Simple Leadership: 5 Great Ways to bring simplicity to your leadership

A post for Pastors and Church Leaders

http://larryshankle.com/simple-leadership

Leadership is notoriously complex. It would be nice if simple leadership was within our grasp. We wrestle with problems, issues, and sometimes people. Not to mention that leaders need to point a clear direction on subjects like vision, mission, and values. Faith based leadership isn’t any easier either. Pastors struggle to lead their churches under a burden of leadership that won’t let up. Often they want to quit. I know, because over the years I’ve wanted to quit as well.

The key to continuing is to make simple leadership your goal.

[clickToTweet tweet=”#Pastor, make simple #leadership your goal.” quote=”Make simple leadership your goal.” theme=”style3″]

Here’s five ways to work towards simple leadership:

1. Don’t take everything so seriously.

When I first began this church leadership journey, there was a pastor who told me to preach every time like it was my last. With all the passion, enthusiasm, and knowledge I have. To be clear, I think his advice is good. Pastors who preach should always preach like everything depends on their message, because God gave them their message and because it might be someone’s last shot at finding Christ. However, it’s also good to keep things in perspective.

Unless you die or Jesus returns, there will be a another Sunday.

If everything hinges on you, or on one church event, or one church ministry, you might as well pack it up now. The church is stronger than you, so stop taking yourself so seriously.

Should we take our work seriously? Sure. But don’t take yourself so serious. Simple leadership demands that I understand the fact that I’m expendable. God has other people who can take my place, and frankly, probably can do a better job than me.

Every situation, event, problem, issue, or question is NOT life and death. Some are. But most aren’t. Taking everything so seriously will add complexity and undue stress to your leadership. So stop.

2. Take time for your family.

God gave you your family. They need you. They don’t just need a part of you. You may be the pastor of a great church with loads of potential, but you are also the pastor of your family, and they deserve to have you around.

Each parent only has their children at home for a little while. What those kids remember is up to you.

Church is important, but so is your family.

[clickToTweet tweet=”#Church is important, but so is your #family. #pastor #faith” quote=”Church is important, but so is your family.” theme=”style3″]

I’ve never served in a large church. They have always been what I would call a normal size church of around 200 people. In a church this size there is a temptation to do too much. And the people who pay for your overwork is your family.

Make a plan to spend a few days together. Take a vacation. Enjoy a movie. If the church is going to fall apart because you aren’t there for a service or two, then you have much bigger problems anyway. However, I doubt your church will crumble if you miss a service to take some time with your family. In the long run, a strong family helps to create a strong church.

3. Focus on the most important things.

What are the top three things that only you can do? To have simple leadership, those are the things you need to focus on.

There’s no way that a pastor can effectively lead everything in a church. Your focus will be divided and eventually you will burn out. It’s just a fact. You can look at any statistic website you want and find that pastors quit at alarmingly high rates.

If you don’t want to end up being a statistic, stop focusing on everything and begin focusing on your top three things. This doesn’t mean you don’t care about everything, because any pastor worth their salt will care. It simply means you cannot give everything equal focus. Your church might not understand at first, but they will thank you in the long run.

My top three are preaching, leading toward our vision, and shepherding people. At this point, these things are not negotiable. Maybe your top three are different. That’s OK. But whatever they are give those things your one hundred percent. The key to simple leadership is focusing on a few things instead of  half-heartedly leading many.

4. Build friendships with people.

There used to be this notion that a pastor or church leader had to separate themselves from those they lead. The idea was, if you get too close to people they won’t respect you as a leader. What a dumb idea!

The closer you get to people, the more vulnerable you allow yourself to be, the more real you actually become. People don’t follow leaders because they appear larger than life, they follow them because they see something of themselves in their leader.

Believe it or not, those you lead want to be close to you. They care about you just like you care about them. Or, they would care about you if you gave them the opportunity to know you and be close to you.

I love the people I have the chance to serve. They are some of my closest friends. I love working with our church board, and count them not only as fellow leaders, but friends. Did it start out this way? Probably not. Friendship takes time, effort, and the willingness to put yourself out there. But you know what? I’m glad I did.

Whenever or if ever I have to leave my current leadership position, I won’t just be leaving a job, but I will have built life-long friendships that I cherish. It makes a pastor’s job much easier when he or she is friends with those they serve. If you want to have simple leadership, start being a real friend to those you serve.

5. Don’t stress over about things outside your control.

This is easier said than done. I get it. But let me ask you a question…

Why would you stress about something you have no possibility of helping? A motto I’ve lived by that serves me well is: Only stress about what you can help.

If I can’t personally fix the problem, or resolve the issue, it doesn’t mean I don’t care about it, I’m just making up my mind not to stress about it. There really is a difference.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Only stress about what you can help. #pastor #church #faith” quote=”Only stress about what you can help.” theme=”style3″]

Simple leadership destroys stress. It does it by making proactive decisions about when and where to use stress. Honestly, stress can be leveraged into a great tool, but only when applied in the right way.

Think about it…almost every hand tool requires stress and pressure to do what they were made to do. A hammer turns stress into action that drives a nail. A screwdriver uses stress to put things together. But you don’t see people using a hammer or screwdriver to paint their wall. Why? All the stress in the world won’t work in that situation.

Pastor, if something is outside of your control, stress isn’t the answer to fix it. Trusting God is.

In conclusion…

At its core, simple leadership revolves around trusting God. Simple leadership learns to recognize that everything cannot revolve around you. You can make the choice to create simple leadership that stands the test of time or you can choose to add layers of complexity to your life and organization. Which are you going to choose?

Question: How do you practice simple leadership?

Further reading:

How to improve your leadership by leading with integrity

How to be a better leader and influence more people

Four limiting beliefs you should stop believing immediately

Giving up on your dream: 25 questions to ask before you do

Giving Up On Your Dream: 25 Questions To Ask Before You Do

http://larryshankle.com/giving-up-on-your-dream

So, you are thinking of giving up on your dream.
How long have you been waiting on God to bring your dream into reality? Some of you have been waiting weeks, months, and in many cases, years. You want to experience God do the impossible in your life. You’ve cried about your situation and longed for something to break open in what seems to be a dead, dormant, and dried up dream.

