Greetings Beloved of the Lord!
Welcome to the first Blog post for the Book and Community, Who’s Killing Your Church.
This book has been a life-time in the making as I have grown up with a Very High Dominant father, I am a Very High Dominant myself, and three of my five children are High Dominants. First—a quick apology to my mom and my wife—both having Very High Supportive personalities—the opposite of a Dominant. We have made it a living pain for you many times over the years—please forgive us!
In all candor, if nobody were to buy and read the book or join in the conversation here, it would be enough to have written it because it has helped me immeasurably process who I am as a Dominant and who everyone else is. I have learned many, many deep, hard truths—and I am going to share those with you to help you understand and make a paradigm shift in your life. Put simply, Dominants can be selfish, mean, and unloving without realizing it. We have a huge need to see ourselves honestly—increase our self-awareness—and make the necessary changes to be who God calls us to be—strong, loving leaders—nothing less. Although we may have the strong part down, we sorely lack in the loving category—and this will cause our downfall sooner or later.
My Desire/Goal for You
I know you are busy. I know you are overloaded and you Pastors are working with people all over the personality spectrum with a wide range of maturity (and immaturity) and all different levels of sin—every member of your congregation is a piece of work! Well, most of them. Just like you and I. One of the great benefits of the study we are going to do together is we are going to learn to understand others much faster and deeper so we can understand where their weaknesses are so we can help them quickly and completely. As well, I am going to give you excellent leadership skills so you can work toward Level 5 Leadership—the Pinnacle of great leaders. But you have to be here, read the material, study the concepts, ask questions, and APPLY the Methodologies! Be doers of this teaching—not just hearers!
So Welcome to this journey together. It has taken me 62 years to get here and because I have already lived it, my hope is that I can help you get there much, much faster. Leadership doesn’t happen in a day—but it does happen daily! Let’s begin…
The Law of Intentionality
This may seem foreign to you. You spend most of your reading and learning time in biblical things. But leadership is a biblical pursuit as well. All truth is God’s truth. We must start at the beginning—we must be intentional to accomplish everything else.
Michel de Montaigne noted, “No wind favors him who has no destined port.” When you graduated college, seminary, or graduated out of your parents house into your own life, you made a plan—even if only ad hoc. You followed it—and now you’re here. But what about the future? What if you’re stuck? As Zig Ziglar was fond of saying, “Most people stop looking for a career once they find a job” Or more to the point, do you stop planning your personal growth intentionally because you’re in the position you were seeking? Or because you don’t think you’ll get there?
Maybe you have a plan for the church. Maybe for your family. But do you have an intentional plan for your personal growth? If not, why not? You can’t take your people where you don’t know how to go.
James Allen in his book, As A Man Thinketh, noted that “People are anxious to improve their circumstances but are willing to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound.” That goes for me, for you, for most people. We want it better, but we don’t do what is necessary to improve ourselves and ultimately our circumstances.
If I gave you tickets to a game with your favorite sports team, but you don’t go, you gain nothing out of it. It’s the same with this information—you have to be intentional and use the information to be successful. Knowledge is not enough—applied knowledge—intentionality—is the key.
We must be intentional in everything in our lives. How intentional are you at learning and practicing great leadership skills? Good leaders ask great questions. So… How often are you—
- Mentoring individuals? Everyday? Once a month? Never?
- Mentoring your replacement? Even if 20 years away?
- Being mentored by someone or even several people in different areas of need?
- Studying scripture, other books in the area you want to grow, and books on leadership?
- Learning to understand others better so you can communicate faster and better?
- Spending time with your family? Your bride? Your kids? Your parents?
- Seeking others input on how you are acting and performing?
- Engaging your congregation? Just Sunday and maybe Wednesday? What other methods?
- Growing your staff in personal growth, leadership, and spiritual things?
- Working with your elders to plan for today, tomorrow, next year, next decade?
- Ensuring you are healthy physically, with good eating habits? Good workout/exercise?
- Ensuring you’re not burning out your staff? Or yourself…
This is just a small sample of the intentionality you need day-to-day to get and stay on target. If you’re not intentionally planning and working your life and church—you’re leaving it to entropy—which I can tell you from my personal experience, as well as thousands of others personal experience—is disastrous. And just what Satan wants you to do—leave it to him to guide. God has given us an amazing mind. We are made in His image. He calls us to use that mind (Matthew 22:37) to glorify him and do good to our neighbor (Matthew 22:39).
