Do What You Can, When You Can

When I was in college at the University of Georgia I had a big project in one of my major classes. It was a project that would take hundreds of hours to complete. My professor assigned the project at the beginning of the semester and almost every time class was in session she would remind us of the project and ask a weird question – “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer she was looking for was, “One bite at a time.”


Of course, she was teaching us how to handle a big task or project – one step at a time. When it comes to ministry, we would do well to remember this. You can’t do everything all at once. You need to take it one step at a time.

When you’re leading a church, you will have a big task on your hands. There will be much to do. But you will get overwhelmed if you try to change everything overnight. You can’t transform the culture, redesign the strategy, or realign the structure overnight.

Don’t try to do it all at once. Do what you can, when you can. 

Here are three things I regularly pray for as I’m approaching a big project or task. In fact, these are three things I regularly pray for even if I don’t have a big project or task on the agenda. Continue reading

Something People Like Less Than Change

You’ve heard it before – people don’t like change. I understand why. A few years ago Chick-Fil-A changed their chicken salad sandwich and I’m still not over it. Bonaire, Georgia looks a lot different today then it did when I was a boy. In some ways, that makes me sad. I’m a nostalgic person. I really do understand why people don’t like change.

ChangeBut change is a necessity. Think about it. Imagine a world with no automobiles, with no antibiotics, with no internet. All of those things came about because someone challenged the status quo. So, if you want to move forward – if you want to grow – change is inevitable. In business, in life, and in the church – you must change if you want to move forward.

As a pastor, I’ve discovered a way to soften the blow of change. At least I think I have. Or maybe I hope I have. I’ve discovered that one reason people don’t like change so much is because they’re surprised by it. This led me to a pretty important discovery. Continue reading

A Leadership Lesson From Michael Scott

Do you know Michael Scott? Of course you do. Michael is…or was…the (fictional) Regional Manager at Dunder Mifflin Inc. – a mid-sized paper company in Scranton, Pennsylvania. And…he’s the world’s best boss. Just check out the mug. 

I’m sure you’ve learned a lot through the years from Michael Scott’s incredible leadership on The Office (sarcasm intended). He seems to always cause mass chaos, create uncomfortable situations, and evoke angry responses from his coworkers and employees.

One day, because of his own stupidity, Michael finds himself in another awkward and avoidable situation. His boss sits across the table and simply asks him, “What do you want, Michael?” After causing the problem and creating the confusion, Michael Scott’s response is almost unbelievable. Do you know what he said? Continue reading

Conflict and Cow Patties

I’m a country boy. I grew up working at a grain elevator and farming during the summers. We had land with cows and horses for a time as well. You learn a lot about life when you work with your hands. One lesson I learned years ago – every problem should be dealt with differently.

Let me paint a picture for you. Sometimes people don’t know how to deal with conflict. They think everything has to be handled immediately, swiftly, and decisively. And don’t get me wrong, it’s important to handle problems the right way. But I don’t think steamrolling someone every time there’s the slightest problem is the only way to go.

So, let me use an analogy for you that might make some sense. Every cow leaves behind some traces. You know what I mean, right? If you walk through a pasture, you’re going to run into a bunch of cow patties. Don’t put a stick of dynamite under every cow patty. You’ll end up getting poop everywhere and everyone ends up stinking.

Sometimes you just need to leave the cow mess alone and let it go away. The smell will disappear and before you know it, the cow patty is gone. Now, I’m not saying that you should never deal with conflict. This is where the analogy breaks down. In real life, I’ve never put a stick of dynamite under a cow patty – and I’ve never wanted to!

But I think this is an important point to make. Real leaders know the difference between important issues that need to be addressed head-on and minor issues that will go away with time. How can you tell? Ask yourself a few questions. Continue reading

The True Test of Leadership

This past Sunday I had a chance to preach at the church I used to pastor.  It was great to see folks, hang out with friends, and worship with my former church family. The neatest thing to me was knowing that this was a place I used to pastor – before God called me away – and they were willing to have me back!

I know it sounds really simple. But that doesn’t happen very often. Many times, pastors leave under duress. Or they leave the church with so many problems. And the church just isn’t interested in seeing the pastor again until they all get to heaven. (Can you tell I tried to say that in the nicest way possible?) So, for me, it was an incredible honor and privilege to be invited back to preach.

I’m reminded of what my dad has always told me. “Son, the true test of leadership is not what happens when you’re there, but what happens after you’re gone.” Don’t get me wrong, what happens when you’re there is really important. But what about after you ride off into the sunset – or you’re six feet under? What then? Continue reading