What do you do at this point?
You are thinking of giving up on your dream

If you have ever argued with yourself about the validity of your dream, you’re not alone. You are in the company of great people. Almost every single person I can think of from Scripture who God spoke to about great things happening in their life, had doubt.

They couldn’t see it happening. Oh, they wanted it to happen. They prayed that it would happen, but they could not “see” it. Giving up on your dream feels like the most difficult thing in the world, yet at the same time, it seems like a welcome relief to just release the pressure of believing for something that has yet to come to fruition.

The greatest barrier to your dream is a lack of faith. Not the sort of faith that it takes to believe God is real, but the kind of faith that continues to “see” the unseeable.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Giving up on your #dream will immediately stop God’s hand in your life. #faith #TrustGod” quote=”Giving up on your dream will immediately stop God’s hand in your life.” theme=”style3″]

You must be able to see the dream before you can reach the dream, and even if you achieve your dream, you still have to keep on “seeing” the dream in your heart.

Dreams are fragile. They don’t take root very quickly. Dreams need constant work and attention, and frankly, giving up on your dream might feel like the best route. But don’t. You will regret it. I promise you.

If you don’t feel like God is coming through anytime soon, I can relate. For many years my wife and I wanted children. We tried all we knew, but nothing happened. In fact, we went to doctors, spent all the money we could afford to pay, and still nothing.

Now, if you have a dream that you believe is from God, you are going to relate to what I’m about to say…Doesn’t it make you mad when you see others who have the same or a similar dream as you, and everything just works out for them? Don’t you get a little angry that things happened so effortlessly for them when you’ve been struggling to believe, trying all you know, and holding on to hope?

It isn’t that you want bad for them, not at all. You just want your dream too. You want God to show up in the middle of your pain and make the difference that you know he can make. This God who created the universe can make your dream come true whenever he wants to, and you know it. So when you see someone grab hold of their dream or their promise from God, you are happy for them. However, inside your heart, there is also a sense of resentment.

You want it too.

My wife and I prayed to have children for fourteen years…fourteen. That is a long time when you are living it. I finally came to the thought that maybe children and a family were something we weren’t supposed to have.

My wife and I are pastors, so we would continue to love God and celebrate all the other people who easily had children. We would cheer them on and be glad for them, but as for us, it just wasn’t the will of God. My dream began to die.

Now, let me say that along the way God stirred my spirit many, many times and reminded me of a promise he had given me years earlier. See, probably a decade earlier, God made me a clear promise. In fact, he made me four separate promises.

Some of you may not believe that God still speaks…sorry if you don’t. God does speak. He spoke to me. Not in an audible voice, but in my mind and my heart. I will never forget the day that I prayed about several very pressing wants and needs, and all of a sudden, God showed up.

Among the four promises God made to me that day was the promise that my wife and I would have children. You don’t know how many times over the years I’ve felt like Abraham (if you don’t know the story, read Genesis chapter 15). After around a decade of holding on to hope, it seemed that maybe the promise wasn’t true for us after all.

However, I couldn’t let go of it. Why? Because God had already miraculously came through on two of the four promises he made to me. They were also impossibilities, but nevertheless, God did it. Deep inside I knew God had something in store. Giving up on your dream will immediately stop God’s hand in your life. Keep believing even when it looks impossible.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Keep believing even when it looks impossible. #faith #Motivation #Jesus” quote=”Keep believing even when it looks impossible.” theme=”style3″]

God began to move our heart toward adoption. This is something I had never considered. I was even hesitant at first, but the Lord began to open up my heart to the possibility that adoption was his plan for our family.

We began our classes, got our home approved, went through the struggles and heartaches that come with the journey of adoption, and in the end, God came through miraculously again.

We adopted two of the most amazing boys that ever came into the world. When the cases closed and everything was final, it’s as if I could hear God say, “told you so.” He had given a dream, placed a vision, stirred an expectancy in my heart, and he had come through on it.

You have to hear my heart today: Don’t. Give. Up.
Giving up on your dream will be the worst mistake you ever make.

Things may not seem like they are working for you AT ALL. In fact, it might look like your situation is unraveling at the seams, but don’t give up. What I’ve come to realize over the years is that God works in the background of your life. He orchestrates situations and turns your heart. God directs your steps even when it feels like he is a million miles away, but in the end, you can know that he will come through for you.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Giving up on your #dream will be the worst #mistake you ever make. #HaveFaith #Jesus” quote=”Giving up on your dream will be the worst mistake you ever make.” theme=”style3″]

Most people have a dream, but they give up too soon, or they let their faith slump into a place where their dream feels unattainable and impossible. That may describe you today, but even in your doubt, God can still work. See, just because you give up on yourself, doesn’t mean that God has given up on you. Your dream is really his dream for you. Giving up on your dream is giving up on God’s dream for your life.

The greatest barrier to your dream is a lack of faith, but faith can be built! I’m so glad that I didn’t give up on the dream of having a family. So many times it would have been easy to do so, but my wife and I would never have had the opportunity to love and raise our amazing boys.

Now, if you are tracking along with me, you will know that I have mentioned three out of four promises God came through on. So what about the fourth one? I’m still waiting. Over a decade later, I’m still waiting. In fact, at the moment my doubts have looked bigger than the promise. However, I’ve noticed the same stirring beginning to happen in my spirit. God is moving. There is an encounter coming. God is about to come through on the promise. I can feel it.

But what about you? Are you giving up on your dream too soon?

Giving Up On Your Dream: 25 Questions To Ask Before You Do

Click here to get the PDF list of 25 Questions

I’m going to divide these questions up into five categories to help you use them more efficiently. I encourage you to go through these questions prayerfully…really answer them. Knowing the answers is not a guarantee that you will reach your dream, but rather they help you focus and understand yourself more in the process. The twenty-five questions are just designed to make you think. Ask God to open up your mind as your answer each one.

