10 Characteristics of Future Leaders

Navigational Tools PhotoTim Elmore, in his book Habitudes: The Art of Changing Culture, says that there are 10 characteristics of future leaders. He says “future” because we live a world that is so complex and fast-paced that the old top-down model of leadership will not do. He says “future” because the way things were is not the way things will be. The future will require a different kind of leader.

So what does it take to be a “future” leader? What characteristics must he or she develop? Below are the ten characteristics with my own personal comments:

  1. Highly Relational – It’s no longer just about production and efficiency; instead, it’s about experiences and community.
  2. Interprets Culture Well – Because of globalism and the internet, the future leader must be able to identify and exegete the culture he or she is trying to influence.
  3. Emotionally Secure – This one hurts. If you want to be able to lead young, intelligent, visionary leaders, then you better have tough skin. You better know who God is, who you are, and what He has called you to do.
  4. Share Ownership Freely – If accomplishing the mission is more important than your ego, you will allow other people to take ownership. If you want the organization to carry on long after you are gone, then you will give away ownership.
  5. Empower Others – Closely related to #4, empowering others requires you to become more than a boss, it requires you to become a mentor and coach. It requires you to consider those under your leadership more important than yourself (Philippians 2:3-4).
  6. Comfortable with Uncertainty – Like the great theologian Mike Tyson said, “Everybody has a plan till they get punched in the face.” If you think everything will go exactly how you planned it, then buckle up, cause you’re in for a ride. Future leaders will learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
  7. Listen and Foster Self-Discovery – The people you lead are more than cogs in a wheel. They have their own goals and ambitions for the future. Future leaders will help them discover who they really are – their strengths, their weaknesses, their purpose, and their calling.
  8. Embrace the Role of a Mentor – If you really want to leave a mark in someone’s life, then you will take them under your wing. You will invite them into your life and teach them everything you know. There is no way around it … this will take time.
  9. Less Formal in Structure – We’re not going for image and outward appearance; instead, we’re going for depth, character, and godliness. Motives, passions, and the desires that drive a follower is what we’re interested in (See 1 Samuel 16).
  10. Driven by Service More Than Ego – The future leader will lead from the bottom-up, instead of top-down. They will do whatever they can to serve their team and help others succeed around them. Just as Jesus came “not to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45), the future leader will lead in humility and sacrificial service.

Of these ten characteristics, which ones describe you the most? Which ones the least?

Over the next few months, pick one or two of these characteristics to work on and learn more about. It can’t help but benefit the future of your organization or church.


Conquering the Quiet Time

Bible Study ImageJust so you know, you’re not the only one who struggles with a consistent quiet time (“Quiet time” is a common term used in evangelical circles to describe their time studying the Bible and praying) . We live in such a fast pace, complex society, with information coming at us in a million different directions, that we’re all stretched too thin. This makes a consistent time of prayer and Bible study extremely difficult. Even though I’m a pastor, this is a constant struggle for me.

I’d like to share with you two things I’ve done recently that have helped increase my consistency with my quiet time.

1. Prayer Aids

Valley of Vision ImageOne of the things I’ve started doing is using prayer aids to get me out of my prayer ruts. You know, those patterns you get into when you pray the exact same thing every day with your mind on auto pilot. The two that I’m currently using are The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, and the new Crossway publication of The Psalms .

So here’s how it works for me. A few mornings ago I read a prayer in The Valley of Vision titled, “Belonging to Jesus.” The prayer begins, saying:

Teach me to see that if Christ has pacified thee and satisfied divine justice he can also deliver me for my sins; that Christ does not desire me, now justified, to live in self-confidence in my own strength, but gives me the law of the Spirit of life to enable me to obey thee.

As I read through the prayer I’ll stop at various places and expound on the content. This particular morning I focused on the power over sin I have in Christ, the dangers of self-confidence, and divine enablement to live a life of holiness. Elaborating on this prayer brings variety and spontaneity to my prayers.

