California Propositions

Hey everyone!

With voting day happening tomorrow, there is a lot that you can vote for if you are a California resident.

In fact, there are 17 different Statewide propositions that are on the ballot, besides voting for local issues, voting for president, etc.

So, I wanted to give you a perspective on what I’m voting for. Now, I know that some of you would like to know who my pick is for president. For reasons I’ve stated before, I’m not sharing that publicly.

But, the reality of the matter is that the propositions in our state have a lot more of an immediate impact on our lives. If you want fuller descriptions of the propositions, you can go here.

I have a few different guiding values that help me in making decisions about propositions. They are:

  1. Simple is better, especially when it comes to taxes
  2. Local (taxes, decisions, management, etc.) is better than statewide
  3. Value life and freedom above all

So, here goes!

51 – Public School bonds. I say no. In many cases, bonds turn into taxes later on. A bond is essentially a deferred tax. It would be much simpler for the government to have certain tax rates, then make a budget according to income.
52 – Medi-Cal hospital fee. I say no. This was supposed to be a temporary fee. If the original plan was temporary, then let’s keep it that way. Also, charging hospitals in order to supposedly turn around and re-invest in those same hospitals is a waste of time and money.
53 – Voter Approval for $2+ Billion Bonds. I say yes. I don’t want to say yes, because our form of government is a representative one, where we vote people into office in order to make decisions on our behalf. But, many legislators have taken so much advantage of their role, that I think this would be a worthwhile opportunity for the large projects in our state.
54 – Public Viewing of Legislative Bills for 3 Days. I say yes. Again, same as 53, I don’t want to have to say yes, but I think this is necessary for more transparency.
55 – Extension of Income Tax Increase. I say no for a few reasons. First, this tax was supposed to be temporary. So, let’s keep it that way. Second, while many would say “Hey, no problem, it’s a higher tax rate on the rich”, the reality is that it starts higher rates at the $250,000 income level. Many people at that level are small business owners who would be adversely impacted as a result.
56 – Tobacco Tax Increase. I say no. Do I like smoking? Not at all. Would I love it if no one smoked? Absolutely! But once again, there is no need to continue complicated the tax system by putting a separate tax on a certain segment of society, especially when there is no guaranteed place where the money will go.
57 – Juvenile Parole. I say no. On its face, this sounds like a good proposition, but the reality is different. For example, if someone originally did time for a small offense, then is now doing time for a bigger offense, they may get parole based off of their original small offense, regardless of what their current offense is. This doesn’t make sense. They need to go back to the drawing board on this one and rework it.
58 – Non-English Language Teaching in Public School. I say no. I believe that kids should speak many languages, but that is not what this proposition is about. The easiest way for a non-English speaker to learn English is to learn by full immersion. I have five children who have all learned Spanish at home and have had no problem going into an English-speaking school and picking it up. There are still opportunities for children who have difficulty learning English to learn in their own language. This proposition would simply create a situation where many of our students are not ready for the workforce due to limited English skills.
59 – Overturn Citizens United. I say no. Regardless of all the rhetoric out there, such as, “Big corporations can influence elections however they want”, the reality is that certain big corporations were already doing that before Citizens United. Simple case in point: media conglomerates, whether they tend to lean left (NBC), or whether they tend to lean right (FOX), already used their money to influence elections. Citizens United simply gave the opportunity to all businesses to have a voice. I believe that the best way to increase people’s knowledge is not to have limited access to information, but rather to hear from more voices, rather than just a few.
60 – Condoms in Porn Films. I say yes. Now, I am typically in favor of adults being able to choose what they want to do with their lives, even if that’s the porn industry (which does much damage to our country and the people involved in it). But there is another element to consider. There is a connection between pornography and sex trafficking. While this does not solve sex trafficking, it may provide some limited protection to those who are victims of it. For that reason, I think it’s worth it to say yes.
61 – Drug Price Standards. I say no. While on its face this proposition looks good (in order to save money on drugs), it suffers from what everyone knows as “cause and effect”. Once California departments are no longer legally allowed to purchase drugs above a certain price, certain drug companies will not sell their drugs to those departments, thus depriving people of the drugs they need. That would not be good.
62 – Repeal death penalty. I say no. I recommend that you vote your conscience on this one. Maybe on a later date I will post a fuller explanation, but put simply it’s this: Because I value life, especially the life of the victim, I believe there are certain cases where the death penalty is the only just punishment for what was done to the victim. My eyes are focused more on what is just for the victim of the crime, rather than the perpetrator of the crime.
63 – Background checks for Ammunition. I say no. It’s one thing to have it for guns. It’s a whole other thing to have it for ammunition. I don’t believe that this would actually eliminate gun crimes.
64 – Marijuana legalization. I say no. Yeah, I know how many people say that there’s no long-term harm, it’s a low-level drug, etc., but I think it’s still beneficial to use the force of law to outlaw certain things that have no proven benefit to society. Marijuana does not.
65 – Bag Revenue to go to Wildlife Conservation Fund. I say no. Basically, many grocery stores and others would be forced to no longer use disposable plastic bags (prop 67), and would be forced to charge consumers to pay for other types of bags. Then, the money charged would go to a certain fund. Why do I say no? Two reasons. First, this is more complication of taxes in our state. I already said that I like simplicity. Second, this is essentially an additional sales tax on every person in the state. For these reasons I say no.
66 – Death Penalty Quicker. I say no. While I like to streamline processes as much as possible, many people on death row who are found to be innocent of a crime are cleared of it much later than five years, which is the limit imposed on this proposition. While in this case a longer process is more complicated, I value life more than a complicated process…so “no” it is for me.
67 – Plastic Bags. I vote no. Why? I simply believe that local jurisdictions would be better to decide on this one rather than the state at large. Jobs are lost because of this. I want to take care of the environment, but I think this decision would simply be best at the local level.
I hope this was helpful! Now, if you have more questions, agree or disagree, or anything else, feel free to comment below and I’ll respond!
Happy voting!

