How to Move People Who Don’t Want to Move

I love Bill Hybel’s definition of leadership:

“Moving people from here to there.”

It really is that simple isn’t it? Here’s where we are. There is where God is calling us to move. Let’s go!

If it’s that simple, why is it so hard?!? Leadership is challenging when people don’t want to move. One of the greatest frustrations of leadership is motivating people to move when they resist.

We’ve all been there. You’re incredibly excited about a vision that God has given you for your ministry or church and when you share that vision, the people who follow you resist. COME ON!

So, how do you move people who don’t want to move? This is the stuff of real leadership. I have a few ideas that might help.


If I don’t trust you then I will never trust your ideas. This is so true isn’t it? You can’t expect to move people from here to there unless they trust you as a leader. This means that your first step in creating change is building relationships.

I’ve never forgotten the advice one of my college professors gave me:

“Don’t make any major changes to the ministry you lead during the first year of your leadership.”

In other words, you have to earn the trust of the people you lead before you try to take them from here to there.

If you are contemplating asking your people to move, then you must first build trust. If they trust you, they are likely to embrace your ideas.


Change hurts. Even if you’re like me and you thrive on the energy of progress and movement, change is painful. It means something has to be left behind. It means a program has to die. It means embracing the unknown. Change hurts.

As the leader, you instinctively believe that there is better than here. But, here’s the thing: your people probably don’t. They are comfortable. And, until they believe that there is better than here, they will resist your attempts to move them because change hurts.

One of your most important tasks as a leader is to paint a compelling picture of why “there” is worth it. Don’t take it for granted that they get it. Take the time to paint the picture. Spend time with your key stakeholders and convince them that staying here will actually be worse than the pain of moving there.


You’ve probably heard of the concept of love languages. Years ago, Gary Chapman wrote a book describing the relational love languages every one of us has. He was, and is, spot on

I happen to believe that there’s such a thing as leadership languages. I think this concept is helpful when the person you are trying to motivate and move has authority over you, for example, your boss, your board members, or your church elders. What I’m trying to say is that each person has a unique leadership language and if you want to motivate that person, you’d do well to speak their language. Here are a few examples:

1. The Language of Data

My boss speaks the leadership language of data. He is motivated by cold, hard facts.


If I want to convince him of the merits of an idea, I know that I better come with actual data, not feelings or beliefs.
Here’s as a successful proposal for someone who speaks the language of data:

I believe we need to move our student ministry from Wednesday night to Sunday night and here’s why: After surveying parents, 30% of our students don’t attend regularly because of scheduling conflicts on Wednesday night. If we moved to Sundays, this 30% would likely start attending regularly.

Here’s an unsuccessful proposal with someone who speaks the language of data:

I’ve been doing a lot of praying and I think we need to move the student ministry to Wednesday nights.

Nope. If you want to motivate a person who speaks data, then you need to pray about it AND compile accurate information that supports your idea.


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Getting Unstuck

Have you noticed that there are a lot of churches out there living in the past?  I’m obviously not talking about your church!  But, hypothetically speaking, how do you get unstuck?  How do you move forward?  I have a few ideas…

Ask Around

For me, getting unstuck is always related to new and fresh ideas. One of the ways I get new ideas is by asking other ministry leaders one simple question:

What’s one idea that’s really worked for you this year?

Not every idea that is shared is a good one and not every idea that worked in church X will work in your context. However, some of the best practices in our ministry came from innovations from other churches.

If you need to get unstuck, consider setting up a few lunch or coffee meeting with ministry leaders in your area and ask them this one simple question.


Often, when a church becomes stale, it is because the leaders of that church have lost touch with their passions. When this happens, it’s time for the leaders to return to their passions or mine for new ones. Here are three questions to help you rediscover your passions:

  1. What breaks your heart?
  2. What keeps you up at night?
  3. If resources were not an issue what would you do?

Spending an afternoon pouring over these questions can help remind you what you are passionate about. Perhaps you will discover that what’s keeping you up at night is a missing demographic in your congregation. Or perhaps it’s breaking your heart that there isn’t a vibrant student ministry in your church. Or maybe, there is a school or neighborhood in your city that, if resources weren’t an issue, you would love for your congregation to partner with.

Rediscovered passions are fuel for vision and a compelling vision has the power to lead a church out of a season of being stuck.


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3 Strategies for Resolving Conflict

f there is one thing that regularly cripples effective teams, it’s conflict.

We’ve all seen this.

