3 Biblical Steps to Being a More Thankful Person

By | Christians, Church, Encouragement, Family, God | No Comments

Ever wonder the secret to being a more thankful person?

I believe the secret to being thankful is in learning to be more content.

We give thanks out of a heart overflowing with gratefulness. A full heart naturally produces gratitude. When we are content with where God has allowed us to be our heart will be more thankful.

How do we do that?

The Apostle Paul told us he had learned the secret to being content.

I think Paul gave us some clues earlier in his letter to the Philippians.

Here was Paul’s remedy:

(He says he’s going to tell us one thing — then he gives us three — typical Paul.)

Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. (‭Philippians‬ ‭3‬:‭13-14‬)

Here is Paul’s remedy to being more content – and ultimately more thankful:

1. Forgetting what is behind.

Have you made some mistakes? That day is gone. It’s over. The question now is what are you going to do about it? Are you going to live in the past? Hold on to guilt? Refuse the grace of God in your life? Refuse to forgive? Hold a grudge?

One of my favorite verses is Ecclesiastes 11:3. Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there it will lie.

The reality is you can let what has happened – the tree fell. It may have been your fault or beyond your control. But you can let it control you or you can move forward. But you cannot do both. Which will you choose?

2. Remembering what is ahead.

Life moves forward. This too shall pass. And the best days are ahead if you’re a child of God. He’s writing a story with a happy ending, where all things work for an ultimate good.

Right now we have more questions than answers. Some day God will provide for His children a Sabbath rest. Have you ever seen a sunset which took your breath away or marveled at the beauty of a mountain reaching into a clouded sky? Well, just wait. “No eye has seen” what God has prepared. If Christ is in you – you have a present Helper and a future reward. It’s all working for His glory.

3. Pursue worthy goals.

In the middle of leaving our past behind and anticipating a glorious future, we are to pursue Christ. We are to honor Him with our life. That means we obey His commands – to love God and love one another.

It means we pray for our enemies. And we do good expecting nothing in return. As we do, He will fill our heart with more joy, more contentment — and ultimately more thanksgiving.

Later in Philippians, Paul shares that the “peace of God” will guard our hearts. We will be filled with contentment.

And, we will find ourselves being a more thankful person.

How We Can Be More Thankful People

By | Christians, Church, Culture, Leadership | 2 Comments

What would it take for you and me to be more thankful people?

I find at times I am thankful, and at other times, I’m like everyone else. So, I can be a grumbler. Certainly this year could have produced some grumbling tendencies in all of us.

What would it take to learn the secret of contentment – to really be thankful all the time? (Or maybe we should set our goal as “most of the time” to start.)

Here are some ways to be more thankful people:

Consider what we could NOT have that we have now – Make a list of some things we often take for granted, like a toothbrush, socks, flushable toilets and clean drinking water. I have been places and witnessed people get so excited about receiving such things.

Stop comparing ourselves to those who have more than we have – Actually, it might help if we were to compare ourselves to those who have less than we have. That gives us a proper perspective. (Need help? Go to THIS LIST and enter your income. You might be surprised.)

Count our blessings and name them one by one – Make a list of things you are thankful for – your family, your friends, your health, your church, your shelter, your clothes, keep it going as long as you can.

We used to do this as an annual tradition in our home during Thanksgiving weekend. Each of us wrote down our own.

Review God’s promises – There are many and they are good!

(With a simple Google search I found this list from Compassion International.) If you’re a follower of Christ, it looks pretty good, huh?

Keep thankful reminders near– I can easily get distracted by the demands and burdens of this world and lose my thankful heart. So, one way I do this is to place things in my path to remind me of what (often who) I have for which to be thankful.

(It’s why I keep pictures of family members on my desk and why I save encouraging emails.)

Practice giving – It’s amazing what joy can come from being sacrificial. We have less, but the emotions of giving make us feel like we have more. So, give until it feels good.

Think small – Look for the smallest moments of grace. A smile, a lady bug, a gentle breeze, or the beating of your own heart. (Little things are actually big if you look for and value them.)