Integrity Is All You Have

Integrity is all you have

Integrity is all you have. We are all imperfect. We make mistakes, we fail, we screw up. Along the way, we make some good decisions as well. In all of this, each of us wants to continue advancing – in business, in personal growth, in family, in the church, and any other area we can dream of. But in the midst of all of this, integrity is all you have.

Sometimes, along this journey of life, we come to a crossroads. We’re not quite sure what decision to make. We tend to analyze our decisions based off of a matrix of risk vs. reward.

This is all well and fine. But, along the way, moments come when the risk is to lose your integrity, while the reward seems to be great. So, you throw your integrity to the side in order to travel the path that seems will benefit you most.

It seems like a great plan. And we tend to justify, saying things like…

  • No one will ever know
  • The (perceived) benefit far outweighs the cost
  • What could possibly go wrong?

The only problem is this: When you compromise your integrity in the dark, the consequences will be seen in the light.

You see, it is impossible for something to START in secret and to STAY in secret. The compromising decisions that we make will affect certain areas of our lives that are visible, even if no one knows about the original compromise.

It takes a lifetime to build integrity and a moment to lose it.

I have not always made the right decisions, but I have always attempted to make honest decisions. I don’t want to lie to myself, to God, or to others.

Everything that you build in your life will influence others, whether it be kids, spouses, employees, employers, subordinates, friends, acquaintances, etc.

Integrity is all you have. Once you lose that, you begin to lose everything else and everyone else.

Sometimes, choosing integrity means choosing loss. If that is the case, so be it. It would be better to lose everything while maintaining the people that you love, rather than maintaining things while losing those you love.

And remember this: once you lose the people, losing the things will follow closely behind.

Integrity is all you have. Remember, the product you deliver is a representation of your integrity. Your product might be a widget, or influence, or relationships. It might be technological, or service oriented, or something else. Whatever your product is, people will connect your trustworthiness and integrity to the things that represent you.

There really is only one way to live.

Integrity is all you have.

Choose wisely.

