Archives For Andy Stanley

Today’s post is the beginning of series about coaching. I wrote these articles while interning with Church Assistance Ministry and have decided to share them with you because coaching is one of the many elements of leadership.

“From time to time we will all need outside assistance getting from
where we are to where we want or need to be.”
Andy Stanley, The Principle of the Path

 Mentoring Coaching

In the fall of 2007 I led an effort to feed families in need in our community with a program called, A Day of Hope (which I also wrote a book about).  We partnered with the local church I was attending, Enclave Community Church as a way to better serve the need so our community.  At that time, I had about three years of experience in founding and leading A Day of Hope, but I felt there was something was missing.  A great, close friend had told me that he believed I could increase the amount of people we were serving through A Day of Hope if I was able to develop myself as a better leader.

At that point in time, I had briefly met and spoke with a man named Steve Elliott who was serving at the church to help develop leaders.  We had said hello to each other a few times, but had not engaged in conversation very deeply.  I knew about Steve because of his role at church, and he knew me because of the work I had done with A Day of Hope in partnership with Enclave Community Church.

Over the next several months I began to get to know Steve a little bit more through casual conversations around church.  Then, Steve, our senior pastor at Enclave, and my self happened to all be sitting around a table starting to share our goals for the future.  Steve and Pastor Brian both shared their goals for the future and what they would like to do to serve and help others, and when it came my turn I mustered the courage to share my vision for what I felt God had put on my heart to do in the future.

For the next couple minutes I shared with Steve and Brian how I wanted to serve and help leaders.  Part of that process was working on myself as a leader to improve my leadership skills, then to pass on those leadership skills to others to help them learn and grow to serve more people.  Little did I know that courage to share my vision and goals was a defining moment as a young leader and was a way God was leading me to a discipling relationship.

I cannot remember if it was that same day, or at a later date, but Steve Elliott offered to coach me in leadership skills to help me improve myself as a leader to serve other leaders.  I graciously accepted his offer, and was very honored that he would offer to coach me!

Steve and I decided to meet once a month at Starbucks at 6 AM to talk about leadership and have him coach me.  I would arrive a little before 6 AM, get him and I a cup of coffee (our drink is tall Pike, no room), sit down with my pad of paper and pen, and he would coach me on leadership.  Since that first 6 AM meeting at Starbucks, Steve and I have met every month for over three years now.

Question: What has been the impact of coaching on your life?

Today is the final post in my series of posts sharing what I learned about momentum from the Catalyst One-Day event taught by Craig Groeschel and Andy Stanley. 

Andy Stanley's talk in the final session of the Catalyst One-Day Conference was mostly focused on programing. Specifically, he talked about how programming can become part of our organizational culture which leads us to focus on our programing, not the people we try to serve. Over time this can cause us to lose sight of the mission and people we are attempting to serve because we are so focused on our programing. 

Andy starts out the talk with the example of an old beat up couch that the family does not want to get rid of because of the memories and history of the couch. And he uses that as an analogy for his talk about how we need to be focused on our mission and the people we serve, not on the past history we want to preserve.

Andy Stanley

Programing is the answer to a question or a need.
All programing that takes place in an organization should be an answer to a need of the people we are trying to serve. Or, programing can be an answer to a question we have about who needs served and if we can serve them this way. Programing is a way of attempting to answer that question by creating a product or service.

Over time programming becomes part of your organizational culture.
This is definitely true. I experienced this when I first started working at the United Way of Stanislaus County. There were so many things we did that I was not sure why we did them. As the new guy, when I asked, "Why do we do that?" the answer I received so many times (that it still angers me to think about it) was, "We have been doing that for xx years." Correct me if I am wrong, but that was not the answer to my question.

Now, I am all for respecting processes and time tested tools and methods, but everything we do (as leaders and followers) should be for a purpose. When an organization begins doing things "because we have always done" them, that is a clear sign that the programing has become part of the organizational culture.

