13 things in 13 years… Leadership & Life

13 things in 13 years… Leadership & Life

This month marks 13 years in ministry as an adult. In the past 13 years, I have learned a lot and wanted to share with my readers and friends some of the greatest leadership principles and life lessons I’ve learned. Not by any means am I saying that I am perfect in all of these things, but I something that I am consistently doing or improving in. All of life is a process of and for growth…

  1. Jesus is Everything
    Jesus is the main thing and matters more as we sojourn through life. He is the rhyme and reason for life. The centrality of all of life is found in him. Jesus is the ONE we worship, love and Gospel we teach/preach. He is the ONE we point people to. We give him pre-eminence as he has all authority and power. ALL that we do, should be from an overflow of intimacy with Jesus and in devoted obedience to him.  He is the only truth & way to salvation and hope in life. This is our first priority as leaders. Acts 17:2-3 | Colossians 1:15-23; 2:2-10; 3:1-4 | John 1:1-18; 14:1-14 | Luke 2:36-38
  2. Trust the Voice of the Holy Spirit
    Right before Jesus ascends to heaven to be at the right hand of the Father… he sends us the Holy Spirit. The leadership of the Holy Spirit is so crucial to the day to day life that we live. The Holy Spirit bestows gifts from the Father to us to live accordingly in regards to the Great Commission. We are also empowered to live according to the Gospel and commissioned to walk out the Sermon on the Mount as a lifestyle. We must subscribe to the leadership of the Holy Spirit!!! He is the leader Jesus gave us… so we must walk in his ways! Beloved, leave plenty of room for the Holy Spirit to move through your services and lives as he deals with our hearts. The Holy Spirit is actively alive as a person to Counsel, Convict, & Comfort Us. Acts 1:1-8; 2 | John 14:15-31; 16:5-15 | Luke 24:49
  3. Define the WIN
    As if to say… what’s the purpose? As leaders and in life in general we have to know the purpose to why we do whatever we do. No matter what it is, such as planning an event, preaching a sermon or partnering with an orphanage, the WIN is vital. This WIN keeps your focus, allows you to set goals and makes leading others easier. Vision, Mission, and Core Values all shape your WIN. Great questions to ask yourself – “What is the WIN for my life, family, business and/or ministry/church?” Another question to ask – “How can I help someone else defined their WIN?
  4. Authentic Community Matters
    This is a big one for me. Simply put, the people you do life with matters. Your close friends and family, your spouse, your business partners, your mentor and the ones who speak directly into your life – all make up this authentic community. You set who is in this community. BE CAREFUL who has an ear to your voice AND whose voice you have an ear to. Your authentic community must have the right to support/champion, encourage, confront & correct you. Your community needs to be people who love and believes in you, not just what you do or what they can get out of it/you. God is a god of relationship and community. More about friendship and authentic community…
  5. Rest well
    The hated 4-letter word for a hard-worker. Often times, this is one of the hardest things to do especially as it relates to ministry and entrepreneurship. REST! We’re called to rest and it’s biblical people. Our God, the Creator of the Universe, rested after creation. Most of the miracles of Jesus are surrounded with Jesus resting either before or after the miracle. When I think of resting well, I am always reminded of Psalm 127… Isn’t it funny right before the fruit (offspring/children) comes from the man’s labor, rest was a need. Do not neglect the times of resting in the Lord. In a society that always has a constant go and move now mentality, God calls us to rest. Even the battle in the mind feeling like we always have to be doing something, God calls us to rest. Make no mistake about it there are things to do, important things… but rest is needed in order for you to not burn out. You and I can rest in the finished work of the Cross. Interestingly enough… resting well requires being refreshed and being refreshed comes from repenting as we spend quality time with Jesus.
  6. Forgive quickly (Move forward)
    Simply move forward from the hurt and pain. I have learned after several years in ministry to just let things go. Forgive quickly and move on as you free yourself from the burden. I love how Jesus handles no doubt with joy a moment of denial from Peter. He poetically tells Peter to keep the WIN alive by feeding Jesus’ sheep (people). The Bible never records Jesus seeking an apology from Peter for denying him or even Peter offering one up. They just moved forward with the mission. This is to say regardless if you ever get an ‘I’m Sorry’ or apology from the person that done you wrong — FORGIVE & PRESS FORWARD IN YOUR MISSION. If you don’t pain will cripple you to move forward and the weight of it all will consume you.
  7. Own the mistake/Failure isn’t final
