Coaching, Leadership, Questions Coaches Hear

Daily Challenges Leaders Face


Roy King, April 2022

What do leaders do when individuals, departments or teams under them are STUCK?  Every day organizational leaders face the challenge of investing their energy wisely to keep people engaged and accomplishing work vital to the mission.   Leaders must root out paralysis or people wasting their work on low priority busy work.

The first step is to surface 3 to 5 specific challenges limiting the effectiveness of the work.  Are these people problems?   Are they organizational problems?  Every challenge often has a single or combination of simple root problems which can be addressed once they are clearly identified. 

 Based on my experience the answers are found by considering these 4 root causes.  I have listed them according to the frequency of this being a root problem.  Leaders serve the people they lead by helping them diagnose and then addressing what is hindering them from being fruitful in their work. 

  1. Is this a relational breakdown?  People lack UNITY.
    1. Are they expected to compete or to collaborate?
    2. Are they a team with a history of working together or do they require assistance building trust and understanding each person’s strengths?
    3. Is there unresolved conflict, hurt and disappointment polluting the environment?
    4. Do they need understanding and models of relating with both grace and truth?
  2. Is there a lack of providing certain resources?  People lack EMPOWERMENT.  
    1. What decisions can they make to acquire resources without getting permission?
    2. How do they get permission for additional resources beyond their level of permission?
    3. Do they understand there is a shortage of additional resources and they will need to stir up a high level of creativity to meet the challenge with what is at hand?
  1. Is this a lack of effective communication?  People lack CLARITY
    1. They need to know WHY we are attempting this work.  They need a clear PURPOSE.
    2. They need to know WHAT we are seeking to accomplish.  They need clear GOALS.
    3. They need to know HOW we will approach the work.  They need the RATIONALE for the timeline and expectations.
  1. Is this a system or structural problem?  People are CONFUSED.   
    1. They  lack a clear circle of personal RESPONSIBILITY AND understand the interplay of others ROLES and contribution.
    2. How does their work IMPACT other departments or individuals?
    3. Are they being asked to consider VOLUNTEERING  to join the team or are they being ASSIGNED? 

Does this article stir up questions or arouse a need for coaching to assist you in leading?  Contact:  //  // 




This is perhaps the most transparent and vulnerable material I have ever shared.  May God use it to encourage you.


I am 67 years old.  In my 20s and 30s I consumed articles, books and speakers concerning HOW TO KNOW GOD’S WILL FOR YOUR LIFE.  I dreamed of discovering a map, God’s treasure map for my life.  I thought the map would answer all questions and make decisions of what to do very simple.

Going into my 40s I gave up the search for the one right answer and moved more into seeing being at a crossroads with options, a special moment to discern the God pleasing choice for each major turn in my life.  So the next 20 years became a series of memorable moments of solving a puzzle which came about whenever there were directional opportunities. Some answers were yes some no and some waited for a later stage of life.

In my 60s I have become more focused on being with God in worship with clarity on choosing how to contribute flowing from keeping a God focus.  Let me explain.  In my 60s I encountered some changes in where we served and how we contributed that I did not initiate.  They came to me as a health crisis at 58 which has redefined my physical limits and opened new doors.  Others came from a reduction in force circumstance where my position was terminated.  I needed to not only choose positive next steps but also to put the trigger events in a proper perspective and learn from what God had allowed to touch my life.

Worship, private — often included times with my wife and a few close friends and my journal to capture insights. Worship has become adoring God in a tension of holding two truths.  First, He is INFINITE and Second, He is INTIMATE.  INFINITE  worship includes music, being near the ocean, and focusing on Scripture where God’s control and capacity to redeem anything and everything He allows to touch me.  In INFINITE worship I am seeking to see what He is saying and the work He is doing in and through me in those circumstances where you know you are not in control.  INFINITE worship causes thoughts to flash through my mind like when you are driving and begin to slide on ice.  You just hold on to see what will happen next!  I don’t ask God why me.  I just assume my big God can be trusted with the outcomes.

INFINITE WORSHIP also changed my idea of what moments needed God’s clear and special leading.  In those younger years it was what I saw as telescopic sized big life changing decisions on marriage, moves, and work.  But the infinite ONE  is also involved with the microscopic decisions — the daily provision and how to respond to a hurting person in my path or closer to the number of hairs on my head.  God can also direct specifically and guide to a special choice in some of those moments.  I am NOT saying every day God “tells me” what to eat or wear.  But in a given decision on that level GOD can and sometimes does direct a small step. 

Here is an example.  In August of this past year I chose a place to sit by the pool for me and Pandora.  We swam and read and rested but I became very aware of an older couple who sat close by.  I could tell by overhearing their conversation that they were new to our development.  As we got up to leave they were both seated as we walked by.  I initiated a conversation and suddenly there was an open door to connect more deeply and now they are involved with us and other Christians and we can assist them some with the care for the husband declining in dementia.  The lady said sometime later that our meeting at the pool was an answer to her prayers when she had made the major move from up North, and it was a “God moment”.  So perhaps what my INFINITE God sees as a weighty choice is sometimes different from my telescopic and microscopic definitions of life choices.

