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Where Leadership and Happiness Collide

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My Summer Reading List for 2017

It is no secret – I love reading. I am also a bit eclectic when I read. I am truly all over the place. Yet, because of that very fact, many ask what I am reading. So here is my Summer Reading List for 2017.

So here is my Summer Reading List for 2017. It ranges from sci-fi novels, business marketing helps, leadership and social media, and so much more.

Hope you enjoy!

#1 Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday (marketing/social media)

I decided to read this book because I have been working in a marketing department of a large company. I felt as if much of what they did and how they thought would benefit me and the charity I run for them. Plus, it allowed me to have a starting place to discuss intelligently with them on marketing topics.

I highly recommend this to someone wanting a quick read that allows them a portal into the marketing world, especially as it relates to social media.

#2 As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Eugene Peterson (ministry/preaching/spiritual formation)

I try and read all that comes out from Eugene Peterson. Finding out this will be his last book meant I would have to have it. This large tomb is worth its weight in gold.

The text is a compilation of his sermons through Scripture (Genesis to Revelation) at a certain place, time, and period. They have only edited some as needed, but the fact that he talks about what happened in the 60s and 70s and how they affected the church he pastored for almost 30 years is powerful. It’s literally like being able to binge read the life of a pastor as he grew, his congregation grew and how Scripture informed it all.

Feel free to skip this book, but be warned as it will be discussed in a category of its own for years to come.

#3 Digital Leader by Erik Qualman (social media/leadership)

I have followed Erik Qualman since his first days as a Twitter guy and blogger. His first book, Socialnomics was amazing and I still find I need to go back and re-read parts.

What Qualman does here is built on those principles by the practical work and learning he has done over the years and created a wealth of advice for those leading in an unprecedented digital age.

I will admit, it is a bit long in parts, but overall, the content is next to none. Other leaders in the social world will be reference this work, so make sure to become conversant with it.

#4 Hell Divers by Nicholas Sansbury Smith (sci-fi/apocalyptic novel)

Of course, I love reading sci-fi and fantasy when I can. This was a .99 cent book deal that I bought and finally got around to reading. It was well worth the buck!

The novel is based on the future where the earth has had a major apocalypse and humanity lives on giant air ship cities. To make sure the ships fly and run well, Hell Divers, dive to the surface of the earth to scavenge for parts.

What lives on the earth still is what makes the novel so much fun. Plus, it’s full of thought and questions about what does it mean to be human in a post-apocalyptic world and at what costs will someone go to make sure life carries on. Anymore and spoilers come out, so fans of apocalyptic tech/sci-fi will love this novel and the sequel, Hell Divers 2.

#5 The Kingdom of Speech by Tom Wolfe (journalism/language/literature)

I actually bought this book because the title fascinated me and I tend to enjoy reading and listening to Tom Wolfe.

What makes this book unique is it’s not a novel as Wolfe tends to write but a telling of his version of looming at Speech and its connection to evolution. He tackles the topic as it intrigued his journalism side. Why it intrigued him was because of the notion that language and language development was the one major thing that plagued Charles Darwin and subsequent evolutionists that followed in his thinking.

The crux of the book is that language wars against evolution as a major issue. Why did only humans learn language, semantics, and complex nuances? Why was a humans brain so large from the beginning and other parts so week? The large brain gave no evolutionary advantage through language for millions of years? Sounds interesting, right? Well to Tom Wolfe, it did too and he sets out to talk about the language and evolution wars of the past to liven up and bring back this theory to the modern public.

Let’s just say, Wolfe has his journalistic bravado and unnecessary snark at points, but overall, fans of Wolfe and fans of language and language development will find this book as fun as it is informational.

#6 Canoeing the Mountains by Tod Bolsinger (ministry/leadership)

My friend and missionary, Adam Fogleman, reached out and told me I have to read this book. I am half way through now as it was a late addition to the list. I try not to fully endorse a book till I have a full fill of its content, but I find myself highlighting something on each and every page.

