Books I have read: Fairness Is Overrated

Fairness is Overrated

Reading Fairness is Overrated and 51 other leadership principles you feel like you’re receiving great wisdom on leadership from someone who has been in the trenches – they know what they are talking about.


The book is divided into four parts and reflects the four pillars that Stevens believes effective leadership is built on.

  • Part one focuses on becoming a leader worth following. The lessons deal with the topics of integrity, family, being fully present, and margin.
  • Part two gives instructions on finding the right people. It addresses issues such as when to ignore resumes and when to pay attention to them, using social media in checking a person’s background and character, how to ask questions in interviews, and much more.
  • Part three addresses the topic of building a healthy culture within your organization. It talks about agendas, building teams, having fun together, and dealing with silos.
  • Part four touches on the topic of leading confidently through a crisis. The chapters deal with resignations, layoffs, firings, conflict resolution, and the importance of communication throughout.


The book is split into 52 small chapters – which give the feeling of Tim and you sat at a coffee shop having a discussion on a particular facet of leadership. At the end of each chapter, there are a couple of discussion or application questions. The book’s success will hang on how you engage with these as there is nothing revolutionary in the book – it is all about how you apply the wisdom into your context of leadership. A few of the chapters are specifically focused on those leading churches, but the vast majority are applicable to churches, businesses and voluntary sector organisations alike.


I found the book practical and encouraging. It was worth reading and referring to again later but not one I’d say is a must read.


Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

YC15 Blog: Main session 4: Kate Coleman

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Remember this, it’s about passing it on.
You are in a very significant role, God has entrusted people to you. The challenge is to become someone who doesn’t hold on to things, but what God pours into us we pour out to others.


2 Timothy 2:2:

“So … throw yourself into this work for Christ. Pass on what you heard from me – the whole congregation saying Amen! – to reliable leaders who are competent to teach others.”


The passage starts with a connector, the word “so”. Paul is saying for Timothy to follow his example and to pass it on to others.


Matthew 4:12-5:12. This is a precedence sharing gospel story, with three themes to explore this morning:

  • Develop leaders
  • Build team
  • Turn intention into habit


When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions.” Matthew 5:1-2


Develop leaders

This is at the start of Jesus’ ministry, he hears that John his cousin has been arrested and is likely to lose his life. He is preaching, signs and wonders are taking place. Many, many people are being released. He is so effective, and his reputation in a short time spreads around Israel. The crowd are eating out of his hands, following him around, wanting to engage with him and be a part of the process. Then we read this. Something incredible happened. When he saw the crowds, he climbed the hillside and taught his disciples. What would you do if something you were doing was drawing incredible attention from others, all the TV channels want to turn up, receiving a phone call from Oprah, imagine if the Kardashians give you a call – they want to raise money for your charity, your favourite blog/newspaper wants to do a feature on you, Spielberg wants to do a movie on your life. What would you do? How would you respond? There’s a lot of pressure. Turning it down would be like winning XFactor and then saying I’ve decided to give up singing.


Jesus finds himself in a situation where he is suddenly in great demand. People want to hear from him, he is drawing huge crowds. He climbs a hillside, and teaches his climbing companions. Jesus’ prioritises the task of developing leaders. He took time to develop those who were right under his nose. The Great Commission is clear for the mission, the problem with the prospect of growth or pressure is it is easy to lose sight of what you’re trying to do, why you’re doing it and what you want it to look. Make disciples of all nations, not youth groups. With the whole world to save you’d have thought Jesus would have contacted as many people as possible and converted as many people as possible. But something else happens here. Rather than rushing out, instead he begins to pause, turn away from the crowds, and instead teaches and develops those who are committed to him. He does this at the beginning as Jesus practices what he preaches, making disciples, the baseline of his work. These were going to be the ones who would continue his work. He was modelling the commission to them. Jesus doesn’t seek to meet the needs of the world or even the community.


At the pool of Bethseda there was a rumour that an angel will stir the waters, and whoever gets first into the waters is healed. Jesus spoke to one man who explained he’d been waiting for thirty years. Jesus told him to get up and take his mat. He then did something we find really difficult, he walked away, leaving all the other poor and sick people.