There’s an incredibly talented football team that is a preseason pick to win it all but the team underperforms when it matters because the players can’t get along.

There’s a seasoned and skilled executive team that go nuclear because of relational strife.

There’s a growing church that loses momentum because the executive pastor and the teaching pastor can’t seem to get on the same page.

We’ll all seen it and we’ve all been a part of it. The thing is, we can’t avoid conflict. We live and lead in a fallen world. The question is not, how do we avoid conflict, but rather, how do we navigate conflict in our leadership teams?

I have three strategies that have worked well on my team.

1. Prepare for Conflict with Relationships

Here’s an obvious but important truth: I handle conflict differently with people I love and people I, well… don’t love.

You know what I mean because you do the same thing. With people we love, we tend to be more patient, more understanding, more empathetic and more honest. With people we don’t like or don’t know, we tend to assume the worst.

Because of this, the most important strategy for navigating conflict is to build strong relationships in your team. If your team cares about each other, they will be more honest, more trusting and more understanding. If your team doesn’t care about each other. Well, you are in trouble.

How do you build relationships? I have two ideas:

1. Relational Meetings

Start every team meeting with a relational component. It’s important that your team share about their personal lives and their stories. This will build trust and understanding. Do it regularly and often. Relationships take time.

2. Team Retreats

Start incorporating team retreats into your schedule. Why is this important? First, because we all act more like our authentic selves when our guard is down. Getting away from the regular schedule and responsibilities, finding a different space (like someone’s house or cottage), sharing a meal and hanging out in a disarming environment can do wonders for a team.

On our last retreat, we did little, other than eat together and answer three relational questions:

  1. What was the most important moment of your childhood?
  2. What was the most important moment of your teenage years?
  3. What has been the most important moment of your adult life?

It’s hard to explain the value of your team laughing and crying together. It builds a powerful sense of togetherness.

Secondly, shared experiences is a powerfully binding. Your team needs a few, “Remember when we…?” Shared memories, especially if they are funny or emotional, have the power to bind a team together.

Team retreats can become shared experiences. Go ahead and schedule one. You won’t regret it. If you don’t know what to do, go ahead and use my three questions.

Relationships pave the way for healthy conflict resolution. If I know your story, your passions and your quirks, I am much more likely to respond to you with maturity and grace when we disagree.

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4 Tips For Becoming More Effecient

Do you know what we all hate?


Let’s be honest. We do. Traffic backups? We hate them because they are inefficient.

Waiting for WAY too long in line at a restaurant. We hate it. Why? It’s inefficient.

Waiting 5 minutes for our outdated laptop to power up? We hate that! Why? Because, it’s inefficient.

Do you know what we love? Efficiency. It saves us time, money and energy.

There is no place that we should be more intolerant of inefficiency than our churches. Our staff, programs and processes are all being funded by the sacrificial generosity of church attenders who are under the assumption that their gifts are going to the highest possible good. As my boss often says to me when I propose spending money:

“How do I justify this idea to my 80-year-old mother who gives beyond her means to support this church?”

Ok. Extreme example. And yet, I think we all agree that our churches should be leading the way in efficiency.

So, how do we become more efficient? Well, that is a ginormous question so let’s narrow the scope to how we and our employees spend the most valuable of resources: our time. I have 4 ideas that have worked well in improving time efficiency in our church.

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Staff Meetings That Aren’t the Worst

If you’re like most people, you probably think church staff meetings are the worst. They are boring. They are pointless. They are a waste of time.

I used to think so too…until I ran into some good ones.

Now, I’ve completely changed my opinion of meetings. They don’t have to be a dreaded consumer of time.  They don’t even have to be a “necessary evil”. In fact, they can be incredibly helpful and even engaging.

How do you transform a meeting from “the worst” to something positive?

While I haven’t mastered every aspect of leading great ministry meetings, I have learned a few helpful tips.

Step one is structuring the meeting correctly. Here are 4 ways to help structure a great meeting.

1. What Kind of Meeting is This?

Most meetings suffer from a kind of multiple personalities disorder. In other words, we often try to make a meeting do too many things at once. A great meeting has a specific goal.

The first way to structure a great meeting is to define the purpose of the meeting. Here are some options:

The Check-In Meeting

During the summer months, my team has a check-in meeting every day. It lasts a maximum of 15 minutes and each person is responsible to share 3 things:

  1. This is what I’m working on
  2. This is what I need everyone to know
  3. This is what I need from the team

The purpose of this meeting is simply to get on the same page and run in the same direction.

