Personal First Impressions (part 10 of 10)

1985 June-Barcelona-15 Children's class - Iglesia Bautista Bonanova June 1985

  • Parents want to know their children are safe – volunteers need to explain the safety (a better word than “security”) measures in place. Print up a card explaining the details – what to do when you drop off your child and how to retrieve your child. The Welcome Desk volunteers can explain these details en route to the classroom.
  • Names are powerful – guests will notice as they walk with their Welcome Desk volunteer when she greets passing members by name. It says a lot that these volunteers learned members’ names and greets each one by name.



You get the idea. If you don’t, then ask a fellow administrator to visit your church as if for the first time and give you a report with this checklist. Don’t shoot the messenger – she’s trying to do your church a favor by giving guests a great first impression of your church. After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression – make it count.


Lead On!




Personal First Impressions (part 9 of 10)

2013 04-April 4 (32) Watford; Initial greeting @ Harry Potter Studio Tour

  • The Welcome/Information Desk volunteers should be extroverts off the scale: warm, friendly, and anxious to go out of their way to help people. Don’t let these critical volunteers burn out. Heap praise on them but also let them know how much is riding on their actions.
  • The Welcome Desk volunteers also need to walk with guests to their Bible study (Sunday School) room or the worship center. But the volunteer also needs to explain to the guest how to find their way out of the building after worship (many church buildings resemble rat mazes) or perhaps the Welcome Desk volunteer can ask a member sitting nearby to “host” the guests.


Lead On!




How to Use a Cab – for the Ride of Your Life (part 3 of 3)


Be nice to the cab driver

Wherever you find yourself, always, always, always look for ways to help people. No one will ever condemn you for being nice (and if they do, it says more about them than about you).

Speak kind words – thank you, please, yes ma’am, and yes sir. People appreciate politeness and it often deflates someone’s anger before they wail on you.

Often how you treat people becomes the way you are treated by the person with whom you’re dealing.

Respect the cabbie, anyone else in the cab with you, and anyone else whose waiting alongside you. Respect people.

If you give the cab driver the wrong address, don’t blame the drive

Everyone makes mistakes in life; everyone makes LOTS of mistakes. Learn how to handle them:

  • Don’t blame others for what YOU did or didn’t do
  • Analyze what went wrong and what you need to do next time
  • Handle the error with grace and aplomb – people will observe you how you deal with pressure and messy situations, especially ones that you created

Enjoy the ride and watch the scenery but watch the meter and other details

Take in the big picture of life as you travel. It can be as grand and glorious as you want it to be (if you take a few chances along the way). But also learn to observe the details that can make the experience of life that much more full of color. A field of flowers is beautiful; but each flower is amazing in itself.

Change cabs if your current cab can’t take you all the way

Be willing to adapt to the current situation and you absolutely must be willing to change as life changes. Flow is the best answer to flux. So, FLOW.

You’ll need to fight upstream a few times when injustice requires it. Thump bullies on the nose – they deserve it and it will teach them a lesson, but only do it if the cause is noble.

Other times you’ll need to jump and you’ll get some bruises and even broken bones. Leaping from the safety of your current ride is really scary but sometimes necessary.

Be ready for your destination

Look ahead to see what’s coming. Always be prepared. Know when the end of the current ride is drawing near and gather your stuff you’ve accumulated on that ride so you can leave properly. You can glance back to see where you came from but don’t linger – you need to be already looking for your next ride.

Get out when you arrive and don’t be pushed out the door

Sometimes the cab is ready for you to leave when you aren’t. Be intuitive enough to know that this period is over and you need to leave. Leave graciously – it speaks to your character. You’ll probably never take that same cab again, but word of who you are will travel quickly and affect what taxi you catch next.


And remember, have fun on the ride of your life!


Lead On!


How to Use a Cab – for the Ride of Your Life (part 2 of 3)

Some cabs are going in the same direction as you

The sign of a good leader is when some people are following you and some are chasing you. Know the difference and know the motivation behind how each person is acting – motives reveal all.

