Innovational leadership

What is this post about?

So for those who don’t know, I am studying a degree in theology. At the time of writing this, I’m 70% of the way through my preparation for leadership in ministry module. If you know anything about my journey, I did an entire year of leadership training last year, this module has dropped me into a completely new level of knowledge.

 

What i want to focus on is my take on what was introduced to me during one paticular session. I’m going to introduce something called ‘the second curve’ (Charles Handy – The Second Curve).

This diagram was introduced to us during the session, it describes the typical process from when vision is introduced, to its initial growth and then onto its decline. Notice the second curve? This is what we will focus on today.

A brief explanation 

This diagram shows the process in which vision is both born and the process in which it dies. Let’s focus on the first stage for now – inception. Inception shows an initial dip right from the off. Most new ideas are met with energy and enthusiasm, at least from those who created them! The process in which things get moving probably doesn’t look like you envisioned it to look like. It takes a fair amount of consistency and persistence to get a new idea off of the ground. Notice how the initial inception curve looks exactly like the new start curve (more on that later)?

Relate this to the local church, new ideas take time to build momentum. Personally, I believe this process is proof (even if it is only proving something to you yourself!) that the idea is built on firm foundations. Is the vision you are trying to put into motion aligned with God’s vision for the church? This process will reveal the answer for you.

Growth. Most forget about growth and focus on the end goal and miss the significance in the growth phase. Growth can often be painful. Think about when you physically grew as a child, you knew about it right!? Spiritual growth, or growth of a vision / new ideas and so on, can often lead to growing pain. Growing pain is the process in which you learn about what works and what doesn’t work to push further towards the desired goal. This is where most get things wrong and it is here in which a decline, might begin.

We’re going to skip over maturity to briefly mention the decline, although it may seem obvious, it must be addressed just to lay out a foundation. The decline is the phase in which growth has plateaued and then we experience a dying vision. Think of the Churches you know of that have closed over the past few years, they all encountered this phase. This is the phase in which what once worked, no longer does so.

innovational leadership – the second curve.

We’ve briefly explored what the first curve looks like, what about the second curve? The second curve is where we avoid death and continue growth by changing things up, yes I said the word change! Often too many of us are a little afraid or hesitant to embrace change, but change is just how God works to continue the growth of your vision in the church.

The second curve starts slightly above the growth stage and just before the maturity phase. The maturity phase can also be labeled the plateau phase. You should not be reactive to a plateau, you should predict a plateau and act accordingly based on what you and your team have observed. It is the leadership’s responsibility to be forward thinking, in which they are not naively believing that the thing that initially created growth will continue to do so, change and innovation is needed to reintroduce relevance as a means to continue growing and in doing so, create an entirely new curve.

Innovation is absolutely essential to fuel the relevance of the Church and its vision, without it, vision and the church will die. There is no clear answer to knowing when and where you should create fresh vision/ideas. It really depends on how often we allow God to disrupt our lives, are you willing to completely reinvent something even if it’s working well? Can you let go of the success?

Notice how the first dip in the inception phase, looks exactly like the initial dip in the new ideas phase? Every new idea or vision as mentioned earlier requires persistence to get it off of the ground. The reason behind this is that people don’t like change, and this is the period in which you will have the most trouble. People like staying where they are and are hesitant to change things that already work. This is where culture enters the mix, a healthy culture will embrace change an unhealthy culture will oppose it AND make sure you know it opposes it.

The process of leading from a place of innovational leadership will often lead to losing people but then gaining people through the growth of the new vision.

 

Relevance

I’d quickly like to just mention relevance. Really the main problem we are addressing is relevance. If the church and its vision cease from being relevant it dies. So relevance is directly responsible FOR growth. Where is relevance created? Innovation. God provides the resource, the rest is up to us. I’m quoting TD Jakes here, but God didn’t make chairs and tables, he made trees. God encourages us to look at what is and envision what it could be. Innovate to create relevance which in turn creates and grows new vision and ideas.

 

I hope this makes sense? I’ve quickly whirled through my thought process but i didn’t want to make this lengthy and extensive; i know you all have lives to attend to 😉 Please if you have questions, ask them!

Tom

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Innovational leadership

A Generation Of Change

It’s no secret that millennials are an… interesting generation, but i’ve been thinking about it a lot lately (my mind doesn’t seem to stop these days). We’re on the brink of a generational shift, millennials are starting to influence the world now, look at Mark Zuckerberg’s recent speech at Harvard – http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/05/mark-zuckerbergs-speech-as-written-for-harvards-class-of-2017/ , this is the type of thing our world can become capable of.

