7 High Costs of Attempting to Eliminate Risk

By | Change, Church Planting, Church Revitalization, Innovation, Leadership | 2 Comments

Every leader attempts to limit risk as much as possible when making decisions. We don’t want to jeopardize the organization – ultimately the people – we are trying to lead, so we attempt to have good systems and procedures, boundaries in place, adequate resources, and even contingency or emergency plans. But there are some high costs when we attempt to eliminate all organizational risk.

I’ve seen leaders confuse an attempt to limit risk with attempting to eliminate ALL risk. There is a big difference. I’m not sure we can ever fail-proof anything , so it’s a futile attempt at best to try to get rid of risk completely.

When we are more rule-centric or risk-adverse than we are willing to “take a chance” or “try something new”, our opportunity costs exceed our potential savings from attempting to eliminate all risks. Every successful organization embraces a certain amount of risk. And there are some high costs involved when a leader who is overly cautious.

Here are 7 high costs of attempting to eliminate risk:

Limited growth.

Personally and corporately, without a certain amount of risk there is no potential for growth. Growth happens in environments where the potential to fail is prevalent, accepted, and not scorned. People are not afraid to take chances.

Unfulfilled dreams.

Dreams are made of the seemingly impossible. The bigger the dream the greater the risk. Healthy teams and organizations have big, lofty dreams pulling them forward.

False reality.

Life is a constant risk. If a leader has as a goal an attempt to eliminate it they are essentially playing tricks with mirrors and fancy lights. They’ve created an unachievable expectation for people who follow.

Underutilized resources.

“Playing it safe” may make more sense on paper. It may even feel comfortable, but often when resources are stretched is when the greatest growth potential occurs. Ask the question – “What would we do if we were forced to change and there was no money available?” It’s amazing how creative people can become.

Wasted time.

The time you invest trying to eliminate risk could be used to leverage risk for a greater gain. All of us only have so much time, so leaders must be diligent stewards of it.

Expensive opportunity loss.

Whenever you choose not to do something because of the risk involved, there is always a loss associated. The organization will miss out somewhere on something by not moving forward soon enough. The greatest discoveries often involve people who are willing to assume the greatest risks.

Diminished momentum.

The fact is risk fuels momentum. There is something inside of most of us – especially the entrepreneurial leader types – who thrive on achieving those things which seem impossible. When the chance of failure is high so are the components which fuels momentum.

Leader, you can never fully eliminate risk and this is one of the hard parts of leading. The time you spend attempting to do so will take precious time from doing other things, which probably can reap higher reward. Risk is a reality to be managed not a problem to be avoided.

(This is true, of course, when leading in the church. Perhaps more so, because we are to always be faith-driven. Faith always, by definition, deals with a level of the unknown.)

Join Nate (or Chandler) and I for the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. And subscribe now, so you won’t miss the next one.

RELP – Episode 26 – A Major Communication Barrier on All Teams

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

In this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast Ron and Chandler Vannoy talk about A Major Communication Barrier found on Every Team.

I have experienced this one so many times. Not understanding this basic communication barrier can cause major frustration and decrease inefficiency on the team. Understanding it can help create unity and organizational health.

Plus, this podcast episode might help you in other relationships, besides your team. Understanding this principle is huge in my own marriage relationship.

As you may know, I normally host this with my son Nate, but his schedule as a pastor has kept him from being able to partner with me lately. I hope he returns soon. In the meantime, I’m loving the discussion with my friend Chandler.

In this episode, we discuss a major communication barrier on every team.

We are hearing from many leaders who are enjoying these podcast. We know they are simple. It is intended to be a quick listen to a conversation between father and son – (and in this one – father and friend) who are both struggling to figure out leadership in our individual contexts.

As always, 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 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.

We will be recording more episodes soon. Let us know leadership issues you would like us to cover.

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

5 Bad Reasons to Plant a Church

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

There are some bad reasons to plant a church.

Please understand, I love church planting. When I moved back into church revitalization, part of the concern I had was I might not have a foot into church planting. That would be tough for me. After two successful plants and having worked with literally hundreds of planters, I think it’s in my blood. (Interestingly, my mom served on the core of a church plant before she married my dad.)

Thankfully, I still have lots of avenues to be a part of church planting from an established church. I’m still involved with Exponential. Our church plants churches. And planters still ask for my help on a regular basis.

