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An interesting take on followers and leaders from Sam Rainer… see what you think… If followers have power and influence, then why might they fall prey to bad leaders? How can the leader-follower relationship break down? What makes followers susceptible to toxic leadership? It is followers who are more to blame than leaders. Allow me to share three ways this breakdown occurs. Safety. In most situations, unfollowing a leader is almost as simple as the aptly named Twitter button. Most people are not locked into a leader. You can leave a church. You can transition out of a job. You can transfer schools. People can vote out politicians and strike against companies.  Most followers in our culture have the freedom to walk away. But with every increase in freedom comes a corresponding decrease in safety. If you walk away from your job, then the paycheck is no longer guaranteed. If you vote out a politician, then you risk voting in one who is worse. In short, followers stick with bad leaders because they are not willing to risk safety in order to be free. Belonging. Ditching a bad leader may mean leaving an important community. For instance, many followers remain loyal to a professional sports team despite an unscrupulous owner or ineffective coach. Loyalty is a powerful force within a community. Belonging in a human community will often supersede leaving a group leader. It’s why some churchgoers tolerate a fruitless pastor.  It’s why cult followers do not denounce the cult after the leader falters catastrophically. Unfollowing a toxic leader is often more painful (and less important) than the sense of belonging that comes from the community over which the leader presides. Comfort. Challenging bad leaders is uncomfortable (at best) and deadly (at worst), but many followers forget they have the power to challenge leaders. In fact, dual accountability is one of the keys to a successful leader-follower relationship. In order to challenge leaders, however, followers must let go of comfortable silence. If you are the only one to speak out, and no one joins you, then you’re left alone in a vulnerable and uncomfortable position. Many followers are not willing to risk comfort to challenge bad leaders. Same says that a healthy leader-follower relationship is less about an exaggerated leader romance and more about dual accountability. Accountability is what prevents leaders from becoming dictators and tyrants. Followers need leaders to help guide them to better places. Leaders need followers in order to fulfill their purpose. The proper glue sticking followers with leaders is accountability, not safety, belonging, and comfort. // Read more here on this from Sam now:  Why We Romance Poor Leadership « Church Forward.
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Last week, Pat Robertson came clean.  He said that he had totally missed God’s voice in the 2012 presidential election. How do you feel when someone tells you that they’ve heard directly from God? Have you found that it is usually validated later, or is it usually proven to be false? How do you know if you’ve really heard from God? Here’s our take (and by ‘our’), I mean my Filter co-host Matt Steen and myself: What do you think? Have you ever THOUGHT you heard the voice of God, only to find out later, it wasn’t confirmed? Have you ever trusted in someone that said they heard God’s voice, only to see it repudiated? What has been your experience in this area? Leave your comment below… Thanks, Todd
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New research from Leadership Network… this is just being released from Warren Bird and my colleagues at Leadership Network: Despite the current economic landscape, 73% of all churches surveyed expect to meet budget this year(“this year” being 2012 calendar year or current fiscal year). This response was to the question: “How do you respond to this statement? ‘Our church will meet its budget for this year.’ (whether calendar or fiscal year)” Participating churches ranged in size from less than 50 to over 40,000 people in weekly worship attendance. The larger the church, the more likely they are to say they will meet budget. More than half of the churches surveyed use a Jan-Dec calendar year for their fiscal year, but as church size increases, so does the likelihood that the fiscal year does not follow the calendar year. This optimism is particularly encouraging when you compare the outlook to the responses to the question, “Overall, how has the economic slowdown that began in 2008 impacted your church? This is just part of the story.  Read more here right now… How is YOUR church doing?  Are you on-track to meet or excede your budget this year? And how’s next year looking financially? Leave your comment/insight below… Todd
