5 productivity tips from the busiest people in the world

Need to get more done?

Especially in December… year end… holiday season… Christmas schedules, etc.?

Maybe this will be helpful.

Five tips:

1.  Have a single purpose focus

2. Ruthlessly block out distractions

3. Set a time limit on meetings

4. Set up productivity rituals

5.  Get up earlier

See the full image, with details, here…


Don’t kid yourself. You’re not all that brilliant.

I recently read an interesting piece over at the Harvard Business Review about how much luck there is our decision making process.

Good luck, bad luck, fate.  Whatever.

Of course this was written from a secular view point.

I’m not sure I’m a believer in luck.  Or coincidence.

In many ways… being a Christian changes you view of things, doesn’t it.

But here’s the premise.

When you’re at the point of making a decision on anything, the circumstances that bring you to that decision point are usually pretty much out of your control (at least somewhat).  The writer calls this ‘luck’.  Here’s an excerpt:

The chain of events that brings you to a choice point will be shaped by luck, good or bad. Prior circumstances may determine whether you’re in a position of power or relative weakness. (For that matter, luck governs whether rain or sun that day will make your mood sour or buoyant.) And the same is equally true for everyone with whom you deal.

Philosophers, political theorists, and strategists have long acknowledged the large role that luck plays in every aspect of our lives. Even Nicolo Machiavelli, the cataloger of each and every lever that a prince can pull in the pursuit of power, acknowledged that “I believe that it is probably true that fortune is the arbiter of half the things we do, leaving the other half to be controlled by ourselves.” What was true in Italian politics centuries ago is just as true in management today.

So, why does acknowledging this help business decision makers in any way? Once we acknowledge how much depends on luck, we do two things differently, I think.  First, we study decision making differently, no longer assigning brilliance to every decision that, viewed retrospectively, worked out well. Second, we might focus on different skills as important to important decision points, such as the flexibility to capitalize on changes in luck versus the ability to predict in advance how things will play out.

For better or worse, the intelligence, values, and needs of whomever you interact with impact your success as much as your own resources. Throw in external circumstances that are beyond your control (whether other deals for them fall through, as they did for IBM), and it’s obvious that your destiny isn’t entirely in your hands. Understand this and you act differently, knowing that your own skill will be tested by how well you play the cards you are dealt.

Of course, I wouldn’t call that luck.  Maybe providence?  God’s will?  God’s hand?  I’m not sure what to call it.

But nonetheless… the point is a good one:

You really shouldn’t gloat in your good decision because what lead up to it wasn’t probably entirely your doing.

Same with bad decisions.

So… it turns out that none of us are as brilliant as we’d like to believe.

Somehow, I’m not surprised.

When I look back at my life’s ‘circumstances’ and where I am today… I’m not sure that there are any circumstances.

What I’m doing today is based on what God brought my way.

Some things were in my control and within my decision.

Most were not.

But it’s all good.

It’s a wise thing to keep in mind whenever you start getting a little proud of the way things are going.

Just remember… it probably had little to do with you.  :)

We just have to strive to make good decisions where we’re at.  Don’t worry about who the credit goes to.  (After all… we know where it should go anyway).

What do YOU think?


Change Your Church Culture… in SIX MONTHS?

Conventional wisdom says that changing the culture of your church will take years.

DNA is hard to change.

But it’s a nasty proposition.

Change the culture too fast and everything blows up.

Change the culture too slowly, and you’re probably not going to be around to see any of the church.

But is there a better way?

There was recently an interesting case study article reported on at the Harvard Business Review that says if you’re going to change your culture, do it quickly.

It cites a couple of business examples where culture of an office was changed remarkably in 6 months!

That’s pretty incredible.

But here’s the disclaimer:  it takes a plan and some iron-clad leadership.

I’ve seen the culture totally change in my church over the past 18 months. We’ve introduced a lot of change fairly quickly.  It’s taken leadership.  It’s required some really tough decisions (not all of which have been popular).  But the end result is pretty remarkable, at least at this point.

(Of course the longer discussion was the five years of discussion about the culture needing to be changed before we actually had the guts and leadership to start changing it).

The lesson for me is this:  don’t expect change to come to your church’s culture overnight.  It won’t happen.

But don’t underestimate the result of good leadership and how quickly your culture can change dramatically under the right leaders and plan.  It can happen much sooner than you think.

What’s been your experience?



