3 Steps to Starting Any Project

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Project Management - Part 1

As leaders, we are constantly starting and finishing a variety of projects. However, the church is an event-driven business. How do we manage our projects without getting stuck in the rut of our weekly programs?

At one of our past All-Staff days, I discussed with our team eight of the necessary components for planning projects. Today, we are going to tackle three of those.

1. Identify your project.

In this stage, it is very important to be specific for a couple of reasons.

The more specific you get with your team, the easier it is for them to follow your instructions and go to work with clear expectations. The leader benefits personally because it brings clarity to their thinking. It is also much easier to follow through on the project when the details have been thought out.

As a young leader, I discovered that taking time to plan may take some effort initially, but in the long run, having a clearly defined project saves time, money, and a lot of headaches once the project has launched.

2. Define goals and objectives.

Your goals are the “what” of the project. The objectives are the “how” of accomplishing that goal. When working to accomplish something with my team, I would inform them of the goal and then ask them, “How do you think we can accomplish this?” Allowing them to brainstorm and be apart of the process of setting objectives will boost their involvement and motivation in carrying out those objectives.

3. Delegate tasks.

Let’s be real, as the leader you can’t do everything yourself. Delegating is a part of giving your team ownership over the project and efficiently completing all of your objectives. It will save you time and allow your team to work together.

Why do Church Projects Fumble?

Church projects can get caught in any one of these points. We often aren’t clear in describing projects and objectives to our teams or ourselves. Sometimes we skip involving our team in laying out objectives or we don’t delegate the specific tasks to our team members to get done.

Skipping any of these steps will cause us to drop the ball. Churches are event-driven organizations that exist to put on weekly programs. We can easily find ourselves in the rut of the weekly grind and ignore the big projects.

With all of this project management to handle, reaching people for Jesus can be somewhat more complicated, but it is more important then ever before. Amidst a lost and uncertain generation, the church is the hope of the world and we have a vision to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.

 

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

Creativity in the Church

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Josh Hoffmann, our service programming director, joins Pastor Gene on the podcast today. Josh handles a lot of the creative elements that take place during our Sunday services. He and the media team work hard to keep our content relevant and engaging. Tune in as he and Gene discuss all things creativity!

As Christians, we have the greatest story to share; the gospel of Jesus Christ. It can be difficult to spread the news of Jesus when there are so many conflicting influences within out society. This is what makes creativity within the church absolutely crucial. Without engaging and relevant material, we are just another voice. We need fresh ideas in order to grab people's attention.

Josh and his team are working to do just that. They strive to create new, impacting, and intriguing content for our Sunday services and social media throughout the week. Anyone can be creative and Josh and Gene are diving deep into what that looks like.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

A Look Into Streets Alive

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We are excited to have Pastor Julie Kissick on the podcast today! She and her husband Ken run an outreach mission called Streets Alive here in Lethbridge and are making a great impact on our community. They work to restore the lives of the broken with dignity and re-establish lives that have been damaged due to addictions and homelessness. We can all learn so much from their ministry.

Streets Alive has been operating in Lethbridge since 1989. It began with three women with hearts to help people and now has multiple programs including a P.I.N. (People In Need) Bank, a Learning Centre, a Mobile Help Unit, and many more.

Pastor Ken and Julie seek to uplift people and give them the support they need in order to flourish. Their team believes in restoring people’s dignity and that recovery is real possibility for everyone. To learn more about their ministry, listen to today’s episode and then check out their website here.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

Insights into Church Social Media

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Does your church struggle with reaching people through social media? Jen Tribble joins Pastor Gene on today’s podcast. She has become our marketing guru and is doing an amazing job with coordinating our social media content.

Social media can be a daunting thing. What content gains the most engagement? When are posts most effective? While it can be tricky, it is one of the most efficient ways to spread a message within this generation, and we have the most important message of all; the hope of Jesus Christ!

Jen has stepped up to take on the task of coordinating our social media department. She has spent the past few months researching and integrating some new strategies for content creation and posting schedules. These strategies are allowing us to tell our story with relevancy in order to reach a wide variety of people. Tune in to learn about how she is doing it!

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

Are You Ready to March Off the Map?

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Marching Off the Map - Part 5

Are you ready to take the next step in reaching Generation Z?

Ministry and Generation Z

Generation Z has proved to be a challenging feat within the world of ministry. Technology is being introduced so rapidly and people's lives are changing so fast that our ability to invent new things outpaces the rate we can civilize them.

Kevin Kelly says, "These days it takes us a decade after a technology appears to develop a social consensus on what it means and what etiquette we need to tame it." If this is true, we need to prepare people, not just in their ability to adjust to the times and technologies but in their morals as well. Generation Z ministry is a big one, a necessary one, and a challenging one. 

Generation Y vs. Generation Z

Generation Y and Generation Z are two very different groups of people. As pastors and leaders, we cannot afford to lump them into the same category anymore. The biggest difference we need to be aware of is that we are no longer their greatest source of information. Therefore, we need to provide them with context for the content they are constantly absorbing.

Parental Shifts

One of the biggest changes I see necessary for parents is learning how to contextualize the information our kids have access to. Our job is to help our kids discern what is truthful and what is not and how to apply that information to their lives. It requires us to dig a bit deeper into relationship because trust is not automatic.

I think the pressure we feel as an older generation is to try to keep up with the ever-changing world of technology. But I don't think that is nearly as important as understanding the people of the day. They are looking for a place to belong, to connect, for someone who believes in them. We can build those relationships if we are real rather than cool and if we care rather than just knowing better.

Let's Get Started

I hope you are ready to create new maps to reach every available person, by every available means, at every available time. Let's start with loving others. If we focus on others and seek to love, encourage, and help them, we will be well on our way to reaching every available person.

Jesus had this focus and He told us to have the same - love your neighbour. His truths are timeless and they work, even with Generation Z.

If you haven't picked up a copy of Marching Off the Map yet, we hope you will grab one soon! It has profoundly affected us and has caused us to rethink our methods at every level. We need to continually relook at the way we do things and its effectiveness because we carry the most important message in the history of the world and it's too important to miscommunicate. The truth is the church is the hope of the world for every generation and we’re on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.

Episode Resources

If you are interested in diving deeper into Marching Off the Map, buy your own copy here! We highly recommend it.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

Revamping the Bible College

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Marching Off the Map - Part 4

Marching Off the Map has our heads spinning with ideas for improving the Bible College. We want to make it more effective than ever to reach the next generation of leaders. From online and virtual classes to internships, we can't wait to share with you what we have in mind.

40-50% of recent education majors have quit after their first year of work. According to Tim Elmore, we have three choices:

  1. Yell at the wind.
  2. Surrender to the wind.
  3. Adjust the sails.

At Victory Bible College, we are adjusting our sails to meet the needs of our students. The education system of old has got to go and we have begun making plans for aggressive changes. We really are marching off the map.

This book has caused us to shift our thinking a lot. One of my biggest revelations was the distinct difference Elmore made between the Millenials and Generation Y. I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out Millenials yet here we are with a new generation on our hands already. We really have no time to waste. They are here now, in our churches, entering our Bible colleges, and soon to be entering our workplaces. 

