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Archive | Leadership Blog

Excellent worship team and church leadership tips.

Be Careful What You Ask For (or, “Why What You Think You Need to Lead Might Not Be What You Really Need to Lead”)

lightingBe careful what you ask for. You Just might get it!

Have you ever wanted something in the worst way, only to find out that you didn’t want it once you got it, after all? I know I have! My garage has seen a lot of junk come and go over the years that I just had to have, only to realize it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, or that I didn’t have the level of interest in it that made it useful (like all those exercise gadgets I’ve bought and never used!). Expert marketing just has a way of pulling us into things that aren’t always what we actually need.

If we’re not careful as leaders, we can fall into the trap of wanting something that may not be helpful to us, after all.

Take, for instance, the example of intelligent lighting. You’ve seen these amazing digital lights at, say, a Jesus Culture concert or a Passion Conference. Maybe the mega-church down the street has a million-dollar worship budget and just outfitted their new 3,000-seat auditorium with them. You attended their grand opening, and now you feel like “the country cousin come to town” – there’s just no way you could ever afford those lights for your church, but somehow you believe intelligent lighting is the one thing that would open up the heavens and cause your congregation to worship in spirit and truth.

So you convince the Lead Pastor and budget committee that all the worship problems in your church will be solved if they will scrap everything else and allocate every extra dollar for the entire year to purchasing these magic lights. The day finally comes when the boxes arrive, you unwrap them, set them all up, turn them on, and suddenly there’s a deep sinking feeling inside you. You realize that the lights are going to blind your 80-year old organist and trigger cranial seizures throughout your congregation. Maybe you should’ve invested in your people before buying a bunch of lights, especially if you expect them to worship God more than be dazzled by intelligent lights.

Okay, so that example is a stretch, but, can you identify with the temptation to think that something you could buy would increase the level of commitment to authentic worship in your congregation? Whether its lights or a sound board or a younger worship leader, aren’t we all subject to thinking sometimes that we can manipulate our people into worshiping?

In the end, the only thing that will deepen authentic worship is for the beauty of Jesus to be valued as the one essential element in our services. If we don’t hold that value as the dearest to our own hearts no kind of light in the world, intelligent or not, is capable of making others worship Him.

ChizBESTJohn Chisum is an internationally appreciated worship leader, songwriter, mentor, and clinician. Click here for information on The Worship Leader’s One-on-One Coaching with John Chisum. For information about booking John for a worship seminar, worship concert, or special event, contact him directly at john@johnchisum.org, or call 251-533-5960.

Thinking Better, Leading Better

tombstoneI know you’ll gag and stop reading now if I quote that weary adage about insanity being doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result, so I won’t. I will say, however, that better thinking is the key to better leading. If that means making the effort to stop thinking the same old thing and start thinking differently, well, ’nuff said.

We all lead out of what we know, and, tritely speaking again, we don’t know what we don’t know. So, how can we lead effectively, currently, if we’re operating out of the same old skill set, not even knowing the questions we ought to be asking about what we don’t know? We get some outside help. We read some books. We go to a conference. We watch some DVD’s and figure out that we just don’t know it all, after all.

How do I know this?

I know this because I’ve lived it. Another cliche’ here: A grave is just a rut with the ends knocked out. Good one. Maybe I’ll make up a cliche’ of my own…hhhmmmmm…let’s see… A rut is like, well, it’s like a hole in the ground that dead people lie in when they don’t have anything else better to do. No, that was bad. That was kind of like the first rut cliche. Guess I’m in one already. See how easy it is to fall into them? Say, could you give me a hand up?

So, if our leading isn’t going well, it certainly means we’re not thinking well. Better leading means better thinking and better thinking means opening our minds to something beyond ourselves, like other people who know more than we do about leading people. Let’s start there. Who’s doing what you want to do? Who’s leading like you want to lead? Who’s leading more people than you lead? What would it mean to lead differently than you’re leading now? Yes, yes… questions are good, especially if we’re open to the answers we’re not ready to hear.

Our failures can become our teachers, if we would only listen to them.

ChizBESTJohn Chisum is an internationally appreciated worship leader, songwriter, mentor, and clinician. Click here for information on The Worship Leader’s One-on-One Coaching with John Chisum. For information about booking John for a worship seminar, worship concert, or special event, contact him directly at john@johnchisum.org, or call 251-533-5960.

Fearless Living, Fearless Leading

fear notWashing dishes at a friend’s house last night after a lovely dinner, I was struck with a thought, a question, really, that I then turned and posed to my wife and friends. I asked them, “If I could lead us all out of fear what couldn’t we do? How would each of us respond to each other and to the world around us if we were completely fearless?” Okay, it was a downer of a question and every sense of frivolity and lightness fled the room. None of us had a great answer. After an awkward moment of silence, my beautiful, amazing, and dry-witted wife quipped, “Well, who died and made YOU Jesus?”