I know these will work if we practice them.

You can start now. Leave a comment and tell me 5 things you are thankful for today.

7 Excuses “Leaders” Use for Not Leading Well

By | Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership | No Comments

In my experience in the business world and church, it seems we are desperate for good leadership. Organizations and teams thrive on good leadership. Yet, I’ve seen some leaders make excuses for not leading well.

As much as we need good leaders, it seems whenever I meet a leader struggling in their role, rather than admit it could be them, often I only hear excuses. It must be easier to pass blame than to own the problem as our own.

In full disclosure, I’ve probably been as guilty as anyone at times in my leadership career.

The excuses, however, are fairly common.

7 excuses I’ve heard – or used – for not leading well:

I don’t know how.

With each new season in leadership there will be a learning curve. If you’re leading, then your introducing change – you’re taking people somewhere they haven’t been before. This means there will be lots of unknowns in your world for a while. But, don’t use this as an excuse. Learn. Take a course. Get a mentor. Read some books. Ask better questions. Grow as a leader.

I can’t get people to follow my lead.

Well, we may have to check our leadership definition, but don’t give up. If God has called you to this – discover how to motivate people. Most people will follow someone if you’re taking them somewhere they need to go, but aren’t sure how to get there.

Make sure you have a vision worth following, learn to communicate well and do all you can to help people attain it. In terms of communicating well – I often tell pastors – you’re best “sermon” may be the one you give to motivate people towards the change or vision. Early in my leadership career I participated in an organization called Toastmasters to help train as a communicator.

I can’t keep up!

This can be a legitimate excuse at times – leadership can be overwhelming with the amount of change in our world, but we shouldn’t let it remain this way. Leaders have to learn to pace themselves. You have to surround yourself with others who can help carry the load. You can’t try to do everything or control every outcome. Learn delegation.

And don’t try to change everything at once. My rule of thumb is to be working on no more than 3 major changes at a time. This requires patience, because I may see 100 things which need to change. The only thing which works well though when I try to do too much at one time is I get to add to my excuses for not leading well.

No one taught me how to lead.

That might be true. I have found many leaders are terrible at reproducing leaders. We don’t apprentice well. So, what are you going to do about it? Leaders find solutions to problems. They don’t let problems become the excuse.

Learn from experience. It’s the best teacher anyway. Learn from trying. Learn from watching others. Just learn. It’s never too late to learn something new.

Times have changed.

This is true also. Times have changed. Cultures have changed. The workforce has changed. And they will keep changing – fast!

Good leaders adapt accordingly. They discover new approaches. They don’t make excuses.

I don’t have the right team.

Well, instead of using it as an excuse, you have a few options. Give them a better leader – you. Train and empower them. Figure out what’s keeping them from being the “right team”.

Or get a new team.

I’m suffering from burnout!

This excuse can be real. It happens to all of us at times – especially in a year like this. But don’t settle for this one. Get help. Heal. Rest. Renew. Regroup.

Get healthier so you can lead again. Sometimes stopping for a while is your best answer – even amidst the busiest times.

I’m not trying to be sarcastic, arrogant, or unsympathetic with this post. I realize each of these deserve their own post. I really do believe, however, good leadership is mostly finding a worthy vision, recruiting the right people and discovering ways to help people get there. And we get better the more we practice.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring a spiritual aspect into this – I am a pastor. My best leadership book is the Bible. My best leader example is Jesus. And I have learned when I am being obedient to Him I lead better naturally. It doesn’t mean everything falls into place beautifully – it does mean I have all I need to lead – even when everything around me is a mess.

Seriously, look over the list again. Are there any of them that can’t be overcome with a little determination?

Let’s stop the excuses and make better leaders!

Check out our new podcast where we unpack leadership issues in a applicable and practical way.

5 Stages All Organizations Experience

By | Change, Church, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership | One Comment

Every organization goes through life cycles. In fact, there are five stages all organizations experience.

(These are not my terms. I learned them years ago in a management class and can’t find where to attribute them. The explanation of terms and application is mine.)