Restructuring Online Classes

VBC has offered in-class and online courses for years. In beginning this time of revamping, the online classes and website need a facelift. Online classes are effective for students today because they want to learn at their own pace and on their own schedule. However, long lecture-style classes over the web hinder other ways people learn. Our presentation of each session needs to be rethought in order to make them more enticing to the students who will be a part of them.

Altering the In-Class Experience

Our classroom approach is in need of an overhaul. Students today aren't learning through just lectures so we need to adjust in order to better suit the way they learn. We are seeking to make the classroom a place for application and discussion while supplying information and material online. Creativity is huge and visual stimuli has come to be expected by Generation Z.

Killing the Campus Mentality

Our focus on the idea of a "campus" needs to change. I think the days of having the right facility and an attractive campus in the right location are behind us. Students have access to thousands of courses on their devices at home so they are not apt to spend fortunes on a degree they may or may not use. So as colleges, I feel we need to kill the campus and move classrooms into our churches, pursuing virtual classes that students across the globe can join and internships within the local church.

Our Approach

I don't want to reveal too much too soon because we are still in the initial phases of planning but we are working on a three-fold approach to education.

  1. Internships - This will allow our churches to raise young leaders locally. Students can learn "on the job" in a practical way, giving them ownership of the content.
  2. Updated Online Courses - Over the next five years, we are looking to give the current VBC online courses a considerable facelift. This would involve making them shorter, more interactive, and applying some different classroom techniques.
  3. Virtual Classes - This will allow students to have the classroom experience from anywhere around the world, complete with live interactions between the teacher and other students. By doing a virtual class, we can build relationships between students from all over which would strengthen our mission moving forward.

In 1 Corinthians 4:15, Paul says, "There are a lot of people around who can't wait to tell you what you've done wrong, but there aren't many fathers willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up." If the church can take this approach in caring for people and abandon the lecture method, the future is bright! I think the church could reposition itself as the center of hope within each community, not a place to receive a lecture, but authentic relationship. The church needs to become the hope of the world for every generation, on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.

Episode Resources

If you are interested in diving deeper into Marching Off the Map, buy your own copy here! We highly recommend it.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

Leading Generation Z

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Marching Off the Map - Part 3

Leading this up and coming generation can be a very daunting task. Parenting especially is vastly different than it was 10 years ago. For the sake of our children, it is crucial that we learn the best approach. On this episode, we are comparing some tactics for best reaching our kids and youth.

Connect, don't control.

These days, we as parents have become very good at protecting our kids but have lacked when it comes to preparing them. We govern their actions, schedules, and relationships to the point where we are no longer doing them any good. Studies show that parents who over-program their children's lives tend to breed children who rebel as teens. To counter this, we need to work on connecting with our kids, building deep relationships that are able to bear the truth when needed.

Achievement, not simply participation.

One of my pet peeves is participation awards. Not just because I am competitive, but because I feel that in an attempt to make people happy, we end up making it worse. According to the American Psychologist Association, healthy and robust self-esteem actually comes from achievement, not merely affirmation. So, in our attempts to protect our children's self-esteem, we are actually creating a new "at risk" child; middle class, affluent kids who are depressed because they never really achieved anything. Let's not assume that simply telling our children that they are special and awesome will build their self-esteem, but instead give them opportunities to work at becoming amazing!

Expose, don't impose.

Elmore says, "Imposing rules and behaviours on this generation carries negative baggage." But we've always found rules and imposed behaviours a favourite default in parenting. It can often be safer, cleaner, and easier for all of us, not just parents. When our children feel forced to do something, they don't take ownership of it and we are simply modifying their current behaviour without affecting their heart.

Make things enticing for your kids so they actually want to participate. In doing so, they will learn more effectively because they will own it. This works in every avenue of life; parenting, managing, leading, etc.

Jesus used this technique. He never imposed truth on people but instead exposed them to it by asking questions and leading them down a path of self-discovery so they could own the answers themselves.

Describe, don't prescribe.

We as parents have the tendency to map everything out for our kids. We are somewhat removing the need for kids to use their own imaginations and creativity. Elmore says, "Instead of prescribing what they should do next, try 'describing.' Describe an outcome or goal, and let them figure out how to reach it with their own ingenuity."

Be real, not "cool."

I think we are a generation of parents who are trying too hard to be cool. We so desperately want to be our kids' friends that, in doing so, we lose ourselves a bit and ultimately we lose them too.

Today's parents have strayed from the authoritarian approach of their parents in an effort to be different. We think that if we can be just like our kids, we will be liked by our kids. So, we try to dress like them, act like them, listen to the same music, watch the same movies and the list goes on. But in reality, grown adults can barely pull this off without being laughable.

Our kids aren't looking to us to be cool, but want us to be authentic. I'd encourage parents to relax and learn to laugh at yourself. Be self-aware, genuinely listen, speak in a tone that is believable, and don't focus on being cool; focus on being real.

People are searching for something or someone real. That's what I love about the Bible. It doesn't "sugarcoat" life, but depicts the raw and real aspects of it. I think it is time for the church to be real, unafraid to discuss some ugliness of this life. Authenticity is why our slogan, "No Perfect People," has had so much traction. The church needs to get where people are really living and reach them there because they need real hope. The church really is the hope of the world, and for every generation, we are on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.

Episode Resources

If you are interested in diving deeper into Marching Off the Map, buy your own copy here! We highly recommend it.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

Who Are Today's New Natives?

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Marching Off the Map - Part 2

Generation Y and Z are two very different groups of people. They have been influenced by different societies and, therefore, view things diversely. Today we are pulling apart the differences between Y and Z to determine how we can educate each generation effectively.

What began in academic circles as Generation Y has now been broken down into two separate groupings; Generation Y and Generation Z. Y individuals are those deemed "millennials," born between 1990 and 2010 and Z is the generation born after 9/11. Let's compare the two.

Generation Y

  • Grew up in a strong economy with high self-esteem.
  • Watches YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix.
  • Worried about growing their status and "likes" on social media.

Generation Z

  • Growing up in a time of recession, terrorism, racial violence, volatility, and complexity.
  • Doesn't want to be tracked so prefer Snapchat over Facebook because messages disappear.
  • Want to co-create, live stream and help make up the activity as they participate.
  • Worried about the economy and world ecology.

7 Shifts Between Generation Y and Z

Elmore discusses seven major shifts between Generation Y and Generation Z. Our challenge as pastors, parents, and educators is navigating these changes. Some of them are subtle while others are quite big. Regardless, it is vital that we as leaders make ourselves aware of them.

1. Confidence is morphing into caution.

People who grew up between 1990 and 2000 had very different childhoods than those who grew up between 2005 and 2015. The economy in the 90's was expanding whereas the past ten years have been marked with economic recession. The headlines have been constantly filled with terrorism and racial unrest since the fateful day of 9/11, nevermind the increase in gender confusion and other social debates.

2. Idealism is morphing into pragmatism.

Ten years ago, it was reportedly easy for Generation Y to get what they wanted. Today, money is a bit tighter and there's been an increase in multi-generational households. Many are forced to think practically and ahead, and optimism has shifted to cynicism.

