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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.

Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs crushed the Miami Heat for the third game in a row (including two on the road) to win the NBA Championship Title. I have pulled for Tim Duncan and the Spurs since Duncan came into the league. As I watched the game, I was inspired to write about leadership lessons that we can all learn from the well-coached San Antonio Spurs.

  1. Build, don’t buy.
    They say the Miami Heat is the best team money can buy. The San Antonio Spurs have chosen to build their team through the draft, recruiting good team players (not necessarily superstars). This resonates with my personal philosophy of ministry for the past 20 years. The first 11 years of ministry, I was a worship pastor. I recruited and built a worship team/band at every church I served. Yes, I had heard of churches that paid their band, but I didn’t agree with this philosophically. It takes very little leadership to show up and lead worship with a paid band.

    It takes true leadership to recruit, train and lead/build a team of musicians and shepherd them in a way that they grow spiritually and musically. I remember spending tons of times in local music stores, getting to know musicians and finding talent in our community. I’ve tried to mentor several worship leaders and teach them this crucial concept. It’s what I call “shaking the bushes.” I always say, “You have to go out and shake the bushes. Get to know the musicians in your city.” And to be blunt: You can’t do this if you sit in your office all day playing guitar.I was a guest on the Church Tech Weekly podcast last week and we went into great detail about leading, shepherding and being an equipper vs a doer. We were talking about the great shift that is taking place for technical directors that are now needed to be leaders and equippers and not doers who actually run equipment on Sundays. It was a great conversation that would benefit all church leaders to listen to, including Executive Pastors and Senior Pastors.

  2. Failure is part of leadership. Get back up.
    The Spurs lost to the Heat in the NBA Finals last year. They used that failure to light a fire in their hearts and fuel their passion to get back and win it all. Tim Duncan said it lit a fire in all of them, which is easy to see as they are the #1 team in the league this year, with the best record in the NBA.

    In my new book on innovation and leadership, I talk about the role failure plays in innovation and the importance of progressing forward and getting back up after you fall down. The Spurs didn’t dwell in their loss. They didn’t let loss define them. They learned from it, grew from it and went back to work on how to overcome it. The fact that they are back in the Finals this year again, shows their dedication to excellence and a culture of winning. It’s also a tribute to their amazing coaching and team leaders that set the tone for the rest of the team.

  3. We, not me. It’s all about teamwork.
    If you’re a fan of good basketball (like me), then you can’t help but love and appreciate how the Spurs play the game. They are the most unselfish team in the league. They play team ball and constantly encourage one another. Their players are unselfish and teachable. They are passionate and engaged whether on the court or on the bench. When something good happens on the court, you can see the entire bench cheering the players on.

    Lebron James played a good game each night, but it wasn’t enough. He was one man playing a united team that was functioning on all cylinders. This philosophy of team ball and unselfish play comes straight from future Hall of Fame Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. “Pop” is a great example of an excellent leader who has built something special that will go down in history. To see a short sample of their teamwork and the amount of passes that they do before taking a shot, take a look at this video.

  4. Be healthy. Promote balance.
    The Spurs are the most balanced team in the NBA. They are as good defensively as they are offensively. They shut down Lebron and the very talented Heat team for most of the Finals. They are also a team with depth – having there bench lead the league in scoring. Competence exists at all levels of their team (whether or not they’re coming off the bench). Do you have depth in your organization? Do you have balance?
  5. Be in it for the long-term. Longevity is key.
    Coach Popovich is the longest tenured coach, not only in the NBA (18 years), but in 4 major sports. He has built something magnificent. Tim Duncan has been with the Spurs for 17 years. Tim Duncan is the only player in NBA history to start for a Championship team in 3 different decades. Let that sink in!

    Duncan, Parker and Ginobili (the Spurs “Big Three”) have been together for over a decade. This year they passed the “Showtime” Lakers trio of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper as the second-most durable trio in NBA history.Too many leaders skip around. I wrote about long-term leadership in both of my leadership books. Dig your feet in, plant roots and build something to be proud of.

