PowerPoints for Leaders
J.J. Turner, Ph.D.
Chancellor, World Bible Institute
This is a new series and will be a continuing feature on Jeremiah Institute—visit often and share with others.
In recent months I have caught myself deciding to buy a book or some other printed item based on the number of pages and the font space and size of the text. If the chapters ramble on, regardless of the content, I find myself skipping paragraphs or speed reading to get the main point or finish the time-consuming task. I’m not proud of this, just being honest about the obvious impact on my study and reading time. It has caused me to buckle down relative to my attention span.
We’ve all been in classes, heard speakers, and read books where the main point if there was one, was lost in the weeds of verbiage. You left confused with more questions than answers. The person who said, “A message doesn’t have to be eternal to be memorable” is certainly right in our day of “less is more.” The days of the 45 to 60-minute sermons are becoming memories; even 30-minute sermons have become Sleep-aids. If a listener can leave with one point and one intentional application based on the sermon, an amazing thing has occurred.
We’re living in a time where the attention span is shrinking faster than the dollar or a cheap cotton shirt. The ability to concentrate mentally on a particular activity, especially in events where information is being dispersed is impacting every aspect of communication. In cases diagnosed as extreme by mental health professionals, a new label—ADD—has been coined: Attention Deficit Disorder. It has been estimated that every classroom in America, from elementary to college, contains students with ADD. Some schools have special classes and teachers to deal with attention span issues.
Researchers in Canada surveyed 2,000 persons, studying their brain activity of 112 using electroencephalograms. The results showed the average attention span of a human had decreased from 12 seconds in 2000, or about the time the cell phone revolution began, to eight seconds. In the meanwhile, goldfish are believed to have an attention span of nine seconds. Other studies indicate that the average attention span of an adult or young person who is really interested in a subject is approximately 20 minutes. This calls attention to the need for upgraded communication skills: delivery, listening, attention, remembering, application, etc. Thus the questions: As a leader is your attention span longer than a goldfish? How about your listeners?
One of the major reasons Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863, is so memorable is because of its brevity—272 words. Today that’s about one double-spaced, 8 ½ X 11, typed page. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech lasted 17:29 minutes. Churchill’s “We shall Fight on the Beeches” address lasted 12:22 minutes. Steve Job’s Stanford Commence address lasted 14:45). It has been estimated that an average reader can read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in 18 to 20 minutes.
The Ten Commandments are presented in 17 verses in the NKJV (Exodus 20:1-7) and can be read in three to five minutes. Peter’s sermon—the first Gospel sermon—on the Day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts, is 11 verses (Acts 2:29-39). We don’t have a record of the “Many other words” preached (2:40). In his discourse before the Athenian philosophers on Mars Hill, Paul spoke approximately 268 words as recorded in the NKJV. Yes, I remember he once preached until midnight and a hearer fell from a window (Acts 20:1-12).
My computer word count is growing. So I’d better get to the point. This is the introduction article to my new blog column for WBI: PowerPoints for Leaders. Each blog will be presented with the realization that LESS IS MORE. I will get to the relevant point for leaders. There is amazing power in one word. Paul affirmed this when he used the Greek word rhema in Ephesians 6:17: “And take the helmet of Salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is A WORD of God. There is awesome power in ONE WORD, e.g.: No! Yes! Love! Repent! Stop! Obey! Etc. This is why James said, “Let your YES be yes, and your NO be no” (James 5:12). A word of God can defeat Satan.
Remember what Jesus said about the Gentiles: “And when you pray, do no use vain repetitions as the Gentiles do. For they think that they WILL BE HEARD for their MANY WORDS” (Matthew 6:7). Yes, less is more! Especially because we all KNOW more than we are practicing. We need continual reminders contained in brief points that, hopefully, will initiate new actions of leadership.
God has created us with brain functions that contribute cognitive processing abilities and resources to focus on stimuli and information. When we are exposed to information our brain exercises mental processes that decode it from our environment which allows us to experience it through our five senses. Our attention span determines how focused or how long we are focused on something we are being exposed to by listening and watching.
