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Justin-Lathrop

Why the Best Leaders Are Sometimes Invisible

There is a pervasive stereotype that leaders are the ones in the limelight, the ones on stage, the extroverts with big personalities whose faces are on the front page. Like many stereotypes, I think this one is often unfair.

Some of the best leaders I know don’t demand up-front attention, but their leadership is powerful because of the fruit it brings.

Their teams or organizations or the individuals who come in contact with them are grown and propelled forward by the vision they have and by their strength, even if their vision and strength are quiet and unassuming.

One of the reasons I think quiet leadership like this is so powerful is because the burden of responsibility is taken off one person and transferred to many.

A group of people living up to their full potential is truly more capable than a single person living up to his full potential. This is easy to admit. Which is better—one person who is living out the gospel or a group of people with unified vision and purpose, all contributing equally to the community in his or her own unique way?

The answer is obvious.

So a leader, then, might sometimes be the person from stage, teaching and explaining and casting vision, but a leader might just as often be the one who is discipling, training or just living a life worth mimicking behind the scenes.

Chances are, this is happening over coffee or lunch or at home or in an office. No stage (or lights) needed.

The other thing I love about this view of leadership is that it acts as an important reminder that we are all leaders, if we’ll accept the job title.

We are leaders in our homes, with our families, in our marriages, at our work. We all have the opportunity to be someone who sets the tone for the year or the week or the day.

We can choose to not just respond to what life hands us but to set the pace, to cast vision, to inspire change.

When we do this, we suddenly start to impact people around us without even realizing we’re doing it. Their lives will change as our lives change. We can make an impact without asking for any credit.

The final reason I love this view of leadership is that my favorite leaders are humble people.

Some of those very humble people are “limelight” people, in the sense that they are well-known and sometimes on stage. But none of them are begging for the attention or asking for praise. In fact, each of them are willing to work hard and live their life in an honest, congruent way.

Their main objectives are to do what God has called them to do and to help others discover and do the same. They’re contributing to the kingdom in their unique way, and they’re doing it to the very best of their ability. I know up-front people who are doing this, and I know behind-the-scenes people who are doing it. But all of them are humble.

And people are noticing and changing.

It doesn’t take fame or notoriety to live this way. In fact, it doesn’t take anything other than just a willingness to work hard, be humble and welcome the grace of Jesus.

With more than a dozen years of local church ministry, Justin Lathrop has spent the last several years starting businesses and ministries that partner with pastors and churches to advance the kingdom. He is the founder of Helpstaff.me (now Vanderbloemen Search), Oaks School of Leadership, and MinistryCoach.tv, all while staying involved in the local church. Justin serves as a consultant in the area of strategic relations predominantly working with the Assemblies of God, helping to build bridges with people and ministries to more effectively reach more people.

For the original article, visit pastors.com. read more

Artie-Davis-blog

3 Big Things You Should Believe for Your Church

"Those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. ... Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ. ... And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. ... And there was great joy in that city" (Acts 8:4-8)

I’ve been thinking on this passage for a couple of days, and the more I read it, the more I see.

My faith is being challenged and my vision is being expanded.

Are you willing to believe God by actually beginning to act in faith on these three components of kingdom domination displayed by the first church in the book of Acts? read more

Discover-Your-calling

2 Questions to Help You Discover Your Calling

I spent most of my 20s floundering around, trying to figure out what I was “supposed” to do with my life. Actually, from the outside, it probably didn’t look much like floundering (I went to college, graduate school and got a great job). But on the inside, I felt lost. Chaotic. Confused. And really curious as to what it meant to find my “true calling.”

So by the time I was in my mid-20s, I had followed all the rules of adult life and had many of the things a “grown-up” was supposed to have, but I still didn’t feel like my life had deep meaning.

I still didn’t know what I was here for.

What was my calling? Did God give everyone a calling? How was I supposed to find mine?

