10 Great Relationship Principles I’ve Learned from John Maxwell – Part 2 of 2

*This is part two of the article published in the previous post.

6) Admit wrongs and forgive quickly.

Taking responsibility for your actions is core to healthy and productive relationships.

If you make a mistake, own it. If you treat someone poorly, ask forgiveness. Getting defensive or bowing up never makes a relationship better. You might be right, but if you need to win, you’ll lose in the long run.

When you are wronged, forgive quickly. You’ll live with less stress and enjoy life more fully.

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7) Always give more than you take.

There may be a few people in your life that you think it’s impossible to out give them. I understand that. John would be one of those people in my life. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t purpose to be generous anyway.

And with the majority of people, you will ever know, you can set your sights to give more than you take. However, this is not about a scorecard. If you keep track, you’ve missed the point. It’s a heart level thing. It’s a way of living, and when your motives are pure, it will bring you great joy.

8) Add value to people.

You can add value to people in simple ways and big ways. Adding value is no more complex than the idea of how you contribute to their life, so their life is better.

It can be as simple as a kind and encouraging word, and it can be as involved as a lifetime of mentoring. Sometimes it involves enough love and courage to have a tough and honest conversation.

The greatest value you can add to anyone is the message of Jesus Christ. The gift of eternal life is the greatest and highest value you can bring to someone.

9) You can never encourage anyone too much.

We both know the answer, but let me ask anyway. Have you ever been encouraged too much by someone? Of course not.

Encouragement is the emotional fuel that enables people to hold longer, reach farther and dig deeper than previously believed possible.

Whether it’s your kids, an employee, volunteers at the church, a co-worker or your neighbor, take the time to give frequent and sincere encouragement. Your leadership will rise because of it.

10) Trust is the lifeblood of all relationships.

When it comes to a relationship, trust is like a promise. And you should never break a promise.

In fact, that’s the essence of trust. People are counting on you to keep your promises. This reflects your character and ultimately who you are.

No reasonable person expects perfection, but they do expect honesty, kindness and doing what you say you’ll do.

This article was originally published at: Danreiland.com

10 Great Relationship Principles I’ve Learned from John Maxwell – Part 1 of 2

By Dan Reiland

If you don’t invest in friendships, you may end up traveling through life alone. The encouraging truth is that great relationships are not that difficult. They require time, love and the willingness not always to get your way.

John Maxwell has been a great friend and mentor for over 35 years. I’m so grateful for his love, belief, and investment in me.

He has taught me so much about relationships over the years; I could fill a book. But for now, I’ll share just ten of my favorite principles with you.

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10 Great Relationship Principles:

1) We see people through our own lens.

Your self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-perception establish the foundation of all your relationships. The way you view yourself and the way you see life shapes how you see and relate to others.

Whether you see the cup as half full or half empty will transfer every time.

When you invest in yourself, your personal growth and maturity, your relationships will always improve.

2) People don’t care how much you know, till they know how much you care.

Caring about people isn’t automatic. Not everyone cares. I’m sure you’ve run into people along the way that it’s clear that they just don’t care.

You can’t learn to care, it’s not a skill, but you can decide to care. You can ask God to help you become more caring.

If you want to lead for the long-haul, it isn’t enough to be great at what you do. If you don’t sincerely care about people and live in such a way that you demonstrate it, your leadership will suffer.

People don’t care how much you know, till they know how much you care.

3) Listening from the heart changes things.

One of the greatest gifts you can give to anyone is to truly listen.

We are often in a hurry, there is so much to do, right? So, when you slow down for a minute or an hour and truly listen, you communicate that you value that person. It can be life-changing for them.

Listening from the heart requires the ability to make a soul level connection. You communicate empathy, interest and a desire to be helpful far more by listening than merely by your words.

4) Believing the best in people usually brings out the best of people.

Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Sorry, but I love that corny line because it’s true! What you look for you will find.

I was surprised one day when asked why pastors and people only say the good things about someone at their funeral. Why would you want to emphasize someone’s shortcomings?

We are all flawed and imperfect, but when someone calls out the best in us, we often rise to that higher standard.

5) People who are hurting hurt other people.

When the response to a situation is greater than the issue at hand, the real issue is always about something else. The wise leader learns how to get to the real issue.

