Let’s say, for whatever reason, you need to create or update your resume. You do some online research and discover how to give it a modern look. You see that some resumes utilize a tagline under the person’s name. If Thomas Edison were to create a resume today, he might put as a tagline – The World’s Most Prolific Inventor. If the former NFL player Antonio Brown were updating his tagline he might be tempted to put – I’m Great Even If No One Likes Me. If I were to choose an honest tagline, it would look like this:

Glen A. Elliott

The Incomplete Package

No potential employer would read further. They might laugh thinking it is a joke. Well, the fact is that I’m actually not the complete package. There are things I’m just not good at. There are things I don’t know how to do. And you are not the complete package either. While I don’t suggest that you put this on your resume, it is nonetheless a reality that every leader, employee, and human has to face. No husband or wife is the complete package. No parent is the complete package. And every pastor must know this about himself or herself. 

But it’s funny how we isolate this reality and try to believe that we are the complete package. Or maybe we think, given enough time, we can become the complete package. We want to have the knowledge, skills, experience, and wisdom to be able to tackle any problem, any challenge and be able to lead as the complete package. It’s a myth! No one is the complete package, in any context.

In my last blog, I spoke about brokenness. Here was how I ended that blog – “I must do what I cannot do with what I don’t have for the rest of my life.” If you’ll take a few minutes and reflect on that sentence, you’ll see how profound it really is. I know that God has called me to lead, and I must lead as well as I can. But I have to lead knowing that I’m broken, incomplete, and limited. How is that possible to lead knowing that we are not complete, that we are broken and have weaknesses? What does that do to our leadership if we embrace that reality? How will others see us if we own that?

It starts with humility (see The Greatest Trait and Level 5 Leaders blogs). In humility, we are able to look honestly at ourselves and see that we can’t do it all well. Humility allows us not only to recognize but to publicly admit, that we have weaknesses. Then, in humility, we empower and allow others to do what they do well that compliments our weaknesses. I’m a leader. I lead best when I invite, empower and collaborate with others who have knowledge, personality traits and skill sets that I don’t have to accomplish what I could never do alone. Humility uses what resources and power I have to empower and celebrate what others have that I don’t. Humility knows that we are better together.

With good self-awareness, we identify our weaknesses. Some of those weaknesses are in our personality. The reason why we have so many different personalities (Thank God!) is that every person has a unique set of strengths and weaknesses. I’m very strong at logic and being objective. I’m weaker when it comes to focusing on the power of feelings in different contexts… and that’s a huge weakness. So with that awareness in humility, I choose to surround myself with people who are strong where I’m weak. 

For example, I’ve developed a teaching team at our church. We review and give feedback and input to each other’s Sunday messages. I have been intentional to invite people on that team that have strengths in areas of my weakness. I need their perspective and help. By the way, that’s touching the deepest kinds of diversity. Not only do I seek gender, generational and racial diversity, but also the diversity of personality, skills, knowledge, and experience.

Because none of us is the complete package, we have to surround ourselves with folks who can and want to do things in a far better way than we can. Then we have to trust them and empower them to live out their giftedness to balance our weaknesses. 

Leader, it’s okay to not be the complete package. Don’t beat yourself up over what you don’t have and don’t do well. Resist the temptation to compare yourself to another leader that does it better than you. Don’t be tempted to try to make your weaknesses into strengths. Research and experience tell us that doesn’t work. Just make sure you don’t let your weaknesses trip you up and hurt your organization. That’s why you bring others into the picture who can help fill the places where you lack. That helps you and honors them. Surround yourself with people who can fill in the crack in your leadership, abilities, and knowledge. You have to be intentional and purposeful in this.

Remember – We must do what we cannot do with what we don’t have for the rest of our life. We just don’t have to do it alone. That’s why I want to be yoked to Jesus and walk with him (See Matthew 11:28-30). That’s why I want to walk with others. 

We are broken. There’s nothing that sounds good about that. I AM broken.  I’m weak. I fail. There is sin in my life. My temptation is to resent it or run from it. But brokenness is a part of me that God can use to draw me to Himself. In my weakness, I make room for God to work in changing my heart.  Let me share a scripture and a testimony that crystallizes this for me.