Just because someone is going the same direction as you doesn’t mean they agree with everything you say and do and just because someone is going the other way doesn’t mean they wish you ill. But the same is true for you, too. You don’t have to agree with everyone going in your direction or loathe people going the opposite direction. Observe what others are doing and attempt to learn from them – that is wisdom, a hallmark of a great leader.

Know if you want to go with others or take a ride solo

Life’s ride is short and long. Sometimes you want to go alone through some passages while other times the ride is better together. You have to know both your own personality and the passage you’re going through to decide if you want to go through that time alone or not. Making the wrong decision can be painful, but it is never fatal.

You may need to rest a while between rides. Take time. Think about whether you want or need to go solo or with friends. Sometimes it is good to process the knowledge and info you’ve received. Be intentional about setting aside time to think.

Don’t ride with all your baggage; put it in the trunk, out of sight

Some bags are bulkier than others. Learn to empty your bags of garbage so that you don’t carry your trash around. It won’t help anyone and just stinks up the place. Some luggage needs to be left behind once and for all. Some bags need to be given to others through talking with a counselor who can ride with you for a few minutes. Never be encumbered by your last few rides – always build one experience on another for a richer life.

Talk to the cabbie and/or anyone else in the cab

Introverts and extroverts will view this differently. I’m an introvert. I do fine sitting in silence for long periods. But sometimes I just want to ask a question or share an experience with someone. And I’ve learned that getting (well-reasoned) opinions of others can make the ride more fun. Of course, I’ve also had to listen to a few crackpots – just enjoy them for their idiosyncrasies!

Lead On!


How to Use a Cab – for the Ride of Your Life (part 1 of 3)

If I had to give a graduation speech – which I’ve never done – what would I say? Something like this:

Know where you are and be conscious of why you want to leave

You need to know why you want to leave before you decide you should leave. You need to have a compelling reason to leave. If you don’t know where you are and why you want to leave, you’ll end up nowhere. Take stock of your home and what it offers before you leave – you can appreciate where you’re going more if you know what you’re leaving behind.

Know where you want to go (or at least the neighborhood where you want to end up)

Have some goals in mind. They don’t need to be your final goals but establish a general direction. Birds don’t know their exact landing spot; they start moving in the direction they want to go and decide where to land when they near their destination. You can be pretty general about this and always be willing to change as you progress in your life, but you need to have a general direction to start.

Know which direction you need to go first

You’ll probably change careers seven to ten times in your life. You don’t need to know every step of the way, just the immediate next step. Don’t worry about every step, just plan on the next one. Then, start. You’re not going to have everything planned out so don’t get “analysis paralysis” – just get started.

Stand out from the rest so that a cabbie will see you and stop

There’s a lot of competition out there. Learn early on how to stand out from the rest. That usually means becoming the best of who YOU really are. Always be honest with yourself – it makes living with you easier. Be unique. Don’t try to be like everyone or anyone else – be who God made you.

Know if the cab is going in the wrong direction or taking the long way around

You’re going to meet some people in life who just want to take you for a ride. Don’t be taken in by those who con your emotions for their own gain. Always be willing to speak up for yourself – people are impressed by that. Often, those who speak up for themselves and others are called leaders. Be that.

Lead On!


Who Taught Daniel?

In the Old Testament book of Daniel, there is a story in the first chapter is pretty well-known. After Jerusalem fell to King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel and his three friends are taken to Babylon because they were the brightest young Jewish men. Babylon was the ruler of the world at that time so it had the best educators and most knowledge. Daniel and his friends were to study at “The University of Babylon” for three years and then take government jobs (verse 5). We presume Daniel and his buds were about 20 years old at the time.


Their dorm was interesting: they had all the food and wine they could want. Knowing the times, they probably had access to a nearby harem. It was a college boy’s dream: all the beer, steaks, and women you could ask for!


But Daniel and his friends declined. They actually said, “I’ll have the salad, please.” These virile, strong, intelligent young men passed on what every teenage boy dreams of and asked for veggies instead of meat. After a 10-day experiment, their Babylonian supervisor saw that these guys were better off than the others who indulged (verse 15). For the rest of their studies, Daniel and his friends ate according to their wishes and they were ten times better than anyone else (verse 20).