People who are hurting don’t necessarily want to hurt people, but it’s like a lion with a thorn in his paw, he can’t help it. If we can help people take the thorn out, we can help them live better. In turn, if you are in a relationship with them, your life becomes better too.

*This article will continue in the next post.

A 5 Step Process for Leaders to Handle Their Mistakes

By Dan Reiland

When you are out in front leading, missteps are part of the journey. If you aren’t making mistakes, you probably aren’t leading.

All leaders make mistakes, the key is to not make the same one twice. If a leader makes the same mistake twice, it’s an indication they are not learning.

I’ve sure made my fair share of mess-ups and I’m not free from them now. Hopefully, not as frequent these days, and the context is also important. That is, you are doing more things right than wrong. But again, if you are leading in uncharted waters you will make mistakes.

Leaders who try to cover up, justify or minimize their mistakes often struggle with deeper issues. It can be anything from pride, to insecurity, to not wanting the mistake to be revealed.

But other times we just take ourselves too seriously. And it’s highly beneficial to be in an environment that is forgiving of our goof-ups.

At 12Stone we give two fun awards each month at our All Staff meeting. One is called the Good Bird, and it’s given out for great servant leadership. The other is called the Dirty Bird, and it’s kind of our “Dumb and Dumber” award. The scary thing is that I think our staff loves getting that one more! We laugh and have a great time with it. The important thing is that we can laugh at the dumb things we do and the mistakes we make because it’s a safe and healthy environment.

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A 5-step process to handle your mistakes well:

1) Own it completely.

You may or may not be at fault for the mistake, but if you are the leader, you are responsible. Take full ownership.

On more than one occasion relating to problem by one of my team members, I’ve said to our senior pastor, “I’m responsible for this situation and I’m on it.”

If something is directly your fault, it’s all the more important to own it fully. Sometimes an apology is due, then move on.

Don’t try to dodge it, hide it, or back the truck up over someone else. Just own it and move forward.

2) Disclose it quickly.

When you make a mistake, speak up right away. This is courageous and clears the air. It enables everyone to move toward solutions and make progress rather than assign blame.

If something goes wrong, you should be the first one to say, “Hey, I made a mistake.” Not “Oops.” Don’t minimize it. It’s better to say, “That’s my mistake.” Our words as leaders make a difference.

It’s not necessary to make it a big deal. In fact, a poised and matter of fact statement is all that is needed.

Your boss, or your team will love you for it, and your candid and mature disclosure increases trust. They will have more respect for you because you saw it, owned it, and spoke up.

And it’s never a good idea to have your boss to find out from someone other than you.

3) Solve it correctly.

Left unsolved, mistakes get bigger not better.

Solutions help turn the corner from a problem to progress. A good solution changes the focus from the negative tone of a “mistake,” to one of forward motion and progress.

Dive in deep to fix the mistake. Cosmetic work that is just enough to cover the surface doesn’t really fix the problem. Solutions that last require more than touch up.

Understanding what went wrong and the difference between, for example, a system failure or human error is essential.

Follow up is required, repeatedly, until it’s fully rectified. This might be accomplished in a few days, or it could take weeks or months. It doesn’t matter, solve it correctly whatever it takes.

4) Learn from it thoroughly.

If you are like me or most leaders, we move pretty fast.

There’s a lot to do, so I have a tendency to move on a little too quickly. How about you?

Once a problem is solved, I’m on to the next thing. But that doesn’t mean I’ve actually learned something.

It’s important for me to take some time to think through what caused me to make the mistake.

For example, did I lack experience? Did I make the wrong decision, and if so why? Did I not think through the issues enough? Was I distracted? Was it more circumstantial? This process will be relevant and helpful to you as well.

From there, it’s wise to take a few minutes to acknowledge how you would do it better next time.

5) Get over it appropriately.

It’s important to get over your mistake and move on.

Don’t beat yourself up. If you have completed the first four steps, shake it off.

Match your level of response to the size of the mistake.

For example, let’s say you blew an appointment, you just missed one and you never do that. The whole process should take you about five minutes. Own the mistake, lead with an apology, set a new appointment, figure out what broke down in your system, and get over it.

Or, for example, you made a huge budgeting error, and now you’re in the hole for that much money. That’s a mistake of a different magnitude.

It’s is going to be complex before you even get started. It will take time to understand what actually happened. It may take months to solve the problem, etc.

But it still starts in the same place. Own it fully and disclose it completely, then dig in to the solution and learning.