We must be more committed to our mission than or programing or model.
This is so true and applies to what I shared above about what I thought when first working at United Way of Stanislaus County. The focus of an organization should be on its mission and everything it does should evolve around, support, and push that mission forward. When programming does not support that mission, then we need to cut it. Cutting it frees up our time to do what supports our mission and it gives another organization an opportunity to provide that service.

Over time, sustaining the model can become the mission.
I think this does happen in organizations and churches. Especially churches because so much of what a church is resides in history. Sometimes people working at organizations or volunteers who are involved that have seen the "good ole days" do not want to see changes because they remember how things were.

It is good to remember that the model should support our mission. The model might change, but the mission probably will stay the same.

Over time, a model can work against the mission.
This is true also. I remember taking a class in 2011 called, Church and the Mission of God. The professor shared a story of a church he served on staff at in South Dakota where the church was very committed to creating a good looking and well built church as a way to get people to come to church. As a younger man who was an up and comer in the church world, he had fresh eyes and could see that what brought people to churches in the 1990's was not attractive buildings (like it has been in the 60's, 70's, and 80's), but it was that people needed to feel that the church cared for the community around them. This man saw that people were coming to church when the church came to them in their community by providing services and giving away information on what the church did.

He attempted to share this with the church leadership but because so many people were committed to (and had seen) the old model work effectively, they proceeded to upgrade their building hoping it would attract the people to the church.

The end result when the building upgrades where completed, as this pastor shared, was very few new people came to the church. For a few weeks they had some fresh visitors, but that was it. Within a month or two the church attendance was back to normal despite the thousands of dollars and many hours people worked to make the church upgrades. In the end, the old model was more destructive to the church than constructive because the labor of both staff and volunteers seems to have failed and left the people discouraged. 

Don't be in love with a tactic, be in love with a message or a population.
When it comes to being committed to your mission and not being committed to a model, make sure you are in love with a message or a population.

For A Day of Hope this was always simple for us. We were in love of serving and helping people who needed food for Thanksgiving. We did not want to help with any other holiday or need, we were in love with that family who was having a tough time and needed a nice Thanksgiving meal they could enjoy as a family.

Because we were in love with a population, it always allowed our "model" of fundraising to change. Often from year to year it looked very different.

If you commit to the "what", God will show you the "how".
I think this statement was from the last part of Andy's talk because he felt that people might not be believing that they can make a positive change in their organization because of the history and protectiveness of the models they might have. I think he was hoping to share that if we commit in our organization to the "what" of the model we need to change or move away from, God will show us "how" to do it. Because, changing the way people think about a model of what has been done can be very tough. People have lost their jobs over these things so we need to deal with it with sensitivity and tact.

Question: Is there a "couch" in your life or organization you need to remove? How do you plan to remove it?

A couple of years ago I received some audio CDs from a workshop Craig Groeschel and Andy Stanley did on the topic of momentum at Catalyst One-Day. I found the teachings they shared to be very beneficial and encouraging as a leader.

Over the next few days I will be sharing with you some of the notes I took while listening to their talks. The format will be that I write a statement they shared in their talk, then I will elaborate on each statement a little to explain it to you.

I hope you find this series of posts beneficial to you as we learn about momentum together.

Gaining and Sustaining Momentum 
Andy Stanley

Three things that trigger momentum:

  1. New
  2. Improved
  3. Improving

The basis of Andy's talk is that there are three things that trigger momentum. Something that is new, something that already exists which is improved, or something that is currently operating and is improving. All of those create momentum because we live in a society where we do not like to see things stay the same. We like to see things change, improve, and become better.

Manage toward sameness and lead toward change

Andy described this as the traditional paradox between management and leadership. Management wants to make everything the same so they can manage it, while leaders want to always change everything by leading. Andy says you need both, which I agree with.