Since that moment I’ve been thinking about what really could happen if we just lost our fears instead of our car keys or our reading glasses. Wouldn’t we respond very differently than we do now to threats of economic hardship, terrorism, and even to our spouses and loved ones? I think we would. I think if we could develop a stronger belief in Jesus’ work for us and dig a lot deeper into what that means for us on a practical level, we would lead very different lives altogether. Perhaps we would lead lives like God fully intends for us to lead. Fearless lives. Child-of-God kind of lives.

For one thing, all competition would cease. We would realize that God has already anticipated every need we could ever have and has already provided for them. We would stop hedging our bets on getting what we need from Him and from the world around us, abandoning every temptation to manipulate anyone in any way for any thing. We would pray with confidence. We would love unconditionally. We would move from the “competitive mind” to the “creative mind.” We would become extreme givers, never takers. We would overwhelm the people around us with the kind of Spirit power rarely seen since The Book of Acts.

Our leadership would change, too. Transparency would be the norm. A compassionate kind of listening would become the hallmark of our husbanding, our parenting, and our ministries. People would flock to follow us because they would feel validated for being who they are, not just feeling used by us for their talents or dollars. If we were truly fearless, we could look someone deeply in their eyes and say, “Darling, I’m here for you” and mean it from the essence of our being. We would, in short, make the fearless kingdom of God in all that it means come to bear in very tangible expressions all around us. Life would come alive again.

No one died and made me Jesus.

But Jesus has entrusted me with leadership abilities with which to lead others toward all that He died to give us. Freedom from fear – all of it – is ours in Jesus. Best I can tell, Jesus said,”Fear not” about 15 times as recorded in the Gospels. Seems to me once would have been sufficient if we could only do it.

What kind of leader can you become if you begin to take steps, even small ones, toward eradicating fear from your life and ministry? How would that affect your leadership, the planning, the praying, the interactions with the people you lead? Are you ready for what fearless living and fearless leading will do?

 

A Leader of Leaders – Dr. Roger Breland

BrelandI saw my long-time friend, Dr. Roger Breland, at the University of Mobile last week while recording my new album, When He Comes, at their new state-of-the-art Studio 8Eighty. Dr. Breland is a legend in Christian music for creating and managing the group Truth for many years. He now heads up the Center for Performing Arts at UM and is building it into one of the premiere worship and music business programs in the world.

Dr. Breland is the consummate blend of leader, mentor, visionary, and educator. He is a true leader of leaders. His story is told on UM’s Faculty page in this way:

“In the year 2000 Dr. Breland was elected to the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. He traveled 3 million miles and recorded 60 albums with TRUTH. TRUTH presented 10,000 concerts in 26 nations in 31 years. He travels extensively throughout the United States and internationally as a workshop clinician and speaker. His Excellence on the Platform topic is in great demand. Many of his former TRUTH members are successful leaders in Christian music. Kim Noblitt, Russ Lee, Alicia, Avalon, 4HIM, Jason Breland, Anthony Evans are examples of his influence. Dr. Breland is the author of the book, IN SEARCH OF A LOVELY MOMENT. In May of 2003 Dr. Breland became the Director of the Center for Performing Arts at the University of Mobile. Presently the CPA has 15 performing ensembles and has presented concerts to SRO audiences in local churches, conventions, The White House and Europe.”

It is a privilege to know Dr. Breland and to have worked with him during my years at Integrity Music.

ChizBESTJohn Chisum is an internationally appreciated worship leader, songwriter, mentor, and clinician. Click here for information on The Worship Leader’s One-on-One Coaching with John Chisum. For information about booking John for a worship seminar, worship concert, or special event, contact him directly at john@johnchisum.org, or call 251-533-5960.

 

Courage to Lead in Spite of Adversity

cowardly lion“In business and personal life, to create true integrity and lasting effectiveness you need to develop the courage to move towards the sound of the gunfire.” — Dr. Martin Groder

Cartoonist Roy Delgado once depicted Kansas ex-pat and ruby-slippered Dorothy saying to her Oz-bound compadres the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and Scarecrow, “With no courage, no heart, or no brain… there’s no doubt you’ll eventually be approached to run for Congress!” As funny (and perhaps as true) as her optimistic outburst was in this cartoon, there’s no such thing as great leadership without courage, especially in adverse circumstances.

It’s easy to mistake manipulation for leadership. Businesses, corporations, and even churches can find themselves following leaders who might bring short-term results while sacrificing the character that results in longevity and brand allegiance. The CEO who burns through employees in the name of profit or the pastor who chews through congregations in the name of “kingdom building” can be one and the same. When things aren’t going well any of us can fall back into a competitive mindset that is far too willing to sacrifice character, integrity, and the true courage to lead by doing what is right over doing the right things (Myatt, 2012).