There it is.

  1. Own it completely.
  2. Disclose it quickly.
  3. Solve it correctly.
  4. Learn from it thoroughly.
  5. Get over it appropriately.

Pass this on to your staff and friends who lead! 

This article was originally published at: danreiland.com

 

7 Common Communication Mistakes to Avoid

By Dan Reiland

Some of us will never have that great God-given talent to “move the masses,” but we can all improve our public communication skills to meet the need where God has placed us.

It doesn’t matter if you speak to a room of fifty people or three thousand people, the foundational elements of good communication are the same. I don’t preach much, but I teach a lot. That doesn’t let me off the hook. There are boring teachers just like there are boring preachers.

As leaders, we all have a responsibility to become better communicators, even if teaching is not central to our role.

Here are 7 of the most common mistakes, avoid them, and you’ll get better!

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1) Speaking too long.

A great rule of thumb is to keep your talk shorter if it’s not your primary gift. Even if you are good, set a time limit and stick to it. People respond better when they know what they can count on. Simply stated, when you get to the end of your notes, stop.

If you “need” to communicate longer in a teaching environment, there are several things you can do to break it up and help keep it more interactive.

2) Not knowing how to close.

How many times have you listened to a speaker who circled the runway seemingly forever? You wanted to call out, “Land the plane!” (Finish!) Patti, my wife, used to have a hand signal that instructed me to land the plane!

When you write your talk, know where you are going. Have a singular purpose in mind and answer these two questions. What do you want them to know? What do you want them to do? End with precision and clarity in your spiritual encouragement or challenge.

Skilled communicators have a singular purpose in mind and know how to close.

3) Seeking approval, rather than change.

Like good leadership, good communication begins with self-awareness. People pleasing and insecurity are big stumbling blocks to good communication. You become too worried about what people think of you to focus on them.

Knowing who you are and being comfortable in your own skin is a major part of great communication.

Communicators that are secure in themselves stay away from things like exaggeration, forcing humor just to get a laugh, and softening the truth.

The ultimate goal of any communicator in the local church is to move people toward change for their good, according to Biblical values and Christ-like living.

4) Too much content, too little application.

We all like to let our Bible knowledge out from time to time, and it’s obviously good to be passionate about scripture. But the point of our communication isn’t information; it’s transformation. That makes application incredibly important.

I remind myself that the epistles are basically half content, half application. Less is more. Candidly, it’s more work to reduce the content. As the communicator, we should do the work, not make the listeners work to understand what we are saying.

Remember, what do you want them to know, and what do you want them to do?

5) Intellectual integrity over spiritual intensity.

Diligent study is a vital part of good communication, but prayer brings the true life-changing power.

Your preparation in study is a required discipline; you can’t communicate a sermon or lesson without it. The truth is that we can communicate a message without prayer. That is scary, and makes the talk nearly worthless in terms of eternity.

One of the attributes I most respect, and have learned from our senior pastor Kevin Myers, is deep commitment and passion for prayer. Prayer is a profoundly integral part of his preparation to communicate anything. The results are obvious.

6) Failing to connect.

Your ability to be real and connect at a heart level creates the most noticeable improvement in your communication.

Stories are one of the best ways to connect, and you can increase your connection by improving your ability to tell a story. Authenticity gains you great trust in the room.

Reading the room is also key to you understanding how well you connect. A “public speaker” talks at the people, a communicator has a conversation with the people. He or she sees and senses the emotional temperature of the room and adjusts the tone of the talk as they go.

7) Underestimating the significance of encouragement.

When change, true transformation is the goal (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:11-16), you simply can’t over encourage those you speak to.

A good communicator always gives hope. Help the people believe they can do it, and God will help them with the part they can’t do on their own.

It’s not about fluff, Christianity light, or cheap grace. Encouragement is needed to inspire people to first, want to change, and second, elevate self-confidence enough to try.

This article was originally published at: danreiland.com

8 Good Questions to Evaluate Your Church

By Dan Reiland

It’s easy to get so busy doing ministry that you don’t take the time to evaluate your ministry.

But evaluation is how you get better.

It’s like your annual physical. No one wants to get a check-up, blood work, and maybe a test or two, but that’s how you learn what you need to know.

Then, of course, you need to act on what you learn.

