What’s Most Important in Life

It had been some time since Jack had seen the old man. College, girls, career, and life itself got in the way. In fact, Jack moved clear across the country in pursuit of his dreams. There, in the rush of his busy life, Jack had little time to think about the past and often no time to spend with his wife and son. He was working on his future, and nothing could stop him.

Over the phone, his mother told him, “Mr. Belser died last night. The funeral is Wednesday.” Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days. “Jack, did you hear me?”

“Oh, sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It’s been so long since I thought of him. I’m sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago,” Jack said.

“Well, he didn’t forget you. Every time I saw him he’d ask how you were doing. He’d reminisce about the many days you spent over ‘his side of the fence’ as he put it,” Mom told him.

“I loved that old house he lived in,” Jack said.

“You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man’s influence in your life,” she said.

“He’s the one who taught me carpentry,” he said. “I wouldn’t be in this business if it weren’t for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important…Mom, I’ll be there for the funeral,” Jack said. Busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his hometown.

Mr. Belser’s funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away. The night before he had to return home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time. Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time.

The house was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture…Jack stopped suddenly. “What’s wrong, Jack?” his Mom asked.

“The box is gone,” he said.

“What box?” Mom asked.

“There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he’d ever tell me was ‘the thing I value most,'” Jack said. It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had taken it. “Now I’ll never know what was so valuable to him,” Jack said. “I better get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom.”

It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died. Returning home from work one day, Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. “Signature required on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days,” the note read. Early the next day Jack retrieved the package. The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention. “Mr. Harold Belser” it read.

Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There inside was the gold box and an envelope. Jack’s hands shook as he read the note inside. “Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It’s the thing I valued most in my life.”

A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filling his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch. Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover. Inside he found these words engraved: “Jack, Thanks for your time! -Harold Belser.”

“The thing he valued most was…my time.” Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and cleared his appointments for the next two days. “Why?” Janet, his assistant asked. “I need some time to spend with my son,” he said. “Oh, by the way, Janet, thanks for your time!”

Do not take for granted the time you have here on earth.

To all my family & friends I want to THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME.

 The story in this post is from an unknown source.

George Yates is a Life Purpose Coach and Church Health Strategist assisting individuals, churches, and organizations in fulfilling their God-given purpose in life.

Comfort in Affliction

It is easy to say to someone that God will comfort you in your sorrow or in your affliction. But sometimes those words do not bring the “comfort” intended. The Apostle Paul writes in this passage (below) as a man who knows trouble. He is writing as a man who knows trouble to a people who are facing trouble.

He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:4

While we do not face the same persecution and pressures the earliest Christians faced, it is always a costly thing to be a “real’ Christian. Christianity does not exist without the cross. As believers in Christ we have hope – a promise for the future. Anytime you see the word “comfort” in the New Testament it means much more than soothing sympathy. Comfort comes from the Latin word fortis. And fortis means brave.

As I write this, many in the southeastern part of our nation are bracing for possibly the worst hurricane to ever come out of the Atlantic Ocean, Irma. This will certainly bring hardship and affliction to many. And it comes just two weeks after one of the worst storms (hurricanes) ever to hit south east Texas, not to mention a deadly earthquake in Mexico, wildfires in California and other natural disasters around the world.

Affliction is part of this world we live in. In the scripture passage above, the Apostle Paul writes that God comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort others facing affliction. As believers in god we know to pray for those in affliction. We also should be ready to comfort them in and through their affliction.

Later in the same passage from 2nd Corinthians Paul writes, “And our hope for you is firm, because we know that as you share in the sufferings, so you will share in the comfort.” Let us not grow weary in well doing. Let us not neglect the opportunity to comfort (fortis) others in their time of affliction.

George Yates is a Life Purpose Coach and Church Health Strategist assisting individuals, churches, and organizations in fulfilling their God-given purpose in life. Visit SonC.A.R.E. Ministries online and see the leadership resources available



What’s in a Value Statement?

Understanding our core values can be beneficial in our personal lives. In our last post, we discussed the importance and definition of core values. In this article, I will describe a process I use to assist individuals and churches in discovering their core values and writing value statements. (Individuals wanting to unearth their core values will be able to eliminate the middle steps and move to writing value statements.)