Paying attention is the first cognitive function that determines how we process the meaning and application of the subject, etc. Numerous things contribute to attention span and how we process the event. Here is a quick reminder of various types of attention.
These are the attention challenges a speaker or writer faces which demand staying abreast of the new advances and practices in communication. Remember your listeners and readers may not have the attention span of a goldfish. How about YOU? I’m looking forward to our next PowerPoint visit.
As a leader and teacher, you must challenge yourself to pay attention as well as teach others how to pay more productive attention. Here are some quick tips:
Yes, you can learn by paying attention. Always remember that Satan doesn’t want you to pay attention. His mission is to steal the word out of your heart (cf. Luke 8:11, 12). As leaders, we must train ourselves and those who follow how to be more attentive.
Watch for additional PowerPoints for Leaders.
LEADERS AND MISTAKES
Grandma: “Charlie, you’ve got your shoes on the wrong foot. Honey, you’ve made a mistake. Let me help you change them. Okay?”
Charlie: “Granny, mistakes ain’t bad. I remember when grandpa got on you for failing to put gas in the car, you told him that the mistake was no big deal that anyone can make a mistake”.
Take a moment and look at the persons seated around the leadership conference table. There are some obvious differences among the attendees: dress, height, education, agendas, fingerprints, DNA, etc. But there is ONE thing you all have in common. You have all made mistakes.
The same illustration applies to the congregation. In the midst of all the differences, there is that ONE thing we all have in common. We have all made mistakes. And guess what? We will all make mistakes again somewhere on our journey down life’s road.
What is a mistake? I once heard a farmer say that a mistake was “miss-placing a stake” on the wrong boundaries of a piece of property which caused disputes and lawsuits. That makes sense. However, Mr. Webster defines mistake as: 1 to understand or perceive wrongly; to interpret or judge incorrectly; 2 to take (someone or something) to be another; recognize or identify incorrectly; 3 to take someone’s motives or actions wrongly; to err in judgment; 4 a fault in understand and judgment, etc.
Various Traits of Mistakes
Obviously, not all mistakes are the same or have the same consequences. Mistakes take place in the various categories of life and therefore have varied results or consequences. Here are some of those traits and consequences.
What is the biggest mistake you’ve made? How did you correct it?
Mistakes Leaders Must Avoid
The following list of mistakes a leader must avoid should be approached with the understanding that not all of them are sinful or wrong, which some are, but are expediencies or not the best way to lead.
Lesson Learned from Mistakes
Since we have made mistakes, are now making mistakes, and will make mistake sin the future, why not learn major lessons while enrolled in Mistake University? Here are some of the lessons which may be learned as we matriculate in MU:
George, a minister in a local congregation, sat slumped in a chair with his chin on his chest and his eyes gazing at the floor. His breathing was shallow. It was his initial visit to the biblical counselor’s office. When asked why he had made the appointment, he replied, “I don’t think I can take it anymore.”
“Take what anymore?” the counselor asked as he looked over his intake paperwork. “Please share with me.”
“I’ve been in the ministry for 18 years, most of which have been happy years but in recent months all has changed. I am so discouraged and struggle with bouts of depression. I don’t know what to do. I need help.”
Discouragement strikes again. I can relate to George’s concern about discouragement. I have lost count of how many times I have thought about quitting full-time ministry; especially on Monday mornings while reflecting on Sundays.
I am often asked, “Do you ever get discouraged?” One of my stock replies both in and out of the pulpit is, “Sometimes I get so discouraged that could walk under the carpet doing side-straddle hopes and never touch the carpet over my head.” However, the key is not to stay in a state of discouragement.
When was the last time you were discouraged? Don’t tell me that as a leader or as a human being, you’ve never gotten discouraged? Discouragement is one dis-ease, sooner or later, every person will experience. Especially, leaders. Why? Because we are human and above all having to deal with people can be very discouraging.
