Holiday Survival Guide

Unknown-3Let’s face it, the frenzy of the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons seem to come earlier and move faster along with a “Christmas Wish” list that grows almost as long as the lines at the mall. Then there are the obligatory events, parties, concerts, fundraisers, year-end meetings, and a new year beckoning for us to be at our visionary and resolved best as leaders.

How do you keep from getting caught up in the merry madness? Here are 5 ways to survive the holidays, maybe even enjoy them again…

1) Declare your intentions now. Talk about your desire to avoid the mayhem this year with your spouse, kids, lead team, co-workers, etc. Ask them for input into how, together, you can avoid the overkill that so often accompanies what one classic song describes as, “The most wonderful time of the year.”

2) Plan on doing (and spending) less and experiencing more. This doesn’t mean taking a page out of the “Christmas with the Cranks” playbook with an all-out boycott. It does mean choosing to say “No” to some otherwise festive events that, collectively, only serve to bring out the “bah-humbug” in all of us. And, why not opt for more thoughtful and less expensive gifts for your loved-ones and friends? This may just start a trend everyone will be grateful for and happy to follow.

3) Eat less, exercise (and sleep) more. Determine to enjoy your favorite holiday foods in moderation and to stay active. And, no, “Black Friday” doesn’t count as aerobic exercise. Get the rest you need by going to bed a little earlier and, when that rare opportunity presents itself, take a “power nap.” Why wait until the New Year to resolve and live healthier?

4) Serve together. What if you gathered your family or small group and traded a day looking for a parking space and standing in crowded lines shopping for an afternoon volunteering at a homeless shelter or evening caroling at a nursing home? Do this with no other agenda than to be a blessing to others.

5) Hit the “pause” button often. No, we can’t always drop everything for several hours. Still, be intentional about some 15-30 minute moments of reflection daily, social media free! Make a list of all the people and the things you are most thankful for. Read the Christmas story (Luke 2) slowly and reflect on what “Immanuel, God with us” really means to you.

You don’t have to settle for merely surviving this Thanksgiving and Christmas season. Determine to take back this holiday season and discover again the true reasons for the season.

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.”

31 Tips for 2016 – #11

Unknown-1Here is Tip #11 for Ministry Leaders in 2016…

Say, “I don’t know” more often.

Just because we are the leader, doesn’t mean we know all the answers. People often come to us with questions because they make two assumptions…  1 – We know the answer and 2 – We understand the question (or the situation) to begin with. The fact is, sometimes we do, and sometimes we don’t.

We need to avoid the temptation to look and sound competent when we simply aren’t. It doesn’t mean we are less of a person or leader, it just means that we are ignorant in the classic sense of the word… sometimes we simply don’t know.

Good leaders don’t give into an arrogance that demands to have all the answers, all of the time. Or, worse, to give the appearance that we do when we know we are clueless. We should be secure enough in who we are and the team that we have around us to admit that the best response to a question that stumps us is, “I don’t know. Let’s see if we can find that out together.” 

Saying “I don’t know” does 3 powerful things…

  1. Encourages a sense of team. No one has all the answers and we need the collective insight of others. No “one man show,” here.
  2. Engages team members. The answer may just be a question or two, a team member or two, away. Ask around and get others involved in the answer or solution. Collaboration is key.
  3. Empowers team members. Those with the answers may/may not be the one’s with the resources the answer requires. Either way, team members are brought around the table and then empowered to see that the question is answered and accompanying need is met. This is something that good leaders will acknowledge and celebrate!

Not feeling the need to have all the answers is liberating. Believe it or not, most people will respect you for it as a leader all the more. Why? Because they know you are no different than them, and they don’t know it all, either.

Grow your team by these three powerful words, “I don’t know.” 

Monday Mindset – “Play ball!”

images-12How do you gather your team and get the week started right?

Often, I send out an email to my lead team on Mondays. It has gone by numerous titles… “Monday Memo,” “Game Plan,” “Ministry Moment,” and most often with a brief Scriptural thought and/or “Leader Lesson” tucked in for good measure. Especially for those who’s staff are bi-vocational or volunteer based, this can be a great way to accomplish several important things.

Consider 7 Things a Monday Memo can do for you!

1) Help you Plan. What needs done? No, your day or week won’t go exactly as planned. However, “Flying by the seat of your pants!” isn’t exactly a long-term winning strategy, either. Also, doing a “To Do” list and keeping it to yourself is like taking the field with only one player. So, gather the whole team around the game plan and “Play ball!”

2) Help you Focus around Priorities. Don’t just get things done, get the right things done. Who do you need to connect with? What needs done so that team members can be released to do what they do?

3) Help you Promote the Vision. You can’t cast your vision loud or long enough. Highlight a value that will promote the greater vision of your ministry or organization.

4) Help you Crunch the Numbers. What’s the score? Where are you in relation to the hard numbers that tell the tale? More times than not, those that bristle against counting the numbers simply don’t like what they reveal about them and their level of productivity (or lack thereof).

5) Help you Celebrate a Win! What has your team done well? Who can you give an “Atta boy!” to? Seize the moment to give a “round of applause” to someone who has modeled a value or simply served with excellence. Create a culture of celebration and increase moral… especially on a Monday!

6) Help you Teach a Truth. What short and simple truth or principle can you remind yourself and your team of? Leaders are life-time learners. Don’t miss this moment to “coach ’em up” as a team!

7) Help you Encourage! Every great team has a pre-game “pep talk!” The great coaches know that speaking to the awesome worth and incredible potential in each team member is HUGE! People will play far above their skill level if they believe that you believe in them… win or lose.

We are reminded by the Apostle Paul about this vital role of leadership in his memo to the church leaders in Thessalonica, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just a in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NIV)

How would you use a Monday Memo to position your team for the day and week ahead? Share your thoughts in the Reply section!