the five minute kidmin debrief


Once every month I have the privilege of leading kids church at my church. I have two teen team members, a 19 year old young man and a 14 year old young lady. They are da bomb.

Our children’s director emails us our curriculum a couple of weeks in advance. Then, one week ahead of our scheduled Sunday, we gather to plan our lesson. We did this last Sunday. This morning we delivered our lesson as a team with each person carrying out specific responsibilities as leaders at times, and helpers at other times. It was fun!

However, we understand there is always room for growth. So, we gathered for a five minute debrief after all the children had left with their parents. That’s it. Just five minutes. But the information was fresh in our minds. We talked about what worked and what didn’t work. How we felt, and what could be better to make next time an even greater success. Just five minutes, sharing as colleagues in preparation for our next collaboration in a few weeks.

It gave me the opportunity to encourage one of the team members not to be too hard on himself when he struggled a bit. It also allowed me to recognize and affirm them when they created an environment in which students interacted with each other meaningfully on the content of the lesson, sharing insights discovered and ways to apply them. A powerful moment in the lesson, brought on by the sensitivity of the 14 year old as she recognized something special in the statement of a 9 year old girl during the discussion.

A simple five minute debrief, wisely executed, can ease insecurity, embolden fledgling confidence, affirm quality performance, and encourage ongoing growth and learning. Be present in the moment with the team and keep it simple, short, and positive.

When is the next time you will have a five minute debrief with your team? How will you frame it so that it speaks to immediate needs without feeling rushed, or going too long?

Try it. It can be cathartic for your team, and provide all of you with just in time learning opportunities that can get missed in formalized training situations.


avoiding social media idolatry


With the advent of social media, much has been made of social media influence. People have taken to social platforms like moths to incandescent light bulbs, mostly for personal interaction and exploration, but also to construct platforms of their own to strengthen their brand and following. Building on a foundation of Facebook and Twitter, many have added a blogging platform such as WordPress or Blogger, Google+, LinkedIn, Flickr, and so on. And it all gets measured for total influence by Klout, or so that platform claims.

We fret and stew about how we can choose, deploy, and leverage the various platforms to maximize our social influence. But for those of us who ostensibly follow Jesus, we too often forget one thing: following Jesus. Seeking to be influenced by him. Dying to self and living to Christ. Somehow faithfulness to Christ gets lost in the clutter of all this choosing, deploying, and leveraging. We become better known for our carefully constructed online persona than our real relationship with Jesus.

So the presses roll out our books, the conferences feature our most recent insights, and the media swoons over the latest polling data over whose church is largest, most innovative, smallest, most humble (as if that is possible to measure), wealthiest, most giving, poorest, most sacrificial, et al. Meanwhile, little is written or said about what is most important. A vital, real relationship with Jesus in which we daily follow him faithfully with or without recognition, with or without resources, with or without social media influence, with or without invitations to write, speak, or pass on insights to a larger audience.

This is not an indictment against developing a platform for the message God has deposited into your life. My point is to remind myself and those listening in not to allow the platform and accompanying accolades to become an idol.

Let’s simply remember to continue worshipping God and following hard after Jesus.

I’m not JUST a volunteer


I’m not JUST a volunteer. No. Far from it. I’ve chosen my opportunities in life and ministry. I am a volunteer by choice and in mindset. I choose to serve. And I’m not alone.

In the many years I served in volunteer leadership at two different churches, I was privileged to have other high caliber colleagues come alongside me. By choice. They weren’t coerced, guilted, manipulated, or otherwise condescendingly queued into the ministry volunteer pipeline. Perhaps that explains the service longevity of so many of them, even after my departure from both leadership positions. It was never about my charming personality. It was always about their singular commitment to serve God to the very best of their ability.

Want to find people like this in your church? Open your eyes, your heart, your mind, even your home. Get to know people.

1. Start with gatekeepers and networkers. They will provide introductions. I always maintained close connections with these relational influencers throughout my leadership tenures.

2. Invite people to join you for a meal and/or just conversation. Give them a glimpse into your life. Accept their invitations to enter theirs. Nurture lifelong friendships.