When I worship God in INTIMACY it is often focused on the indwelling presence of Christ in me in the person of the Holy Spirit.  I have an illustration of how my view of His personal presence in my life has changed.  When you travel there are two basic approaches to getting assistance.  You can engage a Travel Agent or a Tour Guide.  The Agent helps you plan and offers ideas and looks for deals to save you money and fit your goals.  A packet is delivered from the Agent and he waves as off you go.  The Tour Guide makes the trip with you.  He is present for every circumstance you encounter in the trip.  He has the plan and often adjusts it on the fly as the situations on the ground shift.  You choose to let the Guide lead.  But he is the constant experienced and able Guide.  The Holy Spirit is our Tour Guide not our Travel Agent.

As I begin a new year I often stop and look back through journals to help me remember how the infinite and intimate One has shaped my DOING and my BEING.  I do not offer these as an example but just a testimony of how He whispers as we walk together as friends.  The following excerpts were selected from my journals.  This is perhaps the most transparent and vulnerable material I have ever shared.  May God use it to encourage you.

2016 undated but after June 30 leaving from serving Jesus by teaching in a seminary for 20 years.  Acts 1:8 will be the compass for me and Pandora. “The Holy Spirit will give us power to witness locally, regionally and globally.”

09/04/2017 “Lord, write over my life,  MINE.”  Oswald Chambers

03/11/19 Pandora to me as we walked on the beach.  “We WILL finish well!  As we stay on track by not being consumed with self, being generous, and remembering this is not our home.”

06/13/19 “Let God be as original with others as He is with you.”  Oswald Chambers

11/19/19 – From Christ in me to my heart.  “Roy, please deliver the mail Jesus sends to others.  It will be words of encouragement, perspective and clarity for their life.”

11/26/19 – Roy you are not too busy but you are limited.  Focus on the inputs into your life and let me (Jesus) handle the outcomes.  God is blessing me every day with what I need for the day.  So I am free to live in contentment, joy, and relaxed confidence.

12/18/19 – God, your priority is my heart.  What is my love life?  PRESENCE – Be where you are.  Be HIS every moment.  ATTENTIVE – Be available and packed for any assignment.  Travel through life lightly.

02/14/20 – From Jesus.  “Roy, prayer is the most important gift I have given you to love others and unleash My power in their lives.”

09/01/2020 – “I sense a call to pray with intensity, solitude, and writing.”  — One week later I tested positive for Coronavirus and Pandora and I have had health struggles slowing us down since then.

09/7/20 “Roy, be a light and not a judge.  Be a model and not a critic.”

Undated // late September – Renewing my Calling – WHAT?  Be with Jesus in silence and solitude.  Love others starting with prayer.  Write out of my heart and what God gives me to share.  HOW? Daily receiving from Him and then giving out in His name.  Avoid complacency and being easily satisfied by buying toys and playing too much.  Be Available to go, do, say or give whatever God offers opportunities to do.  (Acts 22:10) Be Attentive and Accessible by making space for God’s interruptions and opening up His invitations.

01/03/21 “We gain more ground if we focus on habits rather than goals and do so one day at a time.” Mark Batterson

01/27/21 Ephesians 2:10 — From my point of view as I age, life seems to be closing in on me. I feel smothered.  Limits increase and I am in danger of defining myself by what I can no longer do.  BUT, this is not God’s perspective.  He has prepared and prepackaged good fruitful works for me to walk in.  Where I see loss and shrunken capacity God sees space and clarified focused opportunities.

03/17/21 God has two addresses: Infinite and Intimate.

03/17/21 Where do I live?  I live on a battleground with the flesh, the devil and the world.  Don’t be surprised by the fight.  Wake up each day expecting spiritual conflict.

Undated but in 2021 — My timeline is too short.  The impact of my life is longer than my life span.  I plant a garden but will never get to see it in full bloom.  Kingdom life is colored with the eternal.

Undated but Nov 2021 — Ephesians 1:11-12 God is sovereign over all He allows to touch my life.

11/04/21 – A new journal!!!! A new day!!! Today is the ten year anniversary since my life was changed because of a severe allergic reaction to a medication.  God has redeemed my life and given me another decade!!!


  1. Physically — increase exercise from 2 to 4 days a week  (still recovering from what Covid took out)
  2. Scripture — nourish my soul
  3. Sing — Use Robertson’s collection of his favorite hymns
  4. Cultivate intimacy with  Pandora
  5. Listen better and talk less.
  6. Added 11/28/21 – When I wake up each day live with assurance, confidence and anticipation.  Unwrap God’s fresh grace each day.

12/19/21 A very personal and powerful whisper of the Spirit to my heart.  I have tried to capture it clearly.

