Small Group Leadership TIPS of the Week: 11/16-20/2015

Small Group Leadership TIPS of the past week as Tweeted, posted on the Small Group Leadership Facebook page, and posted on LinkedIn.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *
Monday, 11/16: Do you feel free? Forgiven? Loved? Do you have peace? This affects your leadership. Talk to God abt it 2day.

Tuesday, 11/17: Be radically, irrationally different, as a ldr and a group. Read this from @wtmckenzie:

Wednesday, 11/18: Spend significant time praying. Lift your voices to God for ch ldrs, gov’t ldrs, revival, enemies…

Thursday, 11/19: Dig deeper by asking investigative, even provocative follow-up questions. #facilitate #leadership

Friday, 11/20: Focus on HUMILITY. A #humble #leader is a better #shepherd, #facilitator, #host, #teacher, member.


Follow Mike and Small Group Leadership on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networks by clicking on the icons in the “Connect with Mike” box in the right column.

Want to Be a Great Leader? Live with Integrity!

Our world is in desperate need for leaders with integrity. 

A healthy leader whom God will use to carry out his mission, bearing lasting fruit, is a person of high integrity. But you already knew that, didn’t you? Yet here’s the thing. Integrity is pretty easy to believe in and talk about; but it’s incredibly hard to live out.

Integrity has been defined as doing the right thing even when no one is looking. But it’s more than that. It’s telling the truth even when the facts might damage your reputation or your career. It’s obeying God even when it doesn’t make sense. It’s loving your spouse even when they hurt you. It’s keeping your promises even if you’d never be caught. It’s turning the channel when your favorite TV show “goes there.” It’s following God’s Word even when it’s inconvenient … or extremely difficult … or even if you’d be persecuted for it.

Integrity is impossible in your own strength. 

To live with integrity, you must first love God with all your heart, strength, and mind. Having integrity means you know God is in control of your world, no matter what the circumstances look like. Integrity and faith are intricately connected. Faith and living with integrity both look beyond the current circumstances of your life to something, Someone, bigger, more powerful, more important.

People of integrity seek God’s kingdom first, knowing he will take care of everything else. Living with integrity means you really do believe and trust in God.

“Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord” (Psalm 119:1, NLT). I often don’t see immediate payoffs for keeping my integrity. My integrity costs me something, at least in the short term. But none of these circumstances can take away my joy or the blessings that come from doing the right thing, by following the instructions of the Lord, with God’s power. After all, he is in control.

People of integrity “do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths” (v. 3). We compromise with evil when we stray off his paths, the paths he has cleared, the paths he is walking ahead of us on, the paths he desires for us to walk. His Word is our map for these paths.

The writer of Psalm 119 confessed, “Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees!” (v. 5). Being a person of integrity does not mean being perfect. It does, however, mean being honest, truthful about yourself, and transparent.

People of integrity are humble people. They confess their sins to God and to people they trust.

How do you know if you are living with integrity? The psalmist provided the answer: Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands” (v. 6). How are you doing with this? As you read and meditate on Scripture, do you compare your life with God’s Word?

People of integrity are thankful people. The psalmist said, “As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should!” (v. 7). Thanksgiving is coming up soon. Do you want to be truly thankful to God? Live as you should! In other words, live with integrity each day.

In the final verse in this great section, the psalmist says, I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me!”(v. 8). I can relate with that, can’t you? Actually, it should probably say, “I will try to obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me when I fail!”

Integrity is impossible without God, but it does take intentional, everyday effort on my part. The biggest thing for me that makes integrity possible is spending time with God each day, reading his Word, listening to him, and growing in my relationship with him. I learn what integrity is from his Word, and he gives me the strength I need to live his way.

Do you want to be a leader after God’s own heart? Live with integrity.

A Daddy Who Stoops Down

A dad stops what he is doing to bend down and really listen to his child. It’s not that the dad doesn’t have other things on his mind; he certainly does. This dad is making a statement: My child is important. I may have the positional power and persuasion of a parent, but I will stoop down to my child’s level because I love this kid. I want to look into my child’s eyes and really listen.

