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Many of you know I’m from South Carolina. Today, I fly back (with my daughter Grace) to speak at a worship conference there. The good news is that I’ll get to spend some time with my family, in addition to speaking at the conference Thursday and Friday.

If you’re going to be at the Christian Supply Conference this week, contact me and let me know. Also, come by my workshops. I’ll be teaching on Church Leadership Essentials and my new book Strange Leadership. See you next week!

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I was looking back on a blog I wrote over 7 years ago and I saw something I felt God speak to me during a time of powerful worship:

“When pride walks in, I walk out.”

I remember God speaking in His still, small voice like He has so many times over the years. I remember my on-going struggle with pride and that those words stung, but resonated. God help me to walk in humility. God help us to walk in humility.

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” ― C.S. LewisMere Christianity

When was the last time you felt God speaking to your heart? What did He say? Are you striving to walk in humility?

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Last night I was doing my regular Thursday night thing – watching the comedy shows back to back on NBC (like I have for years). I was reflecting on how good and healthy it was to laugh and unwind. Then I was reminded of some of the best leadership advice someone ever gave me:

Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Great advice and a good reminder for all of us leaders who struggle with pride and trying to always know the right thing to do. I used to always have a picture of Jesus laughing hanging on my office wall (seen above). Want to smile? Google “Jesus laughing” and look at the images here.

When is the last time you laughed so hard that you started to cry? I try to have fun moments with my family and friends where we laugh regularly. I hope you do, too. Have you noticed how good it feels to laugh hard? It’s therapeutic.

The Chronicle of Higher Education posted an article two weeks ago entitled “The Science of Laughter.” In it, they tell us:

“A positive emotional state is a benefit in helping us deal with the stresses and strains of being human. Second, having a good sense of humor helps us to rally social support around us when times are tough. Having people in your corner during tough times is very good for you. There’s clear research around that. Third, and most intriguing to me, is that making jokes about the challenges in life can fundamentally change the way we think about those challenges.”

In my travels, consulting, coaching and networking, I meet with a lot of leaders – a ton of pastors. I had coffee with a pastor yesterday and am having lunch with another pastor today. I’m constantly trying to encourage and be encouraged by other leaders.

I don’t know who I’m talking to, but I want to free you up to take a load off and laugh. Learn some jokes and try sharing them with others. I know some churches and businesses that ask you to tell a joke in their interview process. This is a test to see if you have a sense of humor and if you can be “normal.”

If you can’t laugh (and laugh at yourself), you need to do an ego check. Too many leaders are too serious and no fun to be around. Just look at the morale of their team. It’s sad to see.

So, if I can encourage you and give you one thing to work on this Summer – it’s to laugh more and have fun with your team. They’ll thank you and you just might last longer in this tough calling we call “leadership.”

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Eric Bryant has a new project that just released called A Fruitful Life: Becoming Who You Were Created To Be.

Eric serves at Gateway Church in Austin, and previously he served at Mosaic in Los Angeles. His previous book is called Not Like Me: A Field Guide for Influencing a Diverse World (also known as Peppermint-Filled Pinatas).

Here’s more on the project from Eric:

We have the capacity for unlimited influence!

According to Jesus, no matter where we come from or what we’ve done or what limitations we may think we have, we actually can become live a transformed life and transform the lives of others. He promises that we can have a level of spiritual influence far beyond what we might imagine. We can bear fruit 30, 60, and even 100 times more than what was sown.

In the parable of the soils, Jesus explained that if we can avoid being like the first three soils, we could have a life that is described as fruitful. In other words, if we can learn to be receptive (hear God’s voice), tenacious (not give up on what we know we should do), and intentional (avoid distractions), we will be who we’ve always wanted to be.

Derived from Jesus’ parable of the soils, A Fruitful Life will help you with the following:

  • Discover your calling.
  • Make decisions using a grid for hearing God’s voice
  • Overcome the most painful moments of life.
  • Make progress in areas where you are most tempted.
  • Experience renewal and bring change to others.

 

Applying the Scriptures to our life and developing the skills derived from the parable of the soils really is life-changing.

I have seen God do remarkable things in my life, in the lives of others who went through this material in small groups, and in the lives of those who experienced the material in the context of a retreat or sermon series.

When we are spiritually receptive, tenacious, intentional, and proactive, we are in the right place for God to work in our lives and through our lives.

I think this message is more important now than ever. As a society we’ve moved from hunting to farming to working in factories into what is now called the Information Age. Seth Godin refers to this period as the time for artists to emerge.

I would like to think of this as the Age of Influence. Technology has given us the opportunity to influence people from across the planet the instant we post something online. The world is smaller and our opportunities are larger.

For a free download of the overview, go to A Fruitful Life: Becoming Who You Were Created To Be.

Be sure to go to the last chapter in the overview to discover how to sign up for a chance to win the entire series.

Check out this video with Eric sharing more on A Fruitful Life:

Dr. Eric Michael Bryant serves with Gateway Church in Austin as the team leader for Central and South Austin and as part of the teaching team. Known for their mottos: “no perfect people allowed” and “come as you are, but don’t stay that way.”

Eric coaches church planters and campus pastors, teaches on Post Christian Ministry, and leads a cohort for a Doctorate of Ministry in Missional Effectiveness through Bethel Seminary where he earned his Doctorate of Ministry in Entrepreneurial Leadership. More on these opportunities can be found here.

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I’ll be in Kansas City this week speaking at and hanging out at the National Worship Leader Conference (NWLC). If you’re going to be there, come find me. I’m teaching on innovation and my new book on Thursday.

