Trust The Process

Washing my car is both one of the most therapeutic and rewarding things as well as one of the most tedious and cumbersome things that comes with car ownership.

I own a 2000 Nissan Xterra, and I love everything about it. It’s got enough room on the inside to fit all my stuff, top racks to strap gear to, and if I put a hitch on the back, it could tow up to 6,000 pounds. It’s the quintessential adventure vehicle (in addition to my fiancé’s Subaru Outback). So, I want to keep it extra clean and looking like new, or as close to new as an 18 year old vehicle can look.

A few nights ago, when we were washing our cars, I paid extra attention to the process involved in getting them clean.

First, you give it an initial rinse.

Second, you put soap on it and scrub it down.

Third, you rinse off the soap.

Last, you towel dry the car.

Voila. You’re done. It sounds pretty easy, right?

Not so fast there. While the steps look simple on paper, they are far from easy.

If you don’t give it an initial rinse, the soap won’t pick up all the dirt well. If you let the soap sit too long, it gets all scummy and gross. If you don’t dry off your car, it gets all streaky and looks almost as bad as it did beforehand.

There’s a detailed, specific, and perfectly timed process behind washing your car, and there’s a detailed, specific, and perfectly timed process at work behind the scenes in your everyday life.

We are all in the middle of a process. Whether you realize it or not, you’re in the middle of some kind of situation. You might be just starting a new season of life in a new city, celebrating 5 years at the same job, or getting out of some kind of toxic situation. In different areas of your life, you very well could be experiencing beginnings, middles, and ends. This is what I’d like to call a step. Each process has many different steps, and your life is one big process. It’s a process of getting you from start to finish. And, where you are now is smack dab in the middle of the two points.

Without getting too preachy and pastoral on you, let me put forth a few thoughts.

Each step has a lifespan of potential.

Just like when we put together furniture or refer to a recipe, each step is only applicable for a certain amount of time. In other words, each step has a specific lifespan of potential. You cannot get the maximum amount of output if you try to speed up or slow down a certain step in the process; you’ll pervert the purpose of the step if you try to do so.

So it is in our lives. The step you’re on in life has a lifespan. It’s only potent and relevant for the lifespan of the step. If you try to get out of the situation where you find yourself too early, or try to relive the glory days too long, you’ll miss your window of potential both in that step and the steps to come.

Each step has a purpose.

The minute details within the instructions manual seem pointless sometimes. They seem more cumbersome and boring than essential to the final product. In time, if you dwell too much on the tedious nature of it, you get so frustrated that you start to question whether or not it’s worth it anymore. But, then you finish the last step in the manual and you see that without the small things, the larger picture couldn’t come into view.

This frustrating, annoying, and downright enervating step that you seem to think has no point really does, somehow, some way, have a purpose. The purpose may be solely to get your mind off of what’s coming next and prepare your heart and mind for something better, but no matter what there’s a purpose behind every step of the way.


In closing, I leave you with this idea:

Without the process, there is no product.

If you have a goal in mind for your life, or you believe like I do that a Higher Power has something in store for you, then you must remember that you cannot get where you’re going without passing through where you are right now.

If you want results, you have to do the work. Sometimes the work drags you down. Sometimes the work makes you rethink why you’re on this path in the first place. But, you cannot get to where you want to go without going through where you are right now.

Be aware: in the process, you have to discern whether or not you’re trying to rush the step, or prolong the inevitable. Sometimes in order for the next step to come, you must put an end to the step where you are.

But, at the end of the day, there is no product without a process.

And each little step matters just as much as the big ones.

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What The Enneagram Means For Your Ministry

One of the things I find most interesting is how understanding our personalities can make (or break) different areas in our life.

When it comes to our relationships, understanding how we’re wired is necessary to communicate do’s, don’ts, and don’t evens to our friends, partners, and colleagues. The self-awareness that comes with knowing what makes us run allows us to collaborate, delegate, and initiate with synergy like never before.

Before I move forward, let me acknowledge this: it’s very possible to get too interested in personality profiling. There’s a fine line between healthy observation and unhealthy obsession, and I’ve seen in multiple settings how these helpful tools can become a source of identity and empty fulfillment.

