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Being Thankful at Thanksgiving


Gratitdude 365 Days a Year

I recently read a story about Charles Dickens and a lecture tour he did in America. The story goes that he told one audience that we here in this country are a bit mixed up. He said we should not have one Thanksgiving Day, but that we should have 364 Thanksgiving Days. The one day left over would be used just for complaining and griping; the other 364 to thank God. He said we tend to do the opposite. We complain for 364 days, and then, perhaps, on one day count our blessings.

That left me wondering; how many of us actually take the time to be Thankful even on Thanksgiving? Or do we get so caught up in the turkeys, pies, cranberry sauce and football to remember why we have the day off. Yes, the Pilgrims had a great feast with their new friends, but the reason they had the feast was to express gratitude. First, to God for blessing them with a great harvest, and also, to thank the Native People who had shared their knowledge and resources with them.

If your answer is no, or you are not sure if you show gratitude on Thanksgiving (or any other day) here is some incentives to change some habits…

Ten Years of Research Shows the Benefits of Gratitude

A growing body of research has tied an attitude of gratitude with a number of positive emotional and physical health benefits. A November 2010 article in The Wall Street Journal summarized the research:

Adults who frequently feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not, according to studies conducted over the past decade. They’re also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy, or alcoholics. They earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly, and have greater resistance to viral infections.

Now, researchers are finding that gratitude brings similar benefits in children and adolescents. [Studies also show that] kids who feel and act grateful tend to be less materialistic, get better grades, set higher goals, complain of fewer headaches and stomach aches, and feel more satisfied with their friends, families, and schools than those who don’t.

The researchers concluded, “A lot of these findings are things we learned in kindergarten or our grandmothers told us, but now we have scientific evidence to prove them …. The key is not to leave it on the Thanksgiving table.”
Melinda Beck, “Thank You. No, Thank You,” The Wall Street Journal (11-23-10)

So this year as you sit down to your feast, remember to be thankful, express gratitude for the blessings in your life, and then continue that gratitude for the remaining 364days of the year.

God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving!

Until next time,
Chris Sonksen

It is a rare person who, when his cup frequently runs over, can thank God instead of complaining about the limited size of his mug!     —Bob Russell


Ministering from a Place of Rest

be still

Take time to rest

At our most recent Celera Roundtable, one of the coaches, Dave Stone, was speaking to us about “ministering from a place of rest.”  Picture this, a room full of pastors from across the country, most of them lead pastors, hearing the passionate plea to take time to rest. If you are a pastor of a growing church, or any church for that matter, you know the irony in that.  Dave broke down several areas that he takes time for rest in his own life. First, he makes sure to take a day off every week. Not a half day or a few hours here and there, a whole day. That was the first area of conviction for me. Then he made the jaw dropping statement that he, Dave Stone, pastor of one of the largest churches in the country, takes the entire month of July off! You could hear the collective gasp in the room.  Not only does he take the month off, his board of Elders forbids him to even step foot on campus during that month.

Some time after that conference I was speaking to my executive Pastor, Jared Dunn, and it was mutually decided (actually Jared insisted) that I take the month of July off. After some initial reluctance, I agreed. So for the first time in my life I took an entire month off from work, and it was fantastic. I had some great time with my family, and a lot of great time to rest and gather my strength (physical, mental and spiritual) for the push ahead.

I am back now and ready to take off running. I came across this article on Focus on the Family, and I wanted to share a portion of it with you. You can read the entire article at Focus on the Family. These are principles that can be applied not just to pastor or people in church leadership, but in every area of life.

The pastor’s need to rest and retreat

Written by Jerry Ritskes

When you get asked how you are, do you find yourself proudly (but with some frustration) answering that you are “busy”? There is a world to win, programs to organize, people to train and a church to maintain. No wonder ministry is so busy. We are short on finances, people and time. It seems the only way to make it is to work a little bit harder.