Be counter-intuitive

One of the challenges in leadership is to be counter-intuitive. Sometimes when the pressure is on and the thing you don’t feel you have time to do is the thing to do. He could only do this because he made time.


Build capacity – disciple/teach

He appointed 12 that they might be with him, and send them out to preach. That takes time, time you can’t wait for or hope for, but time you have to make.


Lay a foundation in them and with them

Have no building skills, but they plan a house, dig a big hole, fill it, and then build on it. No one sees that foundation. But that’s what keeps the building upright in the storms. Jesus was strategic in investing his life in these 12 disciples. It is such a temptation in leadership to find yourself stretching in every direction, and yet the real challenge is being counter-intuitive to build up those who are closest to you, under your nose. Start off with this, don’t end with it. By all means speak to crowds but make sure you disciple a few.


Be together, make time, mutual commitment

Make time, as a mutual commitment, being together, currently mentor 35 people of whom 15 are formal mentees. We sign an agreement to make sure we commit. Don’t speak at every conference because I say yes to them.   I am committed to them, it takes time, energy and effort. It takes all parties to engage – some one has to leave their nets, some one has to leave the comfort of heaven and the crowds.


Clarify, shared vision, course corrections, encouragement, challenges, planning ‘runner’

This was the first time he asked them to make him the organisational factor in their lives. He’s not asking for free time, spare cash or what’s leftover. The real change is making him the organisational principle.


We have to develop leaders not just because there’s a community or church in need. It is a sign that things will get tough. This is just before the Sermon on the Mount. You will get to the end of your rope, when you lose what’s most dear with you.


Jesus is speaking to the converted, they were people of faith, Jews steeped in Jewish tradition. They weren’t religious Pharisees or teachers of the law but they had a default position which he adjusts. The young people you work with come with a history, they have pre-existing beliefs, cultural and sub-cultural expectations, they have a position, and we are to help them re-orient their religious position to Jesus.


Drugs are becoming increasingly decriminalised. Youth work has some big issues on the horizon due to this. Youth worker said he was getting out as soon as he can. Any right leader would jump out of this, sometimes you need to recover the runners, and sometimes you will be the runner.


Recalibrate defaults

People are coming from all over, to be with him. But he’s changed the world through others – he doesn’t teach the crowds, he teaches the disciples, he tells stories to the crowds, but explains and invests in the disciples. We should always be prepared to minister to the crowds. But we should not neglect the counter-intuitive, the teaching time. It is a risk worth taking.


There is a story told about a conversation in heaven between the resurrected and the angels. The angels are excited and amazed that God sent his son to earth, to live with humans. One of the angels asks who is going to complete the work. The angel said, you mean Peter who denied you three times, that group who fell asleep when you needed them the most, the group who ran away, the group of tax collectors, fisherman, philosophers. What is plan B? There is no plan B – that is it. That is the same with our young people.


Build team

Never problem free

Jesus chose twelve initially from when he went up the mountain – they were a rabble. He even chose Judas, and Judas had a part to play. Sometimes people will challenge our boundaries of leadership, they will frustrate us. They don’t all go on with us but they are there for a reason. They are never problem free.


What does God want me to learn and contribute

Everyone of them has something to contribute to the team and something to learn from everyone else in the room.


Who else is on your team?

Constantly ask who else is on your team. We always arrive at a team context with our entourage – husband, wife, children, a dog who bit them. Sometimes you don’t hear them but their bad day, their entourage, their peer group. Sometimes we need to escort their entourage out of the room.


From groups to teams

Every team is a group but not every group is a team. We hear mainly about the extroverts and the loud ones, but don’t overlook the quiet ones, the ones who many be opposite to you. Been a pastor for 27 years in urban church with people who had rock bottom self-esteem who didn’t believe they could do it. Having to pray and trust if that is who God has entrusted you with, there is leadership in this, so they become the leader they can be, the world changers. This is about them becoming world changers not us.


Turn intention into habit

What are you looking for?

The youth leaders have a strategy called the shoulder tap. They are constantly looking for people who have something to offer, have gifting, have ability, want to serve. We may not know they want to serve. Made my way into ministry as someone shoulder tapped, said you might have something. Imagine if the whole church started tapping each other’s shoulders. Turning intention into habit.