But for years I’ve been concerned about one thing I see in the church planting movement.

I seem to find some planters – or want-to-be planters – who plant a church for some bad reasons. The fact is we need people called to ministry in the established church. We need them in church revitalization. Not everyone needs to be a church planter. 

And the bigger issue is without the right reasons, if we are not careful, a church plant could become just a part of a growing fad and no ultimate good will come from it. People will waste valuable time, energy and resources when they simply were never called to plant. That’s not good for the planter or the Kingdom.

So, we must be careful to plant for the right reason. And, equally importantly, to not plant for the wrong reasons.

Let me give some examples of bad reasons to plant a church. There are surely others.

Here are 5 bad reasons to plant a church:

You’re running from authority.

I’ve worked with some people who didn’t want to follow the rules. In fact, I am that person sometimes. While this may be a good mindset for an entrepreneurial type, and church planters certainly are, it is not a good reason to start a church. When this is the reason it is often out of pride and arrogance. God can never honor that.

You’ll have authority in a church plant – or at least you should. One of the quickest ways to burnout and flame out is to refuse it. If you’re smart you’ll give away authority and not be a power-broker. All of us need some authority and accountability in our lives.

You want to do things your way.

I understand. Really. Especially if you worked for a controlling leader or for someone who had no passion or vision. You have energy and momentum around a dream and need to explore it. I get it. Bravo! I applaud seeking after something which grabs your heart.

But be careful. Sometimes a desire birthed in good can quickly become something birthed in rebellion. And pride can quickly take over your heart. Plus, when this happens, many times you close yourself to ideas other than your own. You then become the controlling leader you resented. And you will limit the vision you are seeking to you. You limit what you control.

Make sure you’re not planting just so you can exclusively do things YOUR way.

You want to be close to momma.

Or momma-in-law. This one sometimes hits too close to home. And I get this one too. You love your family. There is free babysitting. Loving a family is a good thing.

But our callings are bigger than the comfort of home – or the cool city where we can find the best coffee shops. Sometimes God gives us huge latitude in location, but sometimes He does not.

Certainly we need planters all over the place. And home may be exactly where God wants you to plant. (I planted a church in my home town. Some questioned it, but I knew it was what I was called to do. The proof is in the results over 15 years later.) God may allow you to plant exactly where you “want” to plant. I hope He does.

Sometimes, however, God’s plan sends us where we don’t necessarily want to go. He often calls us to leave our comfort zone. Make sure in whatever you do the decision is always His – and not yours alone.

Your friends are doing it.

It’s popular to plant a church these days. As I said, I still attend church planting conferences. We need lots of new churches. Tons. And the church planting movement attracts a lot of people.

So, if you have friends in ministry, some of your friends may be desiring to plant a church. It seems to be the buzz these days.

It’s just never a good reason to plant a church because everyone else is doing it. It needs to be your calling – not anyone else’s.

You’ve got the cool factor.

I meet some really cool people planting churches. I needed to clarify this because I was almost 40 when I planted a church the first time and I had long passed the day I could wear skinny jeans.

Church plants – anything new – attracts cool. (It’s funny, when I attend church planting conferences there are lots of similar looks. Styles change but church planters keep up with the styles.)

But cool does not make a good church planter. I should be honest, it doesn’t hurt. Boring is boring.  But it isn’t a reason to plant a church. And the fact is we need cool people in the established church also. Church revitalization needs cool too – perhaps even more.

So why plant a church?

There is really only one reason to plant a church.

You are fully convinced God has called you to plant a church.

Join Nate (or Chandler) and I for the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. And subscribe now, so you won’t miss the next one.

7 Indicators You’re Not Leading Anymore

By | Change, Church, Church Revitalization, Innovation, Leadership, Team Leadership | 2 Comments

Being in a leadership position is no guarantee we are leading. Holding the title of leader isn’t an indication one actually leads. I have a whole chapter on this topic in my book The Mythical Leader. There are times, for a variety of reasons, when even the best leaders stop leading, but I think we have indicators when we are not leading intentionally.

Leading by definition is an active term. It means we are taking people somewhere.

Even the best leaders have periods when they aren’t necessarily leading anything. Obviously, those periods shouldn’t be long or progress and momentum eventually stalls, but leadership is an exhaustive process. It can be draining. Sometimes we need a break. And I encourage that.