Who Will Get Your Vote?

who will get your vote

This is quite possibly the craziest political season that our country has ever experienced, at least in modern memory. Voters all over the country are getting ready to vote into office one of two people who are dishonest, potentially (or completely) crooked, and who have used their connections or resources (whether political, financial, or both) for their own personal benefit. So, who will get your vote?

Now, stick with me here…I’ve got a lot to say! My goal today is to share with you a perspective on how you should process your vote, not necessarily who you should vote for.

I have typically refrained from giving specific commentary on this blog about specific issues or candidates. As a pastor, there is one principal reason why I do this. I desire to be the pastor of everyone  who is a part of my church (whether they attend my church in person or watch online). There are so many political beliefs out there, and I never want my personal beliefs to be an obstacle to my  most important belief: Jesus Christ!

Faith in Jesus Christ has survived (and thrived) in every political system and has crossed every cultural, ethnic, and national boundary. Jesus is universal! I never want a subset of political beliefs, even if they are rooted in faith, to be an obstacle to my most important belief…my belief in Jesus. I get frustrated when political figures try to attach Jesus to their political philosophy, to somehow convince everyone that Jesus is on their side.

Now, that being said, let me be clear about something: while I have very specific political beliefs, I am not a partisan. You know who the partisans are. They are those “friends” on Facebook (or elsewhere) who never listen to reason, blindly follow, and vote the party line above all else. Some of them resort to name calling. Their opinion can’t be changed because they have an emotional attachment to their opinion, which can’t be changed with logic. These people exist on the right and the left in American politics. Some are Democrats. Others are Republicans. Others are Libertarians, or Green Party, or other political parties.

Partisan is not a word that I use to describe myself. I am not beholden to a certain group, person, or political party. I happen to be registered with one, but I don’t blindly follow. I study positions and am willing to change if I believe it more closely reflects my values. In practice, I am probably more of an independent. There is a set of values that I hold dear. These values are informed by my faith in Jesus. I vote according to those values, looking at all the candidates that might potentially be the best fit for the values I have. I hold my values strongly, but my opinions loosely, choosing to see if there might be other truth out there that I might have missed.

With all of that said, I have been thinking through who I will vote for. But, more than that, I have been thinking about what’s going on underneath the political scene. What are the currents of belief that influence this election? What are people actually looking for when voting for a specific candidate? What should we look for when voting for a particular candidate? Can you still be a good citizen if you choose to vote for neither candidate (talking about Trump and Clinton here)? If you go for a third party candidate (like Stein, Johnson, or McMullin) is that throwing away your vote?

What I’d like to do is simply invite you to think through a few things that might form how you think about who to vote for.

First, your vote needs to be earned.

Your vote does not belong to a political party, whether you are registered with them or not. While your vote needs to be given (or potentially withheld purposefully), it does not need to be given freely. The candidate needs to prove their worthiness for the office that they seek. Simply saying that you might vote for the lesser of two evils requires nothing of the candidate to earn your vote. It’s ok to have expectations of the candidates and to vote accordingly.

Second, you must view your vote as having weight in two important areas: policy and culture.

Let me expand on this a bit. The human body needs two things to function: systems and blood flow. The systems of the body include systems like the circulatory, muscular, nervous, and others. But, even if every system is in perfect working condition, if there is no flow of blood, there is no life. In fact, you can live life without complete use of all your systems…but if there is no flow of blood, you’re dead!

Put simply, the blood is the life of the body, and the systems carry the life of the body.

I view the country in a similar way.

Policies = systems. Culture = blood flow.

Most people tend to view their vote only in the context of policy. They ask questions like: Does this candidate believe what I believe? Will this candidate enact the policies that I believe will benefit this country? Etc.

Those are good questions to ask. But they are not the only questions.

The questions of culture have to do with how our society functions, responds, and interacts, regardless of the policies that exist. Questions for this might be like: Does this candidate behave how I want them to behave? Does this candidate represent the character that this nation should have?

The relationship between policies and culture is symbiotic. 

This means that they both influence each other. But, this leads me to my third point, which happens to be personal opinion.

Third, CULTURE trumps (no pun intended) POLICY every day of the week.

