Category Archives: leadership

Below are some nuggets on “leadership” that I learned while being beaten senselessly by his younger brother, “failure”

Impulsive Callings: The “what” may not include the “when”

Has God ever called you to something risky?

Adventurous? Exciting? Perhaps through a prophetic word, a confirmation, an opportunity; maybe through a divine revelation, the kind that gnaws at you when you lie in bed, and consumes your thoughts; or a burden, as though you felt the very heart of the Lord on the matter. Regardless of the form it takes, one thing is certain. God calls us to obey—often in ways outside of our comfort zone—and that, in a very mysterious and satisfying way, is exciting. I remember when Brianna and I experienced God’s calling on our life, and the urge we felt to obey God in that moment. We immediately rearranged our lives, not to mention our emotional and mental state of mind. Unfortunately, that calling never materialized, and we were both left wondering if we heard from God all those years to begin with.

The examples of my friend, Dominic Balli, are exemplar. In one conversation I had with him, he brought up some dreams and ambitions of music God put on his heart, that he pursued for years, and are only just now transpiring. After we shared mutual stories (and laughs), he pointed out that many of those grand callings God put on his life didn’t take place for eight to ten years later! Then a sobering thought: When God gives you a calling, he is not necessarily giving you the timing.

Why am I saying this?

I have seen friends and peers ruin their lives by prematurely chasing God’s calling.

For example, I hear lines like these a lot:

“I’m called to ministry—right now!”
“I’m supposed to be with that guy/girl—right now!”
“God’s calling me to this job—right now!”
“God is telling me to move to Russia—right now!”
“I think we are supposed to get married—right now!”

The pattern is predictable: God’s calling = right now.

Sometimes God may call you to the former, but you mistakenly assume the latter. Unless you hear God giving you a time, or a specific command to “move immediately” you should consider that He might be revealing his plans just to excite you, or refocus your attention on him, not so you can “help” make it happen. When you rush too quickly, you end up working outside of His will by pursuing a God-given calling through power-hungry cravings and willpower; God never blesses those self-reliant efforts. Here, outside of God’s will, your calling will likely not happen the way you envisioned, and you will find yourself entertaining all sorts of explanations, dead ends, and endless circles of confusion. Kind of like I did at the beginning of the story. Where did we go wrong? We moved without him telling us when. Premature obedience is still disobedience.

So what should we do with God’s big callings?

Maybe two examples from the Scriptures will help; one, Joseph, the other, Mary. Read the rest of this entry

Why you should write a personal mission statement

Last week I railed about the mess of New Year’s resolutions that are motivated only by a longing for self-worth.

Assuming it sunk in, I want to back up the drama horse a bit and balance that chariot. See, the LACK of structure or goals can have the same effect. It goes something like this…

Well, since Jesus loves me, I’m not going to be proactive.

Well, since my wife loves me, I don’t have to vacuum the carpets anymore.

Well, since my boyfriend loves me, I don’t have to tell him I appreciate him.

Well, since Y3K is coming eventually, I don’t have to create a budget.

You get the point. It’s still good to plan, and even New Year’s resolutions can be fine, if they flow out of your identity as an image-bearer of God instead of sucking on your identity.

But instead of making New Years resolutions, I prefer to make personal mission statements.

Ever make one of those?

Remember those nice corporate buildings in the 90′s that always sported those engraved plaques in their foyers with a pithy statement expressing why you should care about them?

Those were mission statements.

A mission statement is a short description of an objective to which you are called.

Business do these a lot, and some are really good…

“Finding the very best ingredients raised with respect for the animals, the environment and the farmers.” – Chipotle

Simple, clear, and driven. They know what their goal is, and whether or not they’re reaching that goal.

Other mission statements, well, not so much…

Guided by relentless focus on our five imperatives, we will constantly strive to implement the critical initiatives required to achieve our vision. In doing this, we will deliver operational excellence in every corner of the Company and meet or exceed our commitments to the many constituencies we serve. All of our long-term strategies and short-term actions will be molded by a set of core values that are shared by each and every associate. – Albertsons Read the rest of this entry

Need Driven vs. Call Driven

If your life is out of control, chances are that much of what you do is reactionary.

Emergencies happen, you attend to them. Problems arise, you solve them. Things break, you fix them. Sometimes it feels like you’re just waking up reacting to life. Ever feel like your spinning your wheels on temporary nonsense?

Sometimes, I’ll come up with a dream of sorts—nothing big, but still important—for example, a project to work on my car. Of course this will NEVER get done, because the phone rings, the appointments stack up, and other projects arise that are more urgent than the things I wish I could get to. That’s the key word, by the way: urgent. Urgent will drive you crazy. Urgent will also steal all of your time, and if you let it, will be happy to do so. There will always be exceptions to anything, but I would like to share something I’ve learned from my church that has revolutionized my calendar.

“Urgent” isn’t always “paramount.”

You don’t have to save the world from all its problems. In fact, you can’t…to think so would be naive, at best, and arrogant, at the worst. Most of us know this, and don’t expect one another to handle all of life’s garbage from a global perspective. And yet, on a personal level, we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by every urgent matter that speaks loudly enough! May I suggest a better way?

