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Posted on Oct 23, 2014 in Blog, Church, Creativity, Culture, Encouragement, Fathering, Leadership, Pain and Suffering, repost

No More Cookie Cutter Pastors, No More Cookie Cutter Churches. (Why you’re not a failure even though it feels like it.)

No More Cookie Cutter Pastors, No More Cookie Cutter Churches. (Why you’re not a failure even though it feels like it.)

(Intro: This is a post I wrote in Sept of 2012, when I was fairly upset about some stuff, so I wrote this article and never published it. I just reread it and wanted to share it with you.)

Sometimes when it feels like we’ve failed at something, I think the basis of what we’re feeling is based on someone else’s imposed definition of who they think you should be – and you’re not living up to it.

You know what I’m talking about. People see a pastor at another church while they’re visiting on a weekend, and they instantly start comparing you (their pastor) to them. They notice all the little things they do that you don’t do. They notice their style and their voice. They notice all the things that make them who they are, and compare them to you.

What they don’t realize is that, they are experiencing them in a vacuum. For one, it’s not a fair, side by side comparison. It’s not like they’re in a Best Buy, looking at the TV’s where they can see the same movie on a hundred TV’s. Can you imagine that store? A hundred different worship leaders singing the same song or a hundred different pastors preaching the same sermon so you can pick the one you like best?

When they take the TV home, they begin to notice the flaws.

You’ve been there. You buy the TV, get home and realize it doesn’t have enough connections, or doesn’t look as big as you thought it did, or it looks bigger. You buy a used car, and on the way home you hear a noise you didn’t hear. You go to a new church, and then the pastor says something you don’t think is funny, he’s kind of a nerd, the worship leader is a little pitchy or sings a song you don’t like every weekend. Then they start to remember all the things they liked about their old pastor, forget all the things they didn’t like and long for the days when they were at their previous church.

I know I’ve been there before. I’ve had, in my life and ministry on a regular basis, people who judge me and how I do ministry against how they think I should be doing ministry. They have an image of what they think I should be in their head, and when I don’t live up to it, I am failing.

I’ve had people judge me against a flawed perception of themselves. They believe they are great at my job (even though they may have no training or experience) and that I should be doing my job as good as they think they could do my job.

Maybe they can do my job better, but the bottom line is, we shouldn’t judge anyone based on what we think they should be. But, you know how you work at a job for 40+ hours a week? You do this thing for 40+ hours a week that I don’t claim to know all about. There are things about your job that I don’t understand. Things that can’t be understood unless you’re in it all the time. The reverse is also true, but it’s not real PC to say. But I will. Unless you are a Pastor and you make your living pastoring a church and work in the church 7 days a week, you just don’t have an understanding of what it really means to lead a church.

The other bottom line, you shouldn’t let people judge you based on who they think you should be.

I know you can’t control them, but you can control how much you let them in your head. Don’t let their judgement of you drive you to try to be someone you’re not.

You are awesome just how God created you. The other guy they are comparing you to is awesome how God created him. When you try to be like him, you are being an imitation of a creation, not being the creation God created. When you’re trying to be someone else, that’s idolatry. We are made in God’s image, and our only pursuit can be the image the designer put in us since before we were born.

One thing I’m not saying is that we shouldn’t try to improve ourselves. But only if that improvement is based on principle and truth, not comparison. If the improvement is to keep up with someone else, or because we are under pressure from people around us to be something we’re not, we shouldn’t do it.

As we shape who we are and the people we lead, we need to build into them the ability to think and appreciate people for who they are. Don’t let your people get caught up in the comparison game. Don’t let them talk negatively about your pastor, don’t let them talk negatively about your subordinates. Teach them to learn to appreciate the good things and find ways they can step in and fill in the perceived gaps.

One final note: with the highly connected world we live in, it’s very easy to see what every other church on the planet is doing. Whether it’s worship styles or songs, programs or ministries, videos, graphics, stage designs or sermons. We need to be careful to be sure that we aren’t comparing what we do to what the rest of the world is doing. God has a plan and design for your church body, just as he as a plan and design for you.