I will more than likely be doing a full blown book review of this one next month, so stay tuned.

#7 Ready Player One by Ernest Clime

Another sci-fi/apocalyptic/techie novel makes the list!

So all of my good and nerdy friends keep talking about this book. And I tried to ignore the chatter till someone said it is full of 80s pop culture. 80s music, games, movies, etc. I was hooked from the beginning.

I read the novel in two days and ended up sending a copy to my brother for his birthday.

Basically, it’s the future and its sucks (of course) and people find a way to escape their poor, sorry lives by jumping onto the Oasis. A fully online world where your avatar has stats can go on adventures, can go to school and can be far cooler than you will ever be in the poverty-stricken, energy starved world of the future.

The story is a first person account of a young man who in the real world has nothing going for him, but in the Oasis is a rock star after solving a mysterious riddle from the eccentric 80s lover and creator of the Oasis, now deceased. Once these three riddles and three keys are possessed by someone – they become the ruler of the Oasis and inherit the future and power and prestige left behind by the founder.

As it starts out as his quest to solve these riddles and save the Oasis, he is joined by friends, chased by enemies, and goes on one heck of the 80s like ride to save the future and make sure the Oasis stays as authentic to its purpose as the founder had wished it to be.

Trust me, I wanted to go back and listen to all my 80s music, re-watch Back to the Furture, War Games, dust off the Atari and Nintendo and relive my childhood. It is one fun book. The only caution I give is that some of the themes are adult in nature, so being a book about games and such doesn’t mean it is void of some language and topics you may not be ready to chat about with your kiddos.


BONUS: What I am currently listening to on Audible:

#8 What is the Bible by Rob Bell (ministry/biblical studies/pop culture)

I started listening to this last week and thought I would add it on at the last minute. So many people either love or hate Rob Bell (with much in between that just don’t care). Nevertheless, I wanted to see what all the talk is about, but after needing to read other books, I bought the audio version to listen to while I commute back to work.

So far, many of his ideas he has shared in other books or on his blog/podcast, and some very fresh and engaging ideas. while he still asks questions that he never wants to answer only making it harder for people who follow his works to find out what he is really trying to say. But it’s Bell, he likes the mystery.

He narrates his own audio book and all I can say is he is one engaging, powerful stroy teller. I am sure to use some of his thoughts on certain Scriptures in sermons to come. Once I am finished listening, I will do a fuller review.

HAPPY SUMMER READING! 

Dealing with Pressure in Ministry

How do you learn best?

Reading books and listening to solid podcasts are my top two.

I listen to Carey Nieuwhof’s podcast religiously. Although I subscribe to many great ones, this one seems to literally grab my attention each episode. Recently, Nieuwhof had Terry Linhart as his guest (episode 147). Linhart has written an excellent book. The Self-Aware Leader: Discovering Your Blind Spots to Reach Your Ministry Potential.  Personally, I feel challenged by my pastor and my wife to be a “kinder, gentler, David Lermy.”

So of course, I ordered the book right away. I am sure I will do a fuller book review sometime, but what I want to do here is give the three of the four actions Linhart provides in Chapter 6, Seeing Your Pressures, and add some commentary on how I am using these to help me deal with high pressure situations.

Don’t we all need help here as many situations in ministry and nonprofit work are high-pressure.

1. Own your strengths and weaknesses. 

I am learning to be okay with my weaknesses. But the message in the leadership is a bit mixed here. If you read Marcus Buckingham, he would say – Ignore your weakness and only focus on your strengths. He was reacting to the theory that leaders need to be more well rounded and 360 to achieve greatness. We all know now that is not true, thanks in part to guys like Buckingham. But has the pendulum swung too far to the other side?

Learning about what we are weak at and accepting it is vital to self-awareness.

I can recall sharing some weakness recently to a prospective employer and feeling comfortable with it. After years of ministry work and counseling, I get that I am not perfect and there are areas I thrive in and there are areas I need help and guidance. Some of our weakness are areas we can improve and others may be more lifelong. Knowing the difference can make all the difference in our leading well and leading happy.

