This week Carey Nieuwhof is launching his brand new book called, Leading Change Without Losing It. This is the first installment in a trilogy of leadership books. Carey is a gifted pastor and leader and throughout these pages he gives us a little picture into his heart as he navigated two different leadership challenges. This book is a must read for any church leader who is wrestling with living into the dream that God has placed in their heart about their ministry and is experiencing the difficult job of navigating, communicating, and leading through when those around you seem to not be on board. This book is written by a lead pastor and perfectly helpful for other lead pastors preparing to embark in some new and dangerous territory, even better if you have already jumped and are experiencing a little bit of pain and discomfort in this new plan.
I am not a lead pastor or a church planter, and even as a youth pastor in a multiple staff church context and have just a little sliver of the church that I am in leadership of, I found this book to be incredibly helpful and inspirational.
Cary writes in a conversational tone full of grace and encouragement. And the best part of this book is that it is actually really practical. When I finished this book I had gained several more tools in my leadership tool box as well as sharpened and cleaned up some others that have gotten pretty rusty.
In his book, Leading Change Without Losing It, Carey lays out 5 strategies for leading change:
- Do The Math
- Choose Your Focus
- Find a Filter
- Attack Problems, Not People
- Don't Quit
As I read this book, God used Carey and this book to continue to refine some growing edges in my life. I found two transformational take aways for my own faith and ministry context.
The first take-a-way was found in the chapter one, Do The Math. This chapter is all about quantifying the opposition. Carey argues that the vocal opposition is truly a minority voice. And as I reflected on this, I realize that I always allow that minority voice to rock my world.
And the dumbest things is that I have made a career at smoothing out the opposition, and in my context I have so much less then the 10% that Carey refers to. Yet, I seem to always have that one voice, that one student who crushes me and causes me to hesitate, second guess myself, and stall out. I was so encouraged as I reflected on my own context as I read this book that the math really works well for me and maybe I should actually live into the math and be the leader that God has called me to be. He has given me a vision for my ministry context and some of it will be difficult to move into, but one kid or one parent is for sure not the reason to move forward.
The second take-a-way was found in the final chapter, Don't Quit. Throughout this chapter there were many practical helps for leaders to stay encouraged and on focus. But the one that rocked my world, happens to be the exact thing that God has been working on me for the last two months. The point is simple, yet profound: Develop a devotional life that has little to do with work.
As I have been on Sabbatical since the first of November I have been slowly and steadily coming to the conclusion that my devotional life apart from the spiritual performance or production that I am normally responsible for is turning out to be in need of dire repair. It is crazy that for the past 15 years my entire devotional life has been intimately married to my vocational calling as pastor. But now that I have nothing to produce and no one to impress, and no chance of someone calling hypocrite, I find myself sitting across the table from Jesus in my morning devotions with little to say.
I am so blessed to be a part of a church that has allowed me to have a sabbatical and relieved to have had God bring this to my attention at this season of my life. I look forward to falling more and more in love with Jesus simply because there is so much reason to love Him. To not be like Martha, but find the thing that is greater and simply to sit at HIs feet.
I am well aware that there will be time when I must get back after it, but I pray that it will be out of an overflow of the devotion life I have that is separate from my work!!
There is so much more to be gleaned from this book then these two little nuggets. If you are a leader who is trying to implement change then this book is for you. If you are a leader who is in the middle of change and feeling like the ground under your feet is starting to erode and slip, then you MUST read this book.
May we all be leaders who get after the unique dream that God has put in our hearts and may we do it with all wisdom, discernment, humility and grace!