5 Things That Reveal The Leader You Are


People who are always quick to figure out the type of leader you are, especially if they are to follow you. There are a number of ways that reveal who you are as a leader without you saying a word.  Carey Nieuwhof recently posted an article about this,sharing these 5 different things. I will share 2 of them here with you and link you to the rest.


You never need to open your mouth for your team to determine whether they can trust you.

Trust, after all, is confidence.

The best way to establish confidence as a leader is to do what you said you’re going to do when you said you’re going to do it.

The challenge, of course, is that’s much harder to do than it seems.

Be careful about what you promise.

Be even more careful about how you deliver. It is far better to under-promise and over-deliver than it is to offer assurances that mean nothing.

And if you mess up, own up. People respect that.

And then do everything in your power not to repeat the same mistake again.


I was talking to a leader the other week who was trying to figure out how much time to take off when there was so much to do at his rapidly growing church.

As we discussed this, it occurred to me that how he valued his family would signal whether he wanted his staff to value their families.

Most team members want a senior leader to go home at night to see his family.

The late night, early morning and all weekend emails actually discourage your staff.  So do the seven day work weeks.

Even if you tell your staff “you take time off, I need to work,” they rarely feel secure in taking that time off.

Unfortunately, it took me years to learn that my working longer hours communicates to the team that it’s never safe for them to take time off.

How you value your family signals to your team whether you value their families.

[Click here] to read the rest of this article …
If you want practical help overcoming some of the biggest challenges leaders face, get a copy of the new book Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That Nobody Expects and Everyone Experiences which tackles the seven core issues that take people out: cynicism, compromise, disconnectedness, irrelevance, pride, burnout, and the emptiness of success and provides strategies on how to combat each.

FREE Online Family Ministry Event!

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D6 Days 2018 is ONE WEEK away, but you still have time to save your spot! Be sure to register and take advantage of this FREE opportunity.

D6 Days is an online experience that will help further the family ministry conversation all around the world. It happens in just a week and you do not want to miss out!

Join thousands of other family ministry leaders for this online event.

Preschool teachers, youth workers, pastors, volunteers, and parents are all invited to this two-day event. Register now and save your spot for FREE.

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Want to Create a Leadership Experience for Students?

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I’m an advocate for student leadership in youth ministry.

I think it’s vital for our students to take ownership of the youth ministry, and I believe it’s important that youth workers work to equip teenagers for leadership.

With that said, I’m currently working with my friends at LeaderTreks to create a summer opportunity for students in our ministry who want to lead or grow in their Leadership.

We’re going to call this summer laboratory experience  “Leadership U”.

Here are a few details of the structure I’ve put together:

  • The program will last 8 weeks (could last 10) during the summer.
  • The costs will be $50 to apply (covers application fee, materials, etc).
  • There will be 6 (could be up to 8) training sessions for participants with coaching from yours truly.
  • Participants will engage in several team initiatives during the program.
  • Each teen will be registered to attend the Student Leadership Conference with Doug Fields.
  • Students will have at least one opportunity to lead a project during the summer.
  • We will walk through LeaderTreks’ Start Here book together.
  • The participants will receive a certificate at the end of the summer program recognizing their achievement.

I’d love to see other youth workers execute something like this in their youth groups over
the summer, so feel free to rip this off.  If I can help advise you in making this happen for your youth group, feel free to contact me.

And don’t miss the next This Week in Youth Ministry Podcast (airing tomorrow, Thursday, April 9, 2015) featuring my friend and guest Doug Franklin, president of LeaderTreks! Doug and I will be talking about how YOU can build a Student Leadership Team from scratch!  So fun!


5 Types of Conference Goers

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People go to conferences for a variety of reasons: Some go to be inspired while others join to network, play, learn, or to simply have fun. In my experience there are several types of conference goers that I always run in to at every conference:

The Vacationer – These are the leaders who need a break and just book themselves at conferences to simply escape work!  Hey, we all need a break.  It doesn’t really matter the conference or the location, they’ll be there.  I actually know a guy that attended a conference and spent the entire weekend sleeping.  He missed most of the sessions and just slept!  I asked him why he didn’t attend much of the sessions and he said “I’m on vacation!”

