3 Reasons I’m Launching a Leadership Podcast

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I’ve sent a few teasers out via social media, but I can officially say I’m launching a podcast. I couldn’t come up with a creative name, so it’s officially The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. Catchy, huh?

I’ll be posting new episodes on this blog and I am also excited to be a part of the Lifeway Leadership Podcast Network. So, you’ll see some publicity about it there also.

Here are 3 Reasons I’m Launching a Leadership Podcast:

A new way to share my existing content. If you have followed this blog, you know I have lots of intellectual property here. People can usually ask me any leadership question and I have written something close to addressing the issue. Podcasting will allow me a way to further use what I have learned and am experience in leadership, but in a different format.

Practical help for leaders. People tell me they like my stuff, because I make it easy to apply. I hope so. I realize some people like longer posts (and would prefer longer podcasts – this one will not be long), but some like the quick, to the point ideas I provide. That’s the way I think and apparently others think so too.

Every episode we will address a specific problem and we will talk practically about how I would approach the issue. I’ll use tons of real life examples.

Hang-time with my son. In every episode, my youngest son Nate will be the host and interviewer. He provides the technical ability to record that I simply don’t have. He understands me, knows many of the stories, and can bring out of me what I may have forgotten. But Nate also brings his own level of expertise. He’s served in some really good leadership roles for his age and done some really hard things. I personally think he’s one of the best leaders I know. (And yes, I’m biased.)

We are working out some of the technical issues, but we have a good backlog already recorded. Stay tuned! And please listen, like, review (positively) and share.

7 Results When I’m Tired – 7 Remedies

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

I have learned over the years – many times when I’m not up to par in my leadership or life – it’s simply because I’m tired. Recognizing this is paramount to maintaining productivity and for preventing burnout.

This has been truer in 2020 than any time in my career.

When I’m tired:

I become irrational about the flaws in others,

There is difficulty concentrating.

I display less patience and get frustrated easily.

My work is less effective.

Leadership suffers.

Our team suffers.

Here are 7 remedies I’ve discovered:

Take a nap (Some think you should take one everyday.)

Exercise (My adrenaline and energy grows when I sweat.)

Change perspective – Read a book, watch or listen to something other than where I’m currently working. (It can even simply be entertaining.)

Engage with motivating people. (There are people who naturally fuel others by their presence.)

Take extended time away from my work. (The busier the season the more I need to discipline myself to get away and rest.)

Evaluate my priorities – freeing myself for what’s most important. (We can easily get captivated by things of lesser importance which drain our energy.)

Call it a day and prepare for another day. (There have been days it is just best to go home and start over the next day.)

Sometimes things, which at the time seem unproductive, actually end up being among the most productive. I’ve learned I’m not very helpful to the team when I’m extremely tired. Addressing it quickly makes me a better leader. Things aren’t likely to improve until I improve.

Many leaders try to operate from an exhausted position and never realize they are the problem on the team.

Leader, be aware when you are the problem.

Don’t be afraid to admit you’re tired, leader. Most likely the team already knows it.

10 Opinions I Have About Meetings – Leaders, Pay Attention

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I have lots of meetings. Over the years of business, government, and ministry – serving on dozens of non-profit boards, I’ve probably attended several thousand meetings. Along the way, I’ve developed some strong opinions about meetings.

I thought I’d share a few.

Here are 10 strong opinions I have about meetings:

If all the decisions are already determined – then don’t call a meeting – send me an email. Don’t waste my time.

When the meeting is at a time when people are naturally hungry – please feed us. And pay for it.

Where there is no agenda – if we are simply meeting because it is on the calendar, but there is really nothing to discuss – well, I don’t mean to seem rude, but what are we doing here?

If every new idea is going to be shot down – then would skeet-shooting be a better use of our time?

When the meeting flow is done the same way every time, won’t someone  – some creative like me – eventually get bored?

If we are only going to talk about it – but never really do anything about it – isn’t this really just a social event?

When one person dominates all the conversation – let’s skip the meeting and schedule a speech.

If everyone is invited – nothing is getting accomplished today – let’s have a party.

When it is past time for most people to go home – let’s postpone – you’ve lost our full attention.

If no one is taking notes – will we even remember any of this tomorrow?

Just a few of my thoughts about meetings.

