Category Archives: Community

Make a Difference Where You Are

I can remember years ago when I was in children’s minstry having the experience of being greeted in the grocery store by a woman whose daughter was in my ministry. I have had football coaches and players come up to me at church functions to say hello because I was a referee for their games. Once I even found myself on the phone with a customer service representative who turned out to be the parent of a child in my ministry. Enough of these occurences have caused me to become more aware of the fact that I am part of a community. I do not lead in a vacuum and neither do you. No matter how much we might want to compartmentalize our lives, the vivid truth is that there is a greater connectedness between home and work and church and extracurriculuar than we might realize. Authenticity compels me to be the same person regardless of the context where I find myself. 

As a leader, people are watching me for various reasons. Maybe they want to see how a follower of Christ responds to certain situations. Maybe they know that I am leading in one context and are observing my authenticity. Maybe I am just the loudest person in the group (which is very typical)!

So, what does leadership look like in my community? Going back to leadership as influence, community life is all about points of influence. Do I influence in a good and positive direction? Do I provide hope and stability? Am I seen as a healthy role model? Ultimately, do people see Christ or at least become curious about Christ as they watch my life?

In considering my community, there are four basic characteristics that I want to be known for. These apply at home, at church, in the mall or on the football field or anywhere else I might find myself.

First, I want to be known as trustworthy. I want my words to be credible and my actions to be authentic. It is easy to speak the truth when people are watching or I am engaged in a conversation. But what do I do when I am given incorrect change at the store? If, as a football official, I am supposed to uphold justice and fairness, but am seen in the community as a liar, my credibility is severely undermined. There is a great concept of truth that states if you always speak truth, you never have to remember the story. Being trustworthy is actually as simple as speaking truth and sticking to the single story that actually happened. 

I also want to be known as a generous leader. While generosity is most often equated with finances, it also speaks to how I spend my time and how freely I share my story or advice. Leading in the community means that I do what I can to improve and enhance life. Maybe I volunteer at church, serve at a community event or look for ways to mentor upcoming generations. Nobody really wants to be around a stingy or selfish person, so I strive to choose generosity with what I have. 

Effective community leadership also requires that I am caring and compassionate. This is as simple as making it easy for somebody to cross the street when I am driving. I don’t know about your city, but in mine, it has become an adventure to use the crosswalk because far too many drivers are self-absorbed and in a hurry. How would I respond if I arrived at the scene of an accident? What about the kid in line at Starbucks who comes up short for her venti quad super-sugar extra whipped cream drink? I need to slow down a bit, see the world around me, and look for ways to care for others.

Finally, I want to be seen in my community as a leader who stands for justice. I want to be on the side of the underdog and to speak on behalf of the marginalized. Whether this applies to people who have become homeless, families affected by special needs, or just a small child attempting to be noticed by a store clerk, great leadership looks for and acts upon opportunities to elevate the people nearby. I truly hope that I am seen as this type of a leader. 

So, what about you? What does leadership look like in your community? What other characteristics would you add to my list and, more importantly, how are you doing in living up to these standards? Leadership is influence and our communities are a great place to exert the influence that we have – this is how to truly make a difference right where you are!

~ Mike


The Necessity of P.E.A.C.E.

I don’t know about you, but it seems far too easy to stress, to worry, to be busy and to finish each day not completely sure what I accomplished but feeling exhausted and worn out. Then, there are the times that my brokenness is revealed and I am angry, irritated, short-tempered or other not so nice emotions.

busy train station

Humanity unchecked seems to embrace the hectic and stressful lifestyle. This can’t be healthy, definitely isn’t ideal, and I couldn’t even describe life like this as fun! So, how in the world should we deal with this propensity to worry?

We all could use a little more peace in our lives – both internally and externally. Maybe less noise, more open calendar space, and even some time to enjoy nature and rediscover who we are.

reading on a couch

So, here are my elements to have PEACE in my life.

PRAY – First, I need to Pray. This involves every aspect of my faith – personal prayer, Bible study, devotions and meditation, engage in church, etc. Without faith, there seems to be a lack of purpose in life. This causes us to join the rat race, battle for every crumb, and lack eternal perspective.

EXPERIENCE GRACE – My life is a wreck, if I am honest. I am mean to people, talk lots of smack on the freeway, have sinful thoughts and in no way am close to perfection. Thankfully, I have a God, family members, and close friends who know all of my flaws but extend grace into my life regardless. I need to experience this grace and I have learned that best happens by extending grace to others. This is typically challenging for me, but I hope I am better at it today than I was yesterday.

ACTIVATE LOVE – So many people talk about love. Love is often minimized to feelings, emotions, or just carnal lust. This completely cheapens the true definition of love. Love activated compels me to look out for others, prefer them, serve them and generally find ways to help others around me get ahead. I need to learn where they want to be and see what I might contribute to their journey. It seems very counterintuitive to advance my own dreams, but that is what true love is all about.

CELEBRATE OTHERS – Jealousy is a complete thief when it comes to peace. If my energy is spent on being envious of others, then I will never be at peace. I will be stressed about the promotion of others, their well-being, and their good fortune. Peace comes as I intentionally choose to celebrate the life of those around me. Whether this is a co-worker, a family member or even somebody I might not know well, everybody knows that a good celebration is a great recipe to experience peace.

EMBRACE LIFE – We all spend far too much time with broken dreams, “what ifs”, and ponderings about what might have been. While I am not a proponent of a lifestyle that has no concern for the future, I do believe more peace will come on the other side of living life to the full. Take a risk, have some fun, laugh more often and live a life that has more adventure than regret. Enjoy family and health and blessing and friends – focus on what you have more than what you might lack and peace will soon enter the scene.

This is not a fool-proof formula and I cannot say that I live each day in perfect peace. However, I have learned that these different components all contribute differently to the daily peace that I so desperately desire.  Hopefully, at least one of them will help you to experience peace on a more regular basis.

~ Mike

Why Another Leadership Blog?

There are so many blogs on leadership available – why would we need another one? This is a question I have wrestled with for several years and finally came to the conclusion that I am the only one who can share my stories and experiences. I have been in ministry, through a divorce and remarriage, worked in healthy and dysfunctional environments and believe that I have learned much along the way.

sunset abstract

Photo courtesy of Jenny Downing

While I am not a leadership guru by any means, I have learned what works and what doesn’t work. According to John Maxwell, “leadership is influence.” This means there are leaders in homes, in the Church, in workplaces and in communities all across the country. Many of us lead daily but do not recognize our leadership. Every choice I make personally is leadership – interactions with my wife and kids are expressions of leadership.

When I am at work or at church, I am leading. Sometimes this is by words, sometimes by activity, but always by my very presence. When I think of how often I watch other people, it causes me to realize how often I must be watched. If I am being watched, then I have influence and I am back to being a leader.

Leadership begins in the heart, with self-awareness and self-reflection. It then flows to my family and beyond. Ultimately, the best leadership is surrendered to God and His plans. While individuals may lead outside of His will, it is not nearly as effective as His hands would allow.

This blog is about a journey, about the steps of a leader as they grow and develop. It will be funny and sad, compelling and inspiring. This leadership blog will reveal my stories, both good and bad, and ideally share principles of influence. So what? How does this affect you, the reader? May my stories and experiences expand your influence and increase your leadership, whether at home, work or in your community.

Thanks for joining the journey,