3 Ways to Guard Your Heart When Criticized

Let’s be real. You’ve been criticized and you will be criticized again. I don’t like it and neither do you. But when you lead, criticism is a cruel reality.

Criticism attempts to attack your heart. It can be sneaky. When you’re criticized, you will be tempted to put all of your energy into responding to the critic. You may need to. However, dealing with the critic is the least important response. The most important response is deciding how you will guard your own heart.

Here are 3 ways I recommend guarding your heart from criticism:

1) Search for any truth

I don’t like being criticized. People who criticize are uncool.

Critics often say things that are completely untrue. Sometimes they say things that are 75% false and 25% true.

It would be easy to focus on the critic’s lie and ignore a morsel of truth. However, your desire is to please God. So if you discover anything about you that doesn’t please Him, work to fix it regardless of who revealed it.

Your emotions will limit your ability to do this. Find a wise person who loves you enough to be honest with you. Then ask them to evaluate the critic’s claim and search for truth.

2) Trust that God sees all

“You’ll be tempted to respond. Don’t! Trust that the Righteous Judge sees all.”

Those were the words of a wise pastor who counseled a young pastor being wrongly criticized. I was that young pastor. I obeyed his advise and several years later I’m so grateful I did.

3) Stay focused on God’s purposes

If you’re focused on you, you won’t deal with critics well.

David had been king but later left the throne to run for his life because the people had turned against him. While he was down he was cursed, taunted, and criticized. In fact, one man traveled along with David and his army just to criticize him! (2 Samuel 16) Can you imagine that?! Not cool.

David eventually became king again and immediately the same criticizing man begged for forgiveness. Imagine the temptation David must have felt to repay this constant critic in his life! However, immediately David forgave him. Why? Because David was laser-focused on God’s purpose – becoming the kind of king that honored God. (2 Sam. 19)

God’s purpose for your life burns deep in your heart. Don’t let critics steal your focus.

When you’re criticized, above all else guard your heart!

HERE’S a good article offering tips on dealing with online criticism.

How to Create Resonance When You Speak

Almost every leader will have to speak publicly at some point. Are you prepared to speak effectively? When you speak do you touch people deeply so they’ll make something beautiful?

At one of the labs at Catalyst West last week, I heard Nancy Duarte share some practical insight on effective public speaking.

According to Duarte, the overarching speaking goal is to create resonance!

What is resonance? We’ll get to that.

After studying effective speeches throughout history, Nancy noticed there is a visual pattern that effective speeches follow.

Pattern = What is, what could be, what is, what could be, what is, what could be, then new bliss (new norm/utopian/beautiful).

Here’s the visual pattern: (I took pic w/iPhone so it’s a bit grainy)

Speaker develops pattern by first establishing the “Big idea”. Big idea = your point of view plus the stakes (POV + stakes).

Ask this question: What’s at stake? If there’s nothing to persuade – why preach? Establish what’s at stake!

After establishing what’s at skate, cast the vision for “what could be” and continue to contrast “what is” and “what could be”. That creates resonance in the heart of the audience. Resonance is what allows you to touch people deeply so they’ll make something beautiful.

Nancy Duarte just published her new book: Resonate which you can order HERE. You can check out her website HERE or follow her on twitter HERE.

5 Ways to Be Heard in a Noisy World – Notes from Michael Hyatt

Are you trying to build a platform (social media, write a book, build a business, etc.)? There are currently more than 164 million blogs. It’s noisy out here. BTW, thanks for dropping by in the middle of your noisy day. 🙂

Michael Hyatt just released his new book entitled Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. Why is this important? Because if God has given you a message, you will need a platform.

If you’re ready to build a platform Michael Hyatt suggests 5 planks (these are my notes from Michael Hyatt’s lab at Catalyst West):

Plank 1: Start with WOW

Under-promise and over-deliver. “Great marketing only makes a bad product fail faster.” You have to build a compelling product. WOW is the positive gap between expectation and the end product. Strive for WOW!

Plank 2: Prepare to Launch

Think bigger! If it’s not compelling enough for your own imagination why should anyone else be captivated?

Plank 3: Build Your Home Base

HOME BASE = Your Blog

EMBASSY = FB, twitter, and pinterest

OUTPOSTS = Google alert & RSS feeds where you’re listening and talking occasionally.

Plank 4: Expand Your Reach

Modern-day marketing is sharing. Focus on adding value. Social media rewards generosity. We pay attention to “givers” not “takers”.

Plank 5: Engage Your Tribe

It’s not a monologue. Lead a conversation. This generation believes they have something to contribute and want to be invited in. Obey the “20:1 RULE”. For every “ask” make 20 “deposits”.

If you’re ready to build your platform, order your copy of Platform HERE. I’m enjoying my copy and can already recommend it.

You can follow Michael Hyatt’s blog HERE or on twitter HERE.