There will always need to be things in your organization that are the "same." Things such as a staff meeting, the boss showing up to work, paychecks delivered when they should, etc. There are specific things that should be managed toward being the "same." However, there also needs to be room for leaders to lead toward change.

The job of leaders is to take what exists and what is currently going on and improve them and make them better and even create new stuff. Leaders lead toward change. And, when leaders have a good group of managers who can manage things to be the same, it allows them to do a better job of leading toward change. 

If you have momentum and you don't know why, you are only one bad decision away from losing it.

Sometimes things do go well in leadership and we find ourselves with momentum which is great. However, we need to know why and what created that momentum so we can do two things:

  1. Keep doing what created the momentum
  2. Avoid doing what will stop the momentum

Plus, when you have momentum is just takes one bad decision to lose all of it. Momentum is hard to build, but easy to lose.

It's arrogant to say, "God is just blessin it."

Andy shared this that even though God plays a role in all momentum and success, it is arrogant for people to point to God as the sole and only reason they are having success. Yes, that might be the truth, but when you say, "God is just blessin it" to other people who also work in your industry, it sends a message that "God has chosen us over you" or "God does not like you as much as us" or "God has decided that we are more holy than you." All of those are a little arrogant to say when it comes to momentum and success so when we are giving credit for the success we have we need to give credit to God, but also credit the tangible things we have been doing to create the momentum we are enjoying. 

The worse things are, the more opportunity there is for a leader.

How true this one is. When momentum is dead and there is nothing moving forward in the organization it provides a great opportunity for a great leader to step in and make change. If he is able to lead the organization out of mediocrity, financial struggles, and build up the organization's effectiveness it gives him great leverage and credibility going forward. If he is able to do those things it allows him to cast vision more effectively and helps people trust that he knows what he is doing and that he is doing what is best for the organization.

Most churches do way too much.

I agree with this one and believe it happens in nonprofit organizations as well. I think part of this happens because churches and nonprofit organizations are primarily governed by volunteers and supported by volunteers. So, when someone comes to us and shares an idea or suggests we do something, we think we need to implement it. 

One principle I often talk about in my book is that when someone does come to you with a suggestion or idea, say "yes" except put the responsibility back in their court. When they want to start something new tell them you think it is a good idea (if you really do, if you do not then say so), then ask them what their next step is to getting it going.

As leaders we are way too busy to implement everyone else's ideas so when people come to us with ideas and suggestions (even if they are good) we need to put those ideas and suggestions back into the hands of the person who brought them to us. If they idea was as good as they think it was and if they truly believe in the idea, then they will implement it.

Question: What is your experience with gaining and sustaining momentum?

Mobilizing Volunteers

February 15, 2011 — 2 Comments

Here's part six of chapter two of my book, A Day of Hope.  If you missed the first five sections, you can follow the links below.

Picture: What does it look like?
The Whole Enchalida
Honor Your Promises
A Big Commitment
Getting Friends, Family, & Coworkers Involved


Doing this project means that you’re going to have to work with people, and a large majority of those people are going to be volunteers.  Volunteers have been the lifeblood of A Day of Hope and a key part of our success.  We could never do what we do if it weren’t for the support of volunteers.  They’ve truly made it all happen for A Day of Hope. 

The amount of volunteers you use depends on how many people you commit to feeding and how much work you’re willing to do yourself.  For our local program, we use lots of volunteers.  This past year, we used over 350 volunteers, and probably more than 1,000 people have volunteered in the five years since we started A Day of Hope.  That’s a lot of people, and one of your primary roles is to lead and manage them.  Yes. I mean you.  You’re going to be leading the charge.

Much of the work you do with A Day of Hope can be planned in your head by yourself.  You can set a goal by yourself, you can write a donation letter by yourself, and you can create a website by yourself.  However, when you do send out donation letters, market a website, and work to achieve the goal, you’re going to need help.  And volunteers are the ones who will be there.

