Growing The Wrong Thing

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

In a recent teaching time with some ministry interns, I discussed the two main metrics that we can use to measure growth: quantity and quality. Sadly, too many churches and ministries have gotten so caught up in the “numbers game” of more-more-more being the only metric of success, that they’ve forgotten about quality. Or maybe they do focus on quality, but only as a means to the end of more-more-more. 

This is never a metric of success that is discussed in the Bible. Check this out…

In the chapter entitled ‘Don’t Try to Grow Your Ministry’ in my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter I wrote this—

Businesses think in terms of quantitative gains—things they can count—but churches and nonprofits should be thinking in terms of qualitative gains—a quality improvement that isn’t as easily counted. I think we all know this, and yet we still persist in wanting to define success in a church or a nonprofit by those quantitative standards such as attendance growth, donations, and the like. When we think qualitative over quantitative, suddenly what seemed “small” is so significant and so valuable that it cannot be calculated! What if one of those babies that weren’t aborted discovers a cure for cancer, or deciphers a dialect to take the Gospel to an unreached people group, or becomes the loving next-door neighbor that leads your son or daughter to a relationship with Jesus? 

Just as you cannot put a price tag on a life, you cannot put a price tag on a sheep. Make no mistake about it, God views His sheep—every single one of them—as invaluable. Because His valuation is so high, we can understand why He gets so angry at those who are more concerned about their success than they are about the health of the sheep. When God uses the word “Woe!” we should definitely take that seriously. He uses that very word to warn shepherd leaders who were shirking their responsibility when He said, “Woe to those shepherds who only take care of themselves” (Ezekiel 34:2). 

When we map out our plan for success, or when we try to define success solely by quantitative measurements, we ultimately become more committed to our plans than to God’s sheep. God pulls no punches when He calls leaders with this attitude evil, mere hired hands, or even thieves (Jeremiah 23:3; John 10:8, 12). And most sobering of all, God says, “I will hold them accountable” (Ezekiel 34:10). 

Friends, let’s make sure we are focused on the metrics that really matter. Recently, a pastor shared honestly with me about his frustration with the “numbers game,” and purchased five copies of my book to use as a discussion starter with his church staff. I hope you will consider using Shepherd Leadership in a similar way. If I can be of assistance, please let me know. 

Shepherd Leadership is available in print or ebook, and in audiobook through either Audible or Apple. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Podcast: When Craig Met Greg

Listen to the audio-only version of this podcast by clicking on the player below, or scroll down to watch the video.

On this episode of “The Craig And Greg Show” we talk about: 

  • [0:40] Who are we and how did we meet?
  • [2:00] A little bit of Greg’s biography as he headed to college
  • [4:10] A little bit of my biography as I headed to college
  • [5:40] How Greg tweaked his major while at Hope College
  • [6:57] I added an additional major while at Oral Roberts University
  • [7:28] Greg was drafted by two professional sports teams
  • [9:14] Transitions are important for leaders
  • [10:29] Self-reflection + coach ability = superpower 
  • [11:02] Greg’s first business venture was only an entry point to his career
  • [13:37] Another decision further refined Greg’s niche in business
  • [15:03] The unforeseen changes that brought me to West Michigan where I met Greg
  • [15:59] One of the first ministries that we worked on together
  • [20:00] A leadership lesson we tried to teach to the students at an urban youth center
  • [20:40] The dream list for us going forward
  • [22:40] What do we do as consultants?
  • [24:02] Greg has some cool keynote addresses that he presents
  • [25:53] How we can help you grow your leadership capacity

Check out this episode and subscribe on YouTube so you can watch all of the upcoming episodes. You can also listen to our podcast on Spotify and Apple.

Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? (book review)

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Just as I was beginning my business career, Louis Gerstner was at the top of his career. Mr. Gerstner stepped in as the CEO of IBM when Big Blue was at a perilous time: This massive company was on the brink of either crumbling or soaring. Gerstner unpacks the impressive turnaround story in his book Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? 

When I was in my teenage years, several family members were encouraging me to consider IBM for my career path. They explained that a job at IBM would become a lucrative, influential, and lifelong position. Indeed, since its founding in the early twentieth century, it had grown into a worldwide behemoth of technology. You could tell IBM employees by their distinct dress, confidence, and loyalty to Big Blue. 

But adhering to the rigid principles that both Thomas Watson Sr. and Thomas Watson Jr. had preached turned into inflexible practices that were losing the true soul of this once-great company. By the early 1990s, IBM was floundering, hemorrhaging cash, and about to experience one of the most epic collapses any organization had ever seen. 

Enter Louis Gerstner. He had developed a stellar reputation at American Express and RJR Nabisco, and was highly sought as the CEO of IBM. Except Mr. Gerstner initially didn’t want to take on this challenge. He knew how difficult it would be to lead change in an organization that was so entrenched in its nearly 100-year-old ways. 

