Category Archives: leadership

Three Vintage Skills Millenials can develop to stand out!

3 Skills Millennials can learn to distinguish themselves in the marketplace

“Call him.”

“I sent him a message.”

“That’s not good enough. Give him a call.” One of my clients, a young millennial man, just didn’t see the need to make the phone call. The text should be enough, shouldn’t it?

Today, when someone says “call me,” why do we assume that means something bad?

Millennials are, or will be shortly, the largest sector in the workforce. Those who want to distinguish themselves can work on these three “vintage” skills. Because for the next 20 years, most of your bosses will be X and Boomers. Because being a millennials, with all the accompanying awesomeness and potential challenges, will now be the norm. And those who succeed in entrepreneurship will be hiring Xers and Boomers as well.

3 Vintage skills to distinguish yourself in the marketplace.

  1. Phone calls.

Sure, everyone likes a text message. Easy, quick and painless. No getting stuck in the awkward, “hello, goodbye, how are things…” Except this may be the very key to standing out in a crowded field.

As a coach who works with young people, I am amazed how hard a follow up phone call is for them. And I’m gratified by the almost universal positive response when people actually call.

  1. Face to Face meetings

While phone calls are great, tone, nuance and persona are hard to guage at a distance. While millenials are extremely relational, or social, the face to face meeting has some protocols as well.

  1. FOCUS

In a world where social media rules, and our phones are now a digital extention of ourselves, the millennial who would distinguish themselves must know how to focus. Singular focus does not come from scrolling, swiping, liking and sharing. These are all wonderful, fun and informative.

Focus will be a key differentiator. As my clients know, shutting down all screens for a period of time leads to emotional consternation but then an amazing bump in productivity occurs as the mind is freed from constant distractions and latches on to the topic at hand.

Let me know what you think on our Facebook page.

Graphic courtesy of freepik




Change this 1 thing to develop healthy adult children

The biggest obstacle to your child’s independence.

“The person who hated it the most was my mom.”

What was this dastardly “it” my student was talking about?

Parents encourage their adult children to give up!

Let me set this up properly. I currently give a large portion of my time to working with university students. Because everyone bombs an assignment or two, I like to give extra credit. Not everyone passes every assignment. You don’t get participation trophies in college.

Oh, the outrage when half the class fails their first paper. Instead I offer extra readings and reports.

The largest chunk of extra credit a student can earn is the media fast. Worth an entire grade, a student can voluntarily choose to check out off all forms of digital for a month. No social media. (Surprisingly easy). No Netflix, or youtube (surprisingly hard.) Their phones are phones. For one month, that’s it. Included in this ban is a ban on all texting.  The reasons are many, but increasingly the research is showing how digital addition is hurting everyone. From texting while driving to killing our sleep, the facts are clear.

The students accuse me in their minds as “being vindictive.” How that’s possible when the assignment is extra credit is beyond me. But then, every semester, a number of students try. Most succeed.

While the results are amazing, (and a post for another day), one common theme is emerging.

Texting is the hardest to give up. And buried in that learning is that families, particularly MOMS, are the most unwilling for their now grown adult child, to participate.

Parents encourage their adult children to give up. Did you catch that? Give up!

Not because the young person isn’t doing well. not because its not good to break this digital addiction we’ve allowed our kids to develop. Rather, because mom, not the child, can not cut the umbilical chord. They want to text their beloved child multiple times a day, sharing small nuggets of life.

The biggest obstacle to the independence of the child is now you. and Me.  Young adults are ready to cut the cable. The ship has sailed but the ones who aren’t letting go of the moorings are not the now grown adults. The parents.

The biggest obstacle to young adult independence is me and its you.

3 suggestions for the reluctant releaser…

  1. Only contact your child on weekends. if they reach out to you, answer. But if they don’t, leave them alone for a few days.
  2.  Answer questions with questions.
  3. Ignore their texts. Teach them you aren’t available 24/7.

What’s your experience? Has texting stunted the independence of people you know?

Thanks for sharing this article around on the web!

The Failed Promise of Relevance.

Another article floating around the internet, being shared ad-nausea by everyone tired for old ways of “doing” church.

Change your music!

Target young people!

Be more relevant!

Shorten your services!

Out with the old, in with the new!

Be more relevant!

And “If you don’t like it, serve in the nursery!” You had your time, its our time, time to reach the lost that you didn’t reach with your boring old way of doing church. or so the articles still imply.

The thing is, this is circa 1999. New waves of “worship” are drawing thousands of young people in the fold of passionate discipleship. Passion. Delirious. Classics now.