The Heat are great and very talented. They’ve won Championships and will probably win again, but if I’m building a team, I’m going to approach it the Spurs’ way. I think if we learn from what the Spurs value and teach, there is much to be gained. How are you building your team? What do you think we could learn from the Spurs?

How To Get Rid Of Being Overwhelmed Once In For All

After what I posted on Monday and what I’m feeling in my heart these days, I thought this would be a timely and appropriate guest post. Take heed:

Is your life insanely busy? Are you overwhelmed with everything going on in your life and want to change it? Do you want get rid of your stress and worries, create a sense of balance, and restore some margin too your insanely busy life? Do you want to be more productive?

The Productivity Myth

The fact is that becoming more productive will only solve some of these issues. This is because no matter how productive you become, there will always be more to accomplish than you have time available. The only way to get control of your time and your life is to stop doing some of the things that you are currently doing, and focus on the things that will make the most difference in your life.

The good news is that there is a solution.

Get Your Priorities Straight

You are overwhelmed because you are doing too much. Your schedule is too busy, your life is not balanced, and you don’t have any margin in your life.

How do you know when you’re doing too much in your life? How do you know when you’re out of God’s will? How do you know if all the things you’re doing are what God expects you to do or you just put those expectations on yourself?

The answer is simple: You’re overwhelmed. It is not God’s will for you to be overwhelmed. God never intended for you to go around carrying an overwhelming load.

In Matthew 11:28-30 (TEV), Jesus said: “Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying your heavy loads and I will give you…” … more to do? Is that what it says? “I’ll give you more projects to complete. I’ll put more appointments on your schedule.” No, He says, “I’ll give you rest.” The yoke I will give you is easy and the load I will put on you is light.’

What’s got you burdened? Why are you carrying more than He has asked you to carry? Why are you burdened with unrealistic expectations? Are you trying to prove that you matter?

You don’t have to prove you matter to God. You matter to God because He created you, not because of anything you can do. Because you matter to Him, He wants to remove your burden. He wants to help you to focus your life on what really matters.

What Really Matters In Life

If you are a Christian man, God has given you two assignments that only you can do. That’s it! Two assignments that only you can do. The rest of the stuff that you are focused on can be accomplished by someone else. Anybody else!

Do you want to know what these two assignments are?

First, you are to be the best husband that you can be. Second, you are to be the best father that you can be. That’s it! You are called to be a husband first, and a father second. Nobody else can be a husband to your wife or a father to your children.

If you are a Christian woman, you are called to be the best wife and mother that you can be. That’s it!

Everything else that is on your to-do list is not as important as your spouse and your children, and anything else can be done by someone else.

Seek God’s Help

While focusing on these two assignments might sound simple, the truth is that it is not really that simple to do. The only way to successfully accomplish these assignments is with God’s help. Fortunately, the Bible is full of God’s promises to help us accomplish any task that He gives us.

I think that these three promises will help us get control of our life and focus on what matters most:

Seek Him First – Matthew 6:33-34 says, “But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.  So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. If we seek God and His way of managing our time and our life, He will meet our needs for today, and today is all that really matters.

Ask for His help – Jesus says, “Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.” (John 16:24 NLT) Why does God want you to ask? So he can give you what you need. He not only wants to meet your needs, but wants to fill you with his joy. All that you have to do is ask using His name.

He Will Meet Your Needs – Philippians 4:19 (NIV) tells us that “… God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in

Christ Jesus.” It doesn’t say, “He might meet your needs,” it says, “He will meet all your needs.” It doesn’t say, “I’ll meet some of your needs.” It says all. He never promises to give you everything that you want, but He will give you  everything that you need.

God created you to make a difference in the world. He calls you to serve your spouse and children before He calls you serve others. He calls you to be the leader of your family before He calls you to lead others.