Eventually, he did agree to step into this role, and over the next decade led one of the most comprehensive and impressive turnarounds in business history. IBM shook off stodgy practices while returning to its founding principles, refocused on customers’ needs, and as a result, regained its dominance in the technology field. 

Any organization—whether for-profit or non-profit—can get stuck in a rut. Its once-beneficial principles can morph into practices which are merely attempting to keep the machinery running, but are no longer meaningful for either team members or other stakeholders. 

Mr. Gerstner’s refocusing of the elephant-sized IBM will give any leader some invaluable insights into how to keep their organization from sliding into ineffectiveness and irrelevance. I would highly recommend this book to all leaders. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Links & Quotes

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“In this version of the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:2-4) Jesus says, ‘When you pray say’ … and then in verse 4 He includes this petition, ‘and forgive us our sins.’ So, if you connect the beginning of the prayer with the middle, what He says is, ‘Whenever you pray say … forgive us our sins.’ I take this to mean that this should be as much a part of all our praying as ‘Hallowed be Thy name.’ Which means that Jesus assumes that we need to seek forgiveness virtually every time we pray. In other words, we are always sinners. … It doesn’t matter how obedient we have been before we pray. We always come to the Lord as sinners—all of us. And God does not turn away the prayers of sinners when they pray like this.” —John Piper

“What if I say that it is not unjust but according to law that when a woman gets into debt her husband should bear it? And with the church of God sinning, it was but right that her Husband, who had espoused her unto Himself, should become the debtor on her behalf. The Lord Jesus stood in the relationship of a married Husband unto His church, and it was not, therefore, a strange thing that He should bear her burdens.” —Charles Spurgeon

“We can have confidence in our ability, through reason, to help our unbelieving friends consider the Good News of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. We know this because God Himself is reasonable, and we believe He commends the use of reason in making Himself and His will known to men.” —T.M. Moore

“Listen to your conscience. Don’t be afraid not to join the mob—if you feel inside it’s wrong. Don’t confuse being ‘soft’ with seeing the other guy’s point of view. … Avoid self-righteously turning on a friend, but have your friendship mean enough that you would be willing to share with your friend your judgment. Don’t assign away your judgment to achieve power.” —George H.W. Bush, in a letter to his sons during the Watergate scandal

Some interesting lessons in Fast Company’s list of the 50 most well-liked CEOs in the United States.

“satan has tripped up many Christians by convincing them they’ve lost something in the Lord.” But David Wilkerson urges us to forget those things!

If you are praying for one of your loved ones to accept Jesus as their Savior, Tim Dilena has an encouraging word for you in The Amazing Now Becomes More Amazing.

[VIDEO] Conrad Mbewe shows how the so-called prosperity gospel isn’t honest with the entirety of Scripture—

Poetry Saturday―Don’t You?

Edmund Vance CookeWhen the plan which I have, to grow suddenly rich
Grows weary of leg and drops into the ditch,
And scheme follows scheme
Like the web of a dream
To glamour and glimmer and shimmer and seem,…
Only seem;
And then, when the world looks unfadably blue,
If my rival sails by
With his head in the sky,
And sings “How is business?” Why, what do I do?
Well, I claim that I aim to be honest and true,
But I sometimes lie. Don’t you?

When something at home is decidedly wrong,
When somebody sings a false note in the song,
Too low or too high,
And, you hardly know why,
But it wrangles and jangles and runs all awry,…
Aye, awry!
And then, at the moment when things are askew,
Some cousin sails in
With a face all a-grin,
And a “Do I intrude? Oh, I see that I do!”
Well, then, though I aim to be honest and true,
Still I sometimes lie. Don’t you?

When a man whom I need has some foible or fad,
Not very commendable, not very bad;
Perhaps it’s his daughter,
And some one has taught her
To daub up an “oil” or to streak up a “water”!
And her grass is green green and her sky is blue blue,
But her father, with pride,
In a stagey aside
Asks my “candid opinion.” Then what do I do?
Well, I claim that I aim to be honest and true,
But I sometimes lie. Don’t you? —Edmund Vance Cooke

What Would Happen…?

In His StepsIn His Steps by Rev. Charles Sheldon is a timeless classic that every Christian should read (you can check out my book review by clicking here). This quote is a part of the final message that one of the main characters, Pastor Henry Maxwell, delivers at a prominent church in Chicago.

What would happen if in this city every church member should begin to do as Jesus would do? It staggers our minds to imagine the results! We all know that certain things would be impossible that are now practiced by church members. What would Jesus do in the matter of wealth? How would He spend it? How would Jesus be governed in the making of money? Would He take rentals from saloons? From tenement property? 

What would Jesus do about the great army of unemployed who tramp the streets and curse the church, or are indifferent to it, lost in the bitter struggle for the bread that tastes bitter when it is earned on account of the desperate conflict to get it? Would He say it was none of His business? 

