The last, few years since I became an entrepreneur have been wonderful in many ways, but my reading has certainly tapered off, which I don’t like. When I had a long commute, I could easily get through audiobooks in the car, but I’ve had to be a lot more intentional since working from home.
In 2019, I wanted to recommit to reading more, and that meant Kindle. Believe it or not, I don’t actually love to read. I love to learn, and that’s why Audible was so important to me. It made it so much easier to read books while driving—and there’s a lot of that here in Atlanta.
However, if I wanted to read more last year, it meant I’d have to re-commit to Kindle. I’ve tried to get into the habit of reading about a chapter per night, which has been good for my bedtime routine. Overall, I’ve enjoyed it more than I thought I would, and am even giving Kindle Unlimited a try.
I didn’t really increase the number of books I read much from my total count in 2018, but I’m making progress. I think 2020 will be a good year for reading, though!
“Leaders are readers” and “leaders are learners” are two messages that have been instilled in me over the years, and I know reading also makes me a better writer. So, as much as I enjoy podcasts, I want to make sure reading stays on my radar. And that means being thoughtful about it.
Of course, it’s never as much about the quantity of books as it is the quality. Luckily, I found some terrific options. Take a look for yourself . . .
I believe this was my 12th year to attend Catalyst Conference here in Atlanta. It’s a great time of learning about Christian leadership, as well as seeing old friends. And, yet again, there were some great moments this year.
Andy Stanley, Senior Pastor of North Point Ministries
Jesus didn’t predict a place. He predicted a people. We are very different, but have Jesus in common. they were the same.
John 17:20 – that they may be one (which is uncommon fellowship = theme)
Disunity disrupts the mission.
John 12:34-35, final instructions
Unselfish love fuels uncommon fellowship.
Mutual submission is the most powerful dynamic in the world.
If we miss the love thing, it doesn’t matter what else we might get right.
Uncommon = uncomfortable
Acts 15 takes place 20 years after the resurrection, and they are still having trouble including Gentiles.
One of the most important chapters in the Bible for us to understand.
Oneness has to win the day.
Immorality tears down unity. Eating is a consideration
600 laws were narrowed down to two so they could participate
Jesus sacrificed his life so you could have uncommon fellowship with God. – Romans 5-6
Mike Foster, Founder of People of the Second Chance
Just because you made a mistake doesn’t mean you are a mistake.
Being able to identify with someone is a powerful thing. “Me too” brings healing to brokenness.
We are not defined by our brokenness. We are defined by God’s unfailing love.
Jen and Brandon Hatmaker, Authors and Humanitarians
We have to be willing to go into the hard spaces.
We are either in this world for it, or so set apart that we have no voice.
I would like to spend less time defending my voice, and more time being like Jesus.
The work of justice is not easy. You will be criticized and it will cost you. But it’s worth it.
Many of us pray for the Kingdom over and over, but we aren’t willing to make Kingdom moves. – B
We need to move from defending God to declaring Hm. – B
We need to focus on being good neighbors, and love well. – J
Craig Groeschel, Founding Pastor of of Life Church
We have a common enemy, and it is not the church down the street.
We desperately need each other.
Unity is not uniformity.
We should err on the side of being “for” not “against.” Build your ministry on this.
We should give everything we are to strengthen others.
We all have something we can give.
Lead the way with irrational generosity.
We need to love like Jesus loved.
I believe the world is sick and tired of hearing about the love of Jesus. I believe they want to see it in action.
Father Edwin Leahy, Headmaster of St. Benedict’s Preparatory School
Give up what you want for what WE need.
Brian Houston, Senior Pastor of Hillsong Church
It should be an adventure living with, and serving, Jesus.
Spontaneity is our friend in the Church.
Innovation doesn’t come from sitting and pointing a finger.
Criticizing breaks down. Let’s build.
Predictability can also be a friend. Example, the word of God is timeless.
Brenda Salter McNeil, Director of Reconciliation Studies at Seattle Pacific University
Acts 10: 28-35
The Civil Rights movement was born in the Church. #BlackLivesMatter was born in the streets. Why won’t you let it into the Church?
We have got to reclaim the credibility of the Church for the next generation.
Black Lives Matter is a catalytic event that can be an opportunity for the Church.
Catalytic moments are a wake up call.
Catalytic events make us ask questions.
Look for your invitation into uncommon fellowship.
God takes our feeble attempts and uses them anyway.
What God wants from us, He wants for them.
Scarcity thinking builds walls.
God wants all people to flourish.
May the generation looking for leadership find it in the Church.
Scott Sauls, Senior Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church*
The closer you get to the “other” the closer you’ll get to Jesus. This is a New Testament theme.
The hope of the universe rests on an Arabic man who was an outcast and never spoken English.