What is concerning though, is how the non-millennial world reacts to this sort of thing, but then again there will always be opposition in the face of change, especially change that has the ability to change the world.

What i want to really talk about is how this generational shift can impact the church. If roles of influence are changing in modern day places, there is almost certainly going to be the same in the church to facilitate a world that loves exploring new things.

The difference between how it works normally as opposed to how it works in the church though, is that in the church, it is all intertwined and flows from one generation to the next.

Let me introduce a concept (that i don’t have a name for yet) in that we enter ‘new worlds’ as new generations become more influential.

The world will not be the same under the millennial generation as it has been as we know it now, so it is as though we are moving into a new skin. Matthew 9:16 says – “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Don’t you love how the bible will consistently stay relevant? It is universal through generational change.  

Our world is simply entering into a new wineskin, and so is the church – it is up to us millennials to facilitate that. Millennials in church have grown up under a leadership that has prepared us for a time like this, it is one of the greatest calls of the church, to prepare the next generation to lead the way. 

So what does this new wine skin look like? I wrote this down when i had one of ‘Tom moments’ where i think deeply into something and end up into a trance of deep tangents – The role of a millennial lead church, is not to preach well, or to become obsessed with how church is done.

It is to become obsessed by connecting people into a community. Community connects people, and when people connect, the world changes. It brings around true identity and with that a sense of purpose. If there is anything that millennials need, it is identity and purpose. This is how i believe the church will empower people to pursue the call of God on their life.

You have the community of the church, but then you have inter church communities. You have entrepreneur’s, doctors, youth workers, police officers… You get the picture, community creates change. I believe a millennial community will bring a change in the way we know how the world works.

Ultimately, i really believe in this new wine skin, this is the vision for the church. Equality, in a community that encourages the ability to change the world.

 

A Generation Of Change

The final stint.

Long time no speak. Sorry i haven’t kept up with the blog, it’s been an interesting journey the last couple of months.

Tomorrow marks the start of our final 3 months here in Sheffield. I feel a little homesick, at the time of writing this, i’ve only just gotten back to Sheffield.

I love being home, i’m loving family life and i find it really hard to be away from the people i care about the most. Of course Hannah is here with me, and she is an incredible help but sometimes you just gotta let your emotions play out (I had a little cry on her earlier – I don’t care, I’m in touch with my emotions;) ).

The last few months have been a wrestle. It seems that life often pans out that way with me, but rather than having a pity party, my biggest challenge is to find comfort and content in the midst of it.

This year was always going to be a big fight for me, but i’ve learnt that on the other side of challenge and uncertainty, there is the promise that God said he’d fulfil. Coming back after a break at home has been the hardest thing if I’m honest.

The intensity of this year has 100% been needed but it’s always hard to come back to when you’ve had such a good time with your family. So this post is coming from a little vulnerability and slightly homesick Tom, not a feel sorry for himself Tom:P!

The change it has brought in me will set me up for the future i’ve dreamed of since i was 17. I’ve always struggled with commitment. When i can’t see vision in something, i find it hard to commit to it.

I’ve jumped from job to job previous to this year and it hasn’t done me any good. If it were up to me i’d of taken the easy way out ages ago!

I have to finish well. For myself. This is THE hardest thing for me. Going into these next 3 months feels like a mountain to me. I wont sugar coat it, it’s really hard. Everything in me wants to run away from this, but i can’t let myself do that.

It’s almost like internally, i’m screaming to stop but i have to keep taking a step further. If i focus on the future, and going back home – i’ll make this next 3 months what i fear them to be.

If i focus on each day as it comes, giving my all to what is right in front of me, these next few months will come easier. It’s ok saying that though, the hard part is living that out.

If you are the praying type, being surrounded by prayer is everything that i need right now. If i can beat this, i will defeat one of the biggest barriers in my life. I really believe it’ll give me access to a whole new level in my walk with God.

Sorry for the intense post, but this place has always been a place to get my thoughts out. So if you read this far, thank you.

Speak to you soon,

Tom

The final stint.

You don’t need a fresh start, you need a continuation.

Yep, we’re back at the book of Joshua AGAIN. I’m hooked on Joshua and the season i’m in is heavily relying on the story of Joshua at the moment. Joshua is a guy who instigated a continuation of what God already had started with Moses. I’m going to try my best to unpack what it means to me in this post.