I realize these are secular terms, and the church is not subject to the “rules” of a secular organization. At the same time, I have observed they are also true for most churches.

Leaders who recognize them and adapt to them can continue to experience health and growth in the organization. Two things to understand. First, each stage has overlap. Also, individual areas within the organization may also have similar life cycles.

5 life cycles of any organization:

Birth

This founding period usually involves a few people with a big vision. This is the initial stage where learning takes place and the organization begins to develop leaders – sometimes by trial and error. Everyone on the team at this point has the potential to become a leader.

Having planted a couple churches, we launched one with one staff member (me), my wife, and twenty or so people. The other was with three staff members, our wives, and eleven couples. Each member of both teams were forced to lead areas outside their comfort level. We gained some of our best leaders that way and several people found a passion they did not know they had. In both church plants, which grew quickly, this stage lasted less than one year.

Childhood 

A deepening and maturity process begins at this stage. The organization still has few policies and procedures in place and everything is still “fun”, with the excitement of still being a young vision. New leadership develops and responsibilities spread to new people within the organization. Mistakes are common as the organization figures out its identity. The DNA of the organization begins to form. In this stage, the organization begins to recognize its need for more structure.

This was a fun stage and time for both church plants. The normal for this stage appears to end in three to five years. For larger organizations, this could be a longer time frame.

Adolescence

Greater levels of responsibility are handed out to more people and the weight of responsibility spreads within the organization. The organization has had some success at this point and so it begins to take new risks and dream new and bigger dreams. This is a continued growth time and usually full of renewed energy.

If the organization is not careful some of the initial leaders of the organization can begin to experience burnout; and often a loss of power as new leaders emerge.

More developed structure becomes necessary at this point and the organization must begin to think about maintaining growth. Organizations are forced to “grow up” during this stage. It usually happens in the first ten years, but again, this may depend on the size of the organization.

Maturity

At this stage, the organization has many experiences of success and some failure. The organization must begin to think through continued growth and health as an organization. The organization needs constant renewal and regeneration to remain current and viable. Leadership has been developed, but the organization begins to plan out succession of leaders.

The structure of the organization is usually well established by this point, but must remain flexible enough to adapt to changes outside the organization. At some point all organizations enter this phase. The goal at this point needs to shift into breathing new life into the organization.

(A lot of churches reach this stage and cease to change and grow, often steeped in their own traditions, and this is where plateau begins.)

Renewal

It is sad, but this stage almost always has to be forced on an organization. Either by leadership or for survival purposes, something new must occur or the organization will eventually die or cease to be viable. This can be scary for people, but it does not mean the organization must leave its vision, traditions, or culture, but it must consider new ways of realizing its potential.

Some will say renewal comes at each stage of the organization’s life cycle. That may be true, but I contend there is a definite stage in a healthy life cycle where an organization improves and almost reinvents itself to continue to experience health and growth.

Another thing to remember is that the speed of an organization’s growth can cause life cycles to complete much quicker. Consider the child who has to face adult decisions early in life and is forced to “grow up fast”. A similar thing happens to organizations.

Check out our new podcast where we unpack leadership issues in a applicable and practical way.

7 Seasoned Tips to Better Lead Change

By | Church Revitalization, Leadership | No Comments

You can have change without leadership. But I am not sure you can have leadership without change. In leading change for over 30 years, I have learned some things which may help you better lead change.

Change is all around us. As leaders, we are called to be agents of change. We are charged with taking people to places they may not be able to go on their own – or at least no one has taken the steps to get started. But you can’t take people someone new without change.

I talk some about change in my book The Mythical Leader. Here I want to share a few random tips I’ve learned about leading change which may help you better lead change.

7 tips to better lead change:

Be a proponent of the new more than an opponent of the old. 

Everything which happened in the past was not bad. In fact, something happened which has allowed you to be where you are today. When you bash prior days and leadership you push people into a defensive mode and alienate people who might otherwise support you.

Keep the “why” as simple and easy to understand as possible.