If the world only had 100 people, this is what it would look like…

I found this graphic recently.  It is very interesting, and makes me think.

From Lifehack.com:

50 are female, 50 are male. 26 of these are children and only 8 people are aged 65 and older. 60 people are Asian, 15 African, 14 people are from the Americas and 11 individuals come from Europe. 5 of us speak English and 5 speak Spanish. Arabic, Hindi, Bengali and Portuguese all have 3 fluent speakers each. 12 speak Chinese, whilst 62 speak other languages. 83 are literate, 77 people have shelter, 87 have access to safe water, 15 are undernourished and 21 are overweight. 33 of us would be Christians, 22 Muslims, 14 Hindus, 7 Buddhists. 12 people would practice other religions and 12 people would not be involved in any religion.

My norm is not the norm for most other people.

In fact, my reality will never be most people’s reality.

That’s hard to imagine when my world most always revolves around me.

If the world came down to just 100 people, how many of the 100 would YOU know?


See the full-size graphic here…


Is the Housing Allowance Going Away?

Last week a Wisconsin Federal District Court judge ruled that the pastoral housing allowance violates the establishment clause of the first amendment. This news can be quite upsetting for church leaders across the country as they try to figure out how to fairly compensate their pastors, and for pastors who need to rethink their monthly budgets now that a major tax benefit has been ruled unconstitutional.

Yesterday morning, Matt Steen and I had a conversation with Mike Batts, managing partner of Batts Morrison Wales & Lee. Mike and his team work exclusively with churches and pastors, and have served as trusted advisors to members of congress on policy issues related to church finances. We asked Mike about the ruling and what church leaders need to know about it. In a nutshell, here is what you need to realize now:

  • The sky is NOT falling.
  • The ruling has no effect on housing allowances at this moment.
  • The ruling will be appealed.

Click below to watch the entire conversation in order to gain a better understanding of what this means for your church:


KUDOS: Kentucky church hosts prom for physically and mentally disabled

Southland Christian Church in Lexington did a great thing this past weekend… hosting over 1000 physically and mentally disabled (I hope that’s the right politically correct terminology) to what they called a ‘Jesus Prom’.

How great is this?

From an article at the Christian Post:

Southland Christian Church in Lexington, Ky., held an event for the mentally and physically disabled community dubbed “Jesus Prom” over the past weekend that featured a night of celebration and compassion dedicated to those in attendance.

The annual free event drew 1,100 people decked in prom attire for the dinner, dance and night of fellowship. Pastor Brewster McLeod initiated the idea years ago when he served as the youth pastor with the purpose to reach those outside the walls of the church building and “value people on the margins of society.”

According to Justin Meeker, communications director at Southland Christian Church, McLeod’s vision for Jesus Prom is based on Luke 14:12-14, a verse about inviting “the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind” to a banquet.

“Here’s a guy that truly believes everyone is as good as everyone else,” said Steve Flairty, a columnist writer who attended the event, according to the Kentucky Kernel. “Brewster wants people with developmental disabilities to experience the same kind of activities that everyone else can.”

Each year, the event is organized by 1,500 to 1,800 volunteers who escort the attendees throughout activities that include photography and games, while police and medical attention is on hand in case a special needs individual needs assistance. Typically, the megachurch transforms into a different theme venue, with this year being “Happy Days,” which was reflected through poodle-skirt dresses worn by some attendees.

Hats off to Southland!  Great job in being the hands and feet of Jesus to your community.

Jesus is smiling.

Read more here…


The games we play: Only 14% always tell the truth

In a laboratory experiment to test people’s willingness to lie to a partner in a game, 14% of peoplealways chose to be truthful, even if lying would have benefited them, and 14% chose to lie whenever they stood to gain, according to a team led by Uri Gneezy of the University of California, San Diego. The rest reacted in variable ways to incentives, sometimes lying and sometimes not, except for one participant who always lied, regardless of circumstances.

From the Harvard Business Review

OK… ministry is not a game.

But I’ve met a few ministry leaders that ‘play’ with the truth.

Why is it so hard to be truthful in ministry things?

Are you ever tempted to ‘white lie’ in ministry?

Who isn’t?

The important thing is… how do you respond?

QUESTIONS:  Do you always give honest answers?  Do you withhold partial information when giving your answers? Do you skew your answer to a question to make you look favorable? Do you ever throw someone else under the bus when the blame is partially yours?

Great questions to ask.