We don’t know anything about Daniel’s family. But what I’ve learned about Jewish culture from that time is that children were exceedingly close to their moms growing up. At about age 12, Jewish boys went to synagogue school where they memorized and debated teachings for hours upon end.


When Daniel and his friends were faced with a serious test, they relied on their experience – and they didn’t have much of that since they were so young. But they spoke up and said they wouldn’t do what was requested because it went against their beliefs. Who were the persons who taught these four guys to stand up for themselves? Who influenced them so heavily that they would forego every boy’s fantasy? Who inculcated their faith so deeply that they would risk their young lives for salad?


We don’t know. We’ll never know. But it does show the value and impact of teachers on young men and women; it demonstrates the lasting effect of a mom on boys and girls. Even when they were a thousand miles from home, with no one around to judge them, and faced with the greatest temptation a young man can have, they instead relied on their upbringing.


Here’s to you, teachers of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah!


Lead On!



Churches are struggling to attract young people. I’ve seen dozens of churches look at this and most of them throw up their hands and do nothing because they don’t know what to do. There are two sides to this, kind of a “chicken and egg” scenario.

First: you need to find the people who you are targeting. I can’t emphasize enough that the target audience for every church should be young families, aged 20s, 30s, and 40s. Those families have young children and teenagers. Those families become the future of the church, especially if they are brought into leadership of the church. Now, where to find them? Frankly, everywhere. These families are millennials and reports I’ve seen say that they do not respond at all to door knocks (like Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses) – in fact, they are very much turned off by them. However, it is easy to find them because every Saturday they are at a ball field with their kids. What if your church had a pop-up tent/canopy that went to these events and had a table with free water and snacks for the families and kids. That would say that “we’re here and we’re a family-oriented church.” It gives the volunteers the opportunity to speak to the moms and dads in a relaxed atmosphere. The same could be done at a local farmers’ markets or other community activities – some type of presence where your name is visible to a younger crowd.

Second: this is much, much, much harder. Once you attract families and they actually show up at church, do you have programming that is excellent and of such great quality that the kids AND parents want to come back. You need to have programming that is so outstanding that you get a reputation for being excellent. Excellence will attract people, especially a younger generation.

Here is the conundrum: you need an excellent program (that implies substantial number of kids and young people) so that when you go out to solicit, they’ll have already heard about it and be eager to come. The answer: work on both sides of the opportunity – recruiting people to come and developing an excellent program – so that they support each other and you develop synergy.


Lead On!


The Most Important Job in the World

Working for God is it. Whether you’re paid or not paid, working for God is a job like no other. And like other jobs, it has its own standards by which the workers are measured: what are your motives (it should be based on love) and what quality of work will you do (the answer is excellence). All too often we let paid workers off the hook and don’t expect high quality work from them, and that is wrong.

The Old and New Testaments have strong words for prophets and priests who are self-serving and who ultimately take their followers down the wrong path. There is a high standard for paid church workers and to fall short is to undermine God. God demands excellence – not perfection.

I’ve seen too many churches who hire people because they need work and they can’t get work anywhere else. The church is compassionate and wants to help. And that is good. But a church should never hire a ministry (to quote Andy Stanley). Always make the distinction between someone who needs help (financial, food, transportation, etc.) versus the needs of the church to get work done.

Church leaders (paid and lay) must always expect the best from every staff person. If someone can’t get a job anywhere, there must be a reason no one else is hiring them. The church can pay for training for him (but not on the job training), give him food and clothes or pay for rent. But do not give the person a church job. That will ultimately hurt the church and the current good employees who will think they can lower their own standards.

Churches as employers must expect great work. To be satisfied with anything less creates an unhealthy work environment and perhaps even a poor worship place. Church staff must do great work for a great God. Church employees must have a standard so high because of their ultimate boss that even corporate America is jealous. Church workers must do such amazing work that there is no question they are pursuing excellence. To do anything less is to short-sell God.


Lead On!