Eugene Peterson, in his book The Contemplative Pastor, makes this almost absurd statement “that the adjective busy set as a modifier to pastor should sound to our ears like adulterous to characterize a wife or embezzling to describe a  banker.” Can he really mean this? Isn’t busyness a sign that I’m making a difference for the kingdom? Isn’t it proof that I’m being a good and faithful steward? I don’t think so. I believe that busyness takes pastors away from what they are truly called to do.

Driven to busyness

I have often been so busy with “doing ministry” that I have no time to be with God. How silly is this? Peter Scazzero, in his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, identifies this as one of the top 10 symptoms of emotionally unhealthy spirituality – “doing for God instead of being with God.” Driving ourselves into busyness could be a sign that we’re trying to earn God’s approval, counter poor self-worth, quieten the negative self-talk we’ve been listening to, or we feel that saving the world is our responsibility. For whatever reason, we keep driving ourselves into doing more – and it makes truly hearing God’s voice very difficult.


The principle of the Sabbath is extremely important. Sabbath is a time to stop our work, not when it is completed, but when we need to stop. It is pacing our lives and recognizing our human limitations.  Sabbath frees us from the need to obtain God’s acceptance by being productive. It is resting from our efforts, and trusting God’s.

Our congregations not only look to us to teach them with our sermons, they are looking to us to as an example of what it means to walk with Christ. When they see us going “mach 10 with our hair on fire,” they interpret that as what a believer should do. We inadvertently teach that it is somehow not enough to enjoy being a child of God.  As a pastor, when I take time to slow down or even stop, this reaffirms to others that “there is a Saviour, but it is not me.”

I love the word-picture Ruth Haley Barton gives us in Invitation to Silence and Solitude. Our lives are like a jar of river water – agitated and murky. As soon as you stop moving the jar and let it sit, the sediment begins to settle and it becomes clearer. When we take time for quiet, the sediment in our lives begins to settle, and the things God is trying to tell us becomes clearer. When we take time to listen to God’s voice, He helps us to find perspective on what He is calling us to do, rather than on what we feel compelled to do.

Making the time

I’ve often said “I’d like to take a breather, but I can’t seem to make it happen. It’s just too busy.” While there are seasons in our schedule that require more time and attention than others, there is still the need to keep ourselves in tune with our Creator. Here is a “low-tech” but effective way of making time for rest and listening: Plan it. All you have to do is put it into your schedule, like you would schedule any other demand on your time, and then keep it. When something comes up that conflicts with the time you’ve planned, you can say “I’m sorry, but I’m booked then. Can we find some other time?” Unless we are intentional about taking time to be quiet before the Lord, and unless we can do it without feeling guilty, we will never really find the time to do it.

When I take time to rest and listen to God’s voice, what happens? I begin to hear His calming voice that tells me I’m His beloved child. I begin to find a “Holy balance” to my life. I become more of who He made me to be, and not nearly so concerned with performing to gain people’s approval. As The Message paraphrases Matthew 11:28-29, I begin to live “freely and lightly.”

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. – Mark 6:30-32

An Example of Encouragement

Tony Curtis encouragment

Tony Curtis was a great encourager

As leaders and as human beings I cannot stress enough the importance of encouraging the people in your life. Your words have the power to lift people up in a far greater capacity than you may may have ever imagined. They literally can breathe life. I encourage you to actively seek ways to encourage each person in your life. Your spouse, your kids, parents, friends, business partners,staff, the grocery clerk, the waiter, the guy who changes your tires, the flight attendant, they all crave encouragement. I am not talking about empty flattery, I am talking about true compliments and encouragement. What are you grateful for in that person? What do they do well? What do they do that makes your life better?  It may not always be easy to do with every person, but if you look deep enough you will always find something good to say.  Below is article by Jud Wilhite regarding the amazing lesson of encouragement he relieved from the late Tony Curtis. encourager


Tony Curtis, the legendary actor, passed away in the Las Vegas area this week at 85. I only had a 15 minute snapshot of him, but it still inspires me to this day.