I’m not opposed to meetings at all. They are vital to healthy organizations and I even like a good meeting. Let’s just keep getting better at them. 

Do you have your strong opinions about meetings?

10 Clues to Find New Volunteer Leaders

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If a church or organization is to grow it must find new volunteer leaders

Of course, equally vital is the quality of leaders being discovered. Good leaders learn to look for qualities in people which are conducive to good leadership. If you want to have a culture which reproduces leaders, read THIS POST first.

But where do you find these people who can be future servant leaders?

I find it helps to look for certain qualities, which all good leaders need or qualities which, consistently over time, seem to make good leaders. Of course, in context of the church, the Bible gives us clear guidance in selecting senior leaders. But my church is always in need of new leaders – from the parking lot to the hallways every Sunday.

Where do we find a continual pool of new leaders?

The following are traits I look for in leaders I hope to develop or with whom I want to work.

10 valuable traits when looking to find new volunteer leaders:

Concern/Love for others 

You can’t lead people effectively if you don’t genuinely love them. I’ve seen people in positions who have great power, but they don’t appear to love others. These leaders often produce followers, but they never reproduce leaders.

Not a complainer 

Candidly, leadership encounters complainers regardless of what we do. I certainly don’t want to add complainers to my team of leaders. A positive attitude will get my attention every time.

Teachable and open to suggestions 

A person who thinks they have all the answers will repel other leaders. People with no desire to keep learning rarely find their place on my team of leaders.

Excellence in following 

This is a biggie for me. I try to follow people I lead, because there are times they know more than I do. Someone who isn’t willing to follow is seldom ready to lead.

Reliability 

Leadership is about trust. Trust is developed over time and consistency by doing what you said you would do. I look for people with this quality.

Interest 

The people with a burning passion for the church often make great leaders. You can train someone to lead others, but you can’t train them to have interest.

Good character 

Character counts. Not perfection. Not flawless. But good character is necessary to be trusted on a team. A humble desire to always be improving as a person of integrity – this kind of character.

Potential 

God always saw potential in others they themselves couldn’t see. I try to have eyes to see potential in people.

Confidence 

Leaders have to move forward when others are ready to retreat. This takes confidence. Not being prideful, but a genuine willingness to lead through the hard times – to do what others aren’t willing to do.

People skills 

This goes without saying, but you can’t lead people if you can’t communicate with people. You don’t have to be the life of the party (I’m a strong Introvert), but you do have to be able to engage people and make them feel a part of things.

Those are some traits I look for to find new volunteer leaders. Do you have other traits you look for in recruiting leaders?

7 Ways To Create More Time Margin in Your Week

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How do you create more time margin in your week – with an already packed schedule?

Isn’t this a great question?

How do you create more margin – to do the things you want to do and the things you need to do?

Here are a 7 tips to help create more time margin:

Start your day with God.

Of course a pastor would say this, but it is amazing if I start the day talking to God how much it helps me all day. Something about pausing long enough to center my day helps me start in a more productive way.

Prioritize your life.

What do you value most? Without knowing this we find ourselves chasing after many things that have lesser value.

Work smarter.

Most of us form bad habits or have unorganized methods of doing something that waste bulks of our time. Make a list of what you spend the most time doing and see if there are places you can cut.

Schedule times to organize.

Spending an hour or two planning the week will make the whole week more productive. Develop some system of calendaring your week. Usually for me this is the first part of my week. As a result I know where I’m headed and my work space is organized for efficiency. That makes it much easier to handle distractions, which are sure to come.

Don’t say yes to everything and carefully use your no.

Be picky with your time allotment based again on your end priorities and goals. And no is not a bad word.

Schedule down time.

Especially when my boys were younger, I would write time on my calendar for them. This allows you to be there and keeps things and others from filling up your schedule. (I still schedule this time with Cheryl – and, it sounds counterproductive, but we get away even more frequently during busier seasons.)

Evaluate your schedule often.

Plans should not be implemented and then ignored. Develop your plan to create margin in your life, then periodically review the plan to see how you are doing and what needs to be changed.

For some people just reading this is laborsome. I especially encourage those of you geared this way to push through the difficult part of this and give it a try. You will be surprised what a positive difference it will have on your life.