Just as God created you uniquely, he created your church body uniquely. If he wanted us to all be the same and act the same, he would have prescribed it for us. And in the areas we do have such prescriptions, I do think we should strive to live up that prescription. However, just as each of us are unique, he wants your church body to represent him uniquely.

So, no more cookie cutter pastors, no more cookie cutter churches.

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Posted on Oct 22, 2014 in Blog, Creativity, Fathering, Leadership, Worship

Creativity the Missing Piece(s) – Part 4

Creativity the Missing Piece(s) – Part 4

Slowly, but surely, this series is going to get finished! I started the series in 2009! What the heck Lindner! Get it together, it’s 2014!

So, since the chances are astronomical that you’ve never even heard of this series, therefore you’ve never read the first three articles, you might want to go check them out. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.

In Part 4 of the series, I want to talk about setting the ground rules for the team & the meetings.

There are probably a hundred rules you could make up for a team like this. Maybe you want everyone to wear skinny jeans and a scarf. So you make a rule that no baggy pants are allowed.

But that’s not really what I’m thinking of. I’m looking more at those rules that keep the team functioning in a healthy manner. These rules are blunt and straightforward by design. It is better to be clear at the beginning with expectations. It’s easier to hold people to something they are aware of. If they don’t know a rule exists, they’ll break it every time.

So, what are they?

Team Rules

1.) Everyone is committed. 

If you’re on the team, you are an owner. You’re self-employed. You are not a road construction employee. We can’t have 5 guys watching one guy work. Everyone is committed. It needs to be made clear to those coming onto the team for the first time, that this is a Getting Stuff Done team. We don’t just talk, we do. For every meeting, we have a series we are executing, a series we are planning and a series we are brainstorming. We model the way by working the hardest. If you commit to this team, you’re committing to diligence.

2.) If you miss the meeting, it’s your responsibility to find out what you missed. 

Because we are committed to the team, we don’t wait until the next meeting to get caught up on what we missed. We get in touch with the leader or someone else who was there to find out what happened. It’s not the leaders’ responsibility to call me, it’s my responsibility to call my leader. I realize that I may have been assigned some tasks based on the strengths my team knows about me, and if I wait to find out what they are until the next meeting I might miss something that needs to be done this week. It’s not someone else’s responsibility, it’s mine.

3.) Everyone Follows Through

We don’t drop the ball. Period. If we drop the ball, it’s not just a loss of a service element. It’s the loss of an experience for hundreds if not thousands of people. It’s not just me who loses out, it’s the whole body. Every minute of the worship service is multiplied by the number of people in attendance. If 100 people come to church, a 60 minute service accounts for 6,000 minutes. If I don’t follow through, my 3 minute responsibility costs the church 300 minutes of potentially life-changing experience.

4.) Not meetings after the meeting

We are committed to being united as a team. If there is a problem between members of the team, we don’t engage in gossip about them outside the meeting, we encourage them and possibly force them to work it out with the other person. We confront ideas in the meeting because we are trying to get the best idea to the church. So, we don’t have meetings after the meeting about how this person just doesn’t get it. Or how that person isn’t very creative. Every person on the team is there for a reason. We confront and keep short accounts, because we are too busy with the big idea to get bogged down with drama.

5.) A God-honoring experience is primary, personal feelings are secondary. 

We don’t allow our personal feelings to be attached to an idea. My feelings aren’t important – Jesus is. We are here to create the most creative experience and expression of our collective bodies adoration of Jesus. We aren’t here to get credit. We aren’t here to prove that we are the most creative, crazy person in the church. We aren’t here to get our immature ego’s an extra stroke on the back. We are here to be a part of a team creating a God-honoring experience. My personal feelings cannot get in the way of that. That’s idolatry.

Meeting Rules

1.) Everyone is on time. 

