Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How to Grow your Blog Traffic by 300%


This is not a trick blog, nor some marketing technique to sell you my latest book. What I am about to tell you in relation to growing your blog traffic is absolutely true. I'm not a 'blog traffic' guru, but this may be worth reading.

The problem with this post, is that many of you will not like the answer. I believe the assertion I am about to make to be true and though it may be able to be debated by you, I am sticking by it 100%.

When I have followed the following, I have increased my blog readership by literally 300% or more per post. I bet you are intrigued.

Now, I am not a scientist, nor do I work as a statistician and I cannot verify what I am about to tell with with clear, scientific, empirical evidence. Maybe this post takes a little faith.

In fact, to grow your blog readership by 300% takes faith. Let me explain the premise of my discovery...

How to Grow your Blog Traffic by 300%.

Call me crazy, but EVERY BLOG I have written, where I have sensed a CLEAR PROMPTING from GOD to write that particular post, has generally had 300% higher traffic than other posts.

If you are not into the faith thing, stay with me for a few moments. I am merely trying to explain to you MY story. See, I am a Christian, and I ask God to reveal to me what I should blog about. Sometimes I sense nothing, and I blog about whatever I am passionate about (leadership, communication, the Bible, etc). The blog traffic literally goes up through the roof, when I have a deep, deep sense from the Holy Spirit (some of you know what I'm talking about!) about what to write about.

I wrote The Most Important Truth About Leadership after I sensed that God had said something into my spirit. Now the way I write the post is not really different to any other post, and the timing and way I promote the post was not any different. Though the blog traffic of this blogger post, has gone through the roof.

I wrote The Church will Grow back in January 2012, to explain a little move of God we had in our local Salvation Army church. Next thing I know, the blog went viral.

Now, there are many bloggers out there passionate about increasing blog traffic. And this says something about increasing your blog readership, sure. But it actually says something a lot deeper about the nature of God, and this intangible thing we call success. Let me attempt to sum it up here:
Any Godly success, perceived rightly or otherwise, will be directly proportionate to the believer's faithful response to the Holy Spirit's leading in their life.
You could spend the next few years attempting to increase your blog traffic. Go for it. You could spend your time finding tips on increasing your blog readership and rating on the top of Google. If that's your cup of tea, then great.

Though why not take a moment, and grow your faith in the one who created you.

Handing over your life, your blog and all that you have over to Christ, might just be the single biggest, most important thing you have done or will ever do.


Disciples in Training on Facebook keeps the discussion going.


Change? We Don't Change! Leadership Insights on Change Management

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Change is not a nice word for many people. Unless you fall into that small percentile of people who embrace change immediately (like those itching for a new ipad to be released), most change in life takes communication and a development of understanding. You know what I mean, for instance, 'Tell me why that change benefits me again?!'

In Organisation Development & Change (Waddell, Cummings and Worley, 2000), some tips of change management are highlighted. They say for effective change management you need to:
  • Motivate change
  • Create a vision of the change
  • Develop political support for the change
  • Manage the transition of the change
  • Sustain momentum after the change is complete
These leadership insights are obviously written for organisations, and the managers and employees who are implementing changes to their workplace. Whether you are a leader in a church, a non-for-profit, a business, or even if you are seeking to make some change in your home environment, keep reading on.

Motivating Change

For people to want to embrace change, they need to be motivated to change. There needs to be a readiness for change. You can create a readiness for change by 'revealing discrepancies between current and desired states' (Waddell et al.: 152). For example, if the change is the moving of equipment, it's helping people understand that the equipment is more desirable to be in the new location than its current location, that is, the change is worthwhile!

Create a Vision

The vision can simply create excitement or 'buy-in' for the change by 'providing a compelling rationale as to why change is necessary and worth the effort' (Wadell et al: 155). I have written extensively on vision, and its potential positive impact on organisational life. Have a look at the visionary leadership post.

Develop Political Support

I would probably word this differently from the authors of Organisation Development & Change. Personally, as an Officer of The Salvation Army and minister of a local church congregation, I would grab hold a God-given change project (e.g. an extension of a building, the employing of someone new, or the expanding of a particular ministry), and then seek to help people understand the purpose of the change. This may well be the same as eliciting political support, but I would much rather see it, as gathering support and developing understanding from all levels of the organisation and all key stakeholders, so that they can see the benefits of the change. This differs slightly from the idea of needing to canvass political support, like its some sort of democratic process where people vote on whether this is the right change or not. I would possibly call this, 'Develop Organisational Understanding of the Change'.

Manage the Transition

The change process is not just about communicating a clear vision of the benefits of the change. Nor is the change process just helping all levels of the organisation understand the change. You must manage the transition of the change.

Years ago, in the church I was in, we transitioned into a new facility on a Sunday morning. We spent months communicating the rationale for the change; sharing the vision; getting people excited. This was all great, but without a smooth (or as smooth as possible) a transition into the new building, people would become dispondent and disappointed. They would no doubt say things like, 'It would have been better if we left things as they were!' This is why you need to make a smooth transition! Write a flowchart, mindmap or use a big whiteboard. Try to nut out the logisitics of the project. Think about people, finances, equipment, etc. Consider the hows and whys and whens... There is so much more to say, but we'll leave that for another day.

Sustain Momentum

For the example of the moving location of the church gathering, it was important to continue to create excitement and momentum following the change. For example, we wanted people to continually understand the increased value of being in a new location compared with the previous location. Since we had to set up this new location every week for our time together as a church, it was imperative to communicate the value of the change continually. We had to sustain momentum.

There you go. There's some quick leadership insights and tips into effective change management.

As the old joke goes:

'How many leaders does it take to change a lightbulb?'

'Change?! We don't change!'


Leadership Tips on Communication:

Emotional Leadership

Visionary Leadership

Leadership and Management

Leadership Tips

Leadership in Business

Leadership in Politics

Strategic Leadership

Stephen Covey

Stephen Covey writes some great material on leadership and personal development. The best teachings being both his '7 Habits of Highly Effective People' and 'The 8th Habit'. Have a read of the following few posts on Stephen Covey's leadership teachings:
  • A Summary of Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • Stephen Covey's The 8th Habit - A review of the 4 Human Intelligences

    John C. Maxwell

    John C. Maxwell has some great leadership insights, especially his 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Below are helpful and informative summaries on some of the 21 Laws, including some of my own stories.
  • Thursday, July 26, 2012

    Common Perceptions of the Church from those Outside the Church

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    Dan Kimball lists six common perceptions of the church from those who are not a part of the church. He lists people's opinions of the church as:
    1. The church is basically organized religion and has a political agenda
    2. The church is judgmental and negative
    3. The church is dominated by males and oppresses females
    4. The church is homophobic
    5. The church arrogantly claims all other religions are wrong
    6. The church is full of fundamentalists who take the whole Bible literally
    Kimball's list comes from his book, They Like Jesus, but Not the Church (2007, page 69).