The Review Meeting

Another meeting that my team often engages is the review meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to evaluate an event, program or trip. We’re providing feedback.

In this meeting, we often utilize a tool called “4 Helpful Lists”:

  1. What was Right?
  2. What was Wrong?
  3. What was Missing?
  4. What was Confusing?

This tool directs our conversation and feedback. Once everyone has provided input we create an “action steps” list to move the conversation forward.

The Strategic Meeting

A third type of meeting is the strategic meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to make a decision.

For my team, this often ends up feeling more like a debate than a meeting. It is often passionate, loud and intense. In my opinion, this is a good thing because it means the team is being honest.

It’s important to note that the strategic meeting doesn’t mean that the decision in question will be made democratically in the meeting because it often lands on the leader to make a tough decision. However, this meeting ensures that everyone on the team is heard.

All of these meetings are necessary and important. My point is simply this: do your best to communicate what type of meeting you are calling because then people will know how to prepare and act.

Combining different meetings is usually counterproductive.

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6 Tips for Delegating Like a Boss…literally

I bet you’re busy. I know I’m busy. If you’re in church leadership, you’re a busy person. There’s so much to accomplish and seemingly not enough time to do it.

Here’s something else: I bet you are surrounded by talented people. If you’re a good church leader, you’ve recruited great people.

One more thing. I bet you wish you could delegate some of your tasks and responsibilities to the talented people around you. You’d have more time to focus on your strengths or new opportunities and the talented people around you could grow in experience and expertise.

It’s so obviously a win. In fact, in the words of Michael Scott, it might just be a “win, win, win.”


But of course, there’s a problem.  Very few of us effectively delegate.

It just doesn’t seem to work.

In theory it should speed things up, but in real life it seems to slow things down. That was exactly my experience, until I started to follow some of the principles here. Now, I’m more free than ever to focus on my strengths and my team is growing in expertise, experience and fulfillment.

My hope for this post is that you could learn from my years of trial and error in the art of delegation. I’ve learned 6 important lessons over the years that I think are critical for church leaders. Here they are…

You can read the rest of this post here.

How to Run A Great Staff Meeting

Recently I wrote an article for the Breeze blog on how to run a great staff meeting.  Here’s a snippet:

Let’s be honest.

Most of us don’t love staff meetings.

They are often boring, too long and sometimes even irrelevant. And yet, we all know that staff meetings are a must if our teams are going to have any chance of staying on the same page.

Here’s the good news: staff meetings don’t have to be terrible. In fact, they can be constructive, compelling, and even fun.

The key is building your staff meetings around 5 energizing elements. Here they are…

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The Magic of Collaboration

Today, I have the privilege of blogging for one of my favorite blogs:  Orange Leaders.  Here’s an excerpt:

My favorite word in the universe is collaboration. I love it. This hasn’t always been true. For years, I was a one-man show in student ministry. What changed me? Fear.

Three years ago, the pastor who had led our student ministry team for 12 years left our team to become the lead pastor at another church. I was chosen as his replacement. A ginormous multi-site student ministry. A staff team of 12. I’d never managed another person in my life. No pressure. Did I mention that my predecessor was an absolute legend in our church? I was scared to death.

Fast-forward. The student ministry didn’t crash and burn. In fact, it grew. In many ways it became stronger. How? Our team stepped up to the plate and delivered. The keyword here is “team.” I believe that my smartest all-time leadership decision was to choose we over me. You see, I’ve come to believe that we are always better than me…

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Why Great Leaders Are Like a 2 Year Old

Last week I got to be a stay at home dad with my four kids while my wife was in Florida cheering on her brother as he competed in his first Ironman.  The verdict is still out on which is harder:  an Ironman or solo-parenting 4 kids.  My hat is off to moms…that’s all I can say.

During my stint as Mr. Mom, I was reminded of a few things…

1. I’m not qualified to style my 7 year old daughter’s Rapunzel length hair.

2.  Potty training is harder than it looks.

3.  The best way to end a tantrum is to duplicate it.

4.  It’s really not that hard to eat an entire box of mac n’ cheese.

5.  2 year olds say “Cuz whhhhhy?” a lot

It is the 5th observation that has stuck with me.  My little 2 year old daughter is incredibly curious.  She wants to know everything.  How does that work?  Why do you do that?  Why is the sky blue?  Why are your teeth yellow?  Her thirst for knowledge is insatiable.  She has to know everything because she wants to be able to do everything.  She wants to do everything her big brothers and sisters do.  Her second favorite line is, “NO!  I DO IT!”  Usually, she is screaming it.  She has passion.  You have to give her that.

