Andy Stanley on 3 Types of Courage You Need for Ministry

Catalyst Conference Dallas

At Catalyst Dallas, Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church (Alpharetta, GA) discussed 3 types of courage you need for ministry.

Often times in life, a single act of courage is the tipping point for something extraordinary to happen.

Look at earlier this year with Egypt’s single expression of courage to tell their government they’ve had enough. And that single act of courage encouraged thousands around the world to stand up to their governments.

Look at Rosa Park. Her resistance to move to the back of the bus became a single act of courage that led to the anti-segregation movements.

David walking into the valley of Goliath was a single act of courage. Moses telling Pharoah, “Let my people go!” was a single act of courage. Joseph chose to marry his girlfriend, Mary, when she showed up pregnant. That took courage.

The Bible is full of single acts of courage that are tipping points into something new and extraordinary. Looking back it seems so obvious what they should do, but in the moment, it is full of isolation.

And then there are our mundane lives. You’re not going to lead an army like Gideon. You’re not going to walk into a Pharoah’s palace. And when your girlfriend shows up pregnant, you aren’t thinking that’s okay.

When you look back on your life, you won’t tell stories about the 5-year goals you met. You will tell stories about the opportunities that came along, and you sensed God moving you to take advantage of those opportunities. You were scared, but you took advantage of them anyways. Those are the stories you will tell.

I don’t want you to miss it. I don’t want you to look back and say, “If only I had…”

Three Types of Courage You Need

  1. The courage to stay when it would be easier to go.
    You never know what hangs in the balance when God whispers, “Stay,” when everything else says, “Go!” If ministry is hard, it just means that you are in ministry. It is supposed to be hard. You are dealing with people. And then the grass looks so green on the other side. It takes courage to stay. Your decision to stay may be the tipping point for something extraordinary to happen in your community, your family, and your church.
  2. The courage to leave when it would be easier to stay.
  3. The courage to ask for help when it would be easier to pretend that everything is okay.
    Isn’t it true that more people have had to leave ministry because of this? Secrets are dangerous, but secrets in the life of a leader are extraordinarily dangerous. People become afraid to confess their secrets because they are afraid of what people will discover about them and even more afraid about what they will discover about themselves. I do not know of a high profile leader who has not been in counseling. We are all a mess. I don’t care how large your ministry is. When you are at the tip of the spear leading, you get worn down far more quickly than everyone else. We need more help and sooner help than the average people, but we are the least likely to ask for help. In the last few months, has your spouse or trusted friend said, “I think you might need to talk to someone about that”? They are right because they had the courage to say it.

What we should fear is waking up one day and not knowing if we are in the center of what God wants for our life. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of stuff.

What story do you want to tell? Every decision you make is eventually the story of your past. And the tipping point for all of us at some point in our life is a single act of courage.

Further Reading:
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Andy Stanley on Internal Tension for More

Andy Stanley at Catalyst Conference

During Catalyst Conference, Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church (Alpharetta, GA) discussed the internal tension that we all carry because of our appetite for more.

God has designed us to be big bundles of appetites and desire. But each one of our appetites create a tension because each appetite demands more.

When it comes to leadership, I think there are some appetites that are heightened more than the average person. No matter how much your appetite is fed, you always want more.

Leaders have an appetite for:

  • Progress
  • Greater Responsibility
  • Respect (recognition)
  • Winning
  • Growth
  • Fame
  • Achievement
  • To Be Envied

There is something in all of us when it comes to our opportunities that want more.

3 Things You Need to Know About Appetites

  1. God created them and sin distorted them.
  2. Appetites are never fully and finally satisfied.
  3. You appetites always whisper now and never later.

Your response to your appetites – you management of them – will determine the direction of your profession, your family, and your life.

People almost never lose their ministry because of bad theology. But many have lost their ministries because of their inability to manage their appetites.

The whole story of Jacob and Esau in Genesis 25 is built around the birthright. A birthright was valuable for three reasons:

  1. Financial
    The oldest son would get significantly more than the other siblings.
  2. Authority
    The oldest son gained authority over the rest of the family.
  3. God’s Blessing
    There was an association/belief that God would bless the oldest son because of the birthright.

So in Genesis 25, Esau gives into an appetite and trades his birthright for a bowl of stew.

Older brothers rarely need or want anything from the younger brother, but when they do the younger brother takes advantage of it. Who would trade a birthright for a bowl of stew? It happens all the time. Who would do that? You will if it feeds the right appetite.

When you have an out of proportion appetite, scientists have discovered that your brain chemically changes in two ways:

  1. Impact Bias
    Takes a simple appetite and magnifies it out of proportion. Your brain lies to you and tells you that it will feel way better than it actually will. This is why we have buyer’s remorse.
  2. Focalism
    Focuses our mind on one thing and blocks out everything else.