We start our meetings on time. To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late. We don’t show up 15 minutes after the meeting starts, even if we are musicians. We respect the time of everyone on the team, and we understand that when we are late, we are disrespecting the time of those who cared enough about me to be there on time. That makes me an egotistical hypocrite who expect people to serve me, but I’m not willing to serve them in the same way.

2.) More from the thinkers less from the talkers. 

Just because you can talk a lot doesn’t mean you have the best idea. Often times those who have the most words need to shut their pie hole so someone who thinks can process the ideas on there and come up with a better idea. We don’t need you to prove how smart you are, how creative you are, how in touch with culture you are or anything of the like. We get the hint by your beard. You’re cooler than us. We get it. Now, please be quiet so I can come up with an idea that will make you cry.

3.) Only the team leader gets to cut someone off. 

We aren’t afraid to confront ideas that come to the table. But we also don’t get to be jerks. We are respectful of the people on the team. So we let them finish their idea before we jump in and change the subject. And just because the person takes a breath doesn’t mean they are finished. It is the responsibility of the leader to know the people on the team so they can silence the ones who talk too much and pull in the ones who talk too little.

4.) During brainstorming times, completion is not the goal – initiation of an idea is the goal. 

We aren’t trying to finish an idea during brainstorming. We are trying to find the best idea. My idea might initiate a better idea in your head. And your idea might initiate an even better idea in someone else’s head. So, we don’t stop and try to complete my idea. We don’t try to begin to implement my idea because I want my idea to win. When we are brainstorming, we are flooding the board with ideas in the hope that our idea might implement a coalition of creativity that truly expressed the creativity of the collected body of Christ.

5.) During implementation times of the meeting, financially responsible execution is the goal. It’s time to shut off the new ideas and implement the best idea you have. 

When you’re being creative, it’s hard to stop coming up with new ideas and get to work. This is a problem for creatives around the world. They never get started doing anything because as soon as they start, they have a newer and better idea. Creatives are awful for completing things.

Given the magnitude of the role of this team, (preparing experiences that prepare people), we don’t have the luxury of waiting until the absolute best idea comes along. Instead, we have the responsibility of implementing and executing the best idea we have. It’s not fair to those showing up on Sunday to drop the ball because we thought we had a better idea, and if we just had another week, we could make it happen.

Brainstorming Rules: If you need some good rules for brainstorming, make sure to check out the 10 commandments of brainstorming. 


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Posted on Feb 7, 2014 in Blog, Featured, Leadership, Parenting, repost, Responsibility

The Blame Game Danger

The Blame Game Danger

“The successful man will profit from his mistakes and
try again in a different way.” – Dale Carnegie

“I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work…
Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison

I have discovered a danger that I want to share with you.

Who’s going to fix it?

When you always blame someone else, you put yourself in a helpless position. If someone else is always the wrong one, how are you ever going to get out of what ales you?

This is a concerning trend. It exists in every level of society. From the Political leaders (from all sides) & CEO’s to teenagers and the homeless, there is a trend to push the blame off to someone else. Common phrases for this are things like “I wasn’t aware of that” or “there’s nothing I can do to change it.”

But, what I’ve noticed is that for those who always push to blame for their position to an external source, there is never any growth or personal progress. As long as there is someone else to blame, no one ever owns their own junk. So, since they never own up to their own mistakes, they never grow as a result.

Lost Authority

Another effect of pushing blame is this: when you’re blaming others instead of taking responsibility, you have no authority. The perfect example of this is as a parent or in a relationship. It’s easier to blame someone else than to deal with someone you care about being mad at you.

Let’s say you have to go into work on your day off. The truth is that the boss asked if anyone would volunteer to take the time and a half pay and you volunteered. But, when you get home to tell your spouse about it, all of a sudden it’s the boss’s fault. “The boss is making me come in to work tomorrow,” you tell your spouse. So now your spouse is mad at your boss for something that was your decision. Not only is this dishonest, it takes all the authority between you and your boss and puts it all on your boss.

