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Posts tagged with: leadership

During my Elders Meeting today…Renner Family Transitions…

Over the last 5 years the Renner Fam has had some head spinning life transitions take place from Arizona to Florida and back to AZ again. These 5 years have given me the ability to encounter many different types of leaders, staff, church members, and leadership teams. It is astonishing to me how different each one of these experiences have been.
My most recent is my accepting the lead pastor role with CCFH = Christ’s Church of Fountain Hills. Earlier today, I sat in my 4th meeting with the CCFH Elders, and I am simply blown away at their love, camaraderie, and Kingdom mentality. As I post these thoughts, 7 hours after the meeting, I am still reeling with a heart that is full, and am so encouraged. This kind of team is what I’ve been looking for since the Parkway days.

I’m experienced enough to know it will not always be easy…but the foundation that the Founding Pastor, Don Lawrence has built over the last 32 years has created a church, a staff, and an Elder Board that is humble, hungry for Kingdom growth, and has strong spiritual, social, and emotional health. I ask for your prayers as this journey continues. If you don’t live in Fountain Hills…make the time someday to come out on a Sunday, visit CCFH, and say hello to me! If you live in FH, then it’s a no brainer, come to Church! ūüôā I’d love to see you and introduce you to an unbelievable Church called CCFH. I am grateful and will hit the hay tonight with a full heart.grateful

Leadership as a Spiritual Gift — vs — Leadership as a Verb


Leadership really seems to be a sensitive subject lately. I don’t know how it happened, but somewhere in the past decade, leadership and leaders have been under intense scrutiny. ¬†There are many characteristics that come to mind when someone says the word, leader. ¬†Is it just me, or in the past decade has something shifted in our culture that causes negative stereotypes¬†to intrude our brains the instant we¬†hear the word leader?

If you’d like to read a side post in regards to what are called the top 101 qualities of a leader, just click the picture below and enjoy

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 1.00.51 PM

My first sentence of this post¬†simply states that everybody leads. ¬†I think that most agree, leadership, in its truest definition, is simply influence. ¬†So, in that sense, we all lead because we all influence something or someone. ¬†With that, I want to bring about the fact that there is a difference between Leadership as a verb…which we all do, and Leadership as a Spiritual Gift, which¬†has been given to some and not to others. ¬†The Bible is clear about this in the letter to the Romans in chapter 12:3-8...

Many Gifts but One Body

3 For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. 4 Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, 5 in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. 6 According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts:

If prophecy,
use it according to the standard of one’s[b] faith;
7 if service, in service;
if teaching, in teaching;
8 if exhorting, in exhortation;
giving, with generosity;
leading, with diligence; ¬†(“Whoomp, there it is!”) ūüôā¬†
showing mercy, with cheerfulness.

I’m writing¬†about this, because it has become personal to me.¬† By personal, I don’t mean in an offensive way, I mean in a way that has become personally obvious to me and has impacted me personally. ¬†Since the merge of Parkway Christian Church with Christ’s Church of the Valley in 2011, I have been trying to get back into a Lead Pastor position with a local Church, anywhere in the USA, for the past 5 years and I have encountered a tragic phenomena. ¬†I have encountered more than 30 different local churches across the country saying they are looking for their Church’s next leader/Lead Pastor to lead them into the next phases of their church life…and…as I have delved in with them, in regards to what they mean when they say LEADER, I have come to the conclusion that most¬†really don’t want a leader, but a shepherd, or a manager, or worst case scenario, a hired hand that simply does what he is told…but in its spiritual definition…they actually do not want a leader. ¬†They want a Leader as a Verb, but not a spiritually gifted leader. ¬†The first is safe, the second is risky and dangerous.

Bill Hybels spoke up recently about leadership and the Church…here is a poster of what he said…

Now, please do not misunderstand me.  I am not saying that people without the spiritual gift of leadership should not lead a church.  I am simply asking us all to consider the fact that a church lead by a Leader, gifted with the Romans 12:8 spiritual gift leadership, will be a very different church than one lead by a shepherd, Teacher, Evangelist, a manager, or any other gift mix.

It seems obvious that each gift type grows a different type of fruit, and, not always but most of the time, a different size of harvest. I think many people are afraid to talk about why some churches are smaller than others. ¬†If I could miraculously remove political correctness, insecurities, all sensitivities, and simply speak with impersonal facts…then the answer of why some churches reach mega amounts of people in a very short time, and others¬†stay under 200 for hundreds of years, are mostly simple.