Pros: Escaping work and attending conferences (even in vacation mode) can help ignite your creative mind.  Getting out of my routine has helped me immensely in brainstorming ideas for future projects.  This may be the key for you too.

Cons: Be careful to not miss out on some amazing content.  While touring the city (or getting your sleep on!) is great, you might miss something the conference offers that will help you in your career work.

Tip:  Make time for everything.  When I attend conferences I want to attend the sessions, have ample time to network with others, see the city, and yes, even strategically schedule some extra nap times in!

The Poser – Unfortunately, there are people who pose as conference goers. They aren’t attending the conference but they capitalize on it.  The big conference is in town and you live nearby, so why not network with people who are in town?  The sad reality is that some people don’t have a budget to attend conferences and still want to meet up with conference goers.  I feel you!  While others just take advantage of conferences (they don’t make much profit these days!) and sneak into sessions or private events.

Pros: Getting to meet up with conference goers and feeding off the energy of an event may be helpful to you.

Cons: You could get royally embarrassed if you get caught sneaking into events that you didn’t pay for. Plus, I’m an advocate for conferences and don’t want them to lose more money by people taking advantage of them. Suggestion here – ask the conference coordinators if they have any scholarships.  You could also try to win a FREE registration (Note: I’m giving away a FREE ticket to a conference in this post!)

Tip: There are many conferences I want to attend and don’t have the budget for it. Fortunately, I get to attend a number of them because they ask me to speak.  I’ve also volunteered for some. Try one of these options:  volunteer (email the conference to inquire), ask for a scholarship (sometimes we have not because we ask not!), be a presenter (email to ask if there are opportunities to speak).

The Planner – The organized conference goer is very strategic.  Even weeks before the BIG event arrives, they are systematically researching the conference website, tracking blogs, and scheduling meetings to network with others.  They mean business!

Pros: You are the most prepared person in the room.  You are incredibly efficient with time. You have learned to maximize your conference experience.

Cons: Often times the highlight of my conference experience is a late-night run to grab food with friends that is totally spontaneous.   Don’t miss out!

Tip:  Do your homework.  Find out what you absolutely want to attend, but leave room for the spontaneous times.  And don’t take yourselves too seriously at conferences.  Enjoy your time away from the grind.

The Plan-Not-to-Plan Person – There you are, Mister Plan-Not-to-Plan person.  I see you.  You attend conferences with no schedule and no agenda.  Everything will happen as it is meant to happen. This conference goer knows that the inevitable will be.  If you just show up to a conference you’re bound to get something out of it. You’ll probably run into someone you know, you’ll get rich content from breakouts that you didn’t sign up for, and you’ll benefit from that spontaneous coffee meeting that’ll happen.

Pros: Because you are not a planner and have wide open spaces in your schedule you are pretty much free to enjoy whatever comes your way at the conference.

Cons: Some conferences won’t allow you to attend anything you want without having signed-up for events. Your failure to plan might cost you something here.

Tip:  Do some research prior to the conference to make sure you don’t miss something you’d really like to attend. Then make the rest up as you go.

The Hunter – These conference goers are always on the hunt.  They have one thing in mind: meeting up with everyone speaker or presenter.  They don’t care about the regular conference goer as much as the person printed in the program.

Pros: Making big connections could help you. It could help you launch your career or you could gain a lasting friendship because you stepped out to meet someone who is further along in their journey than you.

Cons: You could spend your whole time chasing cool and miss out on some really great connections with regular conference goers. Besides, you may get disappointed in your efforts. Not everyone whose name is printed in the program at <insert conference name here>  is nice — and won’t attempt to oblige a meeting with you.

Tip: If you know there is someone you could really benefit from talking to, don’t be afraid to go for it.  I’ve taken many steps out on faith to talk to someone who I highly respected and knew I’d enjoy connecting with.  Thankfully, that initial conference meeting turned into a lasting friendship.

One amazing conference that I enjoy each year is The Orange Conference. The last few years I’ve enjoyed LIVE blogging the event and have spoken a couple of times too. It’s such fun networking with everyone there and the content is always solid!  Check out the conference website [here] to find out more.  You might also check out what others are saying about their experience with Orange by reading from these [blogs].

