There is nothing profound in saying that leaders are different… They stand out by their character, gifting and often even charisma.

A leader will often experience both pay-backs for their work as well as plenty of pains in disappointments, criticisms and failures. And often their insecurity is also their greatest enemy.

Recently Beth Moore said: ‘If pride is the graveyard of all good leaders, then insecurity is the psych ward.’

How true but also how haunting for anyone who leads.

Just like any other leader out there, I wrestle with these essential questions: Who am I? Why do I do what I do? How do I do it?

John the Baptist was an amazing Biblical example who demonstrates a healthy tension: he was staggeringly humble yet truly influential (in Jesus’ estimation).

I wonder whether there is a hint why – he was brilliant at understanding his own identity:
‘There was a man sent from God whose name was John.’ John 1:6

His grasp of his frailty (‘a man’) and its limitations  is in a perfect tension with God’s invested authority (‘sent’) – that’s where the influence comes from.

A wise Christian leader would be just like John – recognising with humility his frailty but also realising they are invested with God’s authority. Paul very often would use the same tension in his introductions.



Motivation – Daniel Pink

Biological drive
Reward/punishment drive
3rd drive – neglected – passion

Science of rewards – MIT
– mechanical skill the larger the reward, the harder the motivation
– cognitive skills, the larger the reward the poorer the motivation

False assumptions:
Humans = machines: mechanistic
Humans = blobs: passive/inert

Neither of those are our default settings

3 key motivators

– good management
– time/team/task/technique
– Fed Ex days
– 20% project Google

– making progress is most motivating
– management – point it out
– ‘flow’
– feedback > goals > self-evaluation

– profit motive failing
– what pronouns do we use?

‘Can I change my organisation?’ NO. Wrong question. Try: ‘Can I change what I do tomorrow?’


Leader to Leader – Jack Welch

– approachable
– honest
– genuine
– trustworthy

– energising people – vision
– getting people to ‘feel’ the vision
– tell a story
– tell them about the journey
– draw the people out
– learn from them

– getting things on the table

– top 20 – vital 70 – low 10%
– different salary & role
– A’s: generous & in-envious
– B’s: hard working
– C’s: cynics, no energy


Problems & Tensions – A Stanley

Healthy if leveraged correctly makes you go further and faster

Some of these cannot be solved but managed

Which should and shouldn’t be solved

  • Management & leadership
  • Systems & flexibility
  • Work & family

How do you know the difference?

1. Does it keep resurfacing?  What if it does occur seasonal?
2. Mature issues on both sides?
3. Are the 2 sides interdependent?

• identify the tension
• create terminology
• inform your core
• continually give value to both sides
• don’t weigh in too heavily…
• don’t allow strong personalities to win the day
– don’t think ‘balance’ – think ‘rhythm’

Discern tensions that need to be managed vs problems to be solved


When Leaders Fall – A. Hamilton

Option – say nothing
Option – be evasive
Option – scarlet letter approach
Option – honesty, transparency, compassion

Staff covenant + policies
Meeting – staff – misconduct

Human beings wired for reproduction
Wired for intimacy/companionship
Add the ‘sin’ drive
We seem ‘safe’ – attractive to others
We are tired/spent – vulnerable

‘Maybe’ moment > ‘yes’ moment

  • Remember who you are
  • Recognize the consequences
  • Rededicate your life
  • Reveal your struggle to a wise friend
  • Remove yourself from the situation

1 Thessalonians 5:3,5,7


Never Ever Give-up – J. Collins

Greatness not circumstance but discipline and choice.

Danger of failure
– Sick on the inside – deceptive
– 5 stages / antitheses

1. Hubris – outrageous arrogance – forgetting to fuel the primary passion; forgetting how you got there

!!! it is not about them !!!
!!! humility !!!

2. Undisciplined pursuit of ‘more’. Over reaching

!!! Get the right fantastic people on board !!!

3. Denial of risk and peril – the Stockdale paradox – faith facing brutal facts

4. Grasping for salvation

‘Greatness is a cumulative process.’

5. Capitulation
Financial and repetitional capital squandered.

!!! The great companies had a reason !!!
!!! Money and success not sufficient !!!

Don’t lose values but be willing to change. Practices can be changed. Preserve the core and stimulate progress.

!!! Not OR but AND !!!


