Sunday, February 28, 2010

7 Habits of an Ineffective Leader

I'm off to the Leadership Conference at HTB tomorrow.

This post was timely and caught my eye because I am really looking forward to reading Leaders who last by Dave Kraft and it gives a taster. Actually, the subtitle 'Only 30% of leaders last' is that fact the really caught my eye. At the moment, the book's 20 quid so I'm waiting for the price to come down!

Here are those 7 habits for you to mull on and in full here:

  • They spend too much time managing and not enough time leading.
  • They spend too much time counseling the hurting people and not enough time developing the people with potential.
  • They spend too much time putting out fires and not enough time lighting fires.
  • They spend too much time doing and not enough time planning.
  • They spend too much time teaching the crowd and not enough time training the core.
  • They spend too much time doing it themselves and not enough time doing it through others.
  • They make too many decisions based on organizational politics and too few decisions based on biblical principles.
  • Saturday, February 27, 2010

    Chandler on his treatment

    I have been following Matt Chandler's journey. Preaching like this has blessed me greatly and here is an update on his health.

    Taking Risks

    (H/T D. Miller)

    A Saturday-sweep

    I have been feeling a bit off colour so took to my bed for rest and Lemsip.

    Over the past few months, I have been working my way through Prime Suspect which must be amongst the best television dramas ever made. Do check it out if you, like me, missed it the first time around.

    I listened to an excellent In our time discussion on Calvinism this week. Worth checking out.

    I am halfway through Linchpin.

    Leading is a skill, not a gift. You're not born with it, you learn how. And schools can teach leadership as easily as they figured out how to teach compliance. Schools can teach us to be socially smart, to be open to connection, to understand the elements that build a tribe. While schools provide outlets for natural-born leaders, they don't teach it. And leadership is now worth far more than compliance is [P. 48]

    Remember Rage against the machine got to Christmas No1. Why not try to get Delirious to the same spot for Easter No 1 with this song. Tell everyone and do the Facebook thing.

    Redhill has some thoughts about Jesus and the Eyewitnesses.

    A short R C Sproul thought on prayer.

    For one week of blogging 2 Fair Dollars a Day is going great guns.

    And Kester has a barmy clip that may offer a Saturday smile.

    Thursday, February 25, 2010

    Prayer not pancakes

    In the C of E you get a sabbatical every 7 years. A pal of mine rang me up this week telling me of his plans, part of which is some holiday in the States and a chance to visit some churches and places of interest. One place that has come on his radar that he is keen to visit is called IHOP and he urged me to look a film on their website.

    When you put IHOP into google surprisingly what comes up but the 'International House of Pancakes'. I cleverly deduced that the 'P' may in fact be for prayer not an egg and flour batter mix and found the site. Now, to be sure, this is clearly on the more full-on end of the charismatic scale but I confess I enjoyed watching it.

    A couple in our church visited IHOP last year and I now understand why they had so many questions and confusions about eschatology. The end times is front and centre stage at IHOP. I gave them a copy of my friend's book which he has written precisely to iron out the theological nuttiness that surrounds some of this. So, if you are planning a trip to IHOP be sure to take a copy of 'And the lamb wins' in the bag.

    What did strike me watching this was the extent and passion for prayer which I have to say is compelling. Prayer seemingly happens all the time.

    See what you think.

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010

    Teaching a stone to talk

    Annie Dillard wrote:

    "On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning.

    It is madness to wear ladies straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should wear crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return"

    in In a pit with a lion on a snowy day [Page 119-120]

    Tuesday, February 23, 2010

    2 Fair Dollars a Day

    A post by Simon Walker got me thinking about the consumption of Christianity. We Christian's are able to attend a service, do a conference or read a book and for it to seemingly have no impact on our lifestyle choices at all. We so often consume spirituality in exactly the same way the New Ager does a soul-enhancing holiday. That is, for what we are able to get out of it. This is true none more so than over concern for and connection with mercy and justice (Keller's new book Generous Justice will speak to the heart of this).