    Each of these perceptions of the church, whether actually true or not, keep people from being a part of the church. I'm not going to spend time on this post defending these points, because I think some of them are true of Christianity (atleast in some place, at some point in time), and are in fact an indictment on the Church Universal. While at times, Christians may be embarassed about the church, Kimball points out, there is never reason to be embarrased about Jesus (page 60).

    The quest the church must be on today, is a quest towards embracing a missional view of the gospel.

    What is Missional?

    Missional, is about Christians understanding that they are missionaries and do not 'do' mission, but rather live out mission. Missional means we see ourselves as representatives of Christ (2 Cor 5:20). Missional means we understand we are a 'sent' people; sent by Jesus into our community (John 20:21). Missional means we engage with the Missio Dei (Mission of God), which means God has gone before us into the world, and we partner with God in mission. Missional means we are in the world, but not of it. Missional means we live with Christ 'in' us, and therefore everywhere we go is an opportunity for God to be honoured through us (adapted from page 20, Dan Kimball). (Have a read of my in depth post called, 'The Incarnation, Incarnational Mission and its Dynamic Impact on the Church').

    We could say more. We could off load our hurts. We could even try and defend our deeply held convictions. Whatever the case may be, the church would do well in building credibility for the message in which it proclaims, if it learnt and enacted missional living, that is birthed from a biblical perspective and tempered with grace and humility.




    Tuesday, July 24, 2012

    Top 10 Leadership Tips for Creating Healthy Organizational Culture


    STOP! You find yourself here because organizational culture can at times be frustrating and draining and you're looking for a solution. Many businesses are looking to improve workplace culture. Well I will outline some leadership tips for you that, I believe, will help and equip you in improving the culture of your organization (or at least assist you in understanding what parts of your organizational culture needs work). I write this, not as some hopeful blogger, that wishes to splat more useless information over the already overloaded internet. I write this as someone who serves God as an Officer in The Salvation Army (in the northern parts of Australia), and has managed employees, and empowered volunteers to reach for their best. I completed a Bachelor of Business, and have read a myraid of books related to empowering people and organizational culture, creating excellence and change management. This hopefully offers some context for the following blog and some credentials to allow you as the reader to read on, and embrace the elements in this list.  

    Creating a healthy culture in an organization is vital, if an organization is going to be effective in the long term. We know stories of businesses that have crumbled because of a lack of integrity by the CEO, or a church that has closed because the senior pastor didn't know how to inspire a great culture within their church. How many morning tea times are full of gossip and frustrated employees who wish their business had a better culture? How many emails are sent daily complaining about the ins and outs of the workplace, all because leaders have not developed a great culture in their workplace? How many secret facebook messages do business people send to their friends, during work times, that relate to issues of culture?

    Think about it: Bad culture, fosters bad results - especially over the long term.

    Well, never fear, because I have the top 10 leadership tips for creating a healthy culture in an organization! Actually, its not a definitive list. Neither should you trust anyone that says they have the secret formula for organizational success! (Unless it's maybe Aung San Suu Kyi, Stephen Covey, Nelson Mandela or Jack Welch!) Leadership praxis is always up for debate. There may be tips on this list you think should be added, or you may reword or rework. That being said, I believe in this list. I see it in reality, that to create a vibrant, high performing culture within the workplace, the church, the school, the political realm, the entertainment industry and so on, the organisation/group/team needs to embrace these values.

    Also have a look at the TOP 100 Leadership Tips here.

    Ok, strap yourself in - here is the list:

    Top 10 Leadership Tips for Creating a Healthy Culture in an Organization
    1. Culture of Planning - Ever heard, without a plan you plan to fail? Too many businesses go about everyday business without planning. Two questions need to be asked: Firstly, where is our intended destination and secondly, how are we going to get there? The first question is a vision question, the second is a planning question.

      You can't climb Mount Everest without a plan, nor should you cruise through your workday without planning how you will achieve what you are hoping to achieve. While the implications of bad planning (or no planning) for the Everest Climber is death, for an organization, bad or no planning might mean a loss of income, loss of personnel, or a missed deadline. A culture of planning, is a culture of strategic thinking. It is about looking at the mission, vision and values of the organization, and saying, 'How are we going to achieve this?' 'What is our strategy?' 'What is our plan?' High performing organizations execute plans well, and adapt them as circumstances change. They create a culture within their organization of strategic thinking and planning.

      "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed" - Proverbs 16:3
    2. Culture of Execution - This is the mantra that says, 'If you say you're going to do it, then do it'. This builds trust amongst the people of an organization. It's about following through with agenda items, and implementing the ideas into concrete realities. Within a business, a culture of execution might look like the announcement of a new product range - an idea that could transform the business! A healthy culture of execution gets the job done! The idea doesn't just sit on the desk, or in the heart of the leader, it is communicated, thought through, researched and if appropriate, is actioned. A culture of execution inspires people to move from ideas and abstract concepts to implemented tangible practices.

      Within a church, a culture of execution is needed, because so many visions and dreams sit on the leader's desk, or even in the minds of the people. There needs to be encouragement to follow through and make it happen, with God's help, so the dream is not just some pie-in-the-sky concept. I have sat in that camp. I have reflected upon dreams and wondered whether I should follow through. I am learning, that to motivate the troops, then having a culture of getting the job done is vital! Vision without action is merely wishful thinking.

    3. Culture of a Big Vision - Without vision the people wander aimlessly says an old proverb. Without vision it is very easy to cruise through life, and to step back a year later and say, 'Have I actually gone anywhere?' 'Have I actually achieved anything that is purposeful?' While vision in itself is not enough to arrive at a place of effectiveness; vision helps inspire you, your team, your family, your co-workers, to reach for new heights.