Two Christmases ago after a service, he came backstage to our green room at Central in Vegas. He wanted to see me. I came around the corner, and he grabbed my arm and pulled me down to him in is wheelchair. He told me two or three positive things that he loved about the message. He told me I had a great smile on the platform that put people at ease and helped them open their hearts. He told me I touched him, and he thanked me.

Then the host/MC walked through for that weekend. He grabbed him and told him a couple very specific things that he liked. Then he turned to some volunteer band members and remembered specific things they had done during the service and praised them personally, legitimately, uniquely. THIS IS TONY FREAKING CURTIS. He’s made about a zillion movies like Some Like It Hot and Spartacus.

We only saw him for 15 minutes, and he had poured so much courage into each of us. He gave us life by his words. He never made it about him for one moment. It was all about loving and encouraging others. When he left, I prayed that God would make me more like that.

It is amazing the kind of impact you can have in 15 minutes when you make it about others and pouring into them. Find somebody to encourage today!

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


“Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.”  -Proverbs 16:24
“You need to be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits. When we all help one another, everybody wins.”
-Jim Stovall

Higher Ground Becomes Shaky Ground Without the Balance of Solid Ground – Part 2

balance in life

The different elements of your life are like spokes on a wheel

In the previously posted excerpt from, In Search of Higher Ground we began looking at the eight elements that keep our life in balance. We referred to the elements as spokes on a wheel and that in order for the wheel to move quickly and freely it has to be in balance.
The eight spokes included:


Your Personal Higher Ground is dependent upon your ability to keep these items balanced in your life.

There are some who would argue that these eight elements are an either/or choice. In other words, if you are completely committed to your family life, then you will not have financial success. Or if you are committed to your career, your family will suffer. I couldn’t disagree more! I am not one who believes that the eight spokes of life are an either/or choice. I am convicted to believe that all of these things are possible for someone if, they truly work at it and keep it all in balance. I believe with all my heart that each person can live with a high level of character, that their relationships can be rewarding and fulfilling, that they can obtain a comfortable level of financial independence, that they can be emotionally, mentally and physically healthy while maintaining a constant and growing faith in God. Life is not an either/or because Higher Ground does not have to exist in only one area of your life. If you are at least willing to be all that your Creator wants you to be…more and better is always possible.

We have looked at the first four elements or spokes in our life. (Personal, Financial, Relational, and Physical.) Now let’s take a look at the final four elements that are necessary to keep your wheel rolling.


We are speaking here primarily of being free of Emotional baggage. We live in a society where it is easy to pick up Emotional baggage. There are millions of people who are bitter toward a former spouse, angry at a parent who neglected them, have memories of a tragedy that took place in their life, have a friend who hurt or betrayed them, or have had a certain event that is causing them to live their lives with constant resentment. This type of baggage is like a giant weight that is attached to your heart, and it keeps you from climbing to Higher Ground.

I have learned that resentment is like a boomerang. It keeps coming back and hitting you upside the head. I also have learned that most of the time those whom we are resentful toward don’t know it, and quite often don’t care.

As I continue to climb up my own personal Higher Ground, I have had my share of darts thrown at me. People have hurt me in ways I would have never expected. Sometimes things were said by people in whom I had personally invested my life. I can choose to let it make me bitter or I can choose to let it make me better. I choose the latter! I don’t want to live with resentment. I realize that my Higher Ground in life will be extremely limited if I cannot learn to let it go.

Please note that I do not want to minimize any event that has hurt you. In my line of work I meet hundreds of people who have real pain from real situations. I feel for them and I do my best to help them overcome it. I want to do the same for you. If there is resentment, anger or bitterness in your life, you have to deal with it. See a counselor or pastor, but begin to remove that thing that is wrapped around your heart and won’t let you go. If you don’t, you are destined to live a life short of your capabilities. You will never reach your Highest Ground because you will be anchored by a weight called resentment and it will inhibit you from climbing to the top. Alexander the Great said, “I have conquered the world, but I cannot conquer my own emotions.” Be determined to conquer your Emotional baggage or in the end it will conquer you!