For an obvious example, I try to shut down at the end of every day and most Saturdays. Plus, I periodically stop leading for a more extended period. During those times, I’m intentionally not leading anything. There are other times, such as after we’ve accomplished a major project, where I may intentionally “rest” from leading to catch my breath and rely on our current systems and structures to maintain us.

Again, those times should be intentional and they shouldn’t be too extended. In my experience, leaders get frustrated when they aren’t leading for too long a period.

How do you evaluate if you are leading or simply maintaining? What are the indicators you’re not leading? One way is to look for the results of leading. What happens when you do lead? Then ask yourself if those are occurring.

For example,

Here are 7 indicators you’re not leading anymore:

Nothing is being changed.

Leadership is about something new. It’s taking people somewhere they haven’t been. That always involves change. If nothing is changing you can do without a leader.

You’re not asking questions.

A leader only knows what he or she knows – and nothing more. And, many times, in my experience, the leader is the last to know. A great part of leadership is about discovery. And, you only get answers to questions you ask.

There are competing visions.

Leaders point people to a vision. A VISION. Not many visions. One of the surest ways to derail progress is to have multiple visions. It divides energy and people. It confuses instead of bringing clarity. Competing visions arise and confusion elevates when we fail to lead.

No one is complaining.

This is a hard one, but you can’t lead anything involving worthwhile change where everyone agrees. If no one is complaining someone is almost always settling for less than best.

People aren’t being stretched.

Please understand – a leader should strive for clarity. They certainly shouldn’t aim for chaos. But when things are changing and work becomes challenging there will always be times of confusion. Don’t equate calmness with good leadership. That’s when good leaders get even better at communicating, listening, vision casting, etc.

No paradigms are being challenged.

Many times the best change is a change of mindset – a way we think. Leaders are constantly learning so they can challenge the thinking “inside the box”.

People being “happy” has become a goal.

Everyone likes to be liked. Might we even say “popular”. In fact, some get into leadership for the notoriety. But, the end goal of leadership should be accomplishing a vision – not making sure everyone loves the leader. Progress hopefully makes most people happy, but when the goal begins with happiness, in my experience, no one is ever really made happy.

Leader, have you been sitting idle for too long? Is it time to lead something again?

Join Nate (or Chandler) and I for the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. And subscribe now, so you won’t miss the next one.

RELP – Episode 25 – 10 Ways to Help Your Spouse Transition When YOU Change Jobs

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

In this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast Ron and Chandler Vannoy talk about Ways to Help Your Spouse Transition When YOU Change Jobs.

I have done so many transitions in my career. It’s one of the reasons I offer transition and succession coaching. Equally important to my transitions, however, have ben helping Cheryl transition well. It took me a while to learn this, but when I did it made me want to help other leaders.

The way you help your spouse transition to YOUR new job may be equally, if not more, important than how you transition. It certainly will play into your initial (and maybe long-term) success in that position.

As you may know, I normally host this with my son Nate, but his schedule as a pastor has kept him from being able to partner with me lately. I hope he returns soon. In the meantime, I’m loving the discussion with my friend Chandler.

In this episode, we discuss ways to help your spouse transition when you change jobs.

We are hearing from many leaders who are enjoying these podcast. We know they are simple. It is intended to be a quick listen to a conversation between father and son – (and in this one – father and friend) who are both struggling to figure out leadership in our individual contexts.

As always, 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 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.

We will be recording more episodes soon. Let us know leadership issues you would like us to cover.

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

Why I Don’t Always Give People An Answer

By | Church, Encouragement, Family, Leadership, Parenting | 3 Comments

I have a standard leadership practice, which I repeat as often as possible. I don’t always give people an answer.

I’ve been using it for many years – as a leader, father, a friend, and a pastor. People come to me in each of these roles looking for answers, but I choose to respond different from what they might expect (or even want initially). 

I don’t always give people an answer.

  • As a pastor, people come to me for answers.
  • My boys, now grown, often still come to me for answers.
  • As a friend, people come to me for answers.
  • Still doing occasional counseling, people come to me for answers.
  • As a leader of a team, the team comes to me for answers.

In either case, I don’t always give people an answer.

I don’t try to solve their problems for them. That may seem hard to understand , maybe even cruel of me, unless you understand why I don’t.