I just finished reading a great book entitled The Principle of the Path by Andy Stanley who’s a pastor at North Point Community Church in Atlanta, Georgia.  He talks about how many times we have a destination in mind, and we have good intentions on getting to that destination, but the only way we will get there is by having a path towards the direction that we want to go.  It’s our direction, not our intention, that determines our destination.  And the direction you’re going needs to have a focus on working with volunteers.

Does it scare you to talk with all these people, lead them to do great work, and manage these volunteers?  You might be creating images in your mind about how you’ve got to be some type of super charismatic leader who speaks eloquently, talks smoothly, dresses to impress, has slick gelled hair, and shakes hands with the city mayor and other big wigs.  That’s very far from the truth! 

To successfully lead people for A Day of Hope, you don’t have to be super smooth, have a nice smile, or anything else that you think a fancy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or City Mayor needs to have.  The only thing you need to do is be yourself.  John Maxwell, leadership expert and author of Everyone Communicates, Few Connect writes, “Here’s the bottom line on charisma.  You don’t have to be gorgeous, a genius, or a masterful orator to possess presence and to connect with others.  You just need to be positive, believe in yourself, and focus on others.”[i]  People love to be around someone who is comfortable with himself or herself.  Just be you.

Even though I’m pretty good at working with people, I’m a very introverted person.  I’m good at connecting with people one to one, and I’m an average speaker (something that I’ve worked super hard on to develop).  Just because you’re not an extroverted, charismatic person doesn’t mean that you can’t be good with people.  Both extroverts and introverts have their strengths and weaknesses.  Entire books have been written on this, so I won’t dig very deep, but I want you to realize that just because you might be an introvert doesn’t mean you can’t effectively lead people.

[i] John C. Maxwell, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect  (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 2010), 166

Here's part 2 of my notes from Andy Stanley's talk at the Catalyst Leadership Conference in 2008To read yesterday's post, go here.

The boldest leadership decision you can make is declaring family as your #1 priority

Not only is this the boldest decision you will have to make, it's also the most difficult to live out and maintain. 

There always seems to be "one more" thing you can do, opportunity you
can pursue, board you can serve on, volunteer need to fulfill, (you
fill in the blank here).  When leaders declare their family as the #1
priority in their life it's bold because they tell the people they work
with and lead, "You are not #1 on my radar.  There is something out
there that is more important than you, and I will make sure that area is
taken care of first and foremost."  Wow! 

This hit me like a ton of bricks, and it's something I
constantly struggle with.  When I wrote this post I was going to have to
leave in eight minutes to take my girlfriend go-carting.  We had been
talking about going for months, and the day I originally wrote this post
was the day we decided to go.  The only problem is that I wasn't going to
be done writing this blog post in those eight minutes.  I needed more
time and could easily have made the decision to pick her up late and
say, "Sorry, but I was in the middle of writing a blog post and wanted
to finish before I cam to see you."  But I didn't.  I stopped writing at
the time I needed to pick up My Lady and take her out go-carting. 

It's a bold and tough decision to make when I decide that I'm going
to stop writing this blog post at the exact time that I need to in order
to pick her up on time.  It says, "family comes first."

Everybody is basically a volunteer

Amen Andy!  This is definitely a principle that I live by daily.  

In my role at United Way there are three staffers who I'm "above in
position" which means I can delegate to them if I want.  But I never
treat them in a way that they're required to do anything I say or ask.  I
always operate from the point of view that these three ladies don't
have to do anything I ask. 

The same is true with A Day of Hope which is ran by all volunteers. 
Technically, I'm the "founder" and the "leader" but I don't treat people
like I have position or authority.  Everyone who helps with A Day of
Hope helps because he or she wants to.  Not because anyone is required

This is one of the reasons why leading in churches and nonprofits is
so challenging: you very rarely have influence over people.  You have to
enter their model of the world and lead them from where they are. 
Because, you can only make people do something for a limited time.  And
once that limited time is over, you no longer have influence over
people.  You can only force someone to do something for you for so long,
and before long, that influence wears out.