The reason you are not where you want to be is very simple—you haven’t decided to be there—you haven’t made the goals and action items necessary, applied them, and employed positive accountability with someone to help you get there. Be intentional about every aspect of the seven life streams (spiritual, family, physical, career, financial, intellectual, and social) and you’ll be well on your way to the accomplishment you desire to achieve.
Take a moment and look at two very important points in space—where you are, and where you want to be. The chasm between the two points is called a growth gap. Growth gaps are misconceptions—mistaken beliefs that create a gap that keeps you from growing and reaching your potential—from getting to where you want to be. There are eight gaps and we’re going to cover them quickly so you can discover how to recognize each gap and push past it. Which one(s) are you embracing?
- The Assumption Gap—“I assume that I will automatically grow.” When we were children, our bodies and minds grew automatically—we got taller, stronger, more able. Many people carry that belief into adulthood and believe that they will continue to grow automatically. That simply doesn’t happen. When we reach adulthood—around 16—we don’t so much grow by habit, we grow because we intentionally decide to grow. Bruce Springsteen said, “A time comes when you need to stop waiting for the man you want to become and start being the man you want to be.” No one improves by accident. American motivational author and speaker Jim Rohn said, “formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” Meaning, self education is intentional education—learning because you want to.If you want to improve, you must be intentional to improve yourself—you must grow where you are weak and where you need to grow. Sanctification is a cooperative event—God tells us and shows us what we need to change and we need to be intentional about praying and working for that change. Do you know where you need to grow? Counseling, leadership, people skills, attitude, focus? It’s not hard, but it does take time. Start now and you’ll get there much more quickly. Don’t assume you’ll grow—be intentional about what you need to learn—now! Ask, “What do I need to do immediately and specifically to plan how I need to grow?”Designer, artist, and consultant Loretta Staples says, “If you are clear with what you want, the world responds with clarity.” If you don’t know what you want or are supposed to do, how can you get an answer?
- The Knowledge Gap—“I Don’t Know How to Grow.” Most people do not have a specific plan for growth. They have a general plan at best and don’t really know how to get there. No milestones. No plan to achieve—just a dream and some movement toward it.What is lacking in your skill set? Go learn it. What equipment do you need? Go buy it and learn to use it. As a preacher, do you know the right things to do as a front man? Your delivery can either help or hinder your sermon. Seek out the experts and learn and apply. Reading is a great way to grow. There is a book, video, blog on just about every topic. You grow by defining what you need to know and making the time to learn it. There is no other way. You must get out of your comfort zone, move into your creative zone, and on to your capacity zone. You have to do the homework!
- The Timing Gap—“It’s Not the Right Time to Begin.” I love the quote from Leo Buscaglia— “Life lived for tomorrow will always be a day away from being realized.” In other words, you’ll always be a day behind. We’re all subject to the Law of Diminishing Intent—“The longer you wait to do something you should do now, the greater the odds that you will never actually do it.” That’s where most of us end up—never actually doing it.We have a saying on the John Maxwell Team, Do it afraid. Or do it before you’re ready. It’s always the right time to begin to grow. Growing is something we should do the rest of our lives. The moment we stop growing is the moment we move toward decline. Start today and never look back except to celebrate the wins along the way.
- The Mistake Gap—“I’m Afraid of Making Mistakes.” I think John Maxwell says it best—“Growing can be a messy business. It means admitting you don’t have the answers. It requires making mistakes. It can make you look foolish. Most people don’t enjoy that. But that is the price of admission if you want to improve. If you want to grow, you need to get over any fear you may have of making mistakes. As author and professor Warren Bennis asserts, ‘A mistake is simply another way of doing things.’ To become intentional about growing, expect to make mistakes every day, and welcome them as a sign that you are moving in the right direction.”I think most of us are afraid of making mistakes for one reason or another. Who wants to own up to that? Especially Dominants—we hate being wrong, making mistake, or losing. But nobody is perfect at this and we all start at the bottom in order to get to the top. Fail forward and ride your mistakes to where you want to go. Learn from the growth opportunities and change and grow every day. Better still, find a Mentor and learn off their mistakes—like you are doing here.