Now, if there is a clear Biblical answer for their problem or issue, I give it to them, as I understand it. And there are certainly things, which are my responsibility and I have to make a decision. I make dozens of decisions everyday. I’m not afraid to be the deciding voice when one is required of me. In fact, truth be known and based on my personality, it would be natural for me to give answers. 

Yet, this discipline has served me well in leadership.

See, I’m talking about decisions, which are the responsibility of other people to make. These are the issues more difficult to discern. Things such as career choice decisions, the calling in life decisions, who to marry, how to respond to a marriage conflict, how to deal with difficult parents or children or friends, etc. – the unwritten answer type decisions. When there are multiple, seemingly good options available, I don’t try to solve their problem.

For those type issues, I probably have an opinion, but I almost never “have” the answer.

Instead, 

I help people discover a paradigm through which to make the decision.

  • I help them see all sides of an issue.
  • Through questions, I spur bigger picture thoughts about an issue.
  • I share Scriptures, which may speak to both sides of a decision.
  • As an outside voice, I become an objective listener.
  • I connect them with people who may have experienced similar issues.
  • Diagraming the problem, as I hear it, I hope them see an issue on paper. (This is one of my favorites.)
  • I help them learn to pray and listen for the voice of God.

And then I release them to make a decision.

Here is my reasoning, 

If I solve the problem for them (or attempt to):

  • I’m just one opinion — and I am often wrong.
  • They’ll resent me if it proves to be a wrong decision, and trust me less the next time.
  • It could mean they never take ownership of the issue.
  • They’ll likely do what they want anyway.
  • Valuable skills of listening to the voice of God could be missed. 
  • Personal experience will be lost. (And, that’s the best way we learn.)
  • They will only rely on someone giving them the answer next time, failing to develop real wisdom, which comes through years of wrestling through the hard decisions of life.

My advice – for leaders, parents, pastors and friends:

Don’t always give an answer – or at least not THE answer.

Help people form paradigms through which to to solve problems and make wiser decisions.

Ideally we want people to develop healthy decision-making skills. We want them to gain dependence on God and the acquired ability to seek and discern wisdom. If we always make the decisions for them – if we always tell them exactly what they should do – they become too dependent on others and may never develop fully into who God has designed them to be.

LEADERSHIP PODCAST: Catch up on our leadership podcast. Join me and Nate or Chandler as we unpack leadership issues in a short, practical ways. 

RELP – Episode 24 – 7 Things TO DO When You’re in Decline

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

In this episode of The Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast Ron and Chandler Vannoy talk about Things to Do When an Organization is in Decline.

If you follow this podcast, we last talked about things NOT to do when a church or organization is in decline. We promised a counter post was next. I’m sorry for the delay.

As you may know, I normally host this with my son Nate, but his schedule as a pastor has kept him from being able to partner with me lately. I hope he returns soon. In the meantime, I’m loving the discussion with my friend Chandler.

In this episode, we discuss things to do when an organization is in decline.

We are hearing from many leaders who are enjoying these podcast. We know they are simple. It is intended to be a quick listen to a conversation between father and son – (and in this one – father and friend) who are both struggling to figure out leadership in our individual contexts.

As always, 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 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.

We will be recording more episodes soon. Let us know leadership issues you would like us to cover.

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

The Ineffectiveness of A Team When There Is No Leader

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

I’ve seen many leaders make a common mistake. They believe in teams, so they create a bunch of them. They charge the teams with carrying out a specific mission or an assigned task. The team is part of a accomplishing the greater vision. But their ineffectiveness comes when there is no leader.

Granted, I believe in teams.

I even love the word – TEAM! It sounds cooperative. Energy-building. Inclusive.

I think we should always strive to create great teams.

But here’s what often happens. The team doesn’t work. Nothing gets accomplished. There may have lots of meetings, but there is no real forward movement.

The team flounders.

Why? They had a great team. The team was full of great people. They were part of a great vision and everyone may have known exactly what they hoped to accomplish.

But, this is where the common mistake exists among many teams.

They never had a leader.

I have worked with a number of churches that have well-defined structures with lots of committees. The problem is they are too structured for effectiveness. And, many times, you have to be in the church at least a year before you could serve in leadership. In practice, this often means you have to be there for many years before you are ever “known” enough to be placed on a committee.

