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Yesterday I lead my final Small Group Directors meeting at Seacoast All Staff.  As I prayed about this final session God prompted me to focus on Nehemiah 8 and talk about being Movement Makers.  I share the session with you so you can use it with your team as well. 

I opened by telling them about a video someone showed me from You Tube.  It shows a man standing in the middle of a field at an outdoor concert.  With hundreds of people sitting around watching the concert he begins to dance with total abandon. It’s absolutely hilarious because he is totally oblivious to the people around him.  As he dances another guy jumps up and joins in the dancing too.  Then two more people join in, then three, then ten.  Two minutes into the video so many people have joined in that you can no longer see the original man who was dancing.  (If you want to watch the video CLICK HERE)

He started a movement.  Isn’t that what we want to do through our leadership? Whether you’re a small group pastor, a children’s director, a student minister or a senior pastor you want to be used by God to start a movement.

In Nehemiah 8 things are looking up for Jerusalem as Nehemiah has come in and helped them rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem.  But spiritually the people were still stuck in mediocrity.  That’s when Ezra came in and started a spiritual movement that lead to a renewal like they had not seen in years.  Nehemiah 8:17 says, “From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it like this. And their joy was very great.”

In order to get an idea of how God used Ezra to start this movement read Nehemiah 8:2-12.

So on the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. 3 He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law. 4 Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform built for the occasion. Beside him on his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah and Maaseiah; and on his left were Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah and Meshullam.5 Ezra opened the book. All the people could see him because he was standing above them; and as he opened it, the people all stood up. 6 Ezra praised the LORD, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. 7 The Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah—instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. 8 They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear [a] and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read. 9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is sacred to the LORD your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”11 The Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for this is a sacred day. Do not grieve.”12 Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them.

Next, as you reflect on the passage discuss the following questions:

  • What are the characteristics of a movement that you see in this passage?
  • What is the movement you’d like to see take place through your area of ministry?
  • What mistakes do we commonly make when trying to get others to join our cause?
  • What steps can we take over the next three months to gain momentum and generate a movement?

Finally, I summarized our discussion with these key points.  Starting a Movement Requires…

  • …a concentrated intentional effort (Neh 8:2-4,7-8).  As you read this passage you notice that a lot of preparation went into this event that sparked a revival.  Movements don’t just happen, they require leadership.
  • …maximizing the platform God has given you (Neh. 8:4-6). Ezra was a highly respected spiritual leader who had a lot of influence. Not only did he have the platform of his character and reputation he also had a literal platform as well.
  • …influencing influencers (Neh. 8:4)  Ezra had key influencers to his left and to his right.  This sent a message to the people that the leaders or main influencers were in agreement.
  • …getting people to use the same language (Neh 8:7-8).  There is a huge synergy when you align people’s language.  Ezra not only taught from God’s Word, he enlisted the Levites to break the crowd into groups and teach what he was teaching as well.   There was alignment from the top.
  • …re-shaping people’s perspective (Neh 8:9-12). Ezra, Nehemaih and the Levites helped the people change their mentality or pre-disposed attitudes.
  • …inspiring new behavior in those you lead (Neh 8:12).  The people who had been living in dispair were not filled with joy.

Get yout team together and take 40 minutes to work through this passage together and see what insights and action steps you walk way with.   Let me know how it worked for you.

Last week I wrote a post Don’t Be Clueless about Your Corporate Culture which brought some questions and some good comments. The questions were primarily about how to shape your culture. So let me give you a simple technique that I’ve used in the past that works well.

  1. Ask the members of your team what words they would use to describe their ideal work culture or environment. As they call out different words write them on a marker board. All words are fair game. Come up with as many as 15 to 20 if you’d like.
  2. Once everyone has had a chance to share, work together to agree upon the top 4-5 words.
  3. Next put a letter grade A, B, C, D, F on each of the words grading how you are currently doing with each word. For Example Communication  B, High Accountability D, Innovative  C+, Fun  A -, Relational B -
  4. Now have the team discuss which one needs to be worked on the most and write out a plan for strengthening that value in your culture.
  5. Post the words on a wall in your meeting room where you can see them regularly.
  6. Three months later re-grade each of the words and see if you have made progress in shaping your culture.  Put a reminder in your Outlook so you won’t forget.
  7. Rinse and Repeat

What are some ways you can intentionally shape your corporate culture this week?

I’m an empowering style of leader.  I believe in people, get agreement with them on their goals, meet with them regularly to discuss progress and do my best not to micromanage them.  But lately I’ve been questioning, “Am I under managing those I lead?”   Sometimes I empower people so much that I’m not close enough to observe and give feedback on their performance.  One thing I have learned about management is - closeness matters. A higher degree of proximity gives greater opportunity to observe and provide honest performance feedback.  To help with  my own leadership in this area I developed seven question assessment.  Here’s how it works.

  • Write down the name of one of the people who report directly to you. 
  • Answer each question below by marking it with a Yes or No. 
  • Add up your score and see how you did. 
  • Finally write out what next steps you feel you need to take to improve your managment of that individual. 

Okay, now take 5 minutes and give it a try.

EMPLOYEE NAME:  ___________________________

ASSESSMENT

  1. Am I close enough to observe and offer specific praise on his/her most recent work?
  2. Am I close enough to observe and offer a specific push in an area where he/she needs performance improvement?
  3. Am I close enough to know the latest personal highlights of his/her life?
  4. Am I close enough to assess his/her level of morale and work engagement?
  5. Am I close enough to  know the health of his/her soul?
  6. Am I close enough that I provide needed coaching on his/her goals?
  7. Am I close enough that he/she and I feel a bond of trust?

MY SCORE: _______

6-7 Yes = You are doing a great job managing your direct reports.  Consider ways you can now begin to teach them your guiding managment principles so they can become great managers.
4-5 Yes = You are under managing in some areas and need to draw closer to this individual.  Identify the areas you marked No and develop your next step improvement plan.
0-4 Yes = You are under managing and need to get more engaged with your direct report.  Identify the top 2 areas that would make the biggest difference and begin taking steps this week for improvement.  You may need to let them know what you are doing so they won’t be shocked when you begin to engage them at a higher level. 

MY NEXT STEPS IMPROVEMENT PLAN

  1. ___________________________________________________
  2. ___________________________________________________

Today’s Leadership Challenge: Use this tool to assess how you are doing with each of your direct reports and write out your next steps improvment plan, then reassess yourself in 3o days.