First, I open with some discussion about core values, what they are and how we operate out of our values. (see previous post)

After describing core values and how they are manifested through our actions and speech, each person is given 3 blank post-it notes and an ink pen. I then ask each person in the room to list three of his/her individual core values on the post-it notes (one core value on each post-it).

Each person is instructed to bring his/her post-it notes to a focal wall at or near the front of the room. At this point we can see what drives the people in our church to act and speak as he/she does.

So far it is all about the individual and each person’s core values. This is the pool of core values from which our church core values will come. Since core values are manifested through our words and actions, we cannot write a separate set of values for the church. They must come from the pool of core values of our members.

At this point in my meeting with the church, I have 3-4 church leaders group the post it notes by value listed. All the post its with integrity is placed in a vertical line together. Each one with love or compassion is lined together, and so on with all values listed on the post-its.

Each person is then given 3 dot stickers (small dots from any office supply store). The instructions are to come forward to the wall of values and place the three stickers on three different values (using only the 5-7 most frequently listed values). This time instead of individual values, each person will place the stickers on what he/she perceives to be a value of the church as a whole – why the church acts as it does.

Following this meeting a pre-determined group will take the post-its with dots in place, and other information gathered at the meeting. This group is tasked with prayerfully considering these values and writing value statements for the core values of the church. My instructions to this team is each value statement must have a value word, an action word or phrase, and must be directly related to scripture.

The value word tells what the church values so deeply. The action word describes how we as a church act and speak. Finally, they must reference at least one scripture verse/passage relating to this value.

For more information on discovering core values or having George lead your church through this process, contact George Yates.

George Yates is a Life Purpose Coach and Church Health Strategist assisting individuals, churches, and organizations in fulfilling their God-given purpose in life. Visit SonC.A.R.E. Ministries online and see the leadership resources available.

Core Values; What Are They?

In recent weeks, I’ve been working with several churches on identifying their true core values. Some of these churches are going through the Reaching the Summit process, others have not, but wanted to know their true core values. Many churches who go to the extent of writing core values never realize some of the true core values of the church.

The common way these churches come to identifying their church values is to go on the internet and find other churches who have core values listed. Then they pick and choose the ones “they like” as core values for their church. My question is, “Whose core values are these?” these are not necessarily the core values of this church, but borrowed values from another church.

So how do we identify the True core values of a church? First, let’s identify what a core value is.

  • Core values are those inner beliefs that drive you to think, respond, act & do the things the way you do.
  • Values communicate what is important to me
  • Values influence overall behavior
  • In the church, core values are the constant, passionate, principle biblical beliefs that drive the ministry.

Before we can set the vision, before we can accomplish our mission, we must first understand what drives us – our core values.

Every person has their individual set of core values. This is what drives each person to respond, act and say the things we say and do. I also believe each church has a set of core values; those deepest inner beliefs that drive a church to act and do what it does.

Sitting amongst several seminary leaders a couple of years ago I stated, “Evangelism is no longer a core value in our churches.” Stunned looks of shock overcame their faces. I continued, “If it were, we would not have the majority of our churches in decline, would we?” Of course, they all had to agree, every one of these seminary presidents and vice presidents. Evangelism is not a core value because it is not manifested in the lives of church members.

Before we can write a set of church core values, does it not seem appropriate that we should identify the values of the individuals who make up the church? A business organization can write a set of core values for the business and recruit people who will follow those core values. Personally, I do not believe the church can operate in the same manner.

It is my belief that to understand the true core values of the church we must first have an understanding of the member’s individual core values. After all, core values are manifested through our actions. We can write the most eloquent, biblical values possible. But if our church is not manifesting them through actions and words, these are not the true core values of the church.

Next week I will write of one way to help identify true core values for yourself and your church.

George Yates is a Life Purpose Coach and Church Health Strategist assisting individuals, churches, and organizations in fulfilling their God-given purpose in life. Visit SonC.A.R.E. Ministries online and see the leadership resources available.

The Best Life Compass on the Market

A settler in the early days of north Michigan tells this story: ‘One day I had been walking in the woods, when though I could not see the sun or sky, I knew by the settling darkness that night was coming on, and started, as I thought, for home. I was so certain of my direction that for some time I did not look at my compass. On doing so, however, I was greatly surprised to find that, whereas I thought I was going east, in reality I was bound due west.

