Beat March Madness

March Madness isn’t just a basketball tournament. For pastors, it’s the annual (and sometimes exhausting) ritual of getting ready for and playing at our best during “The Big Dance” known as the Easter Season.

Let’s face it, the pressure to

perform is on.

If we aren’t careful, it can get the best of even the most seasoned veterans.

How do you avoid this as a leader?

For too long it has been a disturbing badge of honor to live and lead by “burning the candle at both ends.” While there are days when we have to get up early and stay up late to get it done, this shouldn’t be the indefinite lifestyle of a healthy leader.

Here’s Tip #1 – Get more sleep!

The truth is, when someone is perpetually exhausted, eventually there are poor life and leadership choices being made.

“Rest isn’t weakness.” – Carey Nieuwhof

Find out more at

We’ve all been there when we haven’t gotten enough zzzz’s. We get “cranky,” and our creativity decreases along with our attention span. Poor eating and drinking choices increase as we try to get more energy in all the wrong ways when what we need is more “shut-eye.” 

Not convinced? Check out this link to a great article on the correlation between rest and productivity by Michael Hyatt – Why People Who Sleep Longer Achieve More

It’s simple. If we want to be at our best for the Lord, our families, lead teams and the people we serve, then we must choose to be well-rested.

We might even take an elusive “power-nap” every now and then.

New York Times best-selling author and all around life and leadership guru Jon Acuff challenges us…

“In a world that praises busyness,

rest is an act of bravery.” 

Refuse to live and lead exhausted. Don’t give into the March Madness of ministry during any season. 


7 Great Things About Tension (and how to leverage it)

images-24Too much tension in your life? Are you stressed out as a leader in your home, ministry or business? Could we be adding to the pressure by the notion that there shouldn’t be any?

Here are 5 Great Things About Tension and how to leverage it…

1) It means your living. Have you ever heard someone described this way, “They look so peaceful…?” I have. And, every time it has been at a funeral. A little tension is a good sign that your organization has a pulse. Let it rise every now and then. Remember, an arrow only flies fast and hits it’s mark through the tension of the bow, the string and the steady aim of the archer.

2) It holds things up. From our shower curtain rods to our undergarments… tension is a good thing, a very good thing! Tension in our ministries also serves to keep the standards high as our leaders and teams feel the positive pressure to serve with excellence in attitude and action.

3) It keeps things moving. Remember when you had to wind up a toy to make it go? It was the tension in the coil or spring that “loaded” and then was released to make the car race or the plane fly. The same principle applies to your core teams. Complacency is avoided as we allow just the right amount of tension to keep us wound up and ready to go!

4) It holds things together. With all the tech available to us today, sometimes you just need a rubber band. Why? It holds stuff together. How? Tension. Allow the tensions you and your team are feeling to hold you closer together as you refuse to scatter and go your own ways.

5) It bridges the gaps. The tension you are experiencing rarely boils down to things. Relationships experience constant give and take and push and pull of tension. Instead of allowing it to pull you apart through knee-jerk reactions and ongoing drama, build a bridge. Some of the strongest and most beautiful bridges are structured by and for tension. Millions cross safely because the tension is managed and leveraged to everyone’s advantage. Take away the tension and it all comes crashing down.

6) It keeps you talking. The only things worse than people talking about tension, is when no one is talking about it. Leverage the tension you and your team are feeling to fuel real conversations. What are we stressing over? What can be done about it? Who can we partner with? How can we re-think what we are doing? Why are we doing this, again? Does it move us forward towards our vision or is it wasted, lateral motion?

7) It keeps you praying. That tension you are feeling is your “cue” for prayer. Elisha and his servant were more than feeling the heat as they found themselves literally surrounded by the enemy. “Oh, no, my Lord! What shall we do?’ ‘Don’t be afraid,’ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.'” (2 Kings 6:15-17, NIV) His servant’s eyes were opened to reveal an army of angels surrounding those who only thought they had them surrounded.

Pray as a leader. Pray as a family. Pray as a team. Pray as a congregation. Instead of letting tension spin us into cycles of negativity and doubt, let it drive us to our knees to tap into God’s greater wisdom and power. No, He may not always show up immediately and make it all better. His plan is usually much greater than that. Discover through pressure driven prayer how God can use you and your team more effectively to carry out the mission He has given you. (Elisha and his servant chose mercy and both nations found peace!)

How do you leverage tension to strengthen your ministry or organization? How can it motivate us to be better servants? Share your thoughts below in the Reply section…


The Power of Pace


Do you remember “The Tortious and the Hare?” If you’re like me you have a tendency to increase pace as the day or week goes on and the “To Do” list lengthens. However, slowing our pace may just actually increase our productivity in the long run. More importantly, it will increase the quality of what does matter, our relationships with those around us.