Or, as a parent, let’s say that the kids are really wanting to go to the park, but you don’t want to go. So you call your spouse and get them to take the responsibility. They say, “You can just tell them that I said no.” So your kids get mad at your spouse because they’re not letting them go, and you don’t have to go to the park. Everything’s peachy right? Not really, because you pushed the authority of the decision off to your spouse, now you longer have authority to make that decision in the eyes of your children.

 Why does this matter?

Because it is through making mistakes that we often learn lessons that we will remember for a life time. It is through the emotional and mental anguish we go through when we’ve screwed up that we find the power to change and do it better the next time.

When we’ve lost that, what’s left? How to we grow and change?

To be honest, I think the rate at which we make personal change goes way down without taking responsibility. I think we end up with a lot of people who are convinced they are the best version of themselves they will ever be, that they can never get any better and that all the turmoil they face in life is because of someone else.

So, where are you? Do you take the blame for your own mistakes or are you always blaming someone else? It may seem easier in the moment to push the blame off to someone else, but you are doing yourself more damage than you can possibly imagine.

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Posted on Dec 28, 2012 in Humility, Leadership, Lost Virtues

Lost Virtues: The Death of Humility – Part 2

“Count no day lost in which you waited your turn, took only your share and sought advantage over no one.” Robert Brault

A couple of weeks ago, I started a series entitled “Lost Virtues.” And as I get into it just a little bit, I am seeing just how deep this issue might be. It seems that virtue is a forgotten word, and the values that can be defined within the word have lost significance by all but a few.

One of my biggest concerns with the state of virtue in our society is the lack of example that exists. Not just from Hollywood and the ego-maniacs that come out of there. But there are two significant areas of our culture that I believe require virtue in order to run efficiently that are now overcome with the absence of it. Those are the government and the church.

In fact, as I write this post, we are in the midst of a battle over the “fiscal cliff.” (Which, by the way, I believe will be known in the future as one of the worst decisions congress has ever made. Specifically, agreeing on a fiscal cliff. For a congress that couldn’t agree on any sort of budget for 3 years prior, it should have been foreseen that the likelihood of them coming together on any significant issue would be highly improbable.)

However, to the issue of this post. While the issue of spending too much money and raising taxes is greatly concerning to me, it is what has led us to this edge that ought be a major point of worry for us all. Our government is full of men and women who could be described as the opposite of the quote for this day. Their quote might read “Count now day lost in which you stole someone’s turn, took from their shares and sought advantage over everyone.”

From state and local representatives to the highest office in the land, for all political parties, it seems that promotion of self has trumped being a servant for the people. There is no greater evidence of this than the actual living out of those personalities in our government. Neither party knows what compromise means. It seems the working definition is the opposition must concede on everything. From our outside perspective, the observation is that our “leaders” are seeking a personal advantage and that is what is driving their decision-making more than what is right and best for the people they are supposed to be serving. Those elected to public service now believe it is the duty of those they were elected to serve to instead, serve them.

Another great concern I have is that the church in America is also getting caught up in the same philosophical ideals. Those who have been chosen to serve the body of Christ now seem more concerned with their image and well-being, than with the spiritual health of the body they should be leading. Our leaders no longer lead by example. Instead, they have become better than that which they preach. “It is for the people to practice what I preach, no me.” While you may never actually hear those words, you will indubitably see it in practice.

Our church leaders are more concerned with their own stability and security than they are with the mission of the church. Decisions aren’t made because they are what the body needs, they are made to maintain the status quo and, in so doing, the fiscal security of those in charge.

We are also consumed with competition. We have to keep up with what other churches are doing at any cost. It doesn’t matter if it seems unwise, we go after it. The ideas may not fit our particular congregation and we may not be able to afford them, but we pursue them anyway.

The last I heard leadership wasn’t about the leader. Perhaps this is where we have gone astray. Our culture loves a hero and a good on-screen personality. Could it be that the best leaders are the ones we never see on the screen or whose names we never read in the headlines? Leadership is about serving the people. It’s about using the gifts and wisdom God has granted you to lead and move people in the direction they ought to go. Leadership is not about getting people to do stuff for the leader. It is not about stroking the ego of said leader nor about the leader at all. The leaders’ job is to serve. It is only in getting back to this that we will find the real answer or society needs.