3. From aggressively pursuing further education to hacking one.

Generation Z watched Generation Y become paralyzed with student loans and debt. So, instead of applying to multiple universities in search of a liberal art education, Generation Z has started to combine university classes with online certificates and real-world experience.

4. Spending money is morphing into saving money.

Generation Y has been known to spend money boldly and with few boundaries. In contrast, Generation Z's reality is forcing them to think ahead and prepare. This isn't necessarily bad though; it could help them in the future.

5. Consuming media is shifting to creating media.

Today, young teens prefer to create media posts as opposed to only consuming them. They desire interactive experiences where they can actually participate in their content's outcome.

6. Viral messages on social media are becoming vanishing messages.

Younger kids have witnessed the downsides of being tracked on social media by their parent's, teachers and future employers, now preferring messaging that evaporates, like Snapchat.

7. Standard text messages have now become icon messages.

Kids now choose to send emojis in place of words. They have strong filters and want content to be shared and understood rapidly.

Elmore's Suggestions for Connecting with Generation Z

Elmore suggests seven things we should do to connect with this upcoming generation. Here are a few that stood out to me.

  1. Keep it short. - Remember, Generation Z has a very short attention span. While they are capable of paying attention for long periods of time, the key is to engage them within 6-8 seconds.
  2. Feed their curiosity. - They want to discover new content and pass it on. So, we need to build a hunger for interesting facts and relay why the information is important to know.
  3. Give them ownership. - Students support what they help create. They'll value something they've discovered more than what's given to them without their effort.
  4. Offer them a cause. - Most kids want to do something important. They want to be a part of something meaningful, not hypothetical.

The deeper we dig into Elmore's book, the deeper we want to go in reaching this generation. This is not a "next year" thing nor a change in our vision, it's a reality check. Our move forward begins with our commitment. Why? Because the church is the hope of the world, and for every generation, we are on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.

Episode Resources

If you are interested in diving deeper into Marching Off the Map, buy your own copy here! We highly recommend it.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

How Do You March Off a Map?

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Marching Off the Map - Part 1

The truth is, our modern school system simply isn't as effective as it could be. Students are disengaged and disinterested in learning. How can we as leaders, educators, pastors, and communicators better influence the generation we are trying to lead?

Welcome to the first episode of our Marching Off the Map series. For the next five weeks, Pastor Gene and I will be breaking down this insightful book written by Tim Elmore. We have found this book to be a much-needed roadmap for 21st-century educators, parents, coaches, and youth leaders. We would encourage all of our listeners to pick up a copy! You can order one here.

In Chapter 2, Elmore writes about three societies that anthropologist Margaret Mead describes in her works.

1. The Post-Figurative Society

Mead described this era as one that lasted for many centuries. Adults had already determined how life would be for their children, often deciding who they would marry, where they would work, what they would do and even how their children would continue the customs within their society.  This perpetuated the customs of the past resulting in very little change or innovation.

Careers were largely agriculturally based with many people farming crops or livestock. The critical element that differentiated you within this society was physical strength so the youth were heavily relied upon.

2. The Co-Figurative Society

This society was created during the Renaissance, otherwise known as the Age of Enlightenment. As a whole, society began to question its traditions, customs, and way of life. Reason ruled the day as opposed to physical strength. This levelled the playing field between the young and old.

Parents and their children were involved in making the decision of who the child would marry, where they would live, and what their career would be. Everyone had to adjust to change and new innovations, communications, and traditions.

The Renaissance birthed the Industrial Revolution during which new inventions were created to improve efficiency. Science and industry began to control society and access to machinery is what set people apart.

3. The Pre-Figurative Society

The Pre-Figurative Society is what Mead suggests we are living in now. Change is happening so rapidly that adults have almost nothing to offer the next generation in terms of how to deal with new realities. The youth often understand the changes sooner than most adults; they adapt to new technology and innovations far before we do. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult for adults to lead the young and can cause leaders to feel irrelevant.

The critical element that differentiates individuals in our society is our minds. That's how most of us make our living and get things done. Mead wrote in her book People and Places: A Book for Young Readers, "In the modern world we have invented ways of speeding up invention, and people’s lives change so fast that a person is born into one kind of world, grows up in another, and by the time his children are growing up, lives in still a different world.

Our Schooling System

In my opinion, we need a new system for educating our students. The evidence for this need is everywhere yet we as a society are too slow in making those changes.

Horace Mann developed the school system we base our current system off of, however, he did so in the 1830's! His design was meant to prepare children for their factory careers. For example, the stereotypical school bell that we have all listened to at some point was first created to mimic a bell meant for shift work in a factory. While there is nothing inherently wrong with a bell, it is a good illustration to show how archaic our education system presently is. Maybe we could look at redesigning the system to better prepare our students for today's world?

6 Radical Ideas for Redesign

At the end of the second chapter, Elmore suggests six radical ideas for redesigning the system:

  1. Experience instead of test scores.
  2. Homework during the day rather than at night.
  3. Open book tests.
  4. Use of images to help retention.
  5. Creativity over compliance.
  6. Teachers in the role of interpreter rather than informer.

These ideas allow us to think differently, to alter our methods by focusing on our results. What if we started with a clean slate and asked ourselves, "If Horace Mann was alive today, what would he do to revamp the current failing school system?"

This is not just an educational issue but a problem we have in churches as well. We are in the education and communication business and our message is the most important one that the world needs to hear.

The message never changes but the methods must be constantly evolving. It may be uncomfortable but it is a necessity in order to keep moving the church forward. Why? Because for every generation, we know that the church is the hope of the world and we are on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches that unchurched people love to attend.

Episode Resources

If you are interested in diving deeper into Marching Off the Map, buy your own copy here! We highly recommend it.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

10 Characteristics of a Pioneer - Part 4

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Changing Our Methods and Finding the Right Team

Are you afraid to change the methods by which you reach people? Is your team committed to your vision? Learn how change and the right team are vital to being a pioneer.

Here we are with the last episode of our pioneering series. If you want to listen to the last three, click the "Inside MyVictory Podcasts" tab above. Here is a review of the previous characteristics:

  1. The pioneer is about risk. The settler is about routine.
  2. Pioneers often don't fit in.
  3. Pioneers are dreamers.
  4. Pioneers are willing to go where they have never been, to do what they have never done.
  5. Pioneers are willing to put up with what is less than ideal.
  6. Pioneers always want to go further.
  7. Pioneers are resilient, resourceful, and tenacious.
  8. Pioneers cultivate the tough land.

Alright, let's dive into the final two factors of a pioneer.

9. Pioneers are willing to fight for what they believe.

Hebrews 11:33 describes heroes of the faith as men and women "who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions." Pioneers don't just roll over and play dead when adversity comes their way. In fact, they expect challenges. They know anything good is worth a fight.

I think many of us shrink back from a fight because we value peace over progress. Conflict isn't comfortable, but when we view all conflict as bad, we often don't move forward. Certain conflict is actually necessary and should be expected because, as pioneers, we are in uncharted territory.

We also have the tendency to refuse change. But we have to value the outcome more than our current practices and be willing to modify how we do things. Pioneering in today's ever-shifting culture requires courage and uncompromising commitment.

10. Pioneers are always others-oriented.

By definition, leadership must be others-oriented. Great leaders are noted for their ability to work with teams. To become others oriented, leaders must invest themselves in developing their team's personal and corporate growth.