One Shared Habit Is the Downfall of Many Pastors

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There is one shared habit pastors seem to face. I often hear it on Mondays – even after a great Sunday. I’ve been guilty of this one – many times. It was true in church planting and in church revitalization.

Many times, if left unchecked, it can led to the downfall of the pastor.

And it could be a common struggle for every leader, regardless of the context of where they are leading.

The struggle –

We let a few negative voices overshadow the many positives.

Things can be going great, but we can get one negative email and our whole day is ruined.

We can have one season of struggle and we forget all the seasons of triumph – or all the promises for future reward.

God may be providing blessings all around us, but we focus on the distraction of a few critics. Frankly, these are often people we may never please – regardless of what we do.

We can live in gloom and doom about a present situation, forgetting how God has blessed us and how He has promised to bless us in days to come.

Are you ever guilty of this? Am I alone here?

The Bible is not silent about this struggle. Elijah, who the book of James tells us was a person just like us – fell apart with one threat from Jezebel. This was just after he had had tremendous success in ministry. (1 Kings 19)

A common temptation to see the negative immediate reality, over the bigger picture positives of what God has done and is doing.

I don’t know, this is speculation on my part, but I think this struggle may have existed throughout the Bible with God’s people. For example, consider a favorite verses of encouragement.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord , plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Put it in the context in which it was delivered. Notice Vs. 10

For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.” (Emphasis mine.)

One of the greatest promises – a promise God is in control and has a masterful future planned. This promise fits well on coffee mugs and desk plaques. We love it so much.

But what do you think the people heard when this great promise was revealed by the prophet?

Again, it’s speculation on my part, but don’t you think the “seventy years” of captivity they were about to face would have jumped out more than the “future and hope“?

Yet, which do you think was God’s intent – to encourage or discourage?

Again, everything can be going according to plan. God can be working in your life, but one setback – one season of decline in church attendance – one negative email – can destroy your perception of reality.

It is a shared habit pastors struggle to overcome.

This is why, as pastors – as leaders – as people of God – we must keep our mind and focus on the bigger picture. Rather than the voices of the negative minority, we must focus on what God has called us to do, what He’s doing – and ultimately, what He‘s promised to do.

Paul said it like this, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” (2 Corinthians 4:17)

Who is brave and honest enough to admit I’m not alone here in this struggle?

7 Wisdom Nuggets for Church Planters and Ministry Leaders

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I was meeting with a potential church planter and some wisdom nuggets spoken to me or learned over the years flooded my mind. I think they are valuable for all leaders, but especially my friends in ministry.

Some of these were given to me by others. Others were learned firsthand by experience.

7 words for church planters and leaders:

Seek approval among the people to whom God sent you to minister.

All of us need assurance at times from other people what we are doing matters. Church planting is often unpopular among established churches. In a growing established church your critics will be those who resist change inside the building. Either way there will be critics.

This nugget of wisdom was spoken to me by a seasoned church planter. Most likely God didn’t call you so you could be popular – or even to simply satisfy people who already love their church the way it is. He sent you to reach hurting, broken people – to be His witness to a dark world.

My guess is those whom you are reaching are happy with your efforts.

Love God and you’ll love people wherever God sends you.

I just knew Cheryl and I were supposed to plant a church in New York City. It was something I wanted to do and even felt “led” to, at times. But still, there never seemed to be the peace or an opportunity to do so. While walking the streets of NYC one morning, I asked God to give me a clear heart for the people of New York if it was where He wanted us to be.

Then came one of the clearest words from God I’ve ever heard. If I truly love God, I will love the people and have a heart to make disciples among them, wherever I go. I felt released from the burden and freer to serve wherever God placed us next.

Don’t ignore churched people when planting a church.

When I was a new church planter, we ran from anyone who had any church affiliation. They weren’t our target. We didn’t want to offend other churches. In doing so, we robbed ourselves of potential leaders and kept some people from following the ministry God had laid on their heart.

The same is true in the established church. It can’t be all about the “new” people. You have to love the people who are already there. They are your best resource and partners to reach the lost and hurting.

Your spouse may have to trust you even more.

My wife has often known we were supposed to do something, but her heart has often been more tender when it comes to leaving the people we love. Her faith follows quickly, but her heart often lingers with the previous church.