Pray, pray, pray, again

Jesus went up a mountain to pray and pray. One thing we can always do is to pray and ask God who, and then pray for them and keep praying and keep praying through the challenges and difficulties. Some will go on and some won’t.


Acts 2, 3,000 come to faith! That would trial most of us. 120 leaders were just doing what they saw Jesus doing. He raised a group that became a team, and started to put people into groups, households, and some of those groups became teams.


The journey of leadership will take us over many types of terrain, sometimes easy walking, sometimes climbing – which brings me out in a cold sweat! It’s hard work, even for those of you enjoy climbing, you sweat, sometimes it is painful, but it gives you perspective because what you see at the top is so different. That’s why he challenges us to climb higher, the committed climb.


He spent time with them, built them into a team, and sent them out to preach. He did it again and again so that they reproduced it. When we read Paul it’s something he’s seen done, and is passing it onto another generation. That’s the challenge we have.


If you forget everything else, the challenge is to pass it on. Don’t hold onto it, don’t do it all yourself, they’re there for reason, keep passing it on, and if that keeps happening you have a movement.

YC15 Blog: Main session 3: Andy Hawthorne

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Andy Hawthorne spoke at tonight’s Big Room session using Ephesians 4:1-16

Made a commitment to Christ aged 12, now aged 55. Started gunning for God aged 18 years old. My passion has never dried. What excites me the most is reaching out to the broken and the marginalised. That’s one of the main ways we will see revival in this country.

Young offenders giving their life to Jesus is like shelling peas, so easy, discipleship is a different challenge. What does it look like for them to become the centre of kingdom life, the epicentre of the kingdom. One person never gets saved, they are put in the epicentre, and we see the ripples.

Nick was put on my heart. He was well and truly off the rails, heavily into drugs, gangsterism, tried to commit suicide several times. Must have picked him up 50 times to hear him preach. Would see loads of people come to faith but never respond. Annoyingly he came to faith at Nigerian speaker! Now working with the Message, seen over 400 people come to faith. Still trying to disciple him whilst he’s still living with his girlfriend. Andrea isn’t for God but then a lady from the Message takes her to Uganda and she meets the Holy Spirit in the slums. They got married, and I was the best man. Last year, 10pm on a Sunday night, after the birth of Niko, with Alexis I was high on drugs and didn’t know how to treat Andrea and Alexis. Andrea is leading a charity sponsoring 300 children in the slums of Uganda. Yesterday she was running a marathon in the heat of Uganda for these children. The gospel can turn these into prince and princesses.

We celebrate the stories but some don’t go well. A month out of prison he came into the bike shop where he worked he said I need the afternoon off to go to a sexual health clinic. Asked whether he was sleeping around, he said I’ve been in prison for 3 years of course I have. Sat him down and discipled him, realised hadn’t told him about no sex outside of marriage. Now in the course they do tell them this!

2 cocaine addicts, beautifully transformed, and winning friends for Jesus. Both had some seemingly small stuff happen and went back on the gear and died. Kingdom breakthrough and then Satan kicks you in goolies.

Video of Message Trust including The Higher Tour for 2016 onwards.

Ephesians 4, after 3 chapters of unfolding what the gospel is and how it transforms this new society in Christ, he comes to chapter 4 where the rubber hits the road. Moving from doctrine to duty. Romans, 1-11 of doctrine, the gospel of free grace, then chapter 12, therefore. Exposition to Exaltation. We are about understanding the book but not just understanding the book but applying it.

Sometimes the way we do youth ministry the impression is about the thrill of the fill, but Paul says there’s a duty of serving the king from understanding who amazing he is. Present company accepted scared how little time youth workers spend studying the Bible. If you want to see your youth ministry transformed, get into the Bible, it’s all there to lead the best ministry in town. Paul gets it better than any theologian in history.

The goal of our youth ministries is disciples, and no one is better at telling us how to make disciples than Paul. How do we preach the gospel, release evangelists, of course we need to do food banks, debt relief, refugees support, if you remove the gospel it goes wrong.