It’s better to be call-driven instead of need-driven.

If you answer every offer given, every emergency that comes up, and every opportunity that arises, you by nature are a need-driven individual. Your actions are determined by whatever need presents itself at the moment, and are reactionary by default. You’re driving motivation is the need, and your hope is that you can solve every need. You will quickly self-destruct under the weight.

Being call-driven is world’s apart. You will still be presented with all the same problems, all the same opportunities, and offers in which to engage.

Call-driven means you are willing to be led by God’s Spirit instead of being led by problems and opportunities.

When you are call-driven, you are not obligated to say yes to everything. In fact, you’ll find yourself saying “no” more often. But the basis for saying “no” is not cruelty or insensitivity, but an understanding that you are only capable of handling so many things, and a desire to devote your life to a few important things. Of course, it is easy to abuse this as a cop-out for being lazy. Don’t question whether you are called to help a senior citizen with their groceries (common sense), or if you are to refrain from gluttony (biblical sense).

Choose your battles wisely.

Pray. Seek the face of God. Urgent things are not always your things.

Take the problems and opportunities of your life, and lay them before Jesus in prayer. Then do what he places on your heart.

Do you ever feel like you don’t have enough time in a 24 hour day to do everything? How do you go about it?

[15/30] God doesn’t need me to be extroverted like someone else.

The 3rd ingredient on my 30 year learning spree is this:

God doesn’t need me to be extroverted (or introverted) in order to be faithful.

I am an INFJ, a rare personality type, making up only 1% of the world. I wish it was a rarity due to inherent charm or appeal, unfortunately, the results are less flattering. Without boring you with the spicy details, INFJ means that I am a freak of nature that does not play well with others. Grrr.

The strongest feature of my personality is introversion, which is that specific wiring that causes me to retreat into the corners of my mind where the only person who can understand me is, well…me.

I’m exaggerating, but you get the point.

Some people call this “solitary”—like when people call Jesus a good person—and that would be a generous exaggeration. The truth is, I put the “tude” in solitude. And as if I weren’t withdrawn enough, I married an introvert: Brianna. While we are different types of “introvert,” we both still find tremendous energy in seclusion. You should see us after a week of being around people nonstop: I’m like Grizzly that’s been deprived of… whatever it is that Grizzlies do. We have found that space is needed in order to re-enter the rhythm of our lives fully energized. A lot of people mistake this for being anti-social, shy, or just plain self-absorbed, but this could not be farther from the truth–I love people. Why would I be a pastor if I hated others? It’s because I love people that I must recharge with the appropriate amount of solitude so that when I am around others I can give them the fullness of my attention. If I don’t immediately talk to you in conversation, it’s probably more due to my deep-thinking tendencies, and desire to give a thoughtful answer than it is to any aloofness (although, I can be aloof more than I desire). This is how introverts often operate.

Extroverts are entirely different.

They process things by verbalizing them (not by dwelling on them), and they get most of their energy by being around people often.

The church needs both extroverts and introverts.

But I am writing this article because extroverted behavior seems to be the normative standard set in place for a growing Christian. Yet over half of the church is made up of introverts–thoughtful, meditative, deep-thinking, people who are generally reserved, with an aversion to speaking in crowds. (Of course, few of them know each other exists because they DON’T TALK!) In addition, we have created worship practices that are extroverted by nature (talk to them, do this, say that, get to know one another, lift your hands, sing loud, express yourself, be more passionate, etc), which has probably caused those of you who are more reserved to feel shame. We have been told that we are supposed to adopt a certain personality that is more conducive to godliness, and that’s a lie. As a fellow introvert, I want to apologize for this, and assure you that you are wired correctly, having been made in the image of God, and you don’t need to change.

You were made in the image of God with the personality you have.

Peculiar question: What personality do you think Jesus is?

5 ways to do more in less time

I am well associated with people who do not have time to do anything. Some excuses are reasonable (“I have five kids”), others less so (“I want to sleep in”). The latter may have lives that are well intentioned, yet poorly planned. But the business of life will swiftly teach that unless you are proactive, you will always be chasing tomorrow’s tail.

“Not having enough time” is an abused statement.

Just like “I’ll pray about it” is often abused when people are asked for assistance. We have more time than we think, but we often waste it on secondary priorities. In that case, you’re busy not for lack of time, but for lack of prioritizing. Has the thought occurred to you that you may live in an unmanageable schedule because you overpacked for the trip? If I am overwhelmed, it’s not my calendar that’s to blame, but my tendency to prioritize whatever comes up in the moment,* instead of what I planned for last week, because, well, I never planned anything last week, so I am at the whims of emergency. No one is to blame but me. I am not the victim. Nor are you.

You have the same 24 hours as the President of the United States, and he’s much more busy than you.

“Yeah, but he’s the president; he has resources, manpower, money, etc.”

