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Relational Leadership Principles

RELATIONAL PRINCIPLES FOR CHURCH LEADERS

For the past few years, I’ve been on staff at Vine Church, a new church community right outside of Washington, D.C. At the same time, I have my own band that travels to play music or lead worship at conferences and venues in the Eastern U.S. As time has passed, our church community has evolved; Our worship team has expanded; Our community involvement has increased; I’ve received more notoriety as a musician; We’ve played on bigger stages; And so on. But I’m constantly asking myself how true success is measured or attained.

I keep coming back to vision and relationships.

I’m not sure if there is a term as “relational leadership” as it relates to this, but that’s the type of leader I want to be. And that’s the type of leader Jesus was and is (and is to come?)

Over the past year, I’ve been keeping notes of things I learn as a leader. Not all of them will apply to everyone in everyway. But the ideas and concepts are important, whether you’re a church leader, CEO, quarterback, lead singer, office manager, doctor, etc.

 

1 – KEEP THE VISION IN FRONT.

Know who you’re called to be (both as a leader and as a church community) and it will make decisions and actions easier. I don’t think anyone is called or sets out to be a big jerk. And I don’t think anyone sets out to get off line from where they’re headed. But it can happen easily if you aren’t constantly recalling the vision to yourself and your team.

[You may have to pass up on good opportunities or ideas.]

 

2 – KEEP PEOPLE FIRST.

Of course when you’re the leader there are times where you have to lead/make tough decisions/hold people accountable. But if they are important to you they will feel important to you. If you set out to make them feel important so that they will work harder, they will sniff that out and know that they are just cogs in your church machine. That is not only offensive, but counterproductive to the vision. Instead – actually care about them and what’s going on in their life and they’ll likely want to be on your team. Then together you can pursue the vision.

 

3 – MAKE OTHER PEOPLE’s PURPOSE YOUR PURPOSE.

If you are interested in how people can serve your purpose, you and they will be frustrated. If you help them figure out their purpose (both personally and as part of the team), they will be loyal and you’ll both end up fulfilled. And this unity will propel the vision forward and draw other people in.

 

4 – LEADERS ARE ONLY AS GOOD AS THEIR TEAM.

It might sound a little cliche, but we have to constantly remember that leaders are only as good as the team around them. Nobody can do things completely alone. Everything is a team effort. Make sure you continually remember that and state it to everyone. Look at someone successful and 100% chance they have a team around them.

[Think of famous athletes we know by a single nickname: RGIII or Lebron. Or think of an athlete that competes alone – like Tiger Woods. Or a solo musician – like Johnny Cash. They are mentioned by name, usually by themselves and many times are in front of people by themselves. But RGIII wouldn’t be who he is without his family, coaches, offensive line, etc. Lebron didn’t win a ring until he teamed up with Wade and Bosh. Tiger has coaches, doctors, caddies, etc. Johnny has a band, producers, promoters, etc.]

 

5a- RECEIVE CRITICISM.

5b- DEFLECT PRAISE

Take the criticism and deflect the praise. That is part of leadership responsibility. Give criticism to your team privately but give them praise publicly. When someone tells you a song or event missed the mark, take responsibility. Whether you planned it or not is irrelevant. When someone comes up after the worship service to talk about how great you sounded, be thankful, but give a simple reminder that it has a lot to do with the guitar riff and bass groove.

[This was never more apparent to me than during Kevin Durant’s MVP speech. He reached the individual pinnacle of his sport, yet he spent the entire 27 minute speech deflecting the praise onto everyone but himself. See it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxVAOoQeNJ8 ]

 

6 – IT’S BETTER TO DISCUSS THAN TO DISCOVER.

My friend Brandon said this to me one time and it was revolutionary to my relationship to my leadership style. If you have discussions up front about things, people won’t have different expectations. The responsibility is on you to be honest, as the leader. If you are not, and somebody has unmet expectations, and therefore is hurt/angry/upset, you can blame yourself. When you set expectations up front and make sure people are on the same page from the beginning, it will set you up for success in the long run.

[It will also make #7 and #8 easier]

 

7 – BE OPENMINDED.

People are different, have different experiences, etc. Have an open mind as a leader. Or you’ll only attract people like yourself. You might like it, but it’s not what the world needs and will not breed success. Life is a continual journey. We will never stop being refined. People are dynamic so leadership will be dynamic. So staying openminded is the only option.

 

8 – BE PATIENT.

