March 11, 2009

Overcoming the Leader’s Funk

Funk is a kind of music, a kind of smell, and the name of a chemist who coined the term “vitamin.”  It’s also a place where ministry leaders hate to be.

I was reflecting on a flight to Chicago today about the obstacles achieving clarity that are not related to the visioning process itself. One of them is the leader’s funk.  Over the last ten years I have seen the funk break out at different times and places in the lives of clients, friends and in my own life.

How do you know you are in a funk?

  • Feeling tattered or tired – lack of energy
  • Feeling disoriented or disillusioned – lack of clarity
  • Feeling discouraged or depressed – lack of meaning
  • Feeling tangled or trapped – lack of freedom

I have seen the funk last as sort as 3 month or as long as 3 years. You are not in a leadership funk unless you have had substantial traction as a point leader in one place for a while, say 5 years.

Here are a few quick thoughts on rediscovering clarity, energy, meaning and freedom

Two things to know:

Every leader gets the funk– you are not alone or abnormal.  You are in a real place that leaders must go if they are effective leaders!

You will get out of the funk– patience is an important part of the big picture.  Do not try to muscle yourway out of a funk as it will make it worse.

Three things to do:

Find funkmates. One essential for navigating the funk is having safe people to talk with who give yousupport and sanity by providing some iota of hope, wisdom or energy.  They may just provide a laugh or smile that gets you through the day.  Recruit funkmates to pray for you and with you.

Rehearse beginnings. Reflect on the sweetest days on your life and the practices, experiences associated with them.  Re-romance your life by rehearsing early days when passion for God and people was born. If the Scriptures feel stale, don’t beat yourself up.  Just reflect on favorite texts.  Do whatever it takes just to crack the bible open and spend a moment with Jesus.

Maintain course. Don’t try to fix your funk by making dramatic changes in the organization you are leading.  It’s probably the safest bet to maintain the current heading until you pull out of the funk.

Be OK with yourself.  Your funk is probably your greatest opportunity to re-apply the gospel to your soul.  It’s your opportunity to re-establish your identity in the voice of the Father who says, “You are my beloved son or daughter in whom I am well pleased.” What good is your leadership anyway if you can’t model being OK with yourself in this desert season?

March 10, 2009

Innovation3 Highlights #i3

I had a great day of assessment today with Marty Nicholas and the team at Sugar Land First United Methodist.  One of the things that Marty mentioned is that he was bummed to have missed the i3 conference by Leadership Network last month.  Well many thanks to the folks at Leadership Network for their knowledge capture of the conference. Check out these one page links:

Risk & Failure 

Turning Your Biggest Idol into Your Biggest Benefit (Tim Keller) 

How to Zig When Others Zag (Stacy Spencer) 

Righteous Risk & Repentence (Mark Driscoll) 

Try. Fail. Learn. Adjust. (Craig Groeschel) 

What is Failure? (Pete Briscoe)

Shaping the Culture 

Monkey and the Fish: An Alternative and Contrarian Way (Dave Gibbons)

Courage to Change (John Jenkins) 

Engaging Culture and Deeping Your Church (Matt Chandler)

The Dangerous Church 

Provocative Leaders for a Dangerous Church (Nancy Ortberg) 

20/20 Vision (John Bishop) 

The Church on the Other Side: What Does the Dangerous Church Look Like? (Ed Stetzer) 

Catching Up With the Rest of the World (Bob Roberts) 

Missional Community

Lovin' Every Minute Of It (Dino Rizzo) 

Challenging People to a Missional Lifestyle (Matt Carter) 

The Foundations of Missional Community (Reggie McNeal) 

What is the Church? (Neil Cole) 

March 1, 2009

Vision is your MVP: Most Valuable Property

My friend Glenn Smith is the founder of New Church Initiatives and a certified Growth Coach. This little snippet came through my e-mail from him:

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” – Warren G. Bennis

Great leaders create the destiny and direction for their companies that motivates their team to pursue. Powerful visions galvanize groups and take them to new places and heights.

  • FedEx had a vision for overnight, guaranteed next morning package delivery.
  • Dominoes had a vision to deliver quality, hot pizza to your door in 30 minutes or less or it’s free.
  • Coke had a vision to have a refreshing beverage within the reach of every person around the world.
  • Microsoft had a vision to create beneficial software that would compel people to have a computer on every desk at work, home or school.
  • M.D. Anderson has a vision to make cancer history.
  • Disney had a vision to put a smile on the face of every guest and to make families smile.