Here’s the problem. It didn’t work. Relevance didn’t work.

In the time it took this missionary to go to Africa, learn a language, and come home, Sunday nights were gone. Adult Wednesday nights were no longer a priority. Services were 55 minutes. Pentecostal manifestations were relegated to small groups and largely disappeared. All this in an effort to keep up with the times.

Baggy cargo pants replaced suits and ties.

And it didn’t work.

Acoustic guitars replaced the electric pianos, which had supplanted the traditional organs.

And it didn’t work.

Video venues exploded. Mega-churches grew, then imploded.

And it didn’t work.

The promise of RELEVANCE proved to be hollow indeed.

The numbers, from any group you choose –Barna, Gallup, whomever, show the increasing secularization of the West. All the while, the gurus continue to tell us that relevance is the answer.

Today, I get to work with amazing young people who are the church of today. As never before in history, young men and women are having a voice in shaping the future of Christendom. BUT they don’t realize they are stuck in an old refrain.

To a truly un-churched person, there is no “old fashioned” Christianity. There is no “better way to do church.” Because simply put, they have no point of reference for church.

Is there value in targeting certain groups? Certainly. The danger comes in copying, rather than adapting models, or creating your own. Copies are always downgrades from the originals. Copies of Willow Creek are good. But they don’t capture the heart of Bill Hybels and his team. Not exactly.

Relevance is the promise that if we meet people at their point of need, they will be more attracted to the gospel message. Here’s the problem. It doesn’t work.

Back in my bible school days, we were given this little booklet. The packaging is so 70ies. The marketing is non-exitant. The source for the research is 1000 churches OUTSIDE the US. The ABCs of Natural Development. In growing churches worldwide, here’s what’s DOES work.

I recently attended a Lutheran church, not in any way part of my faith tradition. The service was full of light. The sanctuary has no black wall, no lights, no fog.  The liturgy was structured, the Hymns mostly unknown to me. But the life in the room was real. The sermon was apropos. And the building was packed. Nothing about that morning was RELEVANT. But it was real, and authentic.

Have lights. I like lights. Have smoke machines. They are fun. Modern music, lets have it. I love to preach out of movies, a fad which came and went. Give away cars on Sunday morning. But lets not kid ourselves. NONE of this is really what leads a person to relationship with Christ.

My children love grandma’s house. Not because its relevant to their world, but because of the relationship and love they receive from women who often wouldn’t know an Angry Bird if they met one on the street.

Don’t drink the Kool-Aid. Relevance is over rated. Authenticity, now there’s a different story.

43 Life Lessons from Bible characters.

Birthday’s are times for reflection for me. I want to continue to learn. Here’s 43 things I learned from Bible characters.

1. Joseph: Forgive by don’t forget. Reconciliation should only come when change has happened.
2. Jesus: Presence is the greatest gift you can give.
3. Jacob: Running from your problems only delays the inevitable confrontation
4. Adam. Sometimes you have to disagree with the whole world, even if that’s just your wife.
5. Cain: You are your brother’s keeper.
6. Noah: Legacy has impact on your children’s destiny. Noah-Ham-Canaan.
7. Abraham: Beware the patterns you establish. They will continue for generations. Both Good and Bad. (Altars and Favorite children)
8. Isaac. Keep investing in your life. Your future depends on it.
9. Joseph: Your dreams are usually about yourself. Big dreams are about others.
10. Sampson: Never flirt with evil.
11. Moses: you’re never too old to start something new.
12. Moses: God won’t allow lame excuses to keep us from his destiny for us.
13. Joshua: To be a great man, you must first be around great men. Walk where they walked, talk with who they talk. Live as they live
14. Caleb: You’re never too old to fight for what’s yours. But the older you get, the more you need those younger than you.
15. Ruth: A life of service to others is never a bad choice.
16. Naomi: Take care of those who take care of you. Set them up for success and you’ll be blessed too.
17. Deborah: Never let your position in society determine how well you serve.
18. Samuel: You can learn from corrupt old people.
19. Samuel: You are never too young to start speaking the things God shows you.
20. Saul: Sometimes the thing you didn’t want becomes the thing you hold on to the most. Everything we have is from God, hold it lightly.
21. David: Weep like a broken-hearted father, but lead even when you are in pain.
22. David: Never stop going to war. Ever. Or you’ll end up on a rooftop, not knowing you are destroying your family.
23. Solomon: God loves you. Regardless of your family history.
24. Solomon: Knowing right and doing right are two different things.
25. Jeroboam: Listen to older people. Your friends are usually idiots.
26. Manasseh: You’re never too old to turn it around.
27. Josiah: Don’t get cocky. Accept the space God has given you
28. Josiah: Don’t get into other people’s fights.
29. Isaiah: Never be too proud to obey God. History will look on you as a man of integrity even if you walk around naked for three years.
30. Solomon: just because you say it and its written down doesn’t make it true. (“All is meaningless”)
31. Andrew: if the only thing you ever do is bring people to Jesus, that’s enough.
32. James: Serving your family isn’t a bad thing.
33. Jesus: Even Jesus was obedient to parents who were sinners.
34. Paul: getting knocked on your butt is sometimes the best thing that can happen to you.
35. The high priest: truth can come even from angry, or evil sources (prophesy of one dying to save Israel).
36. Pilate: listen to your wife.
37. Jeremiah: If you whine, people will remember you as a whiner.
38. David: if you want people to remember what you say, write a song. If you want people to remember what you do, kill giants.
39. Joseph: your greatest legacy may be how you care for what is someone else’s.
40. Anananias: your greatest moment may come when you have to overcome your greatest fear
41. Timothy: You may not understand why and may have to trust someone else that they have your best at heart. (Being circumcised as an adult). Trust the right people.
42. John: you may think you are being clear, but if people don’t understand your metaphors, you’ll create confusion. (Book of Revelation)
43. Anna: Waiting is hard but worth it. Worship while you wait.