Waiting is key. Quick reactions to solve problems are sometimes necessary, but making the right decision outweighs making the fast one. It might not be fun or feel good to have something hanging over you, but experiencing that over a short period of time is far better than making a decision that temporarily lifts the weight, but causes more trouble in the future.

 

9 – BE PRESENT.

The future is now. Yes God holds the world in His hands. Yes Alpha and Omega, but the Kingdom is at hand now. The Kingdom is present. We cannot control everything external going on around us, but we do have control over our present attitude and therefore reality. We always look forward to where we see the vision taking us, where the strategy will work, reaching the next goal, etc. But if we aren’t present, none of that will matter. How does the now relate to the future? How am I being shaped today in this moment?

 

10 – KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Many times we make leadership too complicated and overthink it. This list might even confuse you. Keeping it simple (#1 – knowing who you’re called to be and #2 – prioritize people) will not diminish importance, just confusion.

 

 

Are there some I’ve missed? What have you learned that you can share?

KingsFest

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Beginning today @ 10am, through next Tuesday May 13th, we need your help! You can help us win a spot on the main stage at KingsFest on June 26th. We’d play that night with TobyMac, Rend Collective and more. If you visit kingsfestival.com, you can vote once a day, per device, for the next week. That will help the KingsFest peeps narrow the 50 semi-finalists to the 5 finalists, from which they’ll select the winner.

Here is a pre-made image you can post on instagram/twitter/facebook etc. to invite people to vote along with us.

kingsfest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

right click to “Save Image As”

 

Please help us spread the word!

Thanks friends,
Keith

Angel 95 FM

Hello amigos,

In February I got an email from Angel95fm in Manhattan, KS asking if I’d be interviewed for a feature on unsigned artists called “Off the Grid.” So a couple of weeks ago, we recorded the interview (before I found out about the recentl KCCM Song of the Year Award) and the show aired this past weekend. You can listen to it here.

 

 

Let me know what you think by commenting below!

Thanks,
Keith

 

[Guest Post] We’re Back

This is from a guest post today on my wife’s blog. Go check it out here: emilyelgin.com

 

Well we’re back in Chicago. And it’s go-time. The last few months have felt like go-time, but this really is go-time.

After a much-needed quick trip home for Thanksgiving, Emily and I arrived back 6 days ago. 5 of them, she’s been in the hospital. She just finished her 4th (and last) day of chemo yesterday. Her last ATG treatment was overnight last night. ATG is a heavy-duty immunosuppressant found in rabbits. (Happy Easter!) And today is the big day where the 32 million stem-cells will be reintroduced to Emily’s blood. From there, the docs will monitor her blood count, give her transfusions as needed, and wait for her nearly non-existent immune system to show some life again.

The main thing people have asked is, “How is she doing with the chemo?” I’m thrilled to report that outside of some fatigue, she hasn’t experienced many side-effects. She’s had very little nausea, which has been quickly treated by meds (and Queazy Drops from Tamara). The docs say that the chemo affects everyone differently, and no doubt God’s grace has been shown by how it’s affected, or not affected, Emily.
 
 
Two last things before I go:
1 – Emily is handling everything like a pro. There is a lot of resting and sleeping, but as you might expect, her joyful attitude and wackiness (in a good way) have brought smiles to all the nurses and patients we come in contact with. Her enthusiastic attitude has also kept her spirits positive in situations where most people’s may not be. We know this is because of God’s peace and strength, and through the prayers of our friends, family and even strangers.
 
2 – If you know us well, you know that Emily and I are both talkers. We like to have fun and are never short on words. But honestly, when it comes to the support and love we’ve been shown by everyone, we really don’t know what to say. We have talked many times about how amazing it has all been. From the outpouring of financial gifts…to the hourly prayer times…to the texts just saying she’s being prayed for…to simply reading this blog…we know that it’s all provision from God and because we are well loved. So thank you.
 
Please keep praying that Emily would respond well to the rest of the meds, transfusions, treatment, etc. She already has some ideas and plans for blogging once she feels better. Comment on her blogs and let her know that you are reading.
 
Thanks!
Keith

The Windy City (and by windy I mean freezing)

It’s cold here. Emily and I have been to Chicago a few times now for multiple doctor visits and tests, but typically it’s in the Spring or Summer. I’ve heard this 25 degrees with ice cold wind is nothing compared to December – February. We take a cab when we go out together, but when I’m out TCB, I just walk. It’s cheaper and it gets me a little extra exercise carrying the groceries through the streets of The Windy City. So yeah, the chapped lips won’t quit. But overall, it’s been great to be here with Emily, being a support and encouragement to her.