Some answers are as simple as the population of the city the church is geographically located in. ¬†Other answers are found in a lack of strategy. ¬†Most answers, in my opinion, are simply found in the Leadership and how¬†he/she is spiritually gifted. ¬†(In this setting, it would be very easy to use the parable of the talents that Jesus teaches. ¬†Have we considered whether or not that¬†parable could have been titled, The parable of the spiritually gifted?” ¬† If you have time¬†for more reading…then read the¬†parable here and transpose¬†the word ‘talents‘ with ‘spiritual gifts‘ and see if it makes sense. (In fact…depending on the translation, some translations use¬†the word servants¬†instead of¬†the word talents.) ¬†Here is the passage… Matthew 25:14-30

A church that is lead by a group of Elders will have a certain kind and amount of results/harvest.

A church that is lead by a shepherding gifted leader is typically going to have a smaller, very loving, intimate result/harvest.

A church that is lead by a manager-type gifted pastor will have a unique, often corporate result/harvest.

A church that is lead by a group of 5-10 high financially giving members holding the power will have a specific end-result/harvest.

A church that is lead by a teaching-gifted pastor is going to have a specific result/harvest.

They are all different. ¬†Better or worse? ¬†That’s for the eye of the beholder and ultimately for God to decide.

One thing that is very clear…a Church that is lead by a Leader who has the Romans 12:8 gift of Leadership¬†is very obvious. Like it, love it, or hate it, that fact cannot be denied.

I think the passage below from Proverbs sums it up pretty well…think about it.

‚ÄúWithout oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.‚ÄĚ ¬†Proverbs 14:4

Our culture, for some safety reason, is afraid of strong leadership. ¬†No doubt a strong leader will stir it up, break power controls, push us out of our comfort zones, and even sometimes make messes…but the fruit produced is tremendous.

Perry Noble said, “The size of the dream you have, is directly correlated with the amount of pain and suffering you are willing to endure.” ¬†Solomon was right…the stable might get dirty, but wow…what a reward.

I know that we can agree that the Church is living in interesting times and facing difficult circumstances.  If Bill Hybels is right in his statement above, then there are some serious decisions that need to be made in The Church. If you are currently looking for a Lead Pastor, does your church have the courage to allow a leader, with the spiritual gift of leadership, lead you?  If so, get ready to begin an unforgettable adventure with a huge harvest of fruit on the way.

Having Done in Room 1501 (wk 15) Winning is Everything

I just wrapped up week 15 at Joy Christian High School as a first year teacher. ¬†I teach the Bible Class to Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors. ¬†Sophomores are going through New Testament Survey and the others are going through World Religions. ¬† It’s still pretty amazing to me that I get¬†all those students¬†in Room 1501 every week and we get to learn The Bible and it’s impact on life. ¬†I pray it plants seeds that God continues to grow for the rest of their lives.


It is a true honor to witness the students of JCHS entering into that blue door each day.  A majority of them wear their emotions on their sleeves.  It is pretty evident what kind of day each student is having just by reading their body language when they enter.  I can tell that the semester is getting ready to end, because many of the students are weary of school.  They are in need of an extended break.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner.

Week¬†15 at JCHS, taught me its most valuable life lessons, outside of the classroom. ¬†This week the JCHS Volleyball and Football teams had their season ending State Playoff games. ¬†Both teams had a phenomenal season as they demonstrated their athletic gifts God gave them. ¬†But, each team, even with their overall successful season, ended the season heartbroken because¬†they didn’t progress and have an ending result of ‘State-Champs.’ ¬† In their minds they didn’t win. ¬†In reality they didn’t win. ¬†As the Room 1501 Bible Teacher, I found myself heart broken for them. ¬†This week’s experience reminded me of something that our American culture seems to be embarrassed of.


Stop and think about it for just a moment. ¬†If you disagree with that statement…then…when did you stop believing that winning is¬†everything?

Harry “Red” Sanders, head coach of the of UCLA Bruins from 1949-1957 is the one who get’s the credit for that phrase. ¬†Vince Lombardi is known for using that phrase as he led the Green Bay Packers to be a winning dynasty that still inspires people today.

Harry Sanders’s exact quote is, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” Lombardi gives Sanders the credit for being the originator of the phrase in his book, “The Lombardi Rules.”

So, do you believe that winning is everything?

I think there is Biblical evidence that winning is everything. ¬†However, before we jump into the Bible let’s first start with the Dictionary.com.

