Humility and The Problem with All-Stars

Humility and The Problem with All-Stars

I’m a bit of a podcast junkie. And I wanted to share with you my favorite podcast episode I’ve listened to in a long time. This is not a Christian podcast, but the topic is as “Christian” as it comes—humility.

The podcast is the TED WorkLife Podcast with Adam Grant, and the specific episode is called The Problem with All-Stars. Grant is an organizational psychologist and the podcast “takes you inside some of the world’s most unusual workplaces to discover the keys to better work.”

In The Problem with All-Stars episode, Grant looks at humility, which he says is the hidden ingredient in great teams. The truths of this short podcast episode apply to all team contexts—workplace, sports teams, church staffs, and so much more.

How Shane Battier is Humble

The episode starts off with an interview with retired NBA player, Shane Battier. Here’s a little bit of a bio on Battier:

  • He’s the only basketball player to win both the high school and college national player of the year awards.
  • He’s a graduate of Duke University.
  • He won two championship rings with the Miami Heat (and also played for the Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets).
  • His career stats won’t “wow” anyone, but low stats can be deceiving (which is largely the point of this episode).

Battier was the best of the best in high school and college. But, when he got drafted into the NBA, he realized everyone was much more talented than him. He was no longer the best. As a result, many focused more on his deficits than his strengths.

But Battier overcame the criticisms and became a central part of the Miami Heat when they won 2 NBA Championships in 2011-12 and 2012-13. The reason why he was a central part of the team’s success is because he asked himself this question:

How can I make my team better when I’m not the biggest star?

Heating Up on Humility

A little backstory will help. In 2010, the Miami Heat signed LeBron James and Chris Bosh. They joined Dwayne Wade (who was already on the Heat) to become the NBA’s first Super Team. In the press conference when James and Bosh announced their signings, James claimed the Heat would win as many as seven NBA Championships starting with the 2010-11 season.

To everyone’s surprise, the Heat didn’t win in 2010-11. When everyone wants to be the alpha dog, you have a problem.

That all changed when the Heat signed Battier. His goal was not to the best small forward in the NBA but to be the best small forward for his team and it made all the difference. He made everyone around him better and became known as the “No-Stats All-Star.”

Battier made others on his team more efficient and opponents less effective. He did it by setting picks, diving for loose balls, playing lockdown defense, and embodying a whole lot of enthusiasm and hustle. None of that shows up on the personal stat sheet but it does show up in the win column!

The Problem With All-Stars

In sports, we define star by the statistics on the court, says Michael Lewis, author of the book Moneyball and Blind Side. He goes on to say that you need other people to play a role other than the one who takes the shots all the time. Stars are overrated, and role players are underrated.

Grant goes on to talk about the idea of humility—being grounded and from the earth. When I think of humility, I think of the following:

  • John 3:30: He must become greater; I must become less (said by John the Baptist about Jesus).
  • Philippians 2:3-4: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Keep reading through verse 11—Jesus provides the perfect and ultimate picture of humility).
  • James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5: God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.

Grant and Battier go on to say that people who are humble demonstrate the following three actions:

  1. They recognize their own shortcomings and limitations and behave differently in response.
  2. They appreciate the strengths of others, give credit where it’s due, and highlight the team’s success over their individual achievements.
  3. And, they show openness to learning from others.

Humility is Contagious

Humility is contagious. When we spend time with others who embody humility, it rubs off on us. This makes everything and everyone around us better.

What would it be like if you and I practiced a humility that celebrated others over ourselves? What if we appreciated the strengths of others and gave credit away instead of trying to steal it and hog it for ourselves?

For me, this looks like celebrating the amazing speaking gifts of others on our church staff instead of coveting their talents and opportunities. Or, it might be me affirming the efforts of others on the team instead of craving the praise of man.

What is it for you? How can you better celebrate those around you and demonstrate humility?

This is what I want to do in ministry—make the team better and others better. Hopefully this is what you desire on your teams as well.

Reposted with permission. Read the original post here.

How I Discovered My Sweet Spot in Leadership

How I Discovered My Sweet Spot in Leadership

My ninth year as Director of Premarital Ministry was my best year ever. Our ministry grew like crazy. We were having a impact in both our church and in the community.