Heart

  1. Do you feel this dream is from God? (This is the most basic question you need to answer.)
  2. Are you willing to love God no matter the outcome of this dream?
  3. How often do you pray about this dream? (Not just wish and hope, but pray)
  4. Do you feel reaching this dream will fulfill part of God’s plan in your life?
  5. In what ways will you prepare your heart to go forward on your dream?

Soul

  1. Will giving up on your dream make your emotional state better or worse?
  2. Do you have the willpower to see this dream through to fulfillment?
  3. Is it possible that the reason you’ve thought of giving up on your dream is that you are afraid you will actually achieve it?
  4. How bad will you regret giving up on your dream?
  5. In what ways will you prepare your will and emotions to go forward on your dream?

Mind

  1. Can you “see” your dream in your mind?
  2. Are you able to visualize with detail and clarity, the way it will feel to reach your dream?
  3. Does your mind often gravitate to your dream, to the point that you think of it constantly?
  4. How would giving up on your dream make your mental state better? (If it wouldn’t, that may be a clear indicator to keep pursuing and believing.)
  5. In what ways can you prepare your mind to keep on believing?

Strength

  1. Are you prepared to keep believing for your dream, no matter what people think of you?
  2. Do you have a spiritual plan in place to give you strength and stamina? (You need a solid spiritual plan in place to continue pursuing your God-given dream. If you don’t have one, you are likely to give up.)
  3. Will you commit to praying about your dream daily?
  4. Do you have unforgiveness in your heart towards anyone? (If “yes,” then you need to forgive them immediately. Nothing stops your potential to reach a dream quicker than harboring this festering seed in your life.)
  5. In what ways can you prepare yourself to gain spiritual strength to achieve your dream?

Legacy

  1. Will you regret giving up on your dream?
  2. Are you spiritually able to move past it if you give up?
  3. How will you feel at the end of your life after giving up on your dream?
  4. Can you comprehend the reality of NOT living in your dream?
  5. What if the fulfillment of your dream were to happen tomorrow? How would you feel knowing that you gave up one day too soon?

I think we all realize that there comes a point in which letting go of a dream is the best option, but personally, I believe giving up should be the last option.

When it comes to my dream, my declaration and determination is to fight until there is only one man standing…and I intend to be that man.

[clickToTweet tweet=”I will fight for my dreams until there is one man standing and I will be that man. #faith #Jesus” quote=”I will fight for my dreams until there is one man standing and I will be that man.” theme=”style3″]

What about you?
What is your determination?

God has come through for me too many times for me to give up on my dreams now.

Here’s a growing list of articles, posts, and resources to help you build strong faith. If you grow your faith, it will be a key to living an effective life. Enjoy!

Faith Building Challenge

Sometimes we know we need a little push, but we can’t seem to do it on our own. My five-day faith building challenge is the little push you need to jump start your faith. In it, you will find easy, actionable, and strategic steps to help you build your faith. I would love the opportunity to help you along the way. To join the challenge, sign up below, and I’ll send you an email to get you started.

http://larryshankle.com/fbc

Leadership is hard + 6 more secrets leaders won’t admit

Learn The Real Truth About Serving In Leadership

http://larryshankle.com/influence-secrets/

Leadership is hard. Really hard.
You read that right. Though there are incentives to lead and often perks that go along with influence, it doesn’t make being a leader any less challenging.

Leadership and the influence it carries has a way of isolating those who use it to serve. Many who serve in positions of influence feel the weight of responsibility, but also the loneliness that tends to come with it.

Some have said, if a position of influence is a lonely place, then it proves you have done something wrong. Maybe you’ve structured your leadership in a way that couldn’t help but push you to the front, and now you find yourself alone, carrying the burden, shouldering the load.

Frankly, there are situations in which this is true, but I believe for the majority, it is not.

The vast majority of leaders will exercise their influence in small or medium sized organizations or settings where the structure is already set up to push them into this isolation. Indeed, we find this in many small to medium sized churches where the pastor is pressed into a place of isolation because it’s simply the way things are (I’m not saying things should stay this way).

But we also see this influence issue going on with many other types of people and circumstances. By the way, if you are a Christian, then you ARE a leader by default. The reason being that Jesus has called all of us to influence and affect the lives of people around us.

[clickToTweet tweet=”#Jesus has called all of us to #influence and affect the lives of people around us.#buildyourfaith” quote=”Jesus has called all of us to influence and affect the lives of people around us.” theme=”style2″]

Your life has a tremendous impact that you might not even realize, and you should use your influence for the purpose of raising up, building up, and encouraging those around you, whether family or friends. However, as the title of this article states, “leadership is hard.”

Leadership is hard for the single moms and dads who are doing their very best to lead and influence their children. It is hard for the little league coaches who have to do everything right, so they don’t upset all the people who are “on their team.” Leadership is hard for the business owners who have to choose to do things right in a world that invariably pushes you to get ahead by doing things wrong. Leadership is hard for the school teachers who do their best to display their faith in an environment of ever-increasing hostility towards religion.

And yes, leadership is hard for those of us in the ministry who must choose to be leaders of influence and integrity even if our stands make us feel isolated, weighted, or conflicted.

This post is an attempt to open up to other leaders, no matter the size of your circle of influence, and let you know you are NOT alone.

The burden you carry is common to us ALL. We all feel it…take courage in this my friend.

Let me be clear, I love being a leader, and I love being a pastor, but influence comes with hardships. They are part of the package. Now, this isn’t a complaint, though at first, it might seem to be, rather it is a simple observation. Moreover, it is something I’ve personally experienced.

So allow me to pull back the curtain and reveal some secrets that most leaders and people of influence will never want to share.

Leadership is hard + 6 more secrets leaders won’t admit

http://larryshankle.com/influence-secrets/

Leadership is hard.

I know I’ve already mentioned this one, but it’s the main point. In so many ways, a leader has to do things that they often feel ill-equipped to handle. Whether the situation is in ministry, social settings, or even the secular world. Godly leaders are not immune to hardship.