Not only was I surprised, but I was so sure of my own judgment and so disgusted with my compass that I raised my arm to throw it away. – Then pausing, I thought, “You have never lied to me yet, and I’ll trust you once more.” I followed it and came out all right.’

The Bible is a compass that has guided millions to heaven. Some would throw it away, but those who follow it always come out safely.

The Holy Bible is God’s compass to us. It is a love story, a guide to great leadership, a life coach, a treasure chest full of accurate pin-pointing direction for life – everyone’s life.

Like the Michigan settler, the further in our journey we wait to use our compass, the farther off course we will be, perhaps walking in the completely opposite direction. Start your day reading a portion of God’s compass to you. It will point you in the right direction for the day.

George Yates is a Life Purpose Coach and Church Health Strategist assisting individuals, churches, and organizations in fulfilling their God-given purpose in life. Visit SonC.A.R.E. Ministries online and see the leadership resources available.

Be a Leader of Grace

“A person of integrity only goes “against” someone who is destroying something good, and then is only against the destruction, not the person himself.”  Dr. Henry Cloud, in his book “Integrity”, speaks of a person of grace.

Grace is the extending of favor to others even when they have done nothing to deserve such favor. A leader with grace understands for others to reach the level of standards set, will at times require grace in the form of training, coaching, encouragement, and empowerment, as well as other resources to assist them in reaching standards and higher levels. “Leaders without grace set the standard and do nothing to help people meet it. Then when they don’t meet it the leader turns on them as adversaries.” Dr. Henry Cloud (Integrity pg 85)

As a parent of grace empowers a child toward achievement, so a leader of grace will empower his/her charges. Not to do so will stifle effective production, and personal growth. People being held down, back, or at bay will eventually rebel. In most cases, they will leave. Many leaders have “run away” some of their best employees and workers because they use demand instead of grace.

Grace is not removing the standard. Grace is allowing more time and resources to assist the individual in reaching the standard. It is understood that grace can only carry so far. There are times and situations that require assisting an individual to move on. However, this should also be done with grace.

Cloud relates this story of a man about a former boss. “She was a tough one, but I always felt she wanted me to do well. She wanted me to win, even when she was hard on me.” The goal of every leader should be to leave behind a trail of people who have experienced grace and are stronger, better, more efficient for knowing the leader. People of grace always leave people better off than before knowing them – even when they’re getting nothing in return.

A leader of grace is one who not only holds to the standard, but helps others rise to and above the standard for the individual and the team through positive resourcing.

Are you a leader of grace or demand? Grace will always get you farther and lead to the more efficient and productive organization. Being a leader of grace is being a person of integrity. Be a leader of grace in every area of your life. I’m striving to. Will you?

George Yates is a Life Purpose Coach and Church Health Strategist assisting individuals, churches, and organizations in fulfilling their God-given purpose in life. Visit SonC.A.R.E. Ministries online and see the leadership resources available.

Feedback Matters

Feedback matters. What you do with it matters even more. Successful higher-level leaders welcome, even invite feedback. However, many people in leadership positions have a fear and resentment about feedback. I have known people in positions of leadership both in the corporate world and in ministry who refused to accept any feedback or criticism.

Can you imagine a person changing companies every year or two simply because their annual evaluation came back with an area to work on? I’ve witnessed it and heard of it multiple times. We all have areas we need to work on. Running from those weak areas will never solve the issues and will stifle our growth and keep us from climbing the ladder of leadership and success.

The story is told of a fortune 500, computer company, surviving the technology bust around the turn of the 21st century and the biggest layoff in company history. A survey was given to all company employees with not so warm results. The survey revealed employees impression of the top officers in the company; the company’s CEO was considered impersonal and emotionally detached. The company president was autocratic and antagonistic. There were other such words used as well, but you get the picture. More than half of the employees stated they would leave the company if provided an opportunity.

Fortunately, this CEO and his president did not do as most in the business world. They actually took the survey to heart. Realizing that over half of your workforce is ready to walk out the door is not a comforting feeling for anyone in leadership. – Or, at least it should not be a comfortable feeling. That large of a percentage cannot be wrong. Changes need to be made.

