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Category: Book Reviews (page 1 of 16)

The Most Important Book I’ve Read This Year: The 4 Disciplines of Execution

4-disciplinesI’ve been working my way through The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Chris McChesney over the last few weeks. Can I tell you something? This book, the ideas and practices in this book, truly have game-changing qualities. You need to drop what you’re doing and order it right now.

I really think, whether you lead a team (or are leading up to make things happen), reading and applying the principles and practices of The 4 Disciplines of Execution ought to be on your daily to do list. Just set time in your schedule and get it going.

Why am I so high on this one? Here’s the bottom line: All of us are working hard to get from where we are to the preferred future we’ve identified. Right? Most of us have done the hard work of identifying the problems and organizational junk cluttering our present and we’ve at least begun teasing out the shape of the preferred future. We might have even begun charting a course and laying out the first few milestones we need to reach. And what’s standing in the way? Actually doing the things that will get us from where we are to where we need to go.

Applying the principles and practices of The 4 Disciplines of Execution will help you get from where you are to where you want to be. Period.

Broken into three sections, the book lays out very practically an overview, how to install 4DX with your team, and how to install 4DX with your organization. If you’ll dig in, I promise you your copy will be just as marked up, underlined, starred, and dog-eared as mine. There is real gold in here!

The essence of the book? It really is as simple as 4 disciplines:

  1. Focus on the wildly important: Discipline 1 is the discipline of focus. You choose 1 (or at most 2) “extremely important goals” and focus on them instead of trying to improve everything at one. This will take resolve and determination. But it will change the game.
  2. Act on the lead measures: This is the discipline of leverage. By focusing on the lead measures, the actions that have the greatest impact on achieving the goals you’ve identified, you will see progress in the right direction.
  3. Keep a compelling scoreboard: This is the discipline of engagement. “People play differently when they are keeping score.”
  4. Create a cadence of accountability: This is the discipline of accountability. “The cadence of accountability is a rhythm of regular and frequent meetings of any team that owns a wildly important goal.”

If you are like most of us, you are already thinking about the goals you’ve identified (or that have been handed to you). You may have taken multiple runs at achieving the goals. And it may be a single goal or a long list of goals. But heres what I can tell you. I think digging in to the principles and practices of The 4 Disciplines of Execution will finally make a difference. I hope you’ll take this step today.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Do NOT Miss Designed to Lead: The Latest from Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck

designed-to-leadSpent some time this week with Designed to Lead: The Church and Leadership Development, a new book from Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck. If Geiger’s name sounds familiar it’s because he is the co-author (with Thom Rainer) of best-seller Simple Church, one of the most influential ministry books in the last decade. If you’re unfamiliar with Peck it’s because he is Lead Pastor of The Austin Stone Community Church (where Matt Carter is Pastor of Preaching and Vision). Can I begin by saying, “these two might know a thing or two about leadership development and the church?”

I love the thesis of Designed to Lead: “The center of leadership development must be the Church–meaning, that the leaders who will ultimately transform communities and change the world come from the Church (p. 4).” Far beyond developing an inspiring thesis, the authors do an excellent job of both laying the theological foundation and delivering “a framework for developing leaders in your church.”

Like several of Geiger’s previous books, Designed to Lead is organized in a very logical and understandable way. Making the argument that “churches that consistently produce leaders have strong conviction to develop leaders, a healthy culture for leadership development, and helpful constructs to systematically and intentionally build leaders (from the cover),” Designed to Lead illustrates convincingly demonstrates the why and the what. Most importantly (to me), the book is made complete with numerous examples of implementable constructs.

If you’re looking for help in building a leadership development pipeline, the chapter on discipleship and leadership development is easily worth the price of the book. At the same time, the chapter on pipelines and pathways will definitely end up not only underlined, starred, annotated, and dog-eared…but also end up in what you practice.

Finally, I’ve made a single pass through Designed to Lead and can see that just like Simple Church made it into church-growth lingo, the constructs here will provide a better way of thinking about leadership development and the Church’s role, your church’s role, in transforming your community.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Mike Foster’s People of the Second Chance Is a MUST-READ

people-of-the-second-chanceSpent some time this week with the newest resource from Mike Foster. Very powerful and one you definitely will want to take a look at yourself. Not exactly sure how I should say this, but People of the Second Chance: A Guide to Bringing Life-Saving Love to the World feels like Bob Goff’s Love Does, only more motivating.

I love it that Bob Goff wrote the forward and had a lot of fun imagining these two hanging out together.

