The Problem with Both Talent and Charisma

Talent and charisma aren’t bad. They’re good. They’re gifts to be stewarded. In the Bible, Joseph and Daniel are two striking examples of both attributes and how God uses them to put us in places of expanding influence. The problem, however, with both talent and charisma is that they expand our influence whether our character is ready for it or not.

Keep a close watch on yourself and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right, and God will save you and those who hear you.

~ 1 Timothy 4:16 NLT

Joseph and Daniel were prepared, even through adversity, for the platforms to which God led them. Other leaders have not been so well-prepared.

Every time we hear of another moral failure of someone we respected in leadership, a range of thoughts go through our minds…

  • This didn’t have to happen! What a waste!
  • Those poor, innocent and unknowing spouses!
  • The children caught in the crossfire!
  • The church now dealing with the aftermath of a scandal!
  • The reproach upon the kingdom!
  • The ammunition we give to the naysayers!

At the end of the day, such stories should drive us to our knees in both repentance and in prayer for protection and purity. Satan is on the prowl and wants to devour everyone he possibly can, especially those who have talent, charisma, and the influence they purchase.

The problem with talent and charisma isn’t that they are negative attributes. It’s that they can create a stage presence for which we aren’t ready spiritually. They fall short without character and integrity.

So if you’re talented… if you’re charismatic… if your audience is growing, heed this: You need more! You need deep roots in the form of a solid and growing relationship with God, a sincere humility, transparent accountability, safeguards to protect you and your loved ones, and a determination to be a person of integrity.

The word integrity comes from the same root as the mathematical term integer, which is a whole number, not a fraction. In other words, integrity means being one, undivided individual. Integrity excludes double-living.

The problem with talent and charisma is that they fool us into thinking we’re important and invincible. So make sure you have the character to withstand the pressure that talent and charisma bring.

photo source: chungeez

5 Thoughts About Spending Your Leadership Equity Wisely

When you walk into a leadership opportunity, you go with a little bit of equity by virtue of your position and the inevitable honeymoon period during which those you lead will let you get by with just a bit more than they will a decade later, but you have to be very careful with that equity. Every decision you make, and every risk you lead your organization to take will require an investment of some of your leadership equity (the trust people place in you).

Make good decisions – your equity grows. Make poor ones, you lose and it’s nearly impossible to lead when you’re bankrupt of influence. As a Pastor put it whom I was recently listening to, “Choose the right color carpet today, the congregation may let you relocate them tomorrow.”

So how do you handle the equity you have?

Risk It, Don’t Horde It

Jesus told a parable about three investors, one of whom buried his lent wealth instead of risking it – he got in big trouble! The two who earned a return were entrusted with greater opportunities. You can’t walk by faith without taking risks.

Calculate, then Calculate Again

I used to apologize for making decisions slowly. I dont’ anymore because I remember my grandfather’s great carpentry wisdom, “Measure once, cut twice; measure twice, cut once.” When you think you’ve prayed it through and thought of all the possible outcomes, think it through one more time. In short: take risks, but don’t do anything dumb.

When You Decide, Decide Fully

Remember in the movies when they would ask, “which wire should I cut?” The bomb squad expert never says, “Well, I’m kinda thinkin’ the red one, but I’m not so sure, let’s give it a shot.” If you are leading in the right direction, lead with confidence and strength, otherwise stay put, but don’t balk. There’s always a penalty for balking.

Always Be Personally Invested

Don’t ask those you lead to take risks in situations where you don’t have to do so. Put something on the line. Make it personal.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Words “I Was Wrong.”

Those are tough to say, but sometimes we have to back up and ask forgiveness. Never proceed with a terrible decision if it becomes evident you should have led otherwise. Instead, use the recovery as a time to demonstrate strength the best you can.

Respect people who trust you. It takes a lot for people to trust you, so treat their trust like precious porcelain. It’s part of being a good shepherd.

Can You Share Your Vision in An Elevator Speech?

ElevatorThere are often crucial moments when we have an opportunity to be vision-casters with people, one-on-one. It may be a car ride making a visit, coffee with a fellow member, or a staff meeting with five extra minutes at the end. It begs the question, could I state my vision for my church if I only had a few floors to travel in an elevator with someone?