Scripture bears this out through the greatest leader who ever lived.

Jesus faced all sorts of problems, questions, decisions, and even death. Did he always know the right answers or the right direction? That question could be an in-depth discussion, one that I’m not going to take the time to pursue in this article. But let me offer this thought…Jesus prayed about everything.

If Jesus, the One who become God in the flesh, had to take the time to refill his leadership bucket through prayer, it should speak volumes to us.

Most leaders want to quit. (At some point)

Have you ever had a “quitting moment?” I have. In fact, I’ve had many over the years.

Most leaders will want to quit at some point. The load is just too big for them. The problems feel too immense. There are going to be those who suffer difficulties in relationships. Misunderstandings abound in leadership.

If you’re a leader who sees quitting as the best option, you’re in good company.

One time I had the opportunity to hear a great pastor say, “You can want to quit. You can dream of quitting. You can plan on quitting. But don’t quit.”

There are moments in which you need to let your mind realize that you don’t have to do what you’re doing. You really can quit anytime you want to. But after you’ve indulged that thought for a moment, you simply have to make a strong new resolve not to quit.

The truth is quitting for real won’t get you anywhere. So don’t do it. Use it as the final option. We know from scripture that all influence is positioned and ordained from God. That means your influence and position came from Him too. Don’t be so quick to give up because of something that will pass.

Leaders often don’t have the answers they need.

I believe one of the reasons leaders want to quit, is because they think they should have all the answers.

Look, you don’t have all the answers, and you never will. Exercising influence is an action of faith. You have to trust God to LEAD YOU. Leaders don’t just influence, they must BE influenced.

[clickToTweet tweet=”#Leaders don’t just #influence, they must BE influenced. #buildyourfaith” quote=”Leaders don’t just influence, they must BE influenced.” theme=”style2″]

As a person of influence, whether you’re a parent, spouse, pastor, business person, or anything else, you have to allow yourself to be influenced. Certainly, the greatest influence in your life should be God.

He leads us through his word and prayer, but also through other believers. God leads you to open your mind to new ideas contained in books and articles like this one. You are also influenced by the company you keep.

All through the Bible, you find great men and women of God, seeking direction in the midst of the fog. They needed clarity and were not afraid to ask for it.

Listen…at the moment you may be up against an obstacle you don’t know how to overcome, and that’s OK. If you think about it, leadership is all about the unknown.

For example, think about explorers who are literally cutting a trail through the forest. Invariably someone is pushed to the front of the line. Everyone behind them can walk on a cleared path, but the leader is the one making the trail. By definition, leadership means you don’t always see the way ahead of you clearly. There are no waymarkers saying, “do this, go here, choose this way.” You have to get comfortable trusting God in the unknown.

Faith and trust in God are the language of leadership and influence.

[clickToTweet tweet=”#Faith and trust in God are the language of leadership and #influence. #buildyourfaith” quote=”Faith and trust in God are the language of leadership and influence.” theme=”style2″]

Leadership is very lonely.

No one wants to admit a weakness. We run from showing our faults and being real, but when it comes to leadership you’ve probably already found out that loneliness is part of the deal.

I think there’s a clear reason this is so. Leadership and positions of influence require responsibility, and most people simply won’t be responsible.

Leadership is lonely because of the decisions, the weight, the responsibility, and the cost. But you have to remember, as a believer, you are NEVER really alone.

I know, I know…God is always with us. If you are feeling alone right now, and sincerely desiring to quit, then you most likely don’t want to hear this. Several years ago, I felt the same.

There was one season of my life that pressed my leadership to its limit. I didn’t think I could go on. In fact, I was looking into every possibility of getting out.
But you know what? Along came God, and what he did surprised me. He didn’t encourage me at first, but instead, he broke me. So much so that he broke open my heart. I still remember the hot tears filling my eyes and rolling down my cheeks as I broke before God.

The reason he breaks us is to open our heart. To fix your loneliness, God must be able to get inside your heart and move things around. He wants access to the damaged and messed up parts of your life in order to fix them.

I will never forget the day God worked on my heart, because not only did it restore my faith and trust in him, but it also reignited my desire to lead others. Never since have I wanted to quit because I felt alone. I know he is with me and I know he’ll be with you too.

People often don’t see the work of leadership.

Let’s face it, you can’t see a leadership burden, can you? You can’t see the weight of responsibility that you feel. Others can’t see the prayers you pray, the nights of thinking and planning you do, or the desire to help people that you always feel in your heart.

You got into leadership to help people, but often that work goes largely unseen. A leader’s work is performed in a million little ways that, in the end, add up to something significant.

[clickToTweet tweet=”A leader’s work is performed in a million little ways that add up to something significant.” quote=”A leader’s work is performed in a million little ways that add up to something significant.” theme=”style2″]

It’s hard to see your influence, until you see the effects of it.

So, it seems leaders are doomed to do work that goes unnoticed. If you feel this way, you are not alone. Practically every leader or influencer who ever lived has felt this way at one time or another.

If this speaks to you, you need to hang on to this one simple thought: What’s done in the dark is always revealed by the light.

What you’ve done is NEVER unnoticed. The Bible says, “God is NOT unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love” that you’ve shown for him. Everything you do is marked down in his book.

Hebrews 6:10 – For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

The truth is, again, leadership is hard, and the work of leadership takes time to bear fruit. People don’t see your work, but if you keep at it, they WILL see the fruit of your labor.

I used to wrestle over this when I was in my twenties. However, I’ve come to realize that my work will prove itself in time.

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t hope for some appreciation because you should. You should be appreciated for the work you do because leadership is hard work.

I’ve learned to cut leaders some slack because I now understand that no one knows what they are facing.

I also know, because I’ve experienced it, that if you continue to plant good seeds, you’ll reap good fruit. Rest in the fact that God sees your work and he will openly reward you for it. For the record, the reward isn’t always what we though it might be.