18 months ago had a phone call from an amazing Ugandan guy called John who leads 24/7 across Uganda. Andy the Lord will take everything to a new level, everything will go through the roof, and you need to get away and seek the Lord. Managed 2 days in the Lake District staying at my mates 4* hotel enjoying hospitality. God is so good! Driving there thinking what do I listen to, pulled a CD, and heard a man speaking about Isaiah 60 and the work they’ve built in Manchester, India, Africa. If we could sell the house, ex-offenders had done it up, looked amazing, trying to sell for 14 months, killing cash flow, reduced it by £10k, and thinking wouldn’t it be amazing to give him the money. Phone goes off seconds later. The estate agent had a full asking price, in cash, before you reduced it by £10k! The Lord saying get ready! Walking in the hills, knelt down by the bed, was going to look at Romans but it fell open at Isaiah 60, had an amazing time with God. Felt like the last 25 years of ministry came before his eyes. Assemble my people, the gates will stay open. Timing is open in the kingdom, you can kill yourself doing something and then the Lord just makes it happen. Going home, put a CD in, and heard another sermon on Isaiah 60. Going to gather young people, preaching a gospel to

A calling to a King

Young people are being born wrong, come to Jesus and have the best life, come to Jesus and he will sort your problems, come to Jesus and he thinks your beautiful. But that’s only half, what about come to Jesus and take up your cross, come to Jesus and be a living sacrifice, come to Jesus and make him king. If you’re worthy of the call then live it, it’s what we have to do and help our young people to do – make God king.

Rather than calling young people to serve at whatever cost. We call them to serve the Queen, she’s a sister of the Lord, she is doing better than Billy Graham, although he might have delivered it better, could you imagine doing an altar call! 60 years ago the Archbishop of Canterbury knelt down and gave her a bible and says here’s the oracles from the Bible, and it is the most precious thing she can own. The most precious thing she owns isn’t the Bentley’s fabulous jewellery or the estates, but this Bible, the living word of God. Imagine if we had young people who were passionate to live out the word of God. We love the Queen but she doesn’t really affect the way we live, the way we spend our money, when she dies we will mourn, but she doesn’t affect the way we live.

The Eden teams are so prophetic, 41 teams living in communities around the country. The decisions about where’s the best schools for my children, where’s the best shopping centres, or even the best churches. What about where are the poor and the broken hearted? That is kingdom thinking, he’s the boss, he’s in charge,

Bill Bright founded Campus Crusades for Christ. In 1951 he was broken by what he saw the students doing and so set up a student ministry as a business man. As they were planning, they made a contract between them as a couple and Jesus. The contract said this: “From this day forward I am a slave to Christ”. 14th October 2014 signed a similar one . He came up with a tract called the 4 Spiritual Laws, but 1.5 billion people have read it, he produced a film, the JESUS Film which has been seen by more people than any other film, it’s not even the best film! Not saying if you become a slave to God that

A calling to holiness

A call to see this messed up youth culture changed. You can sniff how godly people are within minutes of walking into a youth group. Do you expect young people to watch the right stuff on their computer if you can’t. Do you expect them to get on and be united if you as a leadership team isn’t. But the opposite is true we can see groups who are changed because of their youth leader living out God’s calling. God wants to call us to repent so that we can see our young people truly repent.

A calling to unity

Do you think Paul’s quite obsessed when 7 times in 2 verses he writes about unity and the body of Christ. You can’t multiply the church, there is only one church, that’s why it is so cool to come together like this – all these different denominations here, the Lord is a lot less chipped up than we are. People used to stand outside my meetings with placards, my sin was ecumenicism, I wanted to smack them in the face. 3,500 young people going to a gig, 1,000 came to Christ and this little group were saying “Don’t go in, he’s ecumenical.” Another time they had TV cameras to create an anti-Andy Hawthorne youtube channel accusing his mum of being an ecumantic.

Dad died singing his way through mission praise, singing, “turn your eyes to Jesus”. He went to be Jesus, mum had vision of dad being carried into the garden, and Uncle Ken, and his mates were there. Because of that his mum was accused of being an ecumantic who speak to the dead. Won’t do it, so going to pursue living it out now, going to be embarrassing if get to heaven and we’ve spent all our time on earth hating each other and now we have to hang out together for eternity. It’s not just you get it, but make every effort to pursue unity. What would it look like in your situation to obey that heart cry. We could have formed our own church but we don’t need more denominations. If the 40,000 had not spent time arguing but united the great commission could have been completed. It’s tough when you see churches not doing a great job and you see you could do something better.