3 Ways to be the best version of YOU

There are many distractions that will sabotage you from being you. But you were born an original so don’t die a copy!

Jon Acuff , author of the book Quitter, spoke at the opening lab at Catalyst West Conference last week. Here are notes from Jon’s talk to help you be YOU:

1) Don’t play the comparison game

It would be easy for me to get discouraged if I compare my blog to Michael Hyatt’s great blog. Michael’s been blogging for close to a decade and I’ve been at it for a few months. We not only compare but we don’t “compare fair”. We compare our start to someone else’s middle.

2) Be smart about social media

Facebook, twitter, pinterest, instagram cause us to become producers. The danger is when we start producing our lives instead of being present in our lives.

We love our kids but they know when we cross the line to make them part of our production. Kids wanna be kids not content!

3) Ignore the voices

We all have internal voices. What do your internal voices tell you? Usually it’s fear, anxiety, or self-doubt. Nobody’s internal voice is positive. Your internal voice may say, “You’re not good enough.” “You’re gonna fail.” Or, “you don’t have what it takes.” Ignore the voices!

Also, be aware of perfection. Quality is important but 90% perfection that is shipped is better than 95% that is never shipped. Perfection always tells us it is “only 1 tweak away”.

You are a unique and wonderful creation! In 399 A.D. St Augustine said, “People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering.” Be an original. Be you!

You can follow Jon Acuff on his blog or twitter.

15 Lessons in 15 Years – part 3

This week I celebrate 15 years in full-time ministry. I spent some time narrowing down the 15 big lessons I’ve learned. You can see the other lessons by clicking HEREHERE. Here are the final five big lessons in no particular order:

1) It’s not you it’s me

“When something about you bothers me, I need to take a long hard look at me before bothering you.” – Andy Stanley based on Mt.7:3

2) Less is MORE

Quality trumps quantity. It’s harder to achieve quality. That’s why many churches choose quantity. Growing churches understand that the “ministry buffet” approach rarely results in sustainable growth but usually results in bad stewardship of limited resources.

3) I’ll be hurt, misunderstood & under-appreciated. 

Lance Witt says more than half of all pastors would leave the ministry and do something else if they could replace their income. For pastors, the line between our job and our relationship with God is blurry and sometimes pastors leave both simultaneously.

Truthfully, I have been blessed and over-appreciated more times than not.

4) Patience is better than Boldness

“Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.” – Proverbs 16:32 I wrote more about this principle HERE.

In my 30’s, I valued boldness. In my 40’s, I’m starting to value patience which leads toward boldness.

5) It’s impossible to over-estimate the value of a compelling vision

If you’re vision feels stale to you – the leader, imagine how it feels to the people following you. Consistently casting a compelling vision is hard work but worth it. “Vision leaks,” Andy Stanley.

Working with North Point Ministries I grew a new appreciation for a clear, compelling vision. I wrote more about that HERE.

The process of drilling down to discover these 15 lessons has been fun and helpful. Maybe you could give it a try.

15 Lessons in 15 Years – part 2

This week I celebrate 15 years in full-time ministry. I spent some time narrowing down the 15 big lessons I’ve learned. Yesterday I shared 5 lessons (click HERE) and here are five more in no particular order:

1. God’s Track Record is Impressive

I don’t always feel this way. But looking back over these 15 years there is one loud and obvious truth: HE is TRUSTWORTHY. Hopefully, I’ll take bigger risks for Him, lean on Him more during trials, and trust Him when things don’t make sense. I’m still learning but God’s track record is pretty compelling!

2. I am creating a wake

Like a boat going across the water leaving a wake, my life is impacting other people whether I want it to or not. People are either better off or worse off because our paths crossed.

3. Others pastors aren’t perfect

As a pastor’s son you’d think I would’ve already known this. Yet, when you feel someone let’s you down it’s still usually surprising.

I’m far from perfect, so it’s unrealistic to expect others to be something I know I’m incapable of achieving. Unrealistic expectations only add unnecessary weight.

4. My relationships determine my future

“Your friends determine the quality and direction of your life.” Andy Stanley

This is always true. No exceptions. Choose relationships wisely. (Proverbs 13:20)

“Your friends are a preview of the future you.” – Andy Stanley

5. Intergenerational ministry is worth the work

Older pastors have a lot to offer. Younger pastors have a lot to offer. In most churches the two co-exist at best. God designed us to pour into each other to further His Church.

I’ve served at a mostly older ministry and a mostly younger ministry. Both have strengths and weaknesses. Now, I’m serving at a church that is working hard to be an intergenerational ministry. So encouraging!

On Thursday I’ll share the final five.