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H. B. Lonndon writes:  As I reflect on a recent trip to Dallas Theological Seminary, I could not help but think about all of the things that my seminary training did not prepare me for. For instance: 1. They did not teach me how to love. That came through experience. 2. I did not really understand how complicated the lives of people really were. Some of them were too broken to mend. 3. I was surprised at how judgmental and cruel Christian people could be. Graduate school did not warn me, or at least if they did I didn’t listen. 4. I probably needed more specific training in problem solving, and crisis management. 5. In my day there was not much attention being given to financial management. Even though my first assignment was small, I was still a 23 year old CEO. Scary. // Read 5 more here:  10 Things Seminary Never Taught Me What would you add to the list? If you went to seminary… what is the one thing that you wish they would have taught you? Please leave your short comment below… Todd
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Truth be told.  We’ve all been there. Conflict in church settings in inevitable. When should we stay and fight, and when should we leave? That’s a tough question. Joe McKeever makes an impassioned plea about the reputation of the Body of Chris when these conflicts happen. He asks the question (and I think it’s a good one):  Why can’t we just walk away and let ourselves be wronged? In some cases… it really is probably the best answer. Joe writes: Why not let yourself be wronged?  Why not just “take your lumps” and walk away? Do it… for God’s sake. His honor is at stake here. That should matter to you more than your rights. for sanity’s sake.Think of the sheer stupidity of what you are doing. for the sake of your witness. These court cases are an ugly blot on your community. for goodness sake. “All you are doing is providing fuel for more wrong, more injustice, and more hurt to the people of your own spiritual family.” Only the strongest can walk away from a fight he could win but for which the cost would be too high. 1) Consider the collateral damage to a fight. In brawls on television, furniture gets broken, windows busted, and onlookers injured. In “real life,” churches get destroyed, outsiders get disgusted, young believers get neglected, missions get sidetracked, and the honor of Jesus Christ takes a major hit. The weak among us–the carnal and the cowardly posing as the courageous and the conquerors–will insist these things will resolve themselves, that all that matters is setting someone straight. Back away from such a one. He is your biggest enemy and needs to be quarantined. 2) Consider what Jesus would do. They said, “Lord, speak to my brother. Tell him to divide the inheritance with me.” The trial lawyer in us wants to take that case. “All right, what are the facts? What would be fair? Why is that brother being so heavy-handed and selfish? What does justice require?” Jesus walked away from it. “Sir, who made me your judge? You be careful of greed. Life is not about how much you can possess.” (Luke 12:13-15) This does not compute, does it? For those of us willing to take up every case, who insist on righting every wrong and punishing every wrong-doer, we are not satisfied with the Lord’s answer. Jesus loses no sleep over not satisfying our sense of fair play. He had, as the saying goes, bigger fish to fry. Something He kept calling “my hour” and “the Father’s will.” He was trying to change men’s hearts in order to change their lives in order to transform their destiny. The temptation to take every detour that opened up, even those offering attractive soul-satisfying vistas and feel-good revenge settlements, must be resisted. 3) Consider who we are in Christ. Again and again, the Apostle Paul asks the Corinthians, “Do you not know?” that we will judge the world and the angels? (vv.2,3) that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom? (v.9-10) your bodies are members of Christ? (v.14) your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? (v. 19) The ramifications of these principles are mind-boggling. Because of who we are in Christ, we can walk away from lesser things, wrong things, and even good things. It’s all because we choose the best things. When you take your brother to court to get your rights, you are defeated before you start. (6:7) So, why not rather be wronged? // Read more here:  Church Conflict: Why Not Rather be Wronged?  OUCH. So… what do YOU think? I’d love to hear your comments below.  Come on… you’ve made it this far… what do YOU think about when you should stay and fight, and when you should walk away, even if you feel like you were wronged? Leave your comment below… Thanks! Todd