Years ago a movie premiered starring Billy Crystal -it was called “City Slickers.”1 The movie centered around a character who was set up to be your typical middle aged man. He had a good job, a wife, two children, and was making descent money. However, he had become bored with his life and bored with his work. His job performance was at such a low level that his boss demanded to approve any decision he would make. For his birthday present his two buddies gave him a gift. It was a two-week adventure in which they would move a herd of cows from Colorado to Texas. (I know what you are thinking, it doesn’t sound like much fun.) The movie is great and full of comedy, but at the end of the movie when he sees his wife again, she says to him, “I have been thinking, if you want to quit your job because you are not happy, go ahead, we’ll get by.” He says to her, “No, I’m not going to quit, I’m just going to do it better.”

Maybe you can identify with Billy Crystal’s character and the thousands of other Americans who say, “I hate my job.” Maybe it’s not the job you want or maybe it’s a job until you finish schooling or until your business gets off the ground. Either way, it’s what you do to make a living and where you probably spend about 1/3 of your life. What you may not realize is that the characteristic of someone who is reaching for Higher Ground is also someone who does the best they can in any situation. Every mountain you climb has its share of obstacles. That’s what makes it a mountain. It’s your attitude toward the obstacles that will make all the difference in your journey to the top.

Martin Luther, in his commitment to excellence, once said, “If you’re a street sweeper, be the best street sweeper you can be.” Your occupation may not be what you want at this time, but that is not the point. Your attitude toward your current profession will be the same attitude you carry with you throughout life. If you can’t strive for excellence at your current level, there’s a good chance that you won’t be ready for the next level.


The next spoke in the wheel of life is Mental. The mental condition of a person strongly determines the outcome of that person’s life. Your personal Higher Ground is more likely to be achieved when it is spearheaded by a healthy Mental state of mind.

Doctors, psychologists, and behavioral studies all point to the power found in having a strong and healthy mental approach toward life. Even the Bible indicates that our actions follow our thoughts, and that if someone truly believes, they can overcome the mountains in their lives.

Being mentally healthy means having a strong self esteem. It means believing in yourself, believing that anything is possible. It means thinking on a more positive and optimistic level. It’s realizing that nothing good comes out of a negative Mental approach. That all hope is removed by the individual who continues to be pessimistic about their own life and their own surroundings. The legendary comedian Lucille Ball stated, “One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.”

Martin Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, has proven that optimists are more successful than equally talented pessimists in business, education, sports, and politics. The Metropolitan Life Company proved this theory by developing the “Seligman Attributional Style Questionnaire.” This test is taken by applicants looking for employment, and its purpose is to separate those who are pessimists from those who are optimists. Metropolitan Life has discovered that optimistic people (those who have a healthy Mental approach) outsell the pessimist by as much as 50% per year. Same talent and same ability, but different mental outlook.

Our mind is a powerful thing. When we finally attempt what we once thought was impossible, we realize how much we would have missed, had we continued with our pessimistic approach. Focus your mind on the possibilities, and your mind will direct you to a Higher Ground.


The final spoke in the wheel of life is Spiritual. For those who have a practicing faith, this is what you may call a no-brainer. You have a faith that is lived out each day and you have come to understand the great joy and fulfillment that comes from having God in your life. But for those who have not yet consecrated their life to God or who have put their faith into action, this act of spirituality may seem irrelevant. It may be hard for you to imagine why a Spiritual pursuit would be necessary for success. How does God fit into my relationships, career, finances or any other dream or goal I am pursuing?

A variety of studies have been done indicating that having an active faith is helpful for one’s day to day life. For instance, Harvard University studied the causes that prayer has on someone’s life and discovered that those who make prayer a daily practice are more likely to be healthier and happier. They also did a study indicating those who practice their faith in God have a much greater chance of making their marriage work. The odds of divorce in America is one out of three. The odds for those who have an active faith in God are one out of 1,000. Another study indicated those who practice their faith have a lower level of stress in their lives. Many studies and many facts prove the same that a Spiritual life makes a difference.