God’s assignments for me

  • Give thanks and rejoice in every opportunity He gives me.
  • Don’t apologize for what I am no longer doing.
  • Don’t demean or devalue what I am doing now.
  • Be fully committed to do what I do with love and quality.
  • Don’t defend what I reduce or stop doing or what I start doing.
  • Stop wrestling with the lie “I am not doing enough.”
  • Live in relaxed readiness trusting the Spirit to be perfectly able to communicate God’s assignments with enough clarity and detail for me to act.

01/01/22 — My heart may fail, and my spirit grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever.  Psalm 73:26 NLT 


Growing Healthy Organizations with Pyramids and Webs

I love coaching leaders. I surely learn more than I contribute through walking with clients in their questions and challenges.

Recently I have been working in a fast growing organization seeking to restruucture for the rapid additions of new employees. It has caused me to revisit a book on building organizations by empowering people to web throughout the organziation.

If you are starting from scratch building your organization by a web design may be the way to go. Perhaps my article attached and the book I mention will get you started.

But what about an existing organization built as a pyramid over its first 20 years. Is there a way to use dual vision of a pyramid laying on a web to enjoy the benefits of both designs?

Read my article and let me know your thoughts.

Coaching, Healthy Leaders, Questions Coaches Hear

Biblical Retirement

A New Chapter



I have heard some say that “retirement” is not in the Bible.  I want to propose RETIREMENT may  be a helpful designation if it is in alignment with a biblical perspective.

RETIREMENT may be a good descriptor if:

  • It is describing that all or some of my income is coming from funds set aside for support once we are no longer a full time wage earner.

RETIREMENT may be a good descriptor if:

  • We are able to take on responsibility, serve and contribute without limiting it to payment for services.

RETIREMENT may be a good descriptor if:

  • It frees me to embrace limits that include shorter working days and less stamina
  • It allows me to “prune” my engagements and accept responsibility aligning with my best contribution
  • One morning during my swimming therapy the Spirit whispered, “It is OK to slow your pace and increase your prayerfulness.”
  • My fruitful contribution to others depends on having margins for quality thinking time to advise, mentor and help solve challenges others are facing.  Some of my best brain work takes place with my journal on the back porch with a cup of herb tea enjoying the flowers, the breeze and the variety of bird songs.  I KNOW the quality of what I have to offer is much better than many of the meetings I sat in for years around a conference room table — rushed to get through an agenda.

RETIREMENT may be a good descriptor if:

  • I can monitor my energy and get consistent rest including a nap
  • I can work to slow the aging decay of the body with a focus on exercises to maintain, or even improve,   (in alphabetical order) Balance, Cardio, Core Strength, and Flexibility

RETIREMENT may be a good descriptor if:

  • I can be  content even if I deplete in energy quicker, and should stay off of high ladders or the roof.
  • I can be satisfied with eating a nice meal — taking smaller portions and not eating large meals close to bedtime.
  • I can work at praying for many people in my network of relationships and the church around the world — and have the time to send several of them a note of encouragement via phone call, text or email.
  • I am fine with buying less stuff and accumulating less weight of possessions.
  • I am very alert that time is the greatest treasure God gives me.  I can only spend it once.
  • A nap after lunch with my young grandchild fills me with joy as we read a book and then snuggle up and “recharge our battery” joined in the bed with a stuffed animal or three and a car and fire truck.

RETIREMENT may be a good descriptor if:

  • I strongly believe God wants me to be vibrant and effective for His glory until my last breath.


Practicing Reconciliation

God’s People and Reconciliation

Unity and Reconciliation of the Church Part 2


This lesson will outline some of the biblical commands we are to obey as we love one another.  You will focus on your personal responsibility to follow clear biblical commands instead of your family or cultural practices.

All good theology is relational not simply propositional.

All of my problems in life, at their root, are relational.

Main ideas

  1. The First Step

When there is a break in the experience of Christ like love between people reconciliation rests on someone taking the first step.  To begin reconciliation involves going face to face, offering words that describe the sin or offense and giving or receiving forgiveness.

God took the first step in reconciling with us.  Romans 5:10-11; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Ephesians 2:13-21.  The death of Christ was not only a sin sacrifice it also broke down barriers of racial distance and formed God’s people as “one”.

We are to take the first step.

Matthew 18:15-20 – If you recognize you have been sinned against before the other person you are to GO.

Matthew 5:23-26 – If you are in worship and realize you sinned against someone you are to leave worship and GO.

To grow spiritually will always involve repentance or movement toward God’s truth, grace, and love.  The steps of repentance always involve:

  • Exposure — bringing light on my current attitudes, words or behaviors.
  • Disruption — Accepting that the current life choices are never going to produce the love, joy, peace and freedom God intends for his reconciled children.
  • Enticement — Moving toward and accepting God’s grace and truth and finding his Spirit in us gives us the capacity to forgive and rebuild relationships.

Jesus lived in a shame based culture which frequently avoided direct confrontation and devised indirect channels to communicate.  But even in this culture Jesus says God’s plan is for us to GO to one another.