I believe who we are as a nation is quite possibly more important than what we do as a nation. Now, some of you might disagree. That’s ok! You might think that policy trumps culture. Or, you might believe that they are equally important. I can respect those viewpoints. All I ask of you is to take them into account in order to make your decision.

And, this is what makes it so hard. If you believe that culture trumps policy, then you might look at both principal candidates as being unfit for office. Or, you might believe one truly does have the character needed to be in office and to move our country in the direction it needs to go. Regardless of which way you go, I encourage you to evaluate the candidates according to this framework.

Fourth (and last), Jesus is above every political system.

The kingdom of God is not a human kingdom. While I love the United States of America, and consider it a privilege to live here, this country is not the kingdom of God. God’s kingdom is eternal. His kingdom rests in our hearts, not in a political system.

Now, is it important to vote in the political system so that we might continue to live our faith freely in this country? Absolutely. But let me remind you: some of the greatest countries for the expansion of God’s kingdom on earth are also the most restrictive towards exercising faith. Think of China as one example.

I believe politics is downstream of culture. The reason why Christianity might be losing in the political arena is because it’s already losing in the hearts of the population. If we want God’s kingdom to spread in this country, it won’t happen because we get the right leader to be president…it will happen because the Church reaches people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Because of this, my hope is not in a political system, party, or leader. My hope is in Jesus! Choose to trust in Jesus, regardless of which way our political system goes in the coming years.

So, who will you vote for? Choose to think critically, using the wisdom that God gives, to come to the conclusion that you believe is best.

Be blessed!



When The Going Gets Tough

Have you heard the phrase “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”?

It’s a proverb about perseverance and following through, even when things are hard. That is definitely admirable and something that we should work towards.

There is a necessary  step to take after the going gets tough, but before you get going again. That step is this:

Stop and look.

When things get tough, you are going to have to make a deision about persevering through the difficult ircustancecs until you reach the other side. But, before you get there, you need to take a moment. And stop. Then look.

This is especially important when things are tough. At the moment that things turn more difficult than you expected, it is important to ask yourself a few things:

  1. Why are things more difficult now? What changed?
  2. What needs to change in your approach now that the environment has changed?
  3. What do you need in order to make it to the other side, that you might not have needed before?
  4. Will this require a different course of action than what I previously planned?

Taking a moment to stop and survey the road before you is extremely important before you continue.

When things get tough, you definitely should continue. But how you continue makes all the difference.

When the going gets tough, the tough stop and look, then they get going.

I get it…the phrase may not be as interesting now as it used to be! You  might be thinking, “Wow! Jeff just ruined a perfectly good proverb!”

I probably did. But it’s true nonetheless. Take a moment. Catch your breath. Find the best way forward. Then move on!

When Goliath Falls

A photo by Luis Llerena. When Goliath Falls
When Goliath Falls

What do you do when Goliath falls? Defeats and victories are a constant part of life. All of us definitely like the victories more than the defeats. But there’s a question I’ve thought much about over the years.

Can a victory turn into a defeat?

Meaning, is it possible to take a victory in our lives and accidentally suffer defeat because of it? This is what I would like to address in this post that I’ve called When Goliath Falls.

Have you heard the phrase snatching victory from the jaws of defeat? The reverse can be true as well. You can snatch defeat from the jaws of victory!

In the book of 1 Samuel, there is a story of a giant, named Goliath, who represented the Philistine army. The Philistines were causing the Israelites all sorts of problems. There was a tradition of bringing out the best warrior that each country had to offer in order to decide the winner.

The Philistines offered up Goliath. The Israelites had no one to offer. Into this void stepped David, a young man who didn’t compare in size or strength to Goliath. The odds were stacked completely against David and the Israelites.

David, after hearing Goliath’s words against him, declared in 1 Samuel 17:45-47,

45 David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 Today the Lordwill conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! 47 And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”

David had one advantage that Goliath did not…the presence of a great God who would do battle on his behalf. Now, I’m sure many of you know the end of the story. Both of those men go up against each other and David slings a stone, knocking Goliath down. Afterwards, David killed Goliath.