But, when used properly, personality profiling can blow the roof off of your capabilities. As someone serving in full-time ministry, I’ve seen such practices among teams leverage every ounce of productivity, leadership, and, most importantly, vulnerability to create a culture of excellence, innovation, and trust.

In just a few (not so) short thoughts, I’d love to show you why I believe that personality profiling can enhance and propel your ministry to the next level.

WHY PERSONALITY PROFILING?

The beauty of tests like the Myers-Briggs, DISC, StrengthFinders, and Enneagram is that they’re diagnostic in nature; they help you get closer to seeing the real you, and give you a glimpse into how you can best use your personality to move forward. They take simple questions that are seemingly unrelated and use your answers to paint a wide brush stroke of who you are as a person, what fuels you, what drains you, and what you can do with that information. As a result, you can go into different settings, whether business, leisure, or somewhere in between with a solid arsenal of answers when someone asks you to tell them about yourself.

As I interviewed for a church in May 2017, one of the first things they had me do was take a series of tests (which honestly was one of the most painful 3 hours of my life, outside of the SAT). The first half was for their internal purposes, but the second half was purely for my self-awareness. While the results of the second half did go on file, they didn’t get sent to the recruitment team during the process, and honestly the staff members with whom I connected weren’t super concerned with them and how they related to the interview process; they were only concerned with me understanding the results that I received and learning how to apply it as I moved forward, whether as a part of their staff or not. It was great to see, specifically through an expanded Myers-Briggs test, how I’m wired in regards to the 4-letter classification.

However, if you rely on just the Myers-Briggs to fully evaluate your personality, I believe that you’re missing out on a deeper understanding of yourself and how even your spiritual side interacts with the world around you.

Enter the Enneagram, a 9-type powerhouse filled with layers of mystery, depth, and a whole lot of, “Whoa, it’s like this thing knows me.”

Stemming from the 7 deadly sins (with fear and deceit added to make 9), the Enneagram suggest that there are 9 core personality types at work within every single one of us. When it comes down to it, each type has a specific weakness that correlates to those 7 deadly sins. Here’s how it breaks down:

enneagram passions

(courtesy of The Enneagram Institute)

Before I dive further into the Enneagram, most of what I’ve learned about the profile comes from Ian Cron and the aforementioned Enneagram Institute, so for more information that goes more in depth, please please PLEASE: use these resources. Pay the $12 to take the full test on the Enneagram Institute website. If you’re looking to use this test as a resource, then you need to be properly assessed and outfitted with the right tools and knowledge.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

Concerning the Enneagram, Ian Cron posits this thought in his Q Talk from 2017: we cannot truly know God unless we truly know ourselves.

Now, if you know me, I write out of my beliefs. What I say, do, and think originates from my worldview. I’m a Christian. I’m a pastor. I’m what the world calls, “pretty religious.” So, it proceeds from that vein that there’s a deep connection between knowing ourselves, the created, and knowing God, the Creator. I would argue that without knowing God, we cannot know who we truly are.

Therefore, in reciprocal fashion, we cannot truly know God unless we know how He’s wired us. We cannot have that deep connection with our Father until we take steps to know what makes us who we are, what makes us stumble, and what makes us succeed. The self-awareness that comes with knowing our personalities will inevitably created a heightened awareness of God within us, and we would do well to prioritize understanding our inner selves.

John Calvin, the famous Protestant reformer of the 1500’s, wrote in his seminal work, Institutes of the Christian Religion, “Without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God,” as well as, “Without knowledge of God there is no knowledge of self.” This constantly circulating, constantly intensifying, constantly revealing intersectionality reveals that we can’t be who God made us to be unless we first dig deep into the recesses of our souls, only made possible by first entering into a relationship with the Creator.

MINISTRY AND YOUR PERSONALITY

For the Christian readers out there, we have a deeper responsibility than just knowing ourselves when it comes to our purpose. No matter what industry, vocation, or position you find yourself in, we all have the same calling: make disciples. We each have a ministry that is completely our own, and we must use our giftings and blessings in order to bring other people closer to Christ.

