Pause, Stop, and Refresh

“The best leaders understand the difference between a tension you manage versus a tension you resolve,” according to Andy Stanley.

Leadership isn’t easy. Every decision you make earns the favor of some and the disfavor of others. Some are happy and others are not. Most leaders end up avoiding tense situations and allow them to grow into full blown conflicts.

Your ability to discern the difference between tensions you manage verses tensions you resolve “may determine the level of success a leader can sustain,” according to Ron Edmondson. Do yourself a favor and check out Ron Edmondson’s post, “7 everyday tensions of every leader must manage.”

  1. Displaying confidence without being arrogant.
  2. Making bold decisions while building collaboration.
  3. Showing strength while displaying compassion.
  4. Controlling energy towards a vision but allowing individuals to chart their path.
  5. Celebrating victory while not resting on current success.
  6. Learning from other leaders but being who you were uniquely wired to be.
  7. Spending time with people versus completing tasks.

As a leader, what tension do you face, and how do you manage or resolve it?

If You Want to Grow Others, Grow Yourself First

33 Leadership Lessons from The One Day Summit with Dr. E. Dewey Smith

I love adding value to church leaders, pastors, and marketplace leaders.

In an effort to add value to their lives, I decided to attend Pastor E. Dewey Smith’s One Day Leadership Summit in Atlanta, GA.

It’s no secret that I’m a HUGE fan of John Maxwell. In fact, his 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, along with Bill Hybels’ Leadership Axioms travel with me everywhere I go. Attending conferences that equip me to influence the influencer fulfills John Maxwell’s 15th Law – The Law of Contribution – Growing Yourself Enables You to Grow Others.

One Day Summit Pic

I must confess that in the beginning, my motivation for personal growth was selfish. I wanted to grow, so I could be successful. There were goals I wanted to accomplish and milestones I wanted to achieve. But along the way, I made a life-changing discovery. My progress in personal growth also opened the doors for others.

Therefore, I’d like to share the top leadership lessons from one of the greatest leadership minds in Christianity, Dr. E. Dewey Smith, Jr.

The Real Reason Why Change Rarely Works

3 Lessons On Change and Transition

I’ll admit, as a leader it’s quite easy to get caught up with a vision.

It’s natural because as leader’s we’re encouraged to look out for opportunities and then take the lead in making things happen. But sometimes we find ourselves alone out front and wonder what happened to the people we’re leading? Why aren’t they with us?

Do You Like To Fish?

Take a scenario of a group of people going fishing on a lake. Typical leaders get the vision, jump in the boat and are off to fish straight away. But the rest of the group may take a different approach. As the leaders look back, they find that half the people are still on the river bank.

Some are still prepping their fishing gear. Some are just starting to launch their boats. Others are on the water but are heading in the opposite direction. Some are going in circles, and still others haven’t yet even decided if they feel like fishing after all. That’s when you realize that only leading from the front doesn’t always help facilitate the transition.

A metal toggle switch with plate reading Change and Same, flipped into the Same position, illustrating the decision to work toward changing or improving your situation in life

We have a choice to change or remain the same.

John Maxwell in his book Winning with People admits that patience is not one his strengths. He says:

When I was younger I constantly cast vision for the people in my organization and then left them behind – not a good thing for a leader.

In the past sixteen years, Mars Hill experienced many changes.  But as exciting as that vision of building was, we know now that during the process we left some people behind. There were parts of the process whereas leaders we simply dropped the ball. Here are three humbling lessons learned:

It All Goes Back In The Box

I love the game Monopoly.  Not the online game…the real board game – the old school version.

The game Monopoly was originally created to highlight the pitfalls of greed, consumerism and the world banking system. Winning the game means having a monopoly – all the pieces, all of the properties, and all of the money. The only way to do that? Bankrupt all of the other players.  As good as it feels to bankrupt everyone, when the game is over, everything goes back in the box.



Life is like a game of Monopoly. You strategize, take risks, and wheel and deal to improve your position. But when the game is over, all the pieces go back in the box. When the game of life is over, your body is placed in the grave. Only eternal investments will follow you into eternity.

To get the most out of life, you must arrange your priorities around what matters most. A life that focuses on temporary prizes will result in disappointment when the game is over.  Consider today’s post as an invitation to join me on a journey to study the life of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21).

Be a friend and bring a friend to Mars Hill Baptist Church (8AM or 10:30AM) on Sunday, February 22, 2014.

The Most Important Lesson I Learned From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In 1954, The Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, AL called Rev. Dr. Martin Luther, Jr. to serve as their pastor. He was just 25 years old.

A year after he arrived in Montgomery, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a public bus, and King led the Montgomery bus boycott to end segregation. His decision to lead the boycott would thrust him into the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement.


Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

Leadership isn’t about having a title. Often, the strongest leaders in an organization, and in life, are those who don’t have official titles. Who gave King permission to make a difference? No one! Why:

You don’t need permission to make a difference. 

King’s most powerful asset was his ability to focus on the task at hand. Focus and determination beat brains and intellect every time. You don’t necessarily have to be smarter or better educated to succeed.