Perhaps we can build a movement of men and women who are more concerned about others than they are themselves? Perhaps we won’t even take our share, but give part of our share to someone in need. We shouldn’t take advantage of anyone, but rather do what we can to help those who need a little help. And maybe, we could let someone else have our turn, instead of blindly looking out only for ourselves.

Will you join me in creating a culture-shift and rebuilding a culture that is more concerned with others than with ourselves?

How do you think we can do this?

Would you leave your idea in a comment below?

Click here to leave a comment!

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Posted on Dec 17, 2012 in Family, Humility, Leadership, Lost Virtues, Worship

Lost Virtues: The Death of Humility – Part 1

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” ― C.S. Lewis

There has been a lot of talk lately about how bad things are. Everything is getting worse, people are getting worse, the planet is changing, species of animals are dying and for crying out loud, the world is ending on Friday. I mean, I can sit on a couch, watch my 10 month old daughter play, listen to an awful jazz arrangement of Coldplay’s clocks and write about how bad things are. That must mean things are out of control.

Well, sure, I’ll admit that I’m a bit concerned for our culture. And as much as I may enjoy a good doomsday show, my concern isn’t one you’ll be likely to read in a headline somewhere. At least from news outlets who seem more concerned about ratings than common decency (but don’t get me started on that rant…).

You see, it seems to me that the modern age is where humility has come to die.

Goodbye selflessness, hello ego-centric world. You’re welcome in to my atmosphere as long as you don’t try to make things about you.

You’d think that with all of the advances in science that have been made in the last two centuries, we’d be more convinced than ever that the world doesn’t revolve around us. Yet, it’s becoming harder and harder to find anyone that truly thinks of others more than themselves.

Stop for a minute and think, how many people do you know who are truly humble? I can imagine, you’d have to scroll through most of the letters in your address book before you found someone who is truly humble.

Can we become agents of change? Can we be catalysts for humility? I just can’t imagine the benefit of a society that becomes more concerned with themselves than they are with the community at large.

Real concern.

Not the patronizing kind that’s offensive and still makes you out to be a little better than me.

Real concern for one another.

The Question is, where does humility come from? C.S. Lewis gives us a good start. Let’s start there for today. Perhaps we can just think of ourselves a little less today than we did yesterday.

Where do you think humility begins? 

Join the conversation for change today! Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Posted on Nov 29, 2012 in Dear Leader, Leadership

Dear Optimistic Leader

Dear Optimistic Leader

(To read more letters to leaders, Click here)

Do you have a letter you want to write? Do you have a letter you’re too scared to write? Contact me!

Dear Optimistic Leader,

Thank you! You are such a rare gift. We need you so much more than you know. Every day we are bombarded with criticism and negativity. We see in TV shows, commercials, the News, tweets and facebook.

We’re so prone to be negative that it seems impossible to overcome the tendencies we have towards it. Yet, you do it every day! Even on your worst day, you’re more optimistic than many of us on our best days.

You are a blessing. When the sky is falling, you are thankful for the new opportunities that lie ahead. When you run out of money, you are thankful for the chance to learn through the tough time. When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade Slurpees and give them away.

Whatever you do, don’t stop. When people come along and criticize you for being to optimistic, please don’t listen. For some reason, people think being negative and critical makes them look smart. How absurd is it that people criticize you for being negative. Instead, let it be motivation to be even more optimistic.

The world doesn’t change on the backs of the pessimist. The world changes because someone like you believes we can make the world a better place. You are a world changer.

When we interact with you, you not only bring a smile to our face, you move us from our own negativity to a place of hope.

So, thank you again for being optimistic. Thank you for teaching us to hope. Thank you for brightening our day and teaching us to see the light in the world around us.

We couldn’t do it without you!

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