Then Saturday morning, I fly to San Antonio to consult with a church and do a secret shopper visit on Sunday. If you’d like to find out more about this service I do for churches, go here.

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I’ve been processing through lots of emotions over the last 9 months since being laid off. I’ve met with several friends, pastors, counselors, etc. I’ve been going through all the stages of grief, hurt, pain and anger.

In meeting with my counselor last week, he said that God allowed this to happen and I needed to try to discern what He’s up to in my life. What is He wanting to change in me? Well, yesterday I had coffee with a new church planter in my city and he had been through a similar painful experience years ago. He said that my love for ministry needed to die so that my love for God could take front and center.

His words immediately resonated with my spirit. I have a great love of ministry and pastoring, but sometimes that overshadows my daily love of God and time with Him. I can spend more time helping others (pastoring), than feeding my soul and spending quality time with Christ.

I remember attending a Catalyst OneDay two years ago and hearing Craig Groeschel say, “We have too many full-time pastors and part-time disciples.” Gulp! That hit me right between the eyes. I don’t know who I’m talking to, but maybe some of you need to die to the ministry and fall in love with God all over again. Pray for me as I journey on.

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I know what you’re thinking? What’s wrong with excellence and trying my best at leadership? Nothing. We should strive to lead with excellence. What I’m referring to is going to an extreme where we try to be SuperMan, SuperMom, SuperLeader, SuperPastor, etc.

I came to this realization last year when I took a sabbatical and God opened my eyes to my pride. You see, I took pride in being a SuperPastor and thought that no other pastor was as dedicated as me. I would meet with men in my church that needed counseling and a listening ear until midnight or 1am (leaving my wife and kids at home). I thought I was an amazing pastor and super leader.

The truth is this unhealthy practice of late nights helping others fed my ego, made me look down on other leaders/pastors and was a horrible example to my family.

When I returned from my sabbatical I wrote a declaration that I only showed to my wife, that put my foot down and vowed to work within established boundaries and office hours. If someone needed to talk to me, they could make an appointment and meet me in my office (during the day). Of course we all have those midnight phone calls with emergencies (deaths, accidents, etc.). I’m not talking about these situations. I’m talking about things that can be handled during the normal work day, leaving the rest of the evening and night for me to be at home with my family (my first ministry).

Do not overwork yourself just to become wealthy; have enough sense to know when to quit. – Proverbs 23:4 (Voice)

Later, I’ll write more about signs you might be trying to be a Super Hero. For now, what are some boundaries you have placed on your time, life and career to protect your health, life and marriage? Is this something you struggle with?

Need

I’ve tried to practice what I preach and take off this week to relax and vacation with family. We are preparing to celebrate the 4th of July, otherwise known as Independence Day. I was reflecting on that and thought about the last chapter of my book Strange Leadership.

In the last chapter (Ch.40 titled Desperation) of Strange Leadership, I write about our need for a desperation for God. A desperation for God to move on our behalf. The key that I write about is a desperation that leads to a dependency on the Holy Spirit. This is the key to the connected Christian life. To be truly in sync with God and move when He moves, we need to be desperate for Him. Not only that, we need our desperation to lead us to a dependency on the Holy Spirit.

So as we celebrate Independence Day this year, let us also remember our ever present need for God and live lives that are dependent upon our great and good God.

Happy 4th of July!

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Like over 5 million people, I watched and participated with the premier of ABC’s new reality singing competing “Rising Star” this past Sunday night. I waited to blog about it to see how the world reacted to the premier. Many called it a failure, citing lack of quality singers and glitches (like how the West Coast votes, etc.). I see it as a step in the right direction of television and a true innovation. Like the book says: The Road to Success is Paved with Failure.

As I was watching the show and participating on my iPhone with the show’s special app, I was thinking of how this technology and concept could be used with a variety of shows. Think of how many times you’ve watched a reality show and wanted to vote someone on or off in real time. I think ABC has started something new (innovation) that will evolve and adapt and change the way we watch and interact and engage with television for years to come.

What did you think?

*** For more on the subject of innovation, check out my new book Strange Leadership.

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As the Southern Baptist Convention was going on, I was following their tweets with the #SBC14 hashtag and noticed that Andy Stanley was showing up in my feed. I clicked on his Twitter profile and saw that he was taking on the SBC and challenging them. I was fascinated and followed his feed for a couple of hours. I even retweeted a few of his posts. I thought he made some great points, but many got upset.

North Point Community Church lead pastor Andy Stanley clarified to The Christian Post about tweets he made earlier in the week that appeared to be criticism of Southern Baptist Convention leaders calling for a spiritual revival, explaining that he was talking about local revival rather than a Great Awakening-style revival.

Andy Stanley preaches to an estimated 33,000 people every Sunday at North Point Ministries’ five metro-Atlanta campuses. His television program, Your Move, is viewed by an audience of nearly one million each week.

On Tuesday, Stanley tweeted,

  • “Instead of praying for revival leaders of the SBC should go spend three weeks with @perrynoble Why pray for one when you can go watch one.”
  • “Praying for revival equates to blaming God for the condition of your local church.”
  • “Why not call the Church to pray for the things Jesus & New Testament writers prayed for? Why add Revival to the list?”
  • “Churches that need reviving most are the very churches that resist it most.”

Stanley conceded that the conversation spiraled beyond what he had intended it to be after he and others began diverging on what they meant by “revival.”

Continue reading.