Inspired by the story of the Rich Young Ruler and encouragement from a friend, I quit my job, sold everything I owned, moved out of my apartment and set off on a road trip to discover my true calling. I learned so much while I traveled, but perhaps the most important thing I learned was what it means to discover a deep and meaningful purpose for your life.

Based on that experience, here are two questions I think you can ask yourself if you want to discover what God has called you to do.

1. What am I passionate about? I was always so scared to ask this question—or to answer it—because although I would call myself a passionate person, my passions sort of scared me. If I were to follow my passions—really follow them—where would they lead me?

I wasn’t sure.

And besides, weren’t passions kind of selfish and frivolous? Wasn’t I supposed to chase what God wanted for my life instead of what I wanted? Wasn’t that what being a Christian was all about?

What I discovered when I started to uncover my passions—and admit them—was that my desires and dreams could actually act like a window to what God wanted for me. Talking about my passions helped to unlock my purpose in life.

For me, this looked like quitting my job to chase my lifelong dream of traveling across the country and writing a book about it. And yes, in the beginning, the “passion” was a little bit crazy and unbridled and even a tiny bit selfish.

But as I submitted my passion to God and invited Him into the journey with me, the passion has grown and matured to be something deep and beautiful and lasting. And it continues to grow in this way, as long as I allow him to be part of it.

2. Where do I see my passion changing others? This is important because if I ask the first question without asking the second question, I might end up chasing my “dream” of becoming a singer/songwriter.

And why not? I love to sing in the shower and the car and into my bedroom mirror with my brush as a microphone.

I assure you, if I were to chase that passion, the world would not be a better place. I mean, I love to sing, but I love to sing far more than other people love to listen to me sing, if you know what I mean.

Maybe you love to golf, but you have to ask yourself: How is the world being changed by your golf game? Maybe you love drinking coffee, but how can you help people and serve people and reach people with that passion?

It’s certainly possible. Callings come in all shapes and sizes. But it’s important to ask the question.

Of course, this isn’t a perfect formula. I’m not pretending like it’s failproof or that callings are cut and dry or that they don’t sometimes flux and change in different seasons.

Right now, I’m called to write. But I believe later in life I will be called to be a mom, and maybe even a grandma, and probably a whole host of other things too. I believe we have more than one calling in a lifetime and that our callings are constantly unfolding.

But I guess the biggest tragedy would be if we didn’t believe we had a calling at all or we didn’t believe that it mattered so we ignored our passions altogether or ignored our capacity for serving and connecting to others.

Please don’t let that happen. The world will be a better place when more of us wake up to what we were put on this earth to do.

Allison Vesterfelt is a Christian author. Her book Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life With Less Baggage was recently released.

For the original article, visit justinlathrop.com. read more

Muddy-feet

7 Suggestions for Navigating Change Through Muddy Water


Have you ever had to lead change when no one knew for sure what change was needed, when there wasn’t clear agreement on where the organization needed to go, when some players on the team were uncommitted or complacent, or when the leadership pipeline—who is supposed to be leading—wasn’t clearly defined? Have you ever had to lead change when the season of decline has been so long no one remembers what success looks like, or when ... you get the idea.

It’s like navigating through muddy water. Have you ever been there? read more

F-Luce

Ron Luce: Feed My Lambs

It’s no secret that almost 90 percent of those who come to Christ do so before the age of 20. Youth ministries are built upon the premise that the younger years are when the harvest fields are richest. 

But time and again, I hear senior pastors and church members express the same frustration: “I just don’t know what to do to get through to these kids!”

The good news is that “getting through” is easier than you may think. Put simply: Just feed them! (And I don’t mean just feed them pizza, though that may be a good start.) read more

Phil-Cooke

5 Things Traditional Legacy Ministries Must Do to Survive

Back in the 1950s and through the 1980s, there were some massive evangelistic and social-service ministries created that did amazing work around the world (and some still are). From Campus Crusade, the Jesus Film Project, Feed the Children, the Navigators, The Gideons—plus big evangelistic organizations like Oral Roberts, Billy Graham and many more—these ministry and nonprofit organizations had a global impact and raised hundreds of millions of dollars in the effort.