You will have to repeat it often – like continually – so, you want it to be sticky enough for people to quickly grasp. People aren’t as reluctant to the what the more clearly they understand the why.

Know the key stakeholders.

The number one component of change is always people. People matter. (People who don’t understand this aren’t leaders as much as they are tyrants.) Most people are looking for someone to help them – lead them.

And, because of that, there are always leaders in the room. They are not always the loudest voices, but they are the ones to whom people will listen. They may be adversaries or allies, but you simply have to know who they are if you want to lead change successfully.

Understand the real resistance.

It’s not always the obvious. Sometimes it’s a very minor issue, which can be resolved easily. And sometimes it’s simply change. Every change comes attached with emotions – a sense of loss. Knowing why people are resisting helps the leader walk people through change in a caring, less controlling way.

Timing is huge.

It’s difficult to know the perfect time to make a change, but doing the right thing at the wrong time can end up being the wrong thing – no matter how much change is needed.

The key is leaders must strategically plan out a timeline for change. When are key decisions going to be made? Who is told what and when? What are the steps which need to be taken before the change is made?

Identify critical wins and non-critical elements.

You may not get everything you want. It’s a pretty controlling leader who thinks they must. There need to be some collaboration and cooperation. It’s a healthy part of leading people – and it’s a necessary part of leading change. Identify what must take place to be successful. Use a team to help you with this if possible. Then hold everything else with open hands.

Develop a healthy rhythm of change.

Ultimately, you want the each new season of change to go easier than the last. This isn’t always possible, of course, simply because some change is more complex than others and seasons change for people, cultures and organizations. But great leaders become students of change. They learn as they go.

And, the way you handle change – things like the speed at which you change, the people you include in change, the rest and celebration in between change – helps develop the DNA of change in the organization. Change is never easy, but over time you become better at leading change and the organization becomes better at accepting change.

Check out our new podcast where we unpack leadership issues in a applicable and practical way.

Don’t Address the HOW until you Address the WHAT

By | Church, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership, Organizational Leadership, Team Leadership | No Comments

I have a simple leadership principle. Don’t address HOW you are going to do something until you decide WHAT you are going to do. Or if you’re even going to do it.

I’ve seen it many times.

You have an idea – it’s not a bad idea – it may even be a great idea. You just don’t know yet. As soon as you present the idea the team instantly starts to ask tons of question, begin implementing the plan, and gets bogged down in details.

And then, after time of discussion – sometimes hours – the team decides its not a good idea after all.

Here’s my advice. I use this with the teams I lead.

Spend your energies at first on deciding whether it’s an idea worth pursuing.

The WHAT.

The what is “what” you are going to do. The current dream you have moving forward. The overall objective. The big picture of what’s next.

Decide the what – what are you doing or not doing – before you spend a lot of energy on the mechanics of the idea.

The HOW.

The how is how you are going to do the what. These are the details. The nuts and bolts working plan. You may have to talk about some of the how to decide the what, but spend your first, best and most energy on the what.

For example, let’s say you have an idea to add a third church service to allow for more growth – or maybe you are thinking of going multi-site – or the idea could be to launch an online campus. Don’t spend too much time on the how, until you decide the what.

Ask hard questions such as:

Is this an idea worth pursuing? Are we willing to give it a try? Has this been birthed in prayer? Do we believe this is something we are supposed to do?

Yes or no?

Spending too much time on the how before you address the what:

  • Gets you bogged down in details you may never need.
  • Wastes energy which could be used elsewhere if you aren’t going to do the what.
  • Solves problems you don’t yet and may never have.
  • Creates division about change prematurely.
  • Builds momentum before it’s time. (And, it’s harder to build momentum a second time.

When you know you’re going to do the what – you have to, you’re called to, it’s what or bust – you’ll figure out the how. You’ll find a way to make it happen. You’ll have more passion, clarity and energy to address the how.

Try that next time an idea surfaces and is discussed by your team.

Note: This is assuming, of course, you already know your “why” as an organization. You know why you are doing whatever you are doing. This post addresses a more specific aspect of realizing the vision. If you don’t yet have the why – start there.