In 2008 I attended Catalyst East Conference along with 12,000 other next generation leaders in their 20's and 30's.  It was an amazing event.  Recently I went back through my workbook and decided to share some of my note and thoughts with you.

These are notes directly from my workbook.  So the key thought might not be perfectly word for word from what the speaker said, but it will be pretty close.   In each section I'll share the speaker's "key thought" in bold, then I'll explain the thought in greater detail with my own commentary. 

Here's some thoughts from Andy Stanley's talk entitled, Louder Than Words (he also has an excellent book with the same title). 

Leaders can't make people do anything. We need to exercise moral authority by matching our creed with our deed.

This is true for leaders of for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations.  There are very few people in our work who consistently walk their talk which is sown by their creed (what they say) matches their deed (what they do).  If you're a leader who's creed matches your deed, there are few leaders like you. 

In a way, no one really has to work for you (the leader).  They might not want to come to work, but ultimately they could live a life of poverty and not work for you.  It's their choice to come to work, and that means they are essentially a volunteer.  Yes, they receive a paycheck, but they are a volunteer because they decide to come back to your place of work time after time.

When people see a difference between what you say and what you do, you lose influence

Very true.  Have you ever worked for a leader who talked at a staff meeting about how everyone needs to "do" a certain thing.  Like arrive to work on time, not make personal copies on the company copy machine, or only take two breaks a day instead of three or four.  Yet the leader was consistently coming to work late (or even leaving early), making photo copies for personal use, and taking long breaks to go to Starbucks?  I know I have, and it's not pretty. 

When a leader has a difference between what he says and what he does, he loses influence with the people he leads. 

People don't accept his words as fact, but more as fiction.

Last week my friend Andrea Aresca shared with me some of his thoughts from Andy Stanley's latest leadership podcast titled, When Less is More.  The podcast is from a talk Andy gave at the Catalyst West Leadership Conference I attended two months ago.

I still find myself thinking about Andy's talk and the many ideas he shared. Those can be read in two parts. Here's part I and part II.

Andrea shared some of his own thoughts which I thought were interesting. It amazes me how two people can listen to the same talk, but hear different things which were significant to them. 

Here's part II of the notes I had from Andy Stanley's talk at Catalyst West last month:

Great leaders don't make all the decisions – One of the great
ways you enable others in your organization to lead and grow is to allow
them to make decisions.  When you allow them to make decisions, it gives
them responsibility and authority.  Responsibility and authority
will grow a leader because it's his own reputation on the line.  No one

Decisions should be made at the lowest level in the organization chart as possible.  The senior leader, executive vice president, CEO, or executive director doesn't have to make every

One principle I employ as a leader in the middle of our
organization is that I always try to make a decision I
think I can be made without consulting my leader.  If I think I know what she will say when I
ask, then I make the decision on her behalf.

The thing you are no good at is someone else's opportunity to
– Very true, if I'm guilty of one flaw as a leader (there are actually many flaws I have) it's that I do too much. 
I don't delegate enough to others, and as a result I don't allow others
to shine.  I don't allow them to shine through and show what they are
great at.

When a Leader decides not do something and either delegates it
or decides to leave it untouched, it gives someone else an opportunity
to shine.  It gives someone else an opportunity to make something
happen, to make a difference and add value to the
organization in a way they might not have done before.

When you are in your sweet spot, you can't get enough – When
you and I as leaders find the area that we're strong (our sweet spot), we
love it!  We love to do what we're good at! 

Mine is leading and
writing.  I love to work with people in a meeting, one-to-one, and to
focus on working towards a common goal.  I love to lead people to
places we've haven't been together. 

