Boss vs. Leader

This image has floated around the Internet for many years. It is a great visual representation of the difference between a boss and leader. In my own leadership I try to refrain from asking anyone who is following me to do something I’m unwilling to at least try myself. This is a great principle and often helps people get behind the work I’m asking of them.

The picture of the leader struggling with the followers is a stark comparison to the boss image. Of course this image congers up the Biblical story of the Egyptian Pharaoh commanding the Jews to make bricks without straw. A domineering dictator is obviously not a leader, especially when harsh punishment is the reward for rebellion. We all have been in settings where the employees feel that there is a serious price to pay for disobedience to the boss. This is the reality of why many women have been forced into sexual situations with their supervisor.

            A good leader brings the followers into the mission by showing their commitment and helping them to see how their individual contributions help the mission succeed. Yet, there are still times when a leader needs to be directive.

            Did you notice the location of the boss in the upper image? Not only is the boss not helping, but the boss it part of the burden to be pulled. I have had numerous conversations with friends, parishioners and coaching clients who feel the weight of carrying their boss. If we must be directive we also need to acknowledge that we can become part of the burden. To become part of the burden is unfair and negates our leadership. When a good leader needs to be directive they must give clear expectations and then let the workers loose.

  • How have you experienced the weight of a leader in your work?
  • What do you do to ensure you aren’t a burden to your followers?
  • What other insights do you see from this image?
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The Birth of New Coaches

For the past two days I have had the honor of spending time with Chris Holmes of Holmes Coaching Group during the first part of Coach Approach Skills Training in the National Capital Presbytery. During this time I sat in as a Pastor/Coach. For the past few years I have been working out ho to integrate coaching with the pastoral life. This time of training was not only affirming of this hard work but also my commitment to using coaching in every aspect of my life and ministry.

Watching the students, many of whom I know from other forums, discover how powerful coaching and being a coach can be was a truly awesome experience. Within a few hours I saw a certain amount of skepticism or fear melt away and coaches begin to emerge.

I also found myself in a place where I was challegned to double down on my coaching aspirations. Hearing from other pastors about how they can see the deep possibilities of coaching to transform how they lead makes me want to coach more.

I want to help create a culture of coaching that in many ways was modeled by Jesus himself. More and more I see how those that are trained as a coach often follow the model of Jesus. Jesus was often approached to simply solve a problem or alleviate a burden. More time than we might want to acknowledge, Jesus sought to transform the person through his or her own agency. The account of Jesus and the woman at the well was lifted up as a prime example of how this worked. She came to him with a certain understanding of herself and the world. Jesus helped her redefine those views through the use of imagery, questions, imagination, truth telling and many other coaching core competencies to do this. It’s amazing to me how spiritual coaching actually can be.

I am thankful and honored to have been part of this special time of spiritual, professional and personal development. I also look forward to continuing this journey in the National Capital Presbytery with my new colleagues in coaching.

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Meaningful Meetings

A long while ago I resigned myself to the fact that meetings are necessary to accomplish collaborative work.  Virtual or in person, meetings are a vital way to coordinate the common work we endeavor to complete.Frustrating meeting

This recent article from the Harvard Business Review (HBR), “If You Can’t Say What Your Meeting Will Accomplish, You Shouldn’t Have It” affirmed the importance of being clear on outcomes.  Far too often we find ourselves in or at the end of a meeting asking ourselves, “What was the purpose of this meeting?”

In organizations that depend on volunteers to accomplish their ministry we need to make sure that we use our people’s time wisely.  There are times in the life of the church where we have a meeting to simply have a meeting. Even monthly board meetings can at times be held only because they are scheduled.  Like most areas of our life if we don’t consider the purpose of our activities they become meaningless and might even become a burden.

The HBR article cites a phrase from Stephen Covey, “Begin with the end in mind.”  This doesn’t mean that we know the outcome of decisions or control the discussions.  Knowing the desired outcome of a meeting means that you can keep all the parties on task.  Clearly stating the goal of a meeting to a team also helps everyone know that the meeting actually has a clear purpose.  Knowing purpose means that participants can contribute towards that end and gives a sense that actual progress is being made.