WIN … ¬†verb (used without object), won, winning.

1.  to finish first in a race, contest, or the like.  

2.  to succeed by striving or effort.  

3.  to gain the victory; overcome an adversary.

It is of my opinion¬†that¬†the current American culture…is meandering through life without any stimulating¬†vision. Somewhere along these past 10-15 years, the American people have catered to some strange people who live on the fringes of society. Somehow these types have gotten into the leadership of too many things. ¬†Am I the only¬†one who¬†thinks we have given influence of¬†the American Culture, to the kind of people who were not present¬†when the “Common Sense Train” stopped to give out its gifts?¬† I think these types have been influencing some very important¬†USA things, and have been brilliant in their influence, to the point that the average, common sense gifted American, has become the frog in the kettle that is about to be cooked.

Have these types somehow slow-cooked you into thinking that winning is for greedy, mean-spirited, and self-ambitious people?

I say it again, Winning is everything.

Bible time…¬†

The Apostle Paul, the writer who wrote more than half of the New Testament under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, wrote this…

Don‚Äôt you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!”

1 Corinthians 9:24

“So run to win.” ¬†The Bible says that! ¬†If you think with me, I think you will agree that there¬†are 7 areas of life. ¬†All things life, fall into one of these 7 categories. ¬†1. Spiritual ¬†2. Social ¬†3. Psychological¬† 4. Parental ¬†5. Physical ¬†6. Financial ¬†7. Marital.

In the 7 areas of life, can you think of one that would be okay to NOT win in?  Do you want to lose in your marriage?  Do you want to lose in your physical life?  Do you want to lose in the Spiritual world?

I repeat, Winning is everything!

Part of the problem we might have with our current attitude towards winning is the simple fact that somewhere along the way we have been slow cooked into¬†believing that winning is only about some position.¬† No doubt…part of a win is actually a 1st place position. ¬†Surely you have heard the phrase “2nd place just means you are the first loser.” ¬†But I want to say, that if the attainment of your first place position was done with any form of integrity problem, then you may have won a 1st place position, but you did not win a first place function. ¬†(Please understand the difference between Functional and Positional winning.)

There are many things in life that carry attributes of what is called Functional and Positional differences. ¬†As an example, I’ll demonstrate what I mean by¬†using¬†one of my favorite topics, Spiritual¬†Leadership. ¬†There are many people who hold the position of leadership in their Church, but it’s just a position. ¬†Somewhere in that church¬†there is a person or a group of people who truly FUNCTION as the leadership. In Church world this is not healthy. ¬†In Church world, the average Church(an average church in the USA runs about 90 total ¬†in attendance) is struggling to produce any kind of fruit, because the Church might have a Pastor/Minister/Preacher that has a Position/title of leader, but in all reality, there is a group of about 5 -10 people/families¬†that function as leaders and if you the positional leader do not do what they say…well…there will be heck¬†to pay. Positional vs Functional Leadership. ¬†There is a distinct difference.

In life, it seems like all the power is in the Positional leadership…but eventually functional leadership will WIN out. ¬†FUNCTIONAL leadership trumps POSITIONAL leadership…sooner or later! ¬†It may¬†take Jesus’s return and the initiating of eternity to set that point as fact…but it is fact, none the less.

This is why Jesus says, “The Last shall be first and the first shall be last.” ¬†According to Jesus, true winners may not hold the less important POSITION¬†of leadership, but FUNCTION¬†behind the scenes as a real functioning leader.

Position does not always define a win. ¬†A true win is accomplished when Position and Function bond as one. ¬†If you cheat to win, you don’t win…no matter the position you finished in. ¬†If you have positional power and you have to “show”your power to get what you think is a win…then you didn’t win at all. ¬†(In teaching world…there are teachers who think they win when they “nail” a student, but that teacher won the little skirmish at the loss of the entire battle. ¬†They lost the student’s respect…that’s not a win.) ¬†Positional leadership “sticks out its chest.” ¬†Functional leadership doesn’t need facades. Functional leadership is invisible power.

I think, part of the reason as to why America has developed a misunderstanding¬†about winning, is simply because we have become a dumbed down¬†society that is too busy to think deeply anymore. ¬†We do not think deeply about what a TRUE WIN really is because we don’t have the time to really study and learn deeply about things, due to our¬†fast pursuit of what we think is a win. ¬†We have become a society of “the ends justifies the means.” ¬†Too many just want some end goal result and they will bypass almost anything¬†to get to that first place position.