I also love to write.  Give me a
pad of paper and a pen and I'm a happy man.  I'm ready to
rock and roll for hours.  Giving me a pad of paper and pen is like giving
a 5 year old a box of crayons and a roll of poster paper.  I'll have fun all

When a leader finds his sweet spot, he loves it and can't get enough.  That should be your sign to stay there and do as much of it and you possibly can.

I'm just curious, but what's your sweet spot?  Please leave a comment below and share!

By far my favorite talk at the Catalyst West Leadership Conference was Andy Stanley.  Man, so many of the talks he gives feel as if the talk was developed exclusively for me.

Here's a few thoughts from Andy:

Only do what only you can do – This is something I could take a
week just to think and chew on.  What is it that only you can do at
your organization?  I know there are things I've been doing in my life
that I can have someone else do.  It's natural for us as leaders to want
to do everything.  We most likely have high energy, want to help
people, and want to make it happen.  We also have a tendency to think we
can do tasks and run projects more effectively than others.  As
effective leaders we need to only do what only we can do.

When I do things I don't do well, things don't go well – As a
leader, we're given strengths and weaknesses for a reason.  We need to
focus on utilizing our strengths for the greater good, and we need to do
everything possible to avoid our weaknesses.  And when we do tasks and
projects that are in our weak areas, things don't go well.  The result
is most likely going to be weak.

My fully developed strengths are worth more to my organization than my marginally improved weaknesses – It's a fact of life that we all have strengths and weaknesses.  And it's up to us as leaders to discover what our strengths are, then we need to find ways to focus on those strengths.  We should do nothing else but focus on those strengths to develop them, improve them and make them better.  We're going to improve much faster with our strengths than we will ever improve our weaknesses.

There's a group of twelve men who are close to my heart and who I pray for on a daily basis. Most of the men I've never met, but I feel that I know them through their books and teaching lessons.

One of these men is Andy Stanley. Many of his leadership teachings seem to resonate with me so much. Many times I read his books or listen to his leadership lessons and feel as if he prepared that specific lesson or book just for me!

Another one of these times came when I read one of his books entitled, Choosing to Cheat: Who Wins When Family and Work Collide?
Choosing to Cheat is a short 100 page book with a simple message that leaders will be forced to "cheat" in their lives. They're going to have to "cheat" their family out of the time which they deserve for the sake of working hard and becoming successful. Or the leader is going to have to "cheat" work out of the duties and responsibilities that the leader should or could do, in order to maintain the time needed for his family.

Here are a few take ways from this books which I really recommend for any leader:

  • Someone is always going to be cheated – As leaders we only have so much time. As a result, someone is going to get "cheated." Someone at work on the leader's team isn't going to get the time he or she needs for a project. Or a son or daughter is going to have a dance recital ballet where her father doesn't show up because he's busy at work. Every leader is forced to cheat in some areas, but it's up to the leader to manage his life and priorities to decide where he cheats.
  • Hard work isn't always what brings us rewards and success – Andy explains how success rarely comes directly from the hours of hard work, time and dedication to a job. But success normally comes from people we meet accidentally or an opportunity thrown our way we didn't know about,
  • Don't give your family your leftovers – If you're a leader with a family, your family deserves to get your best. A daughter should not have to settle for her daddy's leftovers. She shouldn't only see him late at nights after he's worked all day and is totally burnt out and tired. She should be able to spend time with him when he's alert, awake, energetic and excited to spend time with her.
  • For the sake of keeping priorities in alignment, you're going to have to allow important work things to slide – As you make the commitment to cheat at work so you can fully devote your time at home, you're going to have to find yourself releasing and letting go of opportunities at work. You're going to have to leave meetings early and say no to new opportunities because you committed to be home on time.

Andy Stanley's book, Choosing to Cheat
has been one of the most influential books in my life as a leader. It certainly was a message I needed to hear. I suggest you pick it up and give it a read if you're a leader who has a big vision and a family you need to balance that vision with.

It's a small book about 100 pages, so you can sit down and give it a read in one sitting.