Beyond Agenda

Often we believe we have a clear purpose because we have an agenda.  A critical question we must as ourselves as a leader is, “Is our agenda moving us towards a purpose, or are we simply checking boxes?”  Many church boards use an agenda that looks exactly the same as those used fifty years ago.  They may have “changed” the agenda when they substituted teams for committees but substantive change geared towards achieving vision rarely happens .  Our meetings need to by focused on the shared mission and vision of our organizations.  If a Christian Education committee is looking to strengthen adult classes it is important that the agenda makes that the focus.  Making it clear that the purpose of a given months meeting is to focus on looking for ways to make Adult classes stronger will help everyone move towards that goal.

Do you have a meeting this week that lacks purpose?

If so, what can you do to help give it a clear purpose?

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Sometimes it is Hard to Let Go…

Sometimes this is us in life. Worried about NOTHING!

Posted by KevOnStage on Thursday, May 21, 2015

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Beyond Resolutions… Set SMART Goals

Many of us make New Year’s resolutions. It seems right to think of a new year as a new opportunity to make oneself better. “A new year, A new you,” is one of those catchy ways to sum up our newfound hope that comes with a fresh calendar year.

Even still, most of us also make those resolutions with little to no expectation that we will achieve them. It is easy to throw out standard resolutions that make us feel like we have turned over a new leaf. Herein lies the problem; making generic “commitments” to change are not very helpful.

This is a great place for us to apply the SMART goal setting. You may employ this practice in your work life. Many corporate organizations use the SMART model throughout their planning. SMART is an acronym that highlights what a goal should be all about.

smart goal setting conceptS- Specific: Goals should state exactly what you want to accomplish. Use the old who, what, when, where, and why questions to help whittle down a grand idea into a more precise goal.

M- Measurable: It is critical to decide how you will determine success. What will you use to gauge your movement towards achieving your goal?

A- Attainable: Goals should challenge you to move beyond your current state but not be so out of reach that you set yourself up for failure. Be willing to push yourself, but also be realistic.

R- Relevant: Check to make sure that the goal you are setting is in line with your “big picture.” It is easy to set up competing goals that inevitably mean that neither goal is achieved. Does this new goal fit into your overall objectives?

T- Time Bound: Setting a schedule for your goals helps you to move forward. An open-ended time limit allows you to push it back for an indeterminate amount of time. Finite time limits encourage action. It is also good to set waypoints along the way to see how much daily, monthly or quarterly progress is being made.

It is not enough to just say you are going to do something. The adage, “Failing to plan is planning to fail” is attributed to Ben Franklin. We often think that setting a goal is planning. An end point (goal) is not a plan it is a dream. To achieve dreams it is critical that we set ourselves up with SMART goals that encourage us to actually accomplish what we are dreaming about. I know that dream is a big word. After all we don’t necessarily think that higher sales numbers or a little less weight as a dream. Yet, without an actionable plan that is all our goals will be, far off dreams.

As a coach it is my role to encourage and help coachees take their dreams and begin a process of formulating SMART goals to achieve them. Do you feel like you have a bold vision for what could be, but don’t know how to get there? A coach is a valuable resource to help you sort through all of the competing claims on your time and energy and to help set a plan to achieve the dreams you have for your life.

If you want a partner in your SMART goal setting and are looking for a coach, please contact me at  A new year, a new you can be more than just a trite phrase. It can be your future.

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Prepare/Enrich Premarital Counseling Training

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Prepare/Enrich is the leading relationship inventory and skill-building program used nationally and internationally.  It is built on a solid research foundation and significantly improves a couple’s relationship. PREPARE/ENRICH is custom tailored to a couple’s relationship and provides couple exercises to build their relationship skills.