My point in sharing this is that I’ve noticed a striking similarity between great leaders and my 2 year old.  Great leaders, like a 2 year old, have an all-consuming vision of what they want to be, or what they want their organization to be.  This vision drives their behavior and their language.  For my daughter, it is being just like her older siblings.  She will do ANYTHING to make this possible.  For great leaders, the vision varies, but focusing on the vision is no less important.

Secondly, like a 2 year old, great leaders ask a ridiculous amount of questions.  My daughter knows she doesn’t know everything.  She unashamedly asks about everything.  Often, her questions make her sound pretty dumb, but she doesn’t care in the slightest.

“Daddy, where is Mommy?”

“She’s on an airplane.”

“Cuz whhhhhy?”

“She’s coming home.”

“Cuz whhhhhy?”

“Because she wants to see you”

“Cuz whhhhhy?”

“How about we take a break from asking questions.”

“NO!  I DO IT!”

Great leaders ask questions and genuinely listen because great leaders understand that they don’t know everything  The are inquisitive because they are so passionate about their vision.  Mediocre leaders already know.  They aren’t interested because they’ve already figured it out.  They are more interested in telling you what they already know and what you don’t know.

If you want to be a great leader, focus on clarifying your vision.  Who do you want to be?  What do you want your organization to be.  Let this vision drive you.  Secondly, ask bazillions of questions.  Never stop being inquisitive.  Never become such an expert that you already know everything.  The key to growth is constant learning and the key to constant learning is constantly asking questions.  Be like a 2 year old.



Tag Team

My friend Seth introduced me to WWF when we were in elementary school.  I’m not talking about the World Wildlife Federation.  I’m talking about classic wrestle mania–Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Superfly Jimmy Snooka and Hacksaw Jim Dugan.  Absolutely classic.  Look, I know big time wrestling is a joke and terribly fake but when I was 9 I thought it was the greatest thing ever so just back off!

The best WWF wrestling matches were tag team matches because these superstar wrestlers would team up together and battle it out.  When one guy would get cracked over the head with a chair, the other guy would step in a bail him out.  That’s some friendship right there.  We would watch that stuff for hours and then reenact it when it was over.  We didn’t have DVR back then so you had to replay the action yourself.

I know it’s crazy but I’ve been thinking about tag team matches lately.  You see, I’ve realized some things about myself.  When I was in my early 20s, I basically thought I was awesome at just about every aspect of student ministry.  Over the last few years I’ve come to see that I’m definitely not awesome at some areas of student ministry.  It was a big step for me to admit that I’m not an A+ at everything.  Maybe you can relate.

For the last 6 years I’ve worked closely with a co-worker and friend named Jon.  Jon is essentially amazing at everything I’m terrible at and not so hot at some of the things I’m good at.  We’re dead opposite in every way–gifting, wiring, personality, and guitar skills–he’s amazing and I suck unless there’s a capo involved.

What I’ve come to see is that together we are a pretty phenomenal team.  When we are united, we’re good at everything we need to be good at.  We are capable of high caliber leadership when we are on the same page.  We’re like a good ole’ classic WWF tag team.

I’ve noticed that many strong leaders don’t work well with others.  I’ve seen this sort of thing over and over in churches and businesses.  Strong leaders usually possess a compelling vision, which is awesome and necessary, but often struggle to work well with or empower others.  In addition, they often do not recognize or acknowledge where they are weak.  The thing is:  everyone is weak.  None of us is gifted in every area.  You might be a fabulous speaker but I bet you are a D+ at organization.  You may be able to create amazing systems but I bet you struggle with envisioning the future.  We are all finite and only capable of awesomeness in a few skills.

A breakthrough moment happened for me when I realized that together Jon and I could be an A+ leadership team but alone I would only be a B.  It was a critical moment for me.  Like most of us, I have aspirations of greatness.  I want to do phenomenal work and build a successful student ministry but I’ve realized that I’m not capable of this on my own.  I would rather work together and be great than work alone and be decent.  Because of this, I’m all about tag team.

My guess is that there is someone in your professional or ministry environment like this.  You have one set of strengths and weaknesses and they possess the opposite.  There is potential for greatness in teamwork but the gatekeeper is humility.  If you want to part of something great, realize that you’ll never get there on your own.  The truth is, if you make everything about you, your organization will only be a strong as your weakest weakness.  Tag team may just be the key to moving forward and accelerating toward greatness.


image credited to Greg O’Connell via Flickr