Why Colin Kaepernick’s stand won’t change anything

Colin Kaepernick sat during the national anthem.

In our nation, that is your right. In Mozambique, during the civil war, students had to make decision of standing and saluting the flag, or running for their lives while bullets flew. Not standing at attention was against the law. Right or wrong, disrespectful or otherwise, this is not my problem.

My problem is the Mr. Kaepernick doesn’t give a realistic roadmap to engagement with the issues at hand. I have African American friends who have been discriminated against. The numbers are hard to argue with. I personally feel we need to address these problems in our society.

The leadership problem I have is when an ultimatum is given, or a stance is taken, solutions must be more concrete than “until things change.”

Exactly what “things” are we talking about? Exactly what kind of “change” are we talking about?

You see, as a leader and a recognized public personality, Mr. Kaepernick is at a unique place where he can be a positive advocate for change. In the business world, he would be held to some sort of accountability, something like SMART goals: Strategic, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time based . Read more here.

Sitting in protest without a pathway to change is manipulation. Vagueness keeps the power in your hands while places the blaming elsewhere.

So sit. Protest. That is the right many have fought and died for. Even disrespect. But while doing so, at least give an option for how to move forward. “Things” is too vague for a leader.

Hillsong’s Naked Cowboy Fiasco, and the leadership quandary.

The internet, a least the internet that cares about such things, blew up last week when someone posted video of a youth pastor from Hillsong New York jumping around on stage dressed as “the Naked Cowboy” (who by the way, wasn’t naked but certainly was appropriately dressed.)

“Ah ha! See, we told you Hillsong is apostate!”

“Further proof of the decline of our impact as the church.” My social media feed was a blood induced shark feeding frenzy.

Then Pastor Huston from the mothership in Australia has to come out and issued a statement. I read, and not totally behind the lines, that he was not amused. And his wife was not amused. The statement wasn’t strong enough for some. Others flat out called him a liar. But hold on….

Some youth pastor and his buddies apparently pulled a prank that didn’t go the way they planned. SHOCKING right? That a youth pastor would do something stupid. That his buddies would go along with it.


A few years ago, the church I was leading at the time put on a fashion show. “Classy not Trashy” was a theme and the goal was to promote beautiful and still modest clothing for young men and ladies in Dar es Salaam. The goal was to be light hearted, and the “models,” who were just young people from our church, were encouraged to have fun with it.

Classy not trashy Poster

One particular young man walked down the runway, did a little Micheal Jackson move, and proceded to grab his crotch, right in front of me, the pastor! Not all, but most of the eyes in the room of our church attendees, flashed to me. And my people knew I was not happy. So I ran up on stage and screamed at the young man right there! I stood an apologized to all our unbelieving guests, and stopped the whole event right there.

NO, of course not.

The event concluded and in the private of the back room, I made sure that once and for all everyone involved was completely aware of how embarrassed, angry and ashamed I was. Over the line, completely inappropriate and stupid.

Anytime you have young creatives, who are still learning what it means to use their gifts and talents for God, you are going to get stupidity. 

But catch this. It didn’t make our church apostate. A kid made a stupid move. That’s what it was. And in the midst of it, the event had to go on.

Anytime you have young creatives, who are still learning what it means to use their gifts and talents for God, you are going to get stupidity. You are going to get immaturity. And with the internet, you are going to get outrage.

