“Be Humble, Stay Hungry, and Always Hustle”, says Brad Lomenick in his new book. I received the book thanks to the Carey Neiuwhof leadership podcast that I listen to when I walk my dog and, man, I am happy I did.
This book contains loads of good advice, helpful questions, ideas and plans for changing not just the organization involved, but the leaders themselves. As someone constantly seeking to “do more better” as Tim Challies would put it, I appreciated this book a great deal. Each chapter ends with suggestions from various church and business leaders of how to implement what has been discussed.
Before someone gets upset and thinks this is too crass a business book to be of use to a minister or church leader consider this passage where Lomenick quotes one of his mentors regarding holiness: “The man of God you want to be when you’re seventy-five is the man of God you’re becoming when you’re twenty-five.” Elsewhere, he writes about the importance of charitable giving and reminds his readers that “when we are financially generous, it is as much to grow us into giving people as it is to help someone who needs resources”. Lomenick isn’t for a moment arguing we leave the Bible behind, accept the whole world of business management, and compromise our church values. What he IS doing is offering insight into how he thinks he came to have the success he has had and what he notices about others having great success in ministry and in para-church organizations.
One part of the book that didn’t help me much was about staying motivated. Lomenick notes, “Once a leader gets a few wins under his belt, he faces the temptation to grow complacent. Resist this at all costs. It will breed dissatisfaction with your life and work.” That has never been my problem. I need to learn how to stop and breathe more, to allow others around me to stop and breathe more, and to celebrate well the accomplishments that do transpire! Lomenick does talk about celebrating wins as an important aspect of leadership, but it didn’t resonate too much with me.
A very useful idea that many of us could try is this: when faced with a problem, seek at least three possible solutions before picking one. (This is a suggestion so simple and obvious and yet many of us, and many of the boards, sessions, and committees we are on, do not adopt.) It may lead to much more creative and helpful solutions than what we often settle for.
What I most appreciated about this book was a little line that gave words to a thought I’ve had. . . . . . I often argue with people that we have come to expect far too little of God; that in our worries and hand-wringing over the church we place far too much emphasis on us and what we perceive ourselves capable of doing and far too little emphasis on what our God has proven himself capable of. The result? We set low standards and expectations in the church. I can really rub people the wrong way with this sort of thinking, but I’m alright with that because I believe God loves lost people and uses the church to go out and find them. Here is what Lomenick wrote, “Excellence: set standards that scare you.”
If God is on our side, if God is empowering us, is equipping us, is calling us to do His work, then that work is something that is beyond us. It is beyond our powers and strengths, beyond our willpower and motivation, and far beyond our abilities. Whenever we set goals that aren’t, we are not being faithful to God who promised to bear our load and to use us to reach all the earth. But now I’m preaching.
This book is worthwhile reading for all those involved in church leadership. It will speak to those who are open to dreaming big dreams and improving themselves and their reliance upon God in order to see them through.