One Shift, Four Steps, Healthier Leadership

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Are you a mover and a shaker? You might be limiting yourself by this one habit. Are you about tasks or responsibilities? I love, love, love my task list. I also get really excited about giving others tasks and watching the tasks get finished. I have a sense of accomplishment. This busyness feels good, but limits greatly the capacity of my organization.

The problem is that tasks require a low level of ownership and overall knowledge of the vision. I can tell you to clean the toilet and I’m sure you’ll get it clean. But, then you’ll spend your time waiting to clean it until I tell you it’s time. However, if I shift my thinking from “tasks” to “responsibilities,” I can help you take ownership over the cleanliness of our bathroom. You’ll be happier because you get to choose your own schedule for when it gets done. You’ll also get the pride of knowing that squeaky clean seat is yours. But, at first, you might fail, which means I need to be prepared to give you space to fail. Your failure is your learning experience and opportunity to grow. In the end, you’ll be a better person, the job will get done better, and I’ll have less anxiety around whether or not all my little tasks are being handled correctly and on time.

Instead, one format for developing people is the leadership square (first noted in Breen’s work on Discipling Culture). Following this training practice, there are four steps:

  1. I do, you watch.
  2. I do, you help.
  3. You do, I help.
  4. You do, I watch.

In this four-step process, I provide ample opportunity for you to grow in a safe environment, but I gradually turn up the heat so that you can experience what it feels like to actually take responsibility for outcomes. Go ahead and shake things up by releasing some responsibility and giving someone space to come through!


One Thing

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The Book
The Song
The Sermon
The Prayer

I recently finished reading a book called One Thing, by Keller and Papasan. Essentially, the authors assert that answering well one question can change the entire focus and scope of our personal lives and careers. The one question is: What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” A better summary can be found here. This book has gotten me thinking about my ONE Thing.

I have a favorite song from Bethel entitled, “You are my One Thing.”

I went on a run and listened to a sermon that talked about the importance of prayer.

I remember David’s request in Psalm 27:4. He wanted “one thing.”

It seems every thing has been pointing to one thing. Answering this question is life-changing. But there are few who are willing to do this and I’m not sure I’m one of them. I’m asking God for the courage to ask and answer these questions; to do something about them.


Why I LOVE Re-Looking New iOS Features

Be honest with me; there’s something to which you often return. You find yourself indulging in something and imagining how great it’s going to be. For me recently, it’s been the new features page of iOS 11 that’s set to launch this fall. This is a fantastic upgrade; it’s going to do a ton for my iPad. I’ll get to do more in-depth multi-tasking (which productivity gurus tell me isn’t true anyway). The files and dock functions are going to allow me to have a more unified approach to my workflow. It makes me want to leave my Macbook Pro at home more and more often. They’re even getting closer to convincing me to buy the most expensive pencil I’ve ever owned.

All of this is good. But when I found myself typing “” rather than “” to begin my actual work for the day, I had to ask myself if I have a problem.

I do indeed have a problem (other than laziness and procrastination). This problem is called “desire.” And as Lewis notes, it’s a hat tipped to a bigger something we are all acutely aware of even if merely in our subconscious: There’s more. Lewis penned this phrase:

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

Excuse me for being crude or overly simplistic, but this urge to scroll endlessly through announcements about keyboards and multi-tasking might be indicative of something bigger. Perhaps, it’s alluding to our other-worldly, cosmic desires. I submit that our desires tell us something about who we are and even more about who we are to become.

The key here is vision. I’ve wasted more hours than I’d like to admit on software updates. But people and products of vision point me to one key moment: we were meant for more.

The next time you’re tempted to, or look at something that draws you, ask yourself why. Consider that maybe, perhaps, your desire is actually looking for something more than pixels. You’re destined for an update from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).

5Q: Answers to a Decade (or more) of My Organizational Questions

disclosure statement: I was given a copy of this book, 5Q, by Alan Hirsch to give an honest review of it.

It’s 5:30 in the morning and I can’t put this thing down. I’ve planted a church and started a business in Taiwan, a culture which has traditionally been more resistant to the gospel’s work, with around 3% of 23,000,000 people professing faith in Christ. There have been successes in our ministry. Just a few days ago we were recounting what God’s done and noted that 34 people have been baptized since 2012.  and I’ll be one of the first to admit I often feel I have no idea what I’m doing. The reason I couldn’t put this book down is because Hirsch is putting into words feelings I’ve had for nearly a decade (which is a lifetime for a millennial). The premise of Hirsch’s latest work is that Jesus Christ has already given us a blueprint for what leadership, mission, evangelism, care and teaching should look like and how it’s done. He’s calling us to allow the latent seeds of the fivefold gifts, also referred to as APEST or 5Q, Christ gave the church to begin to grow again. APEST, or apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, are five different gifts or ministries that Christ placed in the church as a result of his ascension (Ephesians 4:1-16). He writes, “In it’s simplest form, 5Q is the synergy of a holistic recombination of the apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, shepherding and teaching (APEST) capacities referred to in Ephesians.” These gifts were given so that we could minister as the body of Christ and ultimately attain to the fullness of Christ. But Hirsch argues the archetypal evidence of APEST predates the establishment of the church and is actually part of the prevenient grace that God established when He created the world. Essentially, understanding and utilizing the fivefold is THE KEY to healthy, thriving organizations across the board whether in business, church or elsewhere.