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Casey Tygrett shares three measurement devices for elders and local church leaders regarding spiritual growth and formation that will bring light and life to situations stuck in darkness. Are you regularly engaging with Scripture, both individually and as a leadership team? Leaders committed to wrestling with the narrative of God both alone and in their group have put themselves in a position to be corrected, humbled, and augmented for the sake of others. Being open to the Scriptures is a posture that embraces the mission of God in the world today. Scripture refines the lenses through which the mission and purpose of the church, as well as the mission and purpose of eldership, are seen. Scripture shows God on a mission as he calls sweetly, but firmly, to elders to fall in step and become missionally minded regarding where the flock they’ve been commissioned to lead is headed.  Are you praying specifically, honestly, and regularly? In my current ministry, I am often asked to help teach people to pray. I’ve found the most critical question in developing a prayer habit is whether or not people are willing to bring up the raw, uncensored, and unfiltered contents of their heart to God. Are you, as a leader, honestly expressing both your joys and struggles to the God who constantly leans in to listen (Psalm 10:17)? The most helpful aspect of prayer in my development in leadership over the last five years has been the opportunity to see myself through the objective lens of God’s Spirit; I’ve grown to understand there are things in my soul that, when applied to leadership in ministry, create issues I couldn’t see on my own. The opportunity to pray with and for other leaders is constantly in front of us—are you taking advantage of the times you could offer prayers that encourage and strengthen others on your eldership or leadership team? Are you reproducing leaders through spiritual friendship and mentoring? Leaders aren’t meant to be irreplaceable. If we have stepped into the stream of leadership in God’s kingdom with the expectation that we aren’t expendable, it is a clear and unmistakable sign we’ve skipped question number one in this list! The truth is, engaging in Scripture and prayer—especially reading Acts and praying for our leadership of God’s people—will shine a light on the reproductive nature of the church. The churches we find in Acts had leaders who understood what it meant to give away what they’d learned. Many elders and leaders may say they have read 2 Timothy 2:2—“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” Great. Here is a follow-up question: are you giving away your leadership and ministry to reliable folks? // Read more here:  A Past Mistake and Three Challenges for Elders Thoughts? Todd
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Seth Godin is the author of twelve books that have been bestsellers around the world and changed the way people think about marketing, change, and work. He is also the master of saying a great deal using relatively few words on his blog. Recently he shared that while people are in a hurry to do many things, generosity isn’t usually on that list.  Godin then asked a powerful question: What happens when we adopt the posture of being in a hurry to be generous? // Read more here:  Hurry Up & Be Generous. It’s a great concept.  How could your church hurry to be generous as we enter these days right before Christmas? How ARE you doing that in your own church? I’d love to hear your comments! Todd
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I’m thinking we could settle this with an old-fashioned duel. Last man standing wins. Pat Robertson has been accused by evangelical Christian and creationism proponent Ken Ham of “destructive teaching,” after the televangelist stated that the existence of dinosaurs is evidence that Young Earth Creationists are wrong about the planet being 6,000 years old. Christian Broadcasting Network spokesman Chris Roslan told The Christian Post on Friday, however, that “Dr. Robertson stands by his comments.” The controversy arose earlier this week when Robertson, co-hosting his “The 700 Club” program on CBN, dismissed the theory that the earth is only 6,000 years old, which Ken Ham, CEO and founder of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, took offense to. “Not only do we have to work hard to not let our kids be led astray by the anti-God teaching of the secularists, we have to work hard to not let them be led astray by compromising church leaders like Pat Robertson,” Ham said Wednesday in a post on Facebook. “Pat Robertson gives more fodder to the secularists. We don’t need enemies from without the church when we have such destructive teaching within the church,” Ham added in the statement shared with those following his non-profit Christian apologetics ministry on Facebook. Ham took offense to comments Robertson made earlier this week on his show, when responding to a viewer’s question about what to tell children about dinosaurs and the Bible. // Read more here: Ken Ham of Creation Museum Slams Robertson for Dismissing Young Earth Theory. Just what we need.  More Christians fighting. Over creationism. I wonder if God is chuckling or if he’s just not amused. What do you think? Todd
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