This CEO and his president knew they had to take a long hard look at their own conduct and leadership styles. Both men studied, received counsel, and began working on correcting their poor behavior patterns. Videos from the CEO, about the wake up call, were played for all company employees. Changes began to take place – not only in these two men. But also in the overall atmosphere of the company.

In many organizations, if this type feedback had been revealed, the persons in leadership would have ignored the information or tightened the screws a little more in their ill-fated leading. This type behavior certainly will drive away the best leaders and workers in the organization. Turnover will be extremely high and quality of work low. It happens in business.. It happens in ministry.

Today, that computer company is one of the largest, holding a high market share, and is a stronger company than before. Why? Because the two men at the top realized the change needed to start at the top. The realization that their leadership was the biggest factor holding the company back. Their willingness to make the needed adjustments in their own lives perhaps saved the company and put it on solid, growing ground where it has remained for the last sixteen years.

My prayer is that as a leader you will always welcome, even invite feedback, especially constructive feedback. This is the only way you will grow as a leader and the only way to progress through the levels of leadership. Feedback matters. What you do with it matters even more.

George Yates is a Life Purpose Coach and Church Health Strategist assisting individuals, churches, and organizations in fulfilling their God-given purpose in life. Visit SonC.A.R.E. Ministries online and see the leadership resources available.

Level Five – The Cream Always Rises to the Top

Little has been written about Level Five leaders. Perhaps because it is rare to find a level five leader. Or could it be because level five leaders are so modest, self-effacing, and humble that they are difficult to capture? It is not that they are actually difficult to capture. However, it is difficult to get them to speak about themselves. The reason being they are – modest, self-effacing, and humble –not so much in their eyes, but in the eyes of their beloved employees (volunteers).

Level five leaders are overly self-effacing, thinking of others, always giving credit to everyone else on the team. You will likely never hear a level five leader take credit, even if he was the only person involved in the accomplishment. But he/she will always gladly point to the team as the reason for success.

Level five leaders are so high on the team success scale that all individual contributions at all levels have become secondary (or non-existent). This leader has constructed and developed a team that loves the leader to the point that the effectiveness of the team’s accomplishment is the victory. Team members will sacrifice for a level five leader; not because of a deadline or time limit, but because of their admiration and love for the level five leader.

Not only do level five leaders pass the credit (even if he/she has done most of the work), he will also shoulder the responsibility, even when the responsibility lies elsewhere. This is where the humility of a level five leader shines through. The leader could have been 500 miles away when the blunder occurred, yet, he will always take ownership of the responsibility and never pass blame. Like a mother hen takes care of her chicks, so a level five leader will protect his team members.

Level five leaders will repeat the team success no matter where or what team they are assigned to. The cream always rises to the top. Level five leaders cannot, by nature of who they are, reveal themselves as a level five leader. Think about that statement. If a person claims to be a level five leader, does that claim not take away humility and self-effacement? This alone would disqualify a person as a level five leader, would it not?

Level five leaders are always hard, diligent workers as well. Not afraid to get their hands dirty, often the first on the job and the last to leave, yet disciplined in keeping life’s priorities straight. Like most people you and I may never reach the level five leadership post, but should it not be our ever-endeavoring effort?

George Yates is a Life Purpose Coach and Church Health Strategist assisting individuals, churches, and organizations in fulfilling their God-given purpose in life. Visit SonC.A.R.E. Ministries online and see the leadership resources available.

Many Aspire, But Few Make it to Level Four

In this series on the five levels of leadership we have thus far looked at the lower three levels:

1)      Positional leader – This leader operates from an authoritarian stance. He uses his position or title as the authority to get things done. This is the lowest level of leadership and actually the least productive of all. (See the post titled “Your True Leadership Style is the Behavior Pattern Others Perceive” for more on this leadership level)

2)      Relational level – This leader gets buy-in from team members and employees by building relationships across all lines, ethnic, socio-economic, gender, age, and work ethic. Production comes when people feel the leader cares enough to positively encourage workers by getting to know each one. (See the post titled “Moving Up the Ladder of Influence and Leadership” for more on this second level of leadership)

3)      Gaining Momentum – The level three leader has built relationships, gained respect and now employees and team members are motivated around a specific cause. Individual interests are put aside for the good of the team producing greater effectiveness. (See the post titled “Reaching for Level Three Leadership” for more on this leadership level)

While many aspire towards level four and five, few ever truly make it. Level four leaders are developing leaders from within his/her team (be it paid employees or volunteers). This is where the cream rises to the top. True leaders are assisting their team members in personal growth. Not in only the yes men and women of the team – but every member. People want to follow a level four leader. They are not running away or leaving the organization.