I am the minority Jesus included. (He’s white.)
Propaganda, Hip-Hop and Spoken Word Artist*
It’s hard for the dominant cultures to see themselves collectively, and the hurt of individuals you are different from them.
You can’t subjugate other image-bearers. to do so, you must assume they are less than human.
Implicit biases assumes you already know me without really knowing me.
Soong-Chan Rah, Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism, North Park Theological Seminary*
Colorblindness assumes equality is already at play.
Colorblindness removes our individuality. It reduces everyone to the majority.
Mark DeYmaz, Lead Pastor of Mosaic Church*
The statistics show us that whites are becoming the minority.
If there is no division in heave, why are we allowing it here on Earth?
Surely it breaks the heart of God that the Church is segregated by race and class.
Jesus had power, privilege and position…and He set it down.
Jenny Yang, Vice President of Advocacy and Policy at World Relief*
The conversation of race is really about power.
There is a lot of pain in the people of color cultures that churches aren’t necessarily addressing.
They aren’t just issues; they are individuals.
American comfort and prosperity in large has been built on the back of the marginalized and people of color who had no rights.
By welcoming the “other,” we are demonstrating the gospel.
Any time we pursue our own comfort and prosperity over the needs of others, we are doing a disservice to the gospel.
Charity removes relationship with those who make us feel uncomfortable.
When we talk about refugees, this isn’t a test of our politics. It’s about what we believe the gospel says.
Rachel Cruze, Daughter of Dave Ramsey
Quit the comparisons.
Being grateful squashes comparison.
The road of comparison leads to debt.
Debit limits generosity.
Where there is no margin, there is no ministry.
Simon Sinek, Best-Selling Author
Leadership is not about being in charge. It’s about taking care of those in your charge.
Time and energy are the most vulnerable things you can give to others.
Great leaders have empathy and perspective.
Patience is required for the journey.
We have an entire section in the book store on self help, but not a “help others” section.
Organization health always results in sustained impact.
In a healthy org, everyone is convinced that everyone is essential.
You begin becoming a great leader RIGHT NOW.
Why are we doing? Why are we doing it? Where do I fit in?
Everyone knows what THEY are doing but do they know what WE are doing?
When everyone knows what we are doing together, most decisions are pre-made.
Going through this process is sometimes more valuable than the product.
“Why” is the inspiration.
Memorable is portable.
How does what I do contribute to what we do?
This is about the responsibility you carry, not the work you perform.
Everyone at your org needs to know your answer.
Develop one sentence responsibility descriptions for your direct reports.
*These folks were all part of a panel. It was my favorite session in the main conference, and you can watch it right here.
And if you just want some fun moments and entertainment, you can watch Jon Crist’s videos…
Once again, I attended the annual Catalyst Conference two weeks ago here in Atlanta. My favorite day of the conference is Labs. It’s the day where you get to choose who you want to hear, and tailor the topics more to your interest. I was able to sit in on some great ones this year! Check it out…
People of other colors are not our tokens. They need to become friends.
John 17, we must be a credible witness – Tasha
Creating new laws and amendments are not the same thing as dismantling the system. – Tasha
It’s ok for you to listen to someone else’s pain, and not know what to say. But please listen. – Jo
It’s ok for you to hear someone else’s pain and not know what to say. But we need to listen. – Jo
The Church has been the taillights when it comes to racial reconciliation, when it should be the headlights. Aren’t we the ones who have HOPE through Jesus? – Tasha
If you are someone with a platform, maybe you should use it to pass the mic to someone else with more knowledge on this issue. I have a black son, but I do not know what it is to be black. – Jennie Allen
Always start with prayer. – Tasha
Get to know People of Color as people first. Change happens when we find commonality and develop real relationships. – Tasha
Diversify your life in small ways first. – Tasha
Reconciliation will cost you. It could be pride or comfort, or even your politics. It’s hard work. – Tasha
I can support the police while speaking up for justice. – Tasha
Get off social media, turn off the TV, and get some real-life People of Color friends! Don’t try to understand our culture from a media perspective. It’s often wrong. – Tasha
Romans 12:4-6 Message, Christ’s body and its many parts
In each of our life stages, we feel at some point that we are drowning.
Guilt and shame are entirely different. Shame is not of God. Guilt needs to get our attention. And guilt is the only time a good, Christian girl can say, “Go to hell!” – Liz 😉
Many times we are so overwhelmed in our world, we stay confined there. When in fact, we should get perspective and distraction from other people’s world. We forget that we are all living someone else’s dream. Be grateful for where you are, and run with it. – Esther
Look up “Simply Christian” by NT Wright (permanence, proximity and presence)
We all need 3:00 a.m. friends. Be the one to lead with vulnerability. – Rebekah
Be brave in saying what you need.