But today some of the large legacy ministries are struggling. After seeing many of these organizations from the inside, and from my experience engaging today’s culture, here’s five things these organizations need to do to transition and stay relevant to the next generation: read more

Dan-Reiland-Pastor-Coach

Dan Reiland: Big Ministry in Small Churches

The first church I served on staff was Lakeside Wesleyan Church in Lakeside, Calif. I was the very part-time youth pastor and lots of other stuff, and a full-time private investigator—just out of college at the ripe old age of 23.

The church had less than 200 in total attendance but was thriving with meaningful ministry. Richard Lauby was the pastor then, and under his watchful eye I learned much in ministry. From delivering my first sermon to reaching teens for Christ, it was a great adventure in learning how to make things happen with modest resources. read more

binoculars-vision

When Casting Vision, Pay Attention to the Language

The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them” (Gen 11:6).

When I travel to West Africa, my second home, it’s always frustrating. I know some of the language and can make my way through, but not well enough to really get anything done. So, my wife has to step in and speak the language (Her native home).

There’s a difference between just communicating and speaking the same language. When we speak the same language, a few words have the power to paint a much larger picture. And when trying to cast vision, you can’t just communicate, your words need the power to paint mind pictures. read more

Brad-Lomenick

12 Characteristics of ‘All In’ Leaders

Are you a leader who is “All In?”

I want leaders on my team who are “all in.” Coaches want players who are “all in” on their teams. Every organization out there wants employees and team members who are “all in.”

Being ALL IN as a leader means: read more

Artie-Davis-blog

Artie Davis: The Winner, the Whiner and the Wayward

“They have eyes, and yet they don’t see.”

Many leaders don’t see the fruit that is about to manifest in those around them. All they can see is the tree. A tree can look strong, weak, ugly or handsome, but that’s just the tree. The real test is what will it put forth.

Especially in a small town, I’ve found there are three kinds of people (trees) that I have to constantly be on the lookout for in order for our church to go where God intends it to go. They are: read more

I-am-the-boss

7 Casualties of a People-Pleaser in Leadership

Leadership is hard and every decision a leader makes is subject to opinion—lots of different opinions. Every hard decision a leader makes excites some and upsets others. At the same time, most of us who have positions of leadership want people to like us personally and in our role as a leader.

That leads many leaders into becoming victims of people pleasing. When we fall prey to pleasing people as a goal, we seldom lead people into what is best and are led more by opinion polls than vision.

Every pastor and leader I know agrees that people pleasing is not a good quality for a leader. Talking with hundreds of pastors every year, however, I’d have to say that this has to be one of the most frequent weaknesses pastors admit to me. For the pastor, when our aim is to please people, many times we are motivated more by what people want than even what God wants for the church. That’s dangerous. Hopefully I don’t have to build that case. read more

Os-Hillman-headshot-small

Competition Brings Division in the Body of Christ

Did you know there is a very common word that is used in our culture that you cannot find in the Bible? It is the word competition. Jesus never talked about it, but He did talk about the opposite of that word.

What is the greatest catalyst that allows the unsaved to make a decision for Jesus Christ? It isn’t prayer, though this is important. It isn’t good deeds, though deeds indicate a fruitful relationship with God. It isn’t good behavior, though Christ commands us to be obedient as sons. read more

Elated-pastor

Who Is Your Target Audience for a Specific Event or Sermon?


There is a counterintuitive marketing concept that we, as pastors, should spend some time contemplating: “If you try to reach everyone, you’ll reach no one.”

When you are promoting an event or sermon series, who is your target audience? Are you focused on a 35-year-old man who works in construction and has two kids, or are you focused on all men who might possibly see your sign or know someone who does?