God knows best how to appreciate those who labor in leadership for him. Whether as a Christian parent or as a middle school teacher who wants to influence their students with positive, faith-filled environments, God sees and will reward your work.

Influence derives from character.

I’ve never met a godly leader who tried to school me about how great his or her character is. Character doesn’t boast.

Nevertheless, if you are a leader who raises people up, builds them up, and encourages them to go forward, you possess character qualities which allow you to continue doing what you’re doing.

Influence doesn’t come from a position. A title comes from position. But titles and influence are entirely different from one another, though they don’t have to be.

If you are a leader that wants to increase your influence, you need to work on your character. One of the secrets of great leaders is that they are people of great character.

Who you are will win out over who you hope to be…it’s the law of character.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Who you are will win out over who you hope to be…it’s the law of #character.” quote=”Who you are will win out over who you hope to be…it’s the law of character.” theme=”style2″]

Let me ask you a simple question: What actions could you take to move your character forward?

Are there habits that you need to form or relationships that you need to sever? Quite possibly I’m sure.
Think about it, if influence derives from character, then instead of reading another leadership book to learn some new method of persuasion, why not begin working on the thing that matters most. Your character.

Leaders cannot depend on their personal strength.

This is the most important secret that leadership conferences and books will never tell you unless they are based on the right principles.

So often we try to do things ourselves, to fix our own problems, to right our own wrongs, or to turn things around by our own power, but you simply can’t.

The secret to lasting leadership and influence is learning to depend on the strength, power, and help of Jesus.

[clickToTweet tweet=”The secret to lasting #influence is learning to depend on the strength, power, and help of #Jesus.” quote=”The secret to lasting leadership and influence is learning to depend on the strength, power, and help of Jesus.” theme=”style2″]

Secular leaders will shun this idea.

Frankly, you CAN lead by your personal power for a season; no one ever said you couldn’t. Eventually, though, you’ll run out of steam when you lead through only your personal power or ability.

All power is given. Contrary to what we might think or believe that we see, power is never grabbed, taken, or robbed. Power is ONLY given. The source of all power is God. He is the center of everything. So this means godly leaders must rely on the genuine source of power if they are to succeed (the definition of success is an entirely different subject).

Your dependence on God is a clear sign of the strength of your relationship with God.

Let me ask you another question: How is your relationship with God doing?

What actions could you take to move your relationship with God to a new level? Everything about godly leadership stems from this one thing.

I encourage you to ease your stress by giving it away to the one who was meant to carry it in the first place.

I sincerely hope you’ve heard my heart in this post. You are a great leader. Don’t allow the wrong thinking, discouragement, and weight to drag you down.

We need you.

Faith Building Challenge

I would love to have the opportunity to help you build your faith. It’s possible to grow in faith, and if you do, your influence will grow with it. Won’t you take the five day Faith Building Challenge? It is free, and I believe taking a few simple strategic steps will help you start building your faith like never before. I hope you will.

Faith Building Challenge

4 keys you need to unlock confidence and confirm your calling

Part 3 of a multi-part blog series about your life's calling

We all want to know we’ve not made a mistake. When you make a big step into something unknown, like your calling, you really want some confirmation to know whether or not you have done the right thing.

The good news is, if you’ve stepped into your calling, confirmation will come. Why? Because it’s undeniable. Over the years, I’ve found confirmation coming in at least four different ways.

– Through prayer

– From people

– In the pages of scripture

– By providence

In my experience, when you take the leap to launch into your calling you will always find some confirmation in these areas.

For more about your calling in life…check out This Post.

Through Prayer

As you consider taking the step into your call, you’ve probably already been praying. I guarantee you’ll be praying after you take the step! I know I was…

But God has a way of communicating to you deep in your heart. When you’ve made the correct step and you’re pursuing the calling you are meant for, you’ll know it inside. Not only will there be a sense of joy and exhilaration; but you will also experience peace. A deep, rich satisfaction comes into your life. You just know you are on the right track. This peace comes most powerfully through prayer. I can’t explain how it happens, I just know that it does.

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From people

Was I hesitant to actually step on a platform and speak to people for the first time? Sure I was. You always wonder how you’ll be perceived, and if you’ve done a good job. Your doubts always try to dominate you; but in my experience there have been people come alongside me that confirmed my call. Some realized it, some did not; but in both cases God has used others to help reinforce my choices. Obviously you can’t listen to every voice; but if you pay attention, there are people in your life that will confirm whether you’ve made the right choice or not. These people will be honest, sometimes painfully so. Why? Because they care about you.

[clickToTweet tweet=”You remember the people who believed in you and invested in you. ” quote=”You remember the people who believed in you and invested in you. ” theme=”style5″]

I’ve had people tell me I did a good job preaching; but I knew they were just saying it, not feeling it. But there have also been those who truly spoke into my life, encouraging me, lifting my spirits, and telling me they believed there was something to this calling. The “good jobs” from some, and the deafening silence from others aren’t the things I remember most. On the contrary, what I most think of after twenty years of living out my call are the conversations from real friends who had my best interests at heart. I recall the words of advice, and the “keep on going, you got this” talks I’ve had. I remember the tough conversations when people who cared for me gave me advice they knew would be difficult to hear; but they said it anyway. You remember the people who believed in you and invested in you. God uses those people to confirm His call on your life.

  • So when your most trusted friend, the one who won’t hold back, tells you, “hey, I really believe in what you’re doing”…believe them.
  • When that coworker says, “I think you’re going to get that promotion you put in for, you’re the most qualified person they could pick”…trust them.
  • If your family says, “You can do this. We are behind you and we think this is exactly what you’re meant to do”…listen to them.
  • Don’t waste your time on the voices that declare gloom and doom but won’t give you any specifics on how to overcome the defeat they proclaim.

Listen to the people who tell you the truth…things like, “this won’t be easy; but it’s possible”.   When trusted voices give you advice that is actionable, take their advice. Over the years I’ve found this sort of advice to be true, even if I didn’t understand the rationale at first.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Listen to the people who tell you the truth…things like, “this won’t be easy; but it’s possible”” quote=”Listen to the people who tell you the truth…things like, “this won’t be easy; but it’s possible”” theme=”style5″]

From the pages of Scripture

If you are a Christian, you already know the importance of the Bible in your daily life. It really is the living, breathing, Word of God. And through scripture God will speak into the direction of your life.