3. Give away responsibility and authority. Risky, I know. Obviously, maintain oversight. But do you really need or want to make every decision, especially when you have emerging and existing strong leaders on your team? Trust them. Hold them accountable, but empower them to thrive.

4. Rid yourself of preconceptions about people. Many people are far more willing to sacrifice time, resources, and energy for a greater ministry cause than we we often assume. Cast a big ole freakishly audacious vision and invite others to help you refine it, own it, and implement it.

5. Those people sitting in the adult service every week? Sure they love their weekly worship experience. Now think about how you might inspire and resource them to fulfill their God-given dreams. Hint: if they are anything like me, the fulfillment of their dreams might not occur on the church campus or as something directly and primarily benefitting church people; indeed, they may be the very people poised to help your church impact those who will never voluntarily choose to attend your campus experiences.

I love my pastor and worshipping with my friends in our adult venue. Precious people. But I am not content to be a pew sitter. Nor am I JUST a volunteer, grudgingly agreeing to perform ecclesial community service so I can get the church leaders off my back on a monthly basis. I want to serve significantly with profound impact in my faith community, my neighborhood, and my city.

I know I’m not alone. There are others like me in my church and yours. Your job, leaders? Identify, equip, empower, and unleash them.

O = A + I x (WE). What is the value of O?


Yesterday I posted a leadership equation, inviting readers to guess at its meaning. The equation is:
O = A + I x (WE). Obscure, I know. The only original hint I gave is that it related to life and leadership. I began tweeting about it, offering a couple of hints. First I disclosed that the value of I is Initiative. Early this morning I gave away almost the entire equation, except for O. I tweeted the following: “O = Attitude + Initiative x (Work Ethic). What is the value of O?”

What indeed? In the context of life in general and leadership in particular, attitude and initiative combine as a powerful collaborative elixir. Their synthesis produces a singularly potent work ethic, which in turn multiplies the impact of the operands, attitude and initiative, to produce…drum roll…wait for it….it’s almost here….


Thus, Opportunity = Attitude + Initiative x (Work Ethic).

Think about it. Many people have a sense of entitlement. They expect opportunities to be handed to them on a silver platter.

Got a degree? Wow! Here’s a job! Earned that certificate of subject matter mastery? Oh please, please, let us hire you! Have years of experience in a line of work? When we stop falling over ourselves to get to you, please do sign the dotted line and tell us your salary and benefit requirements.

It simply doesn’t work that way. Opportunities are created through a combination of attitude and initiative, multiplied by a strong work ethic. Every time. The quickest path to killing opportunity is to portray a sense of entitlement.

This is true in business, in the church, and pretty much in any endeavor you might wish to pursue. It is especially true in leadership. Your attitude, your initiative, and your work ethic are contagious. For good or for bad. They combine, as in the equation, either to generate opportunity for yourself, your team, and your organization, or to kill it. As leader, you set the tone. Question is, what will be the character and result of that tone?

The answer to this question will determine the kind and caliber of opportunities you lead your team to encounter moving forward.

Leadership Equation

Moments ago, at 12:30 pm PST, I posted the following statement on Twitter: “O = A + I x (WE) First person to guess the meaning of this equation gets a huge twitter and blog shout out from me. You have 24 hours. Go.”

So, at 12:30 pm tomorrow, I will reveal the winner if there is one. Otherwise, I will post about the meaning of the equation and how it impacts the lives of people, particularly leaders. Oh. Wait. I just inadvertently disclosed an exclusive hint. More hints to come via twitter later this evening if needed. Meanwhile, what do you think the equation means? You may comment here or reply to me at Have fun!


leadership homogeneity: confessions of a recovering former leadership expert

Leadership. What images come to your mind when you see that word? A business suit? A white hardhat and clipboard? Mission statements, core values, and strategic flowcharts? A homogeneous blur of similarity, regardless of which leader is speaking, writing, or waving his under-exercised arms frantically to get your attention? Such is the problem with the deluge of leadership voices on the market today. They mostly sound the same. Not always, but mostly.