Pioneers know that their vision is simply too big to accomplish on their own. They must recruit and train a team to help them. In order to recruit the right people, you must clearly define the problem that needs to be solved. Those willing to aid in solving that problem are worthy team members.

In my early ministry, I became focused on the outcome instead of the methods. When I discovered something that worked I stuck with it, and when it was no longer effective, I changed. I am still trying to change and adapt for the outcome. I need to see souls saved and lives changed, or what's the point? After all, the church is the hope of the world and we are on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches that unchurched people love to attend.

Episode Resources

If you are interested in learning more about pioneers, we would encourage you to grab a copy of Marching Off the Map by Tim Elmore. You can find it here.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

10 Characteristics of a Pioneer - Part 3

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Holy Discontent, Leaving Your Comfort Zone, and Blazing New Trails

With a new generation upon us, we need to step up and lead them like never before. How do we prepare ourselves to reach them? Tune in to today's podcast as we take a look at the next three factors of a pioneer.

Hi Victory Nation! We are continuing our discussion about pioneers and if you've missed the last two, you can find them under the "Inside MyVictory Podcasts" tab above. Here is a quick recap of the first five characteristics:

  1. The pioneer is about risk. The settler is about routine.
  2. Pioneers often don't fit in.
  3. Pioneers are dreamers.
  4. Pioneers are willing to go where they have never been, to do what they have never done.
  5. Pioneers are willing to put up with what is less than ideal.

Now, let's get started with the next few!

6. Pioneers always want to go further.

Pioneers always have a holy discontent, a term Bill Hybels describes as an "experience of an uneasy spirit about the brokenness of this world which aligns with the heart of God that spurs us to take positive action to change the world." It's not a discontent about personal gain, but rather a discontent on behalf of God and His kingdom.

Too many people quit just before the breakthrough. Either they stop because it just became too difficult to press on, or because they lost that factor of holy discontent. Pioneers must always desire to go further in taking the hope of Jesus to a broken world.

7. Pioneers are resilient, resourceful, and tenacious.

Pioneers are a tough breed of people who simply refuse to quit. They would rather die than go back to their old, dull way of life. These people are constantly pushing themselves to grow. John Maxwell aptly stated, "If we are growing we are always going to be outside our comfort zone."

To test your limits, pursue your personal best daily. Constantly strive to improve, becoming better with each successive day. This attitude requires that you learn to be comfortable living outside of your comfort zone.

8. Pioneers cultivate the tough land.

Each generation of pioneers must plow a way for the next. We don't have to reinvent the wheel - we can take off where other pioneers have left off.

When Jesus rose from the dead, He didn't stick around forever to oversee the most important work on the planet. No, He ascended into heaven and delegated that responsibility to His disciples and every successive generation.

I think the church needs to pioneer more so today than ever before. In Marching Off the Map, Tim Elmore says, "Settlers will be left in the dust as the young people we lead disconnect from us and find others they can follow to new places. Or, they will forge ahead with no mentors at all." If the world pioneers and the church doesn't, the next generation will begin pursuing the world or simply nothing at all.

Pastor George Hill says, "We dream, we live the dream, and in living the dream we dream again." We have to constantly re-evaluate and re-invent our methods. The message we need to portray is too powerful for us to settle. The church is the hope of the world and we are on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches that unchurched people love to attend.

Episode Resources

If you are interested in learning more about pioneers, we would encourage you to grab a copy of Marching Off the Map by Tim Elmore. You can find it here.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

10 Characteristics of a Pioneer - Part 2

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Abraham - The Original Pioneer

Are you missing your destiny by choosing to remain comfortable? Do you dream about possibilities or simply live within your current circumstances? In the second instalment of our pioneering series, Pastor Gene and I take a look at the life of Abraham and how God led him to become the "Father of Faith."

If you missed last week's podcast, you can get all caught up here. Let's get started!

3. Pioneers are dreamers.

Before God could use Abraham, He had to get him dreaming. God led Abraham outside and showed him the stars, telling him that one day, his descendants would one day be as vast as the night sky. He was giving Abraham a visual to dream about.

God likes us to dream big, in fact, He encourages it. The limitation in our lives is not God's lack of ability to fulfill our dreams, but often our inability to visualize them.

Dreaming big starts by giving yourself time to dream. Our schedules can often be laden with responsibilities, causing us to neglect time to think or dream. Don't just work in the church, work on the church. Don't just work in your business, work on your business.

When I dream, I begin by reading my Bible and praying. My faith is strengthened when I read about God utilizing ordinary people for incredible projects. In prayer, I find that the Holy Spirit pushes me to think beyond my own limitations and dares me to believe for more.

4. Pioneers are willing to go where they have never been, to do what they have never done.

Hebrews 11:8 says that Abraham "obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going." Because of his obedience, Abraham has been deemed the "Father of Faith"; a true pioneer. Pastor George Hill put it best when he said, "Today's breakthroughs are the result of yesterday's obedience and tomorrow's breakthroughs are the result of today's obedience."

5. Pioneers are willing to put up with what is less than ideal.

If Abraham would have chosen to remain comfortable, he would have missed his destiny. Hebrews 11:9 says, "By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise." Abraham was willing to put up with what was less than ideal to obey God and pioneer. If he hadn't done so, he would have never been known as "Father Abraham."

Pioneers are not afraid of hard work and sacrifice because they know that both will be rewarded in the end. They are more focused on the future and end results than they are on today's comforts.

Pioneers live in what Pastor George likes to call the "happily terrified zone." To many on the outside, the risks they take look haphazard and reckless. Why would someone move to an unknown location to plant a church? Why would someone leave their comfort zone to reach out to the lost in missions work? Well, because the church is the hope of the world, on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches that unchurched people love to attend.

Episode Resources

If you are interested in learning more about pioneers, we would encourage you to grab a copy of Marching Off the Map by Tim Elmore. You can find it here.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

10 Characteristics of a Pioneer - Part 1

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Taking Risks and Stepping Out of the Mold.

Do you value routine over risk? Fitting in over stepping out? Maybe you have settled somewhere in your leadership. Tune in to the first part of our Pioneering series to discover how to get out of your rut.

One of my most recent reads was Marching off the Map by Tim Elmore. It was a phenomenal book that gave great insight into where we are today as a society and how we can connect with the next generation more effectively. I would highly recommend every leader, pastor, communicator, or educator pick up a copy. It certainly has us talking about what we are doing and how we are doing it.

Last week, we gathered as a staff for our monthly training and I discussed the difference between pioneers and settlers. Pioneers march off the map whereas settlers are not so willing to leave comfort behind. For the next four weeks, Pastor Gene and I will be discussing 10 characteristics of a pioneer. 

1. The pioneer is about risk. The settler is about routine.

There are no guarantees of success when you march off the map. But at the same time, there is a guarantee of failure if you don’t and remain a settler. Elmore made a powerful statement when he said, “Settlers will be left in the dust as the young people we lead disconnect from us and find others they can follow to new places. Or, they will forge ahead with no mentors at all.