This happens every time an appetite gets blown up out of proportion. Esau did not have anyone to reframe his appetite. And we will not have anyone standing next to us to reframe our appetites.

Whatever you want, you will only want more. Your only hope is to reframe your appetite within the context of what God wants you to be.

There are opportunities that you should never take advantage of because they will pull you away from what God wants you to do. Appetites are valuable, but if you allow them to dictate your future, then you will one day sell it all for a bowl of stew.

So ask yourself…

What do I want to see God do 10 years from now?

Answering that question will reframe your appetites. The clearer your answer, the more control you will have over your appetites.

So what is your bowl of stew?

You have no idea what God wants to accomplish through you. You have no idea what God wants to accomplish through your children. You have no idea what God wants to accomplish through your grandchildren. But God knows.

So whatever you do, don’t trade your future for a bowl of stew.

Further Reading:
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Andy Stanley on Creating a Healthy Work Culture

Andy Stanley

Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church (Alpharetta, GA) closed Catalyst Conference’s last and 10th session by discussing how to create a healthy work culture at your church.. Here is what he said:

I think that your church and your church culture should be the healthiest organizational culture in your city. I think that business people in your city should stop by during the week and say, “Wow! I have never seen an organization run so well!” I am not talking about on Sunday. I am talking about your church’s weekly work culture.

Think about this.

In the local church we have so much going for us culturally (if we follow the Bible… love, harmony, work as though unto the Lord) that we should have the best work cultures. Yest some of the meanest people I have met are on church staffs. Some of the laziest people I know are on church staffs. Some people think it doesn’t take much competency to work at a church because they lazy people who work at a church. And that is a shame.

Healthy people are drawn to healthy cultures. Healthy people don’t stay in unhealthy cultures. Unhealthy people thrive in unhealthy cultures.

Occasionally, there are gaps between what we expect people to do and what they actually do. As leaders, we choose what to put in this gap. And what you as a leader choose to put in that gap will shape your culture. And what you put into that gap, will also be what your staff puts in that gap. You will either assume the worst or expect the best.

There are a couple of things that determine what I put in that gap:

  1. What I see
    If someone consistently brings you poor quality, you will always assume the worst.
  2. Who I am
    Your past hurt and betrayal will influence what you put in that gap. We like certain types of people. And we dislike others.

Developing a culture of trust is critical to the health of your organization. Trust fuels productivity. The message of trust is this… I think you are smart enough to know what to do, and if you make a mistake, you will tell me then fix it.

A culture characterized by trust attracts healthy people.¬† You will never know who you can trust until you trust them. The longer you refuse to trust people, the longer that untrustworthy people can hide in your organization. The moment you feel to tightly manage someone, you might have made a hiring mistake. And if you don’t address the hiring problem, you might create a culture where everyone distrusts each other. You will never know who you can trust until you trust them. Trusting is risky. Refusing to trust is riskier.

Trust enables an organization to move faster. In an organization of trust, the culture is fluid. When their is a high level of trust, I am going to act/email/write/communicate as if I believe the best. Teams use trust as currency. The development of trust then becomes a significant leadership strategy. It feels 100% relational and 90% emotional.

Developing a culture of trust begins with a leader. Trust and suspicion are both telegraphed from the leader throughout the organization. We must learn to choose to trust.

When you choose to trust, you must choose to confront. The moment there is suspicion in a person, everything he does is tainted. When you and I sit on our raw assumptions, and it leaks out to our family and organization, the energy makes our suspicion grows bigger and uglier. And then all of a sudden, a handful of offense gets a huge response. If you want to build a culture of trust, you must confront fairly and quickly and refuse to sit on it. Before I assume the worst, I should at least ask for the facts. The consequences of concealment are far greater than the consequences of confrontation.

To develop a culture of trust, leaders must be trustworthy. Worthy of trust does not mean perfect. It means when I create a gap where your expectations don’t line up with the experience I give you, I talk to you about it.

5 Essential Commitments of Trust

  1. I will believe the best.
  2. When other people assume the worst about you, I will come to your defense.
  3. If what I experience begins to erode my trust, I will come directly to you to talk about it.
  4. When I am convinced I will not be able to deliver on a promise, I will come to you ahead of time.
  5. When you confront me about the gaps I’ve created, I will tell you the truth.

The gaps are the opportunities… the gaps are the litmus test… for you to choose what culture you will have.

Questions to Ask

  1. Are there people in your organization you have a hard time trusting.
  2. Is it your issue or is it theirs? (if you have never chosen to trust it is still your issue)
  3. What can you do about your part?
  4. What do you need to address with them about their part?
  5. Who do you sense having a difficult time trusting you?
  6. Why?
  7. What can you do about it?

If you choose to trust, you will create an organization that is more nimble and effective.

Further Reading:
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