What an incredible victory! David had just defeated the enemy in convincing fashion. If I were David, I would have been extremely satisfied with this incredible feat. I would have celebrated it profusely.

This is similar to what many of us do when we experience an incredible victory. We tend to be satisfied and we celebrate. Now, there is nothing wrong with the feelings of satisfaction that come with a victory; nor is there anything wrong with celebrating our wins!

But, as I mentioned before, victories can easily turn into defeats.

When we allow the satisfaction of our victory to lead us to comfortability, we lose momentum, forfeiting the benefits of our victory.

So many of us, when our Goliath falls, choose to stop and simply admire the view.

Now, we know that David and the Israelites enjoyed their victory immediately after he killed Goliath. But they did something else as well. The text continues,

“When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they turned and ran. 52 Then the men of Israel and Judah gave a great shout of triumph and rushed after the Philistines, chasing them as far as Gath[g] and the gates of Ekron. The bodies of the dead and wounded Philistines were strewn all along the road from Shaaraim, as far as Gath and Ekron.53 Then the Israelite army returned and plundered the deserted Philistine camp.”

The Israelite army decided that the best way to celebrate a past vicotry is to look for the next opportunity for victory. This meant chasing down the Philistine army as well as plundering their camp.

One of the easiest ways to lose the benefits of a victory is to simply relax in that success. The best way to experience the benefits of a victory is to leverage them for the next victory out ahead of you.

What do you do when your Goliath falls?

Which story are you going to write?

Strategic Retreat

Strategic Retreat
Strategic Retreat

Every single one of us wants to advance. Whether that is the desire to advance in personal goals or company goals, we all desire to advance. Sometimes, in order to advance, we must use something known as strategic retreat.

When people think about retreating in a certain area, they typically consider it as a result of some type of loss or defeat.

  • You might choose to pull back from a business venture because things didn’t turn out the way you hoped.
  • You might choose to pull back from a relationship because it turned in a direction you weren’t comfortable with.
  • You might choose to pull back from a school project after realizing that it will end in failure.

All of these are forms of retreat.

But, could there be a better way? Could there be a way to retreat that is not solely defined as a loss, but might set you up for the future?

Absolutely! This is what I call strategic retreat.

Strategic retreat is the art of pulling back in order to set yourself up for future success.

While some type of loss or defeat might precede a strategic retreat, the defining element of this type of retreat is the manner in which you retreat, in order to have the greatest possible chance of success in the future.

When we started CityLife Church, one of the first things we did was begin a weekly prayer meeting. The meeting was great! We gathered in a local park every week and prayed for our city. This meeting grew to about 60 people, which was incredible number for our size of church.

A little while after starting the church, I decided to change the format of the prayer meeting into something else. It was a disaster! The meeting ended up being attended by 10 people by the end. I decided to reconfigure the meeting once more and return it to what it was before. The only problem? The meeting never returned to what it was…we would run anywhere from 12 people to 30 people on a good day.

I had to do some hard thinking during those days. I, along with my wife and a few others, decided to use a strategic retreat.

We decided to completely cancel that meeting, while at the same time choosing to do two things. First, we decided to put our primary focus on small groups that met during the week. By eliminating one of two weeknight meetings, it would allow us to devote 100% of our efforts into building one area, instead of two. Second, we decided to turn the weekly prayer meeting that I led into a prayer small group that was led by lay people (volunteer leaders) in our church.

For us, this was the best decision we could have made. By thinking through the need to retreat, then figuring out how best to employ the retreat, we were choosing to approach our retreat in a strategic manner.

Too often, we retreat without taking the time to process the consequences of our retreat. Choose to think through your retreat in a strategic manner, in order to set yourself up for your best possible success in the future!

Creating Church Culture

Church Culture

Culture is one of those important things that exists in every church (and organization) that will have a huge impact on all that you do.  By culture, I am referencing those shared attributes that make up the unique identity of the church you lead. How do you go about creating church culture?