This snippet from the forward will tell you what you need to know:

“This isn’t a self-help book about just being happy; it’s about being aware of the beauty of becoming whole. It’s not about finding meaning in our lives by looking perfect; instead, it’s about realizing that we are perfectly loved and allowing this to give our lives meaning. This is a book for messed-up overcomers, for religious rebels, for the broken but resilient. It’s not about taking a knee in the end zone when you win; it’s about taking both when you don’t.”

People of the Second Chance is an easy read in one sense and a very challenging one in another. Filled with very personal stories and written in a rhythm that immediately pulls you in, this is a special book. And at the same time, it pulls you steadily toward action; not the need for action…personal action.

My recurring thought as I read People of the Second Chance was that this will provoke a powerful conversation in small groups, ministry teams and book clubs. I’ve already suggested that including a few discussion questions for each chapter would make it even more accessible, but I really think that the content itself will grab readers hard enough to naturally compel dynamic conversations.

I love this book! If you’re looking for a great book suggestion for groups, do your groups a favor and add  People of the Second Chance to your recommended list!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Patrick Lencioni’s The Ideal Team Player is a Must-Read

the-ideal-team-playerI spent some time with Patrick Lencioni’s newest book this week. Like every one of Lencioni’s books, The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues is a great read. Like virtually all of his books (with the exception of The Advantage), The Idea Team Player is part fable (a very compelling and imaginative story about a businessman) and part model and practice (and very transferable).

Having heard him at this year’s Global Leadership Summit I knew I needed to dig deeper into the ideas he presented there (Virtually everything he talked about felt like indispensable information and tools we needed to know about). At the essence of The Idea Team Player is a “powerful framework that will help you identify, hire and develop ideal team players in any kind of organization.”

Trust me….this has real application for much of what we do (both from a paid staff  hiring standpoint and also from a volunteer recruiting standpoint).

While the fable portion of The Ideal Team Player is a page-turner and a very easy read, it also contains many insights that will prompt you to highlight, star or dog-ear pages. The fable also makes thinking about the model or framework presented in the second part of the book very understandable (and as a result, applicable).

The “model” section of the book includes several key components. First, Lencioni spends a few pages carefully defining the three essential virtues of the idea team player (humble, hungry, and people smart). A quick review of these virtues will help you more easily grasp the model.

Second, the model section offers a drawing, a visual way of seeing how the three essential virtues interconnect to produce ideal team players. With the visual, you’ll also come away with a helpful framework to think about the potential damage caused by a player with only one or two of the virtues.

Finally, Lencioni hits a home run in the application section of the model. Far beyond simply developing eyes to see the model clearly, the application section will be a toolbox all of will want to have at our disposal. Clearly not an afterthought, these applications will definitely end up being used by many.

The four applications presented are:

  1. Hiring
  2. Assessing current employees
  3. Developing employees who lack one or more of the virtues
  4. Embedding the model in an organization’s culture

If you do any hiring or recruiting, The Ideal Team Player is a must-read. I have no doubt this framework will quickly make it into our set of hiring and recruiting practices.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Add Intentional Living: Choosing a Life that Matters to Your Leadership Training

intentional livingI’ve been making my way through John Maxwell’s latest book these last couple weeks. Intentional Living: Choosing a Life that Matters wasn’t on my radar when the summer began, but a few things Maxwell said at the Global Leadership Summit prompted me to think this book might be required reading for small group pastors and coaches.

Intentional Living: Choosing a Life that Matters might be required reading for small group pastors and coaches.

Can I tell you why I think that? It’s simple, really. One of the main takeaways from Intentional Living is the philosophy and the playbook for adding value to others. Can you see why that might be important for a small group pastor or coach? That’s right. Whatever you want to happen at the member level, will have to happen to the leader first. And adding value is shorthand for doing just that.

Intentional Living is literally packed with great takeaways that will help you and your ministry today. Your role, no matter what it is, at its foundational level is almost certainly about adding value to the people you serve. You may be unfamiliar with the term adding value, but it is at the very essence of what it means to serve others in the way that Jesus did.

Like every John Maxwell book I’ve ever read, it is full of great one-liners and personal stories. Also like every one of his books, Intentional Living is full of very practical takeaways; practices you can begin to put into place as you read the book. I came away with many, many great ideas and a few that have already moved from good intentions to intentional living. I know you will benefit that way too.

Every chapter also includes an intentional assignment, an exercise that can be a practical next step. I loved it because I could see it would help me. I also recognized immediately the potential for this book to become a resource we could take every member of our groups team through (staff, coaches, and leaders).