2 Corinthians 12:9, 10 (May I encourage you to really meditate on these verses)

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Mike Yaconelli – “Finally, I accepted my brokenness… I had never come to terms with that.  Let me explain. I knew I was broken. I knew I was a sinner. I knew I continually disappointed God, but I could never accept that part of me.  It was a part of me that embarrassed me. I continually felt the need to apologize, to run from my weaknesses, to deny who I was and concentrate on what I should be.  I was broken, yes, but I was continually trying never to be broken again – or at least to get to the place where I was seldom broken…

“… it became very clear to me that I had totally misunderstood the Christian faith.  I came to see that it was in my brokenness, in my powerlessness, in my weakness that Jesus was made strong.  It was in the acceptance of my lack of faith that God could give me faith. It was in the embracing of my brokenness that I could identify with others’ pain, not relieve it.  Ministry was sharing, not dominating; understanding, not theologizing; caring, not fixing.” [pg 54 of Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning]

What is brokenness? – “Roof off to God and walls down before others.” 

Interdependent

No comparisons

You are you.

Speaking Well Matters!

A key part of all Pastors’ work and even for most business and nonprofit leaders is the need to communicate well. There are so many reasons why we have to get this right. For Pastors, you might have heard the old adage – “As the weekend goes, so goes the church.” There’s truth in that. There is way more to a church than the Sunday experience, but that hour plus does set the tone for everything else. Our speaking (in the church, nonprofit or business world) will either motivate, or cause staff and clients to disengage. In the church context, the effectiveness of our speaking takes on eternal consequences. It will help folks listen to the truth, take another step toward following Jesus, or convict someone of the need to make a change. Our speaking matters! So how can speak in the most effective way possible?

 

Speaking Well is Learned

I’ve used a teaching team for the last twelve years, and I believe that is the number one reason why my own teaching/preaching has improved significantly. I share the teaching and speaking opportunities with other men and women. The only way we grow our speaking ability is to speak! This same team also helps whoever is speaking to refine and make each message better. The speaker gets three specific times of feedback in preparation in the two weeks before presenting. We also do an evaluation after the message is given. I’m a much better speaker because of the feedback the team gives me. It is absolutely essential if you want to improve and grow your speaking ability.

To do this well, we’ve created a checklist of things the teacher and teaching team want to look for as we review and evaluate the written preparation and live presentations. These key things we’ve discovered are making a difference. We’ve been growing as a church over 8 percent the last three years. The most consistent feedback we get from folks who are new to our church is that they love the teaching and how moving, understandable and practical it is.

So, I’ve been researching, examining, experimenting and practicing these key things that make for an consistently effective message. Here’s the results of twelve years of work we’ve done with our teaching team. They will help you to say it well, whatever your “it” is!

 

What we Look for in Every Message

  • Is there a strong opening?
  • Is there a strong ending? Is there an emotional connection?
  • Have we given a clear practical application? Is the audience compelled to take relevant action?
  • Have we helped people imagine a better future? Have we inspired them to action, change or growth? Will this message bring about transformation? Do they know the “Why?” of the challenge?
  • Are there good transitions from one idea or point to the next one?
  • Is there one clear main point or main idea? Can you put it in one sentence? What’s the main thing you have to get across?
  • Have we used one main scripture that is clearly explained and applied?
  • Are there sufficient stories and illustrations, including live and video stories of people?
  • Because less is more, what is good but not needed that can be taken out to focus on the main point better? Too much “good” gets in the way of what’s most important.

 

What We Look for in Most Messages

  • Is there or can there be an organizing metaphor – a theme or phrase the runs through the entire message?
  • How can we use appropriate props to enhance the message?
  • Have we shared the gospel or part of the gospel?

 

Delivery of the Message:

  • Did the listeners “feel” the passion, conviction, and boldness of the speaker? Was the pace, tempo and animation able to present the message with passion?
  • Did the teacher engage the listeners emotionally and personally?
  • Is the teacher well prepared in his/her own soul? Was the message well prepared? Was the teacher free and not tied to his/her notes?
  • Did the teacher use good humor? Was there some “fun” at appropriate times?
  • Did the teacher look into the camera sufficiently and address the audiences online and not just in the auditorium? (If applicable)

 

Do the hard work to say it well. What and how you say it matters!