motivation or manipulation?

I recently had a discussion with some young leaders about their responsibility to motivate the people with whom they are working. The question was, “how do we encourage people to do the things they may not want to do but that are necessary in order for us to reach our God-given corporate goals?” They shared how it is sometimes frustrating to have to convince people to do the necessary and meaningful tasks associated with mission success. Many leaders struggle in this area.

I thought about one of the more effective leaders I know. This guy is a successful Pastor and, every place he goes, he draws a crowd. I don’t just mean people come to hear him speak, I mean people come to partner with him to accomplish his dreams. He has the uncanny ability to convince people to sacrifice and commit on a level that makes other leaders envious. I thought about what a great motivator this man is. I considered how he can get people to do some pretty impressive things, things they normally wouldn’t do. And I also thought about how the line between motivation and manipulation is sometimes blurred.

First – two definitions (mine, not

Motivation: inspiring people to do good things that they normally wouldn’t do, for the purpose of accomplishing a worthwhile goal.

Manipulation: coercing people to do things they wouldn’t normally do, for the purpose of benefitting a leader or organization.

When trying to distinguish between the two, a few questions may assist us:

Whose agenda is being followed, whose kingdom is being built?

If the establishment of God’s kingdom is the priority, manipulation just can’t happen. If people are being controlled in ways that are unhealthy, the kingdom of God is not involved. Leaders who are building a career or are seeking advancement in their field will probably fall into exploiting others for their own good. Followers become marionette puppets on a string used at the whims of the leader. Listen: Never use other people to advance yourself.  Check your motives.

Are the people being respected?

Leaders must respect their followers so as to never finagle them into areas that will result in hurt. The woods are full of people who have been taken advantage of by ministries and pastors, and there are serious negative consequences.  A leader must put the best interest of her followers first. God’s plans are always in the best interest of His people. To get people to cooperate with and participate in God’s plans for them is to offer great respect to them. Respect your followers.

How does it feel when you are the one being manipulated?

Many of us have been victims of some super-leader who controlled us like a pawn on a chessboard. And it doesn’t feel very good. You give, you serve and the goal is to make the leader look better. If you are ever in doubt as to whether you are motivating or manipulating, put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Remember, this whole thing is all about God and His people.

Great leaders motivate, great users manipulate.

Come on guys, we’ve got to learn how to motivate, and we can never be guilty of manipulating.

misassumption about Christmas

The messages I am delivering tomorrow at Cross Community Church are based on my recent recovery from a big misassumption that I’ve been making about Christmas.  I kind of assumed all along that love was at the core of most people people’s celebration. The gifts, the travel, the decoration – seemed to me that, if people are going to go through all of that trouble, there must be strong feelings of love for others. Turns out, at least in some cases, I was wrong.

Now I understand that, for many people, love is the missing element in Christmas. This explains a lot of “anti-Christmas” behavior. It also explains why so many people just can’t “get there” when it comes to celebrating.

Without love, Christmas is nothing more than a pressure-packed, stress-filled season of over spending, and under-enjoying! It’s not that people are full of hate.  The absence of love is not hatred, it is emptiness. So bless their hearts, people are empty. And they go through the motions of Christmas.

This revelation leaves us with the responsibility to: 1. understand love and, 2. share love. But we have to make love tangible. It’s not enough to feel the Christmas love. The only one who benefits when you just feel the love is you. You’ve got to show the Christmas love.

So what are you going to do to show some love at Christmastime?

If you want to change someone’s Christmas – give them love as a gift.

Join us tomorrow for worship. If you can make it, check out the message online on Sunday afternoon.

top leadership blogs

I really want this blog to make a difference for people. It is basically geared to those who are in some type of leadership position: at church, in business, in the community, at home. I came across a resource yesterday that I think will help most of us. It is a list, actually a site put together by Evan Carmichael that lists the top 50 leadership blogs. I thought I would provide the link and let you take a look.

Click here and enjoy!

Who knows, maybe one day I’ll make the list (of the top one million leadership blogs)!

Have a great Friday.

talk or do

The question for ministry leaders is not “what do we want to do?” but rather, “what do the people we are trying to reach need us to do?”

