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Quotebook: John Ortberg on Leadership and Disappointment

disappointmentLove this one from John Ortberg’s Who Is This Man? The Unpredictable Influence of the Inescapable Jesus.

“Leadership is the art of disappointing people at a rate they can stand.”

Image by Phil Warren

Quotebook: Following Jesus Entirely

long pathWhat do those who follow Jesus’ do?  I love this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship:

“Those who follow Jesus’ commandment entirely, who let Jesus’ yoke rest on them without resistance, will find the burden they must bear to be light. In the gentle pressure of this yoke they will receive the strength to walk the right path without becoming weary.…Where will the call to discipleship lead those who follow it? What decisions and painful separations will it entail? We must take this question to him who alone knows the answer. Only Jesus Christ, who bids us follow him, knows where the path will lead. But we know that it will be a path full of mercy beyond measure. Discipleship is joy.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Image by Neil Wellons

Quotebook: Changing or Losing

change and losingSometimes I hear a great quote and can almost think of nothing else until I write down exactly what was said. This happened on Monday while sitting in on a staff meeting at a church where I am consulting. The staff was reading a book together and commenting one by one on what they had found most important or most powerful.

As usual, I had my notebook out and was jotting down key ideas as I heard them.

And then I heard this line:

“A person either hates losing enough to change or he hates changing enough to lose.”

I quickly wrote down the line (or as best I could remember it). I also began trying to see the title and the name of the book they were reading! Resolved: 13 Resolutions for Life by Orrin Woodward. I googled the part of the phrase I remembered along with the author’s name and there was the whole quote! Perfect.

I don’t know about you, but I believe this line reflects the real choice we make. Of course, you have to have clearly defined what you will call success or clarified the win, but once you do the line captures perfectly the choice:

“A person either hates losing enough to change or he hates changing enough to lose.”

Great line, don’t you think? By the way, I ordered the book yesterday and can’t wait to read it.

Image by Craig Sunter

Dallas Willard on the Greatest Issue Facing the World

earchThink about the implications of this sentence from Dallas Willard’s The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus’s Essential Teachings on Discipleship:

“The greatest issue facing the world today, with all its heartbreaking needs, is whether those who, by profession or culture, are identified as ‘Christians’ will become disciples – students, apprentices, practitioners – of Jesus Christ, steadily learning from him how to live the life of the Kingdom of the Heavens into every corner of human existence.”

How might we embed this understanding in our leadership development experiences? What would have to be true about our small group systems if we want every member of our groups to become this kind of disciple?

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Quotebook: Dallas Willard on How to Become Like Christ

follow pathwayIf it is true that “whatever you want to happen at the member level, will have to happen to the leader first” there can be no question about what must happen to the leaders in your small group ministry.  And by extension, there can be little debate about the role of a coach.

And if the role of the coach is to do to and for (and with) the leader whatever you want the leader to do to and for (and with) their members, the question must be asked…what is it that we want to happen in the lives of the members of our groups?  My argument?  We want the members of our groups to become like Christ.  How?  By following Jesus in the overall style of life He chose for Himself.

I love the clarifying simplicity of this line from Dallas Willard’s, The Spirit of the Disciplines:

“My central claim is that we can become like Christ by doing one thing — by following him in the overall style of life he chose for himself.” (The Spirit of the Disciplines, ix)

Father in Heaven…let us all seek to follow Jesus in the overall style of life He chose for Himself.

Image by Dustin

Quotebook: Tim Keller on Community

I love this line from Tim Keller’s The Prodigal God:

You can’t live the Christian life without a band of Christian friends, without a family of believers in which you find a place.”

Keller’s line is found as summary of a quote from C.S. Lewis on the importance of community in knowing each other.  You can read the C.S. Lewis quote right here.

May we be always about the formation of more and better community.

How to Make Disciples in Small Groups

light at the endI don’t know about you, but I’m determined to build a thriving small group ministry that makes disciples.  That is the light at the end of the tunnel for me.  It is the end in mind.  It’s not just to connect unconnected people.  That’s important, but only a beginning.  My objective is to make disciples.  And I suspect–since you are still along on this journey with me–that is your objective too!  See also, How to Build a Thriving Small Group Ministry and 5 Things You Need to Know about Connecting Unconnected People.

And if your objective is to make disciples…you must know what it is you are trying to make (i.e., What is a disciple?).  Once you know that little detail, you will be able to lay out a path that leads to that preferred future.

With me?

And to that end, I love this paragraph from Dallas Willard.  In my mind it informs what it is that I need to do in laying out the path.

As a disciple of Jesus I am with him, by choice and by grace, learning from him how to live in the kingdom of God. This is the crucial idea. That means how to live within the range of God’s effective will, his life flowing through mine. Another important way of putting this is to say that I am learning from Jesus to live my life as he would live life if he were I (emphasis mine) I am not necessarily learning to do everything he did, but I am learning how to do everything I do in the manner in which he did all that he did.  How to Be a Disciple

Still with me?  This sets up a fairly clear understanding of the things that will have to be true about a small group ministry that will make disciples.

  1. It defines what I must do as I develop coaches.  I will need do to and for my coaches the things that will help them learn to live their lives as Jesus would live their lives.  See also, The Most Important Contribution of a Small Group Pastor.
  2. It defines what our coaches must do to and for the leaders they are discipling.  See also, Skill Training: Equip Your Coaches to Develop and Disciple Leaders.
  3. It defines what our small group leaders must do to and for the members they are discipling.  See also, 8 Habits of a Life-Changing Small Group Leader.

What do you think?  Have a question? Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Quotebook: The Job of a Change Agent

I have often joked that I want my title to be The Disruptor of the Status Quo.  It’s not really a joke, but so far I’ve not succeeded in getting the title officially.

I love this paragraph from a Bill Taylor article on HBR:

The job of the change agent is not just to surface high-minded ideas. It is to summon a sense of urgency inside and outside the organization, and to turn that urgency into action. It’s one thing for leaders to use fresh eyes to devise a new line of sight into the future. It’s quite another to muster the rank-and-file commitment to turn a compelling vision into a game-changing performance. My friend and Fast Company cofounder Alan Webber puts it well. Progress, he likes to say, is a math formula. It only happens when the cost of the status quo is greater than the risk of change. That’s why the third principle of change is for leaders to encourage a sense of dissatisfaction with the status quo, to persuade their colleagues that business as usual is the ultimate risk, not a safe harbor from the storms of disruption.

You can read the whole article right here.  It would be a great way to prepare for the changes that must come.

Quotebook: Trade-Offs and the Pursuit of More

Looking for a way to have it all?  Whether we’re talking about ministry or life, many people look for opportunities to have it all or to do everything.  Wise leaders, essentialists, understand that “strategy is about making trade-offs.”  See also, Could This Strategic Misstep Be Limiting Your Ministry Impact?

I loved these lines from Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less:

“It’s easy to see why it’s tempting to deny the reality of trade-offs.  After all, by definition, a trade-off involves two things we want.  Do you want more pay or more vacation time?…A Nonessentialist approaches every trade-off by asking, “How can I do both?” Essentialists ask the tougher but ultimately more liberating question, “Which problem do I want? (Pg. 55, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less)”

Quotebook: Steve Jobs on Change

I love this line from the 2005 Stanford commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs:

“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

Only an enduring small group pastor makes it to the finish line.  And only the constant learner can look in the mirror and know when a change is in the wind.

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