If you’re looking for leadership development ideas, I highly recommend Intentional Living. This is very powerful book and I highly recommend it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Review: Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business

smarter faster betterI’ve been working my way through Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive In Life and Business, the newest book from Charles Duhigg. In 2012, If his name sounds familiar, Duhigg’s The Power of Habit spent 60 weeks on the New York Times Best-Seller list. He’s also had a couple of interviews I’ve passed on to you on the Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast and also the Catalyst Podcast.

Like The Power of Habit, Smarter Faster Better, is a very fascinating and engaging read. Duhigg’s style and format has a Malcolm Gladwell feel; his ideas are drawn from the latest discoveries in neuroscience, psychology, and behavioral economics—as well as “the experiences of CEOs, educational reformers, four-star generals, FBI agents, airplane pilots, and Broadway songwriters—this painstakingly researched book explains that the most productive people, companies, and organizations don’t merely act differently.”

The structure of the book hinges on eight key productivity concepts that explain why some people and companies get so much done:

  • Motivation
  • Teams
  • Focus
  • Goal Setting
  • Managing Others
  • Decision Making
  • Innovation
  • Absorbing Data

Packed with true stories and “scientific discoveries that explain that the most productive people, companies, and organizations don’t merely act differently. They view the world, and their choices, in profoundly different ways.”

Smarter Faster Better is both a page turner and a book that will frequently cause you to turn down page corners to be read again later. My copy is very marked up and dog-eared, starred and underlined, pages littered with notes in the margins.

If you’re looking for a book to throw into your summer reading stack, don’t miss Smarter Faster Better. If your job is like mine, if you never seem to be finished with a project or a process at the end of a cay, the takeaways can easily be applied to build productivity.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Move Toward the Mess Is a Book You Need to Be Reading

move toward the messI came home from North Point Ministries re:group conference with a copy of Move Toward the Mess: The Ultimate Fix for a Boring Christian Life in my swag bag. Honestly, I didn’t really even notice it until I got home and went through the contents of the bag (and decided what to do with it).

Let me tell you, I’m glad I kept this book and I’m so glad I read it! So good and it fits a theme of reading that I’m pursuing right now.

Written by John Hambrick, this is a very powerful book. Hambrick is part of the leadership team at Buckhead Church (the urban campus of North Point Community Church). His experience in Pakistan, London, South Africa, and inner-city Los Angeles has given him a unique perspective on what God is doing in the world.

In a weekend message I listened to after the conference I learned that Hambrick coined the phrase that is so often used around North Point and its various locations throughout the Atlanta area (and network churches far beyond).

Interspersed with some very powerful personal stories of what happens when you do move toward the mess, The compelling stories of Leroy and Janelle, Patrick, Rehan and Amreen pull you deep into a different worldview, a different kind of Christian life; a Christian life that isn’t boring.

The last section of the book provide a kind of roadmap for what to do when you’re ready to move toward the mess…yourself. After all, if all we do is learn more about other people who have moved toward the mess, what has really changed?

Every chapter concludes with a set of discussion questions, making Move Toward the Mess a very good book to read as a group.

I have to tell you, I’m so glad I stumbled across this book. This is a great read and very importantly, a book that might just change your direction. I highly recommend it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Add “A Fellowship of Differents” to Your Reading List

fellowship of differentsI left the re:group conference with a list of books to add to my reading stack. First up? A Fellowship of Differents: Showing the World God’s Design for Life Together by Scot McKnight. If you’re not familiar with McKnight, he is currently Professor of New Testament at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, IL, and the author of a numerous books including The Jesus Creed, The King Jesus Gospel and One.Life.

In A Fellowship of Differents, McKnight wrestles with a couple key questions:

  • What is the church supposed to be?
  • If the church is what it is supposed to be, what does the Christian life look like?

The answer to the first question? He finds it in the metaphor of “the salad bowl, which reflects the ways all us ‘differents’ — from different socioeconomic groups, genders, educational and ethnic backgrounds, and life situations — struggle to come together in fellowship as the church God intended (p. 13).