The Bible Speaks Into Your Life

He has given me direction and confirmation through scripture on so many occasions I’ve lost count; and He will do the same for you. I don’t usually go into my daily scripture reading time looking for confirmation about my call. When I read the Bible I simply want to be open to God about whatever He wants to say; but I can tell you from experience that He will speak to you and confirm your call through scripture.

 

[clickToTweet tweet=”Through scripture God will speak into the direction of your life. ” quote=”Through scripture God will speak into the direction of your life.” theme=”style5″]

By providence

One of the surest ways to confirm your call is what I call “providence”. This simply means once you’ve taken a step which leads into what you feel is your calling…if it really is your calling…doors and opportunities will begin to open providentially.

I remember one time when considering and praying about taking a different job, the doors seemed to just open. At the time, the job I wanted (and needed) was a really good paying one. Since I was just about to get married, it was time for me to step it up so to speak. There was no way my brand new family would survive unless I had more income. Deep inside I felt like the new employment I was pursuing was my calling for the season of life I was about to enter into. After I felt confident in the direction I pursued, providentially, doors opened up. The opportunity came. I got the job. For several years, that job provided for my family. I kept it until my wife and I began to sense a new call which would ultimately place me in full-time church ministry being a pastor…but that’s a different story.

[clickToTweet tweet=”If you’ve taken the first steps into your calling, God will open doors for you to live in it. ” quote=”If you’ve taken the first steps into your calling, God will open doors for you to live in it. ” theme=”style5″]

When you are pursuing your call, confirmation will always come in the form of open doors and crazy opportunities. I’m not saying every open door will be a giant one, in fact the opposite is usually true. But what I am saying is you can expect your situation to reflect your preparation. If you’ve taken the first steps into your calling, God will open doors for you to live in it. I can’t explain how it all happens, I just know that it does.

The people who are frustrated because doors won’t open and opportunities won’t come are usually the same ones who have ignored the advice of trusted friends telling them to not do what they are planning to do. They are usually the people who have bypassed the turmoil and unrest they feel inside, and continue to walk full force into something God hasn’t given them peace about.

If confirmation about your call doesn’t come, then back out of it.

If you want more about confidence, check out these awesome quotes from Dale Carnegie.

In fact, you can tweet the one below!

[clickToTweet tweet=”“Our trouble is not ignorance, but inaction.” – Dale Carnegie ” quote=”“Our trouble is not ignorance, but inaction.” – Dale Carnegie ” theme=”style5″]

Four Limiting Beliefs You Should Stop Believing Immediately

Part 2 of a multi-part blog series about your life's calling

What I’m about to share next is arguably the most important few ideas related to your calling.

Many would dismiss these ideas as the sort of “mushy” stuff related to your call. Really, I used to be one of those people. The emotional part of the call was something I didn’t like. Down deep I’m probably a realest, and a very practical, goal oriented type person.

So thinking about things that are emotional or “squishy”, hasn’t been my strong point. But I’ve come to learn that there really are several limiting beliefs that constantly war against your call.

These limiting beliefs have to be overcome.

I will overcome limiting beliefs

If you don’t stop them dead in their tracks they will keep you from living out the call on your life. The people which have been sidetracked by these limiting beliefs are all around you, and you don’t want to become one of them.

So the very first thing you need to do is get rid of every limiting belief inside yourself. You have to replace the limiting belief with it’s counterpart, which is truth from God’s Word.

Limiting belief #1 The negative things people say or think about you are true

I remember the months leading up to the moment where I finally “gave in” to the initial calling on my life.

They were difficult months.

I struggled with negative thoughts and beliefs which had been placed in my heart over the years.

There is a moment I can recall from my teenage years when a person very close to me, someone very important in my life, a trusted family member in fact…told me my calling would never amount to anything.

Essentially that I would never amount to anything.

The feeling of being worthless overwhelmed me. It felt like my life had absolutely no value, and I just didn’t know where to turn.

This statement was simply the culmination of many other words spoken to me throughout my life. Like so many other people now days, I lived in a negative environment. Words had been spoken to me, about me, and over me. Listening to these words created a limiting belief in my life.

Those words seemed like mountains which were impossible to climb over.

[clickToTweet tweet=”God has a call for every person…all they have to do is find it.” quote=”God has a call for every person…all they have to do is find it.”]

So here’s the question:

Why is it so hard to find your calling?

I think it has a lot to do with BELIEVING you are WORTH being called.

If you don’t believe there is intrinsic value in your life, something placed there by God…you are going to find it very difficult to believe God wants to call you and give you a purpose in life.

That’s the way it was for me.

These limiting beliefs held me captive for years.

I felt I was no good, like I couldn’t accomplish anything of value, and I could never understand why anyone would consider me valuable.

Even though I believed God loved me, It was hard to think that He desired to use me or give me a purpose.

This same limiting belief will keep YOU from discovering your call as well.

Thankfully there was a trusted friend that came to my aid.

This man was a Christian. He was older than me and also a pastor.

My respect for him was off the charts…I really believed in his thoughts and opinions. One day I made time to go visit with him. The conversation was hard for me because I had never allowed anyone to see what I dealt with…the feelings of being worthless and devalued.

Most guys can probably relate to this. Men don’t usually get all emotional and “feely”. The guys I know simply take things in stride and deal with it. But we all have our melting point; and I had reached mine.

Words began to pour out of me…I felt I had nothing good to offer anyone.

My friend took the time to encourage me. He reminded me that I AM valuable to God.

Over the course of several hours during this talk I somehow started to believe what he said, even though I still struggled.

During the next few weeks God continued to “speak” to me. The impression that I was created to preach grew stronger and stronger. It was overtaking me. I came to realize I had been believing a lie.

All the negative words weren’t true.