There are many component parts that make up your church. The list is endless:

  • Mission and Vision
  • Goals
  • Departments
  • Ministries and Teams
  • Volunteer development
  • Training
  • Leadership development
  • Administration
  • Systems and processes

I could go on!

Here’s an important truth about all of it: Your church culture is the most important factor in your success.

No joke! You could have the most incredible group of people. You might have an important vision as well. But, if your culture is not right, then everything else fails. Sam Chand says, “Culture—not vision or strategy—is the most powerful factor in any organization.”

And here’s a secret for you. Your church already has a culture whether you have planned for it or not. Wouldn’t it make more sense if you go about developing the culture you want to have, rather than simply existing what’s already there?

Culture has to do with the way that people relate to each other, the way that work gets done, the way that celebration happens (if at all). Culture is about how everyone journeys together to get to wherever your church is going.

I encourage you to take a first step today and simply do this: Look around. Before you can change anything, you need to grasp what your current cultural identity actually looks like. Watch how people interact together, pay attention to what happens in your different environments, and most of all, have someone examine the way that YOU lead. Your church is on a journey, and it’s important to understand the view while you’re on it.

After looking around, take a few moments and put into words what best describes the culture of your church. From there, you’re ready to get busy with the task of creating the culture you want to have in your church!


6 Ways to Read the Bible For All It’s Worth

Read the Bible
Read the Bible

A few weeks ago I shared with you a practical way to engage the word of God on a regular basis. Today, I’d like to give you 6 ways to read the Bible for all it’s worth. These steps aren’t everything you can do, but they will be helpful to you living a life of being impacted by God’s Word. Let’s begin!

  1. Get a plan – You need some type of Bible reading plan. The good news is that there are a million plans and they are easily available. You can get some here. Get a plan, and follow it. I recommend downloading the YouVersion app for both Apple and Android phones or tablets.
  2. Read regularly – Reading the Word of God daily is a pattern of life that we need. Man does not live by bread alone verse. You need regular food everyday. Your soul needs spiritual food every day.
  3. Journal what God speaks to you – This is what I mentioned a few weeks ago. Reading is good, but writing about what you have read is better! It improves memory retention and gives you a written record of what God is speaking to you. It leads me to the next step.
  4. Return and review your journal – From time to time, it’s a good idea to go back and review what God has spoken to you. For this reason, I love the program Evernote. I copy and paste what I read directly into Evernote and add in my thoughts during the journaling portion. I can easily search my notes by date, keyword, or tag. It’s good to be reminded of God’s words to us!
  5. Get a focus – I have read through the Bible around twenty times in my life. I will continue to do more. A couple of those times I have read through it with a particular focus. I don’t do this all the time, but every once in a while it can be extremely helpful. One year I read the Bible while focusing on the word/concept grace. My eyes were opened to God’s incredible love as I read the Bible that year through that filter.
  6. Change it up – From time to time, change your Bible reading plan. Reading the Bible a variety of different ways will keep your interest, maintain your focus, energize your comprehension, and much more.

These are just six ways! There are many more. Got some to add?

Feel free to add them in the comments!

Grace In Your Church Staff

Years ago, I learned about a good pattern to follow when thinking about placing people in certain roles (whether paid or volunteer) inside of the church.

Bill Hybels taught me to look at 3 C’s:

Character, Competence, and Chemistry.

Another blog by Ron Edmondson added a fourth to the list: Culture.

With that in mind, there are moments when someone needs to be released from their role. It might have to do with any of those 4 C’s, but usually the most important one is Character.

Competence might be able to be taught, chemistry might be able to be worked on, and culture might get worked out, but character is entirely up to the individual.

I’ve noticed how, over the years, I’ve had conversations with people who believe someone should stay in their role, even when they have glaring character issues that are damaging themselves and others they influence through their role.

Let me make a side note: Different levels of character may be required by different roles. I require much more out of a person with a high level leadership role than I do out of someone who is just beginning. The problem I’m addressing is when the person’s character does not match the role they find themselves in.

I will hear things like, “We just need to work with that person” or “They’ll get better” or “Just give them time”. Now, there may be some very real issues with regards to character that CAN be worked on.

