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Where Leadership and Happiness Collide

Category: Creativity (page 2 of 5)

The Cause Within You: A Short Review

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Barnett, Matthew. The Cause within You: Finding the One Great Thing You Were Created to Do in This World. Carol Stream: Tyndale, 2011. 240pp. $14.99.

I am probably a bit biased here, but I have known and have had the privilege of being around Matthew Barnett and doing mission’s work at the LA Dream Center for many years now. If you have ever been around Matthew you know it can be an intoxicating experience of cause-drivenness and passion for the least of these all wrapped up int a fireball of a guy! He truly is the Master of Misfits and the Champion of Causes in this generation. Just knowing him has made me more aware of Jesus calling us to serve the least of these, the forgotten, the hurting, the destitute, and poor, tired, and the hungry.

In The Cause within You, Barnett urges readers to see that God creates us to do great things for his name and his kingdom. By sharing his story in the beginning and weaving it in and out of the rest of the chapters, he leads a reader through an inspirational ride of Scripture, reflection, and challenges that will move the reader from passive pew sitter to passionate pursuer of God dreams! Matthew urges readers that if God can use him in great ways, he can use anyone he chooses. It simply takes faith, and truly that is the crux. Faith inside a person may drive their thinking and activities, but the one’s looking at the faithful from the outside think they have gone crazy.

Well, maybe it does take a bit of craziness to do big God-sized things. Click To Tweet

Just saying. 🙂

The chapters are each written in a manner that will help you process living out a God-sized cause. This type of cause is more than a vocation or occupation. It drives you to get out of bed early and go to bed late…and do it over and over again. You will have to stand up to persecution and pushback, sometimes even from close friends and the hardest of all – family. Through all of this attitude is everything. How you talk to those who follow you, those who persecute you, those you serve, and those you wish to impact matters more than any other single trait. Maxwell once said attitude is everything to the successful, and Matthew Barnett is proof in the pudding! His dream was not an easy road, but the right attitude helped him navigate the straightaways, curves, and potholes that derail too many dreams.

All great dreams need great teams. Click To Tweet

The LA Dream Center and all it took to get there and now to run the multitude of programs and outreaches is all team based. Your cause may start in your heart but it must begin to burn in others too. Recruiting, training, empowering, and releasing high energy teams of staff and volunteers is paramount to your success. As my two daughters often say (because they hear me say it all the time). Teamwork makes the dream work! I got that from my time around the LA Dream Center and following the amazing cause based career of Matthew Barnett. What began in LA has now extended internationally through the Dream Center Network. Amazing!

I highly recommend this book to leaders who have a cause in their heart and need an inspirational roadmap for the journey to see it lived out. WIth discussion questions in the back this can be done alone or in a small group or especially with the team surrounding the cause! This book isn’t for everyone. Many who have seen dreams come and go will baulk at all the stories and the antidotes and the inspirational quotes. For some it may be too late, but you never know. Maybe an attitude change could change the outcome of your past faded desires. It’s easy to be negative to those living and asking others to live their dreams. I simply believe that God has greatness for us all and that can be different as night and day for his children, but still greatness is there for us all!

I gave this book 5 stars because I feel Barnett captured his story and found principles to help others live their own story. It isn’t simply hype to get you excited, but a clarion call to action for those who need our gifts the most. If you are happy where you are at, great. Don’t read this book. If you feel a cause burning inside you, I cannot recommend a more readable and approachable book than The Cause within You. Oh, and if you can, get out to the LA Dream Center for one of their missions activities. Trust me, you will never be the same afterward.

My 2016 Top 10 Book List for Leaders

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I love books and I love reading. Maybe a little too much!

For me, it’s a hobby. People often ask me how I can read so many books, work, play, and raise a family. I really don’t have a good answer for that one. What I think people are actually saying is that they wish they could read more but don’t have the time. I feel ya.