This is a picture of our heavenly Daddy.

Because he bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I have breath! (Psalm 116:2, New Living Translation)

He loves us so much that he makes us his priority. He bends down. He cares. He listens. He acts.

I love this imagery, this personification of God. He is the Creator of the Universe, all-powerful, all-knowing, the Alpha and the Omega, and he bends down to look his precious child in the eyes and listen attentively. (The New International Version translates the phrase as “he turned his ear to me,” which is not nearly as picturesque; the Revised Standard Version and others translate it as “he inclined his ear to me,” which pictures God bending over to listen, either because he cares enough for me to do so or because my voice is so weak that he must — or both!)

This is exactly what the Father did when he sent Jesus down to us. He humbly stooped down to our level so he could look us in the eyes and feel our pain. He stooped down to wash his follower’s feet. He stooped down to serve us, especially in the ultimate act of service and self-sacrifice when he took on our sins as if they were his own and died on the cross so we could be forgiven.

God the Father stoops down to us. We don’t–we can’t–reach up to him by our own wisdom and work. I’ll come back to this thought tomorrow … because God’s stooping down to us requires something from us, and it’s not working harder or trying to measure up. It’s something so easy and yet it’s something so many of us have so much trouble doing.

For today, just pray, knowing that your Daddy is stooping down to you. He’s listening.

How I Prepare to Spend Time with God

As I sat down to spend time with my Father this morning, I went through a ritual of sorts. Not the kind of dead ritual of thoughtless, purposeless religious duty, but a heart-felt practice I’ve developed over the years. I share it here hoping that you may find something that helps you drawl closer to God each day.

This is not a list. I don’t do everything here each day and not in any set order. These are just some of the things I pray as I sit down to spend time with God:

Thanks for the privilege of being able to come to you. I know it’s only possible because of what Jesus did for me.

I surrender what I want for what you want with my life. Not my will, but yours be done.

 You alone are God. I praise you. You are worthy of my praise, adoration, love … all that I am. (I often speak attributes of God, especially those that feel very true that day.)

I am sorry for my sin. (I take some time and take an inventory of where I’ve fallen short and confess it to God. I try to be tough on myself here and ask myself before God if I am really sorry for my sin.)

What do you want me to see today? What do you want me to hear from you?

What do you want to change in my heart?

In what area(s) am I conforming to the world rather than to you?

What part of my mind needs to be transformed/renewed?

Help me to be humble and quiet before you so that I can truly hear what you have to say to me. Help me set aside my own agenda or anything else that would keep me from hearing from you.

I know I have an enemy who does not want me to talk with you or hear from you. But I know you are for me and are fighting for me. Send your angel armies to protect me today. (I sometimes spend time here asking for God’s protection on my family and every other part of my life.)

Thank you for your Holy Spirit who guides me, comforts me, and counsels me. You have taken up residence in my heart and you have given me power through your Spirit to do the things you are calling me to do.

As I read your Word today, I acknowledge that it is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I want it to be my guide for living. I believe your Word gives me the way to live life your way, which is the absolute best way for me to live. I accept your Word for what it says.

Help me to obey what you tell me in your Word and through your Spirit. I will obey your Word!

It’s not about me. It’s all about you. I am your vessel. Show me what you want me to do today. Show me how you can use me to bring about your purposes. I am no longer my own. I belong to you.

I love you, Lord. I love you Father. I love you Jesus. I love you Spirit. I love you … but I know I only can do that because you loved me first. Thank you for your unconditional love for me. I know I don’t deserve it on my own accord, but I thank you Jesus that you redeemed me. I love you.

Lessons from Lynyrd Skynyrd & Mother Teresa

I’m conflicted.

I was talking yesterday with a fellow Louisville groups minister and writer, and he kidded me about my new author’s page on Facebook (and yes, I did just link to it so you can check it out!).