Check out our new podcast where we unpack leadership issues in a applicable and practical way.

7 Suggestions to Successfully Lead Change

By | Change, Church, Leadership | No Comments

Every organization — whether a church, business or nonprofit– needs change in order to continue to grow and remain healthy. But if you have been in leadership long you know there are some necessary steps to successfully lead change. 

The fact is change is hard. Very hard.

In my experience, the most common reaction to change — at least initially– is some form of rejection or rebellion. We simply don’t like change.

And that’s what makes change difficult to lead.

Learning to successfully lead change may be the single most important challenge of any leader.

I’m not an expert. But I’ve led some change. Some successfully. Some not.

Along the way I’ve learned a few things.

Here are 7 suggestions that can help you better lead change:

Establish trust. 

You can successfully lead change best from a pre-established trust in your leadership. New leaders should be careful not to implement a lot of major change early unless that change is vital to the organization. Major change will be easier if the leader has established some credibility.

Introduce change as early as possible. 

People need time to warm up to the change that is coming. The less you surprise people the greater your chance for success can be. Change always comes with an emotion attached and giving ample notice allows people a chance to acclimate those emotions. (Granted, this one is not always possible, but exceptions should be rare and have an obvious reason attached to them – such as a pandemic.) 

Communicate. Communicate.

Inform people along the way by keeping them updated with the progress during a period of change. Include the good news and the bad news in these updates. Hold nothing back. I’m not sure you can over-communicate. And use different means of communication to make sure you catch everyone and every style of listener. Finally, use a caring approach, recognizing their sense of loss they are feeling as a result of the change. 

Widen the distribution.

Get buy-in from as many people as possible. Sometimes leaders have to lead alone. People can’t understand where you’re taking them that they need to go, but may not even know yet or want to go. But those times of loneliness should be rare. Wherever possible, include others in decisions concerning change.

Follow through on commitments made.

The quickest way to lose trust is to say one thing and do another. Likewise, do not make commitments you cannot keep. Be true to your word. This is even more important when people are experiencing change.

Be consistent.

You will keep people’s trust through the change if it is easier to figure out where you are as a leader, what you are thinking, and why you are making the decisions you make. And the “why” — it’s critically important. People need to continue to trust your leadership, and the more they understand the why the more accepting they will be of change.

Keep changing. 

Do not make change a rare occurrence in the organization. I’m not suggesting change just to be changing, but the more you have a culture that anticipates healthy change the more it will be accepted when it comes. That takes time. And experience. You need some wins so people learn to trust you when you are trying to lead change.

There are a few things I’ve learned about leading change. What have you learned?

Check out our new podcast where we unpack leadership issues in a applicable and practical way.

RELP – Episode 9 – 4 Realities Every Senior Leader Sets for the Team

By | Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Leadership, Podcast | 7 Comments

In this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast, Ron and Nate discuss four realities every senior leader sets for the team.

One reason leadership can make a person feel isolated is the weight of responsibility on the one who serves as the senior leader in an organization. That has been even truer while leading during a pandemic. Whether in the business world, non-profits or in churches, there are some things which happen in any organization that senior leaders help determine – whether intentional or not. In each of these cases, inactivity also determines them just as much as activity.

The weight of this responsibility can be overwhelming at times, but it’s unavoidable to a point. It comes with the position.

All that said, the senior leader doesn’t have to do everything. Successful senior leaders are cognizant of their input in a few key areas and place intentional energy towards them, freeing the team to lead elsewhere.

I hope this episode helps you be a better leader.

Would you do me a favor? If you enjoyed listening to this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast where we discussed four realities every senior leader sets for the team, would you subscribe, share and leave a positive review about this podcast? We are enjoying doing this together, but it is especially encouraging when we know it is helping other church leaders. Thank you in advance for doing this. It is a great help.

Also, let me know leadership issues you would like us to cover on future episodes.

And be sure to check out all the great podcasts on the Lifeway Leadership Podcast Network.