Notes from the leadership journey!

Category Archives: Books

“Replenish”

Two years ago, I started reading Replenish by Lance Witt. I chose the book because of my experiences with stress (see Hitting the Wall, which includes links to other parts of the story). The Leadership Team at Centre Grove also spent several months reading and discussing the book.

There’s a lot of helpful content in the fairly short book. The book is divided into 41 short chapters. It’s impossible to cover it all, but here are some of my favorite highlights.

Witt cautions about the idolization of leadership that has taken place over the last few decades. He warns, “All of the training and focus on leadership has been a gift, but we must not turn it into an idol.”

One of my favorite quotes from the book states …

We have neglected the fact that a pastor’s greatest leadership tool is a healthy soul.

Witt says, “When leaders neglect their interior life, they run the risk of prostituting the sacred gift of leadership.”

Ministry is a character profession. I can’t separate my private life from my public leadership.

It’s important that leaders are spiritually healthy!

… the Great Commission will not be fulfilled by human ingenuity or innovative thinking alone. This God-sized task will only be completed by Spirit-filled, spiritually healthy churches. And these churches will not be spiritually healthy unless their leaders are spiritually healthy.

Witt’s language about the “front-stage life” and the “back-stage life” of leaders is helpful. Witt says, “We all have a front-stage life and a back-stage life.” The front stage is about “doing” and the back stage is about “being,” and the two are connected. “If we neglect the back stage, eventually the front stage will fall apart.”

Leaders must stay connected to God. “When you have disconnected from the Vine (Jesus), ministry will become joyless striving and stressful pushing.”

Unfortunately, leaders can often become too focused on “image management.” Witt states, “You are walking in a ministry minefield when your outward success begins to outpace your inward life.” A healthy soul helps guard against preoccupation with image management.

Witt writes about the danger of ambition. God-given ambition is good. “But when it is hijacked by self and ego, it can leave a wake of destruction in its path.”

When approval is the driving force in your life, it messes with your motives. You run decisions through the filter of ‘What will people think?’ rather than ‘What’s the right thing to do?’

One of the things that prevents many of us from being healthy spiritually is the pace in which we live. Witt writes about the “need for speed,” and contends, “Hurry is a devious soul enemy.”

Many of us live with a stuck accelerator. The frantic pace of life resides in the church as much as in the community. … We keep the pedal to the metal, trying to grab every possible opportunity. Adrenaline is our hormone of choice.

But Witt argues, “Following Jesus cannot be done at a sprint. You can’t live life at warp speed without warping your soul,” noting that “busyness will damage your soul.”

Intimacy with God is critical for leaders. Witt states, “there’s a correlation between my communion with God and my courage for God. The deeper my intimacy, the greater my tenacity to stand courageously.” He notes, “Solitude creates capacity for God.”

The final section of Witt’s book is on healthy teams.

If you want to talk about an organization’s true spiritual health, you have to look at the health of the team that leads it.

Witt believes, “A healthy staff culture does not happen by accident. You won’t drift into it any more than you would drift into a healthy marriage.” Teams must become a family. “In order for your team to be healthy, there must be a sense of family. You must learn to laugh together, cry together, and resolve conflict together.”

This book has been helpful for me. If you’re interested in similar books, see my posts on Secrets From the Treadmill by Pete Briscoe and Patricia Hickman and Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro.

Character, Competence, & Chemistry

I’ve been familiar with these terms for a while. These three Cs—Character, Competence, and Chemistry—are critically important for teams, including church ministry teams! I was reminded of this again lately as I’m reading slowly through Leadership Axioms: Powerful Leadership Proverbs by Bill Hybels. The book includes brief sections on 76 different concepts, including a chapterContinue →

“Shaped By God’s Heart”

I recently read Shaped By God’s Heart: The Passion and Practices of Missional Churches by Milfred Minatrea. I should have included this book in my doctoral dissertation (how leaders shape missional culture), but I missed it! Minatrea’s definition of a missional church is … a reproducing community of authentic disciples, being equipped as missionaries sentContinue →

“The Externally Focused Church”

I just read The Externally Focused Church by Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson (2004). It’s a good book about the church in action through service. Rusaw and Swanson suggest, “Externally focused churches are internally strong, but they are oriented externally” (17). They are “convinced that good deeds and good news can’t and shouldn’t be separated”Continue →

Moving From ASAP to ALAT!

One of my favorite books is The Circle Maker. That should come as no surprise. I’ve written seven posts about the book (last one here, with links to the previous ones). In the book, Batterson writes … Maybe one of the reasons we get frustrated in prayer is our ASAP approach. When our prayers aren’tContinue →

“The CEB Study Bible”

I grew up in a denomination that only read and approved the King James Version of the Bible, and viewed other translations with a great deal of skepticism. But in seminary, I began to read, enjoy, and prefer modern translations (that was also during a time when several translations were developed, including God’s Word, theContinue →

“The Seed”

The latest book by Jon Gordon that I’ve read is The Seed (see previous posts on The Energy Bus and Training Camp). The Seed is about helping you find your purpose in life and at work. The book is a fable centered around Josh, a talented young man who has lost his passion at work.Continue →

“Direct Hit”

Several years ago, Paul Borden consulted with the leaders of the Susquehanna Conference. The Matthew 28 Initiative, a strategy for transforming congregations, developed out of that experience (read more at Growing Effective Churches). I’ve written about Centre Grove UMC’s experience with Matthew 28: see Transforming Congregations Through the Matthew 28 Initiative (the before) and TheContinue →

“The Energy Bus”

Over the last several months, I have enjoyed reading some books by Jon Gordon, including Training Camp, which I wrote about here. I also read and enjoyed The Energy Bus, which is about positive energy. Gordon contends … … positive people, positive communication, positive interactions, and positive work and team cultures produce positive results. GordonContinue →

“HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations”

Recently, I read the HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations by Nancy Duarte. The book brings together, and builds on, Nancy’s previous books, Slide:ology and Resonate, which I’ve blogged about extensively (this post includes links to the other seven posts in the series). I won’t repeat too much of the content from Resonate and Slide:ology, butContinue →