Leadership Articles

Top 10 Books for 2016

In this year end podcast, Gene and Kelly each discuss the top 5 books they read in 2016. Here is the list of 10 books. Click on the title of the book and order your copy today.

  1. THE 4 DISCIPLINES OF EXECUTION by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling 1. Focus on the wildly important. 2. Act on the lead measures. 3. Keep a compelling scoreboard. 4. Create a cadence of accountability.

  2. INSTINCT by TD Jakes Giraffes eat from tree tops and rarely drop their heads for anything but water. Cousins to the Camels, if they dropped their heads more often they would lose their balance. They don’t get their nourishment on grass level with turtles. They learn to avoid the clamour of what’s happening at ground level.  In leadership it’s best to eat from higher thoughts than lower ones. Leaders with a limited level of sight can’t be expected to see what leaders with a higher level of sight gain in perspective and wisdom.  Our opinions and vision is usually based on our perspective.Whatever stimulates us gives us energy and helps us be our best. Feed on what feeds your dream. We must live to unpack our inventory of uniqueness.

  3. THE SPIRIT CONTEMPORARY LIFE by Leon FontaineThe thing to realize as you pray for people is that when Holy Spirit works, it’s not really about you. It’s not about your ability or lack thereof. The more you realize that, the more free you will feel to step into other’s lives to help, and the more you will communicate and act in a way that effectively reaches others.Being Spirit Contemporary isn’t hard. All you really need is to do two things: respect people and follow Holy Spirit’s lead.You can be Spirit Contemporary and change the wrapper (how you share the message) while leaving the gift (Jesus) intact.Being Spirit Contemporary isn’t about pleasing people so they will like you. It’s about being so confident, strong, and secure in your identity as a child of God that people notice the difference in your life and are attracted to you as you direct them toward Jesus.

  4. UNTHINK by Eric Wahl An “artist” Is anyone who challenges the conventional wisdom and inspires change that creates new channels of problem solving and innovating.5 things that help us rediscover our creative genius: 1.  Curiosity - As a child you had two things on your agenda: exploration and creation.  2.  Discovery - is the Holy Grail of childhood 3.  Conviction - the sooner we start working with the conviction that we can be creative, the sooner we recapture our sense of wonder. Don’t live wearing the mask of other’s  the convictions. Ask yourself: What makes me come alive? People unite behind people of conviction. 4.  Acceleration - Jack Welch said, “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” 5. Spontaneity -  Spontaneity inspires. Spontaneity is the bridge to mystery…and mystery opens our eyes to new possibilities.  Spontaneity counterbalances your left brain’s cry for safety and predictability. Our left brain tells us that our days are easiest when we know what to expect.  But our right brain reminds us that our days are inspiring only when we venture into the unknown.

  5. THE IDEAL TEAM PLAYER by Patrick Lencioni  Ideal team players possess adequate measures of humility, hunger, and people smarts. They have little ego when it comes to needing attention or credit for their contributions, and they are comfortable sharing their accolades or even occasionally missing out on them. Ideal team players work with a sense of energy, passion, and personal responsibility, taking on whatever they possibly can for the good of the team. Finally, they say and do the right things to help teammates feel appreciated, understood, and included, even when difficult situations arise that require tough love.

  6. TALK LIKE TED by Carmine Gallo    “The great truths of the world have often been couched in fascinating stories.” ~ Dale CarnegieThe ability to tell a personal story is the essential trait of an authentic leader. Make it personal.  Take the audience on a journey. If you want to be quoted, tell a story. An audience wants someone or something to cheer for. They want to be inspired. Captivate their imagination with a story. We can only reach minds if we first touch hearts.

  7. UNQUALIFIED by Steven Furtick    This is a book about understanding your identity in light of who God us. It’s a book about coming to terms with the good, the bad, and the unmentionable in your life and learning to let God use you.

  8. THE WRIGHT BROTHERS by David McCullough   The Wright Brothers believed that if they could figure out this flying machine, it would change the world, they imagined that it would benefit everyone else if they were successful. It was the Wright Brothers passion that took them where no one had ever gone.