God has promised to meet all of your needs if you seek Him first, and ask for His help. Reduce your overwhelm by giving Him your burdens, asking for His help, and putting God and your family before all of the other stuff in your life. Let Him help you create a sense of balance, and add some margin too your insanely busy life.

Is there anything holding you back from accepting God’s call to serve Him by putting your spouse and children first?

 

* Photo credit Flickr

 

About Steve Spring

Steve Spring is the author of Live Your Life On Purpose, where his goal is to help you restore a sense of balance and create some margin in your insanely busy life.

A former management consultant, Steve loves coffee, sailing, and being near the ocean. He is a Christ-follower, husband, dad, and entrepreneur who loves his family, friends, and helping others achieve all that they were created to be. Check out Live Your Life On Purpose or find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Two Sundays ago my laptop crashed. It’s been in the shop for a week now and probably will be for another 2 weeks. I didn’t have access to my files and my blog, so I just took a break from blogging. It was nice and needed.

God is teaching me to slow down, be still and be ever dependent upon Him. I don’t know when I’ll blog again, but know I’m resting and being obedient.

Here’s a Scripture that I share in my new book Strange Leadership. I hope you’ll pray this with me this week:

SL prayer and Scripture

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I’ve found myself sitting in a big, reclining leather chair. It’s one of two that face a large window that overlooks the back patio of my parent’s house. If you were sitting next to me, you’d see a little stream that trickles through the middle of their back yard and pours out into Thomas Creek.

It’s a beautiful site and a scene I’ve witnessed countless times: the towering trees that cast deep shadows across the property, the stream that widens into the creek, and the sense of peace that comes with each breath you breathe.

But as I look out the window tonight, I see none of that. I see a window filled with darkness, as it’s slightly past midnight and the night seems to have stolen nature’s beauty. At least for a time.

Earlier in the day, I brought my kids down to visit my mother for her 54th birthday. We surprised her with a small party, just a few of us gathered at my parent’s house and we had a great little celebration. Now, as I sit in this comfy leather chair many hours after everyone has gone to bed, I marvel as the small light from the corner of my parent’s living room breaks the darkness and illuminates the faces of my children as they sleep scattered across the floor.

I marvel because I am reminded just how incredible life, and the time in which we have to live it, really is. Truly it is. The living, breathing, life-giving spirit that moves within us. It’s fascinating.

And yet, as I look down at their beautiful faces, I struggle envisioning their future, seeing them not as they are now but as they will one day be. Their characters are developing and I can see their personalities shining through every smile, but as for the choices they’ll make, the paths they’ll choose, I have no idea.

When I think of their futures it often forces me to examine my own life and the choices and decisions – some really dumb decisions – I’ve made along the way. Things that have caused myself and others much pain. I think of all the time I’ve wasted on things that haven’t mattered and my heart breaks. I don’t want them to make the same mistakes I’ve made. I want to be a better father, a better husband, a better son, and a better child of God and I want to be the best example I can possibly be.

But I feel helpless at times. Lost, if I’m being honest. I struggle with the future because the past can be so messy.

Maybe, if I could give myself some advice, I’d say that what I do today is far more important than what I did yesterday. And, as C.S. Lewis once said, “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

Maybe I’d take advice from an unlikely source, Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise:

“Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives, but I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey and reminds us to cherish every moment because they’ll never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we’ve lived.”

Maybe I should stop looking out this window in front of me, the one in which the darkness has stolen the light, and heed the apostle Matthew’s advice and let the Lord take care of the future:

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

 

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This past weekend I did a secret shopper at a church in Texas that is a little under a thousand people. No one knew I was coming except the pastor. I did what I normally do during one of the hours in the morning and that is check out their children’s facilities, process and security.

The children’s minister who showed me around took my name and where I was from, and wrote it on a sheet of paper. I thought she wanted to stay in touch. 🙂 What I later found out is she gave my name and where I’m from to one of their police officers that is at the church on a Sunday morning and he ran a background check on me.

