hopes on any one thing to create success for you and your organization.

2) Stop saying “it.” Be careful over-promising and under-delivering when it comes to that “next big thing” you’ve got going. By all means, plan, pray and promote it with enthusiasm. However, be careful not to give the impression that any one event or initiative will make or break your vision. This is rarely the case.

3) Get passionate about it. Embrace the process with great excitement. Enjoy the journey and celebrate the little wins along the way with others. Talk about your ongoing goals, your mistakes and outright blunders, as well as areas you hope to grow in together over the next quarter or year.

4) Find another and another “it”. Always be planning on and for something that will help you BE better as a team at realizing your vision. As John Maxwell has challenged, “Leaders see first and see farther.” 

The real “it” is the culture that you are creating and the lives you are transforming. For ministry leaders this is all about making disciples who make disciples of Jesus Christ, and this is anything but a “one and done” proposition. It is a process of learning, growing, believing, trying, failing, resting, trying again, and again and again.

Let’s do this! Let’s lead like there is no “it.”

5 Focuses For Aging Leaders

images-11If you are a leader who recognizes they aren’t as young as they used to be, yet hope to invest in Christ’s kingdom more than ever, this post is for you. Here are 5 Focuses For Aging Leaders…

1) Focus on going and growing. Sure, you’ve been around a little more than most, but you haven’t seen it all, let alone learned or experienced it. Dig even deeper into God’s Word. Practice prayer as never before. Read the latest stuff and refresh yourself on the classics. Go to conferences. Audit a class. Stay curious. Take some risks. Ask more questions. Whatever you do, never stop going and growing. You’ve got some kingdom adventure left in you yet!

2) Focus on keeping up. The message you preach is timeless, how you communicate it isn’t. Each generation learns, leads, gathers and grows in a slightly or even significantly different way than the previous. Ignore this and, while your message may remain constant, your methods may cause some of that message to get “lost in translation.” Keep up, not to be “in” but, rather, informed as to how the emerging generations develop their world view. No, don’t try to be something or someone you aren’t. Do be mindful of how people are processing the eternally lifesaving message you are communicating. Need some place to start? Check out Relevant Magazine for some challenging perspectives.

3) Focus on encouraging others. You aren’t the only leader a little unsure about who they are or how much they are contributing. Gather with others who share the same stage in life with you and process it together. Pour your hearts out and laugh your heads off. Get down in the dumps and lift each other up. Don’t isolate. The reclusive “sage” is more the fool if they keep themselves and all God has graciously given to themselves. Find some friends, young or old, and encourage, encourage, encourage!

4) Focus on passing it up. The realities of aging demand you become selective. Anything new you say “YES” to will mean a qualitative and quantitative “NO” to something you are already investing in. Learn to say “NO” to more so that the things, or more importantly, the people you say “YES” to get the very best of your investment.

5) Focus on passing it on. What have you learned (the hard way!)? How can your experiences serve to encourage and equip those coming behind you? It’s past time to pass it on. Whether one on one or with a group, purpose to share what God has done in and through you and your ministry… the good, the bad and the ugly (especially the ugly).  Paul challenged Timothy with this concept. He said, “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Timothy 2:1-2)

You are meant to count more than ever for Christ and His kingdom! Embrace each stage of the journey in life and leadership. Focus on how you can invest more than ever in bringing glory to God and the good of others.

31 Tips for 2016 – #23

Here is Tip #23 for Ministry Leaders in 2016…

“We don’t just teach. We awaken.” – unknown

This is the motto of a High School I often substitute teach for. More than just a slogan, this particular school seems to mean it and apply it with purpose. This results in a student body that, although still kids, seems to possess an above average sense of discipline, drive character and creativity. How does the leadership of this school awaken students to learning (their vision or preferred outcome) and how can it be applied to your ministry or organization?

Here are 6 Ways to Awaken your team to your vision…

1) Say it. Don’t leave your vision unspoken or assumed. Speak it, write it… and repeat it with conviction and creativity. Don’t let competing visions drown yours out and take things in another direction.

2) Create environments that encourage it. In other words, create an environment of encouragement. Challenge and question almost as much as you come alongside, cheer and champion those leading and serving with you. Create forums (roundtables, retreats, etc) and get away to visit other organizations to gather creative ideas and inspire all in pursuit of your vision.

3) Provide resources that facilitate it. Determine to provide the best tools available to your team leaders and members to serve with excellence. This may take time. Cast your vision to others with the means who are looking to invest in ministries like yours and then ask them to give in generous support. Keep them informed as to the return on their investment in changed lives. Equip with the same level of excellence you expect out of yourself and your team.

4) Give opportunity to practice it. If your teams don’t have opportunity to live out your vision, its just writing on the wall. Make failure an option. Take some risks and chances together and keep a sense of humor as you err on the side of action in the pursuit of your vision.

5) Hold everyone responsible for it. Set the bar high and then hold everyone, especially yourself, to a high level of accountability. Provide clear goals and benchmarks and then review progress often. Find out whats working, what isn’t and how to improve together.

6) Celebrate! Recognize both individuals and the team as your strive together towards your long-term vision and short-term goals. Do this in an annual event and in smaller celebrations throughout the year. For example, create a volunteer and/or staff member of the week/month award and promote in all of your online and print media.

Lead beyond information. Awaken and inspire as you pursue your calling and promote your vision daily as a team of world-changers for Christ!