    Now, I am well-known in my very small circle for always banging on about grace. And we need grace here too. Somehow though, I think we also all need a kick (maybe it is reading 'In a pit with a lion on a snowy day' that has got me so passionate) to make better choices in order to bless the poor. There is a verse in Galatians that always inconveniently pops out at me..' we should continue to remember the poor'. So the primacy of grace of that wonderfully heated section Gal 1 v 6-9 is underpinned with an assumption that we are a community who look outward and love others (Romans 13: 8-10). That's just what we do apparently.

    The trouble is we don't do we? That is why perhaps this observation from Marcus Honeysett struck me on why churches stall.

    . … In my view, the single biggest cause of stalled churches in the UK is the belief that material comfort can be normative for Christians. It is the opposite of radical commitment to Christ.

    My fellow pastor friends often discuss what it means to make a disciple. Paul says to Timothy.....'go into strict training'. We usually take this to mean bible study, prayer, church attendance, evangelism etc but what about a bit of training in compassion? Don't we need to be 'trained' in this too?

    That's where my friend's lenten challenge is perhaps one way of releasing us into a living connectedness with others in need. She has called her blog 2 Fair Dollars a Day (which I started for her because she was procrastinating so much about her good idea). Maybe as part of Lent we should join Jenny for a day or two and get ourselves a bit better 'trained' in this loving neighbour business that Jesus seems to keen on us getting in the practice of.

    Sunday, February 21, 2010

    In a pit with a lion on a snowy day

    A friend Pete complained that he knows a famous blogger who never posts about him after he has him round for lunch -he hopes one day he might warrant a mention in a post. Well my friend who, so he says, is a shy type, told me today that he once went to a fancy dress party dressed as Hattie Jacques which I must say is quite an image to conjure and is certainly worthy of a post!

    A while ago, a girl visited our church from NCC and was a great encouragement to me. You can tell a lot about a church from the people who act as its ambassadors and this visitor really did her church proud. Since that time, I have followed her pastors blog called Evotional and recently have been enjoying his excellent book called 'In a pit with a lion on a snowy day'.

    The book has lots to commend it, not least that it launches itself from a verse I must have read a few times but had never noticed before (2 Samuel 23: 20-21). This is a book about risk and courage and is written engagingly in a 'get you burning again for Jesus' kind of way. I think every now and then this sort of read is a good kick up the backside to take some risks and trust our God afresh. My friend Jo is doing that each day as she faces off cancer. Marie is doing that on her YWAM project in Lesotho and my friend Mark on his adventure to Australia. As Batterson wrote in his journal in Ethiopia, "Don't accumulate possessions, accumulate experiences" [Page 43].

    At one point he says this: "I have a simple definition of success. Do the best you can with what you have where you are" I liked that.

    I am preaching this evening on Acts 3 and have been challenged once again to find the faith and courage to pray for those who do not yet believe. Not pray in a 'sit in a church prayer meeting with coffee and buns' kind of way but on the streets and in faith and with expectation. I have yet to be refused when I do it-I just need to do it more. The disciples and Jesus did this all the time and oddly enough it made something of an impact.

    So there you have it, Snowy lions and Peter and John at the gate Beautiful have got me fired up once again. A great, challenging, easy and engaging read that I commend to you.

    Saturday, February 20, 2010

    Mango Tea

    We had a great fund-raising ball for Karis Kids.

    Tons of live music, dancing (in church? is that allowed:), good food and fun. I promised Will I would post his song on the blog.

    His very own song too and it's very good!

    Idols of the Heart

    Today I am teaching on idolatry and so post some links I mention.

    Here are some of the resources:

    The article Idols of the Heart by David Powlinson is a superb resource.

    These X-ray questions are very helpful.

    The Tim Keller book is called Counterfeit Gods and all his resources can be found HERE.

    Mark Driscoll has an excellent chapter on functional saviours in Vintage Jesus.

    The two sermons are A Divine and Supernatural Light by Edwards and The Expulsive power of a new affection by Thomas Chalmers.

    Hope some of these may be helpful.

