Are you killing your influence in 1 of these 5 ways?

Everyone wants influence.

You don’t think so? Go with me for a moment. Whether it is influence in a child’s life, influence in an organization we joined, influence over your own health, influence on an issue of grave concern, or just influence in your conversation with a customer service agent, we all want influence. We want to be able to move something from where it is to where it should be–spiritually, relationally, culturally, politically, organizationally, or physically.

And yet, we can do things that minimize or even kill our influence. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about things we do or say, attitudes we foster, or postures we take which makes us less able to move something we deem important from where it is to where we think it should be.

We can kill our influence.

The polarizing, political conflicts of late evidence our diminishing powers of influence, but I could just as easily refer to ways we lessen our influence in the lives of our youth, the spiritual journey of our friends, and even our own personal growth.

Here are 5 ways we kill our influence.

  1. We don’t slow down to let people catch up. Sometimes we get so excited about a good idea that we fail to help people process and move along at the pace appropriate to them. How many parents have been frustrated with the slowness of a child’s development and given up trying? Patience!
  2. We are more concerned about getting our own point across than we are hearing where others are struggling. Someone is conflicted over an idea, or reacting because of the inherent personal implications, but instead of teasing out their questions, we get preachy and overbearing. Without empathy, influence wanes. Listen!
  3. We get defensive when people question our actions or ideas, becoming reactive instead of helpful. Because polarized argument has hit the mainstream in a profound way, we seem less willing to engage disagreements at the level of ideas–we feel attacked and return the favour with force. Peace!
  4. We consider certain people unworthy of our respect, reducing them to mocking derision. So much of this is happening, I don’t even know where to start. People who boldly claim to follow Jesus Christ will say the nastiest things about others, bringing shame on their Saviour (Here’s a related post on Christians behaving badly online). The lack of respect and the degrading of dignity means we’ve already lost our influence (as well as our own dignity). Battle lines get drawn, wars ensue, and nobody moves. Respect!
  5. We lack the humility needed to influence others, exuding instead an ultra-confidence (which we may not even have!) that our position or thought or perspective is the only right one possible.  Is it? Really? You’ve got it all figure out and don’t have anything left to learn from others, even those you may disagree with? Humility.

So how are you killing your influence?

We all want to move ideas and people toward something better, but we can kill our influence if we won’t wait and listen, calmly and with respect, knowing that we are also growing and learning, along with everyone else.

 

20 Lessons/20 Years: Lesson #12: Everything Rises and Falls on Leadership

“The team plays how the team is coached,” mused my mentor and farmer-friend over coffee, reflecting on some struggles he’d endured in a local church. “When the team is coached poorly, it plays poorly. But when the team is coached well, wow, can it play!” I think he’s right.

The team plays as the team is coached. In Remember the Titans, we see how leadership bring diverse people together to achieve uncommon greatness.
The team plays how the team is coached, both on and off the field. In “Remember the Titans”, we see leadership bring diverse people together to achieve uncommon greatness.

And what this insightful farmer observed aligns perfectly with what leadership guru John Maxwell has been saying for years:

“Everything rises and falls on leadership.”

(John Maxwell)

My 20 years of ministry leadership bears this out. Through the month of May, I’m marking this anniversary by reflecting on some lessons I’ve learned. Today is Lesson #12: Everything rises and falls on leadership.

Here’s my observation: when churches face recurring internal struggles it can almost always be traced to leadership failure.  Does that seem overstated? I’m sure there are exceptions. But on the whole, what I’ve observed time and time again is that when a church seems stuck, when trust has eroded, when momentum is lacking, when people are hurt, when clarity is elusive, when no one’s coming to faith in Jesus, when there is no growth in depth and in reach, leadership lies at the root of the problem.

