Feed the Fire, Pt. 3 (Put Another Log on the Fire)

When you build a fire, huge energy goes into lighting the fire. Gather the wood...stack the wood...light the wood...re-light the wood...

But, once it's lit, just a little bit of kindling added in at the right times in the right places can continue to fuel the flames for hours. Before Lake Hills Church began generating its own heat, the Ground Floor Group who were there at the beginning poured huge amounts of time, energy, prayer, generous giving, and some more prayer into lighting the fire. As God has grown our congregation and increased our influence, one of the most flammable materials we use to feed the fire is Story.

Story feeds the fire like little else can. There's no way that we can even know, much less capture all the stories and moments of God's moving in people's lives. But, when we hear about them and share them, then those stories become logs that feed the fire in other areas. People naturally place themselves in the story being told and instinctively draw parallels to their own stories.

Managers instruct. Leaders inspire.

Manager: Person A should accomplish task #1 and then partner with Person B and they should...
Leader: Let me share with y'all what Gina did when she was approached about providing a service that our group has never considered. She set up a meeting to discover what their need really was, and then...THAT'S who we are. THAT'S what sets us apart from the other teams...

What stories are you telling that are feeding the right fires in your team/group/church/business?
How do you make sure they're told?


Feed the Fire, Pt. 2

As I've been processing the Feed the Fire leadership paradigm, I've tried to identify specific strategies, activities, and action items to share. And, there are some that are powerfully effective that I will share in a coming post.

But, as I was processing and thinking, one item kept leaping to the top of the list. When I think about the things that feed my personal fire(s), there's one that always works, every time, everywhere: PEOPLE.

There are a few people in my orbit who just fire me up, empower me, and encourage me every time I'm around them. When I leave their presence, I love life, my family, my calling--everything, that much more. These people fall into several categories:

  • Truth-tellers--everyone in this category who feeds my fires will tell me what I need to hear and not just what I want to hear. BUT...I listen because I know they truly love me and want God's best for my life.
  • Encouragers--these are people who routinely make time to breathe life into whatever I'm doing or trying to do. They know my strengths--and, therefore, my weaknesses--and they feed the fire of those strengths. They share stories about things I've done that have helped them and give me the courage to use those gifts and strengths to try something new.
  • Big-idea Thinkers--these folks are the ones who challenge me and stretch me intellectually or practically to do something better or bigger in the world. They're the ones who dream big dreams. I LOVE being around these folks.
  • Half-fullers--they know the world's not perfect, but they choose to believe that we can make a difference. They engage each day with hope, enthusiasm, and a let's-go mentality.
As I look at that list, it challenges me to BE that kind of person for the people I serve and lead, so that I'm feeding the fire in them.

What other fire-feeders are in your life?



Feed the Fire (Back from Hiatus), Pt. 1

Like Jack Bauer, I've recently gone dark in blog-world, not so much intentionally or for a lack of inspiration, but for a lack of time. Coincidence or not, this blog blackout corresponded to a fairly significant shift in my personal leadership paradigm.

Essentially, the shift comes down to this take-home: FEED THE FIRE. Where things are working, where people are doing well, casting vision, serving people they lead, executing and bearing fruit from their labors--wherever that is happening, FEED THE FIRE. Fan those flames into infernos, those sparks into flames, and those embers into steady burns. Feeding the fire is really another way of saying inspiration. The word inspire means to "breathe into." When we inspire someone, we're literally breathing life into their lives, their souls. That's a good business to be in.

Too many times, I've operated from a fireman mindset: Putting out fires that destroy what we're trying to build or accomplish. To be sure, course corrections are sometimes necessary. But, the majority of my time, energy, and leadership capital is better invested in feeding the fire that's generating the heat for what we're trying to build or accomplish.

Oil well firefighters use a counterintuitive tool to put out oil well fires: They set off an explosion near the fire that uses up all the oxygen in the area and therefore starves the fire of oxygen. When you feed constructive fires, you starve destructive ones.

(Preacher's addendum: What's true for day-to-day leadership is ESPECIALLY true for preaching: Inspiration is more effective than either information or condemnation. Obviously content and doctrine matter. And, again, sometimes a rebuke or correcting is necessary and appropriate. But, over time, feeding the fire works better at stimulating spiritual maturity than putting out fires.)

What are some ways that you feed the fire or have been inspired by someone?