Then came my tenth year in ministry.

Our leadership team gave me the opportunity to increase my leadership capacity. The downside would be leaving the job I loved in the marriage ministry. After much prayer and consideration, I accepted the offer.

Seven months after taking on the new role, I moved back to marriage ministry. Outside looking in, it might have appeared as though I failed. But these job transitions have been among the best things that have ever happened to me. In the process, I learned a few things about myself:

1. I’m a better soldier than a general

In other words, I am better at executing a plan than directing and crafting the plan. Give me a direction and I’’ll execute the heck out of it, but I’m more wired for others to direct the course. In my moments of insecurity, I somehow believe the general is more valuable in God’’s eyes than the soldier.

While the world and the church may more highly esteem the general, God values each one. He loves us all the same and doesn’’t value one ministry role more than the other. Looking for evidence? See the cross. Romans 5:8 says: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” There is no distinction: equal need for a Savior, equal recipients of His love.

2. I learned how I’m wired

I like going deep in one area of ministry (marriage) rather than going wide and less deep. Rather than leading a large slice of the pie, I do better with one narrow (yet highly significant) sliver of the pie.

I’’d rather lead one area up close than many areas from a distance. No one grows up wanting to be a marriage pastor, but I am so thankful this is the area I get to serve and use my gifts.

3. I gained a better respect for those different than me

I learned to respect the skill set required for senior pastors, campus pastors, or ministry directors who lead multiple, large teams. I relearned that God gives different gifts to different people for different purposes, but all for His glory and for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).

I was reminded that God chooses for some to be an ear, some to be a foot, and some to be the colon. All are necessary for the body to function in the way He desires and designs.

4. I learned this all could change in the future

I wouldn’’t be surprised if at some point down the road, I move to another role, either as a campus pastor or maybe even another job at another church. I sure hope not, but it wouldn’’t surprise me.

I hope I’’m not the same person in five years that I am right now. I pray God will continue to grow and sanctify me in whatever way He wishes.

Ask Yourself These Questions

Shifting gears to you: How are you wired? What are your gifts? Are you in your sweet spot in leadership? Ask yourself some honest questions:

  • Do you think some gifts are more valuable than others?
  • Do you covet a role higher in the org chart?
  • If so, is it for the right reasons (because it fits your gifts and skills) or for the wrong reasons (more money, more power, more worldly esteem)?
  • Are you being faithful where you are right now or are you waiting for the next opportunity to come your way?

Ask others you work with if they think you’re in the right spot. Ask your boss for his or her thoughts on your ministry sweet spot. Ask how you can grow, and when they respond, be teachable, humble and don’t be defensive. If you’’re married, ask your spouse the same questions you asked your boss. Again, don’’t be defensive!

In retrospect, I don’’t think I should have changed roles. I don’’t like change, and the last year has been a year with a fair amount of transition. But, I have learned much in the process and I have gained a much greater perspective on how the Lord has fearfully and wonderfully made and designed me.

Reposted with permission. Read the original blog post here.

What Do I Hope 2018 Brings For My Marriage?

What Do I Hope 2018 Brings For My Marriage?

The end of the year provides us with the opportunity to evaluate our year and our marriages. While we should certainly seek to grow all year long, the end of the year provides that good reminder to take stock on the last year.

What can you do to not coast in your marriage in 2018? How can you make 2018 a year of growth—not a year where you plateau or even decline?

A few questions to ask each other

  • Is our marriage better, the same, or worse than it was a year ago? Why?
  • What do we want our marriage to look like?
  • Who are some couples we admire and can learn from? What do they do that makes their marriage stick out?
  • What are some specific actions steps we can take to grow our marriage?
  • Where are some specific areas where I’m just coasting in life and in marriage?
  • What will we focus on in the next 12 months of our marriage?

I also want to leave you with a few suggestions of practical steps you can take to grow your marriage. If you’ve read my blog for a few months, you’re not going to hear anything new. In fact I’m reminded often, there’s nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

Most of the time we don’t have a knowledge problem. We know what to do. We have an application problem—we don’t do what we know we should do. I hope this post reminds you of what you already know and spurs you on to do it!