I would encourage you, if you do not have a practicing faith in God, to investigate it for yourself. Find a local church who believes in the Lord and the Bible and begin to seek out what it really means. You will discover what millions of businessmen, political leaders, firemen, policeman, entrepreneurs, and small and big business leaders have discovered for themselves:…God makes a difference.


Before you move any further, think back over all eight spokes in the wheel of life. (Personal, Financial,Relationships, Physical, Emotional, Professional, Mental, and Spiritual.) Think about the ones that you need to work on the most. What needs to change in your life? What priorities are out of line? Are there character issues that need to be handled or maybe some relationships that need nurturing? Maybe you have some emotional issues that need tending or possibly you need a boost of self-confidence and a new positive outlook to help you reach your Higher Ground. Whichever one, or more, it is, begin working on it. Don’t neglect one or the other, pursue excellence in each area. Remember the spokes only move smoothly toward the top when they are all in balance.

I said earlier in this chapter that the eight spokes in the wheel of life are not an either/or decision. As Zig Ziglar says, “You can have all the things money can’t buy and some of the things money can buy,” if you will learn to keep it all in balance. Work hard at all eight spokes and become the person you are meant to be!

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


“Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment,  you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance.”

-Brian Tracy

The Heart of a Leader

Heart to lead

Do You Have the Heart of a Leader?

When you think of leadership what comes to mind? I think I could ask a hundred people and get a thousand different answers.  This week I have chosen to look at the heart of a leader, as true leaders lead from a place of love and not force. To that end I have gleaned from two great leaders (who are also Celera coaches).

The 2 Core Responsibilities of a leader

By Mike Foster:

Last week I had the opportunity to spend an hour with some incredible leaders involved with Backstage Leadership.

I shared with them what I considered to be my 2 most important leadership responsibilities. (Btw, thanks peter for sharing them with me)

1. BUILD TRUST: I do this with striving to live transparently and with character in both my personal and professional life. Bottom line is if people don’t trust you, they won’t let you lead them. Especially if you are leading to a place of challenge, risk, and the unknown. Our inspirational speeches, clever mission statements, and our stunning business card titles are nice, but they don’t trump trust.

2. BEAR PAIN: Let me shoot straight. If your heart isn’t burdened for others and you’re not helping to carry that weight, then you are not a leader. If your world isn’t uncomfortable and you aren’t navigating pain on a daily basis, then you’re probably not a leader. I love what Craig Groeschel said to me many moons ago…

“The size of your platform is directly proportional to the amount of pain you can endure.”

– Along those same lines Dan Reiland writes in his article…

“Simply Relational, Part 1”

Are you demanding by nature?

Most leaders are type A, driven, and “push” people, at least to some degree. Pushing people is much different than being a pushy person. A “push” can feel like a loving nudge in the right direction or like someone just shoved you over a cliff. A better word than pushing is leading. The picture of a leader is one who is out front inviting others to come forward. The picture of pushing is more of someone behind you making you go where you don’t want to go. The truth is, leaders do both. And whether or not the outcome is favorable is based largely upon if you are demanding by nature or by function.

A leader who is demanding by nature is never satisfied and often makes demands to satisfy his or her personal agenda. This can stem from not knowing what you want (where you are going) or personal insecurities and needs. A leader who is demanding by function (responsibility) does so for the good of the people and the organization. No one likes to follow someone who is demanding by nature. More bricks less straw! This person is at best a bully, and at worst, a tyrant. Everyone will follow a leader who is tough but cares. (Demanding by function.) The greatest coaches, teachers and leaders all have high standards and refuse to lower them. The leader who is demanding by nature will eventually forfeit leadership.