I want someone to experience Orange this year, so I’d like to send you there!   Click [here] to enter to WIN a FREE registration to this year’s Orange Conference in Atlanta, Georgia!

The Orange Conference 2015 will take place in Atlanta from April 29–May 1.  For more information and to register, please visit TheOrangeConference.com.

10 Keys to Effective Youth Ministry

I’ll never forget hearing the testimony of a missionary a number of years ago. He shared how he felt God’s call overseas to a group of people who needed Christ. He shared candidly with the audience how He nearly gave up his ministry after going strong for 16 years (yes, 16 years!) without seeing any fruit to his ministry.

I have felt like that missionary so many times and I consistently hear the testimony of other people in the trenches who are so close to giving up. Bottom line: we often don’t feel we are being effective in ministry and we want to quit.

Today I want to share with you 10 keys that have helped me stay effective in ministry:

1. PRAYER– Unlike many of the lists you read where prayer tends to land at the bottom of the list, I’d suggest that prayer is THE MASTER KEY to being effective in ministry and remaining in ministry for the long haul. Don’t ever underestimate the power of prayer. The conclusion of the missionary’s testimony was a good one… God brought revival to the people he was ministering to after a 16-year wait. Hundreds of people accepted Christ because of his faithfulness and his prayers.

2. VISION – I can look back on every ministry I’ve been a part of and see that I’ve been more effective when I have been clear in communicating my vision to the people I partner with and those I minister to. The scriptures say “where there is no vision the people perish.” (Prov 29:18) If you want to be effective in ministry make sure that you communicate where you are going and how you plan to get there.

3. DISCIPLE – One of the very last commands of Jesus before leaving Earth was for us to “go and make disciples.” (Matt 28:19) If we follow this command and reach those who don’t know Christ and disciple them we will be effective because we are doing what Christ told us to do.

4. SHARE – Look for opportunities in your church or organization to create some intergenerational experiences to bring youth and adults together for bible study, fellowship and worship. Also, don’t hesitate to lend yourself to other ministries within your church or organization. Sharing your gifts and heart with others outside of your student ministry will only help you.

5. TEAM – Youth workers increase their effectiveness when they work as a team. You may have heard it said “it takes a village to raise a child.” I believe it takes a village to make an effective youth ministry: volunteers, student leaders, parents, etc.

6. RESEARCH – Knowing your audience and the culture you are reaching helps bring clarity to your vision and work in youth ministry. Today’s teenagers are in a subculture all their own. In order for you to be effective in ministry you need to understand this culture. You help bridge the gap between their world and the world of youth ministry. Your research of the culture will help you stay relevant and it will equip you to teach students how to reach their friends.

7. ADMINISTRATION – Youth workers are leaders. The work requires that you lead, manage, and give vision to the ministry to which you have been called. It doesn’t meant that your greatest gift is “administration.” It may mean recruiting people around you to help you manage the ministry God has given you, which will position you to be effective.

8. MENTOR – One of the best decisions I ever made was to ask someone to mentor me. You need someone in your life to coach you, be your cheerleader, and your prayer partner. A great mentor will do this for you… and you will be better for having him or her in your life.

9. NETWORK – I often worry about youth workers who aren’t connected with other people in the trenches. Youth Ministry is not a field for lone rangers. Trust me on this, if you are connected with other youth workers and connect regularly to share ideas and pray for each other you will be more effective than going it alone.

10. DEVELOPMENT – If you want to be effective you must have the ability to be a lifelong learner. A healthy youth ministry is led by someone who invest in their own personal development. They read books & blogs, interact with others, acquire new resources, and learn new ways of practicing ministry.

These 10 keys have helped me to be more effective in my ministry. Which keys have most helped you in your ministry? What did I miss?

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5 Resolutions You Should Make This New Year

Personal convictions and goals will shape the way a leader leads, responds to others, and the very choices he or she makes. Each year I resolve to do a few things, based on these convictions and goals too.  So, I’ve made my list for 2013, and this year I’ve been asked a few close friends to add to my list also. Allowing others to speak into your life is a powerful thing.

With that in mind, I would like to ask if I may speak into your life for a few moments? I have written down a few things I feel all church leaders should resolve to do this year. So before you finalize your list of goals or “resolutions” this year, would you consider adding these to yours?