  9. THROUGH THE EYES OF A LION by Levi Lusko    The best book I’ve read on how to handle grief. The story of Pastor Levi and Jenny and the loss of their young daughter Lenya 4 years ago and how they learned to anchor their faith in God despite a devastating tragedy.

  10. FAILING FORWARD by John Maxwell“The difference between average people and achievers is their perception and response to failure.”

FAILING BACKWARD Blame others Repeat the same mistakes Expect never to fail again Expect to continually fail Accept tradition blindly Limit themselves by their past mistakes Think to themselves:  “I’m a failure” Quitting

FAILING FORWARD Take responsibility Learn from each mistake Know failure is part of a process Maintain a positive attitude Challenge outdated assumptions Take new risks Believe something didn’t work Persevering

No matter how difficult your problems are, the key to overcoming them is not changing your circumstances, but changing yourself.



How to Challenge the Process?

I often get asked by frustrated parishioners, "I would like our church to be more _______. How do I get my pastor to change?"

That's a great question. How do we challenge the process?

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Be a raving fan publicly and an honest critic privately. Never verbalize your frustrations in public. Public loyalty creates private leverage. This is true isn't it? Think about it. How much time do you have in your schedule for someone you know has been publicly critical of you? You are suddenly busy, aren't you? But what about when a raving fan asks for an appointment? You will clear your schedule to meet with them. The bottom line, if you want to influence with your leader, don't express your frustrations in public. Find something to be a fan about and voice your praise publicly. Don't be dishonest, but like the old axiom says, "if you can't say nothin' good, don't say anything at all."

  2. Develop the art of challenging the process without challenging the authority of the leader. The degree you can challenge your leader is based on the degree of your relationship with them. If you don't have a trust relationship established with your leader, your insights will most likely be unwelcome. However, if you take the time to develop a sincere relationship with your leader, you will begin to gain their trust and in turn have their ear. Another important consideration is timing. Regardless of the degree of relationship established there is the important rule of timing. For example, never confront a speaker immediately following the speech. The speaker is generally raw and tired and therefore more emotional than normal. It is always good to save your comments for a day or to. You will find it will be much more received when emotions are not in play.

  3. When instruction is given, follow through now and debrief later. More often than not, we as followers do not always see the big picture and therefore do not always understand everything that is at stake when a decision is made. Therefore, it is always wise to follow through on the instructions and then add your input or suggestions during the debriefing.

  4. Don’t confuse your insights as moral imperatives. Just because you see things differently than your leader, doesn't necessarily mean you are right. Hold on to you ideas and insights loosely. Too many times we marry our insights and view everything else as wrong. Be careful of this attitude. It can only lead to frustration and hurt.

  5. Remember that “no” doesn’t necessarily mean your leader is not open to change. It may mean your idea isn’t any good. Sometimes, we have bad ideas. I know it's shocking. But not every idea is a good one. Again, don't be married to your ideas. And if you hear a no, don't assume your leader is closed to change. It may be that you don't see the whole picture, or that your idea is simply a poor one, and that's okay. We all have bad ideas from time to time.

As a leader, it is vital that we are open to the process being challenged. In fact, I would encourage you to teach your people how to challenge the process. I do this by:

  1. Creating opportunities for those who report to me to regularly challenge the process. I ask all of my staff and key volunteers to give me weekly reports. In these reports I ask 7 main questions: a) What are we doing right? (Let’s optimize) b) What’s wrong? (Let’s change) c) What’s confusing? (Let’s clarify) d) What’s missing? (Let’s add) e) What are the threats? (Let’s avoid) f) What are the opportunities? (Let’s exploit) g) What could we eliminate that no one would miss? (Let’s cut it out)

  2. Clarifying what is non-negotiable and what is up for discussion. I teach the Vision is permanent but the models and programs are temporary. The Message is sacred by the methods are not.