Until Next Time,

Charis Sonksen


“Blessed is the leader who seeks the best for those he serves.” – Unkown

Building a group of climbing companions

reaching the topwith a team

Having the right team exponentially increases your chanses of a sucessful climb

Exert from In Search of Higher Ground

Whatever your Higher Ground may be, starting a business, advancing a career, financial freedom or whatever your dream is, your greatest asset and richest experience will always be people. Never underestimate the need of people in your life. I have a friend who runs a very large organization and has multiple people under his supervision. Recently while talking with him, he told me that he has made a habit of investing in people’s lives. Over the past 25 years he has written on the average of 40 handwritten letters per day. Letters to friends, colleagues, employees, executives, customers, family, and anyone else who came to his mind. I began to think about all of the people he has invested in. People that he has encouraged when they were down, said thank you for a job well done, and said congratulations when they had accomplished a task. He has undoubtedly built a large network of people that believe in him, because he first believed in them.

With all of the investing he has done in people’s lives, I wonder if when a need arises in his life, how long it will take for people to rally to his side? If he needed financial assistance, wanted to build a team, needed advice, wanted to open a door that seemed to be shut, or was in need of a favor, he could very easily have hundreds of people by his side ready to help when he called out. Why is this possible? Because he has invested in people’s lives…

My friend has not made the tragic mistake that many make. First, he has not burned any bridges. In other words, his life has been spent living with integrity and investing in people’s lives. People often burn bridges with others and soon they find themselves without a bridge to cross. (We will talk more about how to build bridges a little later in this chapter.) Second, he has not looked at one person and said, “I don’t need you, or you don’t matter.” He has realized that every person is loaded with potential. When you negatively or positively affect people, you not only are affecting them, you will ultimately affect who they influence…

Everyone has potential to do great and wonderful things. They are unique creatures of God that are made to do wonderful works. The job of someone who “connects” with others is to help them understand and believe in their abilities. To help them realize they are a well of fresh water that is waiting to be tapped.

When you think of the familiar saying, “What goes around, comes around,” you tend to think of negative actions. If you are dishonest, lie or cheat, in the end it will come back to haunt you. But have you ever thought of using this familiar saying with a positive action? For instance, if I sow seeds of success in other people’s lives, then according to this adage I will reap success for my own. This is true! If you will help those you are connected with succeed in their lives, you will never lack success in your own.

Until Next time,

Chris Sonksen


“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” – Henry Ford

When Dealing with Difficult People

Dealing with difficult people

Don't give them the satisfaction of lowering yourself to their standard.

Regardless of your profession, you will always deal with difficult people. People that rub you the wrong way, get under your skin and stand on your last nerve. People that bring more joy into your life when they exit the room, then when they enter. The question is not whether you will have these people in your life; the question is how you will handle it?

In dealing with these types of people the objective is not about who is winning or losing or who is right or wrong. The objective is about understanding. Stephen Covey once wrote, “Seek first to understand, before trying to be understood.” These words possess the solution to dealing with difficult people. Because even when a person is wrong, they still felt there was a reason for them to get upset.

Here are a few tips that may help you when dealing with difficult people:

1) Don’t join the fight
Difficult people can often yell, be sarcastic, be critical, and say harsh words to you or about you. Do not join in their game. Don’t give them the satisfaction of lowering yourself to their standard. You have to do what’s right even when they do what’s wrong.

2) Let them talk their feelings out

They may need to vent a little and you may need to listen. You may not agree or you may feel they’re in the wrong, but their emotions won’t be satisfied until they’re expressed.

3) Seek to understand
Why is it that they act the way they act? What is it inside of them that creates this problem? Are they insecure? Do they need recognition? Are they hurt from a past relationship? People act in ways that are consistent with their beliefs about themselves. Understand this and it will help you along in the process.

4) Ask them for advice
People love to hear themselves talk and they love it even more if their opinion is being valued. If there is a problem, ask them what they feel the solution is and what steps need to be taken to resolve the problem. Even if their solution makes no logical sense, it will allow them to be involved in the resolving process.

5) Apologize when necessary
You need to take a hard look inside of yourself and discover if there is anything that is creating a problem or causing difficulty for the person. A good leader always looks in the mirror before they look out the window. What part of the problem might you be contributing?  Is there anything that you could own and take responsibility for?