What are some of the areas you are weak in and what can you do to either be more comfortable and accepting of that weakness or deal with it so the area becomes a new strength?

2. Developing resilience.

Thinking back, I tended to be the diplomat in most groups I interacted. I was cool and calm and wanted all to get along. Yet, when the waters of resistance became too troubled, I was also the first to flee and let the others deal with the carnage.

Slowly over the years though we all develop more and more resilience.

Linhart says it best,

“Identify two or three things you can now handle with ease that ten years ago would have crushed you. Remember how those used to short-circuit your emotions and life? Now, think about two or three current things in your life that overwhelm you. In what ways can you begin to develop your capacity and resilience regarding them?” (page 121)

Well said indeed. When looking back at my life I can recall the first real congregant fight I had in a church where I was an associate pastor. I felt I was right, and instead of being flexible and purposeful in response, I simply reacted. Wel,, reacted is a nice way to put it. I actually made a fool of myself and of this person in front of a room of about 120 people.

I recall a close mentor helping me realize as ministers we don’t always have the right to be right and relationships matter more than the emotions of the moment. So I went back to this person and made things right and to this day we are still friends. Plus, this was a lesson in resilience. Now, I respond peacefully more than react in emotional anger. We call it spiritual growth!

3. Remember who you follow.

 

Again, allow me to quote Terry Linhart,

“If we’re not careful, self-focus leads to less about Jesus and God’s power and provisions, and more about the clay of our lives.”

Most of may anxiety comes from worrying about my inadequacies of a leader. Oh, and let’s not forget how much we wish to hide those from the public we serve and the other pastors we hope to look better in front of at events.

You can never be a happy leader and live with those kind of anxieties. You have to let all of that go, or as my tribe in Pentecostal circles say, “put it under the blood.” The work of Christ in our lives and the power of the Holy Spirit moves beyond our inadequacies.

  • We are called by God.
  • We are redeemed by Jesus.
  • We are empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Remember who you follow!

If you follow man’s approval, you’re in a world of hurt, but I am sure you already feel it.  Let it all go. Set in the presence of God’s grace like Mary and stop running around “serving Jesus” as an excuse to not pause to hear the Savior teach you what grace truly means.

I will end with a personal story.

Maybe you are a bit like me. I recall a time during my graduate work, I had a great thought and preached my heart out and not one person said anything about it. I just knew people would be blown away by my knowledge and theological prowess. I was devastated and sat in my office and hid the resentment and pain I felt.

Then a few weeks later, I preached again and I was more relaxed and really shared no knew insights or knowledge. People came up and told me they loved the humor and really connected with the stories. I wanted to say, where were you all weeks ago when I shared some amazing stuff! I was in a lose-lose cycle of forgetting who I follow.

During prayer after these two situations, I found God challenging me. Whether I was sharing some deep thought or being funny and calm (my personality), I am doing his work for his glory and his approval. For real. I was literally changed in a moment. Now, from time to time, the lose-lose cyle wants to creep in, but I have the one I follow reminding me its about Him and not me, and not even those I serve.

Perhaps this is your story too?

Losing sight of who we are in Christ makes it very hard to lead happy where God has assigned you. Click To Tweet

Taking these three simple, yet hard to do, ideas and getting away from the fast-paced world of ministry today is vital for us to self-identify and provide time for self-awareness. I hope over the final parts of the summer, these ideas can go on a trip with you and help you find the peace over your weaknesses, resilience over your inadequacies, and connect you back to the one who you follow, the only one that truly matters.

Only then can you begin to lead happy.


Order a copy of Terry Linhart’s The Self-Aware Leader through my Amazon Smile link and support a charity that feeds hungry children in Southern Missouri.

Three Ways to Know Yourself Better

As fun as Dr. Seuss was to our childhood, his advice above is more needed now than ever. There is only one you. And no one can be a better you than you can. Nevertheless, knowing who we are takes time, reflection, and study. It takes us making more margin in our time – daily, monthly, and even yearly!