At times, I have had to ask her to trust me, and my walk with Christ, when she can’t seem to force her heart to shift. (You actually can’t force a heart to change.) Unless she has a conviction against moving forward, if she’s willing, it is often helpful if she relies on my logic more than her emotions. Her emotional commitment always follows in time.

Peace often only comes through obedience.

Sometimes the complete peace in a decision doesn’t come until I’ve said “Yes Lord” to what I sense He’s calling me to do. Saying yes, before I have all the assignment or all my questions are answered, seems to open the door for God to bring peace about the move. And, His blessing and glory.

God is not afraid to stir the nest.

Deuteronomy references God and the eagle stirring its nest. I’ve been told (and read) eagles build their nest with the roughest products they can find. Then they cover the structure with the softest, most comfortable material available. A baby eaglet never wants to leave the comfort of home, so to teach them to fly, a mother eagle stirs up the nest, uncovering the roughest part.

Here’s one of my wisdom nuggets I’ve learned the hard way: Don’t be afraid of those times God stirs your nest – they lead to His best for you.

Build/alter DNA slowly.

Once DNA is set, it’s very hard to change it. (My friends in the established church know this one well.) Secure senior leaders slowly. Add staff slowly. Add rules and structure slowly. What you repeat very many times will become tradition quickly and when you try to change it there will be resistance. Make sure it’s something you want in your DNA, before you allow it to get there.

Do you have some wisdom nuggets you’ve learned in ministry leadership?

5 Characteristics of Antiquated Leaders

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Many leaders in senior positions these days developed their leadership style in another generation. This has produced a plethora of what I call antiquated leaders.

What’s important in leadership has changed from when I entered the field of leadership.

Leadership principles and practices have had to change because organizations and people have changed.

These leaders create tension in many organizations, including many churches today.

Here are some characteristics: 

Antiquated leaders keep people in a box.

There was once a day that through policies and rules you could control an employee’s actions. This is not true anymore. People won’t stay in a boxes these days, as they demand opportunities for growth.

Antiquated leaders control information.

Information is king and these days people have information available to them in the palm of their hands — literally. Today’s leaders must be free with transparent and current information – including what’s stirring in the leader’s mind and where the organization is going.

Antiquated leaders enforce waiting periods on young leaders.

Keeping young leaders at a distance won’t work anymore. Young leaders today want an opportunity to explore, take risks, and make an impact in the world — NOW; therefore successful leaders learn to tap into this energy.

Antiquated leaders assume a paycheck is enough motivation.

Today’s workforce demands more. They want to know they are doing good work and what they are doing is making a difference and is valued on the team. By the way, the annual company picnic won’t cut it anymore either.

Antiquated leaders make the work environment strictly business. 

The younger generation mixes business with pleasure, so they want to enjoy their workplace environment. Today’s leaders must learn to celebrate along the way to success.

Now, take a minute and improve this post with your thoughts.

4 Ways to Stop Being a People-Pleasing Pastor

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After a post about people-pleasing, I received the following email from someone who wants to stop being a people-pleasing pastor:

Ron,

Have just finished your blog post “7 Casualties of a People Pleaser in Leadership“. I recognize I am a People Pleaser Pastor. How do I turn the tide on this? How do I stop? I am seeing tension mounting on the team. There is frustration on our staff and it is even spilling over to our spouses, and my vision has hit a brick wall. I really want to move away from this but I am finding it most difficult.

Signed,

One frustrated pastor

Here was my reply:

Frustrated Pastor,

I’m impressed with your boldness and honesty.

Here are a few thoughts:

Get firm again on the vision you are trying to accomplish

What happens to some pastors is that people-pleasing becomes more important to them than accomplishing the vision God has given them. All of us tend to do what we value most. You must begin to value the vision more than making people happy.

So, make sure your vision is God-honoring and God-ordained. We want to make sure whatever we do honors Him and gives Him glory. But get firm on accomplishing this.

The vision is what should hold your feet to the fire. If it detracts or doesn’t line up with the vision God has given you, you shouldn’t be as enthusiastic about it – regardless of who brings it to you. This doesn’t mean you can’t say yes to other things, but you can clearly say, “I’m sorry, but right now I’m chasing this vision God has given me.

Imagine the pressure Moses was under as a leader to please the people, but he had to hold to the vision God had given him and not cave to the pressure to always please people.

