Tag Archives: leadership

When I was 17 years old, I got the privilege of driving my dad’s race car during the time trials on a full-fledged race track.  I had walked the track many times growing up and I felt comfortable navigating the car on it’s wide lane.  My strategy as a 17 year old was simple: push the gas pedal down as hard as you can and drive FAST.  After all, that’s racing, right?  The faster the better.

So, that afternoon, I pulled the car just over the edge from the pits to the track and did just what I had planned to do…I punched it.  And just to say it, my strategy worked like a charm out of the gate!  But then something interesting happened when I came to the first corner…I had to slam on my brakes because I was coming into the corner too fast.  I hit the brakes in a panic realizing that I had misjudged the leverage it would take to turn.  I lost all momentum because my strategy failed me.

Now, I had watched hundreds of races in my life.  I grew up at the races every Saturday night, often times falling asleep on my mom’s lap as a young girl.  I would eventually get a job selling programs as an elementary student and then move into the concession stand where I would sell sausages boiled in beer and nachos soaked in spicy cheese.  I knew the race track, I knew the cars, and I knew who the winners and the losers were.  I was “trained” in the ways of the race track, but when it came time to race, I relied more on that training-from-the-stands and less on what mattered the most: instincts.

As pastors, we can make the same mistake.  We are trained in leadership, we are surrounded by leaders, we think we know how to lead, but we miss the most valuable key…our natural instincts that are divinely birthed in the heart of a pastor by God.

What I should have done that day is let my instincts drive that car rather than relying on what I thought I had been taught for all of those years.  I should have pushed the gas to the right measure where I could let up at the corner and kept my momentum through the next stretch.  I may not have started out as fast, but in the long run, I would have been much faster overall.  And as I began to trust those instincts, I am sure that at some point, I would have navigated that track flawlessly.

My instincts, partnered with my training and familiarity, and practice would have been the perfect combination.

Pastors – it can be tempting to think that one more leadership tip will be the answer…if you just hang around one more great leader, something will rub off on you…sure, do that.  But in the midst of that strategy, stop and ask yourself what your gut is telling you.  Maybe when all of the leadership training says to punch it, the voice of God deep inside of you says to let up and rest because the next stretch is coming.  Maybe you should feel the power of your church around you and begin to listen to what it needs at that moment.  You will be surprised that most of the time you will know exactly what you need to do and it’s probably not written in that book you’re reading.

The real question…will you have the guts to listen to your gut?

deep-wide-andy-stanleyJust finished Andy Stanley’s book Deep and Wide.  (Andy is the pastor at North Point Church in Atlanta.)  WOW!   What a book for pastors and leaders!  I loved every page (even the ones that hurt my feelings!).  I highly recommend this book for people who attend North Creek Church as well.  So much of our current model of ministry is based off of North Point and it may help you understand why we do what we do and help you be a part of it in a more strategic way.

The best part of the book was simply the reminder of what it takes to lead a church.  I think sometimes it’s easy to focus on the warm and fuzzy parts of ministry and wish that was the job description…holding the new babies, hugging necks on Sunday mornings, and watching spiritual “light bulbs” come on in people’s lives.  But the other side is what creates those moments and it’s tough…vision casting, correcting course, fighting for your culture, leading change, and changing minds.  It’s a weight that is heavy, but it must be carried if we are to raise up churches that do more than sustain the status quo.

Here are some of my favorite excerpts from the book:

“We know that the best performers usually build the biggest churches, but not necessarily the healthiest ones.”

“The church needs leaders who are willing to do whatever is necessary to ensure that we hand it off to the next generation in better shape than we found it.”

“[At North Point Church] we are inconsistent and at times unfair.  Not on purpose.  We just find that clinging to grace and truth creates tension.”

“Our goal isn’t to create an environment that is ‘set apart from the world.’  We are up to something way more significant than that.  We want to change the world.”

“Vision is the place to begin every discussion pertaining to change.  You should never begin a conversation about change by addressing where you are now.  You should always begin with where you want to be.”

“Watch what happens when a leader who is naive enough to believe that Jesus is still building his church stands up and casts a vision so compelling that it ignites the imaginations of people who were secretly longing to give their lives to something bigger than themselves.”

“Ask [Jesus] to burden you with something worth risking your career for.”


Just those few lines out of the book are enough to challenge the very core of every pastor. I know it challenges me!  Good thing I love a challenge…

I believe that North Creek has all the ingredients to reach into the hearts of those who are far from God and watch Him change their lives.  And we will stop at nothing less.  Would you do us a favor and pray for our pastoral staff?  We want to be leaders of a mighty movement of God.  The cost of that is high, but so are the rewards.  Let’s build a Church that changes the world.

Last week our team headed off to a Pastoral Leadership Conference in Kirkland, WA.  What a sight!  There were 19 adults and two newborns in our band of misfits and we had a great time!  I often say that leading our team is like chasing cats, so imagine an entire day surrounded by inspiring people talking about being better leaders…it was like a bunch of diabetics in a candy shop.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Unhealthy cultures are slow to adapt to change…We must be healthy because our church name is secretly North Creek Changes A LOT Church.
  • Hire and recruit your values…our church will mold to the DNA of our team.  Whatever we want in our church, we should hire in our team.  Good lense as we hire people in the future.  P.S. Administrative people…we need you.  We are too creative for our own good and could use people who like to control cats.  Yeah, I know…
  • Drop the term loyalty from your vocabulary.  TOTALLY agree.  We never use it.  If we have to ask you to be loyal, we don’t deserve your loyalty.  If you think we can push you to the next level in your relationship and faith, you’ll be glad to stick around.  If you don’t think that, why would we even want you to stay?
  • Create and maintain a sustainable pace.  This sums up why we don’t have very many traditions.  This year we are doing a big musical Christmas Concert because Matt got a vision for it.  Next year we may or may not do it.  Why?  Because we don’t have to.  It’s not about doing things because we ALWAYS do them.  It’s about doing things because God has asked us to.
  • You’re a sharp guy, so fix it.  That was a little tidbit from Craig Groeschel.  Bottom line: stop whining about your problems and solve them.  Troy Jones always told us a similar thing:  If you don’t solve your problems, you deserve your problems.  Haunted me my whole life…  It’s a good tip though.  Fix it.

I think overall I was reaffirmed in the fact that we have to stick to the plan that God gave us and continue to fight for our culture.  We’re not perfect leaders, we don’t have a perfect church, and we don’t have a perfect team, but we do know what God has told us to do.  There is no time to get discouraged, weary, or overwhelmed.  All we have time for is to continually point people to Jesus.

Thank you to our team for taking a day out of your life to devote to being better leaders!  We love you very much and are glad that you are partners with us on this journey.  Keep on keepin’ on!  We’re fighting for the greatest cause on the planet…