It can be easy to get cold feet when things get tough, trust me i know and relate with you on that one. The thing is, is that there is a hidden cost to a high calling on your life. We are all leaders, it just depends on how you define leadership, we all have the call of god on our life and we all lay under the call to love people and see them saved and if you choose to pursue that, it takes you on an incredible journey, that if i’m honest, can exhaust you quite often. The more and more you journey with God, the more the intensity turns up.
Recently, in the past couple of months i’ve battled with a lot of frustrations and i need to be honest with you, there have been moments where i have been cynical and felt like quitting and going back on everything i’ve invested into. It is when you are in this place that you touch heaven and push yourself into an environment in which God does what god does best, providing you endure the season. You will see miracles in this season, this season is you touching the greatness of God’s provision for his people. Miracles in which your vision comes to pass and then some.

 Numbers 13:27 – This is what they reported to Moses: “We went to the land where you sent us. It really is a land flowing with milk and honey. Here’s some of its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are strong, and the cities have walls and are very large. We even saw the descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev. The Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the mountain region. And the Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and all along the Jordan River.”

30 Caleb told the people to be quiet and listen to Moses. Caleb said, “Let’s go now and take possession of the land. We should be more than able to conquer it.”

In this scripture Moses sends his men to explore the land that could well be the promise land. They come back cynical, encouraging Moses to turn on his vision and give into the challenges that they face. Caleb on the other hand, is a clear example of someone who is able to surrender their own vision for another mans vision, just as a side note, know that there will be seasons in your life that God will ask you to lay down your vision so that he can incubate your vision whilst you serve and craft your character together. Back to the point, Caleb is the only person who believes in Moses’s vision, Moses could easily turn back at this point, but they’d been wondering in the desert for 40 years, they’d given too much for this. How incredible is it, that 40 years of investment and when things get too tough everyone is prepared to break everything they’d worked towards and go for a ‘fresh start’. You need a Caleb for your vision. You need a Caleb to push you through the uncertainty, the frustration. A Caleb to journey your vision with, will push you through the frustration and get you to a sweet spot, a spot in which heaven demonstrates itself on your life and allows your frustrations to channel themselves to your core, which in turn becomes your teacher. God is incredible, he allows us to face these uncertainties but only to use them to mould your character and grow you. The things you think that will destroy you, project you and throw you into the midst of God’s promise.

Moses never even saw the manifestation of his vision, Joshua did. Moses, and Caleb prepared the way for God’s promise to manifest itself upon his people. Moses refused to go for a fresh start and back out, he threw everything he had into his vision, and made it possible for Joshua to carry it out and even then, Joshua had to face real challenges and uncertainties. You see the continuation of your vision in the face of frustration and hardship determines what God does through your life. Your vision is as big as you make it, its up to you how big you dream. It’s up to God to journey with you and complete the dream through your life.

Let me encourage you that if things are tough, you are on the right path and you are on the edge of brilliance

You don’t need a fresh start, you need a continuation.

Don’t follow your heart – Question it.

Sometimes, the biggest battles we face, are in our heads. The internal voice that dictates the way you ‘feel’ (surrounded by quotations because it’s important), can destroy your identity and your approach to life. The reason behind that is because this generation is a generation that has adopted the approach to life in which they live based on how they feel. If you allow your feelings to alter the way you approach day to day life and allow the inner voice to control your feelings you are on a dangerous path. Proverbs 14:12-13 -There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.
13 Even in laughter the heart may ache,
and the end of joy may be grief.  – What the scripture is saying, is that if you live based on what your heart tells you and what you think you really feel, you are going to end up desiring things that were never meant to meet you in life and can only be dysfunctional to your faith and actually leads to discontentment. Don’t allow your feelings to dictate your destiny.