There are 2 sad outcomes to this HIllsong story.

First, no one is talking about the conference. Did it do any good? Were lives touched, women encourage, ministry empowered? The righteousness police have made the outcome over one stupid move.

Secondly, no one is talking about this kid. This brash young man who went on to stage trying to be funny and instead caused an uproar that impugned the integrity of his church, his pastor and the whole heart of the event.
Ever done anything stupid yourself? Ever regretted a stunt you and your buddies pulled? He is now the target of people who ought to be praying for him. He’s got a name. Diego Simila. I’ll bet he has parents, and a family, and feelings. Naw…. he’s an internet meme. Sarcasm. please read the sarcasm.

I think Hillsong has done some stupid stuff. Their Silent Night thing was an exercise in group stupidity. But it doesn’t make them apostate. It means that common sense didn’t prevail. I don’t justify what that young man did at our church event. But neither did I stand in front of the church or the world and throw him under the bus. I took the heat as the leader. That’s what leaders do. Create environments for people to try, and yes, sometimes fail miserably.

Let he who has never sinned throw the first stone. Because he will be a person who has never tried anything.

A genius parenting hack applied to business.

I wrote yesterday about my dad’s accidental parenting genius.

By asking his kids which movies he should see, my dad not only empowered us with decisions that impacted our lives, but also decisions that impacted his life.

He trusted us to maintain his integrity.

In business, it may be easy to empower employees to most decisions that affect them or their department. Yet, how many of the decisions that impact the whole organization do we allow second and third tier leaders to make?

Here’s what I mean. If decisions that impact the whole organization are only handled at the executive level, then the onus is never on the other leaders to make value based decisions. This isn’t “What would be the boss do?” but rather “Is this a decision that would maintain the boss’s integrity?” Subtle, but powerful difference.

Am I suggesting that executives push all major decisions down the flowchart? Of course not.

But if only a few people ever get to make important decisions, or decisions that only impact their department, they learn that they are not capable of making value based decisions. Their decisions don’t impact the whole.

Occasionally, ask for input from someone 2 or three tiers down. You might be surprised to find that your values start to seep into other areas of decision making.

Accidental parenting genius

My parents are great. Loving, affirming, invested, they were great. Not perfect though. They were still annoying, out of touch, awkward and all those things that good parents are required to be by some strange law of nature.

Take for instance my dad. Dad doesn’t go to movies, but he likes to watch them at home. Usually, that meant that we kids were exposed to movies long before they came out on VHS (yes, those were the days). As a teenager, I consistently remember my dad asking us whether or not he should see a movie.

Think about it. Normally, parents are advising their kids on what movies they should or should not see. Here I was, a 15 year old kid, advising my dad on whether or not he should see a movie.

I was sharing this story with a friend today and when I realized what my dad had been doing, I called him up on the way home and asked him:

“Dad, was that on purpose or just accidental?” It was accidental he assured me. I’m going to make it intentional.

Just telling us, or even advising us, on the correct choices would never had helped us grow our moral and character choices. But by putting his trust in our choices, he actually did two things.

First, he trusted us to make good decisions with our media choices. That’s the top level.

But the accidental genius was forcing us to make moral choices for him that would reflect the values he had taught us. By placing his choices into our hands, he empowered us in an entirely different way. We had to be able to make decisions not based upon our friends’ value systems, or the value system the school taught us (we watched most movies on buses headed to sport’s competitions), but upon the values that dad held, and hoped that we would as well. If we made poor choices, he would “suffer” the consequences.

We were now the guardians of our parents. Not only were we responsible for our own choices, but we were resposbible for their choices too.

Powerful parenting.

Totally accidental. But something I’m adding to my intentional mix.

5 gifts that will revolutionize your marriage and your husband

What do I get for the guy who has everything?

Mother’s Day is a national holiday. Father’s day is a national disaster.

To succeed at being a mom, you need to show up and love.

To succeed as a dad, you’ve got to be much more.

Provider, protection, fountain of wisdom, strong but gentle, bold but wise. Humble yet authoritative. Supportive but not domineering.

Don’t get me wrong. Being a dad ranks above pretty much everything else. That 3 little people think I hung the moon is pretty cool. But somedays, I struggle. Am I being a good dad? Will my kids end up in counseling? From what I’ve seen, Dad’s can have enormously positive or incredibly destructive influence on their kids. So as such, here are 5 things you can give the father of your children.

