June 25, 2013


As a leader, the idea of demanding respect is ludicrous. Respect can't be demanded any more than I can wake up tomorrow and demand that the sun come out or the rain go away. Commanding respect, on the other hand, is a road that many leaders successfully learn how to navigate - gaining respect through courageous action or decision. I think General Patton or Michael Jordan are just two examples of millions of leaders who have managed to pull this off. That said, I'm seeing several leaders these days who are quite possibly misunderstanding what it really looks like to command respect. The bottom line - especially if you are leading other leaders - is that someone's respect is a treasured prize that you and I have to earn. I believe there are some clear distinctives to help us make sure we're not assuming or expecting other people to automatically follow right behind us. How can we make sure we're not assuming, demanding, or even inappropriately commanding respect?

First off, in any leadership role, you're going to have to make tough decisions. You will have to be the one to decide "NO" we're not going to go through with that event or "YES" we're going to take the risk and spend that money. And while there are times (thankfully) that a board or team can corporately make these decisions, there are other occasions where leaders can't hide behind these teams. YOU have to make the call. But this is when and where the HOW comes into play. We have to make these decisions humbly and prayerfully, while also making them confidently and courageously. Make no mistake: Most of the time, people understand the burden of the decision you're facing. They don't envy you. At the same time, if you've assumed and accepted the role and responsibility of leading, they expect that you expect to have to make these decisions. Why else would you be a leader? HOW we face and make these decisions play an enormous part in whether or not people trust us, want to follow us, and ultimately respect us. 

Another foundational ingredient to earning someone's respect is to actually and genuinely care about them. We often preach and tout that PEOPLE are more important than programs or products. Yet, there are times when a person needs our time and attention, only to come up feeling like the task at hand was important than they are. And where this ultimately leads someone is to the conclusion that they are being used - that they're a pawn rather than a person. Don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean you're going to have an hour to give everyone during your week. But if you organize and prioritize, you can find a way to give 15-20 minutes. You can take 10 minutes to genuinely listen. You can spare 5 minutes to pray with that person in need. When the people you're leading know that you care about them, you don't need to worry about demanding - or even commanding - anything. When you're honest with them about who you are and what you're dealing with, they may not understand it, but they respect it. They respect you. The question is: What (or WHO) do you genuinely care about most?

Lead courageously. 
Lead with integrity.
Know that integrity - more than anything - fosters credibility.
Credibility inspires trust. 
Trust earns respect.

"But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all." - Jesus (Mark 10:43)

Are there other things that you can do to earn the respect of those you're leading?

June 19, 2013

Church For Sale?

If you decided to take on the challenging, yet rewarding task of teaching English to a group of immigrants (ESL, as we call it) you would (hopefully) go into this situation with an already established bedrock of patience. It's going to take time. They don't speak this language. And if we're honest, we have the most ridiculous language on the planet. This might have something to do with why 1/2 the people actually from this country can't even speak it correctly. Bottom line: Learning a second language is a tough road to walk.

Now let's talk about "church" language. Anyone with any common sense should not expect someone without some level of theological training or study to know what words like sanctification or atonement - or even theological for that matter - mean. That said, a lot of churches operate and act like those folks should be completely down with the lingo. But this shouldn't come as a surprise to us. Why? Because it's painfully apparent that much of the church doesn't even know what the "church" actually is.

Headed to the gym the other morning I drove past a sign much like the one above: Church For Sale. And yes, I get it. There's a "church" that's building a bigger, better building a few miles away and so now they're trying to sell their buildings and property. I get it. But guess what: Other people don't get it. There are multitudes of people out there - lost people who have never entered into the fellowship of the "church" - who still believe wholeheartedly that the "church" is a building. Not only that, there are multitudes - yes, millions and millions of people - who actually enter those buildings week in and week out, Sunday after Sunday, still under the misguided delusion that the building is the "church". And this language is driving home an idea - a theology - a worldview - that is reinforcing years and years of decay to the "sentness", mobility, and movement that Jesus breathed into His church - His people.