I was actually that way too once. I was more of a do, do ,do and get the task list done kinda of leader. But I felt empty at the end of the day. I wanted to feel like I was growing. So I just started reading.

A few tricks I use to keep books in front of me are:

  • I have a few books next to my bed.
  • I have a few stacked next to my work computer.
  • I always leave one in my car.
  • I keep a Kindle in my back pocket.

So any place I am at, when I have a breathing moment, instead of hopping onto the world wide time sucker (my tongue-in-cheek name for the web), I read for at least 10 minutes. If the book or article catches my attention I keep reading for a time. If not, then I hop onto the web and catch up on what’s happening in the news or in my friend’s lives.

So to save you some time looking for good books, I have created a list of my top ten out of the hundreds and hundreds of books I have read over the last few years.

2016 TOP 10 LIST

One: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

This book might have saved my life. When you have to focus on being a minister, a husband, a charity leader, a dad, a son, a friend, a relative, a colleague…life gets crazy. Finding and doing what matters most is essential in the world of today. Read this book. Your sanity is worth it.

Two: Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler

I cannot say enough about how this book has helped me and dozens of others I have coached. Giving you the tools to have the most difficult conversations, and have them well, is indispensable in a leader’s library.

Three: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

I have read and re-read this book for over a decade. Each time I try to implement more of the process. I am a slow learner or I might be more productive today! But I have the book and I keep on keepin on. If you want to bring order out of chaos to your work and home life, this book is a must!

Four: Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You by John Ortberg

I am pretty sure the title speaks on it’s own. If you gain the whole world, whether in the business, nonprofit, or church sector, but your soul is thirsty and longing for more, longing for peace, longing for quiet, then this book can help you along that journey. Ortberg is one of my top 10 authors of all time. Read everything he writes!

Five: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown

I came across the book by chance. I was looking for a new read and simply liked the cover. Then I read some of the book, watched her TED Talk and made an immediate connection to the words of this book and the authors journey.

I have become a very open and vulnerable person over the last four years of having bone issues and surgeries. It is a tough process for a leader to have to go through trying times and have those who follow watch the process of pain, questions, doubt, fear, and so much more. Yet, Brene Brown has written an entire book about leading from a place of vulnerability. You will not regret this read!

Six: Taking People with You: The Only Way to Make Big Things Happen by David Novak

I read this book years ago on a plane ride to see my brother in Seattle. It was the only time in my life I was actually willing the plane to taxi slower so I could finish the book. I have used the ideas for many years since.

This year I decided to dust it off and read it all over again. I cannot believe how much I never noticed the first read. (Perhaps it was the toddler kicking my seat for the five hours ride!) Anyway, I have already found new principles to add to my volunteer leadership ideas.

Seven: Communicating for a Change: Seven Key’s to Irresistible Communication by Andy Stanley 

I think I have had this book for years and never actually read it. I mean I heard so much about it, I felt like I had read it. So I decided to make sure I really knew what Andy Stanley (long time church and leadership writer I have followed) was communicating through this text. Yep, it was just as good as the talks, blogs, and other leaders I have heard quote Stanley out of this book.

Oh, and I realized that most of how I communicate was not effective.  So I gave the principles a shot in a recent sermon. I have never had such a response after a message in 15 years. Totally recommend this for anyone trying to communicate anything!

Eight: God Dreams: 12 Vision Templates for Finding and Focusing Your Church’s Future by Will Mancini 

I have been friend’s with Will since 2009. His first books, Church Unique changed the way I did church and ministry. I loved it so much, I drove from Lawton, Oklahoma to Houston, Texas to spend a day with him. How would you like a random guy showing up to hang out with you? Well, Will and his family invited me in and I have a memory I continue to hold dear to my heart, setting and dreaming about ministry possibilities around Will’s living room and talks as we walked Kema Boardwalk.

In God Dream’s, Will takes many of the Church Unique ideas (how his company Auxano walks churches through a transformational process) and applies those to how you can frame your vision to make a huge difference in your community. If you enjoy either book, you should look into taking your church through the process with one of Will’s amazing navigators.