      If you aim at nothing you'll hit it every time. Vision is important to me, because if I aim at nothing, I'll reach it! Though, if I aim at cloud number seven, and only reach cloud number three, I've still gone farther than if I have aimed at nothing! So vision, personally, provides an injection of passion and direction, that when aligned with strategy and intentionality can produce great results.

      A big vision in an organization helps produce a healthy culture, primarily because employees, from the cleaners to HR professionals to managers stop talking about what brand of coffee they are drinking, and start talking about the possibilities of the organization in which they work. It lifts their eyes from the mediocrity of mundane day-to-day work, to consider adapting their work choices, in order that the vision can be accomplished.
    4. Culture of Referent Power and Expert Power - French and Raven in 1959 highlighted 5 different forms of power that leaders utilize. Those forms of power are coercive power, reward power, legitimate power, referent power and expert power. Click here for more on French and Raven. Firstly, coercive power is that autocratic, micro manager of a boss who is always bellowing out requests for you to fulfill. The predominant use of coercive power will hinder the creating of a healthy culture! In fact it will hinder it, and healthy organizational culture will suffer.

      Secondly, reward power, is the power that is perceived to come from the giving of rewards, for example a Christmas Bonus or an 'Employee of the Month' certificate. While this kind of power can create a healthy organization, relying on solely reward power, will have a detrimental effect on organizational morale over time, as people rely on gifts/rewards for their motivation.

      Thirdly, legitimate power, is the power that derives itself from a person's position. So, a CEO has legitimate power (positional power), and so he can expect something from board members because of his position. Legitimate power only goes so far. If the person loses their position, would they still have power/influence with others? Legitimate power, or rather leading from a place of position is limited. Creating a healthy culture in an organization, calls for the other two 'power sources' to come into play.

      Referent power is the influence/power that someone has over you that you allow based on your perceived positive qualities of that leader. When someone has a great past history because of what they have done for the organization, others will follow her. Organizations thrive on leaders who lead with referent power. They choose not to lean on their position (legitimate power), they choose not to coerce people into fulfilling tasks (coercive power) and they choose not to base their leadership solely on rewards (reward power).  They rather, choose to base their influence on the respect they have earned, and their capacity to do the job and inspire others in the process!

      Lastly, the use of expert power, is a leader who has influence based on being an expert within their field of expertise. Having a leader call the shots in an organization who knows 'her stuff', and who understands the ins and outs of the process is more likely to inspire others than having a lack of business knowledge.

      Appointing leaders who use referent power and expert power will help in boosting the morale of an organization. If you're wondering how you possibly create high morale in the workplace, maybe start with yourself, and consider whether you use coercive power, reward power, legitimate power, referent power or expert power. I suggest, the later two will help boost morale the most!
    5. Culture of Passion - Daniel Goleman writes in Emotional Intelligence that emotions are contagious. 'Most emotional contagion is....subtle, part of a tacit exchange that happens in every encounter. We transmit and catch moods from each other in what amounts to a subterranean economy of the psyche in which some encounters are toxic, some nourishing' (: 114). How does this relate to creating positive organizational culture? The fact is, negative emotions, negative talk and gossip will catch on and spread through any business like wildfire. It takes some proactive, positive people to go against this grain and create a positive environment. Let your positive attitude (what a friend of mine calls PMA - positive mental attitude) dominate your response to each situation.

      Be a passionate person, and watch others catch it! Too many of us mope around waiting for the manager to change their outlook, or for the employee to stop grizzling, while we can all the while be influencing the culture of the organization. Passion will breed passion. This isn't about being an extrovert as such, it's about being passionate and positive about your job. It's about allowing that inner drive and passion to spread throughout your realms of influence. So, leadership tip number five for healthy, vibrant organizational culture is to foster a culture of passion.
    6. Have a Clear Organizational Value System - Robert W. Johnson founded a business called Johnson & Johnson back in 1886, and this business remains enduringly strong today. Their vision is clear, 'To alleviate pain and disease.' In 1943 Johnson & Johnson, through the writing of R. W. Johnson, Jr. introduced the Johnson & Johnson Credo. Without highlighting the entire Credo, here were the five main points:

      (1) First responsibility is to those who use J&J products
      (2) Second responsibility is to the employees of J&J
      (3) Third responsibility is to the management of J&J
      (4) Fourth responsibility is to the communities in which we live
      (5) Fifth and last responsibility is to our shareholders

      Talk about a revolutionary business model! Most businesses ensure their shareholders are sailing on cruise ships before they consider the surrounding environment and community.

      The point I wish to make about Johnson & Johnson is its capacity to create loyalty, purpose and health based on its clear value system. The healthy culture that is espoused is based on a clear understanding of the fundamental values of the organization. The values are in the open, there is no murkiness; people know what the organization believes and they know whether they want to be a part of it.

      For Johnson & Johnson the credo at times lost prominence in the busyness of organizational life. How often have you witnessed businesses, churches, organizations lose hold of the fundamental values that their organization first began with? For Johnson & Johnson in 1979 this was a reality. The then CEO, Jim Burke said:

      'People like my predecessors believed in the Credo with a passion, but the operating managers were not universally committed to it... So I called a meeting of some 20 key executives and challenged them. I said, "Here's the Credo. If we're not going to live by it, let's tear it off the wall... We either ought to commit to it or get rid of it."... By the end of the session, the managers had gained a great deal of understanding about and enthusiasm for the beliefs in the Credo. Subsequently, [we] met with small groups of J&J managers all over the world to challenge the Credo' (as cited in Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, Built to Last, p. 72).

      I believe that adherence to a clear, inspiring value system, helps with creating healthy organizational culture. Now on to tip seven for creating great workplaces! If you are in management, I hope you are absorbing this!
    7. Culture of Honesty and Integrity - We all know character traits like honesty and integrity are integral to healthy organizations. Though, when you read of some of the egotistical and dishonest antics of some CEOs and managers, you understand the need to state the obvious. Great leaders have developed great character traits (or have had them all along), like selflessness, integrity, servanthood, truthfulness, compassion, etc. May I say that while quite often people may have elements of these qualities, we all are caused to consider how well we express these elements in organizational life. In a sense, the world can normalize egotism, telling the occasional lie and hard-heartedness, but I personally believe an organization with a healthy culture, minimises such attitudes. Creating a great workplace surely begins with honest leaders!