And if you’re honest… we all face these types of dilemmas every day in ministry.

The important thing is how we answer the questions.

What do YOU think?


How dangerous are your ideas?

Have you ever thought about ideas being ‘dangerous’?

Or that innovation could come out of asking some really ‘dangerous’ questions?

PJ Chan has a really interesting post over at Forbes today entitled “Leadership Lesson:  ’Dangerous’ Ideas are the key to Innovation

It’s worth the read.

PJ writes:

Apparently there is an annual festival of “Dangerous Ideas.” Without repeating all three paragraphs, I’ll summarize – they do mean dangerous! One of the talks will cover, “A Killer Can Be A Good Neighbor.” The goal of the event is to discuss ideas outside the mainstream, getting people out of their comfort zones and challenged with new ways of thinking. You may respond with “Wow, how cool!” or you could react with a “That’s the craziest idea I’ve ever heard in my life!” Your reaction reveals where your thinking lies on the spectrum of open-ness to new ideas.

Later, she summarizes:

In all reality, it is more about the implied danger and less about the actual danger of the idea. Just ask yourself what kind of reaction the word “dangerous” elicited in you. Ideas really have no inherent danger or safety in and of themselves. The only tangible impact comes from what we do with the ideas. Perhaps removing such loaded labels is one way to court innovation and promote idea exchange.

On the contrary, what amazing, wondrous ideas could come if we were to begin an idea session with the most extreme idea – the business equivalent of “A killer can be a good neighbor.” Consider a simple idea like “What if we moved all retail sales to the Internet?” You can see how an idea like this could inspire fear, anger, and frustration in a company with hundreds of stores and thousands of salespeople. But failure to explore or even consider ideas like this has taken a big toll on many businesses – consider JCPenney, Best Buy, and OfficeMax/Office Depot.

As leaders who want to foster innovation in your organizations ask yourself one question: What will I do today to encourage the sharing of “dangerous” ideas, “unspeakable” ideas … or any ideas at all?

What are some ‘unspeakable’ ideas for you or your church?

What ideas are dangerous? (And by dangerous, I don’t just mean that you could lose your job) :)

Here are a few just off the top of my head:

1.  Stop the weekend gathering once a month in favor of families reaching out to other families individually.

2.  Stop taking an offering every week, and move all your giving online.

3.  Start measuring community involvement/change over class attendance.

4.  Cut one major ministry that is attended and loved by many, but isn’t contributing to your mission.

What’s ‘dangerous’ idea should YOU put on the table… not to actually do it, but to start the conversation that will get you to what you really SHOULD be doing?

(Therein lies the innovation!)


Here’s a link to PJ’s article…



A few of my favorites from the NINES…

We had a great couple of days at the NINES!  It is such a privilege to serve with so many great leaders across the country and around the world.

Our theme this year was “What’s Working (and what’s not)” in our churches.  It was a great time together; and some great ideas were shared.  I am so encouraged at how God is working through his church.  Sure, there is a lot of doom and gloom out there; but we had the opportunity to hear first-hand from some great leaders about exactly how God is blessing and where he’s working.  How cool is that?

Here are just 3 of my favorites… though there were so many. Perhaps I’ll share more in the future.

If you missed the conference, you can watch all the videos individually if you want to subscribe to the 24/7 video access package.

I do want to sincerely thank all who watched and helped make this a great event!

QUESTION:  Who inspired you the most when they spoke at the NINES?


How NOT to get too full of yourself as a pastor

Oh, pastor… what a great sermon.

The church grows year after year.

Watch out.

Ever met a haughty pastor?

Or an entitled one?

We all have.

But how do you make sure you don’t become entitled or haughty?

Carlos Whitaker has five suggestions:

1. Don’t have a reserved parking space until you are old enough that you can’t walk.
2. Stay out of your little green room/private dressing room as much as possible.
3. Have coffee/breakfast/lunch once a week with a pastor of a church WAY smaller than yours.
4. If you receive double honor, make sure you give out quadruple honor.
5. Treat applause like a shot of whiskey. After you take a shot… don’t tweet, text anyone, or believe you are as attractive as the shot makes you feel.

In other words… don’t let it go to your head.

Andy Stanley talked brilliantly about this at Catalyst this year.

Think about it.  What perks do you have because of your position?

What would you do if that perk was taken away or changed significantly?

How do you keep things in balance so you don’t get too full of yourself?

Read more here…



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