You see, vision is great, but it needs to be transferrable. Members of a church should be able to share their church’s vision with their friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors, but they can only share a vision that has been concisely articulated from their leadership. And a vision isn’t “reaching people” or “glorifying God.” Those are eternal purposes, universal to every church. A vision (in an elevator speech format) would be more like…

We’re going to be a church that wraps our arms around the broken with an abundance of both truth and grace. We’ll have a multiplying network of small groups where people can really bear each other’s burdens. And we’ll gather in the middle of the marketplace for passionate worship and relevant teaching each week. The community will be better because we’re here – marriages will be fixed, education will improve, and people with all kinds of hurts, habits, and hang-ups will find healing and recovery in a new life with Jesus.

That’s my elevator pitch. What’s yours?

photo credit: nycbone

It’s Easier NOT to Lead

Leading Out Front
Photo by reds on tour.

Leadership is a hot topic with plenty of aspiring and hopeful people clamoring for success in its arena. But the reality is that it’s easier NOT to lead.

When we aspire to leadership, we envision the good stuff – the people who will look to us for direction, the success of our organization, and the accolades of those who follow us. What we can’t really anticipate is the tough stuff – the people who will question us, leave us, and criticize us unfairly.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a leader with influence, or you hope to be. Stop. Take inventory. Is this what you really want? If you lead, you’re going to have to disappoint people, redirect people, confront people, motivate people to do things they aren’t quite ready to do, and while you may be respected, you will also be disliked and often, you’ll be alone.

Leadership and popularity sometimes occupy the same space, but are never the same thing. Decide which you want.

If you want to be popular, lead halfheartedly, if at all. If you want to influence people, then proceed full speed ahead. The invitation is open for more leaders, and there is certainly a vacuum in our culture waiting to be filled by leaders with character. But count the cost.

It’s easier not to lead. It’s easier to watch from the stands. It’s easier to go with the flow. There is less friction and less pain.

But in the end, maybe God isn’t calling you to do the easy thing.

5 Ways to Encourage Another Leader

Linking HandsEveryone needs a Paul and a Timothy (or several of each). That is, we all need to be learning from mentors and mentoring learners. There is always someone ahead of us and always someone just behind us. It is the role and responsibility of a leader to give another leader a lift.

So how can we, in a practical way, give another leader a lift?

1. Call a fellow leader on the phone and mentor them without even telling them you’re doing it. Just ask them a ton of questions about how things are going in their soul, their family, and their realm of leadership. Then offer encouragement and perhaps a little bit of advice. And pray with them.

2. Connect a fellow leader into a valuable relationship. I’m forever saying, “Oh, you need to know so-and-so.” It’s my way of putting people together when I think they need to learn from one another. How many connections is too many? I’ve been connecting with leaders and connecting leaders to other leaders for years now and my capacity to learn and be led by others has yet to fill up.

3. Send a book. A friend and mentor recently sent me a book on prayers for leaders. It’s become a great devotional resource. I passed a little book about connecting on to Bentonville, Arkansas’ Mayor, feeling it was a good fit for his business-political niche. Next to the connections we make, resources are everything, so pass them along.

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4. Ask a leader for help. Asking for a favor is empowering to people. I love helping others, and so do you. So allow others the blessing of helping you from time to time. A friend called me yesterday for advice about an opportunity before him. The opportunity was out of my league, but he wanted to know what I thought. I’m not sure if my advice was worth much in the end, but it meant a lot that he would ask me.

5. Produce something for others. I get so frustrated with the number of great leaders I know whose heads are filled with wisdom but who won’t write, won’t blog, and won’t speak anywhere. It’s free, quick, and simple to start sharing your knowledge with the world. And it’s only going to get easier. It’s a matter of being a good steward of the wisdom God has given us.

Don’t become so task-oriented today that you fail to turn away from the to-do list to challenge and encourage another leader.

Go, Disturb Your City

Disturb Your CityTwo thousand years ago, the good news of Jesus Christ had a tendency to upset entire social structures, flipping society upside down and leveling the playing field so that people from any position in life could have a restored relationship with God because of what Jesus Christ accomplished by His death on the cross. Throughout the New Testament, we read repeatedly of cities that were “disturbed” by the presence of the gospel (Acts 17:6).

This coming Sunday, I’m going to begin challenging those who are gathering as Grace Hills Church to disturb Bentonville, Rogers, and northwest Arkansas. That means we’re going to get intentional about infiltrating the culture around us, serving the city, loving the city, and changing the face of the city by the power of the life-changing message of Jesus Christ.

I’ll post the notes later, but I simply wanted to ask you – have you disturbed your city?

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