As for the medical stuff…Emily is handling everything like a pro. Her first dose of chemo wiped her out, energy wise, as she slept for almost two days straight. But for the most part, she avoided the worst momentary side effects. She has been herself everywhere we’ve been, and people love that. It seems that most people at a hospital are grouchy or depressed. She might have some anxiety but is generally joyful and you can tell it brings joy to all the people that meet her.

She’s started her blog and you’ll get a peek inside what it’s like for her if you want to check it out. She already has posted some great stories and photos. Check it out HERE and comment to show her some love!

Thanks for reading and loving us!
Keith

 

2 Months in Chicago

chicago

So here we are.

If you follow me or my wife on any social media platform, you’ve probably heard by now that we are in Chicago for the next couple of months as she undergoes an autologous stem-cell transplant to treat her aggressive Multiple Sclerosis. (Autologous means they take her own stem cells, separate the good from the bad, and reinfuse the good ones) This will include a lot of poking and prodding; chemo; nights in the hospital; walking everywhere; etc. Basically a huge disruption to the comforts we have in life.

Earlier this year when we were planning the live worship record, which released last month, I was simply following what it seemed God had next for me as a worship artist. As the process unfolded, it was clear that the theme behind the project was God being our hope in the ups and downs of life. In the midst of the darkness, He is light. (Title: Our Hope) But Emily and I didn’t know this stem-cell transplant was also in the works. So somehow, God worked all of this out and worlds are colliding here and now.

I honestly feel like God is telling me the Christian singer guy to put my money where my mouth is. It’s one thing to sing about God bringing hope and peace during the rough patches of life, but it’s another thing to live it out and let people see it. And he’s telling the husband and personal me, there is no separation. You are you and I and Me no matter what’s going on in life. The person you are sitting at home watching Netflix is the same you singing out the name of Jesus with a guitar strapped to you. I’m still figuring out what this all looks like…

So here we are. In the midst of the muck. Trusting in God. Placing our hope and trust in Him.

I’m going to keep updating my blog to let you know what’s going on here in the Windy City. And hopefully use this season to encourage you, and us, to keep looking for God in the midst of the chaos. He is at the center of it all.

 

ps. You can also follow Emily’s Tumblr as she’ll be updating it as time goes on in a much more creative way than me.

RGIII, A Welcome Mat, and My 15 Minutes

People have been asking me for a few days now, “How do I get famous?” By now I have my go-to line, “It’s easy. Just buy a welcome mat for a celebrity, then when they tweet you to say thanks, you’ll blow up.” That basically sums up my last 10 days.

In case you didn’t know, Robert Griffin III, the QB of the Redskins, is getting married this summer. 3 weeks ago, the media got ahold of his registry, Dan Steinberg (from the Washington Post) posted it on twitter, and I decided to check it out. At first I found things interesting, including the magnetic spice rack that Emily and I registered for a few years ago, but threw away after a year or so. Then I decided that it’d be nice to buy Mr. and Mrs. Griffin III a small token of encouragement from Emily and me. (She was thrilled at the idea) A $15 welcome mat was the winner. No big deal. Not expensive. Sent a nice note wishing them well with a scripture that was read at our wedding.

Fast  forward to last week when RGIII posted a thank you on twitter to the fans who bought him gifts. I noticed that people were crushing him for receiving the gifts, claiming he should give them to charity, etc. I jumped in the twitter wars with a tweet of my own. Then within 30 seconds, this popped up:

RGIII Tweet

I don’t know why I got a tweet back when he has a million followers, with tons of them tweeting him in that moment. But it immediately linked me to the situation…so when his thank you tweet went national, so did the vaunted welcome mat. It started with a mention in a Washington Post article, which led to an appearance on ABC7 news, which led to a radio interview with Grant Paulsen on 106.7 The Fan. It was in the paper the next day, and the story, which I believe had a lot to do with it being the offseason, was dead.

