HOW TO SAY NO BY SAYING YES

A few weeks from now, we are going to have our Couples’ Getaway, a retreat for married couples who want a refresher or even a tune up so their relationship can continue to honor God.

One of our ministry staff called me and asked how to communicate with a couple who was still unmarried and wanted to join the marriage retreat. For obvious reasons, it wouldn’t be wise for them to come along. But I assume that they wanted to strengthen their relationship with God and relationship with one another.

I went ahead and called  Jasmine (not her real name). I asked how long she has been coming to church with her boyfriend. In the conversation, I found out that not only did she want her boyfriend to know Christ, but they were going to get married in a few months.

After the conversation, I gave her a few suggestions. I told her that a good start is to attend our pre-marriage seminar entitled “Blueprint For Marriage”. Because they wanted to learn how to get started right in their marriage, the seminar would be a great help.

Since I also found out that she wanted her fiancé to know Christ in a greater way, I told her that I would be willing to meet them for coffee or lunch to help them in their journey.

Coming out of that conversation, I explained a few principles with our staff member to share how we can best serve our people in the church and even those outside.

1. GET CONTEXT.

Before saying “no”, it is important to get what is in their hearts. All Jasmine wanted was to get good teaching for their relationship. She also wanted her fiancé to know Christ which is a noble desire.

2. GIVE ALTERNATIVES.

Rather than saying “no” immediately, find ways to help them consider other options that would achieve similar results in the best possible manner.

3. GO THE THE EXTRA MILE.

After figuring out what is the best route to take during the conversation, serve by going the extra mile. Leadership is more than just influence. It is about serving.

It is critical that we learn to hear people out before saying no and find ways to serve them in the best possible way. We can say no, but not out of policy but out of a desire to serve. The principle is this: “people over policy.”

THE KIND OF LEADERSHIP NEXT GENERATION LEADERS LOOK FOR

I was speaking with a professor in one of the top business schools in our city one morning. Our discussion was on how times have changed in terms of leadership.

In the 70’s, 80’s and towards the 90’s, leadership was about STRATEGY, STRUCTURE and SYSTEMS. He came from the hippie generation and because that was the cultural element then, structures and systems were key to lead people who highlighted free expression towards an extreme extent.

But as the millennium shifted, things have changed. Harvard Business Review had an article on the changes in the leadership style that is needed to rally the millennial generation.

As my professor friend emphasized, it’s no longer STRATEGY, STRUCTURES and SYSTEMS but PURPOSE, PEOPLE and PROCESS.

Does this mean systems and structures are not important? Of course not. But what this means is that the way we lead the younger generation has to shift as well.

People over process.

More than top-down leadership, we employ inspirational leadership. More than positional, it is now collaborative.

May God give us wisdom as we lead others in this day and age.

CREATING A LEADERSHIP PIPELINE

Last week, Dr. Frank Damazio came to Every Nation Manila to teach us on the topic of succession planning and creating a leadership pipeline.

Here are some of the take aways from that seminar.

1. Leadership Pipeline is creating a leadership culture that systematically developed potential leaders, effectively mentoring them into right places at right times to match the growth and expansion of the church.

2. All the leaders you’re going to need are either already in the church or on their way. All you need to do is to find them, train them and launch them.

You may ask, “Why can’t I find them?” You can’t find them because they don’t look like leaders yet.

3. Find the potential leaders that nobody wants and develop them to become leaders others will want to hire.

4. The local church is like a wine skin. Bringing in wine from another wineskin will not only ruin the current wine but may destroy the wineskin. Ask: “Are my leaders drinking wine we didn’t make?”

5. Biblical leadership is a leadership culture that serves. Asking, “What can I do to make you successful?” is a good question to ask.

6. “We cannot be what we want to be by remaining what we are.” – Max Dupree.

We need to discern when to adjust structures and strategies depending on the season the organization is in.

7. Reward character, not talent. Boom!

8. Wise leaders trust faithfulness while unwise leaders trust ‘flashiness.’

Those that benefit the most are those who went through the most.

9. Using “they” instead of “us” undermine leadership. When decisions are made, come out of the meeting as a united team.

10. Empowering leadership doesn’t just “tell” people the decision, they “team” the decision.

It doesn’t do justice that I am summarizing the day and a half seminar with Dr. Frank Damazio into 10 statements but hopefully, you got something out of it.

SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN THE CHURCH IN THE PAST 10 YEARS

 

I saw a post on Instagram by one of my mentors and dear friend, Joey Bonfacio where he was touring the Facebook Asia Headquarters in Singapore. It was a video of looking at a huge interactive screen where you see billions of users that are active in real time. After the caption, he placed a hashtag that caught my attention that said #TheWorldHasChanged.

It has indeed changed through the years, decades and centuries. People don’t want TV much these days. It has been replaced by YouTube, Netflix, and other online streaming services. Newspapers have drastically thinned out for people get their news online and even through Twitter. Retail shops have declined in sales for people just buy online these days. (You may add the changes that you see in the comments section below.)

“Over the last five decades or so, we have seen a world unfold that is unlike any we could have imagined, and for which no one could have completely prepared us,” says Neil Cole.

But even in the church world, things are changing.

According to Thom Rainer, researcher and president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, there are eight major changes in the past ten years.

1. TODAY: Smaller worship gatherings.
TEN YEARS AGO: Larger worship gatherings.

– Thousands upon thousands as compared to a comparatively smaller number.

2. TODAY: Smaller church facilities.
TEN YEARS AGO: Larger church facilities.

– Arenas, stadiums, and coliseums as compared to smaller function halls.

3. TODAY: First priority staff person hired: children’s minister
TEN YEARS AGO: First priority staff person hired: worship leader

4. TODAY: Ministry degree optional for church staff members
TEN YEARS AGO: Ministry degree strongly preferred for church staff

5. TODAY: Emphasis on congregational singing
TEN YEARS AGO: Emphasis on performance singing

6. TODAY: Community focus
TEN YEARS AGO: Community myopia

– churches need to reach their “Jerusalem” as they also reach their “Judea, Samaria and the rest of the world.”

7. TODAY: Vital importance of groups
TEN YEARS AGO: Marginal importance of groups

8. TODAY: Church leaders are continuous learners
TEN YEARS AGO: Church leaders “degree and done.”

“In today’s ever-changing world, leaders of healthy churches have intentionally established a discipline of continuous learning.” – Thom Rainer

But some things have not changed – the message (the gospel), the messenger (us), the Mover (the Holy Spirit).

Lord help us to be like the men of Issachar who understood the times and knew what Israel had to do. (1 Chronicles 12:32)

Help us, Lord, to hear what the Spirit is saying and keep in step with Him that we may continue to reach many with the gospel for the glory of God.

LEADERSHIP QUOTES


After wrapping a week of intensive coursework and classes at Wheaton this past week, here are some of the top leadership quotes that rings in my head.
1. If you want everyone to like you, go sell ice cream. (Ed Stetzer)

Not everyone will like you. Leaders will have to make tough calls that may be unpopular.

2. If I can’t lead self well, then I can’t lead others well. (Eric Geiger)

Self-discipline is a highly disregarded aspect of leadership to a certain degree.
Time. Fitness. Finance. Family. Study. Devotions. (You’re welcome to add to the list.)

3. Always prepare people for their next role and not than their current one. (Eric Geiger)

We want to develop a leadership pipeline that will prepare and move people to the greater things that God has for them.

4. Sending an angry email is like peeing in your pants. Feels good for a moment but makes you miserable for a long time. (Ed Stetzer)

As leaders, we have to learn to control our emotions. The greater the leadership, the less the privileges we actually have.

5. “The only person advocating for your time with your family is you.”- Ed Stetzer

Leaders will have to guard their time. And some of the most important moments have to be dedicated to the most important people in your life.

6. Love Jesus more deeply so you can lead his people faithfully. – Ed Stetzer

Ministry has to overflow out of our relationship with Jesus.

7. Competency will take you only as far as your character can sustain you. – Carey Nieuwhof

Many leaders crash and burn not because they are skillful and hardworking but because their character didn’t catch up with their competence.

8. I had to decide to be ferociously organized to be significantly impactful. – Ed Stetzer

Every leader needs to assess what God has called him to do and how God has called him to make an impact. When this is clear, prioritizing will be easier.

9. “You can’t digitize discipleship but tools will enhance discipleship relationships.” – Todd Adkins

With the technology at our fingertips, we can take advantage of the tools God has given us without sacrificing values and principles.