I truly believe the biggest challenge our generation faces, alongside the identity crisis we seem to have, is the internal battle. The internal battle goes side by side with the identity crisis because the internal battle fuels your identity crisis. If you live by feelings alone your identity will be formed around that mind set and your character will become far from what it should be. This is strong language i know, but it’s only because it’s come from personal pain that i feel i need to leave the sugar coating out of this. I’ve gotten to the point where i understand that i need to question my heart rather than follow it. You always hear that cliche phrase ‘Follow your heart’ when it comes to crossroads in life, but as humans we are flawed and what we think we want is not what we really want. What we want as humans cannot compare to what God wants for our lives. The majority of my teenage years were lived for humanly things and it took me away from God and they became some of the most painful years of my life. I endured my identity crisis and it hurt because i had to strip everything away that i knew about myself because it was all about me and God knew what really will bring contentment in my life lies with my true identity so i had to find that. It was the renewal of my mind (Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect) that set me back on the straight and narrow. The process of allowing myself to trust that God knows what i really need rather than what i want was ultimately what brought me to the point in which i found contentment with who i am and when you know who you truly are, your vision can be unveiled and the rest is history because you can’t fade from that, that promise of life over you can never be un-engraved from your spirit. A life lived in alignment with complete submission to God’s plan for you can only lead to things you never expected to encounter.

Question Your Heart. When you desire something, question it. Check it’s from the big guy upstairs. Allow him to mould you even when you don’t know you need to be moulded. I’m not saying its easy, im saying its worth it. The vision i have been blessed with is above and beyond anything i desired for myself, seriously. Live based on your relationship with the big guy and you can’t go wrong. Don’t de-humanise yourself by living based on something you were never designed for.

Hope you relate to this and sorry i’ve not written in a while. Im writing another post tonight so i can post it in the next couple of the days.

Tom :’)

Don’t follow your heart – Question it.

Your Yes is only as powerful as your No.

This post has been bouncing around my head for a week or so now, its one i’ve been battling with and tryna figure out. I think i got it so ima write it down and you can decide for yourself if you think its any good or not.

In my experience and from just living life i’ve seen so many of my friends become so good at saying Yes to God but they’re no where near as good as saying No to the world. Your yes is only as powerful as your no and if you’re no good at saying no to the world then your Yes isn’t gonna make much noise. Ever wondered why you get on such a hype at conference then when you’re home things get back to how they were? It’s because you’ve not learnt how to say no to the world, no to your circumstance, no to your problems… If you carry on living a life that is dictated by a worldly mindset, you’ll carry on being consumed by your circumstance rather than be consumed by faith that God is working in your situation and seeing the manifestation of such a mind set.

Learning how to empower your No is a big thing. It will probably lead you into some deserts, an uncomfortable place. Matthew 4:1 – Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Notice how it said Jesus was lead by the spirit to the uncomfortable place? Sometimes God allows you to enter these places because they become the incubation zone for your faith to grow. The desert is a place assigned to you by God for your identity to form. The desert is the place in which God empowers you to be strong enough to sustain the weight of your calling not by lifting you up, but by allowing you to enter uncertainty and sometimes pain so that in the future you can lift the weight of what your destiny carries. In Matthew 12, we see Jesus begin his ministry on Earth. If that isn’t a big signification of what a leader’s life looks like then i’m not sure what is. God leads you to an uncomfortable place, (sometimes that looks like depression or anxiety, sometimes it’s being pushed out of your comfort zone by going on a gap year or a mission trip,  *cough, Do hope city academy!!! *cough) because you’re about to enter the very thing you were born into this earth for. Jesus was alone too. Sometimes, not all the times but sometimes, your journey to understanding who you really are and what your life really looks like and how much potential God holds over you can be a lonely one. Sometimes there wont be anyone who understands your situation and the only person you have is God. Thats where intimacy grows. A leader who’s only dependancy is in God will go far because he is not looking elsewhere for his significance. 

Your no, empowers your yes. When you struggle with insecurity, tell it no and consume yourself with God’s presence. When you struggle with serving, declare over yourself that God blessed you with a servant heart and you’ll live in the reality of that blessing. Let me just stop real quick on the serving thing – Don’t get me wrong, God needs people who say yes, say yes to him and you’re half the way done. Say yes to putting out the chairs sunday morning, changing the bins and all that because your yes sets up your no and your no sets up your journey to where God has called you.

 

Just a quick one today as i have no time atm 😦

Hope it spoke to you!

Tom

Your Yes is only as powerful as your No.