This process might work well for certain committees – such as finance committee, but it doesn’t seem to work as well for others, such as the garden committee or the usher committee. Churches need lots of people in those areas and need to be able to plug new people in quickly and let them get to work. Often in these circumstances, churches need more of a team concept than a committee structure.

But even with teams – the ineffectiveness comes when no one is ever appointed a leader.

At some point in time, a leader will need to stand up – and lead.

Any group of people without a leader is like an athletic team without a coach.

I love leading through teams, but in addition to making sure people know what’s expected of them, we have to make sure every team has a leader.

Personally, I try to never appoint or release a team to do work until we make sure a leader is chosen. They can choose their own leader, we can appoint one for them, or they may even have co-leadership, but there needs to be someone who has the assigned task of steering, motivating and leading the team to accomplish it’s mission.

I love teams. I just make sure every team has a leader.

Join Nate and I for the Ron Edmondson Leadership Podcast. And subscribe now, so you won’t miss the next one.

5 Harsh Realities of Leading Change

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

Leading change is a part of leadership. You can’t lead without change, but it can be hard. Along the way of leading change – or attempting to – I’ve discovered some harsh realities.

If you are amid some “heavy-lifting” change leadership, see if some of these apply to you. And you may not know some of them are happening, but likely they are at some level. Knowing them can help you face the harsh reality and hopefully lead better.

5 harsh realities of leading change:

There will be more conversations about you than with you.

When you’re in the thick of leading change, you will likely be upsetting people’s comfort level. And they will talk. Mostly they will talk to other people – about you.

That’s hard. Most of us want to be liked and we’d rather know what people are saying about us. This is not to control conversation, but to steer momentum into a positive direction for the change. Many times, people are sharing reasons for change that simply aren’t true. In the absence of knowledge, people often make up their own version of the story.

Knowing this reality, I try to ask lots of questions during times of change. I make sure I have trusted people around me who will keep me informed of what I need to know. Most importantly, I try to cast vision repeatedly as to why we are making the change and the potential future rewards and realities for doing so.

You will likely be misunderstood more than appreciated.

(Or at least it might feel that way at the time. I’m convinced naysayers have louder vocal cords.) Change can be confusing to people. Many times, people won’t fully understand the rationale behind the change until they are enjoying the new reality. If you’re the leader, you’ve likely, often from collaboration, seen a vision of what’s to come that others simply can’t yet see. Because of this they will not always appreciate the change leader along during the process of change.

This is where trust as a leader comes into play. Leadership is a stewardship of trust. Of course, trust is developed over time and experience of doing what you said you would do as a leader. That makes changing too quickly or too early in your tenure especially difficult. Regardless, the leader must be keenly aware of the need to build and maintain trust along the way of leading change.

You’ll explain it as clearly as you know how – and some will still not understand.

It’s change. It’s personal to them. Change will impact people in an emotional way. Emotions are not always explainable or understandable. Also, people often hear what they want to hear. They translate your explanation for the change through their individual context. This is perfectly natural, but it often leads to confusion during the change process.

Again, this highlights the importance of constant communication as to the why (and the where) of change throughout the change process. You’ll have to share it in different ways, illustrate the change with stories of which people can relate, and make sure some key influencers understand, support and can articulate the need for change.

You might not get to enjoy the results of change.

This is certainly a harsh reality – and one I’ve experienced several times personally. It could be you are the change agent, the one used to bring about change, but someone else will get to experience the benefits of the change. (I think we have a few biblical examples of this principle.)

Others may not even celebrate the role you played – and that’s okay. This is where you’ll have to remind yourself of your calling. You’ll need to seek your affirmation in the purpose behind the change and enjoy the pleasure of knowing you did what you were supposed to do.

The change you lead, as good as it might be, will eventually need to be changed again.

Here’s another harsh reality of leading change. You have blood, sweat and tears attached to the change. But no matter how well as you lead change, it won’t last forever. It too will one day be obsolete. And likely, the harder it was to lead the change, the more difficult it will be for you to let go and see it change.

Again, here’s where you realize you’ve been called to lead. In my experience, God tends to use those most willing to living in the tensions of change – and with the harsh realities of leading change. So, get back up and do it again.

LEADERSHIP PODCAST: Catch up on our leadership podcast. We are recording new episodes this week.