There are so many ways for us to use our personalities and gifts in order to reach others, so there’s no right or wrong formula. But, here are a few ideas and thoughts I have concerning how using the Enneagram can skyrocket your potential, both in your personal ministry as well as within the ministries where you serve.

Knowing your vices helps you love people better.

Sometimes, when we admit that we’re messed up, and figure out what our weaknesses are, we have more empathy for those around us. We come to place where we finally admit that we don’t have it all together, and we stop condemning other people for their mistakes because we’re right where they are too. We can stop being a slave to the “holier than thou” mentality, and finally do what Jesus calls us to do in loving our neighbor (see Luke 10:25-37).

As an Enneagram 2, I struggle with my pride. I can, at times, view myself as irreplaceable. I can be too self-absorbed and end up only looking out for me. Just admitting these things is painful enough, but what I can do in knowing my vices is point myself first toward the truth that we’re all in this thing together; we can’t do it alone, and we need each other. And by preaching this to myself, I can help others who are facing the same problems learn that it truly isn’t about “me”.

Knowing how you’re wired helps you plug into community better.

A holistic approach to who we are as individuals not only helps us see ourselves in the right light; it lets us know how we can best connect with others. Life isn’t meant to be lived alone, so it only makes sense that such a diagnostic method should help us ensure that we don’t have to go on the journey by ourselves. Using your vices, strengths, and tendencies, find people who have at least a basic understanding of what you’re going through. Take an inventory of your interests, and look for people who do the same things; more times than not, those people can relate to your struggles because they have similar wirings.

Knowing your strengths helps you lead better.

When we know where we excel, we can play to our strengths and go after situations, positions, and/or opportunities that excite our passions. Knowing your niche enables you to find people, positions, and places that will allow you to feel at home, and lead from a place of security instead of from fear. And that’s a really good feeling. To know that you can be yourself while doing what you love and moving forward with it is one of the most satisfying, gratifying, and electrifying feelings.

Your strengths are what will be on display when you’re at your healthiest, so this is where taking care of yourself comes into play. When you’re self-aware, knowing how to identify the good, the bad, and the ugly within your soul, you have a deeper responsibility to dive deeper into your relationship with God, as we discussed earlier. When you as a believer are detached from the source of your peace and true fulfillment, these strengths and high points ultimately mean nothing.


In closing, I think my biggest admonition to those of you who have made it this far is this: know where you’re at with God. Knowing yourself is great and helpful, but only to an extent. You hit a ceiling of self-knowledge without a definite knowledge of the Divine.

So, wherever you are, whatever you do, however you do it, please take the time to assess your relationship with God. It’s okay to be where you are, but it’s not okay to stay where you are.

5 Leadership Axioms That Will Make You Better

It’s no secret that I’ve slacked on the whole “blogging” thing. Whoops.

Looking over last year, I’m fairly certain I only wrote 7 or 8 blogs. Whoops.

Sometimes, in times where words just aren’t coming, it’s best to take a break. It’s wise to listen instead of trying to speak words that just aren’t there. And that’s honestly how I would describe 2016 for me.

But, today, I’ll be breaking the silence and writing on something that I’ve always loved reading about, but never enjoyed writing about. Something that I’ve lived and learned and applied, but never taught. If the stat, “You remember 90% of what you teach to others,” is true, then it would make sense that we should be eager to remember the things that we hold dear to our hearts, right? I spend so much time reading about and studying this idea, learning philosophies, and trying to do what I’ve learned, yet never shared with anyone what I’ve learned.

The idea is leadership. The simple truth that someone can step up and take ownership, and change the game for an organization. Leadership is something to which I’ve been called and something about which I’ve read and learned for the past at least 10 years. It’s vital to the way a group of people move forward, whether in a religious organization, business venture, or even just a small group.

I’m no John Maxwell, Dan Reiland, or anywhere close to an expert by any measure, but I’ve learned and implemented these ideas, and sometimes failed while trying them. Here are my top 5 leadership lessons that I would love to pass on to you. I’ll be explaining these in the context of the church world, simply because that’s where I learned them and learned how to implement them. They work in any setting, and can take you to the next step in your journey as a person, organization, or business.