By understanding 5Q, we are able to assess the health and capacity of our organizations, churches and businesses included. Hirsch traces biblical foundations, primordial forms and archetypes and ultimately the life of Jesus as the architect and builder of 5Q. Jesus shows us that the patterns of 5Q can be used to understand and assess His ministry as well as his commandments to the church. He outlines the fivefold functionality of the church and society at large. In utilizing 5Q, we have a clear trajectory for how to impart, empower and deploy the greatest move of God the world has ever seen! Hirsch gives numerous accounts of how utilizing 5Q in our organizations will invariably lead to transformation on all levels of society.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

  1. It is not coincidental that this breakthrough has come at a time in my life when my spiritual life has never been better–I am experiencing God in a whole new dimension. I find myself spending whole days in prayer and meditation. My prayer life is rich to the point of overflow. In a real way, I believe that 5Q has played a significant role in this sense of overflow. 5Q feels both personal to me, but I also feel its universal significance.
  2. If you want transformational gospel movement–really want it–then you are going to have to unlearn some very ancient churchly habits and be willing to relearn some new–and yet paradoxically more ancient–more authentically biblical ones. You’re a leader; I speak to you as a leader responsible for your generation.
  3. In fact, I hope to show, fivefold-thinking (5Q) reaches into our deepest instincts for ministry by reconnecting the ministry of Christ with the Body of Christ.
  4. Jesus “gave” APEST to the church, distributing it among all the people as he sees fit. It is vital that you, the reader, feel the weight of the grammar that Paul uses to talk about the constitutional givenness of the APEST ministries to the church. The verb form used for “given” (Gk. edothe, the aorist indicative form of didomi) is an aorist indicative, a very resolute verb form perfectly suited for use in constitutions. This is because aorists reflect actions that took place in the past and as such they are once-and-for-all-time events. The effects of the past event are still felt in the present. They are historic in a similar way that the signing of the Declaration of Independence was historic—it will impact America’s self-understanding for all time…Jesus is actually present in the church, and by which he extends his own ministry through us.
  5. Because they operate within a system, each individual APEST function enriches, counterbalances, and “corrects” the particular bias of each of the others.
  6. The good news is that all five functions/callings are like seeds latent in the system. They are already there by virtue of the defining Word of God. This is a liberating idea—all the potential for a tree is actually already in the seed; we don’t need to mess much with that. What we need to do is simply focus on the environment that will allow the seed to flourish.
  7. [M]issional movements are essentially a recovery of the apostolic impulse; prayer and justice movements are manifestations of the prophetic impulse; revivals are an aspect of evangelistic; community and charismatic renewal is a recovery of the pastoral ministry; and theological renewals are largely related to a rediscovery of some lost motif in Scripture.
  8. It is this relationship between high internal resonance and explicit social patterning that this chapter seeks to address. The idea here will be to try to connect the resonance that you should feel in regards to APEST functions and callings with the community in which you are called to express faith.
  9. Giving the answer is always easier than teaching the process…I often say to leaders that we can change our structures in four to eight months, but it takes four to eight years to change our culture.
  10. We see the five marks of the church defined by APEST as follows: missional impact (A), covenant faithfulness (P), gospel proclamation (E), reconciled community (S), deep wisdom (T).

Near the end of the book, Hirsch quotes Peter Berger who notes, “Ideas do not succeed in history by virtue of their truth but by virtue of their relationship to specific social processes,” and as such we are called not only to revel in fun ideas, but to actually begin applying them. Thus, my personal plan to 5Q implementation: do it. In all seriousness, I am indebted to Hirsch and the rest of his team for packaging a biblical, theological treatise on 5Q. For me and my team, we typically think about church in three terms: personal growth, community growth, and missional growth. These are the outworking of pondering Jesus’ Great Commandment (love God, love others) and Great Commission (make disciples in the world). If we are affect the cultural fabric of society, speak truth to power and life to dry bones, plant the seeds of the good news and win souls for Christ, gather God’s sons and daughters, and ensure God’s Truth is passed on correctly, we are in desperate need of 5Q thinking, systems and action. APEST provides an excellent framework, aspects of which we are already integrating. We speak cultural transformation (A), share the good news regularly (E), and teach truth (T), but I have seen how we can and must grow in all areas of APEST and I’m confident with teaching and tools outlined in this book, we are already on the right path.

I would encourage you to pick up a copy of this book and check out additional resources online. The diagrams offered are more than worth the price of admission. Hirsch will offer insights into the fivefold ministry that will shape your ongoing business and ministry endeavors.

Crisis: Danger or Opportunity?