When you focus your advertising (announcement) on a particular target audience instead of trying to reach everyone possible, you create energy and momentum. read more

blindfolded-businessman

Why Years of Experience in Leadership Can Be Blinding

Many times, as leaders, we are blindfolded by the experience we have gained over the years. We assume everyone knows what we know, but we forget what we once didn’t know.

I feel what I’m writing is elementary in the field of leadership. But what is elementary to one is high school or even college to others.

I’m not at all saying you can stop learning. That’s a dangerous thing for a leader to ever do. I’m saying to be conscious of the fact that if you are a leader, chances are you’ve learned a few things along the way to getting where you are today.

Remember, leader: read more

confident-young-man-small

Are We Warriors or Are We Tourists?

The local church should be a Holy Spirit training outpost for equipping God’s people to be kingdom warriors of love and servanthood on earth and to destroy the works of darkness. Instead, the local church is often operating more like a cruise ship instead of a battleship designed to equip an army.

I first met pastor Fred Hartley about five years ago when I was invited to be on a city transformation leadership team in Atlanta. Fred pastors a midsize congregation in a suburb of Atlanta and is also the founder of the College of Prayer, an international equipping ministry. Fred has written several books on prayer. He knew little about my work, but as we began getting to know one another, he took more of an interest in what I did. I shared a few of my books with him, but it was almost two years before Fred caught what I was doing and how it could impact his own local congregation. He wrote me this letter: read more

talk-to-the-hand

3 Ways to Stop the Naysayers

“The poor will be with you always,” Jesus said, but I’m sure He could have added, "The stupid vision killers will pursue you always.”

Acknowledge But Don’t React

As much as we would love to send to some of these to Gitmo for vision espionage, we simply don’t have that authority … sadly. But if we give their voice weight, they will keep looking for opportunities to complain.

Naysayers and complainers don’t have a desire to help in what they say. They are looking for a platform that will hear them and respond. It makes them feel empowered. read more

strategy-for-communication

9 Tips for Resisting the Overwhelming Pressure of Leadership

I am asked constantly by young leaders, “How do you handle the responsibility of leading something like Catalyst?”

Good question.

The reality is, anyone who leads a church, leads a company, leads a community, leads a nonprofit ministry, leads a team or even leads a family feels and knows the pressure of responsibility. And responsibility is part of leadership. Always.

You’ve heard this before: “You’re responsible for what happens. Don’t screw up!” Right! We hear this all the time from our parents, from our boss, from our boards, from our friends, from our spouses. read more

team-conflict-progress

Why Teams Rarely Rise Beyond the Level of Their Leader

Leaders, if you’re frustrated at the level of your team or vendor’s performance, look no further than the mirror.

Only in very rare cases will a team perform better than the level of their leader. Why?

Because the leader sets the boundaries, deadlines and guidelines. The leader creates the culture and sets expectations. As a result, no matter how gifted or creative a team is, if the leader is incompetent, insecure or inexperienced, the team can only work within that framework. read more

Justin-Lathrop

How to Beat the Slump in Church Leadership

Church leadership is difficult (in case you hadn’t already figured that out).

Some days it is easy to feel discouraged, to wonder why you work as hard as you do. Especially when you don’t receive the thanks you deserve. Especially when you don’t see the results you want. Especially when it’s been a long week or weekend—you’ve preached multiple services and tended to the needs of others, and even after all of that, you look around the room and wonder if it was enough.

Maybe you worry there are people you aren’t reaching, or maybe you see people hurting and don’t have the answers. read more

Perspective-glasses

How Perspective Can Be a Leader’s Best Friend

Last night I was reading in 1 Kings 12 as part of my daily reading plan. This pivotal moment in a new king’s reign is interesting to investigate.

I mean, we knew based upon a warning God gives to Solomon that the better part of the kingdom would be removed from the hands of his son. But how it happened is intriguing to me.

In the latter part of Solomon’s life, his great wisdom was not on display. In fact, I would argue that in the season his son, Rehoboam, was growing up, Solomon’s focus was on experiencing the pleasures of life. read more

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