1. Do, then Delegate, then Develop.

We all want to get the job done, don’t we? Part of putting on a weekly gathering involves a great amount of putting your nose to the grindstone and cranking out tasks that make each week possible. But, as your gathering grows and expands, welcoming more people into your midst and helping them get to the next step, there will inevitably be challenges and hurdles as you accommodate these new guests.

We understand organically that if we want something done, we sometimes just have to do it ourselves. We have to bypass, at times, involving other people to get certain tasks done; these can be things that only we can do, like preparing the weekly message or designing your programming schedule, or things that we’re available to do at any given time, like setting up chairs, running audio cables, or making the coffee for volunteers. That makes us, in that moment, doers. We operate on the ground level of leadership, trust, and planning, maybe not necessarily knowing any other way to get it done, who we can task with this undertaking, or how to plan differently. There’s nothing wrong with being a doer, but it isn’t the end of the process; it’s just the beginning.

Growing in leadership means getting people to follow you, and by empowering others to do tasks that can free you up to step up your game in other areas, you take the next step in the process: delegating. Delegators walk a very fine line between being lazy and not wanting to do something, and wanting to see others grow. As a delegator, you have a unique opportunity and deep responsibility to show people not only what to do and how to do it, but why it’s important that it gets done and how it can help others. Let them watch you do it first, then walk them through what you did. Next, let them do it while you watch. Then, finally let them do it on their own with no supervision.

At this point, you have a choice to make: you as a delegator can either let the person you’ve taught how to do the job just stop at being a doer, or you can become a developer and grow them into a better leader. A developer always looks at the people they’re mentoring in any capacity and chooses to look beyond the surface. They look into the heart and try to develop people into better leaders, and ultimately better people as a whole. They’re disciplers with a leadership focus. They walk the faith journey with people further than any other leader would dare to do. Being a developer means seeing the best in people, and wanting to bring it out, all while teaching them to do for other people what you’ve done for them.

2. Attitude affects everything.

How you think ultimately determines how you act. We tell our team members, our volunteers, and those under us constantly that our attitudes matter. We engrain into the DNA of our trainings that how we perceive affects how we carry out our tasks. And by all means, we’re completely right in doing so. If we go into an event, a meeting, or a training with a sour attitude, then we set the tone of how our presentation goes. We determine what our leaders think about what we’re doing. We show them before anything ever starts how the situation will go. And if our leaders, who are our extensions and the main connection between us and the people in our churches, have sour attitudes, it’s almost a guarantee that everyone in attendance will have terrible attitudes, and therefore I would go as far as to say that we’ve failed as leaders and that that event is a failure.

But, if we go into a situation with a positive attitude, then we set the tone of how our presentation goes in a different way. Our leaders will see that positive attitudes, and they’ll share the excitement we have. They’ll go into the event where our people see their smiling faces, enthusiasm, and charisma, and our people will be excited about what’s to come. They make our job easy of leading the event, and they’ll carry the vision we cast and the charge we give with joy and responsibility.

You see the difference between the two scenarios? It’s drastic. It’s the difference between success and failure, all because of your attitude.

Start each event, meeting, or training you hold by choosing to have a positive attitude, and you’ll see a change in the way your people will lead others.

3. True leadership begins with service.

Brent Crowe, VP of Student Leadership University, begins every conference the organization holds with this statement: “Leadership begins at the feet of Jesus.” As the organization seeks to train high schoolers how to be leaders as they grow, the one thing they ultimately focus on is not standing out in front, but meeting the needs of those in their care.

Leadership looks like a blast from the outside; you get to do the speaking, the vision casting, the planning, etc., and you ultimately determine what happens at the church/in your ministry. But, when you break down the ins and outs of leadership, getting into the details and peeking behind the curtain, that’s barely even 25% of the job. The real work, the real action, the real day-to-day is actually serving people. It’s a lot of one-on-one conversations about the mess going on, and a lot of emptying yourself to help people. It’s messy. It hurts. It’s unrelenting. And it’s extremely satisfying.

It’s exactly how Jesus modeled for us: He washed His disciples’ feet. He fed them. He took care of them in the tough times. He served His people. And that’s what a call to leadership is: a call to serve. If we aren’t willing to serve, then we ultimately aren’t willing to lead.