When I was thinking about adding this page on Facebook, I admit I was very conflicted. I want to be a humble man of God. I try to be. But I’m not always very good at it. Lots of room to grow here. I love the song by Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Simple Man,” written from the perspective of a mother talking to her son. Here is part of the song (the complete lyrics can be found here):

And be a simple kind of man
Be something you love and understand
Baby be a simple kind of man
Oh, won’t you do this for me son if you can?

Forget your lust for the rich man’s gold
All that you need is in your soul
And you can do this, oh baby, if you try
All that I want for you my son is to be satisfied

I want to be that simple kind of man, the kind of man who works not to satisfy myself, but the God who created me for his purpose.

I explained to a friend that it’s like Mother Teresa said, “I’m just a little pencil (or maybe a laptop?) in the hand of a writing God.” I thank him for giving me a gift to share.

Today, Bernice posted a question on the page asking me a valid question: “Is this a money maker or what is your purpose, just curious??” I’m glad she asked. Here’s my response:

My heart is for God to use me to help leaders. The way I feel called to do that is partially through my writing, and I would like to let more people know about it. I don’t want to self-promote, and I’m not getting rich through the sales of books I’ve written. But when you write, you hope and pray God will use it to have as widespread effect as it can.

I want to honor God through what I do and I hope and pray that God will use my life to somehow advance his purposes in his kingdom.

God has created me with a two-fold passion for small groups and leadership, and he’s given me a love for writing. I want to be a good steward of what he’s given me. I don’t want to be a “self-promoter.” I fight the urge to do that. And, to be truthful, I do feel some pride well up when any worldly success comes. It’s almost like I want to prove myself to my dad (who passed from this life 11 years ago): “See, dad! I’m a success.” That feeling comes from a black part of my heart that I ask God to continue to heal.

Now I know that by putting up my own author’s page on Facebook, I risk looking arrogant. My intention may be misunderstood. God knows my heart. He’ll eventually judge my intentions. So I took a risk. Now I’m explaining it (probably over-explaining it!). I guess I’m sharing this because I do care about what my friends think in a (hopefully) positive way. I want you to know my true heart. I want you to see what’s on the other side of the page.

My hope is that I someday get to hear my Heavenly Father say, “Well done!” My prayer is simply that all the attention and glory goes to him, not me. He deserves it. I don’t. He’s worthy of it. I’m not. If I’m going to be an author or a leader or anything, I want to first be a man after his heart.

How is God using you today to send his love letter to the world?

Great Humility = Great Leadership

It takes great humility to be a great leader. Moses was a great leader because he was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth (in his own words! See Numbers 12:3.). It takes humility as a leader to listen to others’ advice, especially when they tell you that the way you are leading is not right, and even more especially when that person is your father-in-law!

“Moses listened to his father-in-law’s advice and followed his suggestions.”
– Exodus 18:24
Earlier in this chapter, Moses had recounted all God had done for the Israelite people. Moses’ words focused on God’s provision, not his own greatness, but still, Moses knew that he was the man God had chosen to lead the people.
If that would have been me (and probably you!) standing there before my father-in-law, I’m not sure I would have been so quick to listen to his unsolicited advice. After all, Jethro was not one of God’s people. He had not been “through the wilderness” with Moses. He was not a certified organizational strategist. Moses had every reason to say, “Hey Jethro, why don’t you take your high-falutin’ sixth-grade-educatiun double-naught-spy-actin’ five-gozinta-ten-countin’ britches back the hills …” Oh, sorry, wrong Jethro.
My point is, we can learn something from Moses here. He listened and followed Jethro’s advice because he was humble enough to know that he did not know it all. Moses was flexible to change “his” way of doing things, so he could be more effective and productive in his leadership.
Lord, I recognize that I lack this kind of humility. I need your help to become the person you want me to be. Help me to be flexible and to adjust my “organizational structure” and way of doing things so that the ministry you’ve given me will grow and flourish. Send me a “Jethro,” Lord, who can help me see better ways of carrying out the work of which you’ve given me stewardship. Help me to delegate responsibilities and share the ownership and leadership of my group, ministry, church, whatever you’ve called me to.