There are five points of this and seven habits of that; 21principles of the other thing and the occasional glorious irreverent jabs at the whole mess. Meanwhile, there is not a lot of leadership happening in the real world. Who has the time? We are too busy with S.W.O.T. analyses, TQM protocols, Six Sigma diagnostics, and rewriting our mission statements, core values, and short and long-term goals. Who has time to do anything of any measureable significance? We’ve created a generation of leadership gurus who quote the successful people better than they quote the Bible. Yet, our churches continue to decline and close. We teeter on the precipice of irrelevance, both to the culture and, frankly, also to the biblical text. We know a lot and tweet about it to others who are tweeting the same trite nothingisms. Well, not all of it. Some of it is actually quite good. But it would be so much better if we would live up to the hype we tweet and blog.

This is my confession. Yes, my name is Glen and I am a recovering leadership expert (you’re supposed to say “Hello, Glen” here and look attentive and supportive, even though you are simply glad it’s me, rather than you, under the interventional microscope). I even have a doctorate in pastoral leadership. But I’m feeling much better now….

I love leaders. I appreciate competent leadership. But I am sick and tired of this nonsense circulating throughout Christendom which demands that shepherds be put out to pasture, and “leaders” be given complete authority to run the church so that it can become “successful,” that is, big with lots of money. Or small with lots of money. Doesn’t matter. We just want to keep the financial pipeline open and flowing freely. But to benefit whom, I wonder? You get the idea.

Yea, yea, I know. Cynical. Also, I understand that finances are required to do certain things. I get that. I tithe to my church. I support their ministries financially. But good grief, if I hear about one more church which feels led to develop another enormous building program while at the same time ignoring the homeless and hungry, particularly widows and orphans (don’t look at me that way, it’s in the Bible) right outside their doors, I am going to make a really, really long list in the weaknesses and threats columns of the S.W.O.T matrix. There, I said it. I am laying down the gauntlet, using terminology which should cause any self-described leadership guru to shudder in mission statement and core value dissonance.

leadership ebb and flow: insights from a temporary leader

Several weeks ago I requested permission to host a comedy night at my church. The event is intended to benefit local kids and parents by gathering school supplies and giving them to those in need. When the request was approved I launched into the task with enthusiasm. I arranged the date and venue, recruited cast members, created marketing materials, began rehearsals, arranged for staging and beverages, and…and…well…*this is awkward*…much to my dismay (just kidding, sorta), I realized I had slipped into leadership mode….

I am learning some insights through the process, or at least I am being reminded. There is an ebb and flow in the leadership matrix which takes its cues from relationships: with cast members, church administrators, church attendees, elders, pastors, neighbors, and so on. A savvy leader senses when it is time to take charge and make a decision, and when it is best to let others step forward, expressing their views even if the leader might not do things precisely their way.

There is a time to wave the standard, and a time to charge forward ahead of the team, blazing a trail for them to follow. A time to remain quiet, and a time to allow others to take the lead. A time to express your creative talents, and a time to defer to the creative expressions of others. A time to gently correct, and a time to encourage and comfort.

Emotional IQ figures heavily into the success or failure of a leader’s ability to navigate this ebb and flow well. All the flow charts, S.W.O.T diagrams (I love S.W.O.T., mainly because it is fun to say and most people have no idea what it means!), TQM tools, empowerment bling (think of every conceivable item of apparel, trash receptacles, coffee mugs,  lapel pins, and washable tatoos) with the church’s logo on it, and speechifications cannot replace a simple ability to relate well to all kinds of people. With sincerity. Transparency. A positive attitude which sets the standard through one’s own work ethic. You know, leadership. The kind people respect, willingly follow, and want to emulate, only without the typical leadership doublespeak found in church and business literature.

I am not saying I am that kind of leader. I’m not. Not yet, anyway. But my pastor is. And that is why I wanted to try one more time to learn from his example by attempting to put into practice the principles he has learned and exemplified in 35 years as the pastor of my church.

Any measure of success surely is indebted to his leadership.

You know, the kind people want to follow and emulate.