Good To Great

I recently read what I will go ahead and call the best leadership book I've ever read - Good To Great by Jim Collins. I also just finished his follow-up monograph entitled Good To Great and the Social Sectors.

I have a lot of thoughts to share about this book and I probably won't share them all in this post. You may remember I recently reviewed the book Natural Church Development by Christian A. Schwarz and was also blown away by that book. Both G2G and NCD had a similar approach: Study great organisations and find what common traits they had that contribute to their greatness (churches for NCD and businesses for G2G). What I found extremely interesting is that their findings are quite similar. In fact, so similar that there are striking similarities in the diagrams in which they share their principles.

I'll give a brief synopsis of G2G here, but I'd like to go ahead and follow it up by teaming it up with my follow-up posts on NCD that I never finished. Hopefully, I'll find time to do this over the next few weeks.

Collins' research team found that all the companies that made the jump from being merely a "good" company to being a "great" company had these qualities in common, whether intentional or not.
  • Level 5 Leadership - Leaders who display a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.
  • First Who...Then What - They get the right people in the key seats before they decide where to take the bus.
  • Confront the Brutal Facts - Have faith that you will prevail, regardless of your difficulties, and at the same time have the discipline to confront the brutal facts of your reality. (i.e. - "We'll be great. Maybe not this year, but we will be great.")
  • The Hedgehog Concept - Greatness comes with consistently making decisions around a simple coherent concept. Your Hedgehog Concept is the intersection of 3 things: what you can be the best in the world at, what you are deeply passionate about, and what best drives your economic engine (or resource engine if you operate in the social sectors).
  • Culture of Discipline - People doing their work with excellence because they believe in what they're doing and they're allowed to operate with freedom within a framework of responsibilities.
  • The Flywheel - In building greatness, there is no single defining action, no grand program, no miracle moment. Rather, the process resembles relentlessly pushing a giant, heavy flywheel in one direction, turn upon turn, building momentum until a point of breakthrough, and beyond.

Honestly, whether you're a leader in a business, church, school, or anywhere - you should read this book. I believe G2G along with NCD will be required reading for anyone who is ever on staff with me, should I ever be the lead pastor of a church. Both books are simply foundational, but neither prescribe programs or trendy ideas. They both emphasize the power of people evaluating their circumstances and creatively, practically seeking their own solutions.

By the way - if you're out there thinking that churches have no business learning from business models, allow me to quote the first line of Good To Great and the Social Sectors. "We must reject the idea - well-intentioned, but dead wrong - that the primary path to greatness in the social sectors is to become 'more like a business.'"

Best of 2007

2007 has been an epic year for me, so I thought I'd do a "Best of..." post. Here goes:

Top 5 Books I Read in '07
5. Natural Church Development - Christian A. Schwarz
4. They Like Jesus, But Not the Church - Dan Kimball
3. Good to Great - Jim Collins
2. Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling
1. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

Top 5 Albums Listened To in '07
5. Mexico & Mariachis: Music From and Inspired by Robert Rodriguez's El Mariachi Trilogy
4. Jungle of the Midwest Sea - Flatfoot 56
3. KFOG Live From the Archives, Vol. 14
2. We Shine - Fee (or Steve Fee)
1. Remedy - David Crowder Band

Top 5 Movies Viewed in '07 (some of these are older, but I watched them this year)
5. Amazing Grace
4. Transformers
3. Pursuit of Happyness
2. Blood Diamond
1. Pan's Labyrinth

Top 5 Favorite TV Shows of '07
5. Everest: Beyond the Limit - The Discovery Channel
4. Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares - BBC America
3. Man vs. Wild - The Discovery Channel
2. Lost - ABC
1. The Sopranos - HBO

Top 5 Favorite Experiences of '07
5. God & Country Celebration (12,000+ in attendance)
4. Two Mission Trips to Panama
3. Catalyst Leadership Conference
2. Scotland Vacation with Jamie
1. Birth of Isla Kae Myers

Well, that's about it. 2008 is already shaping up to be another great year. You never know what to expect when you're living for Jesus. I think if you really want to make Jesus laugh, just tell him your plans for this next year.


Christmas Gifts!

I love getting gifts! I'm a big kid when it comes to gifts. I love getting stuff I want and I love buying gifts for my wife & kids. This year I made out great.

Jamie got me a new Krups Espresso Machine. I love it. It does a forced steam brew and has milk steamer/frother on the side. I'm loving my lattes. I'm finally putting my Panamanian coffee to good use. It's every bit as good as the high-end shops and in the convenience of mi casa. She also got me a new ESV Bible that I love!!! I'm loving the ESV. I bought one on Amazon several months ago, but when it arrived it was a little mini-Bible with teeny-tiny print. Great for trips and such, but a little tough to preach out of. The one Jamie got me is a very attractive normal-sized one that will definitely be my new preaching Bible. As if that weren't enough, she also got me Go Put Your Strengths To Work by Marcus Buckingham. I can't wait to read it.