People are your greatest asset and it’s your job as their leader to keep your people moving forward with optimistic energy. People are going to be difficult, personalities are going to clash, because that is a part of life. But, if you will work hard at working with people, then people will work hard for you!

Until next week,

Chris Sonksen

“Instead of giving people a piece of your mind, give them a piece of your positive attitude.”

– Ben Franklin

How well am I leading the church? – Part 2

Have a commitment to Personal Growth and Adding Value to Your Team

Have a commitment to Personal Growth and Adding Value to Your Team

Last time, I pointed out that the first step to being an effective leader in your church is having a consuming passion to build a thriving church. If a passion to have a thriving, growing church is your motivation, then a dedication to learning and to growing the various qualities of a good leader is a must. John F. Kennedy once said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”Let’s take a closer look at two of these areas of leadership.

 I have observed that leaders are usually in one of the two places…A place of continual challenge or a place of continual comfort. You, and therefore your church, cannot move forward if you are continually comfortable.  In order to grow as a leader, you must challenge yourself; you must have a commitment to personal growth. Here are some basic steps…
 1.  To challenge yourself you have to invest in yourself.
   How to invest:
a)  Read great books, blogs, newsletters, daily
b)  Listen to motivational and/or teaching cd’s, or other audio sources daily
c) Take thinking moments -Set aside time each week where you step away and think about leadership and your personal growth.  This is where you learn to journal.
d)  Visit great places
e)  Talk to great leaders
f)   Be committed to life long coaching/mentoring
2. Create a plan and stick with it. I have heard it said, “The greatest obstacle to personal growth isn’t ignorance or lack of intelligence.  It is a lack of a plan to get you there.”
               Two main keys to creating a personal growth plan are:
                                • Identify what you need to do
                                • Place it in your calendar and live by it
Another area we need to focus on as leaders is  having a Commitment to add value to others. In the setting of your church team, this includes church staff and volunteer leaders. Bob Nelson, author of 1001 Ways To Reward Employees did a survey on managers and employees.  He had each group list on a scale from 1-10 what is most important to them.

The Managers Top 3 were…
1. Good wages
2. Job Security
3. Promotion/Growth opportunities
The Employees Top 3 were…
1. Appreciation
2. Sympathetic to personal problems
3. Feeling “IN” on things
NOTE:  Managers only ranked Appreciation as #8

“How can you add value to those around you,
if you don’t know what they value?”

Here are some tips to help you better value your team.
 1. Know their love language.
 – What makes each team member feel valuable?  (Gifts, Words, Notes, Public Affirmation, see The Five Love Languages, by Dr. Gary Chapman)
 2. Put a “10” on each team members head and treat them that way.
3. Be genuinely interested in their lives.
4. Regularly invest in them as a leader.
a)  Go through monthly leadership books with them.
b)  Create leadership growth groups.
c)  Send them to conferences.
d)  Get them in front of great leaders.
e) When you have a great speaker in, have them spend time with the leaders before or after the services.

I will address the last two areas of effective church leadership (Character that builds influence and Clarity of heart and mission) in part 3 of “How well am I leading the church?

Until next time,

Chris Sonksen


“Every great man is always being helped by everybody; for his gift is to get good out of all things and all persons.”

— John Ruskin

“Selecting the right players for your team”

“If you have a Mt. Everest Dream you will need a Mt. Everest Team.”

“If you have a Mt. Everest Dream you will need a Mt. Everest Team.”

Maybe you have heard the statement “If you have a Mt. Everest Dream you will need a Mt. Everest Team.”  It is true!  If you have a desire to achieve greatness in your life, you cannot do it alone, you will need a Team.  The level of that Team will determine the level of your success.  You may be the greatest leader in your field, have tremendous people skills, communicate well and know how to motivate people, but without the right team you cannot win the game!

Whenever I am viewing a potential team member or re-viewing the current team members I ask myself the following questions.  These questions serve as a guideline to determine if they are the right player for me.