We  don’t avoid the person and talk to others about the break.  As my mentor Roberston McQuilkin told from his experience as a missionary in Japan, “THE ABSENT ARE SAFE WITH US.”

  1. What if the separation is not over a sinful wounding but is a strong disagreement?  Again, Robertson had a question to guide him as President of Columbia International University, “Do I want to win or do I want to see healing and repairing of the gap?”

1 Corinthians 6:5-8 The example Paul gives is a financial disagreement but I believe the principles apply to many disagreements.  There are two options.

First, The disagreeing people agree to submit to and accept the judgement of a wise person in the church.  They each present their perspective and then live by the ruling of the wise fellow believer.

Second, If there is no acceptable person of wisdom present then Paul’s approach is, “Unity and loving one another is such a basic foundational rule of BEING God’s people then volunteer to take the loss.  Just let it go.  Give it up.  And move on to restore the love.  Surrender personal rights for the sake of the community.  A challenging idea for us hyper individualists.


There will be some more parts to this series and I will also add videos.

You can begin by doing your study of the passages I have highlighted and then begin to look carefully at past and present breaks in unity. 

If you missed part one here is the link to the handout.  


Healthy Leaders, Leadership

Five Essential Leadership Investments


Juba, South Sudan 09/2019Training indigenous church planters.  Contact to be a part.
Written By: Roy King  updated: July 27, 2020803-269-1453 //  //

LINK TO 11 MIN. VIDEO OVERVIEW – Five Directions Overview.mp4 


Let me introduce you to a practical framework for  your leadership investment that will improve your own leadership and the leadership of those serving with you.   This simple framework reflects biblical teaching and not only guides your daily leadership decisions but has proven over years of my leadership to help me develop others.

The five directions of relational leadership helps you defuse explosions and the train wrecks derailing a team, work group, or the whole organization.  The five directions define how to make deposits of trust.  The five directions will help navigate times of conflict so they can be more constructive than destructive.

Most people who talk about the Five Directions refer to Dee Hock as the seminal thinker. For his work search by “chaordic leadership”.  He uses slightly different language than the five directions I have included here. Here is the definition found in The Business Dictionary.

The distinction I make is that the horizontal includes those doing the same kind of work that you do, within or outside of your organization.

In Dee Hock’s training he stresses two foundational truths:

  1. Always start with self-leadership.  It is the core of every leadership investment or withdrawal you make.  Those who fail in self-leadership implode and take out others and even damage or destroy the organization.
  2. The reason downward leadership is addressed last is that the core responsibility of the leader is to train all those under his/her influence to do the five directions well. Direct reports are held accountable to transfer it and be sure their people are also living well in the five directions.  I would call this the “secret sauce” of leadership.  It provides a simple grid and common language for every leadership conversation and decision.


Hock estimates 50% of the leadership investment is in SELF LEADERSHIP. 

  1. Am I experiencing living in joy, gratitude and contentment on a daily basis?

I heard Geri Scazzero say in a leadership training session, “Do we see our feelings as prophets?”  Our feelings should always alert us to look in a deeper well of our soul to our motives and values to see what in us triggered that specific emotional response.  An example is, “When my boss responded to my request why was I angry and suddenly on the verge of exploding all over the room?”  What is with that?  What goal or expectation was blocked that was connected to the anger?  In what way had I tied my rope of identity and significance to the request?  What should change IN me to diffuse what is coming OUT of me?

  1. How does what God thinks of me influence my sense of identity?  If there is one dominant theme in many books of the Bible, especially the Psalms and the Letters of the New Testament, it would be to live with a constant awareness of how much God loves, values, and treasures us.  He grants perfect unconditional love to all who will receive it.  But it is so easy to lose focus and jump back into turning God into the scorekeeper and we become all about performing and earning his approval.  You cannot earn a gift.  A gift is from the heart of the giver apart from the worthiness of the receiver.
  2. How is God working in and around me right now to help me grow in faith, hope and love?
    1. Faith in the Bible always involves choice.  Very often the choice that involves trusting God is the more challenging one but also reveals a character of integrity.  Taking the “path of least resistance” is usually the choice fueled by FEAR instead of FAITH.
    2. Hope in the Bible always involves two words, endurance and potential.  When I make the choice to persevere instead of quitting it is made in light of a longer term reward.  I am enduring the pain or loss of the moment in light of glorious reward promised in the future.  But hope also includes seeing potential.  “I hope to see this young person grow into a caring productive adult!” So — we see growth and development that  is not yet reality.  Much like a farmer looking over a field that has just been planted and can see the fall harvest.
    3. The Bible says, “God is love.”  It also says God’s plan is to make us more and more like Jesus who modeled the generous, sacrificial, joyful love of God.  Jesus affirmed to his followers that God’s will for them was clearly revealed in the Old Testament and had not changed, “Love God with all you are and have and love others as you love yourself.”   The receiving and giving of God-like love is a refreshing life giving experience.  For us to open our hearts to being loved by God and at the same time opening our hearts for that love to flow return to God and be lavished on others is at the center of mature leadership.
  1. How am I doing with being fully present with the people who touch my life?