Your vulnerability is one of the greatest gift you have to give. – Rebekah
Don’t put the pressure on others to come to you. Go to them. If you are white, put yourself in a place locally where you are in the minority. Sit in it for a while. – Tasha
Joshua had to be told to be ‘strong and courageous.’ We all feel inadequate in the beginning of big dreams. – Jennie
We don’t have to be afraid of what God tells us to do because He has bigger and better plans ahead anyway. We just have to start down the path. – Liz
It’s better to proactively get counseling for a year than to wait and need it for 10. – Jo
Your platform is not a place to do your therapy. Go first as a good example, but do it in a good and responsible way. – Liz
What are the visuals that people see in your church? For example, are all your missions pictures of white people saving the poor, black people? What does this communicate to your children? – Jo
If you have a multi-ethnic or diverse church, it doesn’t mean that you’ve arrived. The issue of racial reconciliation isn’t a box to be checked. It’s an ongoing conversation. – Tasha
Your church needs to be a safe place for kids of all ethnicities. If it’s not, the children of color will take impressions, feelings, memories, comments and even micro aggressions into adulthood. I know I have, and so have my friends. The Church should be a place where all feel welcome and wanted. That is what the gospel is all about. – Tasha
Andy Stanley, Senior Pastor of North Point Ministries
Theology is what you believe. Ministry is what you do as a result of what you believe.
Ministry should change all the time, but not theology.
If you have bad theology, it will narrow what you minister to.
Jesus had perfect theology, and yet there is no one He wouldn’t minister to.
Churches who get this, and Christians will always be attractive to people.
To awaken the wonder of the world to the wonder of the church, we should take our cues from: Something Jesus said, something said about Jesus, something Jesus said without saying it, and something Jesus didn’t say.
Something said about Jesus: He embodied grace and truth. (John 1:14, 17)
Jesus never dumbed down the truth and never turned down the grace.
The grace/truth tension requires that we present the ideal while embracing what’s real.
Something Jesus said without saying it: Distinguish theology from ministry. (Matthew 9: 9-13)
Distinguishing between theology and ministry liberates ministry without compromising theology.
When churches fail to distinguish between theology and ministry, ministry becomes rigid and idealistic.
Something Jesus didn’t say: Never give up influence unnecessarily. (Luke 20:1-8)
Never make a point at the expense of making a difference.
Think twice before answering a question that has the potential to burn a bridge or close a door.
Something Jesus actually said: Love your enemies. (Matthew 5:43-45)
Objection: But didn’t Jesus say we should be concerned about people speaking well of us? No, of Jesus.
Think about the groups that would usually push back against your local church. How can you love them?
Teach the ideal and embrace what’s real.
Teach your teams to distinguish between theology and ministry.
Never give up influence unnecessarily.
Identify your potential enemies and love them.
Dr. Brene Brown, Best-Selling Author
Leaders, know that you will fall a some point.
3 ways to manage shame: move away, move toward and move against
When something hard happens to us, emotion gets the first crack at handling it and making sense of it.
As much as we think we are thinking beings, we are emotional beings.
The brain is hard-wired for survival.
The brain wants a story to make sense.
Both brains and hearts respond to stories – logically and emotionally.
The brain rewards us even if the truth is ambiguous. It just needs the logic of a narrative. Vulnerability and uncertainty are the enemy.
Getting through hard emotions well:
Try to recognize when they’re triggered by emotion.
You can’t create an innovative, loving landscape without understanding emotion.
You must have a high capacity for discomfort.
You need an understanding of your own emotional landscape, as well as the landscape of your people.
Good leaders are mindful and breathing.
Mindfullness = paying attention, pray
We are better at inflicting pain than dealing with our own.
Rumble with the story we’re making up.
SFD (Shitty First Draft) – We don’t need shame about being human.
Consider writing immediate thoughts to help you deal. it’s telling what comes to mind first. It helps you deal.
In the absence of data, we make up a story, but we need to get the facts straight!
When you own your story, you get to write the ending. If you don’t, it owns you.
“The story I’m telling myself right now…” is the conversation you have with a person you have a conflict with. Let them clarify.
If you’re not falling, you’re not being brave enough.
Trip Lee, Award-winning Hip Hop Recording Artist and Author
Use music to celebrate God. (Exodus 18)
We are always standing on the other side of the Red Sea.
Use music to express pain and frustration.
We do not have a cold, dead Bible that doesn’t understand human experience.
We do not have a God that can’t handle our pain and suffering.
Use music to teach and encourage.
Use music for joy.
Margaret Feinberg, Author
Religious familiarity breeds unholy cynicism.