- The Perfection Gap—“I Have to Find the Best Way Before I Start.” Certain personality styles are worse at this then others, but the perfectionist in some of us gets the better of us. We don’t get really moving until we (think we) get perfect. That’s backwards thinking. Yes get good first, but don’t wait until you’re perfect. You’ll probably never get there. The idea is to get going first and perfect it on the way. That’s what growing is all about—you grow as you go. Yes, you need to have a minimum skill set, but don’t let non-perfection stop you from the opportunity to achieve what you’ve been called to do. Do the homework every day and get better and better as you go.
- The Inspiration Gap—“I Don’t Feel Like Doing It.” Harvard psychologist Jerome Bruner says, “You’re more likely to act yourself into feeling than feel yourself into action.” Not feeling like doing it is one of the chief causes of laziness and lack of achievement. As Tim Keller notes on slothfulness, “What are your ‘go-to’ excuses when you really simply don’t want to tackle a difficult task?” If you lay out your plan and know what needs to be done, when the I don’t feel like doing it blues come along you will know it and can battle it. I have a “system” I created—a written law for me—that I use to accomplish. When I see something that needs to be done, I just do it. No excuses. If I turn away from it, I get this feeling in the pit of my stomach and have to turn around and do it. If I pass a piece of trash on the floor, I have trained myself to pick it up and throw it away—not just leave it there for the next person. Once I start something I don’t want to do, I usually start feeling better and desiring to get it done and then it makes it easier to press on to completion. Just do it.
- The Comparison Gap—“Others Are Better Than I Am.” This one probably dogs me most of all. Years ago I was once listening to a presentation given by Dave Ramsey (another Very High Dominant). I was listing to learn it to use the good points in my presentations. His presentation was so good and he did it so well, I thought I could never be that good and gave up right there and then. I bitterly ripped my earbuds out and tossed them on the table believing I could never match his ability. True story. But I don’t have to match his ability. I can be very good and do well. Or I can even be better if I really want to. It took me three months to get out of that rut and get back to studying the subject. I’m still not where he is but I know a whole lot more than I did and I can help people just as well as he can. I am surrounded by giants in the leadership and personal growth field—but I have learned an enormous amount and practice it daily. I coach CEOs, pastors, and leaders, teach companies how to make it in business and churches how to lead properly. There will always be someone better—and much of the time I may be the better one. But either way, I can be very, very, very good at what I do—and so can you. Don’t compare yourself—just press on and do the homework!
- The Expectation Gap—“I Thought It Would Be Easier Than This.” Leadership and Personal Growth expert John Maxwell says, “I don’t know any successful person who thinks growth comes quickly and climbing to the top is easy. It just doesn’t happen.”Biking a Century (100 miles) isn’t easy. Running a 10K isn’t easy. You must have tenacity, persistence, steadfastness—the ability to stay on target—and run/ride with endurance. To succeed at anything is difficult. Doesn’t mean it’s not doable—just hard. But then, so is life. Fail forward. Follow the old Japanese proverb—“Fall down seven times, get up eight.” Or biblically, The Parable of the Persistent Widow (Luke 18:1–5). Be persistent.
You cannot change the past… BUT, you can change yourself now to affect the future, and, by doing that, you can change the outcome of your entire life. Those who were faithful in a little were put in charge of cities in the life to come (Luke 19:11+). What we do matters. Not for salvation—that’s by God’s grace. But what we do in heaven appears to be set up by what we do on earth after salvation. Become intentional about personal growth. It will change your life—for now, the future, and eternity.
Which of these Gaps resonate with you? Which ones are holding you back? What does it take to just start doing the things you need to? You don’t have to understand these perfectly—just start doing what you can as you grow to do what you know you need to. Who is going to walk beside you and help you grow in this area? Find that person and begin. Today. Now. Before the Law of Diminishing Intent rules your life…
Being intentional is crucial to your growth as a Dominant pastor because you need to intentionally ask people to help you see your weaknesses and they need to be intentional about walking with you in the midst of your strong—and sometimes harsh—attitude. It’s going to take people willing to get their hands dirty to help you grow. And that’s true no matter what our personality is—some of us just respond better and faster. The proverbs are full of calls to wisdom. Be intentional about this journey. Find someone today who will mentor you and/or help give you positive accountability. Don’t do this life alone. Working with the right people to help you grow is paramount for all of us.
How can you ensure you do this immediately and specifically to jump start this needed growth?
Much love in Christ…