It is very important that you stop believing you’re not valuable. This notion that you can’t accomplish anything, or that your life isn’t quite as important as someone else is nothing more than a lie.

This lie will limit everything good God wants to do in your life if YOU LET IT.

So don’t let it! Stop believing the lie.

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When it comes to your calling in life, there are only two opinions that really matter:

– Yours

– God’s

The things other people say about you is simply their opinion.

You can’t afford to base your life on the things people say about you. You will end up spending precious, irreplaceable time trying to make people happy. People pleasing is a tough job…one that usually can’t be accomplished.

So don’t waste your time on this. You have to simply make up your mind to go forward in what you believe to be the calling on your life.

Ask yourself:

WHAT DOES GOD THINK ABOUT ME?

Scripture is a great place to find the answer. In fact, one of my favorite passages of scripture says…

Jeremiah 29:11 NLTse

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

The simple answer is God has a future for you.

It literally took me years to get this belief settled in my heart. For some people, like me, it is really hard to believe God has a great plan for your life. You doubt yourself and don’t see how anything good can come out of you. But you need to stop that sort of belief right now.

God has a call for every person…all they have to do is find it. And the first step to doing just that is answering the question, “what does God think about me?”

Next, you need to answer the question:

WHAT DO I BELIEVE ABOUT MYSELF?

Do you believe the negative things other people say about you? Do you base your emotional well being on what others say and think of you?

Many people, actually most people do. Their entire life is tied up to what other people think, say, and believe about them; but this is a recipe for failure in your calling.

[clickToTweet tweet=”You have to get your beliefs about yourself settled down deep in your heart. ” quote=”You have to get your beliefs about yourself settled down deep in your heart. “]

You have to get your beliefs about yourself settled down deep in your heart and stop allowing limiting beliefs to control you.

There are some concrete things you need to believe. These will become your north star as you pursue your calling in life. For me, it was easier to list my deeply held beliefs as statements rather than just answering the question, “what do I believe about myself”.

Years ago as I started this journey of discovering my call, I wrote down several statements describing the person I wanted to BE. These “belief” statements have been an integral part of my life. In fact, I’ve formed nearly everything around them.

Here’s my list of belief statements to use as an example. Maybe these will spark similar statements of your own.

– I will win my battles whatever the cost.

– I will make a difference for the cause of Christ.

– I will fight until there is only one man standing; and I will be that man.

– I will carry God’s vision into every territory and fight until I see it come to pass.

– I will go above and beyond the call of duty.

– I will live with honor.

– I will fight with courage.

– I will rest with hope.

– I will walk with victory.

This simple set of sentences has become a driving force behind anything I may have accomplished in my life.

Before you will become the person you’re called to be, you need to replace the limiting beliefs, negative opinions, and wrong thinking in your life. You replace it with what you feel God believes about you, and then you begin to believe it yourself.

For me it was easiest to do this through statements of belief…my “I wills”.

I encourage you to write some of your own.

Limiting belief #2 You can accomplish your calling by yourself

This is an easy trap to fall into.

It’s YOUR calling, so you should be able to do it alone, right? Wrong!

Your calling in life is something you’ll need others to help you fulfill. Every person needs a support system.

As someone who is called to be a pastor and preacher, I spend the majority of my time living out my call on a platform. Preaching seems to be a one man sport; but in reality it’s not. I have a group of people surrounding me which I draw strength from, encouragement from, and even ideas from.

My wife is the number one member of this team. Without her help and support I would never have the confidence to do what I do. She rallies behind me, giving me the courage to walk this road I’m on.

There are many other people who I consider to be a part of my “team”. In fact, there is even a small group of people who have come together to help me publish this book, and I’m so very grateful for them.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Independence can be admirable; but it is DETRIMENTAL to living out your calling in life. ” quote=”Independence can be admirable; but it is DETRIMENTAL to living out your calling in life. “]

Here’s the thing:

Independence can be admirable; but it is DETRIMENTAL to living out your calling in life.

You are going to need input, help, support, and open doors to live your call. You cannot do it alone. The longer you try the more frustrated you’re going to be.

You need the help and support of others.

God designed it this way. See, none of us were meant to live life alone.

Your friends, family, spouse, and those closest to you should be your allies. You need them. In the long run, those who finish the race and actually live out the call in life are the ones who don’t try to go it alone.

Limiting belief #3 I’m afraid to start

Once you’ve discovered what your calling is (which is the goal of this book), it’s easy to start making plans.

Plans are a great thing. In fact, I love them! I’m a natural planner who likes things to be done in order.

I LOVE lists…they actually bring me comfort. If something needs to be accomplished, just start a list.

Begin writing down the most important imperatives which need to be done…easy right? Wrong again!

You can plan yourself to death if you’re not careful; and your plans can become paralyzing. Many people use plans as a cover for their fear of starting. They rationalize, “this is a big goal I’m about to pursue, I have to make sure everything is just right before I begin”. This sounds like great advice; except it’s not.

[clickToTweet tweet=”When you discover your call you need to jump in head first. ” quote=”When you discover your call you need to jump in head first. “]

When you discover your call you need to jump in head first.

The best way to learn to swim is jumping in over your head.

I’m not advocating that you don’t plan…far from it.

What you need to do instead is plan then act. Plan then do. Plan then jump.

One huge component of this limiting belief is that it seems easier to stay safe where you are. But staying where you are will NEVER get you where you should be.

In fact, the longer you wait to get started with your call the easier it will be to back out of it. I’ve had so many people come to me over the years, expressing what they felt called to do. The majority of these people have all went into the mode of “trying to figure it out”.

They wanted no risk to involved.

The desire for everything to be ready and in place, actually displaced the urgency of their call and every one of them except for one has walked away from the calling they expressed.

I can relate to this because I was afraid to start too; but once I finally launched I found something that satisfied me deep down inside. You will too. Whatever your call is, you just need to start.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Your call isn’t about trying to be something you’re not. It’s about you being something YOU ARE. ” quote=”Your call isn’t about trying to be something you’re not. It’s about you being something YOU ARE. “]

Will everything turn out perfect? NO, no, and no.