Until Saturday night, about 9:30, when we opened the mail and found this:

Thank You Note

At first we weren’t going to post a picture of it, feeling like it was no longer news. But I decided that it was a good conclusion to the story, and could help silence those who were hating on ol’ Bob Griffin in the first place. So I sent out a tweet or two with the above photo. Within an hour it was spreading. The Post. CBS Sports. Bleacher Report. All before we went to bed that night. Then the next day I got messages all day from people asking to use the photo in their story. USA Today. Yahoo! Sports. The NFL posted a photo their instagram…16,000 likes the first day. Then the NFL Network contacted me asking if I’d come on the air. Who says no to that? Not this guy. So here’s how that went:

 

NFL Network

CNN Starting Point. The LA Times Fox Sports. Huffington Post. When I went on 106.7 The Fan again with Holden and Danny to talk a little more.

 

I have learned a couple of lessons through these 15 minutes of fame…

1- Many people assume the worst in people and you can’t let it get to you. By that I mean, I also received hateful and mean messages from fans who called us “stalkers”, “$%&#ing idiots”, “selfish morons”. Some even turned it into a race issue. I’ll leave those quotes out. People just couldn’t fathom that we’d be doing this simply to do something nice…pay it forward if you will.

2- There will be opportunities to shine the light on good things if you keep doing things for the right reasons. When one person recognized that I was a Christian artist/Christian/Worship Pastor, she asked something about why we wouldn’t have given that money to charity. Now, at first that frustrated me…for like 2 seconds. Then I saw the opportunity to do more good. So we made a matching donation, the $15 cost of the welcome mat, to Compassion International’s Child Survival Program. When I posted that info, it was retweeted by a couple of national news organization. So by knowing who we are and what we’re about, we turned criticism into more good with a little promotion for Compassion.

3- It’s important to have people around you to remind you who you are. I joked about being famous. People joked with me about being the newest “media superstar”, but at the end of the day, people told me my humility shined through. That’s a weird thing to consider about yourself, but I guess by never once trying to promote my music and by just being who I am, people were encouraged. Some friends reminded me that this was God’s favor for being faithful to who he calls us to be. Some said I was talking about the whole thing too much and it was getting annoying. Someone even created a parody twitter account, Welcome Mat Keith. So people want you to be yourself and the people around you help make who that self is.

 

All in all, the last couple of weeks have been crazy, fun, hilarious, and honestly a little bit tiring. Some people will look at this and say there’s no reason this should happen over a welcome mat and thank you note. But I know that it’s more than that. It’s about loving others and doing good. It’s about living out who God created you to be. And it’s about holding on for the ride when you get to share that with the world.

 

UPDATE – July 2013 – I was interviewed by Rich Campbell, formerly of the Washington Times, for an article about the psychology behind all the RGIII fandom. It was a fascinating article about why people feel so connected to Griffin. Check it out HERE.

UPDATE – August 2013 – NFL AM, the show I was interviewed for back in May, did a skit featuring a parody of RGIII. RGIII, played by Eric Davis, thanked me for the door mat that Coach Shanahan, played by Steve Wyche, wiped his feet on. This is the story that will never die. This has to be it, right?

Here’s the video. 

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UPDATE – May 2014 – My buddy invited me last minute to sit in a luxury box for Game 1 of the Wizards/Bulls playoff series. His client backed out last minute and I was the lucky recipient of the seat. The first three people in the box were me, my friend Bruno and Doug Williams. Yes, Redskins Super Bowl winning QB, Doug Williams. I noticed that this was a Comcast box and that Comcast partners, one of which was Bruno’s employer, used this box for Wizards and Caps games. I look over during the first quarter (after picking up my third plate of super-tasty catered dinner) and saw ol Robert and Rebecca Griffin. Typically, now that I’m an adult, if I see a pro-athlete out and about, I leave them alone to be a regular person. But there were only about 25 of us at this little shindig and everyone was talking to everyone. So I went up to RG and RG and we cut it up for a few. They both remembered my full name and asked about my wife. (A year or so earlier, Robert tweeted out a link to a fundraiser we started for Emily’s stem-cell transplant – read more here.) We talked about how funny the welcome mat incident was and how I was able to use it to talk him up and the highlight positive unifying things in the world…and he asked if I enjoyed the saga…which, yes, it was fun. He snapped a picture with everyone there, mingled like he was not a Heisman, Rookie-of-the-Year winning QB, and even took my advice when I suggested putting mac & cheese on top of the buffalo chicken. So whether RG is a Redskin for life or not, I’ll be rooting for Robert and Rebecca…not specifically in football, but so that they’ll be able to build relationships and impact people like they did us.