This is dramatically different than our typical morning prayers racing to work. It magnifies the gospel, it shows me the strength I have in the Spirit, and it’s very uplifting as I start my day in the morning.

I essentially do the same thing with The Psalms, ESV.

psalms esv

So for example, in Psalm 16:11 says, “you make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures for evermore.” On this particular morning I prayed about the ways that He has made known to me the path of life, and how He has been my joy and pleasure in life. I asked Him to help me to keep Him number one in my life, and to continue to bring joy and pleasure to my life. Once again, this is not a prayer that I would come up with on my own.

The main thing to  remember is that it is not just rehearsing the prayers, it’s not just repeating what the words say on the page, it’s about letting these amazing prayers and thoughts spur me on to pray more richly and deeply.

2. Splitting Up Prayer and Bible Reading Time

The second thing I have done, is I have separated my prayer time and Bible reading time. In the morning before I leave the house, I pray, then I head to my local Starbucks or my office at my church for my Bible reading time. The real breakthrough for me was when I separated the prayer time and the Bible reading time.

When I used to do them together I would always rush through my prayer time, because I knew I had to get into the Word as well. One, or both of them, would always get second best. I have a one track mind and when I try to do two things at once, I tend to get distracted or discouraged, and I end up doing neither. So now I split them apart, and, so far, it has been working.

The important thing is that you spend time in the Word and in prayer. My encouragement to you is that you do whatever you need to do to make that a consistent habit in your life. If this helps, fantastic! If not, keep trying and don’t give up!

Question: What has worked, or not worked, for you in your pursuit of conquering your quiet time?






Take a Look …

Binoculars ImageEvery Friday       in a perfect world       I like to have a post with random, interesting articles that I’d recommend you take a look at. So enjoy …

Not All Doctrines Are at the Same Level, Justin Taylor

Taylor gives three models that help believers differentiate between essential and non-essential doctrines.

Islamic State Threatens to Kill Christians in Syria, Morning Star News

We need to continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Syria. Step One: Don’t forget about them!

Steve Jobs, The Movie: 11 Things that Aren’t True About the Apple Co-Founder, Fast Company

8 Successful People Share How Not to Find a Mentor, Fast Company

I’m always looking for better ways to be, and find, mentors.

“No one clicked on it, no one liked it …,” Seth Godin

What a great reminder when you start obsessing over “likes” and “clicks.”

How 2015 Graduates From Theological Schools Are Faring, David Murray

“The Association of Theological Schools, the main accrediting agency for North American Seminaries, has just issued its annual report on how 2015 graduates from theological schools are doing.  Here’s a summary of the most important statistics:”

6 Ways to Embrace the Benefits of Christian Community, Millennial Evangelical

“In one of the chapters of True Worshipers, Bob writes about the importance of gathering together to worship in community as the body of Christ. However, to participate in the community of faith, you really have to embrace it, which might cost you something or force you to change.

Here are six ways you can embrace the benefits of community, according to Bob in True Worshipers (formatting edited for the blog):”


3 Ways to Handle Social Media as a Christian

Social Media ImageSocial media websites and apps are an essential part of our everyday lives.

Like all technology, these mediums can be used for good or evil. My wife, for example, was born and raised in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Her family still lives in Belo Horizonte and they speak Portuguese, but not English. To my shame I have not learned Portuguese, which obviously makes communication with my in-laws and her siblings extremely difficult (I know some of you may wish this was the case with your in-laws). But the cool thing is, through Facebook and Google Translate I can communicate with her family whenever I want. In fact just the other day her brother read one of my blogs and we talked about it through Facebook.

On the other hand, I see a lot of evil in these mediums too. I’m not just talking about things like the Ashley Madison scandal or terrorist networks. I’m talking about the way Christians often treat each other and those with opposing views in social media.  The disrespect, name-calling, and fighting that goes on on these sites is simply disturbing.

So how should Christians handle social media, knowing its potential for both good and evil?