I have heard and experienced horror stories of churches, corporations, schools, and governments that will do anything to get a “win.”



Because…winning is everything.

It’s time we quit lying to ourselves about winning. ¬†Winning is everything. It really matters to every one of us. ¬†Winning matters so much that people will do anything to win.

But here is the deal…

If you win¬†a first place POSITION¬†by ignoring¬†first place FUNCTION…then you are a loser…not a winner. ¬†If I¬†have to cheat/lie or in any other way keep secret what I¬†had to do to get the¬†“win”…then in all reality I¬†lose. ¬† If in no other arena…then when I look in the mirror. ¬†If I lost my integrity to get a win…my mirror will let me know. ¬†Below are just a few comparisons between Functional and Positional Leadership. ¬†Understanding the difference will help you truly win. The material below is written from a Biblical World-view perspective.

Positional vs Functional Leadership.jpgBottom Line … Winning is everything. ¬†I can’t think of anything that I want to lose in. ¬†I suppose what is difficult to determine is what is truly a win. ¬†All the money in the world, all the fame, all the influence, all the positions of power, all the _____________????

Have you heard the following phrase? ¬†“He who dies with the most toys, wins.” ¬†I want to scream, “FALSE!” ¬†The true phrase is…

“He who dies with the most toys, still dies.” ¬†

You can erase the underlined word above and put in any earthly word in its place and it is still true.

I don’t want to lose in anything. ¬†I want to win.

Especially in the Spiritual realm.  To lose spiritually is to go to Hell eternally.

To wrap up this blog post about what I have learned from Room 1501 on this 15th week at Joy Christian High School, I simply want to add what Jesus said about winning and losing.

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” ¬† ¬†Luke 9:23-24¬†

Jesus didn’t come to be served…even though He deserved it. ¬†He came to serve others. ¬†Jesus didn’t come to win in this world…He came to die…a.k.a…”lose,” so that He could live¬†eternally in the presence of His Heavenly Father. ¬†He “lost” so that you could win. ¬†Now…we are going to have to copy Him. ¬†What is it that you must “lose” in this life so that you may gain eternal life? ¬†What positional powers are you indulging in right now that you need to transform into Functional powers. ¬†What is it that you must die to, so that you can win? What must you lose…to truly win in what matters?


The athletes that filed¬†through Room 1501 this week helped me think about¬†what true winning and losing really is. ¬†And no matter how you look at it…Winning is everything.

Don’t let anybody tell you any differently.



Having Done in Room 1501 (Wk 10) No Looking Back!

JCS Crest 2014



Room 1501 pic


I can’t believe I¬†just completed week 10 at Joy Christian High School as a first year professional teacher. ¬†I love Room 1501 and even more the students that darken its door everyday. ¬†I am still “taking notes”, and “the jury is still out” in regards to me speaking about the differences between being a Bible Teacher in a teaching profession, and being a Senior Pastor of a large and growing Church. ¬†Having now done both…I’m having fun comparing the two. ¬†One little thing I’m noticing, which I will blog about in the future…is that whether I am¬†teaching in a classroom setting, leading my¬†mission org called Return Hope International, or being a Senior Pastor of a Church on some street corner….they are all the Church.

I believe our Christian culture has done a huge disservice to the work of the Lord

by compartmentalizing Jesus’s bride. ¬†

What do I mean? ¬†We have mission orgs, Christian schools, other Jesus centered industries, but for some reason we only call the building on the street corner The Church. ¬†I don’t want to get off track as to what this blog post’s purpose is, but the day is coming soon where I will blog about this huge disservice. ¬†The Church is way bigger than what we have dismantled it to be by compartmentalizing it the way we have. ¬†Sadly, we as the Church are the ones who have done the compartmentalizing. ¬†We must change this. ¬†(Another blog, another time.)

So on this week 10...I only¬†want to blog about¬†one day of it…and it was actually something that did NOT¬†happen in Room 1501, but in the Library of Joy Christian School at 7am on Wednesday.

Wednesdays at JCS are not only chapel days for our whole school, but they are also Staff Devotion day for the JCS Staff.  I have been asked to lead these devotions and I consider it a huge honor.  I am very grateful for the trust and acceptance that the Joy Administration and the Joy Teaching Staff have entrusted to me.  I will never take it for granted and I always look forward to Wednesdays.