Kickstarter

Hey guys,

So you may have heard/seen by now that we’re recording/filming a live CD/DVD at our April 28th concert in Chesapeake, VA. The costs for something like this are pretty high, as you might imagine. I’ve sent out some support letters to some close friends, and now I’m invited you to invest in this project too. You can CLICK HERE to watch the video, read info about the project, and check out the rewards you get for getting on board. Please share with your friends too!

Thank you for always being so supportive and encouraging. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Keith

Made or More going for adds

Hey everybody…the day is here. Made for More is being released to radio today and will be going for adds all around the country. Feel free to call your local stations and request the song, if you like. To give you a better chance of liking it, I’d like you to have it for free. (Everything is better when it’s free!) Get it HERE!

And I offer you all a huge thank you for supporting me, my band, and my music. I am truly humbled that God allows me to be a part of something like this.

Keith

Breakout Session Notes

Thanks for checking out my breakout session at the conference today. This session was 90 minutes, so these are kind of the bare bones of notes, but I hope they help. Please keep in mind that this is most in the context of worship planning or leading people in worship. I’ll post the audio here when it’s done!

NOTES

What is worship? Basically, worship is our response to to something we love. Maybe it’s football, or our family, or money. Hopefully first and foremost it’s God.

WHO

  • So when we talk about worship, we first have to ask, “Who?” So our response, or our worship, is towards God for who He is…not just His name, but His character and nature. Who is God to you?
  • Who is God to the people you’re trying to reach? How can you connect them with Christ?

WHY

  • What other response could we have to God? To the Creator? Savior? Hope?
  • He commands us to do it
  • Not reasons to worship – it feels good, obligation

HOW

  • Everything starts with vision. You have to know where you’re going if you want to get somewhere. Once you know who God has called you to be, as a leader and a church, you’re vision will become clearer. It will make decisions easier. You might have good options that every other church is doing or everyone in your church wants you to do, but if it doesn’t line up with your vision, you’ll have to say no sometimes. Nobody wants to be around confusion. Why would a new person want to be a part of something that is confusing.
  • We have a clear path. We start with a vision for the church. To reach unchurched people in our community. In order to further that vision, we plan worship services that will be a place where we can worship God together. So we take scripture and put themes around it to help people understand that God loves them. Each week is a sub theme, which supports the theme of the series, which supports the vision of the services, which support the vision of the church.
  • Our community is not your community. Get to know the people in your community. Do what they do. Go where they go. It will help you understand how to reach them.

PRACTICAL

  • Don’t just have people “greet each other in the name of the Lord.” Prompt them with a question to discuss. It’ll help them get to know each other.
  • Use images from pop culture to help people connect scripture. Jesus spoke in parables, it’s probably a good idea.
  • Don’t just have announcements. Have opportunities for people to connect and serve.
  • Think outside the box. ie Knock Off series – taste tests for original vs knock off brands to help people connect the dots of authentic vs knock off faith.
  • Add a fun opening song. If your theme is unity, open the service with The Beatles’ Come Together as people gather. It’ll break down barriers and help people’s minds become open to see God as bigger than just something we do on Sunday for an hour.
  • Worship in private so your public worship is authentic.
  • Leaders – lead. By example. Does rehearsal start on time? Are you ready when rehearsal starts? Why would your team member make it a priority to be there on time if you don’t? Do you know all the songs like the back of your hand when rehearsal starts? If not, maybe your band doesn’t need to learn them in advance.
  • Start with prayer and devotion. It will help focus people on the reason we do what we do.
  • Preparation is vital. If you aren’t prepared, people can probably tell, and if they think about you, then you are a distraction. It will help everyone experience God in an undistracted way.
  • Know what your theme is: Pray accordingly; Choose songs accordingly.
  • Technical issues or blatant music mistakes are a distraction from the focus of our worship, which is God.
  • TRANSITIONS. Make smooth transitions. 12 seconds of awkward silence can kill someones connection with the Spirit. Be responsible with the responsibility.

RESOURCES

  • worshiptogether.com – for new songs/videos
  • CCLI – for charts, lyrics, licenses
  • churchstagedesigns.com – for creative stage ideas
  • worshipleader.com/Worship Leader magazine
  • The Air I Breathe – Louie Giglio
  • planningcenteronline.com – worship planning/schedule/organization
  • ProPresenter – lyric/video projection
  • worshipmatters.com – blogs/devotions/thoughts
  • leadworship.com – instructional DVDs/articles

 

Remember that no matter what we do, no matter how creative or how good we sound, only Christ can transform people’s hearts and raise them to life!

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