    Thursday, February 18, 2010

    Google Reader

    I was chatting with a friend and asked if they had ever heard of Google Reader. He never reads blogs and had no idea what I was talking about. Google Reader allows you to follow sites on the web that interest you and it keeps them all in the same place. When time allows you can scan your selection and share anything you discover or learn with others.

    Here is how it works in case you might find it helpful:

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010


    This interview with Ray Gosling is quite something.

    So many of my fellow clergy (Ordained in the C of E under the 39 articles) seem not to believe in the existence of Hell. Liberal sensibilities find this reality very hard to handle and yet so often cite the need for a concern about justice. The two go together surely? Perhaps I should read this book for some better insight and understanding.

    As it happens, Out of Ur has been posting films by Piper, Tom Wright and Keller on Hell and while you are there check out Rob Bell on preaching.

    Challies is annoyed that McClaren denies Hell, among many other things, in his review of A new kind of Christianity.

    Everywhere I go people are reading Twilight. Doug Wilson has some thoughts.

    What makes a leader is a good post and I am looking forward to the book Leaders who last. In the last month I have heard of two people who have given up ministry through stress and defeat. This nearly happened to Piper who writes about How I almost quit.

    Finally, here are some crazy people.

    Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    The most influential person in Britain?

    If you were doing a list you might have in Brown, Cowell or Beckham. I think that either this man speaking to TED or this woman to Harvard graduates might be more worthy and unlikely candidates. Inspiring stuff.

    If you have an audience in America then you perhaps might then speak to the world.

    Saturday, February 13, 2010

    Saturday smile

    Weekly wanderings

    I played golf yesterday which was fun.

    I saw Up in the Air this week and it made me feel gloomy. It has one line though that stuck with me- Clooney is about to fire a man and he asks him "When was it that you gave up on your dreams?"

    Clooney should read this called Single and Lonely.

    Tim Keller mentioned this very important book when I heard him teach last year-you can listen here.

    We should perhaps have it on pre-order.

    Keller posts on "Big issues facing the western church" (H/T Dash House)

    I went to Curates training and in one of the sessions our teacher said that his wise ancient spiritual director described prayer as:

    "Attending to what is the case"

    I have been mulling this since and think that is might in fact be the opposite of this. Anyway, I set a task for some friends to demonstrate or refute this from the Scriptures and look forward to their report back.

    A final quote for a ponder from my recent re-read of The Great Omission by Willard

    " We find it hard to see that grace is not opposed to effort but is opposed to earning" (Page 166)

    A happy weekend to all.

    Thursday, February 11, 2010


    "The people to whom we minister and speak will not recall 99 percent of what we say to them. But they will never forget the kind of people we are. This is certainly true of influential ministers in my own past. The quality of our souls will indelibly touch others for good or for ill. So we must never forget that the most important thing happening at any moment, in the midst of all our ministerial duties, is the kind of persons we are becoming"

    Dallas Willard, The Great Omission, Page 124

    Wednesday, February 10, 2010


    I listened to a talk by Caleb Maskell and in it he recommended Solomon among the post moderns as the very best thing he had read on culture (it is based on Ecclesiastes). I've ordered it.

    Also, I want to explore Seth Godin's new book Linchpin which is getting good reviews and has some nice cartoons too!

    I liked these quotes on spiritual health and the advice to stop looking at yourself.

    Brian McClaren's new book A New Kind of Christianity is starting to get some reviews and is causing a stir in the Christian blogosphere. Stephen Fry is seemingly not a fan of the Catholic Church and may favour of a new form of Christianity-as long as it's not Catholic.

    And Kester with some thoughts on happiness.

    Tuesday, February 09, 2010

    R C Sproul on 'still looking for Joseph's pants'

    R C Sproul is a man I had known about for some time but last year I finally got around to reading his book 'The Holiness of God'.

    This is, as this post suggests, a classic book and has, as I recall, an excellent section on the story of Martin Luther among other things. I came across R C Sproul again when Driscoll interviewed him and then again a couple of weeks ago speaking about his views on 'seeker-friendly' church. It is this final thing, a panel Q & A with Ravi Zac and Al Mohler, that has prompted this post on him when he uses the line "Looking for Joseph's pants". I suspect he and Bill Hybels may not exchange Christmas cards as Bill has a different view:) Here's the thing, I read and watch all sorts of stuff in any given week, but of all these things this week I have been pondering Sproul's thought. His views just won't leave me and I wonder if you might find yourself pondering these things too.