Two things: spend real time getting into this book. If you would make every effort to work with other youth leaders. We haven’t got this gathering together next year, God loves this, so you need to make more effort to bless youth leaders in your neighbourhood, those who are struggling, those who have less, give them some money, resources, buy them dinner. If you made every effort obeying the word of the lord to maintain unity you’d be staggered to see how it comes in your youth group. Not into prosperity gospel, but am in to sowing and reaping. Do stuff that you can’t do on your own. In it together and God turns up, it’s his idea that unity is so important.

Dennis Rigley leads the Maranatha prayer movement, he died this week. If there’s anyone in my life that embodies what I’ve talked about, it’s him, this isn’t a eulogy. Dennis when he was 18 become the youngest ever Liberal Party candidate. He stood at every elections between age 18 and his mid-60s. He never got in but invested in a young man, David Alton, for 40 years investing in justice, the persecuted around the world, unborn and so much more. Dennis great grandfather was a missionary to Ghana, when the average lifetime for a missionary in Ghana was 16 weeks. The only other Christian was a Catholic and they put stuff on together and saw revival. That’s why he was so keen to work with David, a Catholic. He set up prayer meetings all over the world. Several times he was healed, but finally time to be with the Lord. Texted Simon, his son, who works with the Message, he said back “Dad has been comforting the Doctors, when given the bad news, he told the Doctor it was good news, and broke into song, the nurses in tears, amazing moment” On Tuesday he was carried into the garden of heaven. For the first two million years can you imagine what a party of people saying thank you for his perseverance for unity. Why would you not want to live out for Jesus, turn your back on all the crap, pursue unity in this generation, it’s our only chance, this is not a trial run. I want to live large for Jesus, don’t you?

Decide what to do to get into the book, decide to be united as a leadership team, even if it’s 10% you and 90% them, bless youth leaders in your community.

YC15 Blog: Powering Down: Leading through vulnerability – Selina Stone

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This morning we’re at Powering Down: Leading through vulnerability led by Selina Stone.

She’s challenged us to

Think about a time when you have shared something personal with a person you were leading …

Think of an occasion when a leader you looked up to shared something personal with you …
How did that moment impact your relationship?

Following on if we believe sharing life is really important, why do we find it so hard to do. If we believe it to be a key thing to be vulnerable and open with young people why is it such a challenge?

John 20:24-29

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’

But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ 27 Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’

28 Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’

29 Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’

Thomas is nicknamed doubting Thomas but it seems a little harsh, I’d probably want some evidence too. What jumps out about Thomas?

He was so vulnerable, giving up his life to follow Jesus and so he wants to know that this person is Jesus before he is vulnerable again.
Quite brave as saying what others are actually thinking but not brave enough to say.
He hadn’t seen it first hand, he was wary of the second hand stories.
Trying to protect himself and not be vulnerable, but he isn’t cynical.
He is doubting Jesus but not written Jesus off completely.
We often replicate this in our walk, often praying for God to show up. Trying to be vulnerable in our expectation of God showing up and leading us.

Thomas is the kind of guy who wants to experience this, he doesn’t just want to hear it second hand. I want to personally experience and see something to believe in what you are saying. He learns from his mistake – not being around when Jesus came the first time – but he was there the second time. He positioned himself to believe, to receive from Jesus.

Thomas is the one who says lets go back to Judea and die with Jesus when it was all kicking off with the crucifixion. He asks inquisitive questions of Jesus. On the one hand he is doubting but on another hand he has a certain amount of faith.

How does Jesus deal with Thomas, with regard to doubting and someone who is unsure of his position?

He wants to engage with Thomas and Thomas to engage with him.
It shows Jesus’ love and faithfulness.
Love the fact that Jesus made Thomas wait a whole week!
Jesus didn’t criticise Thomas.

Jesus has gone through the worst physical trauma that a human could go through and Thomas asks to touch that thing that will bring back both physical trauma, the wounds, the mental loneliness. He lets Thomas puts his finger in the hole where the nail was, and where the hole in his side was. That could be really painful for Jesus and yet he was willing so that Thomas could have a revelation of who Jesus is. Thomas gets to one of the most profound revelations of Jesus in the New Testament through closeness and pain.