Pioneers are usually the one with arrows in their back. They are shot at by settlers that have no understanding of their strange new tactics. Being a pioneer is not a comfortable place to be, yet settling is not a chance we should take. We have to bravely march off the map!

2. Pioneers often don’t fit in.

Pioneers have the tendency to feel out of place, especially in a room full of settlers. Instead of just going with the flow, pioneers create their own. They are not conformists, they are reformers, therefore, setting themselves apart from the crowd. They are leaders like Caleb in the Old Testament whom God noted as having a “different spirit.” Caleb went on to inherit the promise while the others didn’t.

Our goal as pioneers is to adapt, not adopt. We need to shift, not drift. We can either resist change until we no longer can, or we can adapt and harness that change powerfully.

Pioneering within the Church

As leaders, we must realize what is permanent and what is temporary. Our mission and vision to make disciples are permanent whereas our methods and programs to do such are temporary. We never compromise what the Bible teaches, but we may change the ways we present those truths.

We must also be constantly focused on our why. We can adapt our what or how to achieve our why, but the why never changes. This is about being focused on our outcomes.

I became passionate about the church at an early age but I fell madly in love with its purpose and vision when Pastor George taught me the Book of Acts in Bible College. It was there that I discovered that the church is God’s original plan and there is no backup. It was there that I saw the difference between our mission and vision and the methods we use to get those things done. It was there that I learned that the church is the hope of the world on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches unchurched people love to attend. 

Episode Resources:

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

6 Steps to Maintaining Progressive Leadership

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Leaders come and go. Their seasons change, their circle of influence changes and their challenges change. Some rise to the top and others slowly drift away. What is the difference in the mindset of a leader that never stops stretching and is resilient compared to a leader that gets buried in crisis, personal struggles or loss of motivation and passion? Why are some leaders stirred to move forward and some shaken by the number of challenges and problems facing them? How do you become a leader that rises to the challenge regardless of the season you are in?

1. Develop A Personal Growth Plan

I became a Senior Pastor at 23 years old and I knew right away that I had no idea what I was doing. I needed to figure out how to lead and fast. So I began to read like never before. I listened to every great leader I could, trying to get as much information into my brain as possible

The key to stretching yourself and growing as a leader is to develop a consistent personal growth plan. When you do, it is inevitable that those you lead will grow. Maybe not immediately, and certainly not as fast as all of us would like, but they will grow.

What are you going to do daily, weekly, monthly and yearly to grow yourself?

2. Retrain Your Brain

We all battle indecision and procrastination at some point. The key to pushing yourself through is to trick your brain into thinking differently. I think that is what Paul meant when he coined the phrase “renewing the mind.”

Each one of us has to do some self-study to determine what works best. For me, one of the best methods is utilizing my calendar. I find that when I place things directly into my calendar instead of on a to-do list, I am more likely to get right to it.

Allowing yourself blocks of uninterrupted time keeps you moving in one direction. I utilize weekly routines, categorizing my days into blocks of time. This allows me to be consistent each week with what I am focused on. For example, I block Monday’s for message prep, instead of procrastinating and getting my message done later in the week.

3. Realize the Importance of Re-creation.

I used to just rest. I would sleep in really late on my day off and then go to the couch and watch movies or play video games all day. There was no focused purpose behind it and afterwards, I found myself more tired, stressed, and less able to focus. The truth is, I was neglecting myself, my health, my family, and my church.

I decided that I needed to do more than just rest, I needed to recreate. Recreation is re-creating yourself. So, instead of watching movies and lazing around all day, I decided to activate the brain instead.

On my days off, I added reading and family time into my calendar. I take my kids out on daddy dates in the morning, I date my wife in the evening, and I will take 3-4 hours in the afternoon to sit in a coffee shop somewhere with a good coffee and a good book and feed my brain instead of starving it.

I began looking forward to getting back to work and felt energized and full of new ideas. Doing this as a regular habit created a way for me to regularly regain and re-engineer my own passions.

Determine what recreates you and then put that into your regular weekly routine. By recreating, you draw from every area of your life and you become energized.

4. Lead With Vision

It is too easy for leaders to react to what’s going on around them, to allow the whirlwind of priorities to distract them from advancing their vision. I believe there are four deadly “D’s” in leadership that we all need focus on overcoming:

Distractions.

The more success you have, the more distractions tend to come your way. It’s important to ask yourself with every decision, “Will this opportunity benefit the big picture of the organization and its vision, or is it a distraction?”

Discouragements.

Every leader battles discouragement. It’s going to happen. And it is usually the result of the regular pressures of being a leader. That’s why it is so important to regularly “re-create” yourself and find a way to refuel and re-fire.

Divisions.

Divisions come when there are multiple visions. Multiple visions tend to occur when we become distracted by pressure and reactive instead of leading and advancing with the focused vision.

Disengagement.

If I feel myself disengaging from God, people, or the vision I know that there is a problem. This is most likely because I have lost focus, got distracted, or lost momentum because I was overcome by the pressures. Again, I need to reflect, regroup, or recreate to get my passion hot again.

5. Address the Warning Signs

When you begin to echo the language of disappointment, discouragement and depression, you may be on the brink of burnout.

Learn to read the physical signs. If I am needing more and more coffee just to stay alert in a day, that’s not good. If I just can’t seem to get enough sleep, that’s not good. If it gets harder and harder to spring out of bed in the morning, that’s not good.

I have learned over the years of doing ministry to know the seasons in the year when, no matter how disciplined I am in my weekly recreation time, I find myself just plain tired. My wife and I schedule regular holidays in those seasons for rest and recreation.

6. Develop Your Team

Realize that EQ — or emotional quotient — is more important than IQ, talent, or skills. When hiring and working with my staff, I try to surround myself with leaders who have high EQ. Skills and talent are important, but they are easier to teach and train into someone than EQ. That’s the first step.

The second one is to regularly teach your people the value of a personal growth plan. Hold them accountable for growing themselves. If leadership stops growing, our organization will stop growing. So, I regularly ask them about their growth plan. I regularly resource them with books, podcasts, or conferences to keep them stirred.

Thirdly, I regularly give them projects that will challenge and stretch them. I believe it was Noel Tichy who said: Winning leaders push people not just to memorize the organization’s values but to wrestle with them, to internalize and use them.” He advocates putting people “in progressively more difficult situations where they have to make decisions, and then give feedback and support.”

This keeps them stirred and engaged.

 

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming article, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

7 Toxic Leadership Personalities

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We all want to be strong leaders, but we often have tendencies that can prevent us from reaching our full potential. Some tend to care too much what people think, others have dangerous emotional problems, and many lack organizational skills. Today we are discussing seven dangerous personalities leaders are at risk of adopting and how you can prevent yourself from becoming like any of them. 

1. The People Pleaser

Have you ever worked with a leader who just wanted to be liked, to fit in, to be loved? They are great to be around but their weakness is usually in holding people accountable, making the hard calls and being decisive. If this is you, or you know someone like this, it's important to help this people pleaser type to see the bigger picture that produces results. 

I think it is good to study decisive people. Ask them how they do it and what kind of results they get by making the hard calls or by holding their team to account. When you study the results, you will quickly discover that these leaders are usually well respected and liked by their team and, in fact, their team seems to thrive in an accountable environment. 