1. Do your diagnostics
2. Count blessings
3. Questions to statements ratio – double it
4. Key seats filled with fantastic people
5. Diagnostic with team
6. Brutal facts
7. Have a ‘stop doing’ list
8. Define results and celebrate them – clucks on the leadership flywheel
9. Double your reach to young people by changing practices without changing your core
9. Get a new audacious goal


From Here to There – B. Hybels

1. Leaders move people from here to there: paint a picture of the future > passion.

Make the ‘here’ sound awful not just the ‘there’ sound wonderful….

Long before I H A D dr. MLK did many ‘we can’t stay here’ speeches

2. You need fantastic people move on:
character, competence, chemistry, culture (fit the unique environment for flourishing)

Different reactions to losing people: joy, sad, vomit… ‘you made us vomit’…

3. Mile-markets & celebrations
– vulnerability in the middle third
– refill their vision bucket
– put & celebrate mile markers

4. Whispers from God
– John 10:27
– Bible & Spirit

Brilliant and inspiring article for all church leaders and Jesus-followers alike:

Leading a Church in Prayer (deserves thoughtful preparation)

Some traditions use set prayers. Others rely on extemporaneous prayers. Both have their place. But I believe what our congregations need most are studied prayers, well prepared, well expressed. These prayers may or may not be read, but will be thought through ahead of time. Publicly leading a church in prayer deserves thoughtful preparation.

1. Use forms with freedom. Learn from The Valley of Vision or Hughes Oliphant Old or the Book of Common Prayer. But suit their prayers to your own purposes. The Didache, after laying down set prayers for Communion, also allows “the prophets to give thanks however they wish.”

2. Pray Scripture. Don’t just ask God for what we want. Let him teach us what we should want.

3. Don’t footnote. Charles Spurgeon: “It is not necessary in prayer to string a selection of texts of Scripture together, and quote David, and Daniel, and Job, and Paul, and Peter, and every other body, under the title of ‘thy servant of old.'” The Lord already knows who said everything, so don’t tell him again in your prayers.

4. Leave the preaching for the sermon. Don’t exhort. Don’t explain texts. Don’t unpack complex theology. Spurgeon again: “Long prayers either consist of repetitions, or else of unnecessary explanations which God does not require; or else they degenerate into downright preachings, so that there is no difference between the praying and the preaching, except that in the one the minister has his eyes shut, and in the other he keeps them open. It is not necessary in prayer to rehearse the Westminster Assembly’s Catechism.”

5. Share some details of congregational life, but not all. A good shepherd will often mention by name various sheep that need special care. But don’t try to cover every engagement in the last three months or surreptitiously announce the youth retreat in your prayer (“Lord, be with our young people gathering this Friday at 5:00 p.m. with their Bibles and a sleeping bag”). Spurgeon once more: “There is no need to make the public prayer a gazette of the week’s events, or a register of the births, deaths, and marriages of your people, but the general moments that have taken place in the congregation should be noted by the minister’s careful heart.”

6. Pray so that others can follow you easily. The goal is edification (1 Cor. 14:17). So don’t let your sentences get too long, too flowery, too ornate. If you write out your prayers, write for the ear not for the eye. On the other hand, don’t use distracting colloquialisms like, “Lord, you’re so sweet.”

7. Keep it relatively brief. Better to be too short than too long. Five minutes is plenty in most North American churches. Seven to ten minutes is possible if you are experienced and have trained your people well.

8. Remember you are praying with and on behalf of others. Use “we” and “our” (as in the Lord’s Prayer). This is not the time to confess your personal sins or recount your personal experiences.

9. Order your prayer. Make sure there is a flow and direction. Don’t get too wordy. Keep a good pace. It often makes sense to work from the inside out, praying first for concerns of the congregation and then moving out to the community, the global church, and the world.

10. Beware of verbal ticks. For example: popping your p’s, smacking your lips, sighing, ums, mindless repetition of the divine name, overuse of “just” and “like,” an over-reliance on the phrase “we pray” or “we would pray” instead of simply praying.

11. Show proper reverence, confidence, and emotion. Pray like you mean it. After all, God is God, and he really hears us!

12. Pray before you pray. Ask God for help as you prepare, and for humility and grace as you go up to pray.

Kevin DeYoung, University Reformed Church, East Lansing, Michigan. He blogs at