What would Jesus do in the center of a civilization that hurries so fast after money that the girls employed in great business houses are not paid enough to keep soul and body together without fearful temptations? Where the demands of trade sacrifice hundreds of lads in a business that ignores all Christian duties toward them in the way of education and moral training and personal affection? Would Jesus, if He were here today as a part of our age and commercial industry, feel nothing, do nothing, say nothing in the face of these facts that every businessman knows?

How would you answer Pastor Maxwell’s questions?

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading & watching from today…

“Avoid relations with unbelievers in which your relation endorses the unbelief or consequent sins, and avoid the kinds of relationships that involve the interweaving of deep personal values (like marriage). On the other side, don’t avoid relationships where you can have clear testimony to the truth and are allowed to stand on Christian principles, even if you are sometimes criticized for getting too close.” —John Piper

Nick Roen has a very thoughtful post that every Christian should read: Orienting On Homosexual Orientation.

One of the all-time favorite Detroit Tigers was Ty Cobb. This is a great post about Ty Cobb versus Babe Ruth in home runs.

Yes! 4 Ways To Use Failure Well.

Jen Wilkin has a good post for parents: Help Your Kids Say ‘No’ To Porn.

This is a great way of looking at this: True Patriotism Is Axing Taxes To Keep Companies In The USA.

[VIDEO] “Where have we entered when the Bill Of Rights is a partisan matter?” Watch Sen. Ted Cruz defend our First Amendment rights.

Thursdays With Oswald—Consecration Isn’t Just For Ministers

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Oswald Chambers

Consecration Isn’t Just For Pastors 

     Consecration is not the giving over of the calling in life to God, but the separation from all other callings and the giving over of ourselves to God, letting His providence place us where He will—in business, or law, or science; in workshop, in politics…. We are to be there working according to the laws and principles of the Kingdom of God…. 

     “Business is business” is not true for the Christian. Business is a sphere of labor in the world where a man exhibits the laws and principles of the Kingdom, otherwise he is a coward, a deserter, and a traitor to that Kingdom. 

From Christian Disciplines 

Jesus calls all Christians to be salt and light; to season and shine wherever God has placed us. We are consecrated for service to God is we are working by biblical principles, no matter what job we happen to be doing.

Helping People Win At Work (book review)

Ken Blanchard’s books always cause me to ask, “Why didn’t I think of that?!” He writes in such a way that seems so practical and so applicable, that it would seem like common sense practice. But as we all know, common sense is not always that common! In Helping People Win At Work, Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge do it again.

The sub-title of the book is based on a program Garry instituted in his company: Don’t mark my paper, help me get an A. And the idea is quite simple: Let’s tell our employees/kids/students what we’re looking for right up front, and then help them earn an A. Instead of performance reviews or tests being uncertain in their outcome, let’s make sure everyone knows what’s coming and how they can “pass” the test. This removes the uncertainty and the anxiety, and increases morale and productivity.

Simple! Common sense! And very rare.

It goes back to Ken Blanchard’s great statement, “Let’s catch people doing something right.” Most bosses/parents/teachers try to catch people doing something wrong. But this approach only reinforces the negative, and makes everyone shy away from the one in authority.

I highly recommend this easy-to-read (and even easier-to-apply) book to employers, teachers, and parents. It is well worth your time to apply these principles.

Book Reviews From 2011

Here is the complete list of books I read in 2011. Click on each title to be taken to my review…

7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teens

A Collection Of Wednesdays

A Treasury Of A.W. Tozer

Abandon The Ordinary

Average Joe

Be A People Person

Be The People

Biblical Ethics

Biblical Psychology

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

Bringing Sons Unto Glory

Chazown

City On Our Knees

Costly Grace

Doing Virtuous Business

Elite Prayer Warriors

Enemies Of The Heart

Experiencing The Spirit

Fasting

For Men Only

From The Library Of A.W. Tozer

Galileo

Generation iY

George Washington Carver

Get Off Your Knees And Pray

Go For Gold

God Is The Gospel

Has God Spoken?

Home And Away

How The Mighty Fall

How To Read The Bible

How To Win Friends And Influence People

I Knew Jesus Before He Was A Christian

In Visible Fellowship

Leadership Gold

Leadership Is Dead

Leadership Prayers

Lee: A Life Of Virtue

Letters From Leaders

MacArthur: America’s General

Max On Life

Me, Myself & Bob

Never Surrender

Night

On The Verge

Peach

Plugged-In Parenting

Radical Together

Remember Why You Play

Say It With Love

Secure Daughters, Confident Sons

Sherman: The Ruthless Victor

Smith Wigglesworth On Faith

Soul Work

Soulprint

Stuff Christians Life

Sun Stand Still

The Blessing Of Adversity

The Church In Exile

The Heart Of A Great Pastor

The Hour That Matters Most

The Next Christians

The Seed

Toxic Committees & Venomous Boards

untamed

Upside

Wandering In The Wilderness

We Shall See God

Whale Done

What The Bible Says About The Holy Spirit

Why God Won’t Go Away

Why Great Men Fall

You Were Born For This

Looking forward to sharing more great reads with you in 2012! Let me know if there are any books you would like me to review.

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