Your vision is your MVP … Most Valuable Property. Realize that your vision has a cascading effect on everything else in your organization. Cloudy visions foster blurred and confusing priorities, employees, and disappointing results. Sharp visions foster clarity and powerful momentum.

Are you spending enough time creating and implementing your vision?

February 27, 2009

When Small, Short and Plain is Good

I just saw this article entitled Brevity in Church Solutions Magazine by my friend Bob Adams. After some recent meetings with church leaders I was reminded that this simple wisdom can easily be overlooked:

“When it comes to effective communication, small beats large; short beats long; and plain beats complex. Sometimes, visual beats them all.

The above quote, from Dr. Frank Lutz’s book, “Words that Work,” is an appropriate challenge for every leader. Good leaders communicate. They may use the written word, spoken word, or visuals instead of words, but good leaders communicate.

How are you doing in your communication? Are your words simple, to the point and memorable? Are your words consistent with your actions? Can the reader or listener visualize your intent?

Or, are no words at all the best path to take? We live in a society almost overwhelmed by the visual image – and we ask for more! Sometimes, a visual image is the best “word” we can use.

Communication – written, spoken or visual – is just a tool that you, as a leader, have at your disposal. But what a powerful tool. Communicate concisely with passion, purpose and persuasiveness, and you’ll be well on the path to becoming a great leader.”

February 26, 2009

Groeschel on Thinking Different: Culture, Programming, & Mission

Craig Groeschel, pastor of delivered a phenomenal leadership message today at the Catalyst One Day. I am posting notes from it here because the principles are so pertinent to the ongoing work we do each day with our Auxano clients as we walk the Vision Pathway. I want to thank Josh Brickey for posting these notes so quickly on his blog:

Busting Barriers with Mindset Changes- Craig Groeschel

1) Think differently about your church culture

Wrong Mindset: Our People won’t ______. (you fill in the blank). We tend to blame it on the people.

Mind shift: We haven’t led them to _____. (you fill in the blank). It’s not a people problem, it’s a leadership problem. We have to lead them to do what God’s called us to do.

2) Think differently about programming

Wrong Mindset: We have to do more to reach more. From Craig’s experience, the true spiritual impact decreased as the number of programs increased.

Mind shift: We can reach more by doing less. We do the things that we are passionate about and what God has uniquely called us to do. The only way to reach the people that no one else is reaching is to do the things that no one else is doing. What do you need to stop doing that you’re doing right now?

3) Think differently about the mission

In most churches, we really don’t believe in what we say that God’s called us to do. If we did, we’d do things differently. Elevate the mission and apply it relationally.

Wrong Mindset: We can’t hurt someone’s feelings. We often put people’s feelings above the mission.

Mind shift: We can’t allow someone to hold back the mission of the church. Do not hire and recruit for today and not for tomorrow. It will hard to do, but it’s the right thing. Some of you need to step into the pain and make the decision.

4) Think differently about people leaving the church

Wrong mindset: We can’t let anyone leave. When a church is insecure, people will feel it.

Mind Shift: We can grow when people leave. You love the long term gain enough to endure the short term pain. Create a culture that allows and empowers people to leave on good terms. LifeChurch tells their congregation “If you are not growing here, or if you’re not using your gifts here, go visit churches this month to see if you can do so there.”

5) Think differently about limitations

Wrong mindset: We can’t because we don’t. We say we don’t have the right budget, right worship leader, right stuff.

Mind Shift: We can because we don’t. Your greatest creativity and breakthroughs can come from our limitations. (Illustration: If I told a church that you need to come up with $100,000 by next Thursday, most would not be able to do it. But…what if your child was going to die by next Thursday if you didn’t have the cure. The cure costs $100,000. You would find a way to make it happen). God often guides by what he doesn’t provide. If you have the very thing that you want, you may not see what God wants you to see. Innovation is born out of limitation.


1) Find somone one or two steps ahead of you and learn how they think. Most want to learn what they do-not what they think.

2) Identify one wrong mindset and ask God to renew your mind with truth.

3) Identify one painful decision you’ve been avoiding and commit to make the decision no matter what the short term pain.