10. Scandals make you lose your position, character issues make you lose people’s trust – Ed Stetzer

Integrity is what will fuel your leadership. Guard it. Take care of it.

11. “You can’t get breakthroughs in the drive thrus.” – Will Mancini

Leaders can not expect changes to happen overnight. It will require hard work, diligence, and endurance.

12. Scarcity brings clarity.
We don’t have a lot, we end up focusing on what’s really necessary.

IF I JUST IGNORE THE CONFLICT, WILL IT EVENTUALLY GO AWAY?

 

Conflict is a part of life.
You will be misunderstood.
Someone will get offended.
I will say something foolish.
You will forget a deadline that causes a business disaster.
(Add your examples here.)

I love what Marshall Shelly said,

Often we think, “If I just ignore the problem, it might go away.” However, most problems that require confrontation do not go away. They are infections: if we ignore them, they get worse. Soon that nagging pain in one toe becomes blood poisoning.

Mark Gerzon’s article on the Harvard Business Review, he says that to resolve a conflict, first decide: Is it hot or cold?

This is how he distinguished the two:

Hot conflict is when one or more parties are highly emotional and doing one or more of the following: speaking loudly or shouting; being physically aggressive, wild or threatening; using language that is incendiary; appearing out of control and potentially explosive.

Cold conflict is when one or more parties seem to be suppressing emotions, or actually appear “unemotional,” and are doing one or more of the following: muttering under their breath or pursing their lips; being physically withdrawn or controlled; turning away or otherwise deflecting contact; remaining silent or speaking in a tone that is passively aggressive; appearing shut down or somehow frozen.

If the conflict is hot: You don’t want to bring participants in a hot conflict together in the same room without settings ground rules that are strong enough to contain the potentially explosive energy.

If the conflict is cold: You can usually go ahead and bring the participants or stakeholders in the conflict together, engaging them in constructive communication. That dialogue, if properly facilitated, should “warm up” the conflict enough so that it can begin to thaw out and start the process of transformation.

Chuck Lawless, Dean and Vice-President of Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC suggests that we need to ask some questions when dealing with conflict. Allow me to share some of the questions he lists down to help us determine how much energy we are to devote to the issue at hand.

1. Will this issue matter a year from now?
2. How many people are truly opposed?
3. What does the Bible say?
4. Do I need to involve others in my decision-making process?
5. What’s the worst thing that can happen here, and can I live with that possibility?
6. Can I put this fire out with a squirt gun (or even a bucket)?
7. Have I prayed about my response?

But however you may approach the conflict, remember what Paul the apostle said in Ephesians 4:3, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

May the Lord give us the wisdom to keep the unity for it is good and pleasant for God’s people to dwell in unity. (Psalm 133)

DO YOU REALLY HAVE TO BE ORGANIZED OR CAN I JUST GO WITH THE FLOW?

 

Yesterday’s class with Dr. Ed Stetzer started with the topic of self-leadership. This is how he defined it: the ability to nurture and harness one’s own passion, abilities, emotions and leadership capacity in decision-making.

“Great leaders begin with self-awareness and move to self-management, then proceed to other-awareness culminating to other-management. It is not linear but an interactive effect among all four factors.” (John Ng)

Why is self-leadership so important?

1. It appreciates others.

When you truly know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, you will appreciate others.

2. It prevents derailment.

Many hotshots and rising starts self-destruct and never achieve their early potential because of the lack of self-leadership.

3. It ensures long-term success.

Great leaders have a long-term perspective on life and success. They are not here for the short-term but for the long haul.

4. It leaves a legacy.

All leaders leave legacies. The question is if it’s a good or bad one. They leave their imprint on the organization through their beliefs, values, and attitudes.

Now about time valuing time, Carey Nieuwhoff who guested in our class with Dr. Ed gives us 7 Signs People Don’t Value Their Time:

1. You don’t have a plan before the week begins.
2. You have no regular rhythm to your day or work week.
3. You haven’t decided the kinds of people you are going to spend most of your meetings with and therefore try to squeeze in almost every request.
4. You haven’t figured out a graceful and polite way to say no to meetings and project requests that don’t fit your criteria.
5. You habitually show up late or miss appointments.
6. You enter into conversations and meetings without a goal or clear purpose in mind.
7. You spend two hours at your desk but have accomplished nothing (except Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Google searches)

I fail miserably as I read the list.