1)  Do they believe and support the Vision?
If you have team members with different vision, then the vision becomes blurry.  There must be a clear vision that you provide and a support and belief in that vision from each team member.

2)  Do they share the same Values?
Your team members must share in the values of your organization or you will continually have difficulty in your relationship with them.

3)  Is there loyalty to the leader, the team and the organization?
We often make the mistake of excusing a lack of loyalty because the individual possesses certain gifts or talents.  Take caution!  If they are not loyal then the relationship is ultimately doomed!  THEY MUST BE LOYAL!

4)  Do they add value to the team?
The organization must be better because this team member is a part of it.  If they don’t bring value to the table then why are they there!!  Remember a great team member is an asset not a liability.

5)  Do they possess the desire for personal growth?
You don’t want team members who have no desire for personal growth.  Ask them what books they have read lately, what seminars they have attended, do they have accountability partners.  Each team member must be on a path for personal growth.

6)  Are they self-motivated?
If they are not self starters you don’t want them.  You need people who don’t need you to constantly tell them what to do.  Find people who can get the job done!

7)   Do they have natural people skills?
You can teach someone a trait but it is difficult to teach someone people skills.  In my profession people skills is absolutely necessary.  If you decide to place someone on your team without people skills then be prepared to continually clean up the mess they make.  Good people skills are priceless to a team!
These are the seven questions I ask myself when observing current or potential team members.  Use these questions as guidelines and they will help you to create your own Dream Team!!

Until Next Time,

Chris Sonksen


“The main ingredient for stardom is the rest of the team.”
John Wooden

Ten Commandments of Human Relations

“Ten Commandments of Human Relations.”

“Ten Commandments of Human Relations.”

Life is comprised of relationships!  The success we enjoy or the failure we experience often will be surrounded by a relationship to some degree.  True leaders understand this and because they do, they value relationships and spend time nurturing each one of them.  If you desire greatness for yourself and for your organization then you must work diligently at healthy and growing relationships.

Let me give you the “Ten Commandments of Human Relations.”  I strongly urge you to copy this article and share it with your key staff and leaders.  Forward this article to a friend!  I believe in these simple rules for relationships and I am confident, when put into practice will produce great results.

1)Speak kindly to people:  There is nothing as nice as a cheerful word and a warm greeting.

2)Smile at people:  It takes 72 muscles to frown and 14 to smile.  Make it a habit to smile warmly at people.  You will make a lasting impression.

3)Call people by their name:  The sweetest music to anyone’s ear is the sound of their own name.  Memorize people’s names and watch how they react to you!

4)Be friendly and helpful:  Don’t be in such a hurry that you come off rude.  Remember to walk slowly through the crowd and connect with people!

5)Be cordial:  Speak and act as if everything you do is a genuine pleasure.

6)Be interested in people:  If you truly want to connect with people, be interested in their lives, opinions, struggles and dreams.  If you want to ask for a hand you must first touch a heart.

7)Be generous with praise:  People desperately need encouragement.  Be generous with encouragement both publicly and privately.

8)Be considerate about the feelings of others:  If you will value other people’s feelings (even if you can’t relate)  they will value you!

9)Be thoughtful of the opinions of others:  People want to be heard.  Value their opinion even if you don’t agree.

10)Be alert to give service:  Be willing to help others reach the top!  If you bring out the best in others, then the best will be brought out in you.

Take these “Ten Commandments” and live by them!  Go over them with deep consideration and be honest about the one or more areas that you need to develop.  If your serious about success then you must be serious about your relationship to others.  You will never reach the top alone!

Until Next Time,

Chris Sonksen

Quote for the Day:

“Change itself is not progress, but change is the price that we pay for progress.”
Clayton G. Orcutt

Chris Sonksen is a celebrated Motivational Speaker and Published Author; the Lead Pastor at one of America’s fastest growing churches (South Hills Church in Corona California); and the founding member of Celera Church Strategy Group. Celera offers pastor support, teaching, training and mentoring programs that equip pastors who want to learn how to grow church attendance through evangelism using proven church growth techniques.