I have written numerous times in the past about the necessity of security and systems in place to protect your kids. Security is one of the main things I look for when I do a secret shopper. This staff member’s radar went off and realized I was snooping around and looking at stuff that the normal church attender wouldn’t be interested in. So she let her gut and instincts lead her to have me checked out. So, I ask you: How good is your church’s security?

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Today as you grill, swim and relax from a day off work, take time to remember those that have sacrificed so much for our freedom. Happy Memorial Day!

Michael TrentWe’ve all been to a place where we felt comfortable; to a place where the atmosphere was engaging;  and to a place we could call our own and return to time and time again.
Over the past few decades, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to help create environments where people find their place.  Sometimes that place is about where they are to be connected to others; and sometimes that place is about where they are to give of and invest their life as they discover the gifts, talents, and purpose for which they were designed.
After planning and designing an environment as part of ‘preparing a place’, I spend time in training and coaching people on how to ‘lead from behind the bar’.
Leading from behind the bar is about serving as pastor through one of the most amazing areas in any church.  I often call it Cafe Pastor, Venue Pastor, or even Campus Pastor, depending upon the context…and once upon a time, while serving in that role, it began to be called, the Church Bartender.  In order serve as the pastor of a cafe (much different than a cafe being in a pastor’s portfolio) – you must be aware of and put into practice these simple yet paramount characteristics of #strangeleadership
When leading (which is serving) from behind the bar, consider your:

Positioning:  of your heart, knowing why you are there; of your head, having an awareness of your surroundings before people enter; and of your body to best be able to access your serving tools and the people you serve.

Peripheral vision:  your positioning in an environment should be one that allows you to have a good view of who and what is going on around you.  We’ve all been to a place where it felt like the person serving us forgot we were even there.  Peripheral vision will provide a big picture and a context.
Posture:  your body language can often speak louder than your words.  No matter what statistic you read, the truth is, the majority of how we communicate is through our non-verbals (and that does not include technology…please don’t miss that).  How you sit, lean, stand, or walk can say a lot more than you might think; so keep that in mind and I promise people won’t mind.
Perspective: Keeping open ears and an open heart, you’ll find moments of seriousness, of laughter, of sympathy, even of empathy; moments both heavy and light where you can find some of the greatest and most authentic connections. My suggestion, especially when you quickly pick up a negative vibe…is to always side with keeping the ‘glass half full’ (or even higher in each conversation).
Pronunciation: Next time you hear someone lacking pronunciation, see if there doesn’t also seem to be a disconnection to the present.  Maybe that sounds like a strange leadership lesson?  As we find ourselves mentally and physical communicating through so many ‘shortcut’ version of communication, it is sad and surprising how something this simple is being effected.  One of the best ways to focus on pronunciation is to focus on the person you’re talking to, be there, not somewhere else.
 
Perception:  so much here could be said, let’s just say it’s about my concern for the lost art of listening.  Take time to listen to what people are sharing; and always remember, that everyone has a history, a story, and a future.
and Pour Carefully:  no matter if you are a cafe pastor, lead pastor, leader in your business, leader in your home, you get the point…our lives are constantly being poured out into the lives of others, let us take that to heart, consider it with our minds, and pour carefully through our actions.
Michael Trent
Founder & Idea Engineer
Third Place Consulting
twitter:  @ChurchBartender

 

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I returned home Friday night after my son graduated from his month-long treatment program at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. I packed another bag and headed out early Saturday morning to Amarillo, Texas to consult with a church on Sunday and do a secret shopper visit (I still do those and am booking for the summer. Click here for more details).

I’m home today doing laundry and packing a new suitcase. I leave tomorrow to go to Chicago for the week to speak at the Moody Bible Pastors Conference. This will be my 8th time speaking at Moody! If you’re going to be there, stop by my class and say hello. You can also get my books signed. I look forward to meeting you.

I should return to a semi-normal life next week for the first time in 5 weeks. Thank you for your prayers.