Leadership 101: Character or Competence?

12 04 2010

Spiritual leadership requires two major attributes: competence and character. However, when we think of leaders, competence often overshadows character.  Competence is the outward skills to accomplish God’s ministry. Character is the inward life of complete devotion to Christ. Competence is  important to a leader, but Character is CRITICALLY important. Why?

In Matthew 10:24-25, Jesus tells us that the student will become like his teacher. As a leader, you are an example.  The decisions you make, the language you use, the actions you take, your behavior, your attitude, and habits, both good and bad, may be imitated in the life of those you lead. As a spiritual leader, you are called to authentically model Christlike character. As you grow and mature in your devotion to Christ, others will grow with you and they will grow like you.

How is your example of Christlike character? What are those you lead imitating from your life…good and bad? What area of your life…language, actions, behavior, attitude, habits…do you need to address?

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. 1 Peter 2:21





Catalyst: The Star Trek Principle

24 09 2008

LESSON #12: Viewers followed the starship enterprise because it boldly went where no man had gone before. Leaders initiate and set standards. They have a compass in their head and a magnet in their heart.

LEARNING: This really hit me on a number of levels.

1. Epic. When I look the church across the United States…less and less people attend…more and more people think it’s irrelevant. At Epic, we are willing to blow up old paradigms, pioneer new methods, and use all the creativity that God has placed within us. Why? To just be different. No, but to “do whatever it takes” to reach people for Christ. I love the vision that God has given us and I personally could not live my life for any smaller cause.

What new dreams to you think God is dreaming for Epic?

2. Leadership. “Look at a man the way that he is, and he only becomes worse. But look at a man as if he were what he could be, and he becomes what he should be” The greatest cause deserves the greatest calling. Do you feel like you’ve reached your God given potential yet? I recently watched “We Were Soldiers.” I am always inspired by Hal Moore’s Leadership. I love this scene:

Personally God has been doing the Stretch Armstrong thing as a leader over the last couple years. When you are not growing, you declining. You can help me…

Where do I need to grow as leader? What area of my leadership should focus my energy to grow?





Catalyst: Gorillas in Hawaii

21 08 2008

HABITUDES LESSON No matter how big or impossible the task, leaders find a way to get the job done. Their passion helps them to be creative and their persistence enables them to finish what they start, whatever it takes.

LEARNING: The willingness to do “whatever it takes” is one of the key attributes of a leader. So often people settle for the status quo…the easy way out…the road of least resistance. When a leader hears the words, “It can’t be done!” it just energizes them to attempt the impossible. They press forward when it doesn’t come easy, the don’t stop moving forward despite failures and keep going until completion. Great things for God always require more work than we thought when we started, but I’ve found they are always more rewarding than I initially thought. What great things have you persisted through?

Here are my top three…

1. 1994: Getting land for a church plant in Ghana. People told me it was next to impossible to get land from the Ghanaian government. I kept asking agencies and didn’t stop persisting. The result: the government wouldn’t sell us the land, but they would GIVE it to us. Few years after I left Ghana, our little church plant of 50 people built a church and school on the land.

2. 1999: Growing a small group ministry from 0 to 1000 people in 5 years. The last church I served didn’t have small groups when I was hired. In the interview, the senior pastor even said, “You can attempt it, but I’m not sure it could be done here. Ushers are small groups.” He added it to my job description (without taking anything else off). A handful of us worked our buns off and hundreds of people connected in Biblical community.

3. 2005: Planting Epic. We started in my basement with a crazy vision that God could use us to reach people for Christ in a way that would make sense to them. We only had each other and our dreams. With a lot of sweat, failures and perseverance, God birthed a community of faith with a passion for people far away from God.

There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! Romans 5:3-5

I’m so thankful for the opportunity to use this one life I have for God’s glory.





Catalyst: Small Sprocket

14 08 2008

LESSON: Leaders are the small sprocket in effective change. We must spin dozens of times before the big gear makes one revolution. It’s part of the territory. Spin like crazy and eventually others will respond.