2. The Isolationist

Let’s pick on the leader who isolates themselves from their team.  Not only do they shut out their best people’s input, but their disconnect may cause them to over-promise and under-deliver. 

I've never understood leaders who isolate themselves from the people. Leaders who need to be separated from their people won’t be leading long because they won’t be able to keep the pulse of their organization or hear the heart of the ones they lead. They will make visionary decisions based on their feelings instead of the feelings of the people they lead. It is vital a leader stays connected with their people.

3. The Coaster

What about the leader who is coasting to the finish line? They have grown complacent, stopped learning and are totally invested in maintaining the status quo of their business, organization or church’s glory days.  They have probably lost their “first love” but carry on as if changing is out of the question.

It’s not natural for a leader to coast. Leaders hold the vision which is always progressive and forward moving. Once the leader doesn’t have the vision he is not the leader anymore. So, maybe their assignment is up. If it is, who would be the obvious replacement? Most times, leaders don’t have one.

A leader is often energized by a new challenge. Find where the new challenge is and if it is in your current organization, stay. If it is outside your organization, prepare to leave responsibly.

4. The Exploder

Have you ever had a leader turn on you, going into a rage in front of the whole team? Leaders who are lacking in emotional intelligence are toxic not only to their team but to themselves as well.  This weakness in a leader often goes unchecked because people fear them. It's often easy to recognize in others, but it's harder to identify in yourself.

I recently listened to a podcast by Pastor Craig Groeschel entitled “Fire Your Inner Boss.” In it, he described the difference between a boss and a leader. He said:

  1. A boss instills fear while a leader inspires confidence.
  2. A boss assigns blame while a leader takes responsibility.
  3. A boss demands loyalty while a leader extends trust.
  4. A boss controls people while a leader empowers people.
  5. A boss is often guarded whereas a leader is transparent.

He said we can have control or we can have growth, but we can’t have both. Isn’t that powerful? I think my favourite quote in the podcast was “Position may give you power to control, but trust will give you permission to lead.

I think as leaders, we need to look at this list and ask ourselves if we are bosses or leaders to our people. And if you dare, ask your team which one you are — a boss or a leader?

[bctt tweet="We can have control or we can have growth, but we can’t have both. @craiggroeschel" via="no"]

5. The Bad Communicator

One of the major blindspots in leadership on multiple levels centres around communication. When communication is a weakness, it is often because what leaders think is enough communication is not what their team, board or stakeholders would consider being enough. 

I think communication is always a skill we as leaders should be working on and improving in. Our success and our organization’s success depends on it. Remember, successful communication is not what I think I said, but instead what the receiver understood I said.

[bctt tweet="Successful communication is not what I think I said, but what the receiver understood I said." username="kellystickel"]

So, if there is a breakdown in the reception of the message, then it is my fault regardless of how well I thought I communicated it. I must communicate to them in a way that they understand — whoever 'they' is. That is a continual learning process for all of us.

6. The Poor Planner

Strategic thinking is a vital skill set in organizations today because everything is moving so quickly. Change is constant, opportunities are plentiful, but leaders who are limited to managerial thinking rather than strategic thinking fall into an area of weakness. This weakness can jeopardize everything they’ve worked for. Some may even be blindsided by this weakness.   

If you are a leader and you are not naturally strategic in your thinking, then I would say one of your first hires should be someone who is naturally strategic. Listen to them and pull on this gift. The ultimate decision will be yours, but the idea was theirs. You don’t always have to be the idea-man to be the leader, you just need to be the one who knows which idea to follow and which one to avoid. That is usually trial and error. When it works, give your strategist the credit. When it fails, you take the blame, because you made the call to go with it. That’s what a leader does.

7. The Cultural Drifter

In leadership today the term “culture” is of constant discussion. Andy Stanley says the longer a leader is in an organization the more they don’t see the culture they are in. At MyVictory we constantly fight to prevent drifting in our culture, constantly evaluate everything we’re doing, and constantly incorporate better ways of doing what we do. Leaders who don’t understand the significance of culture may be blinded to their weakness in this area.  

This weakness in creating culture is detrimental to leadership today, especially in the church. Every organization, every family, every church has a culture. Culture either happens by design or by default. But culture is powerful. It is more powerful than vision or strategies.

[bctt tweet="Culture either happens by design or by default." username="kellystickel"]

The right vision in a wrong culture is doomed to fail. I think every leader must learn how to recognize and design culture in order to see their visions come to life. For pastors, I’d recommend starting with Sam Chand’s book “Cracking Your Church's Culture Code” to better understand how to design the culture of your church. You won’t get very far as a leader without truly understanding culture.

Pastors, we all need you to be successful and go far because the church is the hope of the world and we are on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming article, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

The 6 Major Areas of Church Recovery

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Sometimes a church, through moral failure, neglect of appropriate leadership or the absence of vision, finds themselves in a “ground zero” condition.  The damage done is so destructive that recovery seems insurmountable. Even when new leadership comes in with recovery as the immediate vision, it is not automatic nor guaranteed. Everything is on the line and it is a complicated endeavour. 

The recovery process can be broken down into 6 major areas:

1. Legal Requirements

Each church is registered with the government as a charity and therefore has to abide by bylaws and constitutions. In an emergency situation, the constitution states a process that must be followed as to who is responsible for what and how the next leader is to be selected. It also covers the process for removing the senior leader, should it come to that.

All of these processes must be followed and documented. This protects the church from any legal backlash and makes clear who is responsible for what.

Document everything. It is important that each church board review their bylaws and constitution at least annually. They must then either abide by them or follow the proper procedure to change the bylaws that are outdated or encumbering.  

2. Financial Requirements

Start with planning. No one likes to plan for the worst-case scenarios, but it is absolutely vital. The board must have a plan in place to protect itself against an emergency that could destroy the church.

Financially, this might mean setting aside a portion of your monthly income into savings until you have at least three months of expenses in your savings account for those emergency situations.

Some might argue that they can't afford that, but the truth is, I don’t think you can afford not to. It starts with a discussion at the board level as to what the emergency backup plan is.

3. Spiritual Basics

Spiritually, I think it is important for every church to have a mature team in place that knows how to handle spiritual warfare. Make no mistake, the devil is active and loves nothing more than to destroy churches. 

Put into place a mature prayer team. I look for individuals who know how to pray, who can grab onto something in prayer and not let go until the answer presents itself. I look for people who are discreet and honour people with a high level of confidentiality. I want someone who will, in private, wrestle something to the ground in prayer.

In emergencies, our team knows that our first call is to the prayer team to get them on it. Prayer is key in every move we take in the recovery process. 

4. Cultural Transformation 

Culture trumps vision every time. It is important for the pastor – the outgoing one and especially the incoming one – along with the board to know, understand, and implement the desired culture.

If you are looking for a new pastor, it is vital to first understand what your culture is and then find someone who matches that culture. Do not hire someone who is gifted but has a different culture. They will destroy what you have built faster than you could ever imagine. I would highly recommend Dr. Sam Chand’s book “Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code” to learn more about the culture of a church.