  3. Reminding myself that "Progress is always proceeded by change. Change is always proceeded by challenge. Challenging the status quo is often where leadership begins." Leaders see things differently than everyone else. They generally carry a vision, that's why they stand out. When someone is challenging the process it may be they are a fledgling leader and the last thing I want to do is squash them because of my own insecurities.

Questions: Are you a raving fan publicly of your leader? Do you feel comfortable confronting your leader?Leaders, do you invite your people to challenge the process?

Are You Serving as Your Own Saviour?

In his play Amadeus, Peter Shaffer tells the story of Antonio Saleri, a young musical prodigy who prayed this prayer to God: “Lord make me a great composer! Let me celebrate your glory through music - and be celebrated myself! Make me famous through the world, dear God! Make me immortal! After I die let people speak my name forever with love for what I wrote! In return I vow I will give you my chastity, my industry, my deepest humility, every hour of my life. And I will help my fellow man all I can. Amen and amen!”

In his younger years he strictly kept his vow to God. He kept his hands off women, he worked diligently at his music teaching many musicians for free, and he tirelessly helped the poor. His career began to blossom and he was thrilled that God was keeping His end of the bargain. All was going well for him until Mozart appeared with musical gifts far above Salieri’s. His genius had obviously been bestowed on him by God. Amadeus, Mozart’s middle name, means “beloved by God,” and yet he is vulgar and self-indulgent. The talent God lavished so prodigally on Mozart begins a crisis of faith in the heart of Salieri. And he pens these words:

“It was incomprehensible...Here I was denying all my natural lust in order to deserve God’s gift and there was Mozart indulging his in all directions - even though engaged to be married - and no rebuke at all!”

Finally, Salieri says to God, “From now on we are enemies, You and I,” and spends the rest of his life seeking to destroy Mozart. All of his efforts to be a good Christian were ultimately revealed to be profoundly self-interest. God was just a useful instrument. He told himself that he was sacrificing his time and money for God’s sake, but there was actually no sacrifice involved. He was doing it for his own sake, to get fame, fortune, and self-esteem.

“I liked myself,” Salieri said, “till he came.” Soon the moral and respectable Salieri shows himself capable of greater evil than the immoral, vulgar Mozart. While the Mozart of Amadeus is irreligious, it is Salieri the devout who ends up in a much greater state of alienation from God, just like the elder brother in Jesus’ parable in Luke 15. In the story Amadeus, Mozart of course is like the younger brother and Salieri is remarkably like the elder brother.

Dr. Timothy Keller said in his book Prodigal God, “If you believe that God ought to bless you and help you because you have worked so hard to obey him and be a good person, then Jesus may be your helper, your example, even your inspiration, but he is not your Savior. You are serving as your own Savior."

Unfortunately, when I hear the description of the elder brother in Luke 15 and in the story of Amadeus, I see a part of myself and my own tendencies.

Questions: Do you see some of the same traits in yourself? Have you ever tried to bargain with God? Have you ever tried to use your goodness to get what you wanted from God?


There are two kinds of thinking: conscience thinking and sub-conscience thinking. The Bible refers to your sub-conscience thinking as your "heart". King Solomon said in Proverbs 23:7, "as a man thinks in his heart, so is he." It's another way of saying that your heart (sub-conscience thinking) will determine who you are and who you become.


In last week's blog entitled, "What Are Your Set Points?" I made the statement that your heart thinking will determine the path your life will take and that it will create the boundaries for your future. Solomon gave plain instructions to "guard our hearts above all else" in Proverbs 4:23 or in other words, it is of most importance to be aware of your sub-conscience thinking.  That is easier said than done. After all, sub-conscience thinking is beneath our conscience thinking, that why it's called sub-conscience. Most of us were not even aware of another level of thinking or that our 'heart' thinks, never mind now being told that one of the most important things we should do is to be aware of what it is thinking. So, how can we know what our heart is thinking? And how can we ensure that it is creating a good and prosperous future for us?