We live in a world of noise, distraction and attempts to engage in multitasking.  But the most effective leaders know the freedom, peace and fruitfulness of “mono-tasking”.  It is noticed when a leader takes his/her phone and cuts it off and moves it off the table as the meeting begins.  It is noticed when a leader takes notes as others share.  It is noticed when a leader listens well and asks a question to draw out more from the person sharing.  It is noticed when a leader is quick to splice together several different strands of ideas from those around the table and connect them into framing a solution or strategy that is needed.  

We worship a God who is fully present.  We can pray at any time knowing we have his full attention.  As we stated above LOVE is at the core of being a good person and we can only love when we are fully present.

God created time.  He created work time and rest time.  He created a daily rhythm (day and night) and a weekly rhythm (work and Sabbath).  When we order our choices within his created design we experience life more abundantly.


Upward leadership is providing those over me with what they need to lead me. Many senior leaders or boards have very little training or experience of leading down in a way that encourages healthy leading up. Top leadership often assumes, incorrectly, that if they hire good, competent people, it will just happen. Wrong. Leadership relationships, like a good marriage, require focus and intentional effort.

Leading up is taking the initiative to share with those over you whom God has created you to be, what you can contribute to the mission, and how you can be most productive over the long term. Leading up is offering encouragement, influence, creativity, and assistance to the person or persons placed over you, so they know what you need to be empowered to be effective.

  1. What do I need from those over me so I am empowered for my assignments?
  1. Do I need their permission?  (Which includes supporting me if there is push back from others)
  2. Do I need them to supply provision?  (Examples: money, people or reallocating my time)
  3. Do I need them to partner with me?  (Serve with me as active engaged investors with me in a project or initiative)

Many leaders leave meetings with a supervisor or leadership team and are frustrated.  They went in seeking partnership or provision and instead felt they were patted on the shoulder and given permission to go out and tackle the world.  Permission can be a cheap way out for those over you.  They do not have to face or solve the resource challenge.  They preserve their authority over you by holding the power to approve or stop your movement.  So they have a sense of control and leave the meeting thinking the issue has been solved and yet they do not have to invest further in it.  They simply need to wait for the results to come rolling in.  

  1. How do those over me need me to communicate with them? 

You may be a verbal processor who enjoys the leisurely discussion of all of the options and the case for each but perhaps your supervisor would prefer one paragraph on introducing the process you went through to come to a solution and then the rest of the page outlines the solution and what will it require to implement it.  

They may prefer voicemail and you prefer text messages.  They may prefer working off an appointment schedule except in rare emergencies or they may prefer a daily walk around and taking questions on the fly.  They may prefer an open door or insist on a closed door.  

The ground rule is — Ask questions.  Listen to what they prefer.  Honor their preferences by adapting yourself to it. Here are some examples of questions that uncover work language or style: 

1. How do you prefer to communicate? (Face-to-face planned meetings, as you walk by, email, text, phone, etc.)

2. How do you prefer to address conflict? (Write up a summary and then ask to meet to follow-up, over lunch, etc.) 

3. How do you prefer to evaluate results? (Standard reports of benchmarks, surveys, daily tasks accomplished, etc.) 

4. How do you prefer to handle personal non-work issues in my life? (Leave it at home, let’s have coffee, at weekly meetings, etc.)

  1. What do I expect those over me to know I need from them that I am not clearly sharing? 

Do I expect those over me to be mind readers and know what I need?  Do I expect them to have that skill simply because they are in the position over me?  From over 40 years of experience let me assure you, your supervisor or board did not get a special mind reading gift when they accepted the oversight role.  

Bottom Line — We are ALL developing competence in leading UP to those over us and DOWN to those under us. Stay humble and ask this question, “What am I doing that is making your job more challenging or difficult?” Listen and act on what you hear and follow up in a few weeks to see if you have improved.  By the way good active listening often begins with taking notes!


  1. Peers — Inside

I find this is often the most challenging group to identify.  You may be full time but some of your peers may be among the part time or volunteer ranks.  Think more in terms of comparable levels of authority or circles of responsibility.  One danger to avoid with peers.  Do not complain to them about those over you.  Good rule of thumb is to only express concerns or challenges to those with authority to do something about it.  Once a culture is polluted with complaining about those who are not in the room, it is very difficult to clear the air, rebuild trust, and engage in positive conflict or relationship reconciliation.  My motto is “The Absent are Safe With Us”.

  1. How can I strengthen our sense of unity in the mission of the organization?

Spend time with peers reviewing the overall mission of the organization and how each person or department makes a valuable contribution to it.  Share and support one another in openly laying out problems or challenges each of you are facing.  Don’t be quick to offer advice.  Be quick to listen and then ask, “Would it be helpful for me to share how we have handled a similar issue?”  Respect a boundary that honors their authority over their area or people, but be willing to assist if invited.