Here are 5 Ways to Pace Ourselves as leaders…

1) Make that “To Do” list and put, “Slow Down!” at the top. Making this list and keeping it current will help decrease your anxiety about not getting (or forgetting!) things done.

2) Tell someone about your effort to pace yourself. Give them permission to pull you over for “speeding.”

3) “Take 5.” Set an alarm throughout the day to remind you to just stop, breathe, and take 5 minutes for some stillness and quiet. Refocus and reset your heart and mind and then restart with a steady pace.

4) Pray about it. Ask God to help you break the habit of breaking land speed records with the pace of your life and leadership. Confess any pride that may be fueling your need to be seen as always busy and needed as a leader. The act of prayer itself will serve to lend the perspective needed to increase trust in God and decrease worry and hurry.

“The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5, NIV

The 5 R’s of a Healthy Team

imgres-6How do great organizations, championship teams, next-level leaders and community changing churches maintain health and higher levels of productivity? The answer may surprise you. Need a hint?

“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” Genesis 2:2

If you and your team are experiencing a prolonged plateau or lack of momentum, morale and creativity, it could be that you simply need a break. Rather than “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” or “beating a dead horse,” consider these five strategies as a “cure for what ails you…” Rest. Reset. Resource. Recruit. Relaunch. 

Rest – This may be a day, a week, a month or a longer sabbatical period. However, you will skip this step only at the sacrifice of the others and, ironically, you will have only exponentially multiplied the need for it. For example, our core leaders and volunteers have the month of July “off.” While we are meeting for worship and and other very basic functions of church life, we are not doing outreach, our 252 Kids Sunday morning ministry, and a variety of other monthly initiatives. What will they be doing? Hopefully a whole lot of nothing.

Slow down, way down. Let your soul catch up with your body. Get away. Get some rest. Laugh a lot and do whatever fuels and fills you and your loved-ones with joy.

Note: Whenever possible, do as much of the following BEFORE you take the time to rest or strategically plan for it post-rest so that you can truly restore your soul, mind and body. And, yes, it is “easier said than done” and may take some time to incorporate into your organizational DNA.

Reset – There are plenty of other words for this. You can retool, rework, or otherwise revise your strategy to fulfill your greater vision in more productive ways. Ask yourselves what has been working and what hasn’t. Who the target group is and who has actually been coming or otherwise buying into what you’ve been selling. Make the tough calls and the tougher changes. CAUTION: Resist the temptation to add anything without subtracting a couple of others. If not, you will be right back to burn-out in n0 time. Simplify. Streamline and you will make growth not only possible, but probable.

Resource – What training is needed? What materials were running low? What systems were losing effectiveness? Simply put, what do your core leaders need to be and do better? Discover these and invest in the best you can afford. You can’t afford not to.

Recruit – It could be that some of your core leadership need more than a little time off? Some may need to simply step down. Give them permission or simply inform the stubborn ones that their time in this position has come to an end. Celebrate them and then seek out those who feel called, gifted and passionate. See that they are informed, trained, coached and otherwise ready to go.

Relaunch – Set the date well in advance. Then plan, prepare and promote, promote, promote for the relaunch. Make it a little bigger deal and slightly more over-the-top than you think you should and you may have it just right! Oh.. and let your team know from the git-go when their next “5 R” break is going to be.

You may want to use other words like respite, retreat, renew, renovate, or you may not be as “OCD” and use some that don’t begin with the same letter.  However, just one more “R…”

Remember. Even God took a day off.

NOTE: Many organizations, churches and teams practice this and I have simply gathered from many of these both this concept and strategy… no new news here.

Leading On the Edge

imgres-4Servant Leaders,

There are few of us who haven’t peered over the edge of insanity in pursuit of this thing called “church.” And, a few too many of us have gone right over the ledge. Who’s fault is it? Is it the pastor, the lay-leadership, the congregation or the culture? Maybe a combination? Leader… it’s time to step back from the edge. Check out How Christian Consumers Ruin Pastors and Cheat the Mission of God by Ed Stetzer (from

What next? Begin the discussion by being honest with yourself, your family, your leadership and then your people. Determine to take tangible steps to create a healthy personal/family life and leadership culture knowing that, as John Maxwell said so well, “As go the leaders, so goes the church.”  It isn’t easy to make sustained change. Still, it also isn’t rocket science. Get an accountability team of trusted, honest supporters, slow down, work on your own relationship with Christ, date your spouse again, make some family memories, give up some control, put the right people in the right roles, get a hobby, get some rest, stop enabling, set clear boundaries, laugh more… you know in your heart what has needed done for far too long.

Ultimately, as much as we may deny or protest, we are each responsible to God and one other for the lives we choose to lead. Set a healthy example for others to follow. Live and lead well, healthy, and happy!

Learning to lead with you – Tom

NOTE: If you need some help getting there… email me at I would love to come alongside you, your family and lead team!