Habitudes (book review)

HabitudesWhen you combine a memorable visual image with the challenge of a new leadership habit you create something power: a habitude. That’s exactly what Dr. Tim Elmore does in his series of exceptional books called Habitudes.

Our minds store information in picture format. For example, when you read “elephant,” you don’t think of the letters e-l-e-p-h-a-n-t, but you think of a huge, floppy-eared, tusk-bearing, mammal on the African savannah. So combining visual images (a right-brained exercise) with life-changing data (a left-brained activity) creates a concept that really sticks with us.

For each one of the 13 habitudes in this book, an image is first presented (for instance, a flood-ravaged home, with the brown swirling water flowing through the front door). Then add to this image some powerful insights from Dr. Elmore about a leader’s responsibility to keep everyone’s energies inside the banks for maximum effectiveness. If a leader doesn’t keep the river’s flow within the banks where it can do some good, the flood of misguided energies can lead to devastation.

Each habitude includes some workspace to help you work through the concepts presented with each image. The pictures create a great “hook” for the concepts to hang in your mind, and the follow-up exercises in each chapter help make the concepts applicable to your unique circumstances.

Each chapter is fairly short, but as the cliche goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” so expect each habitude to teach you a lot without using a lot of written words.

This is a great resource for anyone wanting to improve his or her leadership capabilities. But it would be especially useful for young leaders-in-training in a mentoring/protege role.

The Present Of Presence

The words Paul writes to Timothy (his young protege) are the wise counsel of a seasoned veteran to a young pastor. These are words of wisdom that pastors should be especially attentive to, but they also apply to anyone who is in a position of leadership (like a parent, teacher, coach, or employer).

After challenging Timothy to set an example by his lifestyle, Paul adds these words—

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:15-16)

“So that everyone may see your progress.” Quite simply: you have to be present … you have to be around people so they can see what’s going on in your life. Your presence in their lives is your present to their lives!

I need to monitor what I’m doing and why I’m doing it; what I’m teaching and how I’m teaching; what I believe and why I believe it.

I need to have goals and benchmarks. I need to make my goals—and my successes and failures in hitting my goals—known to others.

I need to be in it for the long haul. It’s awfully difficult to an example in the present if my eyes and thoughts are always on “the next thing” down the road.

Look at the blessings—the presents—of living this way: You will save both yourself and your hearers.

Not only is my presence a present to others, but having others present in my life is a present to me! The present of presence works both ways! 

Are you living so that everyone may see your progress? If not, start giving the present of your presence today!

Now That I’m Old(er)

I love having the opportunity to speak to young(er) people. Especially now that I’m old(er), it gives me a chance to allow some of my hindsight to become someone else’s foresight. (That’s a fancy way of saying: I don’t want others to make the same mistakes I made!)

We’ve got a great group that meets at Calvary Assembly of God on Thursday evenings, called Unite. In addition to my short teaching time, there is also an open mic for local musicians (or poets, artists, comedians, etc.), a coffee bar, games, and lots of fun. If you are anywhere near Cedar Springs, come on out on Thursdays at 6:30pm.


Timothy was a young man that was one of the Apostle Paul’s protégés. Check out just a few things Paul had to say about him:

  • He works so hard for the Master. (1 Corinthians 16:10)
  • I have no one like him—no one of so kindred a spirit—who will be so genuinely interested in your welfare and devoted to your interests. …But you know how Timothy has proved himself. Like a son with his father, he has served with me in preaching the Good News (Philippians 2:20, 22)
  • We sent him to strengthen you, to encourage you in your faith, and to keep you from being shaken by the troubles you were going through. (1 Thessalonians 3:2-3)
  • I sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and trustworthy child in the Lord, who will recall to your minds my methods of proceeding and course of conduct and way of life in Christ. (1 Corinthians 4:17)
  • TIMOTHY’S THE REAL DEAL! (Philippians 2:22)

[Check out all of the above Scriptures by clicking here.]

I am striving to live up to this “Timothy” standard. I am also working hard to invest in the next generations of Timothys.

Here’s where I believe it all starts: Timothy loved God and served others. May that be said of all of us too.

I Like People With Less

You would probably think that if I needed counsel or advice I would seek out someone who is well educated in the area I need help. I should probably find an expert in the matter that’s troubling me. It seems somewhat counterintuitive, but I am finding that those who know less can actually help me more.

Listen to C.S. Lewis, “The fellow-pupil can help more than the master because he knows less. The difficulty we want him to explain is one he has recently met.” He can help me more because he knows less.

I know this tends to be true when one of my children asks me to help them with something in their homework, or a friend asks my help on a computer problem she is experiencing. Because I have already worked out the steps, I no longer have to proceed sequentially; that is, I don’t have to go from Step A to Step B to Step C, and so on until I get to the answer. Because of my past experience, I can jump right to Step K.

Great for me. Totally unhelpful to those asking for my advice. In essence, I’m doing all of their thinking for them. I haven’t taught them anything, except that I’ll do their work for them.

Lately, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time with a friend who is thinking about what it means to have a relationship with Jesus. He has very, very little church background, so I have been forced to go back to Step A with him, because Steps K, L, M, and the like would make no sense to him.

This is why I love being around the unchurched, the dechurched, and the never-churched. This is why I love talking to and listening to teenagers and 20-somethings who are new to their relationship with Jesus. These fellow pupils are so recently going through situations that it really makes me pause to go back to my beginnings.

Try it yourself. There is some great wisdom in those who have “been there done that.” But I’m also getting some great insights from those who are “here now doing this.”

Saturdays At Panera

“A mentor has been defined as someone whose hindsight can become your foresight.” —Richard Edler

For almost three years I have had the privilege of being mentored by Hank Zampa. Once a month we meet at Panera and Hank pours into my life. Sometimes he simply lets me unpack my frustrations, sometimes he asks me challenging questions that cause me to rethink my current strategy, sometimes he gives me a word of encouragement or a book to read. His hindsight has been my foresight time and time again, and I am a better man because of that. And all of this came about because I simply recognized the need for a wise man to speak into my life, and I asked Hank if he would be willing to invest in me. I am so grateful he said “yes.”

Who are you allowing to speak into your life?

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