15 Lessons in 15 Years

This week I celebrate 15 years in full-time ministry. As I begin my 16th year, I spent some time narrowing down the 15 big lessons I’ve learned. Here they are in no particular order:

1. My legacy is my family not my ministry

I’m serving at my 3rd church in 15 years. Though I hope to be here a long time, the odds are our church will probably have another Community Life Pastor someday. But I am the only husband Ginger will ever have and the only dad my kids will ever have. I wish I could say that I’ve completely figured this one out with perfect balance.

Still working to improve in this area but the effort is worth it!

2. My Character is More Important Than My Reputation

If I worry too much about other’s opinion then it probably reveals I’m not worried enough about God’s. The Righteous Judge sees all. That means I should live my life more concerned with my character than my reputation.

This is so hard to learn. Over the last few years I have grown in this area. Typically, the process of “maturing” in this area isn’t pleasant . . . but necessary.

John Wooden said “Your reputation is who people think you are, your character is who you really are.”

3. Comfort is Over-rated

Changed lives and comfort don’t co-exist. In my life and ministry I’ve observed God changing lives more often during or after discomfort (tragedy, disappointment, hurt, failure, etc.). I still value comfort but not as much as I used to.

God’s will for each of us is less abut our comfort than our contribution – Erwin McManus

4. My personal growth is up to me personally

Some churches are “leadership factories”. However, some churches insulate lazy staff. Either way, you have to take responsibility for your personal growth regardless of your church or company’s contribution to the process. You and I must invest in mentors, coaches, conferences, ministries, books, blogs, and other people who are where we want to be.

I used to be frustrated because “they” didn’t value leadership development as much as me. But now I refuse to blame someone else for my lack of personal growth.

5. Chemistry is important

If you’re having fun, you’re more likely to be productive. Chemistry is hard to measure but it is worth discovering. I wrote about how to measure chemistry here. Don’t under-estimate the importance of good team chemistry.

Would I be happy to see this person’s number on my caller id? This is part of what I’m thinking when deciding where to serve and who to serve alongside.

This is 5 of the 15 lessons. Tomorrow, I’ll share the next five.

Making myself stop and articulate these lessons has been fun. I’d encourage you to create a personal list of the primary life lessons you’ve learned.

Who Are You Trying to Please?

This week my 10 year old daughter, Reagen had a new student named Nolan added to her class at school. My 8 year old daughter Kennedy said, “What’s Nolan like? Describe him.” Reagen thought for a second and then said, “Well . . . he’s good at kickball.” Totally satisfied and slightly impressed Kennedy said, “Hmmm”. Then they quickly talked about something else.

I was listening and thought, “What? He’s good at KICKBALL?! That doesn’t reveal anything significant about the kid. Why did Reagen give such a meaningless description and why did Kennedy accept it?” Then I remembered, “Oh yeah, in elementary school playground performance is pretty important.”

Is Nolan successful? It depends on who he is trying to please. If he’s wanting to impress his teacher, I have no idea how he’s doing. But if Nolan’s trying to impress his peers with his playground skills, he is successful.

Are you successful? Like Nolan, your answer depends on who you’re trying to please.

Before you determine how you’ll succeed, determine who you’re trying to please.

Whatever you do today, ask yourself “Who am I trying to please?” It may provide incredible clarity.

Your Success Depends on 3 Things

According to Henry Cloud’s book Integrity, there are three common factors among highly successful people.

    1. They have a mastered a skill
    2. They are alliance builders (within & without company)
    3. They have the character to keep from screwing it all up (The two most common ways pastors end their ministry is burnout or a moral failure. Sadly, retirement seems to run a distant third.)

Since these are the three things that will most likely determine your future impact, how are you doing?

1) Have you mastered your “skill”? How are you intentionally improving your craft?

2) Are you building alliances? How are you intentionally learning from colleagues from within and without?

3) Are you guarding your character? Who is helping you guard your character?

How to Write Your First 100 Blog Posts

This is my 100th blog post! To celebrate we filled plastic eggs with candy, hid them in the yard, and watched the kids hunt them down. Imagine what we’ll do for the 1,000th post!

Okay, so it’s not a huge accomplishment. It simply means I’ve typed something and clicked “publish” 100 times.

So why? Why continue to blog? I believe the process improves my ability to develop my thoughts. A blog becomes a digital collection of information for future reference for me and others. It creates a platform to cast or reinforce a vision. And, it improves my writing.

Do you have the itch to launch a blog? If so, here’s how I’d suggest you start:

1) Start by watching this short video with Seth Godin encouraging everyone to blog and addresses the most common fears.

2) Write a bunch of blog posts and plan to begin with a sustainable pace. Then start. Here’s what I did.

3) Interact with experienced bloggers. The single greatest resource I know of is FREE. Jeff Goins offers free blogging lessons. Very practical and strategic!

4) Follow the blogs of successful bloggers. Michael Hyatt is an extremely influential blogger and offer blogging tips regularly.

Maybe you’ll discover a new passion and share the voice God has given you. Or, maybe you’ll have some fun and record some memories. I hope you will have as much as I have!