      How do you create honesty and integrity in your organization? Obviously you can start by leading by example. Nelson Mandela lead by example when it came to forgiveness. Jesus of Nazareth offered a radical relook at holy living and lead an ordinary bunch of disciples to create a movement that transformed the world. Mother Theresa lived out compassion and selflessness. We must lead by example.

      You can ensure you are employing new staff with good character. Some managers have said, it is much easier to teach someone skills, than it is to teach them character. Good character must surely be seen as important in all aspects of business life, no matter what the industry - mining, hospitality, tourism or the military!
    8. Culture that Focuses on God - From a Christian perspective, an organization intent on honouring God, will have the blessing of God. I have seen, read and heard of organizations, that have come against great odds, not simply because of the tenacity of the leader or manager, the focus of the team, or 'good luck', but rather the empowerment from God. While some organizations founded on Christian principles have become increasingly secularised others have remained true to their founding visions and ideals. Jesus never seemed too concerned with communicating something that offended people (not that the message needed to be offensive to those hearing it). He remained true to being the son of God, sent from God to 'take away the sins of the world'. I firmly believe that organizations that remain focused on God, amonst the whirlwind of organizational life, will have the blessing of God.
    9. Culture of Encouragement - The Bible says, '...encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you' (2 Cor 13:11). Also, 'Encourage one another and build each other up' (1 Thes 5:11). Whether you believe in the Christian faith, in a sense is irrelevant at this point, but rather we are focusing on the importance of encouragement. If you are wondering how to create a great workplace you can start with encouragement! Great workplaces have great levels of encouragement. Great workplaces have a culture of supporting one another, caring for one another, holding each other accountable and looking out for one another. While the encouragement mantra has been communicated to millions over thousands of years, we no less need it today; and it's a simple point, yet some many businesses do not up hold this important value.
      We know psychologically humans need encouragement. A baby needs love in order to even survive. The older we are, the need for encouragement is no less important. The problem with management focusing just on the bottom line, results, and organizational objectives, sometimes causes management to neglect simple aspects like showing appreciation to employees and meaningful encouragement. 
    10. Understand Different Personalities and Gifitings - Myers-Briggs profiling categorises people into 16 different personality types. A quick glance at Myers-Briggs shows that people's personalities can be defined in the following way:
      * Extraverted or Intraverted
      * Sensing or Intuitive
      * Feeling or Thinking
      * Judging or Perceiving
      I don't intend to delve into Myers-Briggs personality types here, but this is a popular management tool to help understand differnt personalities. Some people are very pragmatic and practical and struggle to comprehend 3 year visions and organisational strategy. Some personalities love to think about the future! Some personalities love to connect over a coffee, in a warm environment and talk about personal struggles; others have objectives to fulfill and their conversations are less personal and more about the task at hand. The key to good management is to understand these different personalities.
      Another profiling technique is Belbin, which aims to 'identify people's behavioural strengths and weaknesses in the workplace'. There are nine different team roles within the Belbin model and they are:
      Shaper, Completer Finisher, Specialist, Implementer, Team Worker, Resource Investigator, Monitor Evaluator, Co-ordinator, Plant. Go to http://www.belbin.com/ for more.
      Whether management wish to make use of these (at times expensive) profiling techniques is a question worth asking. They can provide a deeper appreciation and understanding of others, and thus improve the culture of the organization.


    I hope you have enjoyed the top 10 leadership tips for creating healthy organizational culture.

    Also have a look at the TOP 100 Leadership Tips here.

    Please go to www.facebook.com/petebrookshaw to read more on leadership, spirituality and how God can make all the difference in your life.


    More Leadership Posts here:

    Leadership Tips on Communication: 

    Emotional Leadership

    'The laborer's appetite works for him; his hunger drives him on.' - Proverbs 16:26

    Monday, July 23, 2012

    The Truth about Influence - What Secular Leadership Won't Tell You

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    Read most books on leadership and there will be comments about 'gaining influence', 'becoming influential' or comments such as, 'use your influence for good'. Depending on the author, their outlook on life, and the philosophy that underpins their life, the surrounding comments will differ.

    Some secular teachers may pronounce the importance of gaining influence, merely by manipulating your environment. Famous author Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People seemingly goes down that track. Leadership influence comes from acting in such as to gain influence, is the premise of the book. On the surface that sounds great, but what is the motive behind the change of character and is it merely to gain influence? Is it wrong to simply act a certain way to win over people, rather than just act that way because it is 'right' to act that way? Do we smile, be nice to others and respect others just because we are waving some leadership flag and hoping people to follow, or is this a natural characteristic of our life?

    A few years back, some words popped into my mind (I would say, from God) that gave me clarity on this whole leadership topic of influence. The words were...

    Your Influence precedes you.

    I began to think about these words from 2 Chronicles 20:14-17:

    2Ch 20:14-17  Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly. He said: "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's.  Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.'" 
    The battle is not ours, but God's. Put in today's language, 'Our quest to make any sort of positive difference today, is not determined so much by us, but God.'

    See, here's the thing. The Godly understand that influence, is not from them, or even because of them, but rather from God.

    Your influence precedes you. God goes before you.

    If you seek to transform your circles of influence; if you seek to grow in spiritual leadership and allow the gospel of Jesus to save lives, then you must understand that influence comes from God. Spiritual leadership and the influence that is wrapped up within it, is from God.

    We can work hard, send emails, do some marketing, and all of that, but Godly leadership only comes from God.

    Let me finish with a quick anecdote. I Blog regularly, and at times, the readership is low, and sometimes it is high. Do you know when it is most high? When the Blog that I write has been stirred up from the Lord, and seems to have the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon it. For example, back in January 2012, I wrote about God moving in our church, and the amazing impact God was having on our church. The post went viral, and people shared it around by the hundreds. That's because God is better at being influential than I ever will be.

    Remember, no matter what secular leadership tell you. You influence precedes you.


    See the  Disciples in Training Website - Ask faith questions, discuss leadership, share your testimony and more... 

    Saturday, July 21, 2012

    My Fuel Light is On - Tips on Recognising the Level of Gas in the Tank

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    I was driving the car recently, and realised I had 34km left before I would run out of petrol! This was never a problem in the previous car I had. The other car used to 'BEEP' at me at 80km, and then 'BEEP' 'BEEP' at 40km, then 'BEEP, BEEP, BEEP' at 20 km and so I had plenty of warning to refill the tank. The problem I now had, was I had no indicators of when I am running on empty.