1. Speak the truth in love

Paul makes clear in his letter to the Ephesians that believers are to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). This is not an easy thing, but it is something that we all, as followers of Christ, must pursue. Some of us are great at showing love, but terrified of offending someone with the truth. While others are bastions of truth, but seem to lack any idea of what it means to show charity and love. Somehow we must find a way to do both or not enter into the discussion.

2. Build up, don’t tear down

If your intention in the comments section is just to criticize and tear down, then keep it to yourself. Paul says again in Ephesians, “let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”  We should be grace-givers, whose goal is to build up.

It doesn’t mean you can’t engage in debate or disagreements. What it means is that  your purpose in these debates is to love people, glorify God, and exalt the truth.

3. Check your heart

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to blast someone in the comments section because of a ridiculous post.  You know what I’m talking about! I mean, I’ve thought of some pretty awesome comebacks. But then I check my heart and realize that, in that moment, it’s more about putting someone in their place, and the applause that would come from that, then it is about loving the person and loving the truth.

Much of the negativity we see would be eliminated if we would just check our hearts.


20 Habits of an Effective Leader

H3 Leadership ImageI’m excited to begin reading Brad Lomenick’s new book, H3 Leadership: Be Humble, Stay Hungry, and Always Hustle. His book seeks to answer three questions: 1) Who are you? 2) Where are you going? 3) How will you get there?

In order to answer these questions, you must cultivate these 20 habits:

  1. A Habit of Self-Discovery: Know who you are
  2. A Habit of Openness: Share the real you with others
  3. A Habit of Meekness: Remember it’s not about you
  4. A Habit of Conviction: Stick to your principles
  5. A Habit of Faith: Prioritize your day so God is first
  6. A Habit of Assignment: Live out your calling
  7. A Habit of Ambition: Develop an appetite for what’s next
  8. A Habit of Curiosity: Keep Learning
  9. A Habit of Passion: Love what you do
  10. A Habit of Innovation: Stay current, creative, and engaged
  11. A Habit of Inspiration: Nurture a vision for a better tomorrow
  12. A Habit of Bravery: Take calculated risks
  13. A Habit of Excellence: Set standards that scare you
  14. A Habit of Stick-with-it-ness: Take the long view
  15. A Habit of Execution: Commit to completion
  16. A Habit of Team Building: Create an environment that attracts and retains the best and brightest
  17. A Habit of Partnership: Collaborate with colleagues and competitors
  18. A Habit of Margin: Nurture healthier rythms
  19. A Habit of Generosity: Leave the world a better place
  20. A Habit of Succession: Find power in passing the baton

Take a personal inventory of which habits you do well and which one’s you struggle with, then give the book a read!


Head Knowledge is Not Enough

3657889982_b8572a313e_oHow do we know if we’re growing in our faith? Why is it that someone can be a Christian for decades and know the Bible inside and out, but experience very little growth in their love for God and people?

I think one of the many problems is that  people equate head knowledge with spiritual growth. They think by learning more  information about God, they will become more like God. Unfortunately, that is not the case. If your knowledge of God and His Word remains “head knowledge” and never penetrates the heart, then you will experience very little life change.

Read what William Gurnall (1617-1679) says on this in his famous book on spiritual warfare, The Christian in Complete Armor:

He who has only a nodding acquaintance with the king may easily be persuaded to change his allegiance, or will at least try to remain neutral in the face of treason. Some professing Christians have only a passing acquaintance with the Gospel. They can hardly give an account of what they hope for, or whom they hope in. And if they have some principles they take kindly to, they are so unsettled that every wind blows them away, like loose tiles from a housetop.

When Satan buffets and temptation washes over you like a tidal wave, you must cling to God’s truths. They are your shelter in every raging storm. But you must have them on hand, ready to use. Do not wait until it is sinking to patch the boat. A feeble commitment has little hope of safety when caught in a tempest, While that flounders and drowns, holy determination, grounded in the Lord, will life up its head like a rock in the midst of the highest waves.

Scripture promises, “The people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits” (Daniel 11:32). An angel told Daniel which men would stand up and be counted for God when tempted and persecuted by Antiochus. Some would be taken in by the bribery of corrupt men; others would fall victim to intimidation and threats. but a few, would do great things for God. That is to say, to flatteries they would be incorruptible, and to power and force, unconquerable.