The answer to the second question is that “if the church is a fellowship of differents” six themes “become central to the Christian life”:

  • Grace: “the challenge is to establish a grace-created and grace-creating fellowship of differents (p. 48).”
  • Love: “the church God wants is one brimming with difference, and that will mean the Christian life is all about loving whoever happens to be with you in this fellowship of differents (p. 63).”
  • Table: “When God’s people live in fellowship with one another, when they ‘do life’ together, the church embodies the gospel about King Jesus and peopel respond to the gospel about them (p. 112).”
  • Holiness: “Christians are in the process of transformation, all of us without exception. Some are more mature in one area than in others, but no one is perfect –and that means we both desire mature Christian living and know maturity takes time (p. 133).”
  • Newness: “Everything about this early church life was new for everyone, including Paul. They were trying out a new kind of community under a new Lord with new people around them all kinds of new ideas about new morals. What God was doing was so full of promise, so altogether…well…new (p. 147).”
  • Flourishing: “Flourishing in this new community is what God wants for us, and when we let that work of God shape us, we will discover something that transcends what anyone could expect (p. 228).”

A Fellowship of Differents is an important read. It’s not a difficult read, as challenging understandings are interwoven with clarifying stories and illustrations. My copy is marked up and plenty of sections ended up being read more than once to make sure I fully caught the implications.

If you’re searching for a better understanding of how the Church and Christians are to live in changing world, I highly recommend you add A Fellowship of Differents to your stack.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Add Renovation of the Heart in Daily Practice to Your Coaching Resource List

reno of the heart in daily practiceIn keeping with my belief that whatever we want to happen in the lives of the members of our groups, must happen in the lives of the leaders first, it stands to reason that we can’t expect the lives of our coaches and leaders to be something that we are not.

With me?

As a result, I’m always on the hunt for books that can help shape me and resources that might better equip me to develop and disciple my coaches (so my coaches can develop and disciples the leaders they coach).

In the course of my hunt I discovered a book this week that I think you should know about. Published in 2006, Renovation of the Heart in Daily Practice by Dallas Willard and Jan Johnson contains “61 carefully chosen selections from Dallas Willard’s best-selling book Renovation of the Heart.”  The selections were chosen to guide you through Dr. Willard’s “plan for renovating the complete person.” Each chapter also includes Jan Johnson’s suggestions for “making the concepts come alive in your own experience.”

Dallas Willard’s book Renovation of the Heart is a book that has shaped me. At the same time, I’ve learned that the point or the application of Dallas Willard’s writing doesn’t always pop immediately into my mind. I don’t know about you, but it is often the case that I benefit most from the reference to or interpretation of a Dallas Willard phrase or quote by someone else (for example, John Ortberg).

I’m finding the format of Renovation of the Heart in Daily Practice to be very helpful, both to me personally and in my thinking about the patterns and practices we need to introduce into the developing and discipling of our coaches. If you’re on the hunt for this kind of resource, I highly recommend this one.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Don’t Miss Happy Hour – Hugh Halter’s Newest Book

happy hourThe newest book from Hugh Halter arrived this week. I’ve loved every one of his previous books (especially Flesh: Bringing the Incarnation Down to Earth) and couldn’t wait to see this one.  Happy Hour: Etiquette and Advice on Holy Merriment is a simple book–just 58 pages–“that will give you a little theology, a little missiology, a ton of stories, and all the best practices of how to throw a party Jesus would want to being his friends to (p. 11).”

Happy Hour is a very inspiring read with an introduction and five short chapters:

  • Party as Sacrament: The Theology and Missiology of Party (You may have never thought about it in quite this way, but true hospitality is a central element of Jesus’ gospel culture.)
  • Public House: How to Party at Home (Tremendously practical, this little chapter is packed with ideas and tips on how to make your home a warm and inviting place where people feel welcome.)
  • Party Favors: It’s 5:00 Somewhere (This chapter includes a great set of options when it comes to the kind of party you might throw. Happy hour, liming, pot luck, and dinner club are all options and each are different.)
  • Party Killers: How NOT to Cross the Line (What about alcohol? This is a really practical chapter written to help you navigate the space between “set apart” and “sent.”)
  • The Last Call: The Best Party I’ve Ever Thrown (This is my favorite chapter because it explains the real goal of the party. “For me (the goal) is simple–people will want to party again. I’ve come to realize that the spiritual growth of any person is a long process. The conversion of the heart and soul never happen overnight. People find God because they first have God’s people. Belonging therefore leads to believing, so the party is the pathway for social and spiritual connection (p. 54).”

Happy Hour is available in bundles of 5 because it really is the kind of book you’re going to want to read “with friends, small groups, or a church plant team.”

Please don’t miss this one.  I have to tell you, I love this little book! I’ve added it to the short list of must-reads for anyone who hopes to connect with neighbors and co-workers in the 21st century (along with The Next Christians, The Art of Neighboring, and a few others).

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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