    There's obvious parallels to life. How often do people run on empty and have no warning signs to tell them otherwise? When you are 'burning the candle at both ends' and when you are 'running on empty', what boundaries, mechanisms, tips, people or things do you have to warn you?

    Here are some tips on how to recognise when the gas tank is running on empty. Or rather, how to recognise when you are burning the candle at both ends:

    TIP No. 1 -  Recognise in yourself when you are getting moody, tired, irritable, burnt-out or stressed. Isn't this the first step? To recognise that the gas tank is running on empty. Awareness precedes change.  

    TIP No. 2 - Have a close friend to kindly warn you when you are beginning to run on empty. Having someone who can nicely say, 'Hey Johnny, you're getting a bit moody, you're not burning the candle are you?'

    TIP No. 3 - Get up the mountain. This is what Jesus did often. He went there to pray, and for some R&R. Imagine being constantly swamped by hundreds of people, wanting from you, asking of you, requesting from you, needing from you... Get up the mountain is a figurative way of saying, get away from the hustle and bustle. Take a prayer break. Recharge the batteries in God. Refuel the faith tank. Now, if you're not a Christian reading this, getting up the mountain and away from the busyness is still what you need to do. Try contemplating on the God who created you and you might find a whole bunch of energy and a revitalisation that no latest magazine or product can offer!

    Tip No. 4 - The good news of Jesus is that he came to bring fullness of life (John 10:10). Claim that as a promise from God. 'Thanks Jesus, that you came to give me fullness of life, and no less!'

    Tip No. 5 - Re-prioritize. Or rather, do tasks that empower you, give you energy; tasks you love to complete. If you are passionate about people, and you are doing a desk job, then find some time to go and catch up with others. Have lunch at a busy cafe!

    Maybe there are other tips you can think of. Feel free to add them below. 

    If this is word of encouragement for YOU today, then I pray, God will help you refuel the gas tank, and that the candle will only have one end from now on! 

    Turn the fuel light on. Let it 'BEEP' at you. Hear the warning signs. Act Accordingly.

    Galatians 6:9-10 - '9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

    Thursday, July 19, 2012

    The Most Important Truth About Leadership


    Leadership is elusive. How can you gauge when you have mastered it (if there is such a thing)? How do you know if you are failing miserably? What is the most important factor in leadership? If someone knows the most important thing you need to know as a leader, then let the world know.

    It might sound crazy to you, but I think God downloaded a one-liner that will revolutionize my future. It will stop me thinking about things out of my control. It will keep me focused. So, I'm about to give you t
    he most important tip on leadership anyone could ever give you. Possibly.

    We are bombarded with information in this age of technology and resource rich environment. In fact we have so much information and resources on our fingertips we at times are overwhelmed. Let's knuckle it down. What is the most important truth for a leader?

    John C. Maxwell drilled down leadership to 21 Irrefutable Laws. Posner and Kouzes in The Truth About Leadership nailed down ten truths that encapsulate good leadership. Others like Pastor Bill Hybels have knuckled leadership down to four fundamentals, like vision and character. Authors like Jim Collins offer us insights into developing level 5 kinds of leadership. Stephen Covey leaved a legacy of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and added an overarching 8th Habit later on.

    I am about to give you the one most important leadership tip you will ever read. That may be a big call, and I am happy to hear something different on the matter! It will focus your leadership development, it will help you understand conflict, and it will help you realise the hurdles and the reason for the occasional stumble. It  will help you focus on what you can change, and not what you can't.

    So, what is my most important truth about leadership? 

    The number one leadership idea came to me while being a Leader on a Youth Camp. I was laying on the dormitory bed, reflecting on the day that had just been. I was reflecting on the challenges I was facing. I was thinking about the future, the possibilities, the change that could happen, the difference that could be made... I prayed. I asked God to equip me to be a better leader. 

    Then something popped in my mind, that had me sitting up straight immediately. I call it a 'Word from the Lord', and some of you might just call it an idea that sprung into my head. It nonetheless lifted me from any sort of slumber and made me take notice.

    Here it is...

    "The greatest challenge you will ever face in leadership, is you."

    I thought about this. Surely not?! What about Mrs. Jones, and that annoying manager, and that controlling so-and-so. What about the autocratic leader, or the unteachable team member, or the child who won't listen to the parent... No. The greatest challenge in your life, and your journey as a leader is and will always be, you.

    I thought about my relationship with others. I considered all the times of conflict resolution and still thought to myself, 'Surely the greatest challenge is that other person.' Then I reflected a little further. 

    If someone frustrates me, I am challenged to consider my response. If someone bad mouths me, I am challenged by how I handle the situation. If a project is not completed on time, I should not be blaming the part-time receptionist. If an employee has a character flaw, the greatest challenge personally is my capacity to graciously help the employee see what may need to change. If the team does not reach its goals, you generally fire the coach. 

    See, the greatest challenge, and the most important truth about leader development, is the need to grow yourself. 

    As a Christian, the challenge for me, is to be more Christlike, to grow in holiness and to let my life encapsulate Servant Leadership or Spiritual Leadership and be gracious, compassionate, and assertive in leadership that draws people together to change the world for God!

    For you, in whatever field of work, and whatever your passions are, and whatever dreams keep you up at night, remember, the greatest challenge in leadership will always be... you.

    Also have a look at the TOP 100 Leadership Tips here.

    Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    Ethics in Business: Nestlé Finally Stop The Traffik!

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    Finally we see some ethics in business.

    Nestlé have made the decision to certify 100% of the cocoa that is used in Australia!

    This is good news, and a good, ethical step for  Nestlé  - a company that has embroiled itself in ethical disasters over the years. Remember the selling of the formula in third-world countries to women who should have been breastfeeding?

    I'm personally happy to see that  Nestlé will not just release ONE line of chocolate that is 'Fairtrade' or rather developed ethically. This is in a sense what Cadbury have done, with their release of Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate with Fairtrade certification.

    When will Cadbury ensure Australian consumers ALL of THEIR chocolate has ethical processes in place?

    So, well done  Nestlé . You make all us Social Justice focused people proud. I'm sure you have further to go in reaching global ethical practices, but for now, we shake hands and say, 'Good one!'