5. Succession Plan

I think one of the most important essentials is an emergency succession plan. As John Maxwell says, everything rises and falls on leadership, and I believe he is absolutely right. A church can be thrown into major crisis if something happens to their leader. It is crucial that the current pastor and board have a discussion on succession. Who will replace the current leader? We break it down into 3 categories:

  1. What is the emergency succession plan?
  2. What is the 5-10 year succession plan?
  3. What is the 15-20 year succession plan?

It’s all about being prepared.

6. Emotional Health and Well Being

Through it all, the pastor must also maintain the emotional stability and health of the church body in the turbulence of recovery. Often times as pastors we are asked to comfort and lead in situations in which we are hurting too. Many are unable to carry that weight. It becomes too much and they make irreconcilable mistakes that damage the organization and put it into a more vulnerable position than it already is.

So what’s the answer? I think King David gave us the greatest example of how a leader should lead through a crisis in 1 Samuel 30. In verse 6, in the midst of his pain, it says “He strengthened himself in the Lord.” That’s the key. As leaders, we need to draw our strength from God and lead, even when we are hurting. From that strength, we can lead others to strengthen and maintain the emotional stability within the whole organization.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Church recovery from a ground zero situation can seem like a minefield of explosive issues. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Think through every possible scenario and have a plan in place. If you prepare and nothing happens, great! But if you don’t prepare and something does happen, you will be left scrambling.

While I think this preparation must be done by the lead pastor, even more importantly it must be done by the board of directors. Write it down and make sure everyone is aware of where it is. 

Often times a crisis will distract us from our mission and vision. But the best and fastest way to recover is to get back to the mission. We need to stay the course and show the world that Jesus is the answer and that the church is the hope of the world, and we’re on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca

Six Anchors: 40 Days of Hope (Part 2)

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We have been hearing amazing feedback since the release of the Six Anchors devotional. It has been encouraging for those currently facing trials and a great reminder for others on where to locate their hope. This is exactly why I wrote this book and I am excited to see results in people's lives because of it. Today, Pastor Gene and I are discussing the last three anchors.

Anchor #4 - The Holy Spirit

While researching hope in the Scriptures, I noticed that the Holy Spirit seemed to be a central figure. In 2 Corinthians 5, the Bible says the Holy Spirit is the guarantor of our hope in Heaven. In John 14, Jesus encouraged His disciples to hope in the Word and said the Holy Spirit would remind them all of what God said. In John 16, Jesus said the Holy Spirit would not draw attention to Himself but would make sense of what is about to happen and out of all that Jesus had done and said.

We can see that the Holy Spirit is the rope that connects us to each of the first three anchors. Just like an anchor is only as effective as the chain attached to it, so are our anchors of hope only effective because of the Holy Spirit.

However, I learned in Acts 2 is that He is not just the rope, but also an anchor Himself. Romans 15:13 says, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." When we get filled with the Holy Spirit, we can overflow with hope.

Anchor #5 - Wisdom

Proverbs 24:14 in the Amplified Bible says this, "Know that [skillful and godly] wisdom is [so very good] for your life and soul; If you find wisdom, then there will be a future and a reward, and your hope and expectation will not be cut off." Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, tells us that wisdom allows us to have eternal hope.

However, wisdom is something we acquire through discipline. It is not simply given to us. There are three initiatives to pursuing wisdom:

  1. Seek Knowledge.
  2. Gain Understanding.
  3. Trust God.

By practicing daily disciplines, we are able to gain knowledge. When knowledge is applied, wisdom is activated.

We can make wise decisions in our daily lives by simply asking a few questions:

  1. Based on my past experiences, what is the wise thing to do?
  2. Based on my current circumstances and responsibilities, what is the wise thing to do?
  3. Based on my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do?

Anchor #6 - The Church

The church becomes the hope of the world when it's central purpose is to join people to Jesus. The natural pull of every local church is to become insider focused. But the church was not intended to exist for itself; it was created to exist for the community it is in - to become the centre of hope by leading people to the hope that is Jesus. When it ceases to be outward focused, it ceases to be an anchor of hope.

Ultimately, each anchor must point back to Jesus. The Word is written to direct people to Jesus. The Holy Spirit connects people to Jesus. Solomon said, "a wise man will win souls," so wisdom points people to Jesus as well. The church must do the same because we are the hope of the world and we are on our God-given mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.

Get your copy of the 6 Anchors devotional today! It is available on Kindle and as a paperback. Find it here.

 

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca

6 Steps to Delivering Constructive Criticism

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I have always disliked confrontation and every time I am nervous and have to force myself to do it. I thought that after a while I’d get used to it, but I still battle those feelings, even after 20 years of being a senior pastor. To be honest, I think that fear is healthy and I think anyone who likes criticism is unhealthy. We should hate it. But with that being said, I have learned to hate the results of not confronting situations or people when it needs to happen more than actually having to do it. It’s unhealthy to like confrontation, but it is even more unhealthy to avoid it altogether because you fear it so much.

Set Clear Expectations

I think the most important thing you can do as a leader is to create a healthy culture of accountability so that constructive criticism is normal, expected and healthy. This means three things:

  1. Failure is penalized.
  2. Success is rewarded.
  3. Mediocrity is challenged.

Without these three things in place, a culture will be dysfunctional. The clearer you are with your expectations and desired results, the more leverage you have as a leader to hold your team accountable. In fact, if your expectations are crystal clear, then your team should hold themselves accountable. 

Create Safety

When the other party feels frightened, nervous or otherwise unsafe, you can’t talk about anything. But, if you can create safety, you can talk to almost anyone about almost anything.

I have learned that people feel unsafe when they believe one of two things:

  1. You don’t respect them; or
  2. You don’t care about their goals.

I have to start with what is important to both of us—not just what’s important to me. Understand their expectations and natural tendencies and then establish a crystal clear culture within your organization based on your expectations as the leader.  

When establishing a culture, you must remember that what you tolerate will become your standard.  Make sure you establish clear boundaries and then enforce those boundaries with healthy accountability. Reward what you want to be repeated and correct what you want to be changed.

[bctt tweet="What you tolerate will become your standard." username="kellystickel"]

Wait for 24hrs

I try to wait to confront for at least 24 hours after the problem has presented itself to rid myself of as many of the explosive emotions as I can. This way, I can be frank and stick to the facts rather than drift and say things I’ll regret later because I’m too worked up. 

Establish a Plan

During that 24 hours, I establish a plan. I prepare for the meeting and write out as much of what I want to cover in the meeting as I can, in the order I want to deliver it. 

We need to remember that excellence in a confrontation is a learned skill. I don't think this comes naturally to anyone. I’d highly recommend the book “Crucial Accountability” as a starter on how to confront with excellence. 

Don't Play Games

You may be familiar with the practice of sandwiching constructive criticism between compliments. Games like the sandwich method are often way more destructive than helpful. The key is to get right to the point. Start the conversation with "I want to talk about this problem."

Clearly Define the Problem

Conflict is the space between what I expected and what I experienced so I must define that space. Define the problem before the meeting so you are prepared going into it. 

[bctt tweet="Conflict is the space between what I expected and what I experienced." username="kellystickel"]

Many times it is a systems problem rather than a leadership problem. When that’s the case, I help the leader identify the problem and aid them in solving it. Next time, they will identify it quicker and solve it themselves without coming to me.