Mike Myatt said, “Courage is a trait possessed by all great leaders. So much so, that leadership absent courage is nothing short of a farce. Let me be very clear – I’m not advocating for bravado, arrogance, or an overabundance of hubris, but rather the courage necessary to stay the course…Many leaders think they have courage – few actually do.”  http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemyatt/2012/09/19/every-great-leader-has-this-quality-do-you/

True leadership, something beyond mere results, is a matter of character and integrity. True courage in leading others means we will move toward the fray, not away from it.

ChizBESTJohn Chisum is an internationally appreciated worship leader, songwriter, mentor, and clinician. Click here for information on The Worship Leader’s One-on-One Coaching with John Chisum. For information about booking John for a worship seminar, worship concert, or special event, contact him directly at john@johnchisum.org, or call 251-533-5960.

 

Love God. Do art. Lead well.

Meredith Andrews of Vertical Music at re:Create 2015

Meredith Andrews of Vertical Music at re:Create 2015

“The more you’re like yourself, the less you’re like anyone else, which makes you unique.” Walt Disney

I’ve just spent the week with some of the most creative people I’ve ever met. It was a room filled with songwriters, authors, poets, and ideation experts. The atmosphere was buzzing every day with innovation, ideas, and that intangible “X” factor we call creativity. I was home.

Our theme for the re:Create2015 Conference, hosted by uber-creative Randy Elrod, was about having the courage to be who you are, not what you do. This theme wasn’t wasted on me. At a time in my own life in which I’m rediscovering who I am in fresh ways, each session seemed tailor-made to help me remember the nearly 40 years of creativity I’ve been part of in songwriting, publishing, ministry, and especially in helping others find their own creative voices.

I realize afresh today that leadership isn’t about me or us as leaders. It’s really about helping others find their value and their creative spark to be unique and make a difference. We make a difference by bringing out the best in others. For me, the big takeaway from the week is what I’m adopting as my new mantra: “Love God. Do art. Lead well.”

Thank you, Randy, and all the other great presenters at re:Create2015!

ChizBESTJohn Chisum is an internationally appreciated worship leader, songwriter, mentor, and clinician. Click here for information on The Worship Leader’s One-on-One Coaching with John Chisum. For information about booking John for a worship seminar, worship concert, or special event, contact him directly at john@johnchisum.org, or call 251-533-5960.

Keys to Better Leadership

bulletWhy is it that we all want a silver bullet to “great leadership” and yet miss all the little things that add up to really good leadership? Have we bought into a false concept of greatness thrust upon us by leadership gurus with lots of books and dvd’s to sell us? What ever happened to being a really good leader?

Cynicism aside, it just may be that the greatest leaders will never be recognized as such. The moms who mop up milk every day and the school principals who lead and protect their teachers and students while instilling small, but constant lessons in their children lay a foundation for leadership that could never be minimized.

If you’re like me, it’s easy to bog down between the dreaming and the coming true.

I’ve read dozens of leadership books, watched lots of leadership dvd’s, and attended many leadership conferences. It’s been hard for me to see the success of others without comparing myself to them and feeling that I will always fail to be as successful as they are. The gap between where I was and where they were seemed like the Grand Canyon. I felt that I could never do what they did. I would mentally shut down. It’s been a discipline I’ve had to exercise to not give up altogether.

As I look back over my years of leading others, I see that not one of those books, dvd’s, and experiences  changed my ability and effectiveness immediately. What I do see is that each one added something, however small, that helped me to become better. Maybe I didn’t become “great” in that split second, but I somehow got better. Better is a great step to becoming great. There’s no magic bullet. It’s a process.

So, today I choose to believe that the small steps I’m taking to become better will eventually add up to me becoming great. Maybe I’m just a good leader today, but I can put one foot in front of another, day by day. I can keep doing the things I know are right and good, keeping myself on the track towards greatness, and eventually, hopefully, get there.

ChizBESTJohn Chisum is an internationally appreciated worship leader, songwriter, mentor, and clinician. Click here for information on The Worship Leader’s One-on-One Coaching with John Chisum. For information about booking John for a worship seminar, worship concert, or special event, contact him directly at john@johnchisum.org, or call 251-533-5960.

Brushes with Greatness

Years ago, before cell phones, Donald Sutherland bumped me with his briefcase in the Atlanta
Sutherlandairport.

It happened like this. I was standing at the end of a long bank of pay phones. Younger people won’t appreciate that there once was a time when reasonable adults stood in a line against the wall in public places, shoving quarter after quarter in a tiny slot on a large box with a phone attached. It seems surreal to think that we ever really did it, but we did.