Where in your story have you experienced pain or suffering, and then seen God bring hope and joy?
Who are you leading, who like Thomas, may need to touch that wound, in order to help them believe?
When could you take time to meet with this person for this exchange?

Assembly: General Election 2015

Ballot Box

Here’s my assembly for our local junior school for tomorrow morning on the theme of the General Election, you can download the powerpoint here.

General Election

What’s your favourite colour? Maybe it’s yellow or red, blue, green or purple. Maybe you prefer a combination or like there to be some kind of pattern or symbol. The media has been saturated with a competing range of badges and banners urging those over 18 to nail their colours to the mast. It’s because there’s a General Election scheduled for tomorrow.
The General Election has probably passed many of you by. It’s simply been an irritating interruption to TV, radio and social media. But maybe it has more to do with all of us than you might think.


Politics does have something to do with all of us, even those who are under the age of 18 and are not yet able to vote. Politics is about the way we organize the communities and country in which we live. It affects our water, our power, our schools, hospitals, mobile phone networks and much much more!


Every one of us, I’m pretty sure, wants the best for ourselves and also the best for society. The range of political parties competing for seats in Parliament simply shows that there might be many different ways to achieve this and so politics becomes a complicated business.


Good Leadership

William Gladstone, Liberal prime minister of the 19th century said ‘It is the duty of government to make it difficult for people to do wrong, easy to do right’.


We need good leaders in every area of our society. Without good political leaders, laws would be passed that would make it easier for people to do wrong things and get away with them. Gladstone was right about what governments exist to do – good leaders make it harder to do wrong and easier to do right. Without good political leaders, the country would descend into a very unstable place where the poorest and most vulnerable in society were not being looked after. Many believe a society should be judged on how well it looks after its most needy and vulnerable. Good government frees up people to take responsibility to do good and confront things when they are bad.


Explain that the children will have one vote each at the end to choose who they feel would make the best leader of the country based on what they say and anything they know about them:

  • ‘When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won.’ (Gandhi)
  • ‘You have to be unique, and different, and shine in your own way.’ (Lady Gaga)
  • ‘Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.’ (Winston Churchill)
  • ‘I stand for freedom of expression, doing what you believe in, and going after your dreams.’ (Madonna)
  • ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ (Nelson Mandela)
  • ‘I still look at myself and want to improve.’ (David Beckham)


Hold the vote with a show of hands and announce the winner! Point out that it can sometimes be difficult to choose – perhaps you wanted to vote for more than one person, or you were disappointed that your person didn’t win. But this is how democracy works.


In the end, everyone agrees to go with what most people (the majority) decide and once the person who has been elected takes his or her place, that person represents everyone (not just those who voted for them!) – that’s democracy!

What about you?

But what about us? The result of the General Election might affect us but we still don’t have a vote. What’s politics got to do with us?

You are already able to demonstrate your views. You live as part of a school community and reside in a local geographical community. From what I hear, you’ve got lots of ideas. You believe there are better ways to do many things. You get angry at what you perceive as injustice. You get irritated at rules and regulations that seem to have little point. You want to describe a better way to do it. So what might you do?


Politics in school is about making your views known. Use ideas boxes to post your concerns and suggestions. Think about what’s important for the most vulnerable in the school or those who are too shy to voice their opinion publicly.
Politics in your community can provide the opportunity to work with all ages. Make a stand, offer to volunteer, take part in a boycott, hold a protest rally and use social media. It’s all politics and you can be an important part of it.
I don’t know what the Election result is likely to be. It’s too close to call. I hope you take an interest. But more than that, I hope you get involved.
Dear Lord,

Thank you for people who are willing to give their time and expertise to organize the society in which we live.
Remind us of their sacrifices when we’re tempted to criticise them and help us to see where and when we too can be involved in politics.


Servant leadership

Lead On - CPAS

I loved the article on Servant Leadership by James Lawrence in the monthly CPAS Lead On mailing:

‘The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between a leader is a servant and a debtor.’ Max De Pree

Defining reality: helping those we lead to see things as they are. Saying thank you: expressing appreciation for what people do. And in between, suggests DePree, a leader is a servant and debtor. What does this look like?

Christians follow a servant king, one who came not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45). The defining symbol of this sort of leadership is a towel. Yet servant leadership is often misunderstood. For Christians it doesn’t mean serving people, but serving God and through our service of God serving people; a subtle, but significant difference.