I love what Dr. Ed said,

“I had to decide to be ferociously organized so that I can be significantly impactful.”

That statement was dropped like a huge brick on my chest.

May the Lord help us to steward our time and talent well for the Kingdom and for His glory.

THE LOST SKILL OF LISTENING

In a world that values multi-tasking, listening has become a treasured commodity.

Why do I say that? It’s common that people are in front of screens (computer, smartphone, tablet, old fashioned TV set) while having a conversation with a family member, friend or office mate. How do I know? I catch myself doing the same thing.

We are told in James 1:19,
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.”

Being quick to listen means to refrain from giving a quick reply or rebuttal whether to disagree, argue or even agree.

William Stringfellow puts it this way:

“Listening is a primitive act of love.”

It is indeed one of the best ways we can show love to people. It may be one of the most effective expressions of love for it honors the person speaking.

So next time someone engages you in a conversation, here’s what you can do:

1. Put your phone down (or gadget).
2. Face towards their direction.
3. Look at them eye to eye. Looking at another direction can still convey inattention.
4. Acknowledge what they are saying.
5. Clarify what they are saying if needed to make sure you got what they’re saying.
6. Allow them to finish their sentence before responding.
7. Respond accordingly.

How about you? Anything else you’d like to add to this list?

May God continue to give us wisdom in how to add value to the lives of people we encounter. Remember, they too were made in the image and likeness of God.

LEARING TO RESPOND AND NOT JUST REACT


When emotions take over, we sometimes end up making decisions that are not rational.

I recently spoke to someone who felt offended towards a person who did him wrong. We all have experienced being hurt or falsely accused. This person, as I spoke to him, had 2 choices: REACT or RESPOND.

To react is to give a knee jerk answer. This could be through words, actions or even in thoughts.
“I will never talk to him again… ever!”
“She will never get my help when she asks for it.”
“I’ll just give him the cold treatment from this day forward.”

On the other hand, to respond is to reply with a well thought out, prayed-through answer. Going to God for insight may very well be the best route before responding. It’s thinking through, processing and filtering words, deeds and even thoughts that wouldn’t be beneficial to the situation.

Philippians 4:8 tells us to “fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

To react is to answer without thinking.
To respond is to go to God with the situation and trust Him to give you the right reply to any given circumstance – good or bad.

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, thank You that You will give me the patience to be sensitive to You, seek to understand more than to be understood, and wisdom to respond in a godly manner. Help me to fix my thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable for this is Your will for me. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

RAMPING OFF

Mondays are usually rest days for me. As a pastor, weekends are usually packed with ministry. I am grateful that on Monday mornings, my wife, Jenn, allows me to take some time to play basketball with friends from church.

The guys I get to play with are literally guys half my age. Playing with them is interesting to say the least. Interesting because they don’t know how to deal with playing with someone as old as their dad. They’re respectful because of my age (and function in church) so they tend to be nicer but get upset when they fall behind or lose (which rarely happens).

One Monday morning, I wasn’t playing very well which is not seldom. Our team was trailing primarily because I wasn’t making the shots I was taking. Blame it on exhaustion or team chemistry, but bottomline was because I was medieval and disintegrating. But here’s the thing, I didn’t take myself out of the game to replace myself with someone who could do a better job.

Pride.

That was the main reason. Trying to prove to myself or others that I can still hack it caused me to stay too long.

This is a major reason why many stay too long in a leadership position. People want to feel significant and desire to hold on to their title as long as they can. As a result, the upcoming guys end up hitting a lid or simply leave the organization.

I told our staff, colleagues and especially my superiors that when the time comes, it will be more helpful for me that they tell me that I am no longer effective instead of keeping quiet, tolerate and simply endure my leadership. It’s not beneficial to me nor for the organization I lead.

As consulting expert, Rachel Ong, would say, “When you replace yourself, there’s always going to be another position of influence waiting for you.” She would often use the example of Lee Kwan Yew. He retired and turned over the leadership of Singapore when he was in his prime. He passed the baton and got out of the way. As a result, not only was there great respect but other leaders ran to him for insight, wisdom and counsel. That’s what it means to be a statesman. One can actually influence without having a title. He exemplified it. And got honored for it.

Growing in leadership doesn’t mean holding on to the title and keeping a firm grip on your role. Discernment will dictate when to ramp off so that you can build another up. In the end, your leadership will not just be a title but a legacy.