But, more often than not, the comments I hear basically mean this: “How can we be so judgmental and so lacking in grace?”

This could not be further from the truth. Grace is primarily used in the context of relationships, not just positions or roles that a person holds.

So often, we lack grace in the relational component with a person, while exercising grace in the positional component. This leads to high levels  of frustration, as we keep a person in a position that is damaging them and others, while at the same time being continuously frustrated, angry, or bitter about what the person is doing.

I’m inviting you to reverse the equation.

What if we decided to have more grace with people in the context of relationships while holding positions a little more lightly?

If I have had to remove a person (or if they removed themselves) from a position due to character issues, my hope has always been that grace will continue in the context of the relationship. But, there’s two problems that frequently present themselves:

  1. A person’s personal feelings and identity is tied to the position. In that situation, the person doesn’t feel like relationship can continue because their relationships were completely tied to their position. When they lose the position, they feel like the relationship is lost as well.
  2. A person has no concern for change, so when they leave the position, they also leave the relationship. I have seen this over and over again. What usually happens is that the person makes a decision to leave the church, because they have no desire to make any real changes in their lives. They then go on to repeat the same pattern over again in another place.

Now, there is not much I or you can do about #2. But there is a whole lot we can do about #1. Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Make sure that the person you place in a certain role has the matching character for that role BEFORE entering into it.
  2. Continually provide opportunities for relationship building that are not directly related to a person’s position. Go out for coffee, have lunch, go bowling together…not to talk about their role, but to simply talk as people!
  3. Use words to continually affirm people according to WHO THEY ARE, not just WHAT THEY DO. So often we congratulate people on what their accomplishments are. That’s great! But we should also affirm the intrinsic value that everyone holds as God’s most incredible creation, regardless of what they do or don’t do.

Let’s make sure that in our leadership, we approach grace more as a relational concept than a positional concept. Positions can come and go, but life change only occurs in the context of relationships filled with grace.

Do you have any other ideas about how you can communicate grace more as relational concept in your church or organization?

Comment below!



What’s Your Shoe Size?

“You’ve got big shoes to fill!”

This happens every time.

When a new CEO enters into a successful company. When a new pastor enters into a church previously led by a long time pastor. When a new President fills the role of leading a successful non-profit.

That phrase is repeated over and over again. And, there is some truth to it. Every organization that has been led by a person for some amount of time has usually grown to a certain size which involves many layers of complexity. The person moving into that role has to “fill in” their knowledge, understanding, and leadership capacity to handle that complexity.

In addition, there are many stylistic spaces, created by the previous leader, that the new leader has to navigate. The new leader has to understand the leadership personality of the previous person who filled the role and how employees’ (or volunteers’) expectations and interactions were influenced by that leader’s personality.

But, with all that being said, I don’t know that it’s really helpful to tell an incoming Leader/CEO/President/Pastor that they have big shoes to fill. The phrase automatically assumes that they only exist to carry on the legacy and leadership of the person who preceded them. The phrase also automatically assumes that the person coming in does not have the experience or knowledge base at the present moment to lead the organization. While there may be some truth there, that truth is unhelpful in setting a positive tone for the arrival of the new leader.

Let’s give new leaders the space necessary to grow organically into the roles that they are entering into. Let’s remove the pressure from them having to somehow fulfill the status quo, the stylistic design, or the organizational complexity that makes up the organization. While all of those things are real and need to be understood and processed, let’s allow new leaders the opportunity to develop their own personality as they lead into a new future for the organization.

If you are a leader coming into a previously existing role, you must chart a new course while honoring the path of the past.

Do not walk in and fill someone else’s shoes…walk in, learn all you need to learn, and increase the size of your own leadership capacity. Get yourself your own big shoes to wear!

So how about we change the phrase?

Something like… “Get ready, your shoes are about to get really large!”

Or this one? “Go buy a pair of bigger shoes!”

Do you have any other ideas? Leave them in the comments! is home to the writings of Pastor Jeff Tolle, a local church pastor in Los Angeles, California. He loves to write about living a life of influence.