Serve people and we end up becoming a doormat, dutifully doing whatever they think best. Serve God and then we become a doorway, through which we enable people to walk into the priorities of the king and the purposes of the kingdom. Servant leaders serve God first, which means there will be times when we don’t do what people ask, when we say no (see Matthew 20:20-28). Such leadership is often difficult.

For example, most of us would rather avoid difficult conversations – the PCC member who is ‘bullying’ others into agreeing with what he wants. Perhaps he has been doing it for years, and no one has challenged his behaviour. The servant-leader plucks up courage, even when they would rather avoid the conversation, and does what is required.

So the critical question for servant leaders is ‘what is required of me in my leadership role today that will further the purposes of the kingdom and bless others?’

Let’s pick up our towels this month, and serve.

Books I have read: Leading on Empty

Leading on Empty

This week I’ve been reading Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro.  I was recommended this book by one of my previous colleagues who had been really encouraged by Cordeiro’s honesty and attitude.  The book starts by reflecting on his experience of burnout and how he realised that his life was not sustainable and needed to change.

For me the most helpful aspect of the book was his honesty both as he reflected with what he needed to change – that it ran deep within himself; and the depth at which Cordeiro explained practically how he managed this – especially with the Personal Retreat Days – something I will certainly be taking on board as we move into 2014.

The concept of a dashboard which helps to measure vital systems essential for health and success was interesting, he used: Faith life; marriage life; family life; office life; computer life; ministry life; financial life; social life; attitudinal life; author’s life; speaker’s life and physical life.  I found Cordeiro’s thoughts on the different questions we ask ourselves in our 20s, our 30s, our 40s, our 50s, our 60s and our 70s helpful to realise that after ten years in ministry who I am, and the questions I ask of myself have changed during this period.

With recommendations such as “This is a must-read for all leaders” by Bill Hybels it certainly isn’t one to ignore, and whilst there is nothing that you probably haven’t heard before, it will certainly encourage you and challenge you to make your life more sustainable instead of constantly leading on empty.

The Challenges of Leadership in the Charity Sector


I loved the email article, The Challenges of Leadership in the Charity Sector by Charles McLachlan in this week’s Cinnamon Network mailing:

As my career developed in commercial organisations, I believed I also had something to offer charities – the Third Sector. It seemed easy to get invited to join trustees, act as a treasurer or get more involved in operational activity. Here was a place that I felt I could contribute, if only they would adopt some of the commercial disciplines of project management, financial control and clear lines of authority that I knew so well, then we could really make a difference together!

My early attempts at introducing some of these commercial disciplines were welcomed in principle however, but resisted in practice. As my mentor used to say, “Charles, just because it makes sense, doesn’t mean that it is the right thing to do” and even more confusingly, “Charles, just because it doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t mean it is not the right thing to do”.  I felt I must be missing part of the picture.

Then it clicked. I had hardly imagined the challenge charity leaders face when:

  • 90% of your customers don’t pay you for your services;
  • 90% of your staff hours are provide by individuals who cannot be motivated by pay or financial reward;
  • your investors often have stronger opinions about how you do things and what you do than the actual outcomes delivered;
  • available resources may be allocated in response to perceptions (internal or external) rather than a business case;
  • too often, absolute cost trumps value for money in spending decisions;
  • individuals with power may have no responsibility, and those with responsibility have little power.

As I began to fully understand this, I developed a new respect for leaders of charities. I also realised how much of what those leaders achieve could be applied with enormous power into commercial organisations.

The Third sector is often incredibly entrepreneurial. With almost no resources, a community action group can initiate the transformation of an entire neighbourhood, for example. The Jubilee Debt Campaign released billions of dollars of Third World debt to education and health care.

Does the commercial sector have nothing to offer the Third sector? No, I still believe that many of the disciplines of the commercial sector are required. But it is easy to squeeze out the power of the relationships that are the Social Capital underpinning the Third sector if you just turn the organisation into a more efficient financial machine. And for all of us, where financial resources are increasingly constrained, we should look to Social Capital as the entrepreneurial resource for leaders who want to re-invigorate Britain in the 21st century.


My struggle – leaders fail


One of my biggest lessons in leadership is that leaders fail, and that it is necessary and good to fail.