In this model, I’ve learned that serving your people always looks different for each person you’re leading. Serving one person may look like giving them opportunity to step up and fill a role, such as announcements or introducing the event as it kicks off, and serving another person may look like asking them to step down from a role that’s distracting them from their relationship with Jesus. No matter what it is, at the end of the day, serving your people always looks like empowering to do what they’ve been called to do and letting them do it. If you aren’t doing that, then you’re not leading. If you’re placing someone in an area where he or she isn’t gifted or called, you’re walking a path that will lead to his or her burn out.

Serve your people. Take care of them. Love them. Pray for them. Call them to better things than they could ever imagine for themselves. Empower them.

4. Own it.

As a leader, responsibility is the factor that determines how high or low you go in elevation. The more responsibility you can handle, the further you advance your leadership. As a result, if you can’t take responsibility for both the good and the bad things that happen under your watch, you can’t lead well. Whether we like it or not, the way a task, event, or other circumstance that we commission to take place goes ultimately falls back on us. It doesn’t matter if we’re the ones who are working directly with it or so distantly connected to it that it only is happening under the umbrella of the church, ministry, or organization that we lead; if our name is attached to it as the one in charge, then it falls back on us for how it goes.

It’s really easy to own up to something that goes well. It’s easy to take credit for the things that are a success and garner the praise of those involved or observing. We can practically do that in our sleep. We want to be associated with things that win. But what do you do when something you’ve commissioned fails? Maybe even fails miserably and makes negative progress for what you’re trying to do? Do you step up to the plate and own up to the failure, or pass the blame to someone else? Do you walk into the meeting that your pastor, president, or executive has called to discuss the outcome of what you’ve planned and shoulder the weight of the failure, or try and explain why your assistant, associate, or intern messed everything up?

I’ve seen time and again how leaders, who have so much potential and so much clout behind their names, would rather keep their records clean and undefeated by throwing a loss on someone else instead of learning from failures and trying again, protecting their people from the pain and shame of being wrongly accused and hurt by the weight of failure (which was never their burden to bear).

You can spin failure all sorts of ways. This person didn’t do this task the right way. That person didn’t call to reserve the event space in time. This group didn’t come through with their commitment to set up. And it might be true that all those people did these things, but the harsh reality is that it ultimately falls back on you. The person didn’t do his task the right way because you didn’t tell him how to do it the right way. The person didn’t reserve the event space in time because you didn’t tell her how long you needed it on the day you wanted it, so she couldn’t book the space. The group didn’t set up because you didn’t give them all the information they needed to to get in the building and set up the way you wanted them to.

Own what you commission. Don’t pass the buck.

5. Fail.

This one is scary. I kind of touched on it in #4, but it’s so important in my leadership development that I want to give special attention to it. Failure is necessary to growing as a leader.

That seems contradictory. How can you move forward in your growth when, traditionally, failure is synonymous with moving backward or not moving at all?

I would argue that it’s the only way to move forward, and the only way to grow as a leader.

Failure is the best leadership teacher. It gives you something to look back on as you take the next steps in commissioning the next task, showing you what you should do now that you didn’t do last time, or what you shouldn’t do that you did. It gives you a plumb line to create a checklist for everything else that you do moving forward. It gives you credibility when telling other leaders why they shouldn’t do certain things when planning big events, or why they should always do certain things in the planning process.

Failure is a lens into our own souls at times. When we fail, we not only see the things that went wrong with the event; we see into the reasons why it failed, and more times than not it ends up being a pride issue. We were too proud to ask for help. We were too proud to give anyone else a piece of ownership in the event. We were too proud to let other people share in the win.

Failure isn’t fun, but failure is necessary to move forward. Don’t be afraid of failure; embrace failure with fervency. Welcome it, but don’t let it be more than a momentary guest. Don’t aim to fail, but don’t fail to aim for the best.


Be a leader that above all else is marked by a willingness to grow and learn. I would love to help you grow in your leadership, whether by conversations, having you spend time with me here in Nashville, recommending resources, or being a sounding-board for your ideas. Drop me a line, and let’s grow together.