The 4-point plan to get better:

  • Ask the right questions.
  • Give honest answers in a group process.
  • Determine the best-prioritized plan for improvement.
  • Take action.

It starts with asking the right questions.

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8 good questions that will help your ministry get better:

1) How is the unique culture of your church helping you make progress?

Sam Chand wrote an excellent book titled Breaking Your Church’s Culture Code. He states that more than vision, programs, money, or staff, culture has the greatest impact on your church’s future.

How would you describe your culture? Is it what you want? Is your church culture helping or hurting as you pursue God’s purpose for your church? What changes do you need to make? If the culture is healthy, what practices are in place to stay healthy?

2) How would you describe the overall morale of your church?

Are the people happy with your church? That question seems very subjective but is surprisingly easy to answer.

Do they trust the leadership? Are they fired-up about the mission? Are they passionate about following Jesus? Is there momentum? Are problems solved with relative ease (without significant resistance? You get the idea.

Morale and culture are closely linked. If you are struggling and the culture and morale are not ideal, I urge you to pour your leadership energy there first.

3) What is your approach to spiritual formation in your church?

Is there an overall sense that people are pursuing God? It’s not about perfection, but do you see progress? What factors do you consider important to help assess spiritual maturity?

Consider things like prayer, serving others, obedience, and financial generosity. How about the fruit of the Spirit like love, joy, and peace, etc.?

Do you utilize small groups? How is community developed? What priority does biblical truth hold? A great overall approach to assess spiritual growth is to gather stories of life change.

4) Are you developing new leaders?

Next to the favor of God, everything rises and falls on leadership. Do the leaders in your church demonstrate a strong spiritual depth and a servant’s heart? What is your plan to find and develop new and better leaders? You will not realize your potential as a church without a serious dedication to this process.

5) How would you describe the strength of your volunteer teams?

Are your volunteers part of vibrant and productive teams or a struggling band of survivors? Much of that depends on how you select, train, encourage and empower your volunteers. Do you recruit to a vision or just to get a task done?

All churches face the pressure of needing people to volunteer to serve, but how you build teams makes a significant difference. How would you rate the overall esprit de corps of your volunteer ministries? What is the first best step to strengthen your teams?

6) What are the financial indicators telling you?

It is relatively easy to measure results when it comes to money. The weekly offering defines reality. At the same time, one of the largest challenges a leader will ever face is successfully inspiring the people to trust God with their finances and remain faithful to generous giving.

Are you bold in your teaching of God’s truth about money? Do you offer practical training about money management? Do you personally model generosity? Where are you stronger regarding money, faith or practice?

7) Are you on mission?

You must first be clear about the purpose of your church. What is your mission/vision – exactly? Does your congregation have a good sense of what it is? Are you acting on that mission?

It’s essential that your leaders become and remain aligned together in that mission. It will always feel like you are swimming upstream if you are not headed in the same direction.

8) Do your people enthusiastically invite others to your worship services?

I have coached churches where the people had obviously lukewarm feelings about the worship service. They were not motivated to invite someone even if they had a friend they wanted to bring.

It’s not always the worship service, but it starts there. Is there anything about your church that would cause your congregation to pause about inviting their friends?

This is a huge evangelistic combination. If your people are committed to the vision enough to invite people to church, and your worship experience (from nursery to invitation) is worth inviting people to – that is the combination you work toward!

I trust these questions will be helpful to you and the health of your church.

I pray God’s wisdom for your leadership and His favor upon you!

This article was originally published at: danreiland.com

 

Practical Points For Leading Difficult People

This is part two of the article published in the previous post written by Dan Reiland.

1) Discover what is underneath.

When a person becomes difficult, and the situation seems to persist, try setting the issue aside and take the conversation to a more personal level. 

Get “underneath” the obvious to discover if there is something deeper. My favorite go-to question is “What is really bothering you here?” It’s important to ask that question in a kind and caring way. 

When you connect with the real issue, it’s much easier to love and lead someone. 

2) Manage your own emotions well.

It’s vital to remain emotionally self-aware and in control. When you lose control, you lose. 

This does not mean to become bottled up and detached, but of all the things that could make the list in the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, kindness, forbearance, goodness, faithfulness gentleness, self-control is included! (Galatians 5:22)

When you become angry, you forfeit your leadership.

You can’t stop someone from pushing your buttons, but you don’t have to descend to their level.