Mollie got me a great new money clip that I really like. It's a little leather pouch with a clip on the outside. I'm definitely a money clip man. I can't imagine going back to a wallet. If you've never tried a money clip, you should definitely try it. You won't regret it!

Isaiah piggy-backed off of Jamie's gift and bought me a frothing pitcher to use in my coffee making. It's stainless steel of course, and is the perfect touch!

Thanks for my gifts, family! Merry Christmas, everyone!!!


"They Like Jesus..." Video

I posted a review of this book a while back. They Like Jesus But Not the Church was definitely one of the best books I read this last year. I still highly recommend it to anyone concerned with reaching young adults. This is a video that Zondervan released promo-ing their new 6-week small group DVD-based curriculum based on Dan's book.


Online Personality Test

I saw this test on marko's blog. It's a shorter version of the Myers-Briggs test. Looks like I'm an INTP.

Click to view my Personality Profile page

"INTPs are relatively easy-going and amenable to most anything until their principles are violated, about which they may become outspoken and inflexible. They prefer to return, however, to a reserved albeit benign ambiance, not wishing to make spectacles of themselves.
INTPs contribute a logical, system-building approach to their work. They like being the architect of a plan, because of the scheming and thinking involved, far more than being the implementer of that plan. Implementation tends to be drudgery. They are content to sit back and think about what might work, given their view of the situation. INTPs may ignore standard operating procedures. The hours that they spend are not what is important to them, but rather the completion of their thought process."

I'm always amazed at how closely these things can peg you. I think I'm probably a little more extraverted than this would indicate, though.


What a Difference a Year Makes

We took our family Christmas picture this afternoon. I was thinking of how much has happened this year and how much our family has changed. I was also thinking about how happy everyone's Christmas pictures always look and wondering if they have as much yelling and crying right before that moment as we do.




Compassion Testimony

This is the testimony of a former Compassion International sponsored child. It was recorded at this year's Youth Specialties National Youth Workers Convention. Very powerful!


"I Was in the Neighborhood..."

I've been blown away lately at how often God stops by for a visit when I least expect it.

When Joe Wilson and I were at the Catalyst conference we seriously considered skipping the last day and going home because there wasn't much of anybody we were interested in hearing and because the first two days had been so great. We assumed the last day would be kind of anticlimactic. We were blown away even more. The speakers we were least familiar with were some of the best.

The Monday evening before Thanksgiving we had a Thanksgiving meal at the church for our Celebrate Recovery ministry. I'm not actively involved in this ministry but I love the lady who heads it up. She's a fireball and she has a tremendous heart for the lost. I agreed to be there and provide a little music for the evening. Honestly, when the night came, I was kind of tired and not really looking forward to it. But God showed up in such a mighty way! One of the ladies in the program shared her testimony about how she was dealing with anger issues. She went into some pretty personal details of events from her childhood that brought her to where she was. Long story short, she was incredibly inspiring. I love it when people have the guts to get up and be so transparent and vulnerable. It's an incredibly courageous thing. I don't think anyone there was expecting God to show up on a Monday night, but he did.

Then yesterday, Joe and I attended the funeral of a sister of one our deacons. I had never met the woman, but it was especially tragic because she was only 37 yrs old and was leaving behind a husband and two teenage boys. She had MS. God sent these two incredible servants to that funeral, her pastor and a older female preacher that was a family friend. As they spoke and attempted to give the family comfort - I was blown away. Each of them in their own way was comforting, funny, heart-broken, and the mouth-piece of God. It was honesty an honor to hear them speak. They ministered to my heart as well. It's crazy how you go to a funeral to be of some kind of support to a few people, and instead God shows up and ministers to me in a big way.

Finally, last night my son, Isaiah, and I had a father/son night out. He's been going through a really tough time lately. His self-image and world-view is at an all-time low. Sounds weird to say that about a 9-year-old, but it's true (please pray for him). Anyway I thought an emergency night away was in order so we went to Spingfield and ate crab legs and shopped around town all night, stayed in a hotel and swam in the pool, and got up today and had breakfast together. It was great spending time with him. He really loved it, but I think I loved it more. Once again, God shows up and gives me reason to spend some meaningful time with my son. It's amazing how spending true quality time with your family members feels remarkably similar to spending quality time with God.

This time last year, Rob Morgan, author and pastor of The Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, was in service with us. I only remember one thing from his sermon - he said, "Ministry happens in the interruptions of life." It's true. Meaningful minstering to the hearts of people is rarely ever scheduled. I thing the same is true of God. He tends to show up during the interruptions of my life.