Those who lead in the 21st-century aren’t alone or a new species that’s never appeared in history. Many of God’s outstanding servants, in both Testaments, experienced discouragement: Moses, Job, Elijah, Jeremiah, Peter, the Psalmist, etc.
In the 42nd and 43rd Psalms we have a graphic picture of discouragement presented to the Chief Musician; a contemplation of the sons of Korah:
My tears have been my food day and night,
While they continually say to me, ‘Where is your God?’
Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are
You disquieted within me?...O my God, my soul
is cast down…Why have You forgotten me? Why do
I go mourning because of the oppression of My enemies?
… Why are you cast down, O my soul…Why do You
Cast me off? Why do I go mourning…Why are you
Cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted
Within me? (Psalm 42:3, 5, 9, 11; 43: 2, 5).
Why Do Our Souls Become “Cast Down”—Discouraged?
I think the number one reason is because we are human and have to deal with people over and over every day of our lives. People disappoint, hurt us, abuse us, criticize, and sin against us. That’s what humans do to one another. Discouragement is a choice. Sometimes it’s the so-called pillars in the church, leaders as well as followers who contribute to our choice of being discouraged.
What tends to create discouragement in you quicker than anything? Who tends to discourage you the most often? Why do you continue to choose to be discouraged?
Leaders, above all people, need to avoid and fight against discouragement. Why? Because like any dis-ease it can infect others.
What are you going to do to intentionally fight against discouragement?
In one of the first classes in Navy Bootcamp, the instructor said, “Men one of the most important things you need to know is who is the enemy. This will require diligent and continual study. In one of the first classes in the Police Academy, the instructor said, “Men you need to know who the bad guys are. They are out there and always changing.” In a graduate class on marriage and family counseling, a professor said, “Ladies and gentlemen you need to know the enemies of marriage, the family, and the home.”
My list of being exposed to challenges to know enemies, foes, and opposition could go on. However, as the name of this lesson states, I want to identify the real enemy of personal, biblical, spiritual, and church leadership.
Through my years as a student of leadership, both as a leader and follower, as a writer and teacher, etc. I have numerous lists of enemies of leadership. Here are a few:
This list could go on and on but I think these 25 will sustain the point that there are enemies, challenges, and distractions to successful leadership. Can you think of 2 more?
Please keep in mind that these enemies are not confined to what we called the “secular world.” They exist within the Body of Christ and are challenging local congregations must deal with them. This requires special attention, training, and commitment by godly leaders in the church.
There is ONE SOURCE behind all these enemies of leadership. The one source is SATAN. This is why we must not get bogged down in dealing with the symptoms of his attacks, destruction, and creation of failures. We must go to the source of these symptoms. We must not put Band-Aids on the symptoms and neglect dealing with cancer-causing the disease.
The enemy of God, creation, and man first appeared in the Garden of Eden. A history we all know if we’ve read the first 3 chapters of Genesis (Why not go and read them now).
Since this is to be a PowerPoint lesson I must not dig deep into volumes of paragraphs to make my point. So I will list some of the major attributes, workings, and influences Satan is having on spiritual, personal, and congregational leadership today. Please study carefully the following Scriptures. They will help you recognize and resist and defeat the enemy of your leadership.
What 3 major truths have you learned from the Powerpoint?
How will you intentionally use this lesson in your leadership?
Everybody is involved in change. If you don’t believe take a few minutes and look into the mirror. Compare photos of today with 5, 10, and 15 years ago. You see the evidence. Change is occurring in your physical being. Change is the one constant we have to deal with in every category of life; internal as well as external.
Benjamin Franklin may not have been a psychologist by profession, but this statement by him is true: “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.”
Look around you and notice all the changes that you are involved in related to communication. Notice the transportation changes. Evidence of change is everywhere; some changes are positive and some changes are negative. Both are constantly occurring.