Living in the grace zone

Since the age of 17 i have felt the call of God on my life, to empower a generation to realise their true identity and their true potential. I call them the Joshua generation, the generation that enters in. In the bible Joshua was Moses’s successor, a big role to take on. Joshua was the person that lead his people into what they had been waiting for for 40 years. Our generation won’t wait 40 years, it’s time to rise up right now.
Currently, I’m studying at Hope City Academy in Sheffield, a place in which leaders are built up and equipped to lead in all areas of life. I’m only two months in and it is already, the most formative season of my life so far. I always knew it’d be a challenge, but i was never certain of just how challenging it’d be, i could only go off of what i knew before hand. The past two years has been a very interesting journey, because at the age of 17 i asked God to invest in my character before i go into a position of influence, i’d just preached for the first time and realised his call on my life. This was the right prayer to pray, i just didn’t expect it to hit me as hard as it did. At the time it made no sense, i was losing who i was, i was forgetting my identity by going into depression and anxiety, panic attacks, complete loss of motivation, even alopecia (If you’re wondering – yes, it sucked. A lot.). For two years my parents worried if i would ever come out of this or would this eventually beat me? I wont sugar coat it for you, there were times where i thought it would beat me. On the other side of all of that though i can see what has happened. I lost who i was, to find who i REALLY was. This gave me the identity strong enough to carry the weight of the vision God had placed on my heart. I’d had big prophecies during the whole depression journey, all of which didn’t make any sense at the time, but make complete sense now (theres a word in there for someone 😉 ). The person i became was ready to venture into hope city academy to become equipped for that vision. No word of a lie, the blessing and contentment on my life is on another level right now. Everything up until now was growing pain. Now i live in the grace zone.
Don’t get me wrong, life isn’t full of easy paths to the top now i’ve gone through that. Everyone expects everything to be amazing when you’re doing what you’ve always wanted to do and it is, just amazing from a different perspective. Academy is not easy, it’s tough on you. i do 7 day weeks between my job as a waiter and being at Academy, I’m tired quite a lot. Perspective is a beautiful thing; it forms your whole approach to life and it’s your choice what perspective you choose. I could easily sit here and feel run down and over worked and realise i have very little money to get by on, or i could realise that this is a time in which everything i have dreamt of for the past 3 years is forming together in my life, my character is being fine tuned and there is room for god to blow me away, its exciting. Quite quickly after you change your thinking like that, you start to reap the benefits of the situation you are in. I am the most happy and content i have ever been, yet I’m the most challenged i have ever been. That is really the most accurate representation of perspective, the ability to allow God to use your thinking to empower you to be able to carry incredible vision and responsibility. That’s the grace zone. The place in your life where you reach complete peace even though you are completely out of your depth. It’s how God always intended it (He’s got a great sense of humour). The blessing and the empowerment in the grace zone is like no other. The grace zone is an anointed place in your journey with God where your ability to do and see things always out performs your expectations. My advice, set your expectations as high as you can and ask God to do them and then watch him blow you out the water. Then rinse and repeat.
You could easily say, well it’s alright for you Tom – You’ve taken a year out and you’re in church all the time, of course thats going to happen. Well yeah, duh, but thats not the point. You don’t NEED a gap year to get to this point (although i’d recommend it beyond anything if you could do one), it’s all about your relationship with the big G. It’s personal. Joshua didn’t have a gap year, he learnt from trial and error. In fact he lived a gap life. He dedicated his life to his vision, regardless of self doubt, circumstance and worries. He moved in faith and expected God to show up, but in the process he was very intentional about seeking God. Your private cry will always out weigh your public cry. Seek him in private and watch your life change. Dedicate your life to seeking him and i promise you’ll start living in the grace zone. Joshua did, and he was some badass military hero, if that’s not enough to convince you then uh… i’ll be praying bro.
So many Joshua generation kids have an identity deficiency. Theres always something they are trying to satisfy within their identity that makes them feel good about themselves. For me it was self image, i became obsessed with it. Either way that deficiency ends up throwing you into a pretty tough season of self discovery and this is where so many people just float around like the Israelites did before they entered the promise land. The area of uncertainty and anxiety. Your ability to break that cycle and pursue your true identity will make or break which direction your life ends up in. You will either live for the world or live for your vision and the two couldn’t look more different.
I’m tired of seeing so many people my age settle for normality and bow down to societies rules and projections. Im tired of seeing people chase the same identity and letting their circumstance dictate their perspective. Im tired of the education system ruling people’s lives. The concept of education is good, but the educational system has just become about ticking the right boxes. You are not confined to a grade. You are MADE, in your god given identity. Your vision + your identity will form your destiny.
I hope this blog post helped some people out. I’m hoping to write another one soon. It’s conference week here in Sheffield (mad busy late nights and all) so pray for ya brother.
Tom.
Living in the grace zone