When we are busy, it is tough to find time to be introspective. We have little time to ask the ultimate questions about life. We tend to get a lot done. Nevertheless, we have no idea who we are. We have no idea if we are growing. We have no idea if we are living out our full purpose in God’s calling over our lives.

So here are THREE ideas to help you build more margin in your time so you can self reflect on who you are and who God desires you to be.

FIRST, EVERY DAY WORK IN 90 MINUTE SESSIONS

I was listening to a TED talk once, that led me to a book, that then found it’s way into my life pattern, but the brain works best in 90 minutes cycles. In other words, your focus and willpower is at its best for about an hour and a half. After 90 minutes, you will more than likely be able to keep working (we have all prove that true, but you are not working at your best.

You need a brain break.

The organization I currently work for rewards employees on their health so many take walks around the property multiple times a day. Not only is that healthy for our waste line and respiratory system, it is great for our brains!

So when I take my walks, I tend to spend that time, not thinking about what to do next in my work, but bigger life questions, which can only be discussed with a higher power. God and I have some great conversations on these short but vital walks.

So if you are like me and simply cannot plan out 2 hours a day to search the face of God and ponder life’s great questions, break it down throughout your day and pick one question or idea to ponder about your life each day. It may seem small and simple. Maybe even a bit insignificant. But trust me, it has added tremendous value to my life.

TWO,  EVERY MONTH FIND A FEW HOURS TO BE ALONE

I say every month, because I know for my life stage, trying to find an hour or two each week would be tough with younger daughters. But once a month is plannable and do able, even by parents with younger kiddos. If you do not have kiddos in the home anymore, even better!

In Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, one of the 12 disciples is silence. We often find it hard to process deep and important work, because we do not understand how to unplug from the wired world we live. When Foster wrote the book, the internet wasn’t even a reality, so I find his words even more needed for an always jacked in, digital society.

The only way to find health in our souls is to find an hour or two each month to be alone, to be in silence, and to think. We will not find the answers we seek while the kids are yelling, work is calling, or while we drown out our concerns with mindless media. It may work for a season, but we all know when our soul longs for something more.

Once we find a time and place to get away (not your backyard or locking yourself in a room in the house), but a place you can find as sacred, a healthy conversation can develop in your mind and especially with your thoughts towards God, your work, your family, and your future. These truths are to vital to ignore. So time must be made for them, because they will not addressed, discussed, or answers discovered on their own.

THIRD, EVERY YEAR FIND A WEEK TO RECHARGE

Americans are getting worse and worse at using up all their time off from work.

Last year, 54% of US employees didn’t use up their vacation, which is up from 42% in 2013. Although I am not a huge stats fan, that statistic is shocking. It should give us all pause.

Although there are many reasons why – like fear of losing their job, not being supported by a supervisor, or even wanting the money back at the end of the year as extra pay – but the idea of time off is truly for our benefit. To have fun. To be refreshed. To get away. To play!

I know when I was younger, I would have added to this stat. I liked working hard and then cashing in my vacation time for an extra check at the end of the year! But after going through four major surgeries from 2012-2015, I found the value of taking time off.

Each year, we all need to find time to get away from what is normal – what is routine – and by breaking the routine find times of refreshing. This can be a family vacation, a camping trip, a guys/gals-only-getaway, road trip, or a spiritual journey. As long as it is not part of your normal routine, its a break from the pattern.

When we break patterns, our minds have a way of filling in those spaces with creativity, innovation, and new ideas. These are great times to open up to thinking about our lives and the ultimate reason we are here on earth. To ponder the questions we avoid through media and medication. To see life at 30,000 feet instead of the parking spot the plane of our mind is docked at through the rest of the year.

Feel free to ignore the advice. My desire is to help. My hope is to see your THRIVE, not simply SURVIVE in life.

Sadly, most people end up burning out from exhaustion instead of burning bright with purpose. Click To Tweet.

So I will end with an ancient prayer about the prosperity of our souls…

“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 (NKJV) 

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