Week 10’s devotion was only a half devotion due to the fact that Scott Brown, JCS’s Executive Direction, asked if he could have 15 minutes to speak to the whole staff. ¬†I think Christ-like character is displayed when the boss asks instead of tells. ¬†When Scott asked to have the 15 minutes, he could have just told me, but he asked. ¬†I love to follow this kind of leader. ¬†If you are reading this blog, I ask you to lift the Administrative Staff up in prayer as they make tough decisions to lead Joy into the future. ¬†It is not an easy task and they need our prayer and support.

Today’s blog is not focused on what I said on Wednesday at the devo, but what Scott Brown said in his 15 minutes immediately after the devotion.

Before I blog about his 15 minutes, I think it is apropos to first take a look at some phrases I wrote down at All Staff Training Day back on June 30, 2014, before JCS school officially started. ¬†So…back on that June 30th training day…

Scott said,“It’s time to change the conversation.” ¬†

He also said, “Be terrible at looking backwards.”

So, this past Wednesday was a refresher, on those two phrases and others, that we as Joy Christian School staff all agreed on when we signed up to accept the teaching and administrative positions we were offered.

Scott, taking the time to remind us of our commitment to keep Joy moving forward with¬†positive change and growing¬†academics at JCS,¬†is¬†the mark of a strong leader prodding our team to stay in¬†alignment. ¬†He challenged us to focus on the positive, to think about the things that are admirable and to work extra hard to keep focused on what the main mission is at Joy Christian School… “Building Christian Leaders.” ¬†He talked about how we will fail in attempting to accomplish that mission if each one of us do not keep our eyes on Jesus, and check our actions to make sure they are matching Jesus’s. ¬†I know all of the JCS leadership and teaching team agree that we want Joy to move forward with great success in its mission. ¬†I think it is headed in that great direction and it will take many other challenges from our leader and each other to keep the focus on that forward movement.

What was amazing to me about this past Wednesday’s devotion, which¬†was split up into two 15 minute segments, is that the theme was the same and Scott Brown and I didn’t plan it that way. ¬†It’s amazing to me how God knits things together. ¬†Before Scott stepped up to re-challenge us all, I read the passage in Scripture that Paul wrote in Philippians 4:4-8.

“4¬†Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again‚ÄĒrejoice! 5¬†Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.6¬†Don‚Äôt worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7¬†Then you will experience God‚Äôs peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.8¬†And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

I hope that passage impacts you as much as it does me. ¬†I like to say, “You and I will find what we are looking for.” ¬†What does that mean? It means that if you want to find negative about JCS, you can go looking for it and I know you will find it. ¬†The same can be said for your part in your marriage, your work, your attitude, your life. ¬†If I want to find negative about any one or all of those in your life…if I look and start asking around….I will find it. ¬†It is a fact that you and I will find what we are looking for.

So…let’s look for the positive…I know we will find it too!

If you totally focused on the Scripture passage above throughout the rest of this week…I’ll bet you find yourself having a great week. ¬†In fact, I don’t think you’ll find a great week. ¬†I don’t think great weeks are found…they are made.

So, as a very dear friend to me often says…


Great days/weeks are made, not found. ¬†And I think it’s all about attitude and focus on the good that is happening all around us. ¬†I pray that your week is a great one and that you will make great decisions that lead to more Christ-like unity and impact. ¬†I’m trying to do my part and I’m always looking for others who are contributing to the great as well.



Your next Big Conference…

The next time you are at your next learning conference/meeting remember this.

The danger with listening to the successful guy/lady on stage at your next BIG CONFERENCE, or in your next big meeting, is that they are speaking about their experience in retrospect. ¬†‘After the fact’ can be spoken about with great 20/20 hindsight. ¬†‘After the fact’ removes the fear/pain they experienced and makes it all sound like child’s play that can fit on 9 powerpoint slides. ¬†These 9 slides have a tendency to give you a prescription of success if you simply mix the same potion. ¬†christian conference

Don’t forget that the successful story you are being presented is THEIR STORY. ¬†Their unique gifts. ¬†Their unique circumstances. Their unique spouse/teammate/family. ¬†Their unique town. ¬†Their unique use by God.

Your gifts and talents are unique and exceptional to you.

Be a learner as you listen to the  speaker and acknowledge that he/she does not have the formula to YOUR success.

God does.

Listen to Him.

Do what He says.

If there is ever a guarantee of success…doing what the Holy Spirit tells you is the best shot you got.