Isaiah 29: 13-14
Joy is the weapon we use to fight life’s battles. How will you respond to bad situations?
Rejoice when it makes no sense.
Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say rejoice.
Do it one square inch at a time.
Proclaim to the darkness that it will not win!
Remain suspicious that God is up to something good.
Good things still came from Margaret’s cancer.
When we search for the goodness of God, we will find it.
Erwin McManus, Founder of Mosaic Church and Author
What makes us uniquely human? Hebrews 11
Faith restores our humanity.
We are only species that can live beneath our intention.
we seem to have more confidence is what we have, than what we hope for.
Hope only exists in the future. We are created for the future.
we need to move beyond enlightenment to living in the Light.
The question is not if you will create, but what kind of future you will create.
You are living in a future someone else dreamed of.
You can only create outside of you what is reflected inside of you.
The imagination is the playground of God.
What fear is God trying to eat away in your soul?
Dream. Risk. Create.
Louie Giglio, Pastor of Passion City Church and Lead Visionary of Passion Movement
God doesn’t call people to job descriptions. He calls them to Himself and His purpose in the world.
“Here am I, send me.” (main scripture reference)
John Maxwell, Leadership Expert
Success is about us, significance is about others.
To live a significant life, you must be intentional.
value people, believe in people and unconditionally love people.
You’re going to either read or write your own story. Be intentional, or something will write yours for you.
Move from good intentions to good actions.
Once you’ve listed significance, success will never satisfy.
Are we going to connect with people, or correct them?
Think of ways to add value to people.
Think on the front end, not on the back end.
Prepare or repair.
Look for ways to add value to people
Then evaluate your day, every day.
Do things that add value to people
You must act on your good intentions.
Encourage others to add value to people
Start a movement.
Christine Caine, Founder of The A21 Campaign, Propel and Author
It’s easy to ignore suffering when its nameless and faceless. (Genesis 50:20)
Numbers 13:1 (Sending spies to Canaan)
How you seem in your own eyes can also be how you look to others. (grasshoppers)
You can miss the miracles of God because of your perspective, even when you’re in the midst of it.
10 people delayed a generation’s destiny.
Your perspective can shape the destiny of others.
God’s not obligated to finish what you start.
God wants to do amazing things. If you don’t want to be a part of it, get out of the way.
Joshua and Caleb weren’t any more gifted than the others, they just had more perspective and faith.
We need a world of hope and purpose, and that only comes through Christ.
The question is “how” we’ll take the land, not “if.”
Impossible is where God starts.
Do not limit God’s power by the size of your giant. They were holding the fruit, but focused on the giant.
If you are good enough, smart enough, or talented enough, you don’t need God anyway.
Some of you are praying for miracles, but refuse to put yourself in a situation where God will perform one.
We ask God for signs, wonders and miracles, but refuse to go into circumstances where we need them.
God’s promises are bigger than the problems.
Chris Brown, Nationally Syndicated Radio Host
Wonder often gets chucked out by familiarity, and distraction.
Gratitude is the key that unlocks wonder. We keep it with generosity.
As leaders, we should proactively create wonder in others.
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill
Guy Kawasaki, Author, Chief Evangelist of Canva
Great innovation occurs when people decide to make meaning.
Make a mantra.
Jump the next curve.
Most orgs define themselves by what they currently do, it’s forward thinking we need.
Roll the dice.
The best products are deep (multi-faceted) and intelligent and complete and empowering and elegant.
Don’t worry, be crappy.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. You’ll never finish.
Let 100 flowers blossom.
In the beginning, you can’t predict everything, including your audience.
Great causes, churches, people, etc, polarize people. Not everyone’s going t like it. The worst case is that people don’t care.
Church, baby, churn.
There has to be a next version.
Then listen to the feedback.
Niche thyself (the key to marketing)
Be unique and add value
Perfect your pitch.
You have to sell it.
Customize your intro.
10 slides is enough, 20 minutes, 30 point font with a black background
Don’t let the bozos grind you down.
Neil Blumenthal, Co-Founder and CEO of Warby Parker
Innovation often comes out of constraint.
De-risk the process in small steps.
Details are important.
Help others find their passion.
Help others identify their strengths.
Spur their creativity by setting expectations and constraints.
Innovation requires a deep examination of the problem
Last Friday I attended Leadercast for the first time. I looooove being at conferences, and was especially excited to be a newbie at this event. The funny thing is that I was there at the same Arena just a week earlier for my company’s conference. But it was really cool to see how differently they used the space, and what they had going on that we could learn from.
The theme, “The Brave Ones,” was awesome and inspiring. It was definitely what I needed to hear right now, and I was also excited to share it with friends who came to mind as I sat there in my seat.
Here are some of my takeaways. I hope they can help you to be more brave too.