     A Stop the Traffik email says:
    'Nestlé announced in a letter to STOP THE TRAFFIK Australia that they will UTZ certify all their cocoa by the end of 2012. A number of international commentators have suggested that Nestlé’s decision to certify their Australian line first is a result of the intense lobbying pressure they received in Australia, greater than anywhere else in the world.' 
    Contact Nestlé and say thanks: Click here.

    Here's the dream: The vision should be for each and every company to be ETHICAL within EVERY segment of their business, and not just bow down to public pressure when the social justice advocates get too loud. This goes beyond just chocolate companies, but the Insurance companies, the Lawyers, the Accountants, the Military, and so the list goes on...

    Ethics in business should simply just exist.  

    Tuesday, July 17, 2012

    The Death of Stephen Covey - A Highly Effective Person


    The news is out that writer and motivational speaker Stephen Covey has passed away (1932 - 2012). Known especially for   his writing of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and other books such as The 3rd Alternative and The 8th Habit, First Things First, Principle-Centered Leadership, Covey has inspired millions over the years.

    Covey had a bicycle accident back in April from which he was knocked unconscious, and had complications arising from that. 

    Sean Covey, commented on his father's death in an email to The Tribune"Our family, all nine kids and our spouses and my mom, were able to gather together again to be with him for the last few hours of his life, which is what he always wanted." 

    The test of leadership is about the legacy that lives on, when the leader moves on. For Stephen Covey, many will be inspired for years to come with teaching that assisted people in being proactive, considering their personal mission and purpose in life, to create synergy in relationships, conflict resolution techniques and much more.

    The technological world was shocked to hear the death of Steve Jobs back in October 2011, and this was someone known for creativity, tenacity and boldness. In the leadership/motivational field, Stephen Covey will be known as someone who worked tirelessly for people to develop understanding of each other, to inspire people to reach their full potential and in turn positively impact the world around them.

    In remembrance of Stephen Covey, I offer the challenge to all my readers to work tirelessly for the good of humanity. To strive to be a better person, better husband or wife, a better parent, a better daughter or son, a better leader, a better listener, a better pray-er and a better follower.

    God bless. 

    LINKS on Stephen Covey's Death:

    Spiritual Leadership in Psalm 118

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    Strap yourself in, because we are about to discover some spiritual leadership insights from a great leader of the past: King David.

    King David was in spiritual leadership. He was the anointed and appointed King of Israel. He makes some remarks in Psalm 118, that help us glean some insight into spiritual leadership. Let's have a look:

    Give thanks to God

    King David was a leader and he gave thanks to God. He challenged Israel, 'Let Israel say, "His love endures forever"' (Psalm 118:2). We know full well that David was not without his challenges. We know full well that David had at times slipped up, disobeyed, and lost his focus. The start of Psalm 118 is bringing the focus back. Give thanks to the Lord!

    A Leader Overcomes Fear

    Psalm 118:6 says, 'The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?' You can sense David's determination to NOT be afraid. It's almost like it is a decisive choice David is making and maybe it's one you need to make. 'I will not be afraid'. Or I choose not to be crippled with fear with the current situation I am in. God is not a God of fear, nor does he particularly want his people to be living in fear. 

    Take Refuge in the Lord

    Refuge is a place of 'shelter, protection or safety'. In God there is refuge. In Psalm 118:8, King David writes, 'It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humans.' Humans can only provide so much protection and safety. The Lord can ultimately provide spiritual refuge for spiritual leaders, and finding refuge in God can help us feel safe, secure, empowered and confident.

    Recognise the Battle is the Lord's

    Some may say today, 'Don't forget, the mission is God's and we merely partner with God to help fulfil what God has already began'. King David as a spiritual leader of his generation, understood to give thanks where its due, and to recognise the reasons for his success in battles. Psalm 118:15-16 says, 'Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: "The LORD's right hand has done mighty things! The LORD's right hand is lifted high; the LORD's right hand has done mighty things!" While David and his warrior friends were no doubt the ones in battle, David ensured God got the praise. 

    Now, we of course understand the context of 'battles' today is very different, and enacted in a different way to the days of David. But the spiritual principle remains. Spiritual leaders understand that the mission is God's, and God deserves the recognition!

    The Lord Disciplines Leaders at Times

    Well, let's skip this one shall we? No, wait a minute. David says, 'The LORD has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death' (Psalm 118:18). David committing adultery comes to mind. God disciplined David, but not to the point of being chastised too severely! We must understand today, that spiritual leadership may involve discipline, accountability and a slight change of direction. Can I say today, that quite often God uses others in leadership to provide us with accountability and direction.

    A good spiritual leader, will be ready for and will embrace spiritual discipline.

    Spiritual Success only comes from God

    We may debate, 'What is spiritual success?' and we see here that David prays, 'LORD, save us! LORD, grant us success!' (Psalm 118:25). Whatever the 'success' might be, that success, especially if spiritual in nature, can only come from God. Hence the prayer of granting us success. 

    Spiritual leadership involves acknowledging God as the author of life, the giver of success, the one who disciplines and the one who goes before us into our situation. Leadership without acknowledging those things is a failure to embrace the generous nature of a God who loves us. 

    To wrap up Psalm 118, David finishes with how he started, that wraps up the psalm in thankfulness to God.  Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever (Psalm 118:29). 

    For more on Spiritual Leadership click here.

    Monday, July 16, 2012

    Social Media Usage in Australia - Latest Results

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    The 2012 Yellow Social Media Report was put together by Sweeney Research who interviewed a random selection of Australians about social media usage and small business.

    A random 1,016 Australians were surveyed and they found the following:

    • 26% of Australians use Social Media everyday
    • 10% more than 5 times a day
    • 9% a few times a week
    • 38% Australians never use social media.
    The most regular users of social media were found to be 20-29 year olds.

    In relation to questions on small business, it was found that most Australians want the following offered to them on social media:
    • 64% want discounts
    • 54% want giveaways
    • 48% want product information
    Social Media is here to stay and leaders who wish to make a difference, take notice! 

    Well, I need to hurry up and post this blog, so that I have time to leverage my social media impact on the world...