  1. Do I celebrate the diverse contribution they make?

The more I see peers as God sees them the more I can value, esteem and encourage.  Encouragement is a gift that keeps on giving.  I have known it to help reverse a person who is headed out the door because they feel they are making a meaningful contribution.

  1. Do I lay down my agenda and lead with listening well?

Do not always show up at meetings with peers asking for their help with your work.  Leave your agenda on your desk and instead find ways to use your resources to help them win.  There will be an opening later to share some of your needs they may be able to assist you in addressing.

  1. How do I show up daily offering truth and grace?

One of the descriptions of Jesus is that he was full of grace and truth.  Both are valuable gifts God wants us to be able to offer as well.  Take either of these by itself and it becomes more destructive than helpful.  Blended together they can be restoring and empowering.  But to mix them properly requires wisdom and discernment often gained through prayer

  1. Peers — Outside

Those doing similar work to us in other places are a great gift.  These peer networks can go far beyond professional development to a deep network of friends who can share wisdom and struggles together.  Years ago I had the opportunity to serve a race car team and be in the pits with them for some of their races.  Here they are parked in a  row with the competing race teams yet there was a sense of community on so many levels.  I was invited to a baby shower for one member of a different team and then later saw the teams offering tools and equipment so their competition could have what they needed to race.  They shared common challenges and lifestyles.  In the competition they had forged friendships.

  1. Who  are the people and where are the places for me to explore and discover how I can be more effective?

You may have to visit a few different conferences and networks to connect to the ones helpful to you.

  1. Who shares best practices with me?

Be alert to retired leaders or those who used to serve in an area similar to yours.  

  1. Who are my “safe place” mentors and advisors?

A confidential small circle outside your organization may be a safe place to share struggles and gain wisdom and avoid polluting the culture of your organization.


I BELIEVE A LIFE GIVING JESUS LEADER WILL ALWAYS BE MULTIPLYING OTHER LEADERS.  Just as Jesus passed the baton he has sent us to not only be contributing to His cause but to be spotting, encouraging and transferring leadership to others.

  1. How have I assisted my reports to live well in the five directions?

If those downstream from my leadership are practicing the five directions well many of my leadership struggles are greatly reduced.  It also gives clarity when I engage in supervision.  We can identify together whether this is a self leadership, peer leadership, or downward leadership issue.  OR even own that the problem is their supervisor; ME.  I can ask forgiveness if needed and surely listen and learn to lead them more effectively.  

It also clearly positions me as the coach to assist them with challenges they are facing at the peer or downward leadership without me taking the responsibility  out of their hands. 

  1. How am I welcoming my reports to lead UP to me?

One question I have asked hundreds of times over the years to those under my leadership is, “What am I doing or not doing that is making your job more difficult”?  It also works with those over you or peers around you.  I have been surprised many times by the things they do not bring up that I see as shortcomings in my leadership.  They did not perceive, what I consider weaknesses, as a roadblock for them.  But I am also surprised by what they bring up.  I was totally blind to its impact.  

  1. How do my reports think I am doing in initiating healthy evaluation, celebration, correction and clarity with their responsibilities on a regular basis?

In study after study job satisfaction is linked to positive and helpful feedback.  To let the other person see that you appreciate the investment they are making and the impact it is making will often bring as much or more motivation than a raise.  Not in every case — but with a good employee or volunteer you really want to keep on the team correcting mistakes and bringing clarity to their confusion is deeply appreciated.  We all thrive when we are corrected but not attacked.  Instead  the choices, words or attitudes of the person  are honestly addressed.


“Dear associate, I love you enough to risk wounding our relationship by telling the truth as I see it.”

“Help me understand more about this choice you made.”

“What in your work for the past three months do you celebrate and feel good about?”  Listen closely and seek to add to their list.

“What in your work over the past 3 months do you feel could be improved and what did you learn from the disappointment?”  Again — listen well and be ready to offer your input.

How do you begin to implement the Five Directions?  

Download the Questions below

Begin to improve your investments in each direction and then begin to have conversations with those in each of the directions seeking ways you can grow.


Questions to Reflect on the Five Directions


  1. Am I experiencing living in joy, gratitude and contentment on a daily basis?
  2. How does what God thinks of me influence my sense of identity?
  3. How do I sense God being with me and for me?
  4. Can I reflect and discover what is going on inside of me to prompt certain feelings?
  5. How is God working in and around me right now to help me grow in faith, hope and love?
  6. How am I doing with being fully present with the people who touch my life?
  7. Am I living consistently out of a rhythm of daily and weekly life?


  1. What do I need from those over me so I am empowered for my assignments?
    1. Do I need their permission?  (Which includes supporting me if there is push back from others)
    2. Do I need them to supply provision?  (Examples: money, people or reallocating my time)
    3. Do I need them to partner with me?  (Serve with me as active engaged investors with me in a project or initiative)
  2. How do those over me need me to communicate with them?  
  3. What do I expect those over me to know I need from them that I am not clearly sharing? (Do I expect them to be mind readers?)


