Friday, October 18, 2013

The Participation Lid Could be ME

Recently, I heard this statement:  

Anytime someone enters into an environment, they assess that environment -- and people will participate up to that level.

This statement infers that the tone of the environment is often set by the leader, and therefore the leader can be the limiting factor in how people participate.

Here is what I have discovered in years of leading small groups.  God seems to always send people into my group who are higher energy than I am, but they usually don’t engage at that level unless they see me raise my level of engagement.  

  • they don’t joke and have fun unless they see me lighten up.
  • they don’t get passionate about a service project unless they see me get some passion for a project or encourage other’s passion.
  • they don’t care for a need unless they see me care for a need or cheer on someone who does.
  • they don’t enter work to connect outside the group unless they see me connecting with people outside the group.

We must look at our small group with a mindset; this is the environment we want to create, and we have to participate at a higher level than we are naturally comfortable with so people can respond or participate up to that level.  Because they will not participate at a higher level.

We are not challenging you to be someone you are not -- just to be others-focused.  You see, when I am others-focused, I think more about what the group needs than what I need.  When I am others-focused, I am willing to move outside my comfort zone because of what it can do for others.

One way you can do this is to celebrate the engagement level of others.  This communicates that people who are participating at a high level -- whether it be a service project, in conversation, in caring for others, in being personally vulnerable to the group -- that kind of participation is celebrated and welcomed and safe and “normal” as part of this environment.

So, in your group, what area can you raise your level of engagement/participation?  Who in your group is pushing the level of comfort (in a good way) and how can you celebrate or encourage them?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Consuming or Communicating

I send and receive a lot of verbal and written words every day.  Whether it is on the phone, talking in person, writing an email, or posting on Facebook or Twitter--there are is a lot of information.  Btu the question I have been asking is: How much of it is really communication?


  • Writing an email
  • Listening in on someone else's conversation
  • Carrying on conversation while watching TV
  • Stalking people on Facebook
  • Watching your twitter feed
  • Reading the emails in your inbox
  • Listening to sermons online


  • Continuing an email thread 
  • Engaging in the conversation 
  • Talking to a friend with no distractions
  • Chatting with someone 
  • Direct Messaging in response to a Tweet
  • Replying to emails, even if only to say "Got it" 
  • Engaging in a small group to share what God is teaching you
It got me thinking…in our culture today, we can easily become consumers of information rather than engaging in communication.  And when we take in information and think that is communication, there are several outcomes that happen.
  1. We can become proud because of what we know.
  2. We become isolated which results in self-deception.
  3. We become judgmental and begin to critique the information we receive.
Here is the big deal, consuming information affects our head; but relational engagement gets to our heart.  And we only change something about ourselves when our hearts are involved.

So here are some practical actions to begin to move from consuming information to communicating effectively:
  • Learn to listen actively.  This means listen, without thinking of your response and then repeating what the other person said back to them.  Then you can give your response.
  • Reply to emails--it lets people know you read.  (This is one of my pet peeves)
  • Move your conversations from surface issues and begin talking about dreams, goals, and feelings.
  • Stop the conversations in your head and learn to journal your thoughts.  It helps you untangle them and you can become more confident when you speak in a conversation.
So what else would you add to this list?  What helps you communication more effectively?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Innocent People Suffer

"God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors."  Gen. 45:7 

Joseph realized that God had stretched him, had positioned him, and refined him for this time.  It reminds me of the quote from sermon yesterday:  "Innocent people suffer when you don't do the good works that God prepared for you to do." Eph. 2:10

If Joseph had not done the good works--even when he was unjustly treated so many times, then his family would have suffered.

Doing the "good works" --doing the right thing is not only in the good times, but also in the hard times.    It is just as important to do the "good works" in the tough times thrust upon us as it is to do the "good works" in the times of our choosing (doing a service project, mission trip, act of kindness).

Joseph did both.  When he was second in command, he did the right thing.  But he also did the right thing in the pit, as a slave, when unfairly accused and imprisoned, when overlooked and forgotten. 

Sometimes our "good works" shine the brightest and make the most impact when we are unfairly treated, taken advantage of, overlooked.

"God, help me to honor you with my "good works" not only in the times of my choosing, but also in the tough times thrust on me.  Help me to remember that you have prepared them in advance to do, so I can rely on your power and strength.  But also help me to remember how important it is to those around me."