Nine: Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney by Lee Cockerell

I have read this book on my own, with a team, and I have handed out a few copies. Not once have I ever heard someone say anything less than this book being amazing. The principles are fun and applicable to nay business or organization. Many of the stories go back to events at Disney, America’s theme park, so it grabs your attention easily.

I even tested out some of the principles when I went to Disney (when I probably should have focused on my daughters and wife). I was dumbfounded at how each and every time I saw the principles in this book brought to life. I was so amazed a year later I did a Disney Institute class on Business Excellence. So worth it!

Ten: When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself by Steve Corbertt and Brian Kikkert

Last but not least, I started working with charities and nonprofits this year and it’s been a steep learning curve. I have gotten my hands on a few different books, but this one is so worth the read. If you run a church with a compassion ministry, a charity that deals with the poor, or run a business that is generous to the surrounding community, do yourself a favor and read this. You may actually be hurting those your serve and placing your community in further poverty. Alleviating systemic poverty takes cooperative systemic systems. This book will guide you to the right path.

So what are your Top 10 Book Lists? If you have a blog where you posted your list, please feel free to post a link in the comments. If you simply want to add a great leadership read to the list and conversation, post below!

Leaders are readers…so get yours!

What a Plant Taught Me Once…

dieffenbachia-plant

Have you ever stopped to think about what you can learn from a plant?

In my office back in 2008, I had a large plant called a dieffenbachia. Yes, it is as hard to spell as it is to pronounce. My wife believed this plant to be a lady so we called her Adde. Anyway, Adde taught and reinforced some major truths in my life. I know you think I am crazy for saying I have learned truth from a plant, but so was Jesus – if learning truth from nature is crazy. Most of Jesus’ parables were agrarian in nature because that was the norm in Palestine.

 

But like other plants Adde needs sunlight to survive. Because she is more tree-like than bush- like, she has to grow up and out to get enough sunlight. As she grows, the new leaves spring up at the top of her stalk. They slowly grow out and unfold. It’s actually memorizing to behold. Since it takes a few days for the leaves to grow and totally unfold, the process can be beautiful. There is something about newness that is attractive, provocative, and fresh.

 

On the other hand something else is going on with Adde. The lowest leaves on her stalk are now shadowed from the sunlight and begin to die. The slowly turn a darker shades of brown until they slough off completely. To produce the new, the fresh, the beautiful; Adde must shed off the old. If my plant didn’t shed off the old then the new would die. In essence, Adde would die completely, old and new, if she did not shed off the old. She can’t support it all and live to her full capacity.

 

I am sure you are already beginning to relate this to your life…your story. No, I don’t mean that you are a plant. However there are many similarities in Adde’s life as a plant to our lives as Christ-followers. What I do know is that God is always calling us upward toward His sunlight, His glory. As we grow closer and become increasingly more Christ-like in our thinking, living, and doing; we grow new beauty and a new and fresh way to live out our lives. With that in mind, we also have to shed off those things that build up and make up our past. We need to let them die off, maybe not all at once, but they eventually have to go. As with Adde, we cannot support the new and the old at the same time. Somethings has to give.

 

Jesus said it like this in Mark’s account of his life, “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wineskins.” In other words, trying to keep both only results in losing both. Choices…Choices…life is full of them. If it were easy, would we even enjoy it? There is something great about struggle that reminds us when we make it through, that we are still here, still alive!

 

The new, fresh and beautiful things God has for your life require you to let go. Let go of the old, even if it is not such a bad thing. Maybe it’s a good thing. But God has great things for you. So why settle for simply good?

 

Irenaeus (an early church Father in the Christian tradition) put it this way, “The glory of God is man fully alive.” To be fully alive, we need to learn from my past beautiful plant Adde. She was continually growing toward the light and shedding off the old that might hinder her growth. Wisdom from a plant! Who knew.

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