I came across an excellent interview which explained survey results regarding ministry to the homeless, especially during the holidays. (I think the name is in poor taste but the site is very effective) interviewed Mark Horvath, who is an advocate for the homeless and needy in America. Some of the best takeaways are…

“If we see a hurting person, pray for them and say God will take care of them, but we don’t take any action ourselves, we use prayer as an excuse to not take action ourselves.”

“We need to get our hands dirty and start caring for our neighbors”

“…people don’t need a word. They need their mortgage paid. They need food. They need jobs. Here’s the word: Shut up and do something tangible to help others.”

I appreciate the urgency with which Mark operates. I hope to be that passionate about the things God has called us to do. I try to remind myself often to stop talking so much about doing the work of Jesus and just start doing the work of Jesus.

reclaiming christmas

We launched our Christmas series today at Cross Community Church. It started with “One Word that Can Change Your Christmas: Hope”. If you weren’t able to be with us, you can listen to the message here.


If you are in the area of Palm Beach County, Florida, please come be our guest for an upcoming worship event. Christmas 2010 is going to be great! More details can be found at

divorce insurance

In an unrelated story… Time magazine featured an article back in September about a new kind of insurance that is gaining popularity. “WedLock, as it’s coyly named, is a new type of casualty insurance that gives the unhappily married policyholder a payout after he or she is unhitched.” Check out the story here.

I am thinking that this is very sad. With every mention of divorce, with each additional plan B that is introduced, marriage is less likely to succeed. I think prenuptial legal arrangements and divorce insurance are pretty sure ways to assure that your marriage fails. If you are not absolutely sure that the person you are marrying is the right person, DO NOT GET MARRIED. I mean if you think there is a chance that the marriage won’t last, don’t do it. Some will say, “it is impossible to know for sure.” While that is true, if you think it might not work out, it won’t. Bet on that.

I have never paid a dime in alimony or child support. I have never lost a million bucks to a former wife. I have never been sued for divorce. No credit to me. God blessed me with the right woman. If you’re still single, He has the right person for you. If you’re already married, work it out – with God’s help.

5 signs of spot-on vision

Effective vision development, or deciding what we want to accomplish, is one of the most crucial elements of leadership. Knowing that our vision is laser-focused is even more difficult to nail down. Even the word vision conjures up mystical, otherworldly pipedreams for some. If we are going to get something big done, we have to be razor sharp, we don’t have time to be wishy-washy. We have to know that we are dead-on with our plans. So let’s put some teeth into the concept.

How can you know that your vision is on track?

It probably is if…

There is resistance/opposition

The very nature of vision is expanding and stretching. People generally don’t like to be made uncomfortable. But growth never happens without some discomfort. Effective vision challenges the status quo. And people will resist what pushes them out of their comfort zone. If you have no pushback with your vision, you probably need to boost your goals, raise the bar.

There is fear

The unknown is scary. Vision has the power to cause people to look ahead. But the future is absolutely unknown.  We feel safe with the current known. Even if it is less than ideal, the here and now is known and, therefore, risk-free. Vision demands that we embrace the unknown. Unless someone is afraid (you or the people in your life), your vision may be anemic

There is risk

True vision takes you to edge of the cliff, close enough to look over and see the amazing potential that lies just ahead. The trouble is, when you get that close to the edge, even the slightest of miscalculations can send you careening down the mountainside. What are you risking with your vision? Are you risking losing something important if your vision fails? Your reputation? Your pride? Your job? If not, your vision needs a boost.

There is pressure

Not all pressure is bad. We all need to have something expected of us. There is no such thing as vision without expectation. You need some pressure to perform. A clearly articulated vision will put you under pressure to fulfill the vision. You need that. If you can’t take pressure, give up on the idea of being a visionary.

There is success

There is no greater joy than to see the realization of one’s vision. It may take 10 years, it may take a lifetime. Eventually, we have to produce something. Unfulfilled vision is bad but not as bad as no vision at all. But I encourage you to hang on to the dream that God has given you. Fight for it, die for it, if necessary. See it through to completion.

So don’t get discouraged if you’re living through some of the stuff I’ve mentioned (especially 1-4!). They may be indicators that you are right on track.

Vision: without it, we’re done.