  1. Peers — Inside
    1. How can I strengthen our sense of unity in the mission of the organization?
    2. Do I celebrate the diverse contribution they make?
    3. Do I lay down my agenda and lead with listening well?
    4. Do I choose to complement instead of compete?
    5. How do I show up daily offering truth and grace?
  2. Peers — Outside
    1. What are people and places I could go to and explore and discover so I am more effective?
    2. Who shares best practices with me?
    3. Who are my “safe place” mentors and advisors?


  1. How have  I assisted my reports to live well in the five directions?
  2. How am I welcoming my reports to lead UP to me?
  3. How do my reports think I am doing in initiating healthy evaluation, celebration, correction and clarity with their responsibilities on a regular basis?

How would congregational and not for profit ministry and mission structures be different if we intentionally embrace them as “chaordic”?

“What do the Internet, Alcoholics Anonymous, and VISA International, the organization that brings us the VISA card, all have in common?

You can find them just about anywhere on earth, that’s one common thing.  They have not spread through unrelenting market push, like Coca Cola.  Rather they are pulled by demand, because they meet real needs very effectively.  They serve their purposes successfully year after year without any obvious headquarters, no glittering center of power, no centralized command.  No one owns any of them.  VISA does $1.25 trillion worth of business a year, but you can’t buy a share of it.

Dee Hock, who founded VISA, would say these are all chaordic organizations.  He made up that word by combining “chaos” and “order.”  Chaordic organizations are self-organizing and self-governing.  They operate not through hierarchies of authority, but through networks of equals.  It isn’t power or coercion that makes them effective, rather it’s clear shared purpose, ethical operating principles, and responsibility distributed through every node.”



December, 1999.

Matthew 20:25But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” NLT

Among you (followers of Jesus) it will be different (Life giving Jesus leadership will always be counter cultural).  Using the Bible to shape our world view and our leadership framework we cut a new path from the way leadership operates in our culture.



I was growing up in East Tennessee in 1974. A new Christ follower and College Student very involved in Campus Crusade for Christ (now CRU). We had several concerts hosting the Pat Terry Group from Atlanta. I became a fan!!

I am now 66 and Pat is 68 and has made a successful career as a song writer. I am still a fan!!

I listened to a new song and realized Pat was telling his life story and journey in understanding racial reconcilation. His song is helping me make sense of my own journey.

May it help my black friends to understand I cannot go back and change my past but with their patience and grace and truth we can move into healing and walk the journey together.


Are you black? Sit down and share your story with a white friend.

Are you white? Sit down and share your story with a black friend.

Know God is big enough to redeem our pasts and make us more like Jesus —- Filled with love and willing to go to bat for those different from us to be treated justly.

discipleship, Resources, Uncategorized

My Country of Birth Is Now a Foreign Cross-Cultural place. Help me!!

I am turning 66 in a few days. It seems my homeland, The United States of America, no longer feels like a safe place. My wife and I have traveled to several countries to live for short periods of time. And we have many friends from the States who live long term in these other countries. These friends have shared openly with us the challenge of being the outsiders and walking with humility in order to build bridges of love with the people around them. They are constantly asking questions, welcoming advice that is very contrary to their opinions and it touches every aspect of how they live.

  • A wife rides in the back seat of the car and also walks several feet behind her husband.
  • You never put ice in a drink — even though it is tropical hot….
  • You must not let your children play outside in the rain
  • You must only drink after you finish eating.
  • There is no special foods for breakfast… you eat leftovers from supper.
  • How to greet someone.


Strangers in Covidland

by EDITOR on JUNE 10, 2020

by Katie Hoffmann

Blurry-eyed after 36 hours of flying with kids, we handed over our passports. The customs official returned a hearty, “Welcome Home.” 

Those words felt almost digestible as we entered the Seattle International Airport after years overseas working for a Christian non-profit. Although we were grieving all the goodbyes, I felt ready to embrace my country of origin once again. 

Despite my best intentions, reverse culture shock struck in a big way. We had little to no training in re-entry. This left me feeling paralyzed by stuff that should be easy like trying to keep kids quiet in the library or driving on the right side of the road. 

After three years stateside, I’ve gladly regained those skills, but occasionally, I fall flat and feel overwhelmed by culture shock again. 

Recently, we moved again to a new country, except this time our passport wasn’t stamped. It was a sudden departure without glamour and thankfully no cobras. Here’s the funny part: We haven’t even left our house except for one of us who is deemed an “essential worker.” 

Covidland is my new country and once again I must reorient. 

Actions I once thought were normal like talking to a person nearby now have both different implications and results. The way people greet each other is foreign. Elbows? A curtsy? This feels awkward. Can I just use a southeast Asian greeting? 