I have used the Prepare/Enrich program for over 15 years and have been a trainer for four years.  This program has helped me make premarital sessions meaningful and impactful.  This has been particularly true for weddings that include couples that are not part of our congregational life.  This simple tool gives a quick and insightful snapshot of the couples relationship.  

More than Premarital

This training is more than just a premarital program.  Prepare/Enrich offers inventories that are useful in helping everyone in a long-term relationship identify their strengths and areas of growth.  

Helps Couples Improve Their Relationship

To achieve this goal Prepare/Enrich helps couples look a the following aspects of their relationship:

  • get-more-infoExplore strength and growth areas
  • Strengthen communication skills
  • Identify and manage major stressors
  • Resolve conflict using the Ten Step Model
  • Develop a more balanced relationship
  • Explore family of origin issues
  • Discuss financial planning and budgeting
  • Establish personal, couple and family goals
  • Understand and appreciate personality differences

Affordable Training 

The Prepare/Enrich Training cost $200 with lunch provided.  This one time training allows you to use the program without any ongoing training cost.

Affordable Per-couple Cost

Prepare/Enrich is a cost effective tool to use.  Each couple cost $35 for the online inventory and report.  This cost can be directly paid to Prepare/Enrich through their website by the couple when they log-in to complete the inventory or the facilitator can “purchase” the scorings.  This fee is easy to include in “Wedding Fees” or is affordable enough for most churches to budget for.

Easy to Use

Prepare/Enrich is administered through an easy web based tool.  Couples complete the inventory online and a report is accessible almost instantly.  

Who Should Use Prepare/Enrich?

The inventory has been utilized by over 100,000 trained clergy members, professional counselors, mentors, and marriage educators throughout the U.S.

Scientifically Based

An important strength of the Prepare/Enrich Inventory is their strong psychometric properties. High levels of reliability and validity have been found for each instrument, making them valuable tools for research as well as clinical use.

  • National Norms based on over 500,000 couples
  • High Levels of Validity and Reliability

Prepare has validity in that it discriminates premarital couples that get divorced from those that are happily married with about 80-85% accuracy. Reliability is high (alpha reliability of .80 – .85).

If you would like more information on upcoming trainings please click here:


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Reflecting on 13 Signs of Leadership Fatigue

tired-manThom Rainer of LifeWay often offers insightful thoughts on pastoral leadership.  His recent blog post 13 Signs of Leadership Fatigue  he offers a few indicators of the early stages of burnout.  The pastoral life is one that is demanding and at times isolated.  It is easy for pastors to find themselves on the brink of burnout without realizing it.

Here is Thom’s list:

  1. Living by a “get me through the day” philosophy
  2. Losing vision
  3. Developing poor sleep patterns
  4. Declining spiritual disciplines
  5. Repeating lessons and sermons
  6. Faking joy and excitement
  7. Frustrating family members
  8. Magnifying minors
  9. Failing to return emails and phone calls
  10. Misdirecting affections.
  11. Decreasing exercise
  12. Focusing on a “grass is greener” syndrome
  13. Avoiding people who speak truth

One thing that really didn’t surprise me about this list is that it is that leadership fatigue has a wide effect on a person’s life.  As you read this list you notice that like most issues, the consequences of burnout span the whole of a persons life. Pastor’s vocational, personal and spiritual lives are not compartmentalized.

Engaging a coach in your life before this dynamic is prevalent can have life changing results.  Pastors may find themselves alone in the journey of leadership.  A coach can be an advocate and champion for your long term health and wellness in ministry.

Likewise, if you find that your are already in the midst of the dark valley that is leadership burnout a coach can be a companion through the valley and out of fatigue.  A vital coaching relationship empowers the client to dream about a positive solution to the concerns at hand.  A coach lends strength and guidance as you explore how to transform the fatigue of ministry into a renewed vigor in a pastor’s sacred calling.

  • Do you have any other “signs” of fatigue you would like to offer?
  • What are some ways you address these signs?


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