    We have all been there and done something completely stupid. We’re humans after all. I’m personally all to acquainted with the apostle Paul’s statement of doing what I don’t want to do (Roman 7:15-20). If you make a mistake, own up to it and don’t make excuses. Repent quickly and seek counsel, if need be, from a trusted friend. This is a sign of a true leader. Leaders are willing to take responsibility even if it’s not a wrongdoing of theirs. Likewise, we will all fail at something. You are not your failure. It doesn’t have to define you and keep you in chains/bondage. Break free from it by owning the failed thing by admitting to it. Failure is not your identity and it isn’t final! “TRANSPARENCY… light can only shine through something that’s transparent.” – Chad Veach // Sidenote: True leaders also at times own the mistake of others so that they don’t have to bear the guilt, shame, exposure, and punishment. Don’t believe me… look no further than Jesus himself and the Cross. We are all recipients of this.
  8. Be Guarded
    Sure this one could have fit under “Authentic Community Matters” but this is so important that I had to make it a separate point. GUARD your time, heart, and yes.  Are you married, guard your marriage/spouse? Those with kids, guard family time. This is not about a defensive strategy, but rather an offensive tool and protection. You must protect yourself. The right yes, to the wrong person or time, is so damaging as a leader. Develop boundaries and create personal policies/procedures for this. We as leaders must strategically cultivate the “art of no” so that we can produce the “fruit of yes.” I remember 12 years ago, I had a huge opportunity at an amazing church, but I turned it down, to protect my character. Often, we think of faith as saying yes to impossible things. We also need to look at it as saying no to something great, because we know God has something better. Hard but needed as a leader.
  9. Be faithful & faith-fill
    Are you found in the house of being consistent and then filled with faith? Like when people describe you, do loyal, supportive, constant and steadfast come to mind? How about a person who just believes the absolute best of an impossible situation? These two character traits are so crucial to a leader as they set the trajectory of your calling. Be faithful in your time, resources and friendship. Be faith-fill to the point where people look at you a little crazy because overwhelming hope and joy are displayed. Surround yourself with these types of people… it is contagious!
  10. Honor unconditionally
    I know, I know… we like the honor part but hate unconditionally part. It’s hard, so I really do get it. But if we want to lead well, we must also honor well. How’s your honor in public AND in private??? This could make all the difference. How about your honoring even when it’s not reciprocated? “Honor is vital in the Kingdom. A culture of honor that seeks to uplift and encourage others produces superb growth conditions.” – Graham Cooke
  11. Enjoy the journey
    Life is but a vapor… here one moment and gone the next. Enjoy the journey God has you on, no matter if it wasn’t what you expected or schemed up in 7th grade.
  12. Pray always. Worship always.
    Prayer has the power to make ordinary men and women, extraordinary, SO PRAY. No matter the season of life, and no matter the circumstances – Prayer and worship ALWAYS win. I have personally talked myself out of crazy things just by praying or rocking out to worship. When life gets you down… worship lifts you up.
    – If we fail in prayer, we fail everywhere.
    Pastor Daniel Gray
    – Any sermon that is not birthed in prayer is not a message from God no matter how learned the preacher.  A.W. Tozer
    If God answered all your prayers would it change the world or just your world?Pastor Chris Hodges
    – Worship is our response to what we value most. As a result, worship fuels our actions, becoming the driving force of all we do. – Pastor Louie Giglio
    Your worship provokes victory. Pastor Johnathan Key
    – Worship reminds us who God is and who we are. As our soul worships, we stay level, grounded in God, and become our authentic selves.Pastor Judah Smith
    Previous Journals on Prayer & Worship: My Prayer Is Worth It |  A Dog and Her Crumbs  |  Embrace the Worship
  13. Comparison kills
    Maybe one of the most dangerous things we can do in ministry is to allow the comparison game to get the best of us. This game is consumed with jealousy/envy, vanity, friendly fire and unhealthy need for competition. The church/ministry, event, and leader are not in competition with me and what I am doing. We are on the same team. Yes, it is wise to see what others are doing & how they are doing it. Sure “borrow” an idea or fifty-two… but obsessing with their model, their size, their leadership focus/style and their arts/media is super unhealthy. I cannot help but wonder even in my own life how much this comparison shapes my thinking. Every time I get on Instagram or Facebook and see the latest, I wonder how damaging it is to my own soul seeing well-meaning people I admire doing things I want or dream of doing. If you and I aren’t careful, we will end up wishing we were someone else and lose focus on our calling, gifts, and purpose.We all have a race that we have to run, but I can’t run my race while watching yours in your lane. I think Robert Madu gives the best picture of this while ministering about Saul and David. Longevity in ministry is paved when we get our focus off of others and back on God and the WIN.

13 things in 13 years... Leadership & Life

Leadership Principles and Life Lessons