LEARNING: This Habitudes lesson rocked! Talk about encouragement and hope to keep going. How many times do you feel like you are spinning your wheels seeing little results? Keep spinning. You try to get people moving forward with a vision of what God is doing, but only a few have caught it?  Keep spinning. You feel like you are working hard, but the results just aren’t coming yet? Keep spinning…momentum is building

The critical learning for me is to not spin in a whole bunch of different ministry directions, but to spin on one thing – Vision Casting.  Think about the last chapter “barn building” and your crucial act that the rest of your ministry hinges on. What you are doing for God’s kingdom is critically important? Think specific. God has chosen you for this task and He wants to help you press on and succeed. Keep Spinning…the gears are turning…momentum is building.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6





Catalyst: Barn Building

21 07 2008

READING: John 15-20

HABITUDES IMAGE NINE: A Farmer Builds the Barn on the property before the house, because it will pay for the other structures. Leaders determine the critical transaction that enables everything else to happen.

LEARNING: Being a city boy, this is about the closest I’ve ever come to a barn. The door that made the “Moo” sound was worth doing over and over until mom said, “Stop it!”

When I was just began volunteering in the church, one of my youth mentors would often quote proverbs 14:4 when planning youth activities, “Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.” He would say in order to reach youth, it’s got to get a messy around her. He always kept the critical transaction in the forefront of our mind…it’s not about the building, it’s about the people.

Here are My Barns:

  1. Personally as a Leader: “Intentional Self Development.” If I’m not growing spiritual as a leader the church won’t grow spiritually.
  2. My Team: “Vision Casting.” If I am not envisioning where Epic is going, we will never get there.

Spend some time really praying through this one. Think of all your tasks in your ministry area or your team. What is the critical transaction? What’s the make or break function that’s the hub for success? Where do you need to invest in barn building?





Catalyst: Taxi Principle

16 07 2008

READING: John 11-15

LEARNING: Always ask the price before you get in the cab. As leaders we need to count the cost and prepare in advance before we set out on a journey.

Good Leaders see where God is taking the team before the team sees it. Great Leaders also see the upcoming challenges and difficulties the team will have to overcome before they get there.

Good Leaders know a price will have to be paid to reach the goal. Great Leaders identify the time it will take and the skills that will have to be developed for the team to achieve the mission.

Good Leaders set out to achieve great things for God. Great Leaders have the perseverance and tenacity to follow through until the very end.

What area of your life is God moving you from a good leader to a great leader?

For some inspiration to move from good to great…rent “Apollo 13.” One of the best movies on leadership.





Catalyst: Choir Director

10 07 2008

READING: John 6-10

LEARNING: Once again this Habitudes Lesson is chocked full of crucial and practical insights. In 1 Corinthians 12:1-27, Paul shares some of the most profound words ever said about the church. You can sense the urgency in his voice. He wasn’t just waxing philosophical…this is a real dilemma…real people with real disagreements. He knew people have a tendency when a tension develops to gossip, criticize or even take their ball and go home. In the kingdom of God, we need to check our egos at the door. Our natural tendency is TO THINK my opinion is the best, TO VALUE my contribution above others, TO PLAY only if I get something out of it and TO ONLY WORK together if it benefits me. This probably was happening in the church at Corinth and Paul says this is not how Christ’s church works. You now have the Holy Spirit to unite you together. These three insights jumped out at me.

1. You are uniquely gifted, but don’t celebrate yourself. You were gifted NOT for your glory, but God’s.

2. Others are uniquely gifted, so value the way Christ made them. You need them and can’t survive without them.

3. Coming together as one for Christ will take unnatural humility, uncommon commitment to each other and unrelenting commitment to Christ who is the head.

When the church is working together as one for Christ, there is nothing better in all the world. Now read 1 Corinthians 13…it wasn’t written for weddings. It was directed at the church!