  1. Give him the gift of adulthood.

    Don’t parent him. Challenge him as an adult, not as a child. Give him the same tone of voice you would someone that you deeply respect. I’m shocked at how many women I see who treat their husbands like “one of the kids.” Then, they are surprised when he acts the part.

  2. Let him mess up

    He knows it when he does. But pointing out his mistakes doesn’t help most men I know.

  3. Let him make decisions you don’t like.

    Does your husband feel like he “gets in trouble?” See gift #1

  4. Learn about his favorite hobby.

    “Let’s talk” can be the most intimidating words a man has ever heard. If conversation began with “tell me about…” and a question related to a non-emotional, non-landmine topic, you might find you have a talker on your hands.

What are gifts you can give that will improve your marriage?

The Myth of 100% BUY IN-but how to get close.

Optin-Opt Out copy

The OPT OUT versus OPT IN leadership dilemma

Buy in. Though it may not be the Holy Grail of team leadership, it certainly is in the treasure room.

Leaders want “buy in.” If the team owns the idea, if the company or the organization moves to a place of consensus, synergy happens, movement happens, and lots of good happens.

Make a training or teaching optional though, and participation drops drastically. In the non-profit world, participation dives down to just the “faithful few” who will be there every time the doors are open. In the business world, you have those who buy in and a whole group of sycophants who attend thinking attendance will someone ingratiate them to leadership.

Instead of creating optional events where people have to OPT IN, if you create an event or situation that is OPT OUT only, you will get higher participation, but you run the risk of creating resentment.

Buy in. Though it may not be the Holy Grail of team leadership, it certainly is in the treasure room.

First examples.

While pastoring “The Ocean International Community church” I felt that leadership development was critical. We offered leadership training consistently, but participation was limited to the deeply committed.

One weekend, we took our regularly scheduled weekend gatherings and told everyone:

“Next week, we will not be having a normal gathering. The whole morning will be dedicated to leadership training. We begin at 8 AM and we will finish at noon.”

At the time, our community was around 300 in Sunday morning attendance. 160+ attended the event. One hundred sixty people went through leadership training. Juxtapose that to the 20-30 that would attend a leadership training if we simply “offered” it as an option. The people who did not come had to intentionally opt out.

Now, did they all engage in leadership after the training? No, certainly not.

Did it give us a larger pool of possible leaders to draw from when we saw needs in our organization? Certainly.

If something is central to your values or your identity, consider creating events that are OPT OUT versus OPT IN.

Second example

The organization I currently serve with is AGWM. Our representatives worldwide are all donor supported, mostly through churches in the Assemblies of God. Typical overseas assignments are 4 years abroad, one year in the U.S. for fundraising.

Until recently, the summer event called Training/Renewal was a mandatory event. All units on furlough were expected to come. Then a few years ago, to reduce costs, leadership made the decision to allow those who had attended 3 times, to no longer be mandated to come. Participation dropped drastically. The policy will be reversed next year.

The Cost of OPT OUT.

OPT OUT is an expensive proposition. For us, it meant committed one Sunday to the event. For many organizations, one day may not seem much, but in the life of a church, when you only get everyone together 4, maybe 5 times a month, a whole Sunday represented a significant risk. We knew many people would opt out. We were pleasantly surprised at the turnout. With a non-profit, event participation is never as high as for businesses, whether it be a church service, or a community event.

With a business, Opt Out is much more trickier since employers can mandate participation.

When to choose OPT IN.

OPT IN is a great tool for new classes, new initiatives and situations where you need to know if you have BUY IN. Currently, my boss is offering a leadership training event with limited spaces. With a large organization, we will know from the response who has bought in and who hasn’t. (If we’ve done our job of communicating well enough).

When to use OPT OUT.

Use OPT OUT when you have values or mission based training or event. Leadership training for me is a high value, so as the leader of the organization, I was willing to take a risk because our leadership felt the return would be worth the risk.

OPT OUT is an expensive proposition.

AND… A third example.

A high value for our church was community. However, if you have ever been part of a religious gathering of any sort, you will know that people come late and leave as early as possible. To empower that value, we did away with many of the superfluous elements of our gathering, cut down the number of people on the microphone, and put in 15 minutes in the middle of our service for having coffee and tea. OPTing OUT meant staying in your seat and refusing to join everyone in the lobby. Some did but most engaged. Percentage wise, the compare that to the percentage who would have participated if we offered coffee and tea before or after the service.

As a leader, using OPT OUT can be a powerful tool. Make sure that when you do pull this out of your toolbar, you are not doing so for something that you are passionate about but isn’t central to the mission, identity and values of the organization, team or department you lead.

What do you think? Have you tried OPT OUT instead of  OPT IN?