It's really not as complicated as one might think. Plato said, “Thinking is the talk of the soul with itself." That is a profound statement. And, as most profound thoughts are, it is remarkably simple. Thinking = self-talk. "As a man talks to himself in his heart, so is he." So, how is your self-talk? What is your self-talk focused on?

Healthy people are very aware of their self-talk. Until you are aware of your self-talk, it will control your life. What you focus on, you give power to. If you focus on the problems, you empower the problems. If you choose to focus on the solutions, you will empower the solutions. King Saul and the rest of his Israelite army focused on the enormity of Goliath. David, on the other hand, chose to focus on the power of his God. The one with positive self-talk was able to seize an opportunity that set him up for life.

Charles T. Brown said, “Feelings are simply what we say to ourselves about our experiences.” We all have feelings but we all don't need to be led by them. Your focus determines your feelings. To lead our feelings, we simply need change our focus.

The Apostle Paul said in Romans 12:2, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Plainly put, if you really want to discover what God's full will is for your life and want to see a real change, then you must renew your self-talk. That starts by being aware of what it is. Jesus was. He made numerous "I am" statements. He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." He said, "I am the resurrection and the life." He also said, "I am the bread of life." What are your "I am" statements?

If I were to be honest, a majority of my "I am" statements are negative. I am tired. I am too busy. I am not able. I am too young, etc. Our self-talk is rarely accurate, but everybody believes their self-talk. The good new is that it is a learned language and therefore it can be unlearned.

I believe the most important thing you can do beyond giving your life to Jesus is to change your self-talk. Begin by becoming aware of your current self-talk and then change you declarations.

I would highly recommend using Joel Osteen's latest book, I Declare, as a resource to help you change your self-talk.

What Are Your Set Points?

A thermostat is designed to establish a temperature set point. If you desire the room to be at a comfortable 20°C (68°F), and the room heats up to 26°C the thermostat will kick in the air conditioning and regulate the room temperature to 20°C again. If the room temperature drops below the desired temperature then the thermostat would trigger the furnace to reheat the room back to the desired set point. But you already knew that. thermostat

What you might not know is that King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, said that your heart is a type of thermostat over your life. He said in Proverbs 23:7 says, "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." He's not referring to your physical organ, but instead is using the heart as a metaphor for your sub-conscience thinking. He is boldly stating that your heart determines your life's set-points.

Maybe this is why Solomon wrote in Proverbs 4:23, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." When the wisest man who ever lived says "Above all else," I pay attention. Plainly put, this verse is Solomon telling us that the most important thing we could do in life is to watch over our "heart" thinking. Why? Because your heart will determine everything you do in the future, good or bad.

In the original Hebrew language Solomon used the words totz'ot chaiyim which means the "issues" of life. The word totz'ot is mainly used to refer to the borders of territories or the boundaries of a city. This verse is literally saying that the heart of a person will build boundaries, or set-points in your life.

The state of your life right now was birthed from your heart thinking. The amount of money you make per year will be close to what your heart thinks you deserve or expect to earn. The state of your marriage or relationships can all be determined by your sub-conscience "heart" thoughts. The amount of success or failures you have, all flow from your heart. What your heart expects, your life gets. Albert Einstein once said, "Your imaginations are a preview of your life's coming attractions." In other words, how you think, how you dream, is very important.

Have you ever been turned down from something you really wanted and said to someone, "I knew I wouldn't get it anyway." Or, "I knew it was too good to be true?" Of course you have. We all have. And you know what? We were right. Because no matter how badly we want something in our conscience mind, if our heart thinks another way, our heart is right every time.

The question then is, how do we "guard our heart?" How do we change our heart thinking? I believe there is a way. The Bible never tells us to do something that is impossible to do. It always gives us the answer. I want to spend the next number of weeks blogging on this topic, hoping to uncover answers for you and for me, so that we can direct our futures and change our heart thinking.

Solomon said this in Proverbs 20:5, "The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out." Plainly put, you can't see what's beneath the surface in your heart unless you dive in and search it out. So, I encourage you to go digging by asking yourself, "What are my set points? What do I imagine my future will look like? What does my heart really think?"