1. Continue to date each other

Recently, Kristen and I went to dinner and then a concert together. We laughed, ate some good food, and enjoyed five hours away from our kids, email, and routine. We know if we’re going to grow, we need to make our marriage a priority.

2. Pursue Jesus together

We don’t do a great job of this in our marriage as a couple. We each spend time with Jesus in His Word and in prayer, but we don’t often share what God is teaching us. I know if we’re going to grow and not just coast we need to grow in spiritual intimacy.

3. Pursue each other

My friends Ryan and Selena Frederick are starting a 31-day challenge in January for married couples. They’re going to lead other couples through their 31-day pursuit books (Husband in Pursuit and Wife in Pursuit).

4. Commit to being a learner

Live with your spouse in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7). I hope I never grow tired of learning more about my wife. Be a student of your spouse, ask them questions, pay attention to what they like and dislike.

My friend Kyle says he never needs to ask his wife what she wants for Christmas because he pays attention to her all year long. Can you say the same?

5. Communicate and resolve conflict

I struggle with this one, just like most other couples. I keep trying to apply Proverbs 18:2 to my marriage:  “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” God, please help me to not be a fool. Help me to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19). Lift my wife up with my words and never use them to tear her down or win an argument (Ephesians 4:29).

I have some friends who make it a point to have a significant conversation every day when the husband gets home from work. They have several kids, but still make it a priority for some husband-wife conversation time. Their kids know to leave them alone and give them some couch communication time.

Another couple has their kids wash the dishes after dinner while they go sit in another room to catch up with each other. Yes, this works better for those families with older kids, but you can probably start sooner than you realize.

6. Be on mission together as a couple

I won’t spend much time on this one since I just wrote about it a few weeks ago. What can you do as a couple to be on mission together in 2018?

Do not grow weary my friend. Don’t coast in 2018. I’m praying for you and I hope you’ll do the same for me.

What one thing can you apply that you read in this post?

Reposted with permission. Read original post here.

3 Lessons in Marriage Ministry I Learned the Hard Way

3 Lessons in Marriage Ministry I Learned the Hard Way

I’ve served in full-time marriage ministry at a local church for over a decade. In my role, I have the privilege of helping to prepare couples for marriage, to help establish them as newlyweds and to enrich and help restore married couples.

No one grows up thinking they want to be a marriage pastor. Yet, most days I wake up believing I’’m living the dream.

However, let’’s be real. Like most jobs and ministry opportunities, some days the dream is more like a nightmare. I want to share three things about marriage ministry I learned the hard way, in hopes that you won’t have to learn these lessons in a similar fashion.

I Care Too Much About What People Think Of Me

When you work with couples, you quickly learn God’’s way is not always the popular way. I can choose to fear man and tell a couple they can live together or have sex before marriage. Or I can graciously share truth with them and challenge them to rethink their decisions and take some action.

Galatians 1:10 is a verse I have had to cling to over the years in marriage ministry: “

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ”.

The easier choice is to let people do what they want to do and have them like me. But, it’’s become clear to me that pleasing man is not always compatible with pleasing God.

If You’’re Gonna Teach It, You Better Live It

 “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly”. James 3:1

Sometimes I think I can be a great marriage pastor without being great at marriage. Yes, there are times when I will fail as a husband, dad, friend and pastor and none of us can be perfect.

But, if I am going to lead people with integrity in marriage ministry, then I better practice what I preach. This is often a whole lot easier said than done.

People’s’ Lives Are Messy

I sat down with a very close friend a few days ago as he confessed to one sin after another in his marriage. I had mentored this man. I’d watched him grow into a godly man. I officiated his wedding.

Yet, on this day, he sat on my couch and cried and confessed. I wasn’’t mad at him. I wasn’’t disappointed in him. I was just sad. I cried with him. The greatest blessing in marriage ministry is also the hardest thing about marriage ministry.

The number one thing I have learned the hard way in marriage ministry is how hard it is to watch people you love make destructive decisions.

In spite of the hard lessons, serving in marriage ministry has allowed me to better understand how to be a servant of Christ. It has also forced me to up my game at home as a husband and dad, and helped me to gain greater empathy for people.

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