    Sunday, July 15, 2012

    A Definition of Leadership

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    David V. Day and John Antonakis offer a comprehensive study into leadership with their textbook, The Nature of Leadership (2012). As difficult as it is to define leadership, they offer their definition of leadership before proceeding with their 600 page volume. They write:
    ...leadership can be defined in terms of (a) an influencing process-and its resultant outcomes-that occurs between a leader and followers and (b) how this influencing process is explained by the leader's dispositional characteristics and behaviors, follower perceptions and attributions of the leader, and the context in which the influencing process occurs (: 5).
    As John Maxwell defines it simply (some say too simply), 'Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less'.

    Two other aspects of leadership are worth noting and defining:
    Leader Development - 'Leader development is the expansion of an individual's capacity to be effective in leadership roles and processes' (Van Velsor & McCauley, 2004).
    Leadership Development - 'Leadership development is the expansion of an organization's capacity to enact basic leadership tasks needed to accomplish shared, collective work (Van Velsor & McCauley, 2004).

    The challenge with leadership theory, is attempting to explain a somewhat intangible concept called, 'influence'. What behaviours and attributes do 'influential leaders' have? Why and how do people's perceptions of the capacity of a leader change? What leadership styles are needed in what contexts?

    Defining leadership is difficult enough, but exemplifying leadership qualities and understanding the complexities that great leadership entails is another.

    Also have a look at the TOP 100 Leadership Tips here.

    Friday, July 13, 2012

    Leadership Snapshot from Nehemiah

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    Nehemiah Leadership Principles

    Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem many, many years ago. He was firstly confronted with a disturbing situation. The walls surrounding the place where his relatives were buried, and the home of the Jewish people, had been destroyed. 

    We can glean some biblical leadership truths from the example of Nehemiah. 

    Let's grab a hold of some Nehemiah leadership principles from the work of Nehemiah (found in the Book of Nehemiah - Bible)
      • Nehemiah had a cause to fight for (the walls of Jerusalem had been burnt to the ground). He had purpose, or a core mission).
      • Before Nehemiah embarked on any sort of public leadership, he spent time in prayer and fasting (The imperative for biblical leadership).
      • While in prayer, Nehemiah sought the forgiveness of God (Neh 1:6).
      • Nehemiah researched, or rather surveyed the area (albeit secretly) before he moved forward. (See John Maxwell's law of navigation here). (Maybe this echoes a little of what we call Strategic Planning today?)
      • Nehemiah's vision for change drove him to leave his home and go to Jerusalem and embark on a huge building project (Neh 2:5). We might label this visionary leadership today.
      • Nehemiah continued to stand despite the opposition (for example Sanballat and Tobiah). His perseverance and tenacity to finish the building of the walls of Jerusalem is inspiring. (The character traits of a leader that Nehemiah shows is helpful for us today). 
      • Nehemiah exemplified good leadership! He rallied helpers around him, delegated jobs, and continued to promote the vision for the rebuilding of the walls. (As a leader he created 'buy-in' to the vision or rather support for the vision. As a leader he knew the art of delegation. As a leader he continued to communicate the vision, because as they say, vision leaks!)
      • Nehemiah and the truck loads of volunteers celebrated their accomplishments when they completed the rebuilding of the walls. (Celebrate the wins, right? Leaders stop and smell the roses).
    There's a quick snapshot of some Leadership principles from Nehemiah. Have a read of the book of Nehemiah today, and ask God to open your eyes to see the truth that lies within its pages. 

    Join Disciples in Training for further discussion or COMMENT on this blog and leave your thoughts.

    Wednesday, July 11, 2012

    Conquering Public Speaking When You Are Nervous!

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    Seinfeld once said, the greatest fear people have is public speaking. The second greatest fear people have is death. That means you'd rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy...!

    It's time to break some new ground, and learn how to do public speaking when you are nervous. Let me first point out, that this post is not, 'How to do Public Speaking without nerves'. The reality is, that more often than not, the nerves don't go away. I'd rather learn, how to communicate effectively while I have nerves, but learn how to keep them in check. While ultimately learning how do to make presentations without nerves is the grand goal, more often than not, we are communicating while we are nervous.

    Trust me, I've been there. Twelve years ago I nervously stepped out at Church and preached my first sermon. Even after hundreds of sermons, and speaking at many community functions, like weddings, Rotary Clubs, Remembrance Days, Schools and Business Meetings, I still get the nerves! I have to put into practice what I'm about to share with you every time I communicate, so that I don't let the fear of public speaking and the nerves get the better of me.


    Firstly, let me tell you a couple of stories. I was in grade 4 as a youngster, and the ultimate talent quest was on. So I got together with some of the girls from my class, and we decided to sing a song together as our performance. All was good. The hands were a bit sweaty. Though I knew the words of the song. I had sung in front of a crowd before. We launched into our groovy rendition of an old rock n roll hit, and then it hit me. No, it was not a tomato from the back row, but it was a tsunami of nerves consuming my body. What was I going to do? I couldn't sing any longer. The nerves had taken over. I needed an exit strategy. So I put my hand on my tummy and pretended I was about to be sick, and I ran out the side exit. What an entertaining performance! The nerves had consumed me.

    After many years of preaching up a storm at church, and after many meetings, oral presentations, school meetings and the like, I had another 'the nerves consumed me' moment. This time, it was at a business gathering of about 400 people. I was asked to attend because I would be one among about a dozen of people who would be receiving $1,000 for their respective non-for-profit organization. I felt honoured to be there, and to receive this money for the work of The Salvation Army. Then it happened. The unthinkable. The public speaker or host up the front asked that each recipient of the gift 'say a few words.' A slow motion, deep, deep voice played over in my mind... 'Saaaaayyyy... a fewwwww wooooorrrrrdddsss..'

    My mind was blank. I mean, absolutely blank. The nerves compounded. What made matters worse, was that everyone receiving the cheques were epitomising the art of public speaking. They were making people laugh and wowing people with their sophisticated examples of how far they would somehow stretch their thousand dollars.

    Then my name was called. My mind was still blank, and the nerves had now taken a hold of my self-confidence! I looked calm on the outside, but within I was a mess. I then got up and shared what I thought was an absolute clincher of an opening sentence. I said, 'Thanks Wayne.... I'll try not to speak as long as my sermons...'

    Dead silence...

    Well that line didn't work, I thought to myself. That next 3 minutes, was the most difficult 3 minutes in my public speaking life! I mumbled my way through some sort of thank you speech, and went and sat down. People clapped, but I felt like my face was turning brighter than a stop sign. I sat down, and sipped a glass of water. Nerves got the better of my public speaking!