Classes are now on new platforms of technology. My kids are expected to learn technical culture, as we parents wade through murky waters of Internet security with youngsters. But, unlike with Zoom we can’t mute all the static, conspiracy theories, rude language and stuff that hits us on all ends during this unique time. Divisive warfare is erupting all around me. To relate in this new country is requiring deflecting skills, because the arrows of mindless attack are piercing our community. 

I’m dumbfounded as I find myself jerked between a polarized nation offering two heated sides of opinion and the irony of 40 different cereal choices. Sides have been drawn without healthy nuance, and I’d like to bury my head in my cereal but I can’t. 

I’m exhausted. 

I’m regretting not getting more pre-field training, but some moves happen too fast and necessitate learning on the job. 

As I pull my face out of my Coco Puffs, I remind myself that I must not become complacent no matter which country I reside in. We as the church can never stop being a student of the culture around us. We don’t get a free pass on cultural understanding just because we have a right to act a certain way. 

In a society that for too long has defined churches by buildings and programs, we can easily forget that God’s main directives have not changed and despite a lot of changes around us, we are not banned from loving our neighbor or even sharing the gospel. 

How I interact in my new country and culture will ultimately open or close doors to people’s receptiveness to the Gospel message. 

So I ask the hard questions… 

In a nation that is so often an either/or nation can we choose to be a both/and person? Can we bridge to people in many different groups? 

Can we care about American liberties and still choose to wear a face mask to a store no matter where we stand on the issue? Yes. Can we support small business and physically distance to show care for the more at-risk folks? Yes. Can we request our state government reassess our phases of local reopening and do it in a way that respects others? Yes. Can we both disagree with someone’s opinion and support their family? Yes. Can we do this all in a loving way? Yes! 

As believers we need to be keeping the main thing the main thing. Yes, I know, loving the multitude of neighbors can and will feel stretching and uncomfortable, because culture bridging is real. I’ve experienced that in my home state and overseas. Overseas, dressing in long pants and sleeves in 90-degree tropical weather felt horrid at times, but I knew my neighbors would disrespect me and it would not be loving to disrespect the people around me in conservative Muslim regions by wearing shorts and a tank top. I gladly sweated for the opportunity to connect with those in my community. 

Will we gladly wear a mask into a store and not tear apart the store clerks who are simply enforcing what they’ve been told to do? Just like in my experience overseas, clothes are contextual. In situations where others are uncomfortable it behooves me to be sensitive to that. In other cases where people don’t care, it then becomes my own choice based on research. 

Culture stretching and culture shock happen even when people look the same and own the same passport. It can be more difficult and blindsiding because when we look alike we expect to have the same internal wiring, but we often don’t. Might I be so bold as to say many of us are sliding into culture shock? 

If we aren’t careful culture shock will cause us to attack the neighbor instead of bridging the gap. Because let’s be frank, we’ve all moved to a new land and you are well past phase one of culture shock. The homemade bread- making and binge-watching Netflix is over. You have moved on and if you aren’t careful you won’t pull past it without a lot of destruction. 

Store workers and government officials will not forget your face if you, in a fit of rage, mock or tear them apart. If you reach out later to them to share the message of Christ’s redeeming love, good luck. 

I’ll never forget the day in Southeast Asia when another mother chastised me for letting my daughter play out in the rain. “Illness doesn’t come from dirt or germs! It comes from the rain and wind.” She scolded me. 

I was struggling with culture shock that week and I wanted to do things MY way. I took a deep breath and said, “Thank you for caring about my kids. I’m new here and still learning.” I knew at that moment I had a right to let my daughter play in the rain. I had a right to my own free speech. I hated to be chastised by another woman, but I swallowed my pride. My words needed to reflect our human connection and not a state of winning. 

Let us not forget our humanity. Let us be mindful of how we approach the ever-shifting cultures around us. No matter where you stand on how things are operating in Covidland, let your actions and words build bridges and not walls. 

We are all new here and we are all still learning.

Coaching, discipleship

Embrace the Biblical Tension

The Bible has many examples where God says there are two or more truths that must held in a tension. Often God’s truth is both/and nor either/or.

A journey with God begins when we fear God… A journey with God is discovering He is love.

No one comes to the Father unless drawn by the Father. We come to the Father as we believe in Jesus as our Lord who came to save us and offers us eternal life.

The Holy Spirit distributes spiritual gifts. I have a responsibility to steward and wisely invest all I have received. SO, where does my skills or talents begin and God’s gifting begins?

Here is a tension for everyone to reflect on and apply. I am personally responsible before God for my choices. God works in a life giving way to make my character more and more like Jesus. BOTH ARE TRUE.

Here is a quote for the personal responsibility side of this tension. Go back to the root of formation —- examining carefully your thoughts and beliefs.

“Watch your thoughts; for they become words.

Watch your words; for they become actions.

Watch your actions; for they become habits.

Watch your habits; for they become character.

Watch your character for it will become your destiny.” Frank Outlaw —

I welcome your comments!