The Church = The People

Pastors - Please STOP talking this way!

Living in Alabama, I remember a few years ago as the arguments over legislation on immigration heated up, hearing people say ignorant things like: "If they can't learn the language, they ought to just go back home!" Really? What if Jesus said, "If you guys can't learn the language, you should get your sorry selves out of the Body!" Mull that over for a second. "You keep calling my Body a building! What's up with that?"

Here's the deal: If the "Church" is actually "For Sale", we're in big trouble! And if it's not, then stop saying it is. Get another sign. Stop sending a misleading, brainwashing, toxic message. Stop reinforcing years and years of lazy language. We're digging a hole that we're very soon not going to be able to see out of anymore. 

Stop saying "The blessing" and start "Giving thanks". Sorry, but God's not going to "bless" your slab of ribs, cole slaw, beans, and sweet tea. Enjoy it, nonetheless.

Stop telling the kids that you're "going to church". Start telling them you're "going to meet with your church family." 

We call the buildings The Brook. We call the church our "church family".
We're deliberately and intentionally trying to teach the language - to some who have never learned it and to others who are having to unlearn years of misguided grammar. It's going to take time. It's going to take patience. But it's worth it.

By the way: There's a great building for sale in Madison, Alabama, if your church family is looking for a place to gather, fellowship, and come together.

June 17, 2013

Lead the Way

Mark my words: The Miami Heat will lose the NBA Finals.

It's not even so much that the San Antonio Spurs will win, but the Miami Heat will lose - they will hand the NBA Championship over to their opponent and will come up possibly 1 game short of winning it all - IF...Lebron James does not step up, set the pace, and lead the way.

A great percentage of the time that the Miami Heat lose it's not because Lebron doesn't attempt to get his teammates involved. It's not because he's a ball hog or a prima donna. It's because - before deliberately working to get his teammates engaged in the game - he doesn't set the pace himself.

Lebron is not just a leader. He's THE leader. And when he steps onto the floor from the tipoff and plays to the height of his ability, will, and determination, everyone else follows him and strives to reach that level as well. When he leads the way, everyone else follows. This is what set Michael Jordan apart (and always will). He never tried to push his teammates past where their abilities had taken them before until he first pushed through those limits himself. He said - without ever saying a word - "Go this hard! Push this far! Leave it all on the floor!" Lebron James can be this leader. The question is, "Will he?"

Leaders must first set the pace and lead the way.

You can think and say all day long, "Do what I SAY, not what I DO." But that doesn't hold water in leadership. No matter what role of leadership you're in, there are moments when you have to sweat it out, clean the floor, edit the video, pick up the chairs, push through the tension, and say by your actions, "This is how we're going to do it!" Lead the way! Show people WHAT, HOW, and WHY it is that you're going to walk that road, take that path, and push to new heights. Step up, set the pace, and lead the way.

Jesus said, "Follow me." He first showed them the way. Then pointed them toward it.

How can you tangibly and courageously lead the way today?

June 7, 2013



Today is a gift. It didn't come wrapped, but it was freely given to you.

Today is an opportunity. It's a one-time chance to face whatever it brings.

Today is unique. There's never been another like & won't be again.

Today is fleeting. Just look at the clock. It's almost gone already.

Today is also a liar. It often whispers to you, "Hey, just wait for tomorrow!", as if it knows that tomorrow is a sure thing. 

Today is always promising tomorrow.

Today is a pathological liar. It tells you that yesterday defines you. 


Today is what you have. 

Stop regretting yesterday and stop waiting for tomorrow.

Stop living in yesterday. Or 20 years ago. You were probably living for tomorrow then.

Stop thinking tomorrow will finally be the day. Today is the day!


What are you going to do with it?

Hebrews 3:12-13
James 4:13-17
Matthew 6:25-34