The more I read of leaders the more I realise that those we often hold up as fantastic leaders in their own fields struggled time and time again with failure.  Their success is built upon a foundation of failures from which they learn and grow.

As Thomas Edison said:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

The other thing I’ve learnt is that just because you fail doesn’t mean you should drop that dream or goal – it may just need more practice or not be the right time for it to work.  Just check out this infographic:


The Best Leaders Are Both Tough and Nice

Great little article over at Harvard Business Review on how the best leaders are both tough and nice:

Leaders often ask themselves whether it’s best to be tough or nice. If you’re tough — a “driver” — you can push people to go beyond the limits of their abilities. If you’re nice — an “enhancer” — you can better understand the needs, problems, and concerns of your charges. It’s a hard choice. So which style results in the more highly-engaged employees? According study of 160,576 employees under the command 30,661 bosses, the tough-versus-nice battle is tight. Eight percent of tough-led employees are highly engaged. Nice? Six percent. So tough-minded leaders are the winner, right? Not so fast. The most effective leaders, it turns out, use both styles, and 68% percent — that’s right, 68% — of their employees are highly engaged. That’s impressive.


The “Chips” Principle

Kurt Johnston

I loved this article from Kurt, on the Simply Youth Ministry mailout last week:

I think I first heard about the “chips” principle when I was working for former pastor and current leadership guru John Maxwell.

The concept is a simple one: In church ministry you are constantly putting “chips” in your pocket, or taking them out. When you find yourself out of chips, you are out of luck and potentially out of a job. So you never want to run out of chips!

You get chips when you earn trust, when you handle an upset parent properly, when you help out another ministry, when you say “yes” to something the senior pastor asks of you, and so on.

You lose chips when you break trust, come home from camp late, say a joke from stage you shouldn’t have, whine to your senior pastor about your schedule, ignore a parent’s concerns, and so on.

Because I want you to have lots of chips in your pockets as you minister in your setting, let me share the three things that I’ve discovered consistently put the most chips in the pockets of youth workers:

  • LONGEVITY—Nothing puts more chips in your pocket than simply sticking around for a while! When you weather storms and turn down other opportunities for “greener pastures,” you put tons of chips in your pocket. In the revolving-door world of youth ministry, staying committed to the teenagers in your church for a prolonged period of time gives you chips galore…which you’ll need when you have to cash some in because you played the cinnamon challenge game at camp.
  • ATTITUDE—Sometimes it’s not what you do but how you do it that puts chips in your pocket! Agreeing to emcee the senior adult potluck doesn’t automatically win you favor. Agreeing to do it enthusiastically, and expressing gratitude that you were asked, is what earns you chips. And you’ll need those chips because you will have to cash some in if you ask a room full of 80-year-olds to play Twister! It’s been said that your attitude determines your altitude. I like that, and have found it to be true.
  • COMPETENCE—For most churches your involvement in their youth ministry, whether paid or volunteer, is a skill-based opportunity. You add chips to your pocket every time you do something well (unless of course, your attitude stinks). You add even more chips to your pocket when you consistently do something well that others on your youth team can’t. So look for ways to do what you do well and do it often! This will give you lots of chips that you will need to cash in when you miscount and leave a student at a rest station on your youth group road trip.

How full are your pockets?

Thanks for loving students,
Kurt Johnston

Books I have read: Who Stole My Church


Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been reading Who Stole My Church by Gordon MacDonald.  Travelling back from the Digital Children conference at Cliff College I had a chance to finish it on the train.  The concept of the book is a story, a narrative of an imaginary church in a New England town which examines issues and tensions that are experienced as a church goes on a journey of change.

During the narrative we see the Pastor of the Church meeting with a group of older people for a “Discovery Group” exploring their concerns and frustrations with change ranging from worship, name of the church, prayer, mission and more.  Through the story I could recognise many of the characters in the people I have met in the four churches I have worked in.  It reminded me of the fables that Patrick Lencioni has so brilliantly written.

I borrowed this book from my library but enjoyed it so much that I’ve added it to my wish list.  It is a book that I would come back to several times to think how am I sharing vision, how am I enabling people to fill ownership of decisions, and some really interesting thoughts on how to bring different generations together in church something that I will reflect on more here on the blog in the coming days.