It is amazing to see the continued growth of the Life.Church Digerati Team. The last 11 years of leading this effort has been life changing, challenging, inspiring, and rewarding beyond comprehension. Being a part of a local church that is leveraging technology to reach the world for Christ is a dream come true.
Over a decade ago, I stepped out in faith and into the unknown to lead this movement. Maybe today is your day to take that same leap of faith.
With more than 70 online services a week, we join together in community from all over the world for worship to worship, hear a powerful and relevant message, and get inspired to radically live out our faith.
This past week I hosted our 3rd installment of the DLG – Digerati Leadership Gathering. The DLG is a time where all the leaders in my greater digerati group gather around a core leadership topic. This time we had about 25 people representing 4 digerati teams, and two special guests from a campus team, as well as the finance team.
I have tried to keep every event a little different and unique, and this one was no different. A few weeks ago, Robin and I were searching around Netflix looking for something interesting to watch and we stumbled on the new season of Chef’s Table. We are suckers for cooking shows – and we also love documentaries…so this sucked us in. Episode 1 of Season 2 is about Chef Grant Achatz; founder and Chef of Alinea in Chicago, and let me say this – Grant is freaking awesome. About 5 min into the film I was logging mental notes…about every few minutes I had something mentally jotted down – it’s that good. When the film was over, I told Robin, I had to teach a leadership lesson around this film…and so it began. I quickly broke the film down into 3 core lessons – and shared the film and idea with my management team. Ideas were flowing, and here is the outline we landed on for the DLG. Hope you enjoy! Feel free to use this, or create your own! If you do create your own, I would love to see what you come up with.
(by Brian Russell)
Principle – Innovative leaders and leading Innovative teams see things others don’t.
Willing to think “outside the plate” – the limitations that we’ve just come to accept as normal. They look at potential new directions and new ways of doing things and and ask themselves, “Why not?”
I really loved the questioning of basic norms (at least norms in restaurants here in America) Why a plate or bowl? A spoon & fork? Why not a tablecloth to eat off of? There are no rules – you can do whatever you want. Do things never done. Look at what others are doing & intentionally change it. Unique – maybe unable to even label it.
“We start with something beautiful and uphold its integrity but make it look like something nobody’s seen before.”
How do you apply that statement to your work as leaders on a team?
It is what we strive to do with the Bible App – Uphold its beauty and integrity but surprise people, inspire and compel them.
We see this characteristic of God from the very beginning of Scripture.
Genesis 1 is Alinea, the restaurant highlighted in this Chef’s Table episode, multiplied by 1 trillion.
“The earth was formless and empty” – Gen 1:2
Then Jesus comes and does a new thing, shaking up centuries of thinking and acting a certain way:
The Jewish ceremony of circumcision has value only if you obey God’s law. But if you don’t obey God’s law, you are no better off than an uncircumcised Gentile. And if the Gentiles obey God’s law, won’t God declare them to be his own people? In fact, uncircumcised Gentiles who keep God’s law will condemn you Jews who are circumcised and possess God’s law but don’t obey it. For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit. – Romans 2:25-29
This upset the apple cart. In other words, it pissed off a lot of people – but Why Not? And thank God for this 🙂
And then again at the very end of scripture in Revelations 21:5, describing the new heavens and new earth, John said, “He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
What are the best examples of this “Why Not” type of spirit you’ve seen? Either in the church space or outside.
Do you have any other evidences/examples from Scripture that God is a God of “Why Not”?
Are there any “Why Not” ideas you’ve had that having seen this you now think might be worth pursuing, even if it means failing?
When or why is it perhaps NOT a good idea to do something new or innovate?
Set Backs can be Set Ups
(by Chad Marsh)
Principal – The phases of facing adversity
Acts 16 – We find Paul following the Spirit to reach new lands. Paul had a vision of a man asking them to come to Macedonia. Following the vision, they started preaching in Macedonia. After casting out a spirit in a woman who could tell the future. Her owners made money off of her fortune telling so they had Paul and Silas arrested. After obeying God’s vision, preaching His word, and casting out a spirit, they were severely beaten and thrown in prison
Denying there’s a problem – He ignored the pain on his tongue. He went to great lengths to work around the pain
Where do we draw our value? – He didn’t want to exist with his view of his identity.
Turning to others for help – Publishing the announcement led to someone who could help – Paul had Silas in his jail cell to sing hymns and worship God. The other prisoners were listening
Looking for innovation
Determination kicked in
Forced him to pull apart the traditional model of dining and think differently
Found other ways to communicate flavors and recipes. He drew pictures and compared known flavors to new flavor profiles
Paul and SIlas stayed when the earthquake came, broke their chains and opened the doors. They saw the opportunity to witness to the jailer and his entire family. They were able to reach people who might’ve never had a chance to hear about Jesus had they not been imprisoned
Result – He’s now creating at a level that doesn’t even require him to touch the products
To create a world class restaurant, you can’t do it yourself
On fire because he didn’t want to waste a second chance
What determines if a setback turns into a setup or a failure?
When you face a setback, are you willing to ask for help? Why/Why not?
What setbacks have you faced that you turned into a setup?
What setback are you facing that might be a setup?
Don’t Get Stuck
(by Alan George)
Chef Grant Achatz received his taste back at the age of 33 and was given a second chance. “I was on fire with an amount of energy that I think I’ve never had before because I had a second chance and I didn’t want to screw it up”
Reminds me of the life of Paul and how he pursued Christ and the calling that God had for his life with everything he had.
I am sure you have heard it said, or maybe you have said it: Follow your passion. Hey, I am guilty! I have said that before, how about you? Here is the deal – that statement is stupid! Follow your passion is horrible advice…stop saying it right now.
So, let me back up and offer a little context because you might be lost, confused, or ready to blast me right now. As I write this, I am well into my 40’s…been married to an amazing woman almost half that time, and have two wonderful daughters (teenager and an almost teenager). At mid 40’s and fairly established I/we are not the typical audience of a “Follow your passion” speech or talk. So audience here is important! In fact, audience is key. Most of the speeches or talks given around follow your passion are delivered by fairly mature and developed individuals who didn’t necessarily follow their passion at first.
Follow your passion is making the assumption that you know what your passion is. You see, most high schoolers, college grads and many others who hear these speeches have really no idea what their passion is. There might be an interest, or some ideas brewing of what they might enjoy…but passion? I don’t think so…at least not in the majority.
So, instead of thinking or saying follow your passion – consider this…explore your passions. Encourage curiosity. Try different things at young ages Traverse new territory and expand your perspective. Seek out your passions or calling, don’t settle too quickly.
Trust in the LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you. – Psalm 37: 3-5
So as I sit here thinking about my teenager, and soon to be teenager I process Psalms 37. I pray they will trust completely in the Lord, and seek Him and do good. In doing good, that they will take great delight in their journey. They will explore that delight, be curious and expand their minds, and have many different experiences to truly understand and develop their heart’s desires while exploring their passions. In the end, when they…or YOU… find that true calling – walk away from everything and follow it with all you have!
I have had the amazing opportunity over the years to mentor as well as lead some amazing young leaders. There is not much more rewarding than seeing young leaders grow, develop, soar and ultimately thrive. Maybe it’s selfish, but one of the many things I love about this, is the personal growth I gain from it. You can not teach, lead, or mentor without growing yourself. It just happens.
Over the years, I have seen trends as well as consistent themes young leaders are growing through or struggling with. This past week reminded me of some lessons I learned years ago, and still try and leverage often. I love this:
The people at the top don’t work just harder or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder! – Malcolm Gladwell
I don’t want to dump this topic on “millennials”, I don’t think it’s a generational topic. I think this topic is a human nature topic – our natural born tendency to want or desire the easy way out. The path of least resistance. Now, we can often over complicate this topic. Many can get off on topics of “Work Smarter – Not Harder”. And, many times I can agree with much of that approach. Smarter is great! OR, maybe I can say – don’t be an idiot, of course be smart with your work and efforts. But the simple fact is this – Work Hard.
There are no processes, no technology advances, no systems or hip new apps that remove the need for pure, raw, effort.
The other day, I had a great discussion with an amazing young leader. This leader was having a rough day, they just got “cut” from a opportunity because they didn’t perform at the level they should of. After a fairly long discussion, and listening to them explain all the issues, and challenges around situation I politely interrupted them and offered a different perspective. I basically told them that they didn’t work hard enough. This opportunity they were invited to be a part of was a big deal – they needed to come into it extremely prepared. They needed to have everything rehearsed, memorized, practiced…practiced…practiced, and then even more practiced. And you know what – they didn’t do any of that. This was not a skills issue. This was not a systems or process issue. This was a simple fact that they did not work hard enough.
A way to understand this is look at Kobe Bryant. It would be really easy to just think Kobe is a natural. God given gifts that make him one of the greatest of all times. And you know what – that might be true. However, without his insane focus, work ethic and the fact that he worked harder than everyone else, those gifts would have never become what they became. Kobe practiced more than any of his team mates. Hours before any of the other team showed up, Kobe was shooting. Kobe was running drills while others were sleeping. Kobe would shoot the same shot for over an hour, alone in the gym. The same shot! Home at 2:30am after a travel day, and at the gym at 7:30am…the rest of the team showed up at 10:30am.
People want to BE Kobe, but not willing to DO what Kobe does.
Replace the name Kobe, and insert the one that fits your situation. You see, so much of what makes that person the person they are – are the things you don’t see. Be motivated to outwork others. Be willing to do what others are not willing to do. There is just no way around this basic principal, you must work hard.
We use a tool called 15Five, and I love it! You can learn more here, I highly recommend it if you lead a small, medium, or large team – or even an organization. 15Five helps you as a leader or manager keep a strong pulse on what’s going on in your organization, and most importantly with your people.
Every week, 15Five fires off a set of questions that every team member responds to. One of my favorites is:
What’s one thing you read or learned this week you are inspired by?
For me, there are so many reasons this question is great. It gives so much insight on what people are reading…what they are learning…and what is feeding them regularly. It also gives you as a leader or manager the insight on what inspires them, and why.
This past week I encountered a few different times when I found myself encouraging and stressing the importance of learning. In a mentoring session I challenged my mentee to bust out of his comfort zone of church leadership podcasts. There is NOTHING wrong with great Christian leadership podcasts – however, if we only have one type of voice entering our thinking we can grow stale and not gain a broader perspective. My mentee was trying to get some new and fresh ideas for growth with his team and department…so, I recommended him listen and follow Gary Vaynerchuck. Gary is all about growth. Gary knows how to hustle and think different. Gary will CHALLENGE the way you think. You know what happened? I got this text later that afternoon.
A growth mindset is a critical skill for us all. What may of just caught you off guard was my use of the word skill. I believe our mindset is a skill we can improve and develop. Starting with that in mind is very important.
3 keys for a Growth Mindset
Ask yourself these questions.
What’s your Posture
What’s your Purpose
What’s your Plan
Our Posture, or how we approach the day and life starts with our attitude.
Attitude is a skill. — Seth Godin
Daily we should have a posture of learning and growth. This is a skill we must develop and focus on. I have found a very important part of this process is realizing we are broken and jacked up people. We are not perfect — Our growth mindset needs to be born out of our own brokenness. Humility will help shed light and assist with seeing and learning from every interaction.
True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. — C.S. Lewis | Mere Christianity
Approaching the day with the right posture sets us up to learn and grow daily. Next we must bring purpose into the mix. General growth is good — but when we bring focus and get specific our growth can be catalytic. Identify those key areas that need focus an write them down. Develop goals, and focus on them. Measure them. Share them, and invite others into the process. Yes, others! Who are we surrounding ourselves with?
You are 42% more likely to achieve your goals by just writing them down. — Dr. Gail Matthews,
Start with posture, apply your purpose and then develop a plan!
We can (and we will) drift and loose focus. Our days can dominate us. Our calendars and schedules will lend to the tearany of the urgent — not the important. Develop a plan, craft time in your day and your week for growth. Thinking time is critical — not just scrambling to the next thing. You must take control — develop a plan!
You are ridiculously in charge. — Henry Cloud | Boundaries for Leaders
Growth Mindset derailers
Self awareness (lack of)
Step into a growth mindset! Evaluate your posture, purpose and plan. This simple, but challenging exercise can and will make a massive differece in your life.
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“So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments.” Genesis 35:2 ESV
So many thoughts around this verse and my reading this morning in YouVersion. As we look at this response from Jacob we see him react to God’s call (v1). In this response he has 3 action steps. Let’s look at these through the lens of God calling us or guiding us towards something.
When God calls us we should:
1) Put away, or as another version says “get rid of” the foreign gods among you.
— It should be obvious to us all the we should not have any idols before God himself…right? Ok, we agree on that point. But, let’s face it — we do! When God calls us to something, or is clearly leading us somewhere it’s a great time to take an audit of our idols. What is controlling us or getting our core attention above Him? Money? Vanity? Porn/Lust? Fame? What is our idol, and we should name it, claim it and get rid of it.
2) Purify yourselves
— Getting rid of our idols is one thing. Keeping them at bay is another. As the Bible vividly describes a dog returning to its vomit, we need to not do the same thing. Peter hits this really hard!
Purity come from purifying ourselves. The best way for me to understand this is thinking about the way to purify and refine gold. That process requires intense heat, over 1000 degrees, and with that heat all the impurities rise to the top and are skimmed away. Without massive amounts of heat and hard work, the gold could not become as valuable as it could be. It would just have potential, but not reach it full capabilities. Sound familiar? Potential! We all have it, but we should not enjoy hearing “we have potential” for too long. That means we are not growing and being fully realized. We must walk through this purification process regularly — it’s not a one and done. What our sin and impurities are often times can only be refined one at a time. This is the journey of life — purifying and refining towards Jesus!
3) Change your garments
— Our idols are gone, we have purified ourselves and what should happen? WE SHOULD LOOK DIFFERENT! Often times the idols and the purifying ourselves is an inside job (our mind, our thoughts, our heart conditions). Others don’t always see clearly our idols, maybe just those few people we let in or the most common is just you alone know them — and God.
But when we get those areas right, when we refine them, we put on a new self (Eph 4). We dress in different clothes and others see it. Changing our garments might be our language we needed to change, and others will see that. It may be our attitudes and negativity that changes, and others will notice. It may actually be our garments and clothes because what we were wearing before had everything to do with our poor self esteem and the new us does not look to enhance ourselves or draw attention to the wrong areas for self esteem.
A closing thought from a message I heard from Bishop TD Jakes nearly 15yrs ago…he was preaching and talked about
“I was a public success but a private failure”. — Bishop T.D. Jakes
This thought and message has stuck with me for a long, long time. When we think about purity and integrity we must realize for a while we can fake it. We can cover up our idols, our sin, our challenges and in the eyes of others we can be a public success. But this challenge, the challenge of responding to God’s calling — his direction requires us to address the private areas.
It’s not others, or outside circumstances — you are the lid to your growth. I know it might not be the popular thought, and it might not be the most inspiring opening to an article you have read, but I encourage you to stop looking at others or your circumstances; you are the lid to your growth. STOP! It’s not your team. It’s not your boss. It’s not your neighbors, friends, kids, circumstances, bank account, car, or anything else you fill in the blank with…it’s you.
Does that shock you? Why? Look at your schedule. Look at where you invest your time. Look at what gets your energy. My guess is — You don’t get much investment. If you’re not investing in yourself, focused on growth, being mentored, learning and intentional about personal development, how do you expect to push past your current lid or your current self? My pitch to you today is simple: Invest In Yourself!
Recently interviewed by Fast Company [link], Nest CEO Tony Fadell stressed how important growth and being mentored was to him. He said a major part of him selling Nest to Google was about him being mentored by Larry Page, CEO of Google.
“If you’re wondering what pushed me over the edge [to join Google], that was it. I was selfish about it,” he continues. “I gotta keep growing. Because I’m old, but I’m not that old.” Fadell is 45. “I’ve still got a lot of years ahead of me, and I’m not just going to sit here.” — Tony Fadell
Did you catch what Tony said “I was selfish about it”. From my experience that is what it takes! We have to be selfish about it. We have to be selfish with our calendars…schedules…agendas, etc., or it wont happen. Investing in yourself will not happen on accident. It will only happen if you are intentional with your time, and focus. I personally had to overcome feeling guilty for carving out time during the week that is about me, and investing in myself: my Mind, Body, Soul and Spirit. But, in my opinion it’s needed and has made me much better all around.
Mind — Learning & Growing. Challenging Yourself Re-mapping thoughts.
Investing in yourself must include your mind: stretching yourself and learning constantly. For me, this includes reading a lot of articles and skimming books. Yes, I said skimming — I really do not like to read books. I find them boring most of the time, and they loose my interest quickly. Skimming them, or getting summaries works much better for me — I like to lift out the core concepts quickly and move on. That’s just what works for me…but if you enjoy the full book reading experience go for it. The most important part is learning and growing your mind and knowledge and expanding how we think.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. — Romans 12:2
Body — Exercise, Sleep, & Food! Get Healthy.
Investing in yourself does not just mean intellectually. Being sharp mentally has a lot to do with being sharp physically and being healthy. Study after study shows direct connections with our mental capacity and our over all health. Physically out of shape basically equates to mentally out of shape. It minimizes our capacity. I can not stress enough how important this is…it has changed my life! All of these are important – Exercise, Sleep & quality Food! Invest in your health, you will reap major benefits in the workplace and at home.
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, — 1 Corinthians 6:19
Soul — Passions
Being passionate about your job is awesome. I LOVE what I do, and I am very passionate about it. However, I have things I love, and am passionate about outside of the workplace. I have personally found how powerful having passions outside of work can be — and how they actually make me much sharper and better at work.
A core challenge I have had in the past, and a problem I see with so many, is the issue of being defined by what we do. We can quickly land in a spot where our identity is wrapped up in what we do — who we are is what we do, and that is not healthy. To have a healthy soul we much have passions beyond what we do for a living and have outlets and fun! Take time, find passions and seek out areas to have fun. Investing in yourself requires you to feed your soul.
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. — Psalm 37:4
Spirit — Seek Christ Daily, Live Spirit Filled and Guided
Investing in yourself means you must invest in your core relationships. As a Christ follower, there is no relationship more important than my relationship with Jesus. This can not grow and develop without work, dedicated attention and intentionality. I personally believe daily time with God in His word is critical — I have seen this in my life, and the positive impact it has had on my life. Putting God first in my life daily has made the biggest impact on my life. I wake up super early, sometimes in the 4am hour, but at least by 5am and start my day with Him. Reading my Bible App and then praying. This habit did not happen over night, it took time, hard work and intentionality.
Do not wait — dedicated the time, and effort when it comes to Investing in Your Spirit.
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. — Matthew 6:33
To be honest, it took me nearly 40 years to figure this out. It was through solid relationships, great mentors, constantly pushing myself and often failing to realize it. I had to break through feeling guilty for dedicating time to myself, telling others “no” — as well as forming habits that were just “not normal”. It reminds me of a fantastic message and book from my pastor Craig Groeschel: Weird, (because normal is not working.) Normal is NOT working, invest in yourself so that you can be all that God desires and needs you to be.
“Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” – Jim Rohn
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” — Aristotle
Invest In Yourself: Mind, Body, Soul & Spirit!
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In the last 10 years I have intentionally learned a lot about myself. I have become much more self -aware. The good, the bad and the ugly some might say. It has been not only eye opening, but I have no doubt grown greatly because of it. However, over the last few months I have been processing the pitfalls of self -awareness — or maybe better said, the blindspots of self- awareness.
Meyers Briggs labels me an ENTJ. Spiritual gifts labels me with Leadership, Administration, Wisdom, Giving and Exhortation. Strength Finders label me with the strengths of Command, Strategic, Maximizer, Futuristic, Significance. And Dr. Adezis labels my management style as PaEI. Lots of different labels, gifts, strengths, talents, styles, etc, etc…and that is really just the beginning. It can become overwhelming if you let it. As I have entered into more mentoring and personal consulting roles, I have discovered that self- awareness does have its pitfalls — or blindspots. I have seen it become a crutch to some.
A crutch? Yes, a crutch. What happens naturally as people become more self- aware of who they are — they are discovering in tandem who they are not. With the right boundaries and direction this is a great thing, but the crutch happens with a simple thought like “I am just not wired that way.” Or even more challenging is when we can use our weaknesses as an excuse to dismiss wrong reasoning and behaviors. I have personally seen extremes such as this in a community I am a part of.
Bro, they are going to have to just get over it. You know I am just a tell it like it is kind of guy. If they are not man enough to hear the truth, then screw’em. —Anonymous
Extreme I know, but I think we all might know someone like this. Elements of this are good, it is self- awareness of who we are, and who we are not. But, let’s not be stupid or so deceived that we use our self- awareness as a crutch like this… “it’s just the way I am” is not ok.
While it is ok to realize you’re not great at everything, don’t use it as an excuse. The fact is we are not great at every thing, and we can not be anything we want to be, or desire to be. Yes, you heard me right…no matter what your daddy told you growing up. In an interview with Tom Rath, author of StrengthsFinder 2.0 (Gallup Press, February 2007) he said this best:
The one thing that we were clear about in StrengthsFinder 2.0 is that the American dream ideal that “You can be anything you want if you just try hard enough” is detrimental. This is especially true when people buy into it hook, line, and sinker. You may not be able to be anything you want to be, but you can be a lot more of who you already are. — Tom Rath
While raising two pretty amazing daughters (Reese and Reia), I sometimes want to buy into the false dream at times and tell them they can do anything they set their minds to. But, I don’t actually believe that. God created them very uniquely and with individual gifts and talents; as their parents it’s our role to draw out and develop those gifts.
Train a child in the way appropriate for him, and when he becomes older, he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6
Pastor Charles Swindoll has a unique view of this Proverb. He says that this refers to each child’s unique “bent” (appropriate for him/her)– we need to raise our children with awareness and understanding of their unique bent and help them be the “best” they can be.
Embracing this fully, we have brought these self-awareness and development concepts into our family and parenting style — we desire our girls to be great women of God, solid leaders to those they support, lead and interact with in their communities. Parenting with these tools is empowering and helpful for sure (I hope you understand it’s not just parenting, but leading teams and people as well!). Having a 12 and 9 year old who have good ideas about who they are, what their God given gifts and strengths are is great! But, we must beware of the crutch. Just because one might be an (I) introvert does not mean we will allow her to be disengaged in social interactions or be outright rude. Or one being a strong (P) and this allowing for a scatterbrained school plan and a messy room. Or both of them being high (F) and letting their feelings drive everything…Oh wait, they are young girls. 😉
The pursuit of personal enlightenment and self -awareness leads to amazing discoveries and growth if we allow it. Truly understanding who God made us uniquely to be is one of the greatest gifts we can have here on earth. As I said before, and you see in the sketch — I am an ENTJ, a PaEI, with the Spiritual Gifts of Leadership, Administration, Wisdom, Giving, Exhortation and my strengths are Command, Strategic, Maximizer, Futuristic and Significance. But what I know, and hope you know as well is: the world does not define us. These letters, and information do not define me.
I belong to Christ! My old life is gone — the new is here. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Who am I?
I am a child of God.
I am a husband of 1 & father of 2.
I am a leader of many.
I am a legacy builder.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous — how well I know it. Psalm 139:14
Who are you?
Are you self aware?
Is it a crutch?
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