Friday, December 14, 2012

10 Things Leaders Need To Know About Effectively Leading People

10 Things Leaders Need To Know About Effectively Leading People

By Perry Noble
#1 - A leader cannot effectively lead people that he does not love.
#2 - A leader cannot effectively lead people that he does not listen to.
#3 - A leader cannot effectively lead people that he does not always assume the best about.
#4 - A leader cannot effectively lead people that he secretly hopes that they fear him.
#5 - A leader cannot effectively lead people that he does not take the time to explain things to.
#6 - A leader cannot effectively lead people when he assumes that he is the smartest person in the room.
#7 - A leader cannot effectively lead people when his goal is to use people rather than help them.
#8 - A leader cannot effectively lead people when he secretly wishes he wasn't a part of the organization he is leading!
#9 - A leader cannot effectively lead people when he is not dedicated to increasing his own capacity.
#10 - A leader cannot effectively lead people when he isn't willing to be honest about his own limitations and struggles. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

One Step Spiritually

At RCC, the mission of small groups is "creating a predictable environment where participants experience authentic community and spiritual growth".

This past week, I asked my small group the primary reason they wanted to be in a small group.  Almost without exception, their primary reason was for the relationships. 

Then I asked each one of them to identify "one step" spiritually that they would like to take.  Because we know small groups are winning if people take "one step" spiritually during each semester.

I did this experiment partly to prove what I believe -- that the Holy Spirit reveals to each one of us a next step spiritually.  No matter where we are at in our path of spiritual growth, we know what the next step is.

I gave them some examples of "one step" spiritually--things like:
  • read the Bible 3 times a week
  • journal a prayer 1 time a week
  • talk to a neighbor about coming to church
  • begin to give financially
  • help someone with a project where they can give nothing in return
  • learn to pray out loud

And sure enough, each person readily identified their "next step."  And it was a very spiritually powerful time for each person in our small group.  Because one of the first things we need to do to break thought into a new action or habit is to tell someone.  When we audibly declare it to someone else, we are more likely to take action.

So I believe that each person in our small group will actually take that step this semester.  And at the end of the semester, we will celebrate the spiritual steps taken.

So...what is your next step spiritually?  I think the Holy Spirit has already put something in your mind.

And...who will you tell today?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Law of Priorities

Law of Priorities

When planning your priorities, how do you decide what comes first?  That is the question I have been thinking on this week while processing the Law of Priorities in the 21 Minutes of a Leader's Day by John Maxwell.

Ephesians 5:15 says, "So be careful how you live. Don't live like fools, but like those who are wise." (NLT) 

Many people give the quick answer, "I will just follow God's leading today."  They don't plan out their priorities and just respond to how God prompts them.

While that can sound good, and probably their intentions are good.  God gives us a brain and intelligence.  And in order to follow God's direction, we do need to spend time with God.  

But instead of going moment by moment being "led" by God, what if we started the day asking God what His priorities for us are.  What if we started each week asking God his priorities?  What if we started each month, each year...  You get the picture.

I believe that He would rather guide and direct us in advance, and as we spend time with Him, He will prepare us for the work He has for us to do.  

There are disciplines that we can develop and ask God to direct us.  
  • The discipline of a calendar. 
  • The discipline of a task list.  
  • The discipline of a block schedule.  
  • The discipline of scheduling time to "work on it" as well as "work in it." 
  • The discipline of time with a mentor or counselor.  
  • The discipline of reading to learn or participating in seminars, conferences, and other learning opportunities.

These are all tools that, when we are seeking God first, can and will serve to help us work more in line with God's priorities for our day/week/month.

The Pain of Leadership

The Pain of Leadership

What is the relationship of pain to leadership?  There are many people who want to be able to live the life of and be able do what successful leaders do.  But most of us don't want to go through what they went through to get there. 

Now there are a few people who got to ride an easy wave to success.  But that is the exception, not the rule.

Recently, I listened to Craig Groeschel talk about the pain of leadership.  Here is some of what he said:

"The difference between where you are and where God wants you to be may be the difficult decisions you are unwilling to make."

Then he listed three areas where we must raise the pain threshold if we want to grow as a leader.

1.  Raise the pain threshold of unjustified rejection and criticism.
  • The higher you rise, the more difficult the criticism
  • Don't fall for people-pleasing:  The quickest way to forget what God thinks about you is to become obsessed with what people think about you.
  • Don't worry when you are being criticized--worry when you are not.
  • If you are not being called a cult every now and then, you are not doing squat.

2.  Raise the pain threshold of making difficult decisions.
  • It could be that God is waiting to see if we will be faithful in this decision.
  • The classic parent discipline statement is also true when a leader has to make a difficult decision:  "This is going to hurt me more than it will hurt you."
3.  Raise the pain threshold of pruning us.
  • Everyone wants to do what I do, but no one wants to do what I did to get to be able to do what I do.

This reminds me of James 3:1  "Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly."