I need your help!

blog-pic3Hi there. This is Wayne Hedlund.

I want to thank you for being a faithful reader/subscriber at my blog, formerly located at www.transformingleader.org.

For the last 5 years I have been writing nearly every week about ministry leadership, church growth, how to be a guest friendly church, productivity and a lot more. In that time I have really been blessed to have built up a following of readers. I’m so thankful my writing has been a practical tool to help you and many others in ministry.

But today, I am need of YOUR support and help.

The help I need from you will require about 1 minute of your time. That’s all.

Our technological world has surprisingly not figured out a way to help bloggers like me keep our faithful readers when we move to a new website. This means that from this point forward, NOBODY will receive my posts in their email or rss reader unless they intentionally RE-SUBSCRIBE to my blog at the new location.

Personally, I don’t want to lose my readers and I hope you don’t want to miss out on the content I will continue to send you designed to help you succeed in ministry.

How to help in 1 minute or less:

Click here to RE-subscribe via rss!          Click here to RE-subscribe via email!

Thank you so much and have a great day!


Changes Are Coming!


If you’re a regular visitor at Transforming Leader, you may have noticed a drastic decrease in the number of new posts on the website. I thought it’d be good to give you a heads up that:

I’m Not Going Anywhere!
I’m still full of great ideas and content I long to send your way via my blog. So please be patient and stay tuned! I promise I will be back!

I’m Revamping!
I’ve been spending a lot of my time working on some major revamps to my website and to my schedule regarding my writing of content to church & ministry leaders. These adjustments have been robbing me of the time I’d normally spend writing. But by God’s grace, I will soon be done!

I’m Moving!
I have purchased a new domain and will eventually be moving the content and ministry found at www.transformingleader.org to a brand new website. All of your favorite articles and resources will remain available when I’ve successfully moved things over!

I’m Still Available for Coaching, Speaking & Websites!
Nothing has changed regarding my practical ministry to ministry leaders. I am still available to provide my coaching services to church & ministry leaders AND to prospective or up-and-coming leaders. I am still available to speak at your church or provide a workshop to your leadership team/staff. And I am still offering website services at www.tlsites.com.

All said, thanks again for your patience as I navigate through some important and much-needed updates to this aspect of my ministry.

Be blessed!


What to Read

Every once in a while I like to post some great articles I’ve stumbled across on the web that I think will be helpful to my readers. Here are some great ones for you to consider looking over! Enjoy!

laptop-supportTwelve Ways Pastors Went from Burnout to Vision  by Thom S. Rainer
There are few vocations that can engender burnout like the pastorate. The demands on a pastor’s time, emotions, and energy can be overwhelming. When I was a pastor, I often felt at least the symptoms of burnout. I recently spoke with 17 pastors who had experienced burnout, or who felt they came precariously close to burnout. The good news about these pastors is that they moved out of burnout; and now they are re-engaging in exciting and visionary ministries. Read More.

10 Symptoms of an Inwardly-Focused Church  by Tony Morgan
Can you imagine a business that never focused on reaching new customers? Imagine Apple saying, “We have no plans to sell phones, tablets and computers to new customers in the future. We’re going to focus solely on our existing customers from now on.” For a season Apple would likely continue to thrive because it has plenty of existing customers. But, over time, Apple would slowly lose it’s customer base until eventually everyone has either started purchasing products from other companies or passed away. Read More.

Gather Stories as If Lives Are in the Balance  by Mark Howell
As important as quantitative measurement is, today we need to talk about gathering stories, the qualitative aspect of small group ministry. Why? Let’s just say that while your ministry intelligence depends on the numbers we gathered yesterday, lives actually hang in the balance and depend on the stories you gather. Read More.

Never Start a Ministry Without a Minister  by Rick Warren
Saddleback didn’t have an organized youth ministry until we had 500 in attendance at the church. We didn’t have a singles ministry until we had 1,000 people in attendance. And I’m glad we didn’t. It’s not because those ministries aren’t important. They’re vital! But God hadn’t provided anyone to lead them. Never create a ministry position and then fill it. Read More.

3 BIG Reasons People Leave Your Church  by Dan Reiland
Why do you think people leave your church? Why do you think people leave churches in general? We’ve read reasons (and I’ve written about these too) like: “I just didn’t get anything out of the messages.” Read More.

Leadership Development Insights From Ephesians 4  by Aubrey Malphurs
One of the constant struggles church leaders face is determining how to achieve alignment between congregational and pastoral expectations. If you are reading this, you likely are a Christian leader. You also are likely to attend a church that expects the pastors to do the ministry of the church (most do). After all, that’s what they hired you for, right? Wrong! Kind of…   Many churches hire their pastor looking for someone to do the ministry. People are busy, and the other staff is overloaded. Read More.

Preaching Without Words: 10 Things To Consider When Using Visuals  by Troy Page
Many of us grew up in a church where children and student ministry was fun, creative and caught our attention. Then as we grew older and started attending “big” church, everything seemed to get boring! Thankfully during the last twenty plus years, there has been a wave of new churches who place a value to make things more creative, exciting and interesting. One way this is done is when speakers use visuals such as props and videos to capture the attention of the audience. Read More.

The Lonely Pastor: Nine Observations  by Thom S. Rainer
The conversation took place just yesterday. A young man told me his dad, a pastor, recently committed suicide. He talked about the pain his father experienced in ministry as well as the intense loneliness. Though suicide is not an inevitable outcome, I do know the number of pastors experiencing loneliness is high—very high.  Read More.

3 Pieces of Advice from a Church Planter to Church Planters  by Ed Stetzer
Church planting is difficult, but a few simple actions can make it a bit easier. When I planted my first church in Buffalo in 1988, I was considered strange. People asked why I was planting a new church instead of pastoring an established one and wondered aloud if maybe I couldn’t land a real ministry job. Read More.

Knowledge Empowers Leaders To Make Wise Choices


A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength; for waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisers. Proverbs 24:5-6

There is very little that will frustrate a true leader more than lack of knowledge. Knowledge, when wielded by the right individual, is like a sharp sword that is capable of cutting through confusion to find truth and wisdom. Lack of knowledge leaves us whacking away at ghosts in the darkness, hoping we will stumble upon the right path. Empires have fallen because of lack of knowledge. Relationships have come to ruin. Bank accounts have run dry. Employment opportunities have passed people by. All because someone didn’t have the information needed to make a wise choice.

The church world is not exempt from this truth. When leaders have access to the right information, it empowers them to make wise choices. Those wise choices ultimately lead to transformation in the lives of the broken and hurting people in that community.

Proverbs 24 (quoted above), reminds us that leaders can have ‘great power’ and ‘increased strength’, which can lead to ‘guidance’ when facing battles. In other words, we have a greater chance of victory than we did without them (wisdom & knowledge); we are ‘empowered.’

If wisdom were a fire keeping us warm and giving us light, knowledge would be the wood and fuel feeding that fire. Of course, knowledge must be given to the right person, a wise person, in order for it to make a difference. Otherwise, it is simply wood sitting in a pile on the floor. 

Charles Spurgeon said it this way: “Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”

Knowledge is not our ONLY source of wisdom. There are other sources as well, the most important Source being God Himself, who promises to give wisdom to all who ask it (James 1:5.) But I suspect that knowledge is one of the primary tools God gives us to make wise choices.

How does this apply to you today? What area of your life or ministry are you struggling with? What challenge are you facing that seems overwhelming and insurmountable? I recommend you start with prayer and then begin asking lots of questions. Go on a treasure hunt. Look for answers and don’t stop until you’ve found them. 

Image from istockphoto.com.

Invite Your Guests To Come Back!


I recently visited a church for the first time with my family. I had a great experience. We were welcomed at the door, handed materials at a Guest Services table and told what to expect and where to go. The people seemed friendly and interested in us, without being pushy or fake. The service was interesting and engaging. We were even ‘greeted’ after the service by a few random people as well as one of the pastoral staff. My wife and I left that afternoon encouraged and relaxed.

We also proceeded to do what nearly all other guests do after their first visit to a local church. We went to work, shopped at the store, fixed dinner, put kids to bed, took the car to the shop, mowed the lawn, watched some tv, cleaned the house, went for a walk, bused our kids all over the place, worked on our budget, and a million other little things. In other words, we got back to our daily lives. Our church experience became a back-burner memory that we might drudge up again that next weekend, if we weren’t too busy with other things.

Which is why we were so impressed when we received a personal letter from the pastor later that week. Not just a cookie-cutter letter with the same three paragraphs I’d expect to see on a thousand other church follow-up letters. No. A personal letter. It may have been typed up nice and neat on church letterhead, but we couldn’t miss the fact that the pastor mentioned my wife and I by name in the letter as well as all four of our kids, by name. He also made mention of a conversation we had together for our brief moment together that previous Sunday morning. It was personal and real.

The letter was an invitation to join them again at church. It wasn’t pushy. It was just a simple note to let us know he’d love to have us come back to church. And he told us about a couple other things happening in upcoming weeks we might be interested in.

Truth be told, we decided to make another visit to the church that very next week.

Guest follow-up isn’t the answer to all your assimilation problems, but it is one proven strategy that will help you along the way. You might want to consider checking out my other posts about the Guest Friendly Church right here.

Here are a few ideas to help you with your guest follow-up.

  • Treat your guests like VIP’s when they visit.
    It doesn’t matter what kind of follow-up you have, if your guests don’t feel noticed and valued, if they don’t have a positive experience at your church, then they’re not going to be interested in returning. Think of that restaurant you visited for the first time who gave you bad service. You never went back. Neither will they.
  • Give them something to take home.
    I’m not talking about your Sunday morning bulletin. Ideally, you’ll give them some sort of gift and a little information about the church. It’s icing on the cake if you also give them some information about an upcoming activity that might interest them. Make it look clean and nice and keep it simple. There’s always a chance your guest will pick that up off the kitchen counter during the week and look it over. It’s an indirect way to encourage your guests to think about you again that week, and come back.
  • Get contact information when people visit.
    It’s kind of hard to follow-up with your guests if you don’t know their names, email address and/or physical address. You need to strategize how you will collect their information when they visit. This can be a challenging task, but it is possible. Stay tuned for further posts recommending ideas on this topic.
  • Send a note.
    It can be an email, a letter in the mailbox, even a Facebook message, but find a way to send a note to your guests letting them know you’re thinking of them. 
  • Keep it simple.
    Don’t try to say everything in the note and don’t preach. Just acknowledge their presence that previous Sunday. Let them know you are glad they got to join you. Communicate that you are available if they have any questions about the church or their experience on Sunday. And invite them to come back again sometime. No pressure. Just an invitation.
  • Keep it real.
    The note needs to be personal. Not the whole thing, but at least the opening and closing couple of sentences. Your guests need to know you took time out of your day specifically for them. They need to feel special. Acknowledge them by name, not just in the ‘Dear’ line. If you can, mention their kids. Mention something about that past Sunday that either happened during the service or that you talked with them about personally. 
  • Send it from the preacher.
    Notice I didn’t say from the ‘Pastor’. I said from the preacher. That is, from whoever spoke that Sunday, unless it was a guest speaker. Your guests will connect best with the person they heard from in the pulpit. If it’s possible, let that person be the one to send the note. If not, then let it be from the Lead Pastor.
  • Send it soon.
    Statistics seem to indicate that the sooner first time guests receive a note from the church, the more likely it is that they will return. It is often recommended that the follow-up happen with 24 hours of the Sunday morning experience, or by Monday afternoon.

What other ways can you invite your guests to come back?

photo credit: tanakawho via photopin cc

Cared for, Called & Empowered to Serve

fields-ripe2I was reading Matthew chapters 9-10 this week. I’d like to share 9:36-10:1 with you.

When he {Jesus} saw the crowds he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore to send out workers into his harvest field.’ He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

This passage is rich with encouragement and truth for us today. 

  • Jesus is a compassionate God.
    The word ‘compassionate’ can be defined as ‘feeling/showing sympathy & concern for others.’ Jesus is focused on you and I today, and is aware of our individual circumstances.
  • Without Him, we are harassed & helpless.
    Jesus is our Shepherd and can turn ‘harassed’ into ‘protected’ and ‘helpless’ into ‘empowered’ when we put our faith & trust in Him. Even as believers, we need to be reminded to turn to our Great Shepherd instead of continuing to try and do it all on our own.
  • It is the Lord who sends out workers.
    We do not have the authority to send out people to be His hands & feet. It is the Lord who ultimately calls us to serve in His name. The best we can do is to acknowledge His calling in the lives of others and help them succeed in that calling in whatever way we can.
  • We have the right & authority to ask for workers.
    Wow. This is so empowering for us. We may not be able to ‘send’, but we have the blessing of Jesus Christ to ask for laborers. Whether volunteers in our churches, new hires in our ministries, evangelists in our communities or missionaries in the world – there is an implied promise from God that, when we ask, He will send.
  • We are the answer to the question.
    It is interesting to me that the very next chapter and sentence starts with ‘He called.’ Since you and I are serving in leadership and ministry today, we must be the answer to someone’s request to ‘send out workers’. That means we get to serve as shepherd’s under the Great Shepherd, reaching a world that is ‘harassed & helpless.
  • We are empowered.
    Jesus is not one to send his workers out without the tools they need to succeed. He ‘gave them authority’ and he has ‘given us authority’ to minister to those He has ushered into our spheres of influence and responsibility. We can do it, because He has authorized us to!

Be encouraged! You are cared for, called and empowered to fulfill His purposes today!

How to Lead a Good Meeting

This article was originally posted on Transforming Leader in March, 2011. Enjoy!

I’m beginning to wonder if boring meetings are bad for your physical & emotional health. Really. Think about it for just a second. When we’re bored, we tend to have bad posture and if the meeting is long, then we’re in that pose for a good while. So that can’t be good for your body. Even worse, boring meetings tend to be stressful for everyone present. We’ve all got other things we could be doing. And then there’s the fact that boring meetings usually mean we aren’t paying attention, which means we might miss something or not get proper buy-in for an upcoming new venture. And that leads to less than great results, which also leads to stress. Stress isn’t good for the body . . . you get the idea.

A while back I wrote a post about “How to Lead a Bad Meeting” that you might find mildly humorous (I hope.)

Nobody wants to lead a bad meeting. So I thought I’d share some pointers I’ve learned over the years on how to lead, well, a ‘good’ meeting instead. I hope you find them helpful.

How To Lead a Good Meeting

  • Begin the meeting on-time. People can be notorious for being late and we hate to start without them. Here are a couple of suggestions for doing this effectively. At your next meeting, let the whole team know that you have personally been irresponsible to the team for not honoring all of their time by starting the meeting late. Inform them that, beginning today, you will be starting all future meetings on time.  If someone comes in late, you will give them the benefit of the doubt the first time. After that you will be addressing them following the meeting regarding their lateness to the meeting. 
  • Prepare. I can personally attest to the great difficulty in properly preparing for team meetings. We are all so busy and hold so many meetings throughout our day and week that it’s so easy to just jump from one meeting to the next without more than a passing thought to what will be happening when you get there. However, ANY preparation you give prior to the meeting will reap great rewards during the meeting. The more you give, the greater impact the meeting will have. Your meetings will have more depth during conversations, be much more interesting, and may possibly even finish early.
  • Create a Realistic Agenda. It is very demotivating to team members when there are more agenda items than you could actually ever address. You don’t want demotivated people in your meeting. It ruins momentum. When you don’t address an item on the agenda that is important to a team member, it can seem to them like it isn’t really important to you, especially if you don’t get to it several weeks in a row.
  • Hold Others and Yourself Accountable. You should regularly review action items (to do’s) that have been assigned to members of the team to ensure they are getting done. If and when they are not, there should be accountability with the team regarding the breach in fulfilling an agreed upon commitment. If this is an issue for you and your team, then for now, I recommend you read both of the following books: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and Crucial Confrontations.
  • Avoid Rabbit Trails. You get the analogy of that little phrase, ‘rabbit trail’, right? It jumps off quickly and captures everyone’s attention without them even knowing it. This is particularly true if the topic at hand is boring or getting drawn out or is a difficult topic of discussion. “Let’s talk about something more interesting!” The effective team leader will work very hard at minimizing this activity. Every once in a while you may decide the rabbit trail is important to entertain for a while. However, it should rarely happen and should almost always come back to the original topic. One idea when people seem to want to go down a rabbit trail is to say something like, “Let’s add this conversation to the February 8th meeting agenda.” or some such thing.
  • Set Expectations First. It’s important at the beginning of certain discussions that you clarify your expectation of the discussion. Is this discussion meant to stimulate creative thinking? Is it to discuss tactical options? Will there be a vote? Or is the direction already decided and you want people to express their opinions and concerns? Are we brainstorming or are we evaluating? What do you want the end of this conversation to look like and sound like?
  • Ask Lots of Questions. The point of most meetings is discussion and feedback. This usually doesn’t happen by itself. Many (though not all) people need to be encouraged to speak up and their opinions/ideas drawn out. This will happen by asking both general and specific questions about the topic at hand. Sometimes it is good to put one or more team members on the spot for their input. If the team member has been tracking with the conversation she will have something to say, even if it’s just, “everything we’ve said so far makes total sense to me.”
  • Ask for Clarification. If you are not sure what a person means during a discussion . . . even a little bit, ask for them to clarify their point or re-ask their question. When necessary, repeat it back to them in your own words and ask for confirmation that this is, in fact, what they are saying. If not, keep exploring until you are all on the same page. 
  • Confirm Your Team’s Understanding. It is often very good to ask the team if everyone understands what is being discussed or what has just been said or decided. Just because you understand what’s going on, doesn’t mean others do. Watch out for glassy eyes which could indicate, “I have no idea what was just said but am embarrassed to say so.” When in doubt, ask someone else in the room to repeat back what has been said or decided.
  • Confirm Buy-In. It’s important you don’t assume everyone agrees with what has been said. Sometimes, when it SEEMS like everyone agrees there are individuals who don’t but are afraid to say so because they don’t want to rock the boat. Ask a few probing questions to give people a chance to ask an additional question or raise a concern. Two really great follow-up questions to consider which will help with this is: “What do you like best about this idea?” and “What do you think we might do to improve on this idea?”
  • Embrace Silence. Learn to embrace silence. People need time to think and respond. An insecure leader will ask, “Does anyone have anything to add?” or “Does anyone have questions about this idea?” and will allow a scant 5 seconds for responses before moving on. Wait 30 seconds (an eternity). Halfway through you can say, “I’m not afraid of a little silence here. I just want to make sure we are all on the same page.”
  • Openly Expose Elephants in the Room. I don’t know how else to say this. If there’s an elephant in the room you need to stop everything and talk about the elephant. You also need to give your team members permission to expose elephants too. It’s very possible (probable) it’s standing right behind you and you don’t even know it. Just be honest and say, “Listen, I could be wrong, but is there something going on right now that we are all not talking about and should? Specifically, . . . . ?” Check out this post entitled, “Exposing the Elephant in the Room
  • Say What You Think/Feel. Similar to the elephant exposure idea, you need to be free to honestly express something you think or feel as the meeting facilitator. Of course, your team members should have permission to do that too. If you feel like the meeting is getting boring, why don’t you say so? If it seems like people are falling asleep on you – ask if they are. If it seems like everyone seems confused about what you are talking about, say so. It’s always possible you are wrong, but what if you aren’t? 
  • Listen. Listening is really hard to do, especially for the leader of the meeting. Often, the leader has the most at stake in the discussion and wants to make sure the conversation is going where they want it. A good meeting facilitator will force himself to listen, ask for clarification, and ensure everyone has had their say before the discussion ends. He needs to be able to express his viewpoint as well, of course. Often that should happen near the end of the discussion or at the very beginning. Sometimes the meeting leader will need to make comments or reorient the discussion because it’s getting off-track, but the primary job of the facilitator is to lead the DISCUSSION, not the DECISION. This is especially important if the meeting leader is the leader of the organization. Usually, people want to just go with the leader and will not express viewpoints if the leader has already said everything he (or she) thinks.
  • Think Before You Speak. Important. Very important. Did I say important? If you want to say something, go ahead. But make sure you have gathered your thoughts and whenever possible select your words carefully. As the team leader, everyone is taking their cues from you. As the organizational leader they are also deciding if it’s safe to talk because of you. Learn catch phrases that will facilitate conversations like, “I wonder if . . .”, “Is it possible we are forgetting . . .”, “I could be wrong, but . . .”.
  • End On Time or Early. Your team will thank you. Work hard at being the hero and finish early, or at the very minimum, on time. If you’re meeting seems like it might end up going late, let everyone know a good 10-15 minutes beforehand, if possible – and release anyone who has other appointments coming up right away so they can rearrange them or leave your meeting on time.
If you served on a team I once led at Elim Gospel Church and are reading this blog, be nice to me. I know I sound like I have it all together and lead the most awesomest meetings in the world. I publicly confess right now that I should read this particular blog a few times a week as a reminder to myself of what I’m supposed to be doing!

Photo courtesy of istockphoto.

Don’t Hit ‘Send’ When It’s Personal


I made a leadership mistake last week. I sent an email prematurely. I actually remember pretty vividly having my finger over the ‘Send’ button on my Kindle. I paused a minute and the thought flitted through my mind, “Should I really send this email?”; then I pushed it aside and hit ‘Send’.

It felt good too. I was able to communicate my frustration and disappointment about something someone did that I disagreed with. I set them straight. Told it like it was. That sort of thing. 

It’s not that sending the email, in and of itself, was wrong – and being a writer, it’s not that it wasn’t written well. In fact, in other scenarios I could probably have written something very similar to what I wrote and it would have been totally appropriate. In this case, I messed up. Why?

I shouldn’t have done it because it was personal.

It’s Leadership 101, but it’s also easier said than done. When you’re reacting (via email) to something someone has done or said that is personal, don’t hit ‘Send’ on that email. At least, don’t hit it right away. In my case, I realized after the fact that I was rude and defensive. Ugh.

I’ve often quoted Ambrose Bierce who once said, “Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” This is even more true in emails. Once you hit ‘Send’ it’s gone for good and there’s no taking it back. The problem for many of us leaders is, we don’t always know when we’re angry. We confuse anger with our desire to ‘fix’ or ‘help’ others. That’s what I did.

Here are a few pointers I was reminded of while backpedaling and revisiting this experience.

When you should wait to hit ‘Send’.

  • If it hurts you.
    If it hurt you, in any way, you should wait. None of us are immune to pain, and none of us are at our best when dealing with pain. That means we’re probably not saying what we really should say, if we should say anything at all.
  • If you’re mad.
    Similarly, when you are in a state of anger, your brain is quite naturally on the defense. Whatever you communicate in your email (or verbally for that matter) will very likely be defensive. People, in general respond to defensive behavior from others by defending themselves. Now everybody has got their dukes up. Not helpful.
  • If it hurts them.
    It goes without saying that, as leaders and believers, we are above hurting others. It’s the antithesis of what it means to be a Christ-follower and following His great command to love others.
  • If you don’t know them.
    If you have never met, or spoken with, the other party, you need to pause when sending that email. As leaders, we have a certain degree of ‘permission’ to influence and correct those who have given us permission to do so. But if you’re trying to correct someone else on their words or behaviors, and they haven’t given you permission to do so, you’re very likely overstepping your bounds.
  • If it’s long.
    Some of us can be real wordy and get preachy in our emails. Uh, like me at times. If it’s a corrective email and it’s really long, forget it. Don’t hit send. Pick up the phone or schedule a meeting instead.
  • If it’s a big deal.
    If the content of the email is a big deal to someone – either you or them – you need to pause over the ‘Send’ button. The likelihood is real high that if what’s being discussed in the email has a personal bearing on either party or is potentially wrought with emotion, it shouldn’t be said over email.
  • If it’s complicated.
    By complicated, I’m not referring to the issue, I’m referring to the relationship. If the relationship has a history of confusion, misunderstandings, hurt feelings, etc. it’s not really good to do a lot of email communication – at least regarding personal issues.

What to do while you wait.

  • Pray.
    There’s nothing better than asking the All-Knowing God for wisdom and discernment. It goes without saying that He can and likely will shed light on how you should respond and if you should send that email.
  • Get A Second Opinion.
    I’m not talking about counselling. I’m just talking about another opinion, preferably from someone you trust and shares the same values you do about loving others in leadership.
  • Wait.
    This seems redundant to say, but I’m going to say it anyway. Wait for a while. I’m not talking about waiting for an hour or a couple of hours. Usually, it’s good to wait 2 or 3 days minimum. Give yourself time to get some perspective and cool down, if necessary. I wouldn’t be surprised if 3/4 of those emails never get sent simply because you waited long enough to realize it’s not worth it.
  • Ask For Time & To Talk Live
    Sometimes it’s not appropriate to leave people hanging. So ask for permission to wait a while, and maybe meet to talk it out live. Keep it down to about 4 sentences that might sound something like this: “I’m going to need some time to think this through first and I’m wondering if email is, perhaps, not the best means of communication for us to use on this topic. Is it possible we could schedule a time to meet over coffee, on Skype or over the phone later this week?”
  • Send A Different Email
    Once you’ve exhausted the above ideas, you may discover that starting from scratch and sending another email will work just fine. Now that you’ve had time to clear your head, you can keep the communication simple and leave out the defensive tone that was in your first email.
  • Drop It
    Sometimes the right thing to do is to just drop it. There are many reasons why this may be the best solution. It could be that the issue is relatively small in the bigger picture and not worth making a big deal about. Often, we may realize that the person wasn’t trying to be mean or hurtful, and we can just let it go. Sometimes it’s plain that there are much bigger issues connected with the situation that should really be addressed before this issue can properly be dealt with. 

What to do if you hit ‘Send’ prematurely.

I think there’s really only one thing to do when you realize you’ve said things that were best left unsaid. Find a way to apologize and ask for forgiveness. This means you:

  • Humbly confess what you did.
    “I sent that email when I was still processing what was said, and I wasn’t really thinking straight.”
  • Acknowledge what you said that was inappropriate.
    “I said some things in that email that were inappropriate, defensive and disrespectful.” 
  • Sometimes you might even point out specific things said as well.
    “…like when I told you ‘That was stupid.'”
  • Ask for forgiveness.
    Would you be willing to forgive me for my hasty words and bad attitude?

And of course, when you are asking forgiveness of the other party, it’s usually not wise to begin defending or explaining yourself – and certainly you shouldn’t start expounding on what the other person(s) did wrong. That should be left for another time.

Check out my other posts regarding confrontation. I particularly recommend: “Four Steps in Healthy Confrontations

Practical Productivity Is Now Available!


I recently produced 5 professional quality video teachings on the topic of productivity. I know each of these video teachings will help you and/or your team be more productive and efficient. I recommend you watch them together; or purchase and send to one of your staff that you know struggles with productivity. NOTE: I also offer productivity coaching to individuals via Skype. If you’re interested, contact me at wayne@transformingleader.org.

About Practical Productivity Videos

Practical Productivity is a series of 5 video clips – each between 10-12 minutes long, designed to offer strategies to help you be more efficient and productive with what you do each and every day. These teachings are ideal for both individual and team viewing.

How Pay-For-Permission Works

You may purchase access to any video individually, or the whole package. Upon purchase, you will be sent a link to the web page hosting the video(s) you have acquired access to. You may use that link (important – don’t lose it!) to visit that page & view the videos as often as you like, or share it with your staff/team for up to one year. After that, you will be required to purchase permissions to the page again, should you wish to continue having access.

Having trouble viewing this page in your email client? Try clicking here instead!


Purchase the whole package of videos. You will have access to five productivity videos, including ‘The Responsibility Summary’, ‘Weekly Planning Meeting’, ‘Dealing With Distractions & Interruptions’, ‘Your Email Inbox’ and ‘More Thoughts on Productivity’. See below for brief descriptions of each video or to buy one individually instead. [s2Member-PayPal-Button sp="1" ids="4847" exp="72" desc="Practical Productivity - Full Package" ps="paypal" lc="" cc="USD" dg="0" ns="1" custom="www.transformingleader.org" ra="20" image="default" output="button" /]You may also pay with debit or credit card.


This strategy will help you manage your tasks and projects more efficiently. You and your team will be empowered to more clearly determine what projects/responsibilities you should be working on, and which ones you shouldn’t. We have also provided a sample Responsibility Summary to help get you started. [s2Member-PayPal-Button sp="1" ids="4876" exp="72" desc="The Responsibility Summary Video" ps="paypal" lc="" cc="USD" dg="0" ns="1" custom="www.transformingleader.org" ra="5" image="default" output="button" /]You may also pay with debit or credit card.


This strategy will tell you about the most important meeting you will host in your week. The Weekly Planning Meeting will empower you to properly prioritize your projects, communicate with team members what you can and cannot do and relieve you of the stress of wondering how you’re going to get everything done. [s2Member-PayPal-Button sp="1" ids="4881" exp="72" desc="The Weekly Planning Meeting" ps="paypal" lc="" cc="USD" dg="0" ns="1" custom="www.transformingleader.org" ra="5" image="default" output="button" /]You may also pay with debit or credit card.


These simple ideas on dealing with distractions & interruptions can free up, literally, hours in your day of focused time and attention. You’ll learn how to identify interruptions and what to do about them, once they have been highlighted. [s2Member-PayPal-Button sp="1" ids="4882" exp="72" desc="Dealing With Distractions & Interruptions" ps="paypal" lc="" cc="USD" dg="0" ns="1" custom="www.transformingleader.org" ra="5" image="default" output="button" /]You may also pay with debit or credit card.


For most organizations, the email inbox has become the primary means to transfer information, schedule meetings, send proposals and keep the team abreast of the latest developments. Unfortunately, many people’s inbox is so cluttered and full that much of the information transmitted there gets lost or forgotten simply because there are so many emails constantly coming in that they get pushed to the next page. This strategy will help you discover how to manage your inbox more effectively. [s2Member-PayPal-Button sp="1" ids="4883" exp="72" desc="Your Email Inbox" ps="paypal" lc="" cc="USD" dg="0" ns="1" custom="www.transformingleader.org" ra="5" image="default" output="button" /]You may also pay with debit or credit card.


A while back I hosted a live webinar called Getting Things Done which featured the above four strategies. I also appeared live on the webinar to answer questions. However, I wasn’t able to answer all the questions people asked. This video summarizes the four strategies above and provides additional ideas on how you can become a more productive person. [s2Member-PayPal-Button sp="1" ids="4884" exp="72" desc="More Thoughts on Productivity" ps="paypal" lc="" cc="USD" dg="0" ns="1" custom="www.transformingleader.org" ra="5" image="default" output="button" /]You may also pay with debit or credit card.

Thoughts on Interviewing For a New Hire

interviewingOne of the biggest mistakes churches make when they are looking to hire is in not taking the interviewing process seriously. Often, it’s never done or just brushed over. The reasons church leaders miss this step range far and wide. It may be that they already feel they know the candidate. Or perhaps they think they will get a ‘sense’ of the person from a casual conversation over coffee. I know some leaders who would simply say, “I’m going to let the Lord lead me.”

Whatever the reason, I’ve come to the conclusion that leaders will likely never regret doing an interview – but they will often regret NOT doing one.

Just recently I was coaching a pastor who was getting ready to hire a new youth pastor. His team was sure they already knew who the ‘right’ hire would be – and were thinking of skipping this step altogether. I urged them to collect other applications and do a few interviews anyway. They were pleasantly surprised and shocked when a totally different candidate rose to the top during the interview process – becoming their ultimate hire.

In today’s post, I thought I’d share just a few random thoughts when getting ready for an upcoming job interview. I hope you find them helpful.

  • Ask yourself, “Am I hiring a leader or a manager?”
    There is an important distinction, and it means you’re looking for different qualities/competencies. Leaders lead change. Managers guide systems.
  • Investigate Them.
    Even if you already know the candidate, take the time to get acquainted with them before you meet. Study their resume. Call and speak with their references, check out their facebook, twitter, or blog, speak with their previous employer.
  • Get a Personality Test in Advance.
    As part of your investigation, have them complete a thorough Personality Test in advance (not the day of the interview). This will help you generate questions during the interview regarding how they might handle potential challenges they may face which their personality doesn’t match very well. For example, let’s say you’re hiring for an analytical bookkeeper type job and the person happens to have a laid-back people oriented personality. That could be a problem. My favorite Personality Tool is found at ministryinsights.com and is called the “Leading From Your Strengths Profile“.
  • Begin with Prayer.
    Invite the Holy Spirit to be part of the interview right up front. This reminds everyone in the room that we’re trusting God rather than man to ultimately lead the process of finding the best hire for the position.
  • Create a Safe Place for the Interview.
    I’ve already talked about the idea of ‘Creating Safety’ right here. Establish a place where the interview can take place in a non-threatening & comfortable environment. Try to stay away from the ‘leader behind the desk’ approach. If possible, move to eye level with them and remember to smile a lot.
  • Ask Them to Tell You About Themselves
    It’s important to get them talking right away. Ask a few questions about their life, family, hobbies, plans for the summer or vacation. Keep it light and informal at first. Don’t begin with potentially loaded questions like, “How did you like where you worked in your last job?” I find almost everyone likes talking about their kids or grandkids, so usually that’s a great place to begin.
  • Share the Agenda of the Meeting Up Front
    I think it’s important that the candidate knows what to expect at the meeting. This will help them feel safer too. For instance, I might say something like, “Here’s what the interview is going to look like. We’re going to ask you a series of questions and will also be asking you to do a little typing test for us on the computer over there. We use four ‘C’s’ to guide us in the decision-making process, let me tell you what those are right now…. After that, you will have a chance to ask us any questions you may have. When the interview is over, we will give no indication as to whether we plan to hire you or not. At some point in the next couple of weeks, we will contact you to let you know our decision and, if appropriate, ask you in for a second interview.” 
  • Watch for Nonverbal Communication.
    It’s important that you, or someone with you, can read some non-verbals during the interview. Many times, it’s their nonverbal communication that is answering the question, not their verbal one. For instance, if you ask, “How are you when it comes to dealing with conflict?” and the person says, “Good” while they fidget or won’t look you in the eye, it’s possible they aren’t being completely honest with you or themselves. It’s normal for most people being interviewed to be a little nervous, so you do need to take that into account. However, if you’re interviewing for a leader role, hopefully they are able to handle the relatively minor stress of an interview – after all, they’ll eventually be facing a lot more stress than that someday!
  • Create Mock Scenarios to Use During the Interview.
    Plan in advance and describe two or three circumstances that you would expect your new hire to one day face. Ask them to describe how they think they would handle the situation.
  • If Possible, Give Them a Real Test.
    If you’re hiring someone to do a lot of typing, ask them to take a typing test online during the interview. If they will be writing articles or creating graphics or pulling together a bulletin, ask them to do so as part of the interview. The best way to ascertain their competency is to test it live, when possible.
  • Start With the Interviewee, Not the Position.
    It can be very tempting to begin the interview by trying to ‘sell’ the interviewee on the job. We do this by talking about the job and what we are looking for in the best candidate. Don’t do this. All you’re doing is feeding the information you want them to give you in advance of the interview. Rather, start by interviewing the candidate and end with giving information about the position.
  • Include Two Interviewers In The Room.
    I think it’s wisdom to include at least two interviewers in the room during the interview. There are a lot of great reasons for this. I have always found it super helpful to be able to debrief with the other interviewer and get insights as to what they thought and noticed during the session. Often, they will have picked up on things I didn’t because I was busy talking or focused on the conversation. Additionally, it is a lot easier to communicate to others why the candidate is a good fit – or not so good of a fit – when you had two people present who agree together.
  • Refrain From Making False Promises.
    Again, sometimes we can get carried away after a great interview and say things at the end, like, “I think you’re a great candidate. We’ll probably end up hiring you.” OR “Yeah, I think you’re the one we want.” Don’t do that. I falsely leads them on and only increases their emotional letdown if you change your mind later. Just let them know you enjoyed spending time with them and that you’ll get back with them later.
  • Use Four C’s As Your Guide.
    Whenever I do an interview, I explain and use four words to guide my questions. I talk more about The Four C’s in this article. Here they are in a nutshell:


    CHARACTER: The fruit of the Spirit are your benchmarks, but I usually like to also have a few other qualities I’m looking for as well, like ‘teamwork’, ‘committed to the local church’, ‘giver’, ‘submitted to leadership’, etc. This might be a great place to ask about their spiritual walk as well. Often I will ask if the candidate has a ‘life verse’ or what the Lord has recently been speaking to them in their quiet times. I will also listen throughout the interview for areas where they struggle with bitterness or anger towards previous employers or people.

    COMPETENCE: This is where we confirm they have the right skill-set to do the job. Do they have enough leadership experience? Do they know how to host an event? Have they ever created a decent website before? These are going to be the standard interview questions you will ask to ensure they can do the job.

    CHEMISTRY: It’s real important the candidate will work well in the culture you have established in your ministry. This means they will be OK with the work environment you will be offering them, that they will ‘fit’ with the other team members and that both you and the candidate will be able to work comfortably together. This is a hard one to interview for, but it’s still important to evaluate. If I seem to have a hard time ‘connecting’ with the candidate during the interview or just feel uncomfortable about them, it’s possible it has something to do with chemistry. The fact is, some people ‘fit’ in certain cultures better than others. 

    CALLING: I make it real clear to the candidates that they need to feel a calling to the position we are offering and we need to feel called to hire them. This is not meant to be an excuse to not hire them. It’s meant to be an honest indicator that we’re trusting God to lead us (and them) in making the right choice. Simply put, the candidate could be perfect for the job, but either they, or we, don’t feel a release from God to bring them onto the team at this time. One time I was interviewing for a secretarial position and a young man applied. He seemed fit for the job. When I asked him what he wanted to do with his life, though, I discovered he wanted to work outside and stay away from administrative things. It was easy for me to see that he wasn’t called to do what I was looking for, even though he was qualified.

What other things do you like to remember during an interview?

Image compliments of Knape at istockphoto.com

Undercover Jesus

This article was originally posted in April of 2012. I thought you’d appreciate reading it (or reading it again!) Enjoy!

What if Jesus began attending your church, incognito? There’s a question worth considering! I wonder what His experience would be? Would He feel welcome? Would His experience be relevant, engaging and impacting? What would it be like if He came as ‘Undercover Jesus’?

I’d like to share a very familiar Scripture and then make two intuitive leaps. Stay with me, I’m pretty confident you will be challenged in a unique way by the end.

In Matthew 25 Jesus shared the very vivid illustration of the sheep and the goats. Among other things, He was communicating that there will be a sifting on judgement day; not everyone will be accepted into the kingdom . . .

“He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.  “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’””

Intuitive Leap #1
Jesus’ obvious intent is that we are active in feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the poor, caring for the sick and visiting the inmate. However, the audience of people He expects us to minister to and care for is much larger than that select group. ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine….’ That statement changes a lot. Jesus is not JUST interested in people who are experiencing one of those unique challenges. He is interested in anyone with a felt need. That is the common denominator among circumstances like hungry, thirsty, sick, etc. Christ is exhorting us to expand our reference of who needs care to the hurting, the needy, the lost, the lonely, the broken . . . you get the idea. This especially includes people considered ‘the least of these brothers of mine’.

That pretty much covers your congregation and community. Specifically, it includes church attendees who are particularly needy. It includes every guest that darkens your door “the stranger”. It includes the people who don’t have much of a voice in the life of your church “the inmate” as well as those who suffer from physical or mental disorders “the sick”.

Intuitive Leap #2
The final four words of this passage also requires major consideration: “you did for me.” This passage is much more than a declaration of the kinds of people we should reach. Jesus is clarifying a very big “WHO?”. The answer of ‘Who?’ goes way back to our childhood Sunday School days. It was the only answer that nearly always worked when asked a Bible question: Jesus.

Jesus made it personal. He didn’t stop with, “Care for those needy people.” He played a very different and unexpected card. He connected every single thing we do (or don’t do) for this group of people to His personal relationship with us. Our personal devotions is no longer carried out in the privacy of our home, all by ourselves. It’s public. It’s out there with every person we touch. Jesus told us how to connect with and care for Him. He showed us the key to His heart. And in this passage He vividly declared that it matters.

When we combine these two ideas, it’s clear how important it is that we honor, respect, and genuinely care for every individual in our church, regardless of their circumstances, character or influence.

How does this reminder affect your ministry teams? Do you think you and your leaders genuinely love and care for individuals in your church as if they were Jesus Christ Himself?

Image from pxell66 at istockphoto.com

Leaders Are Readers (Part 2)

This updated article was originally posted on Transforming Leader January, 2011. Being both a popular and a particularly long post – we decided to split it into two parts and re-post. Haven’t read part 1 yet? No problem – click here to read it right now! Enjoy!



Go digital.
If you already own a smart phone, Kindle or iPad and have regular internet access with them, then I urge you to begin taking advantage of the digital options available to you. For example, you already have the basic tool needed to begin reading blogs (see next point). Additionally, Amazon will let you download the kindle apps for free on your device, which can then be used to purchase and read audio books. This year alone I have read about 5 books on my phone/Kindle using the kindle app. In fact, I read the entire book, Crucial Confrontations, on my phone each night during a 15 minute slot in my day when I was doing nothing else, but didn’t have a book handy nearby.

Discover the power of blogs.
I know many pastors and leaders who are afraid of the word “blog”. It’s an unknown so it’s intimidating. It’s something for the younger generation, right? Not true. I’ve discovered that reading blogs is one of the best ways to stay fresh on just about any topic or issue without stealing too much time. In fact I read an average of 10-12 blogs a day if possible, all within chunks of time when I wasn’t going to be doing anything else important anyway. Here’s a couple ideas to get you started:

  • Use an rss (blog) reader.
    Nowadays, there are several free apps/services you can use to keep track of blogs you’d like to read. Among the most popular is feedly.com (check it out – just go to the website and type in ‘transforming leader’ to find my blog.) This is a great place to keep track of any blogs you come across that you would like to read. Feedly will keep track of the articles you haven’t read so you can catch up later. It also allows you to search for new blogs that might interest you. You can search either by author, blog title or your subject of interest and then save what interests you to your account. Feedly offers you a free account that enables you to keep track of what you’ve read, are reading or hope to someday read. I’m currently following more than 500 blogs including some great and popular ones like: michaelhyatt.com, thomrainer.com, ronedmondson.com, churchm.ag, tonymorganlive.com and more.
  • Afraid of rss? Just subscribe via email instead!
    If you aren’t interested in learning how to use an rss reader like feedly.com. No worries. You can still subscribe to most blogs via email to get their posts in your email inbox. If you’re like me, you won’t want to clutter up your inbox with more emails though. One suggestion you might consider is to create an email with a popular email service like gmail.com that is dedicated just to your blogs. That way, you can just receive email updates for your blogs in that email without gumming up your main email address. Just a thought.

Here’s the main thing you should understand about blogs if you are new to them. Don’t read every one. That’s right, unless you’re only subscribed to mine (joke) you’ll want to look through the list of blog titles that pop up in your reader or email each day or week and decide which ones sound or look interesting to you. You’ll then skim or read those as you see fit and mark the rest read. Every once in a while (almost daily for me) you’ll find one you really like and want to either forward or keep for future reference. If that happens, I recommend you take care of it right then, or it will likely not happen at all

Take advantage of dead time.
This may seem obvious, but it actually takes diligence, preparation, and intentionality to take advantage of the dead time in your life (time that you aren’t really doing anything valuable). One of the best ‘dead time’ tools is, as I already mentioned, a phone with reading materials available on it like e-books or blogs. If that’s not available to you, I recommend you try to keep one or two books with you at all times that you can pull out to read whenever you have a few minutes. If I stay focused, I can read a whole book in one month just by taking advantage of the white space in my life.

Become a bathroom reader.
Uh, well I just covered this above, but thought perhaps it was worth mentioning specifically. Most of us can often spend anywhere from 4 to 24 minutes alone in the bathroom. Other than the obvious, there’s not much else to do in there. It’s a great place to get some reading done. Even the four minute sessions can be valuable if you pick the right kind of book – one with short chapters. For instance, I read Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and Axiom from start to finish in the bathroom. Find a good book that will work, or some magazines that are relevant to your life or ministry, and just leave them in the bathroom. Don’t read them except when you’re umm, you know, busy in there.

Kill your guilt.
I used to get so frustrated with myself if I didn’t finish a book or if it took forever to read. I’d even feel guilty if I was reading the book (which someone else told me was awesome) but thought it was real boring. My suggestion . . . don’t be so hard on yourself. Some books are going to hit you as amazing, relevant, and inspirational, others won’t. Don’t worry about it.

Read a whole book in 8 pages (or listen in 20 minutes.)
OK, I guess you won’t actually read the whole book, but there is an awesome way to get all of the relevant highlights and major points of hundreds of popular books on leadership, management, marketing, etc. A while back I stumbled across www.summary.com and www.studyleadership.com. These have been awesome resources to me and my team. Basically, you pay the fees you feel are appropriate for your situation and find yourself with access to all sorts of great book reviews. You can download them as pdf’s – each one being 8 pages long or you can listen to someone read the summary in a 20 minute period by downloading the mp3 version. You can even subscribe to them in a blog if you want. For me, I occasionally walk to work. It takes me almost exactly 20 minutes. I can listen to one book review in that one walk. It’s awesome.

Read while exercising or commuting (audio-books).
You already know about audio-books. I actually don’t utilize them myself too often, but have several friends who do very successfully. Audio-books are perfect for your 15 – 45 minute commute, for when you exercise, or when everyone else is watching that program that you just aren’t interested in. I also know that the national literacy rate is about 14%, which means some people just don’t read very much. Additionally, I have friends who can read fine, but hate doing it. Audio-books are a great alternative.

How about you? What other ideas might you suggest on how we can stay sharp as readers and leaders?