Head knowledge of the things of Christ is not enough,; this following Christ is primarily a matter of the heart. If your heart is not fixed in its purpose, your principles, as good as they may be, will hang loose and be of no more use in the heat of battle than an ill-strung bow. Half-hearted resolve will not venture much nor far for Christ.

In the complex, muddled world that we live in, it is not enough to have head knowledge of our faith, we must embrace it at the very core of who we are, then act on it.


3 Ways to Make Disciples

2259592476_afcb08f44c_oIsn’t it amazing that a movement which started with Jesus and twelve disciples has turned into a global movement of over 2.1 billion people? How on earth did this happen?

I think it happened because Jesus inspired and empowered his followers to accomplish this global mission. His mission statement was pretty clear:

And Jesus came and said to them [disciples], “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20).

The Lord’s desire is for His people to go and make disciples. But how do we do this?

1. We Go

We have to get outside the church walls if we want to accomplish Jesus’s mission. Jesus said He would make us “fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19), and if we want to be good fishermen we need to get off the shore and get on the boat.

For some of us this may mean going to the other side of the world, but for others, it may mean going to the other side of the street.

Start asking God where He wants you to go and who He wants you to go to.

2. We Share

Wherever God calls us, He wants us to bring the good news of the gospel with us. Listen to what Paul says in Romans 10:14-15:

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

The reality is, what we have to give is information. It is news. It is the greatest news the world has ever heard that the Son of God came and took on human flesh, lived a perfect life in our place, died on the cross for our sins, and on the third day rose again, defeating death. I’ve heard the saying, “preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words.” That  couldn’t be more wrong. It is vitally important that we use words, because this is the means through which God brings salvation to people.

It is our duty as followers of Christ to share His story. It is His job to change lives.

3. We Teach

Teaching is necessary in order to  make disciples. We must keep in mind, however, that we are teaching for application, not just head knowledge.

The famous nineteenth-century preacher, J.C. Ryle, says :

Let us beware of an unsanctified knowledge of Christianity. It is a dangerous possession, but a fearfully common one in these latter days. We may know the Bible intellectually, and have no doubt about the truth of its contents. We may have our memories well stored with its leading texts, and be able to talk glibly about its leading doctrines. And all the time the Bible may have no influence over our hearts, and wills, and consciences. We may, in reality, be nothing better than the devils.

We make disciples by teaching people to love God and their neighbor, not just intellectually, but deep within their heart and soul.

The primary purpose of gaining biblical knowledge must be a renovation of the heart.


Our mission statement is simple, make disciples. So go, share, and teach. But remember that Jesus is with you every step of the way!


JC Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospel.



Take a Look …

Internet ImageKevin DeYoung, Christian Virtue in the Age of Authenticity

“In a day where people disdain hypocrisy more than any other vice and prize transparency more than any other virtue, you can be as obnoxious as you want to be, fail spectacularly, and sin repeatedly, as long as you never pretend to be any better than you really are. It makes no difference what errors you say, think, or do, if only you are true to yourself. This is life in the Age of Authenticity. “

Ed Stetzer, Community Matters: The Role of Leadership Transformational Groups

“Community plays a vital role in the health of the local church. How does the local church develop healthy, life-changing community?”

Trevin Wax, The Church Needs to the Past and the Future to Be Faithful in the Present

“An overemphasis on any one of these moments in time (past, present, or future) to the exclusion of the others may lead to a distorted Christian witness and make it more difficult for the Church to sustain itself as a viable ‘community of memory.’”

Brett McCracken, Church Unity? Four Prerequisites for Young Evangelicals

“The more you experience the diversity of church expressions in the world, the more clear it becomes that there is no perfect church. And yet we’ve become so conditioned by consumerism to expect that there is.”

Josh Squires, Five Ways to Go from Head Knowledge to Heart Application

One of the hardest things  to do in the Christian life is take what you know and practice it.