You are going to make mistakes, things won’t work out right, and sometimes you’ll get discouraged; but keep on going anyway. You learn as you go, not as you plan.

Another major reason why people are afraid to start is they’re afraid for people to see who they really are.

This is such a shame, because living the life God created you to live is amazing.

We have this belief that people won’t accept our calling…that going out and living in it will somehow reveal a motive in us that turns people off.

You have to get past this! I can’t express this enough…

Living out your call isn’t about you trying to be something you’re not. It is about you being something YOU ARE.

Be who you were created to be

For years I wanted to write and I was always scared to do it.

– Would people laugh at my words?

– How would a book written by me be received?

– Would my friends and those closest to me think I’m trying to be a “know it all”?

– Would people question my motives?

– Would they discount my calling to be a writer?

Finally, I’ve come to the conclusion that if I’m going to write, I have to just do it. You can’t wait on people to pick you because they never will. The fact is, God picked you. He called you. He created you with a powerful, fulfilling call and you need to find it and live it.

[clickToTweet tweet=”You can’t wait on people to pick you because they never will.” quote=”You can’t wait on people to pick you because they never will.”]

Don’t be afraid to start simply because of what others may think when you do.

I have to say this one more time…

Living out your call isn’t about you trying to be something you’re not. It is about you being something YOU ARE.

Limiting belief #4 I’m afraid I will fail

Let me alleviate your fears…

YOU WILL FAIL.

Failure has been the companion of every person who has ever achieved great things in life.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Failure has been the companion of every person who has ever achieved great things in life. ” quote=”Failure has been the companion of every person who has ever achieved great things in life. “]

You will fail; but failure is not the end. The key thing to get right WHEN you fail is your perspective.

The way you see failure, more importantly, the way you USE failure is the determining factor in whether or not you’ll live out your calling.

I certainly don’t know everything; but one thing I’ve learned over the years is failure is just a part of the process when you’re discovering your call in life.

In fact, there are at least three beliefs about failure which usually limit most people:

– If I try and fail people will judge me.

– If I fail I’ll never get another chance.

– My failure is permanent.

Limiting beliefs are something you have to overcome. They will always be part of your process, as it relates to your call. And each of these statements we’ve listed is a real limiting belief that people face on the road to living their call.

So let’s talk about each one just a little…

IF I TRY AND FAIL PEOPLE WILL JUDGE ME.

I going to shoot straight with you…this one is true.

You will only overcome this limiting belief when your desire to live in your call is greater than your fear of what others think of you.

Think of it this way…

– Other people don’t are not the ones living your life.

– You are the one living your life.

– Do you want to live your life for them or for you?

The longer you focus on how people perceive you, the longer it will take to be happy living in your call.

People DO judge a book by its cover…People judge others when they have no right to judge…You have to grit your teeth and bust through this limiting belief.

IF I FAIL I’LL NEVER GET ANOTHER CHANCE.

Rarely is this the case.

I remember the story of a young youth pastor who served in a large church. He had asked for the opportunity to lead a huge outreach event in his community. To this young man’s amazement, he was given the opportunity.

He couldn’t believe it. The excitement and planning seemed to feed his dreams.

During the course of several months leading up to the event, the young pastor spent thousands of dollars which had been allocated to this outreach. All the planning and hard work were finally coming together.

The invitations had been printed and sent (this was before email and the internet). He had personally invested time and effort making sure everything was just right.

One thing he didn’t account for, however, was the weather.

On the day of the event it rained and rained. In my community we might say it “poured and spilled”.

The event was a total wash. Since it had been planned outdoors, no one came.

The young youth minister was devastated. He had wasted the entire budget on an event that never happened.

A few days later he dejectedly walked into the office of his lead pastor and turned in his resignation. The older, more seasoned pastor looked at him in amazement and asked why he was resigning.

He said, “I figured since I wasted the church’s money on this huge event that failed, you would want me to resign.” The old pastor looked over his glasses at the young man and simply said, “son, you can’t help the weather. There is no need for you to resign.”

The young man was over joyed, and he went on to do awesome things for the kingdom of God.

The point is…we usually think we’ll never get another chance. We build up our calling to such a degree that failure seems like the end; but it rarely is.

I’ve found that most people are very understanding if they know you’re putting your whole heart into something. The reason others have the capacity to give you grace is simple…they’ve been there too.

If you will keep your character and integrity above board, even if you face a failure you’ll most likely have another chance.

This brings us to the last reason why most people are afraid of failure…

MY FAILURE IS PERMANENT

Listen, you have to get this into your heart…

The only permanent failure is the one you let hold you back.

[clickToTweet tweet=”The only permanent failure is the one you let hold you back. ” quote=”The only permanent failure is the one you let hold you back. “]

Sure there are obvious things that keep people from pursuing their call…things like moral failures or crimes; but that’s not what we’re talking about here.

You are doing your dead level best to discover your call and overcome your limiting beliefs. So what if you fail. We’ve already talked about the fact that YOU WILL fail at some point.

The key is to not let your failure hold you back.

Failure is ONLY permanent if you let it be.

Rick Warren’s “What On Earth Am I Here For” Bible Study – Check it out

Your call is your center

Your call is the place where balance and happiness combine. When you’ve found your calling in life you’ll be a person who feels useful again.

In fact, everything else in your life gathers around your center, so when you don’t know what your center is, there’s no way your life can remain in balance.

I believe you have the power and capacity to overcome every limiting belief in your life. It’s the first step you need to take.

Faith Building Challenge

I would love to help you build your faith. You can do that by joining my free Faith Building Challenge.

Sometimes we know we need a little push, but we can’t seem to do it on our own. My five-day faith building challenge is the little push you need to jump start your faith. In it, you will find easy, actionable, and strategic steps to help you build your faith. I would love the opportunity to help you along the way. To join the challenge, sign up below, and I’ll send you an email to get you started.

http://larryshankle.com/fbc