So, I’m standing at the payphone when I see someone walking toward me that I sort of recognized. I started telling the person I’m talking to that someone famous was walking toward me, but I couldn’t think of who it was. I knew I’d seen him on television or in movies, but I  was never particularly good with names and I wasn’t coming up with this one easily. He kept coming closer and he was suddenly at the payphone next to me. He was taller than me, had on a tweed-ish overcoat, and, as he picked up the phone beside mine he swung around and smacked me with his large black briefcase.

He didn’t seem to know he did it. And, even though there was no apology, it somehow felt good, kind of like a privilege, in a way, that I would be chosen to be bumped by Donald Sutherland’s briefcase. It was over much too quickly.

Maybe you’ve had a brush with greatness, too. Maybe it was Elvis, or Patton. Maybe you’ve run into a sports star somewhere or bumped into a popular news reporter on assignment at the mall. Whoever it might have been, what was your reaction to being in their presence? Did they make you feel special in some way? If they did make you feel special or different somehow, did the feeling last?

We Christians say we’ve not only had a brush with greatness, but that that Greatness actually lives inside of us. Why isn’t the world any better for it? (Colossians 1:27a)

ChizBESTJohn Chisum is an internationally appreciated worship leader, songwriter, mentor, and clinician. Click here for information on The Worship Leader’s One-on-One Coaching with John Chisum. For information about booking John for a worship seminar, worship concert, or special event, contact him directly at john@johnchisum.org, or call 251-533-5960.

The Value of Wisdom

pants

Trends come and go, like parachute pants and scrunchies, but there is wisdom that only comes through age and experience. Until you’ve lived long enough to learn what you didn’t know, it’s impossible to know what you don’t know. For instance, never iron naked. Just sayin’.

Then there’s wisdom that comes from God.

Solomon is known as the wisest man who ever lived, aside from Jesus. When God asked him what he desired, his answer was wisdom. In 2 Chronicles 1, we read:

That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

Solomon answered God, “You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. Now, Lord God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10 Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

We would ALL love for God to ask us this same question, but many of us would much more quickly ask for a million dollars than wisdom and knowledge. But not Solomon. He had enough grasp on what was ahead of him as King (after his father, David) that he knew he needed wisdom above all else. The rest of the story is that he not only became the wisest man of all time, but he became the richest man of all time.

Solomon ruled Israel forty years, had a mostly peaceful reign, and built the most magnificent temple for Yahweh ever known. Unfortunately, he didn’t access the full wisdom that God granted for all of his life and declined in his later years due to marrying many wives who brought in the worship of idols. So, even the wisest man in the world falls prey to pillow talk.

The lesson in this for us as leaders is to value God’s wisdom above wealth. Matthew 6:33 tells us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all of these things will be added to you.” In seeking God’s kingdom purposes first everything we need will be “added.” We may not know how or be happy with when, but, if we hold steady and follow the Lord, He always adds.

A great leader values God’s wisdom and never, never wears parachute pants.

EXPRESSION IN WORSHIP

IMG_2901I’ve spent the bulk of my adult life leading musical worship publicly.

There is, of course, much discussion (and dissent) over what is “real” worship. The only “real” biblical answer is that real worship happens when our lives reflect the character, nature, and attributes of Jesus, aka “spiritual transformation.” To reduce authentic worship to lively people singing loudly, clapping their hands, or otherwise jiving to the music is to only see part of worship, that part that can make the least difference in a person’s life and in the coming of the kingdom on earth.

As a worship leader, I will ALWAYS hope and pray that people engage with the music I provide. It’s so much more fun that way! I can be guilty of judging people as “lifeless” and “Spirit-less” but that certainly isn’t always the case. Maybe sometimes a particular person in the service hasn’t encountered Jesus personally and therefore feels no impetus to be lively in their singing, etc. Then my prayer must be that the Holy Spirit will make Jesus real to them and lead them in their own expression of praise.

Or, maybe someone is introverted or even ashamed of their lack of rhythm or a mono-tonal voice. While we would encourage people in either case to “make a joyful noise” or clap along the best they can, they feel intimidated somehow. Often, I’m sure, people just don’t like a style of music being used and then don’t feel engaged in the service. Visually, this is completely discouraging to a leader like me, but it is just part of the reality I deal with week to week.

There is a strong heritage of Hebrew worship in physical expressions that we can enjoy as Jesus followers. There are at least seven words that are translated as “worship”, “praise”, and “singing” but that actually refer more deeply to shouting, bowing, dancing, and even falling prostrate before Yahweh. We, unfortunately, have created synonyms out of the words singing and worship. This is an impoverishment of our deep heritage, but, hey – at least we still sing!

SO – my stance is that my job is to provide the best opportunities I can in any given service for the most people to enter in. This is ultimately the individual’s choice regardless of the musical genres in play. My prayer is that we can all be filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit and even forget about the style of song. Jesus is worthy of ALL of our praise and devotion. Let’s join in unity and love to worship Him!