Exactly. He gets pushed into a corner everyday, and has to figure out how to get his job done. He can’t pretend to be victimized, because there’s no one higher up the chain of command that will listen. He has an unbearable load of obligation that forces him to be tenacious, willing to carve up his day planner, and when necessary, to make sacrifices. And if he can do it, you can too. You can start by asking a few questions of yourself…

  1. what are the five most important things you need to get done this week?
  2. can you reschedule around these main priorities?
  3. can you delegate some of your obligations to other people?
  4. what can you put off until next week to attend to your five priorities today?
  5. what meaningless activities can you drop to free up more time for what counts? (sleep, video games, T.V., etc.)

Don’t waste your day.

3 stewardship lessons from a lentil field

Without parallel, one of the most hilarious battle scenes in the Bible is found among one of David’s celebrated ‘mighty men,’ Shammah. It was difficult to read and take seriously at the same time. It’s ok—he took himself seriously enough for both of us…

And next to him was Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines gathered together at Lehi, where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the men fled from the Philistines. But he took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and struck down the Philistines, and the LORD worked a great victory (2 Sam 23:11-12, NASB).

So after I got done laughing at the poor chap’s zeal over an alluring piece  of real estate…

…I realized that Shammah was so unabashedly dedicated to a cause that even seemingly insignificant spaces within his cause were not too mundane. He fought as if he were fighting for the king.

Because he WAS!

I’m reminded of this by Brandon’s prior post on difficult job situations. I’ve had my fair share of jobs, relationships, outcomes, etc., all of which made me feel like I too was babysitting a dumb lentil field. But here are 3 things I think we can take from Shammah in order to salvage wasted space…

  • God’s purpose is to renew, restore, and redeem all environments and the people in them.
  • God’s mission attributes value to your space even if it feels unremarkable
  • When God’s purpose and mission assimilate yours, you tend to find joy in even the smallest things because everything God does is wonderful

Fight for God’s lentils!!

[15/30] More rest and less activity

One of the 15 things I learned turning 30 is that I am not the world-changing Energizer Bunny I thought I was.

As a twenty-something I’ve always prided myself in charging hard in everything I do. But I never gave much thought to longevity.

God apparently did when he inserted the Sabbath into the Ten Commandments.

Am I going to last at this crazy pace? Three decades and a newfound loss of breath tells me that my exorbitant, childish passion will get a lot of stuff accomplished for God’s kingdom before killing me at 40.

Do you think we live too fast? Does the Sabbath apply to us today?

The Kiln Sessions

We recently held our first half-day workshop on worship ministry, and worship leading in the life of Reality Santa Barbara|Carpinteria|Ventura. We are still uploading all the workshops and clinics, but we thought we would post some of the main sessions online so that they would be made available. These are the three done by Dominic Balli, Stan Sinclair, and myself, on the dynamics of being in a band.

I highly recommend listening to Dom’s piece on Sharing the Pie. That was a hit for band dynamics that every single person that plays on a worship team should understand. The introduction to worship is a 30-minute breakdown of our philosophy of worship ministry at Reality. Listening is a workshop aiming to help musicians compliment each other in a worship setting. We hope it blesses you!

You can listen to and download them at

(We apologize, but the workshop with Dom on following the Spirit got cut short. There’s still a good eight minutes on it though).

Spiritual gifts are no sign of maturity.

Gifts are evidence of grace, which is by nature an act of God towards helpless people.

Paul even alludes to this several times with the Corinthians,

“I will write about the special abilities the Holy Spirit gives to each of us” (1 Cor. 12:1, NLT)

When we start thinking of spiritual giftings as those abilities that reflect our spiritual growth, it is easy for us to follow-up with one of two mistakes:

  1. We think so highly of ourselves that we no longer feel the need to mature
  2. We think so highly of others who are gifted, that we get crushed when they fail

But spiritual gifts do not necessarily reflect how close you are to God. Rather, they show how gracious He is to you. We need to look no further for a case in point than King Solomon, whose monumental talents got overshadowed only by his monumental mistakes, as well as the grace to cover them both.

Solomon’s resume? Well…he was endowed with more of the spiritual gift of wisdom than any person who has ever lived or ever will live (1 Kings 3:12).

Yet Solomon was also sexually broken (1 Kngs 11:1-3), greedy (1 Kngs 7:1), and idolatrous (1 Kngs 11:4)…. just like everyone else.

Everything good that happens to us is by the grace of God, even the ministry outlets we serve in, and the giftings by which we are enabled to serve. This should drive us to call on God in repentance, not make us feel more comfortable about ourselves.

This begs the question, “If spiritual gifts are evidence of grace, than what is the evidence of spiritual maturity?”

Well, think of all the gifted leaders in the past who fell to moral failure, or poor judgment; they had flaws in character that were never handled, and yet they have great talents and gifts! Some of these leaders are more gifted than you and I will ever be. But character is interesting when you set it side by side with spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts are bestowed by God as a free act of grace; character is developed in the kiln of endurance (Rom. 5:4). It’s when life is difficult and you must persistently fixate your eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2), because he didn’t yield you a “gifting” to get you out of a grueling situation this time.

Spiritual gifts are no sign of spiritual maturity.

Character is.

Character is what we develop when we are faithful with the small things until the small things become big things.

(And often…when the small things get worse)

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation” [Romans 5:3-4, NLT].


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