Change, spiritually speaking, is essential to salvation. Jesus said, “repent or perish.” (Luke 13:3, 5) The Greek word translated repent means to “have another mind; to change over.” Thus, out of the changed mind comes the changed life. Behavior is tied to our thoughts (cf. Proverbs 23:7; Mark 7:21-25; Acts 26:10, 11).
Few challenges confront leaders more persistently than change. Yet, how ironic that many church leaders change very little in their habits and practices during their lifetime; and especially in leadership practices.
While it is true that a leader can’t change or control the world around him, he can change himself and choose new patterns of behaviors as well as attitudes.
The business leader, Peter Drucker said, “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic.” We’ve all heard and used this definition of insanity: “The sign of insanity is doing the same old things over and over and expecting different results each time.” The tendency of church leaders is to say, “We have always done it this way.”
A major danger of refusing to change is the things we hold on to control us. In 50-plus years of full-time ministry, I have noted numerous signs in the lives of preachers, elders, deacons, and teachers that they have not changed in areas where expediency guides instead of a “thus says the Lord.” Here is a quick bullet list of some of these areas leaders refuse to let go:
I must be quick to admit that reluctance and resistance to change are not the exclusive territories of leaders. It is also part of the mindset of most members. Just let leadership suggest a change in a long-held practice and you’ll see conflict arise to an amazing level; even to the splitting of the church.
The leaders of today must admit that the church is facing challenges and problems she has never faced before, at least not on this magnitude. Congregations are declining in number, programs are being cut, and some congregations are a closing song away from closing the doors forever. It is time for leaders to wake up and make the changes in methodologies, not Scriptures, that will glorify God and expand the borders of the Kingdom (cf. Ephesians 3:21).
Remember: TRUTH HAS NOTHING TO FEAR!
When King Solomon told his son “of the making of many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12), his words are still true today. Back on October 26, 2015, the 299th day of that year, it was reported that as of that day, 1,246 paperback books on leadership had been published. That’s an average of 4 books per day.
Amazing! I must confess several of those books were penned by me. I wonder how many articles were written on leadership during those 299 days. How many seminars and workshops were conducted?
What is the major and minor purpose or objective of leadership? The answer is one word: RESULTS. How we get there is the stuff all those leaders books are all about.
At the end of the game it doesn’t matter how well you played, how loud the fans yelled, or how colorful your uniforms were, etc. What matters is the RESULTS. Did you win or lose? Which?
Church and spiritual leadership differs greatly from secular leadership at the core level—the unchangeable factors. These are the impeccable truths from God’s word which determine spiritual results and do not change.
God’s core truths, which are used in this lesson to focus on the essential, enduring, and effective leadership truths. They are cause and effect. Most leadership principles are tied to the process, i.e. plans, goals, and process. God’s core leadership truths do not change with the culture, times, nor wishes of followers. The core of unchanging leadership principles is TRUTH—God’s truth (Proverbs 23:23).
It is in the context of people where the venues of God’s truth develop a strong foundation that lasts regardless of what may or may not happen on the action road to results. It is in DOING, not around nor about the word, but in the purity of the WORD that sustains success in leadership.
What does this proliferation of leadership books say to those of us who are leaders and interested in leadership? I think there are several observations that can be made:
I am sure there are additional reasons we could note for the continual growth and interest in leadership books, seminars, and articles. These 12 are only introductory eye-openers.
Have a lost my mind? Do I dare advocate there is the “World’s best leadership advice” in the midst of 4 new books being published every day on leadership? Why do I dare and make this claim? One reason. These leadership principles are based on commonsense and the truth of God’s word. These principles aren’t based on culture, academics, and human wisdom.
Here are those truths deducted from a Study and application of Scripture, Scripture inspired by God for the intended purpose of directing mankind (cf. 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:3).
By now I’m sure you’ve gotten my point and that is these points will be no more than talking points, powerless to achieve the results God desires. I have no I idea how you have received these principles nor how you plan, if you do at all, to use them. Regardless, for those who choose to become intentional about using these impeccable principles, I offer the following suggestions.