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Recently, I had a breakdown. I found myself crying the floor this week. I was overwhelmed by the difficulties I’m facing in various areas of my responsibility. I had a strong sense of being overwhelmed. There was anxiety growing and taking root in my heart. I had allowed lies about God’s vision and provision for me to stand.

Fortunately, I had a couple of friends around me who were willing to get down next to me and worship with me for more than an hour as we asked God to come and encounter us. 

The following Sunday, a guest speaker gave a word about prayer that touched me deeply. You can watch his sermon here

At one point, Pastor Dave said this: Every crisis is a crossroads between danger and opportunity. The path you walk is up to you. Out of interest, his idea of crisis being danger and opportunity came from his exegesis of the word Chinese word for crisis: 危機, which is the word for danger and the word for opportunity combined together. 

It reminds me of the story of David fighting a battle in 1 Samuel 30. It says, David was “greatly distressed.” At this point, he had an enemy that had defeated him and his own men were considering mutiny. Everyone was “bitter in soul.” But David “strengthened himself in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:6). David pursued God in worship, got the answer he needed for the situation he faced, rallied his men, defeated the enemy and restored all that had been lost. He faced a crisis and turned it into an opportunity. 
I’m not out of the woods yet, but I know which choice I’ll be making. This is a crisis; it’s an opportunity. 

Covenant: Our Relationship with God


Recently, we’ve been in a sermon series on Covenant Relationships. A covenant is like a contract in that it’s an agreement between two parties. But a covenant is built on a foundation of trust in which both parties want the best for each other. The first covenant happened between God and people. You can watch this video to learn more about the main covenants found in the Bible.

Here are some top highlights from the first installment:

  • Sermon in a Sentence: God invites you to a covenant in which He is faithful and you are washed, protected, and brought into the family as you submit.
  • I recently watched a group of 10 year olds playing basketball. There was one particular girl who was a hard worker, but wasn’t listening to her coach. Because she didn’t operate under covenant, she missed out on the opportunity to be great.
  • In covenant, there are always to parties involved. In the type of covenant we are looking at, God is the initiator.
  • Covenants have promises and conditions like in Deuteronomy 28
  • Ephesians 5:25-32 outlines another example of God’s covenant love. He’s the faithful one. In particular, Paul says we, the church, are to submit to our husband, Jesus Christ. This word submit has a thrust of putting oneself under a plan or arrangement. It’s controversial. But it’s the way God made it. He is looking to be a husband to us. And in turn his expectation is that we would be a wife “subjected to” him. Are you willing to be “subjected to him?” What would it look like in your Finances? In your physical health? Can you imagine if God was your business partner? Or if God walked with you towards health in these areas?
  • God has ordained, appointed, determined, set an abundant life for you and all you need to do is put yourself in submission to it.
  • Memorize James 4:7: Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

One Powerful Leadership Tool You Can Implement Today

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In this generation we are looking for authentic, real engagement and connection. We are hungry for real relationships, because we have seen fake and know that it doesn’t deliver. Do you want to help facilitate life transformation in the lives of people around you? Are you interested in keeping people engaged in vision or on track with a mission? Are you hoping to connect with someone in particular? If your hope is to lead, or facilitate influence, then you’ve got to have this tool.

I am interested in seeing your success. I want you to make a difference in the world. I believe that your leadership can change your environment and improve the world we’re living in today. Our leadership makes a legacy. But if we can’t engage people or keep them connected, how are we going to facilitate change? You have got to have this one tool in your arsenal. Please understand that your ability to implement this tool will become a catalyst for the change you know you’re called to bring about.

I’ve seen teams fall apart. I’ve also seen teams overcome deficiencies and all odds going on to meet deadlines, accomplish goals, and achieve vision. What was the difference? They engaged in this tool: vulnerability. You see, we want authenticity because we live in an inauthentic world, and in order to achieve that, we have to be willing to share where we are. Two generations ago, we needed our leaders to be perfect. Today, we’re well aware that no one is perfect.

You see, there was one perfect person: Jesus. And he engaged in perfect vulnerability that led to deeper, more authentic relationships with those around him. He showed vulnerability when he cried at Lazarus’ funeral (John 11:35), when he asked the disciples for help praying (Matthew 26:40), and when he cried out to Father on the cross (Matthew 27:46).

In these moments, Jesus modeled for us a willingness to be vulnerable with where He was at, but also remain hopeful about what was going to happen. This is the perfect mix of weakness and strength. We call it “humility.” We don’t need the shows of perfection; we need the space to be humbly honest about the desperate situation we’re in so that we can grow in expectation that our perfect Father would respond with a resurrection. It’s like Paul said, “His power is made perfect in weakness” (1 Corinthians 12:9).

Too often, however, we attempt to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps so that we can feign a semblance of strength in front of our peers and teammates. What we see in Jesus, however, is a willingness to share his weaknesses and struggles with the team. At the same time, He could stay perfectly in tune with Truth that allowed him to draw the hope and expectation of Heaven into the hopeless situation He faced.

What’s your desperate situation and how can you be both vulnerable and strong? I believe by sharing the honest struggle you’re having and asking God and your teammates to enter into it, you’ll see a major breakthrough.