Here are 5 resolutions I believe we should all make this new year:

  1. Prayer – We always say we need to pray more but we should actually commit to doing it! I’ll never forget making a commitment in college to praying at least 5 minutes each day for things happening around the world. That commitment changed my prayer life forever. To this day I still pray daily for things happening around the world. That was only adding an additional 5 minutes to my daily prayer time. Ask yourself, when can I spend a few extra moments each day in prayer?  Most of the time just transitioning from one appointment to the next will afford you some extra time for prayer.  I promise, you will benefit from anadditional prayer investment like this. Just resolve to do it!
  2. Protection – Resolve to protect your health and life.  It is so important to take care of yourself and your family!  These are the people who matter the most!  I took steps this year to work on my health with a goal to lose 100 pounds, but I have a long way to go. Ask yourself, what steps can I take to become more healthy? How can I  better my relationship with my family? What can I do each week to provide care for my own soul?
  3. Presence – This year I’ve become increasingly aware of just how connected I am to my phone. Chances are,you are too. It’s distracting and it’s interfering with our relationships and we don’t even see it. And I’m not just talking about phones here. I resolve to be more present with people as I am with them, and I challenge you to do the same. Ask yourself, what is distracting me from being fully present with those who want (and need) my time?
  4. Preach the gospel – We would probably all say that we preach the gospel if we were asked. But do you give people Jesus?  Can he be found in every message and action of yours?  This year I saw more people doing good but if we are doing good without giving people Jesus then what are we doing? If you give a person  who is hungry food without giving them Jesus you are sending them to hell on a full stomach! Ask yourself, are you presenting the gospel in your messages? Are there ways you can give people Jesus this year through your  social good?
  5. Persevere – Each year comes with  its own set of challenges, but in spite of any thing that comes your way this year you must determine to stay focused on your goals. I’m challenging myself to set my goals and stick with them no matter what may try to derail me from the finish line.  Resolve to take steps to better yourself and better your life, and  don’t let anything (or anyone, for that matter!) keep you from accomplishing great things for the Kingdom.  Ask yourself, what can I do to keep  myself focused on reaching my goals this year?

The best leadership, in my opinion, comes out of the resolve a leader has made in his or her own heart. So I ask you to think about these five things and even prayerfully consider them before you finalize your resolutions this year. Because the truth is, what you resolve to do this new year could change everything for you!

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4 Indispensable Qualities of a Staff Pastor

No job is ever secure in ministry. In fact, just two short years ago I  found that my position was on the cutting board due to major cutbacks in my local church. Since that time I’ve tried to lead as best I could from the second chair and serve my team to the best of my ability.  The last few years have definitely stretched me and have made me a better leader.  But it’s called me to question (and also put me on the search to find the answers) for what churches really need as they go through difficult seasons as an organization.

When churches are making decisions to hire (or fire) staff, particularly in this economy, I believe they are looking (or should be looking) at qualities beyond a specific gifting or skill set. They must look for indispensable qualities, indicative of a staff member that can thrive in whatever season you are in as a church.  So I’ve come up with a list of 4 indispensable qualities every staff pastor should have.  And yes, as a current staff pastor, I also realize I am holding myself accountable to these 4 qualities as a leader.

  • Staff Who Inspire – Each staff member should work hard to be able to cast the vision of their Senior Leadership and inspire others along the way. If you aren’t casting the  vision chances are you are detracting from it.  Really seek to own the vision of your senior leader and look for ways to cast that vision to those you lead.
  • Staff Who Build – Staff pastors should be interested in building the team.  Not only should the staffer look to build his or her own ministry team but should also be interested in building teams for the whole church. This may involve making sacrifices in their own personal ministry so that another ministry within the church can profit.
  • Staff Who Are Problem Solvers – Senior Leaders usually respect staff members who take initiative in solving problems. Don’t be too quick to pass off problems to your leader, but rather attempt to solve the problem if within your leadership capability. If there are problems that need to be passed off to your supervisor then take some time to list possible solutions to the problem and offer your assistance.
  • Staff Who Execute –  Bottom line, churches want team members who get the job done.  If you were hired for the position your boss wants you to accomplish the work of the ministry.  Indispensable leaders take action… develop strategies, plan of action, and fully execute.

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