It is true many people are not certain how to assist others to grow. Others, like level one leaders are threatened by the possibility of subordinates or employees and volunteers. “After all, if that person grows in leadership ability, he might expose me or take my job.” While they will never come out with those words, a level one leader would rather attempt to hold someone back and even take credit for what others do. Level four leaders do the opposite. They want to see every person in the organization grow and reach his/her full potential.

I love John Maxwell’s statement, “A leader is great not because of his or her power, but because of his ability to empower others.” There is so much providential truth in that statement that I encourage you to read it again – and again.

Unfortunately, too many leaders have a false sense of level four leadership. We have level one leaders in churches and other organizations masquerading, pretending to be level four leaders and never facing reality.

Level four leaders understand their main responsibility is to assist in the development of all team members (not a select few who agree with the leader)  to accomplish the work at hand and to grow beyond the scope needed for this task. Level four leaders will see their team members rising above, receiving promotions, and leading others.

Don’t be a “in my own mind” level four leader. You will run your best people away. Instead strive to become a true level four leader by building the requirements of levels two and three. Then do everything in your power to help all your team members (employees and volunteers) to grow beyond your own leadership. This requires vulnerability and humility. And this is truly a level four leader.

George Yates is a Life Purpose Coach and Church Health Strategist assisting individuals, churches, and organizations in fulfilling their God-given purpose in life. Visit SonC.A.R.E. Ministries online and see the leadership resources available.

Reaching for Level Three Leadership

Level one leaders operate from position or title. Productivity at level one is short-lived, turnover is high, and trust is lacking. Level two leaders operate relationally, building relationships that garner respect. Leaders who rightfully earn the respect of their workers (volunteers) will also gain permission to lead for effective results. So, how does a leader move from relational to higher levels of leadership and more effective results?

Because of the relationships built and trust earned, a leader can move to the next level of leadership which is “gaining momentum” or as John Maxwell justly calls it, Production. In this level, we begin to see teamwork surfacing. People are now coming together for a cause. Workers (paid or volunteer) desire coming together to accomplish the tasks at hand. Effectiveness as a team emerges overtaking individual exploits.

Level three leaders observe and act in ways that will build the team as well as individual members of the team. Level three leaders are results oriented – but not by force. Leaders at this level have and continue building relationships and involve workers in determining and resourcing for effective results. Workers, who have been included in the decision and fact checking process (research and reviewing statistics, facts, and products) are more likely to strive to accomplish desired results. Therefore, creating a team effort for effective results.

At level three, people follow because of proven results – results that the team and you have accomplished. A level three leader will pass the credit of success to lower levels of workers. (Level one leaders want the credit; “It’s what I did”). The more a leader will pass the credit and shoulder responsibility, the greater effectiveness he will become as a level three leader and preparing him for level four. Here is an example:

“It is true we did not reach all of our goals for this month as a team. However, every one of you performed well and we’ve seen growth because of it. I am proud to tell others that I am on the same team with you. I take full responsibility for our team not reaching “xyz” and I know that if we pull together we will do our best to overcome that obstacle next month. You did well. Let’s keep the momentum going this month.”

Even if he/she has done the major share of the work, a leader who always passes the credit, will have no issues with people giving their best to accomplish goals and tasks. On top of passing the credit, a leader who will carry the responsibility of shortfalls on his shoulders instead of “passing the blame”, will gain followers that will not easily be dissuaded.

Be a leader who not only builds relationships with everyone on your team, but one who strives to build individuals into effective productive teams – teams who desire to be together to accomplish a task or take on a specific cause. Swallow your pride and self-centeredness and begin passing the credit of all success and accept the responsibility of losses or failures as your own. After all it is your watch, you are the leader. You can build a team of effective production and momentum beyond any individual glories.

George Yates is a Life Purpose Coach and Church Health Strategist assisting individuals, churches, and organizations in fulfilling their God-given purpose in life. Visit SonC.A.R.E. Ministries online and see the leadership resources available.