That’s why leaders must grow and lead as God has gifted them to do. I’ve been so challenged through the example and teaching of good leaders around me, and particularly through the mission of Bill Hybels to see good leaders grow. Over 15 years ago, God spoke to me through Bill at a Global Leadership Summit. Waxing on Romans 12:8, Bill laid it out straight: if your spiritual gift “is to lead, do it diligently.” Don’t treat it lightly. Don’t ignore its importance. Grow in your leadership gifting. It was in that moment I embraced my gift of leadership and asked God to grow me up into it, knowing that it was my responsibility to lead with diligence, learning and growing in my effectiveness as a leader every day, for the sake of the church.Bill Hybels Leadership Quote - Fired Up

Leadership matters. Does it matter more than other gifts within the body of Christ? In one sense, no–each gift given is given by God for the church’s edification. 1 Cor 12 and all the stuff about no one part being greater than the others.  But in another very real sense, yes: because it is the leadership gift that allows all the other gifts to pull in the same direction, to work together, to function as a body, following Jesus who is our head.

If leadership is failing, then the body of Christ will be disjointed, confused and sick. But if good and godly leadership is flourishing, then all of the gifts can grow and the people of God can become all that God has called us to be. And when everyone is using their gifts as God intended us to, including the gift of leadership, then the church really works!

Everything rises and falls on leadership, so may our leaders grow more and more into the likeness of our ultimate leader, Jesus Christ. And may the church of Jesus flourish as we all serve according to our gifts.

  • In what ways have you seen communities rise or fall because of leadership?
  • If you have the gift of leadership, what are you doing to grow in it?

Want to catch up? Here’s the 11 previous ministry lessons I’ve posted:

Got The Wright Stuff? 10 Critical Success Factors I learned from Orville and Wilbur

Wright-BrothersEveryone knows the Wright brothers were the first to achieve sustained, powered flight, changing history and ushering in an unprecedented era of air travel. Within a year of their first significant flight, the world had been swept up in the drama, and pilots were soaring all over the globe. Like birds bursting from an earthly nest, humans took wing and we’ve never been the same.

EM_DavidMcCulloughTheWrightBrothersBut how did it happen? How did two bicycle repairmen triumph where so many others had failed? That’s a story worth hearing. David McCullough, in his biography The Wright Brothers, brings it with clarity and charm, describing a tale of ingenuity and hard-work, of family and friends, crossing cultures and times, and keeping me on the edge of my seat.

How were they so successful? What were the factors contributing to their amazing story, leading them to fly when so many others had simply crashed? That’s what I want to share with you.

Here are 10 critical success factors I learned from the story of the Orville and Wilbur Wright.
  1. Good, hard work: If there ever was a story about hard work, this is it. At every turn of the page, every season or hour, the diligence of these brothers is front and centre. But their work was animated by desire, by curiosity, by a remarkable drive to know and to understand. Their hard work was meaningful work, life-giving work–good work–infused with purpose and focus.
  2. Family support: The story of the Wright brothers, as McCullough tells it, is a story of how a family supports each other, first as two inseparable brothers, with their father and sister figuring in prominently, along with their other brothers and their mother, who had died when they were younger. Every step of the journey was supported by loyal family, and the effect of this upon their success cannot be underestimated.
  3. Open, curious minds: The Wright family was an intensely curious family, reading and engaging in the world of art, science, history, religion and politics. It’s telling that all throughout their lives, they lived open to the world, always learning and growing and reading, truly interested in all they saw and experienced.
  4. Fighting for truth: The brothers were known for their heated arguments with each other, in their effort to understand truth. Hours, even days, of passionate exchanges regarding the shape of wings or the position of propellers led these brothers to true understanding. The trust they had in each other allowed them to argue and disagree and discuss and relent in ways that other relationships would not have withstood.

    Wright_Brothers_in_1910
    The Wright Brothers in 1910. Wikipedia, Public Domain.
  5. Passionate observers: As mentioned already, Orville and Wilbur were intensely curious. But I didn’t know how much time they spent in observing and studying birds. Many, many hours watching birds in flight, mimicking their wing patterns, drawing and modeling and testing, all based on their close observation of God’s best fliers. Their observations lead them to wing-warping, a technique that broke the flight barrier all others had been failing to overcome.
  6. Enduring discomfort: Not only were the Wright brothers maintaining a bicycle repair shop during most of their inventive years, the time they spent at famed Kitty Hawk was a testimony to their grit. There were times when the conditions were so severe, the mosquitoes so relentless, the weather so unhelpful that they almost gave up. But they didn’t.
  7. Loyal Friends: While their family provided indispensable support, the brothers also had incredibly loyal friends and colleagues. From their own employee Charlie Taylor (a mechanical genius in his own right), to the hospitable and ever-helpful postman of Kitty Hawk, to the aviation fan Octave Chanute who encouraged them to continue and the surprising support Wilbur received in France. All along the way, their genius was aided by loyal friends.
  8. Cautious risk-takers: In spite of what people may think at first glance, these men did not take crazy risks. Careful, small tests, yielding measured results lead them to greater heights gradually. The location of Kitty Hawk was chosen in part because of the soft sand dunes for landing (and also for the favourable winds). They never overreached. They were meticulous in preparation. The brothers never even flew together until long after flight had become established, so that if one of them should die in an accident, the other could continue the work. They took risks, yes, but with extreme care.
  9. Practical Dreamers: Yes, these brothers had a vision of flight. But what strikes you is their imminent practicality. Working men, normal guys, sleeves rolled up, aprons on, dreaming but not too much, reaching but not too far, and yet through that breaking a barrier none had yet crossed. The misfortunes of other aspiring aviators gave them pause, and their own trials pushed them to tackle the next challenge of flight without getting too far ahead of themselves. WBScrapbooks2
  10. Importance of Clarity: When facing a challenge, the brothers identified with true clarity the real problem needing to be overcome. Rather than getting overwhelmed by all the aspects of “flying”, they identified their next hurdle (wing shape, for example) and worked toward a solution. At a certain point, they understood that the real challenge of flight was no longer about going up, but being able to control the flight, to steer through the air, and set to work solving that problem. Clearly understanding the problem lead them to solutions others had been too muddled to resolve.

All in all, a remarkable story. Inspiring in scope, beautifully told and wonderfully instructive. Thank you, David McCullough.

And these 10 critical success factors seem relevant to us. We may not be gifted with the genius or inventiveness of the Wrights, but could we not, learning from their story, break through our own flight barriers and soar as we never have before? I hope so.

20/20: 20 Lessons From 20 Years–Lesson #1: Good Mentors Matter

On May 1, 1996, I walked into the Grande Prairie Church of Christ to begin my first full-time ministry gig. I was 21. The ink on my pastoral degree from Peace River Bible Institute (PRBI) wasn’t even dry, nor were the spots behind my ears.

It’s been 20 years since then. No fireworks went off, and as it was Sunday, I worshiped and connected and preached in our church just as I normally do.

But this two decade mark got me thinking. What have I learned? How have I changed? What has defined my ministry journey so far? So many things rushed to my mind that I thought I’d try something different: I’ll post 20 lessons I’ve learned, over the course of May. (I may intersperse others posts, too). By breaking it down, I’ll keep things shorter and not overwhelm one post. 🙂

So, here goes.

20 Lessons I’ve Learned from 20 Years of Vocational Ministry

Lesson 1: Good Mentors Matter.

From my earliest days growing up, through Bible school and into vocational ministry, I have been blessed with terrific mentors. Alan Jones, as my first vocational ministry leader heads that list, but there are others who’ve significantly impacted my life and ministry. Gerald, Waldie, Al and Duff, all who have walked with me “in the flesh” as it were. But, as I’ve written elsewhere, I’ve been shaped by good dead mentors, too, such as Hudson Taylor, Lesslie Newbigin, Karl Barth, C.S. Lewis and Henri Nouwen. I also have high regard for ministry mentors I’ve happily accessed through books, teachings and podcasts, such as James Houston, Eugene PetersonBill Hybels, Andy Stanley and Carey Neiuwhof.

Whether they be dead or alive, close-up or influencing me from a distance, mentors have made me who I am. These mentors have:

  • Challenged my character
  • Shaped my skills
  • Given me opportunities
  • Pushed me to step up
  • Showed me what truly matters
  • Kept me focused
  • Believed in me
  • Brought me back to the basics
  • Alerted me to pitfalls
  • Taught me God’s Word
  • Cut through the confusion
  • Led me toward health and strength
  • Made me more effective as a minister
  • Nurtured my relationship with Jesus

In fact, many of the lessons I’ll be sharing came from my good mentors.

Mentors have sharpened me, helping me become who God wanted me to be.
Mentors have sharpened me, helping me become who God wanted me to be.

Good mentors matter, not only for how they have shaped me, but also for how they have then helped me mentor others. As I have been led, so I have led. We know that’s how it goes. As I’ve learned and grown, as I’ve been challenged and shaped, what I have experienced I have passed on.  The influence of my mentors continues to extend to those I mentor. May their influence continue.

I’m challenged by this lesson because it reminds me of how vital mentoring is for the church today. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it were not for great mentors. Nor would they.

So who is around me now that needs my close attention?
Who is around you? 

Coming up in my next post: Ministry Happens Best in Teams

 

Not So With You: Leadership Jesus Expects and Rejects

True leaders serve, and leaders who serve stand out. Not because they position themselves for attention, but because their humility contrasts with our expectations.

Jesus said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you.” (Mark 10:42-43a NIV)

Give someone power, and they will put others down. Not so with you, Jesus said, and this is working looking into, because like the first disciples of Jesus, we often position ourselves for the greatest benefits available. James and John lobbied for closer ties to power, unaware of how deadly that would be. The other ten were miffed at their brazen attitudes, likely because it undercut their own aspirations for glory.

And so Jesus draws out the contrast. Yes,  jostling for position is how things work in the cultures and kingdoms of this world. “But among you it will be different.” (NLT) 

Among you, it will be different. That’s what Jesus said.

Following me will not be about advancement or achievement.

You will lead in a different way.

You will position yourself for sacrificial service.

You will place yourself last, just as I have done for you.

And when you lead, you will not seek your own benefits–you will seek the benefit of others. Why? Because that’s how I led, and I’m calling you to follow me.

In short, we lead like the One we follow.

Emperor Penguins Following an Adult
Following the Leader: Emperor Penguins Following an Adult

Look around. Is that the kind of leadership you see? How do people lead at work? What does leadership look like in your family? In your school? How about your church? Your city? Does leadership look like the humble service Jesus demonstrated? I’m thankful for servant leaders I’ve seen in business and education, politics and church. We should encourage them. But when people take advantage of their position, we must resist our natural urge to meet it with anger or pride, mimicking the way of power and pushing for our own advantage.

Instead, lead differently. Reject one-ups and put downs. Give away benefit. Serve without recourse. Offer Jesus’ grace without fanfare. Be humble. Serve like Jesus.

It’ll be hard. It’ll hurt, lots of times. People will abuse your grace.  Friends accustomed to taking advantage will do so. Your sacrifice will go unnoticed. Lead and serve like Jesus anyway.

Because really, there’s no alternative for Jesus followers. Jesus said to us, “That whole power thing? It won’t be that way with you.” Instead of “lording” over others, especially when we have power, Jesus shows that whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43-45 NIV)

We humbly serve because Jesus humbly served. He is our leader. We follow him. Fact is, Jesus accomplished salvation for us through his service to us. And he calls us to continue the same: showing his salvation to others through our service to others. How we lead does stand out, and when we lead with the humility of Jesus, it’s his grace that will get noticed.

Rejecting power advantages is counter-cultural. Serving when it hurts us is hard. But it’s the way of true greatness. And as followers of Jesus, it’s the only way Jesus is leading.

Jesus saved us by serving us.

6 Common Ways We Erode Trust

Trust is precious.

You can’t parent without it. You can’t lead without it. You can’t love without it.

And when it’s eroding, nothing matters more than rebuilding that trust. Here are 6 common ways we erode trust in those we love and lead.

6 Common Ways We Erode Trust

Birling Gap Cottage Begins Demolition Process
Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

#1. We Make Weird Decisions. When I make decisions inconsistent with my vision, faith or character, it causes people to wonder what’s going on and pull back in mistrust. This strikes at the heart of integrity, and undermines our influence. Trust is built through thoughtful, informed decisions that grow out of God’s vision for us and are consistent with who we are.

#2. We Fail To Listen. If people don’t feel heard, they won’t trust you. I hear this complaint from people all the time. I hear it from my own kids! And it stops me in my tracks. Trust is built by parents who listen. And leaders who listen. And friends who listen. And spouses who listen. If you aren’t willing to understand what is really going on, you can’t be trusted. But if you’ll listen well, trust will grow.

#3. We Offer Lame Explanations. The opposite of poor listening is poor explanation. Like when we refuse to divulge why we are doing what we are doing, or going where we are going, or changing what we are changing. Trust grows through good conversations offering helpful explanations, inviting people into the process and the “why” of our decisions. But if people are being asked to accept direction without good explanation, trust erodes.

#4. We Pull Rank. When being pushed for explanation, pulling rank is the worst thing we can do. It suggests that we either don’t know what’s going on (and are afraid to admit it), or what is going on is questionable (and we are ashamed to talk about it). Either way, shutting down questions because “I am the boss/parent/leader” is a sure-fire way to erode trust even further. We influence through trust, not position.

erosion_control
Erosion control is needed, be that for soil or for trust. 

#5. We Are Unreliable. Trust quickly erodes when we fail to follow through, never show up on time, don’t complete our tasks, or gossip.  If we are always late, always forgetting, always stuck, never reliable, people can’t trust you. Reliability–faithfully doing what you said when you said–is key to building trust.

#6. We Betray Our Commitments. Taking unreliability to a whole new level, trust is eroded when we betray our commitments to love, to support, to forsake all others, to be at that special event, to serve in the ways we promised we would.  Obviously this applies to the biggest areas of our lives: our marriage, kids, work, friendships and faith. When we betray our most fundamental commitments, trust is more than eroded — it’s smashed. Can it be rebuilt? Yes, it can, but it’s going to be a long haul. More insidiously, we can betray our commitments in smaller ways. In marriage, by failing to put the other person ahead of our needs. Do that, and you’ll erode trust without having an affair.  In leadership, failing to seek the best for the people we are serving, opting instead to serve ourselves.

Trust is everything. Without trust, we cannot lead or love. Without trust, we have no influence.

Considering the ways we can erode trust challenges us to be people who work to build trust instead. That’s the kind of leader and father and husband and friend I want to be.

Why do you think trust is so crucial?

How have you seen trust rebuilt after it’s been eroded?

 

 

 

What are you missing? The #1 habit making the biggest difference in my life right now

Single habits have exponential effect.

Think about it. You start exercising regularly, and you become more discerning about your food choices; you might even find yourself getting better sleep and reading more Scripture. Somehow, one habit had exponential effect on multiple areas.  Charles Duhigg called these “keystone” habits, which include regular exercise, tracking your eating, regular family meals, and even making your bed in the morning.

For me, one keystone habit is making a huge difference: getting up early.

Some of you have doubts already. You starting to check out. I can hear you saying, “Oh, that’s great for you, but I’m not a morning person.”  Can I challenge you on that? You can be, starting with just a small step and getting up slightly earlier than you normally do. Michael Hyatt helped me see how anyone can become a morning person, and I’ve taken his advice to heart. I’ve got my alarm set for 4:55am each morning, and on most days, that’s when I’m getting up.

alarmsHey, I don’t bounce out of the bed like some people do. I drag myself to the coffee maker. The other morning, holding that terrible alarm in my hands, I almost reset it for another half-hour. But then, suddenly, through the pre-caff grogginess, I heard myself saying, “The battle is won or lost based on what I do, right now.” So I got up, and I was glad I did. Most mornings are great.

I’ve got to tell you: this one habit is having enormous effect. The benefits have been so evident that I’m excited to get up even as I’m going to bed at night (which I’ve been doing earlier, obviously).

How has rising early benefited me? In at least 5 ways. 

  1. Unhurried time for Scripture, prayer and spiritual reading. I’ve been reading through the Bible every year for years now, using the YouVersion App for the last few. This habit was already established, but now it never gets crammed in to another YouVersion_Banner__Official_2_part of my day because the morning got away on me. I’m able to read the Scripture and spend time praying, with no interruptions and no pressure. I sip my coffee, eat my breakfast, and read, both Scripture and other spiritual readings.
  2. Keeping a Journal. I’ve wanted to journal for years, but I wrote in fits and starts, with long periods with nothing at all. Whenever I went on retreats, I’d journal a lot, and I found it very helpful. And yet I just couldn’t integrate it into my regular life–until now. Getting up earlier has given me the unhurried space I needed to journal, often becoming an extension of my prayer time.
  3. Leadership Reading. As a leader, I’m committed to growing as a leader. Because “leaders are readers,” I always have a leadership book on the go. I’m a bit astonished what a difference my morning time has made–in the first two months of 2016, I read six leadership books! These readings are helping me grow as a leader, and that will have exponential effect on the rest of my life and ministry. One habit = exponential effect.
  4. Developing my writing. Well, here I am, in the wee hours of the morning, writing to you. Yes, blogging is part of this morning routine. I’ve wanted to write for years, but (you guessed it) never found the time to do it consistently. Guess what? I found it! The time was hiding away in those moments before I normally got up. Now I’m writing at least an hour a day, focusing mostly on this blog for now. This would not be happening if it were not for this one keystone habit of getting up early.
  5. Getting time alone. Even though I’m an extrovert who enjoys a lot of people time in a day, I need time alone. As I get older, I value my solo time even more. What I noticed is this: by getting up early, I’m get the alone time I need so that I’m more mentally ready, more relationally available, and more emotionally present to others when I am with them. This has been especially evident in my family life, as they emerge from the morning fog. Because I’ve already been up for a while, I’m ready for them. And it carries me through the rest of my day. I’ve had time with God and time by myself, so I’m not running on empty. My early morning alone time helps me give more to others.

This one habit is having exponential effect in my life. Could it do the same for you?

I’m not saying you do exactly what I do–not at all. But what do you wish you had more time for? What do you value that always seems be shoved out of your daily calendar? Give rising earlier a try and see what a difference it can make. My practical suggestion is this: get up 30 minutes earlier for 3 weeks. Be intentional with those 30 minutes; do something you value that never gets done. Do you need to sit quietly in the presence of God and pet the cat? Or start a short Bible reading plan? You might try journaling, exercise, poetry, or praying the Lord’s Prayer in a reflective way. I’m confident that you will benefit by simply carving out the time and seeing where it goes!

How have you found the morning helpful for you?

What other keystone habits are making a difference in your life?

 

 

 

What are you listening to? My Fave 5 Podcasts

Podcasts are one of the ways I’m always learning.  They are free and I enjoy them while driving, working in my barn or walk the country. Here are five regularly updated podcasts that I never miss. Some are ministry specific, others with more broad appeal. All are valuable.

My Fave 5

  1. The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast.  Carey Nieuwhof (pronounced “new-hoff”) is the lead pastor of Connexus Church, a North Point Ministries strategic partner. CN_Podcast_New_Logo_Midsize1He is an influential leader and blogger from Ontario, regularly supporting the Orange Tour.  I find Carey consistently helpful to me as I seek to pastor a church that reaches out to unchurched people. In his weekly podcast, Carey interviews the best of the best, including well-known folks like Andy Stanley and Jon Acuff as well as lesser known leaders doing kingdom work in terrific ways. Carey’s insights, whether on his blog, interviews or books, are challenging and clarifying for me.  (Check out out his newest book, Lasting Impact, here.) I never miss an episode.
  2. The UnSeminary Podcast. Rich Birch, a Canadian leading in a New Jersey church,Rich_Birch hosts this punchy, weekly podcast, all about “the stuff you wished they taught in seminary.” Rich focuses on practical ministry helps for leaders. He is generous, offering many free resources on his UnSeminary blog, as well as a more in-depth membership program. Interviewing ministry leaders across a variety of churches and ministries, Rich podcasts weekly and keeps it pretty short, usually between 20-30 minutes. The topics range from social media and discipleship to Christmas Eve services and fundraising. Valuable listening, every time.
  3. Under the Influence, with Terry O’Reilly, is the most enjoyable podcast I follow. A consummate story-teller, Terry draws together themes from the marketing and advertising world that have much broader cultural implications.  My boys and I love Under the Influence, and stories Terry’s shared are retold and related to other areas of our lives on a regular basis. You may think “I’m not that interested in marketing” but you owe it to yourself to listen to a few episodes anyway. I think you’ll change your mind after you’ve had a taste. Terry and his team have presented podcasts on “ambush marketing” featuring an athlete who used his contact lenses to promote a product, to “the internet of things”, looking at how Terry Onew technology is being used to track usage and data. You’ll hear amazing stories, from Bonny and Clyde to Baywatch to the secret of Mick Jagger’s successful voice and the surprising rise of button-fly Levi’s. Under the Influence is usually only produced for part of the year, with short episodes around 25 minutes long. If you haven’t listened to this podcast, you must try it out!
  4. Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast. Andy Stanley is one of our top leaders, consistently and faithfully leading his 1ANDY_STANLEY_LEADERSHIP_PODCASTchurch to reach unchurched people for Jesus. I listen to his preaching for personal discipleship and to hone my preaching craft, but I listen to his short, monthly leadership podcasts to develop as a leader. Hosted by Lane Jones, Andy Stanley, along with occasional guests, focus on key leadership practices such as showing gratitude, leading through change and delegation.  Though his immediate context is the local church (and a big one!), they intentionally broaden the application of their podcast to any leadership context, from ministry to business. I’ve listened to every one, and I’ve learned and grown through the insights I’ve gained. If you are leader, you’ll grow from listening to them, too.
  5. Hardcore History, with Dan Carlin. hardcore-history-43-wrath-of-the-khans-by-dan-carlinWhat can I say about Carlin’s podcasts? Epic long, and deeply, fantastically worth it .(And I mean, EPIC long. Some are 3-4 hours, in a series of five. Yes, that’s right, 16-18 hours . . .).  Dan is such a gripping, passionate, insightful storyteller that the hours fly by. His series The Wrath of the Khans tramples you into the dirt of the Mongolian steppes. Blueprint for Armageddon takes you into the trenches of World War 1 and leaves you bleeding and shell-shocked. Dan takes months to produce a single episode, and it shows. Even though he constantly reminds his listeners that he’s “not a historian, just a fan” (by which I think he means that he does not have a PhD in history), Dan reads deeply and broadly, amassing sources and leading us through diverse opinions to offer a compelling narrative. Worth. Every. Epic. Minute.

There you go–my fav 5 podcasts. I do listen to audio books and I regularly ingest Scripture through audio, especially portions of the Bible through which I am currently preaching or teaching (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to the book of Revelation over the last year). I do have other podcasts or preaching that I listen to regularly, but these five seem to always rise to the top of my playlist. If you are willing to try one, you might find they keep resurfacing for you as well.  I hope you do.

What podcasts do you enjoy listening to?