Get buy-in with a team towards reaching the vision

Make sure your team understands the vision and they are committed to seeing it to completion.

You need a group of supporters around you committed to the same defined vision you have. Make sure these people will protect your back should the need arise. We all need people who can and will back us up when we are tempted to give in and be a people pleaser.

Be honest with them about your propensity to cave to pressure from others. Give them permission to speak into your life when they see you pleasing people more than accomplishing the vision.

Assign responsibility and timelines

Give people real responsibility towards accomplishing the vision and measurable timelines toward achievement. This is hard for some pastors, but you have to release responsibility for decisions made. This keeps tasks moving forward and therefore makes it easier and more palatable when you have to say no to other things. It’s hard to argue with success.

I often find it’s sometimes easier for someone closer to a task to say no to something new. For example, if a group wants us to start a new mission somewhere outside our focus area, the people who currently lead our mission efforts are often better at protecting the vision we’ve already set in place than I am if they are moving forward with their current plans.

I also give people on my team the right to tell me when I’m veering from the vision we have before us. You will be less likely to cave to people pressure if you know things are on track to reach the vision.

Discipline yourself

The reality is, if you recognize people-pleasing is a weakness in your leadership, you’ll have to discipline yourself away from it. This will take time. When you sense you are making a decision purely to please others, give yourself a gut check. Tie a string around your finger if needed, but by practice and consistency, consistently recall the bigger picture.

When needed, call in the trusted advisors again. Renew the passion for the vision again. Slowly, over time, you’ll find yourself better able to say no when needed so you can better realize the vision God has placed on your heart.

I’m praying for you frustrated pastor/s. You can stop being a people-pleasing pastor. I’m believing you can do it. God has called you to it. He will equip you accordingly as you surrender to His will.

I have more thoughts like this in my book The Mythical Leader. And if you need a coach or consultant, keep me in mind.

7 Ways to Encourage a Team to Be More Innovative

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Most leaders want to lead an innovative organization.

If you are like me, you don’t necessarily have to be the first to do something new, but you don’t want to be years behind either. We want to be “cutting edge” to some degree. Certainly, we don’t want to be stuck in the last decade.

But as leaders, we can’t force innovation.

We can’t mandate our people to be innovative. And the longer people haven’t been innovative, the the more difficult it is to get them innovating again.

Innovation, in its purest form means change. Change can be forced upon people, but the best changes come from the heart of a person.

Great innovation comes from the gut.

There are things leaders can do to encourage team members to be more innovative.

Here are a 7 easy ways to encourage innovation:

Get away from the office as a team.

There is something about a change in surroundings which encourages changes in thought. Creative thoughts are often fueled better outside your normal environment.

We have held brainstorming retreats at other churches in our area and local businesses. Again, the change of place often fuels a change of thought.

Have a brainstorming session with open-ended questions.

Questions can be gold for fueling ideas and creativity. Ask questions such as, “What are we doing well?” “Where could we improve?” “What should we stop doing?”

Be sure to welcome diversity of thought. Create an environment where innovation and outside-the-box thinking is acceptable.

Reward new ideas.

Recognize new thoughts and celebrate the success of innovation and people will want more of it. Make it a part of the DNA to elevate the value of innovation.

Make sure to build time to dream into your schedule as a leader. Teams I lead learn soon that when I travel I return with some fresh perspective – even some wild ideas.

Have times together as a team that are simply fun.

Something magical happens when you get people who work together out of the work zone and into a fun zone. They often still talk work – it’s what they share in common – but they share work in a more innovative and productive way.

Remove obstacles to innovative thought.

There are always communication barriers between team members and senior leadership. Discovering and eliminating them could be an innovation waterfall.

One way is to get in the room and have a real problem which needs to be solved and not already have the answers. Let the answers emerge. People love to solve a problem.

Invite new (different) people to the table.

It could be different people on the team or people from the community, but new people equals new ideas. And make sure they are people who may not look like the rest of the team. We’ve often brought staff spouses to the table to fuel our thoughts. The idea here is to glean from other voices.

Set innovation timeline goals.

If you want to eventually build a new website, for example, put a date on the calendar for when it MUST be completed. It’s amazing how creative we often become under a deadline.

What are some ideas you have to encourage innovation?