    A ponder every now and then is a good thing.

    Sunday, February 07, 2010

    Finding words

    My friend is finding it hard to find words. She has cancer and keeps a blog and has been advised that she should keep writing however hard it might seem. Jonathan Edwards wrote some words of consolation in a letter that I have been reflecting on as I pray for my friend.

    I think finding a safe place to put our words is a good practice. I have often advocated here the benefits of journal-keeping and it seems timely to do so again. Recently, I have read Leading from the Inside Out and here is what Samuel Rima writes about journalling:

    "The practice of keeping a journal involves putting one's life down on a clarifying process: "Who am I? What am I doing? How do I feel about my life, my world? In what ways am I growing or changing?"
    If there is one thing leaders [or anyone for that matter] need as they pursue self-knowledge and understanding, it is the ability to clarify the fears, motives, insecurities, and other emotions that lurk deep beneath the surface of their public leadership persona. Keeping a journal forces us to be honest with ourselves, warts and all. In our journal we can finally explore our inner rumblings and give definition and shape to them. The safe confines of our journal can help us admit to feelings of jealousy, selfishess, and pride. Within these therapeutic pages we can feel free to identify those inner urges and compulsions that drive us. The simple act of placing them on paper, in black and white, reduces their power over us to some degree.
    ....However, your journal will only be helpful to the degree that you are honest with yourself. It is important to remember as you keep a journal that the river of self-deceit and denial runs so deep and swift that your initial attempts to ford it may end in getting swept away by the current. There will be a constant temptation to paint yourself in the most favorable light. The urge will be strong to simply leave out some of the uglier and more negative behaviors and actions. When you succumb to these urges, you are being swept away by the current of self-denial and deceit. Just the act of journaling will not be helpful if you cannot be honest and probe your inner recesses. But rather than becoming discouraged and quitting, you need to persist until you are finally able to walk through the depths"

    To start a journal I advise two things.

    1. A moleskine
    2. A copy of How to keep a spiritual journal by Ron Klug.

    Then you just need to start writing.

    Friday, February 05, 2010

    A week of things to share

    I can't believe I am such an idiot. I pressed one button and my blog disappeared. I just thought oh well, you're a fool, but such is life. Yesterday, a friend said he could fix it so I now make an unexpected blogging return. As you might know, I have four readers and all four were sad that I was gone which was nice.

    However, what I did notice is that I had nowhere to put my discoveries.

    If you never discovered C S Lewis then you would be the poorer. John Piper tells "Lessons from an inconsolable soul: Learning from the mind and heart of C S Lewis" at this years Desiring God conference.

    Sam Storms gave the final message on Christian Hedonism at the DG Conference

    As it happens, I have also started reading Desiring God Piper's famous book upon the recommendation of a friend. I am finding it brilliant but have to say it's a bit like eating a cheese and pickle sandwich but without the pickle.

    A friend at church said that no one should miss this Driscoll sermon 32 Hours.

    You can find the Vineyard Leaders talks here which are worth a listen

    I am currently reading an odd combination of Mountain Rain, How to Live and the Life of Chris Evans and enjoying them all.

    Kingdom People says we should all set a reading goal in 2010.

    I watched the Grammy's the other night and Album of the Year was Taylor Swift (age 19) with Fearless and the Dave Matthews band with Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux Clan came runner up to her but were without question the live performance of the night. I think I might have to check both out. Strangely Susan Boyle didn't get a mention....

    I have been to the Van Gogh and his letters at the Royal Academy twice. Do see this.

    On Fridays, I like to listen to Desert Island Discs and enjoyed Mary Beard who also has a very popular blog. It was a refreshing listen.

    Have a happy weekend all.

    Thursday, February 04, 2010

    Saturday blog-sweep

     Some interesting books for pastors The State we're in Attack at dawn Joseph Scriven Joy comes with the morning When small is beautiful