    Fear of public speaking is commonplace. Hence this article. So, how do you do public speaking when you are nervous?

    When you Fail at Public Speaking, Try Again

    Let me begin this section by saying, that even if nerves do get the better of you, you should choose to try again next time. Do not give up trying to beat the nerves. I could have easily given up singing after that embarrassing moment in Primary School. I could have easily made excuses about public speaking following my heart-pounding three minutes in front of 400 business leaders. Though I chose to try again. 

    Take a Deep Breath

    Now, before you skip to the next point, hear me out on this one. The nerves that we experience in any situation relate to a part of our brain called the 'amygdala'. The amygdala is the part of the brain responsible for our emotions. This section of the brain looks like two small almond shaped pieces. Whenever we feel angry, resentful, fearful, nervous or joyful and content, the amygdala is at work. 

    Now, it is known, that the section of the brain that is rational kicks in after the brain has processed the situation via the amygdala. The pre-frontal cortex (the front forehead part of the brain), is where the rational thinking occurs. Let me explain. When someone says something rude to us, the amygdala is quick to respond to the situation with a flood of emotions. We may be feeling anger, hurt, sadness and whatever else our emotional circuitry is producing. The amygdala then sends the processing of the situation to the pre-frontal cortex, where we think through the situation rationally. This happens literally a split second later. 

    So, what's the point? Our emotions are scientifically proven to arouse in us a response before our rational thinking does. That is why some men punch out their neighbour when they say something about their wife - their emotions have kicked in, before they have thought rationally about the circumstance. Can you think of a situation where you think afterwards, 'Why did I just do that?' You reacted via your emotions before you thought rationally about the situation.

    What's this got to do with public speaking?

    If you take a deep breath, you are allowing time for your brain to go from your emotional circuitry to your rational circuitry. Taking three BIG deep breaths before public speaking, helps you to calm the nerves, because your brain is not merely relying on its emotions, but also its rational thinking. The rational thinking is what quite often will say to us, 'It's not such a big deal. It will be ok. Just relax. Don't over-exaggerate your emotions. Relax.'

    When you are nervous at public speaking, take a deep breath. It's scientifically proven to work!

    Know your Content Well

    This seems to be a sure fire way to increase confidence and to calm the nerves when public speaking. The more you know the content, the less you are concerned about structuring intellectually sound sentences, because you have already done the ground work. I mention this point often in relation to how to communicate effectively

    Personally, over the years, as I continue to study and learn, I find the times I am speaking publicly with a well researched and understood topic the more confidence I have. The reason I was so nervous in front of the 400 business leaders, was partly because I had not had the opportunity to think through my three minutes on stage. I did not have time to formulate my thoughts on the topic. A year later, my wife spoke at the same event, and because of prior planning, she nailed an inspiring, short monologue of the local work of The Salvation Army. She knew her content well!

    Practice your Opening Remarks

    Getting off to a confident start when public speaking can help boost the confidence! So practice the opening remarks. Obviously adapt your content based on the context of the situation, but it may be a warm welcome, an introduction to special guests, a provocative opening statement, a funny anecdote, an interesting story, a captivating thought, or an hook that draws people in, for example, 'I want to tell you about someone that really gets up my nose...' (This is the beginning of a sermon on Romans 5, about Adam and his sinfulness). Practice your opening remarks, so as to get off to a confident start that creates a platform for the rest of your message.

    Land the Plane

    When you are nervous, it is easy to not land the plane. You know the situation in public speaking, "In closing tonight, I would like to say... " Five minutes later, "And just one more thought..." LAND THE PLANE! Don't get so nervous you cannot bring your thoughts to some sort of cohesive ending. It may be helpful to have a closing line written out so as to finish strong. This leads me to my next point.

    Stay on Topic

    If you are speaking with notes, then this is not an issue. Though, if you are ad-libbing and you are nervous, this can become disastrous! We all know the setting. A nervous speaker begins rattling on, and then continues to rattle on, and the nerves continue and they keep rattling on. If you are prone to do this, then speak with notes. Otherwise, stay on topic and do not let the fear and nerves allow you to wander off course.

    Be Aware of Your Body Language while Public Speaking

    If you are nervous you may be unaware of bad or distracting body language while speaking. We all know full well when we are nervous, we fidget with our fingers, feet, with the podium and we say 'Umm' every 64 seconds to just name a few. Try and relax, and lower the shoulders and stop fidgeting. If you are unaware of possible bad body language while public speaking, then try filming yourself and watching it over. You could also try the 'speaking in front of the mirror' trick, or allow someone who you trust to give you reliable, honest feedback. Those ideas can be helpful. Watching the video of your own public speaking (which I've done before), helps you to become aware of your own little idiosyncrasies when you're communicating in public. You become aware of habits you possibly never realised. Personally, I noticed that sometimes I simply wander back and forth across the front stage, which is fine at times, but I realised that it was becoming a sign of nerves! 

    Request a Super Natural Ability to Communicate

    Remember Moses? He was a stutterer, that God famously used to end the regime of slavery for the Israelite people in Egypt. God requested Moses to go and speak to Pharaoh of Egypt (the Political leader of the day) and ask him to let the people go from oppression. Moses complained and made excuses, but finally went and spoke boldly to the political heavyweight. God promised Moses that he would be with him (Exodus 3:12). In fact, with his brother Aaron's help, Moses changed the course of history, by his acts of public speaking!

    What about Gideon? Gideon was nervous. Gideon was a coward (See Judges 6). God requested of Gideon to rise up as a mighty warrior and to go and lead an army to fight against the Midianites. I would have loved to have watch the arousing speech of a nervous Gideon, speaking to his Israelite army. Though with the conviction of God in his heart, and the empowerment from God, he spoke to his people. 

    When you are speaking words of truth and grace, God by his mercy will desire to fill you with a greater measure of the Holy Spirit in order to communicate effectively. Ask Jesus to empower you to speak. If you have never prayed that before, pray with me right now, 'God, I pray that as I speak, I will speak with boldness and confidence and that lives will be challenged and inspired by what they hear, as you speak through me. Empower me by the presence of the Holy Spirit, in Jesus name!' If you are a follower of Jesus, I would pray that; whether you are preaching a sermon, speaking at a local school, or saying grace at Christmas time.

    God can give you a super natural ability to communicate publicly.

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