Your power lies in your ability to focus on doing what is important. If you focus on the right things, and work at them often, you will achieve exceptional results.

Again, you don’t need permission to make a difference.

I Am Because of Him | Happy Birthday Frat!

On Christmas Day, I took my family to see Selma.  It was an entertaining movie, but being a Martin Luther King, Jr. fanatic, I did not recognize many of the speeches presented in the movie.  Why?  In 2009, the King Estate licensed his speeches to DreamWorks and Warner Bros. (along with the rights to his life).


Because King’s speeches are licensed to another project, Selma’s filmmakers had to find a way to re-create the meaning of MLK’s words without plagiarizing.  That means they had to rewrite MLK’s words.  The film skirts close to MLK’s words without using them.

One of the most memorable scenes occurs when Martin Luther King, Jr., while preaching to the congregation, explains why equal voting rights are crucial.  He rallies them to stand up for their rights and sparks a movement that would change the world.

It is unacceptable that they use their power to keep us voiceless. As long as I am unable to use my constitutional right to vote, I do not have command of my own life. I cannot determine my own destiny. For it is determined for me by people who would rather see me suffer than succeed. Those that have gone before us say, ‘no more! No more!’ That means protest. That means march. That means disturb the peace. That means jail. That means risk. And that is hard. We will not wait any longer. Give us the vote. We’re not asking. We’re demanding. Give us the vote!  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Happy Birthday frat!  You stood tall among giants and I am because of you!

Humbling Leadership Lessons In Change & Transition – Pt. 3

Humility increases our appreciation for God. To respect God’s majesty, we must compare ourself to his greatness. When we look at creation, we often feel small by comparison. To feel small is a healthy way to get back to reality, but God does not want us to dwell on our smallness. Humility means proper respect for God, not self-depreciation.

In 2011 saw some exciting changes at the Mars Hill Baptist Church. But as exciting as that vision of building was, we know now that in the process we left some people behind. There were parts of the process where as leaders we simply dropped the ball. During this three-part series, my purpose was to share three humbling lessons learned. If you missed reading Part 1 and Part 2, you can read them HERE and HERE.


Bishop's WP 7_000012

(Sanctuary Renovation – 2011)

So, what did I learn?

Humbling Leadership Lessons In Change and Transition – Pt. 2

I am surprised and humbled by the overwhelming response to this week’s post, “Humbling Lessons In Change & Transition.”  If you missed it, you can read it HERE.

renovation 4

 (Sanctuary renovation – 2011)

In 2011, I shared some new and exciting changes at Mars Hill Baptist Church.  But as exciting as that vision of building was, we know now that in the process we left some people behind. There were parts of the process where as leaders we simply dropped the ball.  I believe you can learn a lot from your failures if you’re willing to admit and learn from them.

Renovation 3

(Sanctuary renovation – 2011)

First, I learned  how buildings house memories.  Therefore, it is wise not to erase their significance. Parents have introduced their children to the church and sat Sunday after Sunday in the pews together. Others have said goodbye to loved ones and those last few words in that place were significant.  In addition to learning the significance of buildings, I also learned how change can happen quickly but, transition often follows more slowly. 

Sacrifices Leaders Make – Part 3

Sacrifice is being willing to give up something good for something better.  Life is full of boundless possibilities, but in order to transform a possibility into a reality we have to choose — sacrificing the many in order to attain the one.  My previous posts suggests, as a leader you sacrifice your time and energy.  In case you missed it, you can read it HERE and HERE.

ego case 1Nothing is gained without something relinquished.

Sacrifice has meaning only in the context of a goal, dream or mission. In pursuing these, we often face obstacles which require us to forfeit physical or emotional comfort in the service of something that matters more. Often, the greater the dream or vision, the greater the shared sacrifice required to attain it. Sacrifice is easier when we stay focused on what we are choosing rather than what we are giving up.  In addition to sacrificing time and energy, As a Leader you sacrifice your Ego

Sacrifices Leaders Make – Part 2

Successful leaders don’t rest on their laurels, because leadership is not a title on a business card.  Leadership is a living process – and that means growth, according to Ken Blanchard & Mark Miller in Great Leaders Grow.  Ask any leader “what it takes to become a great leader” and I guarantee you sacrifice is right at the top of every successful leader’s list.

My previous post suggests, as a leader you sacrifice your time.  In case you missed it, you can read it HERE.  I once heard someone say, “in order to go up, you must be willing to give up something.”  A true leader will sacrifice their personal agenda for the sake of an organization’s goals. In addition to sacrificing time, as a leader you sacrifice your energy.

draining energy

The task of being an effective leader requires diligent effort and sacrifice. The principles of servant hearted leadership encourage an aspiring leader to invest themselves in others. This means that you need to pour energy into your team and organization. As a result there will be many emotional, mental and physical demands on you.

When preparing for leadership, know that you will have to sacrifice your energy. To counter this, find ways in which you can keep your energy levels up so that you can remain effective as a leader. Physical fitness has great benefits and is one way in which you can keep your energy resources renewed. The important thing is that you be prepared. Don’t underestimate the sacrifice of energy that leadership requires.

What do you do to keep your energy levels up?