At the close of the confrontation, I aim to develop win-win plans. These are plans that are going to benefit both of us. They often begin by remembering who does what by when and then who will follow-up.

 

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca

 

5 Strategies for Effective Collaboration

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Have you ever spent time in seemingly unending meetings? Meetings where the collaboration among departments or team members felt limited to the opinion of the heavy hitters and usually prove little long-term value, but plenty of short-term frustration? When you end up frustrated because the “collaboration” is poorly facilitated, what can you do? These 5 Strategies for Effective Collaboration are a good place to start. 

1. Train Your Team for the Future

Not all those that begin as a part of a church plant team will remain for the entire process. However, those that do stick with you are the ones you should invest in the most. Train them in the culture, vision, mission, and best practices of your movement. Today's volunteers could very well be tomorrow's staff so treat them as such. Don't train them for today's problems but for those of the future.

[bctt tweet="Don’t train your staff for today’s problems, train them for those of the future." #leadership username="kellystickel"]

2. Create A Culture of Change

As the church grows, the systems that once worked become less and less effective. When this occurs, a change must be made. This could be removing people from their position or moving them into another position. If you create a culture of change, your leaders will embrace it and look forward to mixing things up. Don't train someone for just one role; train them to be a leader that could take on any role or department. We want leaders, not specialists. I have found that shifting leaders around can often have huge benefits for the organization as a whole. Fresh ideas are expressed and renewed energy breathes new life into that department.

[bctt tweet="Train leaders, not specialists." #leadership username="kellystickel"]

3. Establish a Clear Why

Sometimes organizations or churches try to coordinate an event for the common good of their community.  The players come together initially but further into the project, they back out or become distracted by their obligations at their home base. Sometimes, it ends with the event becoming a one-person show. Where did it go wrong?

In my opinion, it’s all about the “why” of the event. The stronger and clearer the why, the stronger the buy-in from those participating. There has to be a clear-cut benefit for the whole, not just for one or two participants. The why is often connected to the benefits and the benefits are most keenly understood by those who originally birthed the idea for the event. In the end, they are usually the ones committed to seeing it through. But if they have the ability to clearly communicate the benefits of the event to everyone involved, everyone is more likely to remain until completion.

4. Know Your Team Strengths

There are so many tools out there to help leaders find the right people for their team. I’d recommend personality tests like 16 Personalities (which is a Meyers-Briggs test), the Strengths Finder test or DISC tests to discover people’s natural tendencies. Without such tools, leaders are left with only their instincts to determine where best to place team member. But don't be afraid to experiment. If someone is not fit for a position, don’t be afraid to move them to a different one until you find their perfect spot—both for them and for the team as a whole.

5. Invest in Your Leaders

The collaboration of talents, experience and vision is vital to the mission of most organizations. We must follow the example of Jesus. He modelled it best for us. He both invested in His leaders, training the 12 intensely for three years, while at the same time remained true to the gospel by ministering to those who had need. I think we can do the same. We can best train our future leaders by involving them as participants in today’s ministry. We have to keep raising leaders and we have to stay true to the mandate of the gospel because the church is the hope of the world and we’re on a mission to reach every available person at every available time by every available means with the Gospel of Jesus Christ by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.

7 Avoidable Causes of Leadership Emergencies

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Right now emergencies override visionary priorities. Distractions demand our attention and pull us away from creative thinking. They bury us in the whirlwind of tasks and daily responsibilities

So as a leader, how do we deal with these “right now” emergencies while leading our team into the future? Watch out for these 7 Avoidable Causes of Leadership Emergencies. 

1. Lack of Discipline

In an urgent situation, it is even more important to stick to the disciplines of refuelling. For me, it's praying, reading the Word and feeding myself with podcasts and books because nothing drains a leader faster than a crisis. Jim Rohn said, “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines practiced every day”. The natural tendency for most of us is to prioritize work and the urgent matters and to become too busy for reading and our other re-creation activities, but this can be a fatal mistake for leaders. We make a lot more mistakes when we are tired or battling weariness so, it is most important to stay refreshed and strong. It has to be the priority

2. Poor Planning

Sometimes poor planning, procrastination or neglect of duties by another team player can appear as a leader’s “right now” emergency. But poor planning on their part does not constitute an emergency yours. As leaders, we often need to allow our team members to dig themselves out of the hole they dug and not come to their rescue all of the time. Sometimes, this is the only way they will learn. The only exception is if their poor planning and procrastination will hurt the organization or people within it. This is when it is necessary to intervene. 

3. Not Asking The Tough Questions

We need to learn to ask the right questions. Like Solomon said, “A wise man sees trouble coming and avoids it.” But, I am always careful how I see and respond to what I think I saw. I can easily misread people and situations, and reacting or overreacting to a perception is a deadly sin for a leader that can cause irreparable damage. So, I was taught by a mentor the art of “pulling threads.” Sometimes it’s just a small thread and is no big deal. Other times when we pull it, it unravels the whole sleeve and destroys the sweater. 

4. Always Having An Open Door

On an average day, I know I will be regularly interrupted just by being physically present in the office. I mentally prepare for that in advance and always try to make myself fully available for my team and congregation when I am present. That is also why I work from my home office on Mondays to prepare messages and other specific tasks that require my full, uninterrupted attention. It helps me be more available for the team when I am in the office, but being away helps me be more focused on the big picture and less distracted with the daily whirlwind. 

5. Focusing on Problems

With the constant interruptions of “right now” moments, it can be difficult to turn your focus to ‘creative thinking’ for the future rather than ‘problem-solving thinking’ for the immediate. The best way to battle this is to schedule it. I schedule a yearly week away where I retreat to an isolated location to just dream, plan and get creative. I also schedule a day in my week to think and work on what I call “big picture” tasks or projects. Put it on your calendar - if you don’t, the whirlwind will eat up all of your time and you will become problem-solving focused.  

6. Cheating Your Home Time

Things happen and they rarely happen at convenient times, so it is inevitable that sometimes the urgent will interrupt your home time. You need to clearly define what constitutes an emergency. If someone is in a serious accident and is barely holding on to life in the hospital, or if someone’s family member dies suddenly, then these are unavoidable emergencies and warrant interrupting my family time. If someone calls me because their wife just stormed out the door in a fit of rage and left them and they are wanting me to come right now and fix the situation for them, that — in my mind — doesn’t. And here’s why. That marital crisis didn’t get created overnight and it won’t be fixed overnight. It will still be there in the morning and I can address it then. My family is my priority and I determined a long time ago that I was not willing to sacrifice my family on the altar of the ministry. So, unless it is a dire emergency — a life and death situation — I prioritize my family time and do my best to leave the office at the office when I am home with them.

7. Not Investing In Yourself

As church leaders, we are not above our own “right now” emotional or spiritual urgencies. I would recommend that every church leader have someone they can talk to, outside of their congregation. Someone who is mature enough to handle your humanity and speak into your life. It could be a counsellor or a mentor, but every leader needs someone they can talk to. And again, schedule into your calendar a regular time to talk with that person. We are all human and we all hurt, there is no shame in that. We all need ministry and we all need to allow ourselves to be ministered to. It is so important.

If you have questions you would like answered in an upcoming podcast, please email leadership@myvictory.ca.