Here’s a practical plan for when a difficult person is getting to you.

• Count to 5.

• Lower your volume.

• Sit back in your chair.

• Speak deliberately.

• Call time out if you need to.

Hot heads never win in the long run. 

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3) Set limits and boundaries.

So far, I’ve emphasized our approach with difficult people. How we manage our heart, thoughts, and emotions. 

But some people are just plain difficult nearly all the time. We don’t want to be around them, and it can be hard to love them.

Boundaries and limits are healthy and necessary. Here are the boundaries I use.

My first boundary is respect. The person can disagree with me, and express dissatisfaction with my leadership, but it must be respectful. 

My second boundary is alignment. We need to agree on the overall mission and head in the same direction. It cannot become all about their personal agenda.

My third boundary is progress. Difficult conversations are part of leadership, and it’s not uncommon to get stuck for awhile. But soon we need to make progress! 

4) Communicate clear expectations.

Setting clear expectations is vital to working with a difficult person. 

Think through what is needed for a healthy relationship, and progress in ministry and make that clear. 

5) Lead them to higher ground.

This is your opportunity to encourage and inspire.

It’s not about selling and winning, don’t close a deal like you’re in sales.

Help them see themselves and the situation differently and for their good!

  • • Establish common ground.
  • • Communicate their value. Affirm the person.
  • • Point toward the bigger vision.
  • • Warn them of the consequences of continuing in the same path.

6) Pick your battles.

Sometimes people will knock on your door with the intention of “picking a fight.” And sometimes the situation escalates to the level of a battle. 

Always ask yourself, does this battle need to be fought? Sometimes it’s important to set it aside to climb a bigger hill. 

7) Focus on solutions.

Resolution of some kind is needed. 

Productive solutions are best. 

The worst thing is to leave a situation in a mess. Someone needs to clean it up. If you don’t, someone else must. 

Two crucial questions that help bring insight and resolution:

  • • What would you like me to do differently?
  • • What do you want?

When you know what the person wants, you can be clear about whether or not you will be able to comply. In the end, sometimes you must say no and hold your ground. And sometimes you should remove the person from leadership.

There will always be difficult people you are responsible for leading. How you lead them can change you, them, and the church for good!

This article was originally published at: Danreliand.com

 

 

Leading Difficult People

By Dan Reiland

It’s probably true that the most difficult person I lead is me. 

That might be true about you too. 

But beyond that reality, there are those who seem to be genuinely unaware of the negative impact they have on others around them. And there are a few who appear to get a strange sense of satisfaction from creating problems and getting reactions from people. 

These difficult people might be a volunteer leader, a coworker, a staff member, even a family member. It can be almost anyone you are responsible for leading.

When you allow difficult people to “get away with it,” any environment can become toxic. 

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So how can we better lead difficult people and survive to tell the stories?

Let’s start with what doesn’t work.

5 common responses to difficult people that do not work:

  1. Avoid the person and the situation.
  2. Give in and surrender. Give them what they want, let them have their way.
  3. Allow the behavior to continue. You don’t give them what they want, but you allow the person to continue with negativity, gossip, etc.
  4. Pass the responsibility to deal with the person to someone else to handle the situation.
  5. Power up and conquer.

Scripture gives us insight to a better way:

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18

The context in this chapter starting with verse 9 is loving people. Verse 17 says “don’t repay evil for evil,” and vs. 19 says “don’t take revenge.” 

The passage provides in principle, the practical insight we need to deal with difficult people according to God’s heart.

It tells us how we should see people. Especially when you read verse 17, “be careful to do the right thing.”

Here’s a great practical summary:

  • • I am responsible for how I treat others.
  • • I may not be responsible for how they treat me.
  • • I am responsible for how I react to those who are difficult.

Set your heart first:

A) Difficult isn’t a disease.
Don’t run from difficult people you need to lead. It’s natural to recoil from difficult people, but it doesn’t help.

While it may be counter-intuitive to move toward difficult people, it’s important to accept that it’s part of your responsibility as a leader. 

It’s easy to love your friends and followers, but the real test of your leadership is how you influence those who test you. 

B) Forgive and let it go.
One of the most disheartening situations in ministry are leaders who become hurt, bitter and live with regret. 

This may primarily relate to the more extreme situations, but it still happens all too often. Forgiveness isn’t easy, but it’s always the best path.

This article will continue in the next post.