Tag Archive for: Growing Leaders


The Difference Between Speakers and Communicators

No matter what career context you are in – church, philanthropy, business, politics – everyone at some point in their career will give public presentations to an audience. Since my context is more ministry with a background in business, I always love to watch up and coming communicators present content that impacts an audience.

I started public speaking when I was 13 years old. I’ve been doing it for 19 years in domestic and foreign countries. The more you do it, the more frequent you do it, the better you get. Nobody starts out being a great speaker. Even some of the greatest speakers we know today – John Maxwell, TD Jakes, Brian Houston, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Christine Cain, etc… all of them started just like you… growing, fine-tuning themselves, discovering their unique voice, and finding their comfort zone on stage. I had the honor to meet Pastor Joel Osteen and his team a couple of months ago at Lakewood Church in Houston, TX. One thing I learned from him is that he watches himself after and between every Sunday service before the service goes to broadcast. He does this so he can make changes in his presentation or to the service and adjust himself for the following Sunday. My takeaway from that was even Joel Osteen, who pastors America’s largest – one location church still works on being the best communicator he can be. Public speaking is an art and a craft that will always be an ongoing education for yourself. You will never arrive at it. We are all growing in it.

As for my journey, it took me years to find my voice and establish my own style of communicating. It’s tempting to copy someone else’s style, but it’s also dumb too. God has given you a unique message, a fresh sound, a distinctive voice, that only you can do. If two speakers sound the same, speak the same, do the same, then one of you is unnecessary. Be you and you will make an impact.

But, let’s talk about the impact for a second…

I have seen lots of people try to emerge as a speaker. Some of them are good, but to be honest some of them like just having a platform so they can get their 20-30 minutes of fame. There’s really nothing wrong with that per se, but with that approach and mindset comes with a very low ceiling of impact and influence. You can easily tell if a speaker really does care for people or if they just care about their own success. I’ve observed over the years that the truly successful leaders understand the difference between public speakers and communicators. These two people are different in how they prepare, how they think, how they deliver, how they engage, and how they connect with their audience.

To sum it up, communicators are less concerned with making a good impression, and more concerned about adding value, which enables them to be real. I like how my longtime friend, Dr. Tim Elmore of Growing Leaders and author of “Habitudes”:

Let’s break it down.

Public Speakers:

1. Public Speakers want to impress people.
2. Public speakers teach lessons.
3. Puts the message before the people.
4. Asks: What do I have?
5. Emphasizes techniques
6. Focus is the content of the words
7. Polished (image-conscious)
8. Goal: Complete the message.


1. Communicators hope to impact people.
2. Communicators teach people.
3. Puts the people before the message.
4. Asks: What do they need?
5. Emphasizes atmosphere.
6. Focus is a change in the listeners.
7. Personal (impact – conscious)
8. Goal: Complete the people.

Steve Jobs & The Succession Plan

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, announced today that he would be resigning from his position and turning over his company to COO Tim Cook. Jobs had been suffering from recent health issues and he is quoted as saying, “I have always said if there ever came a day when I could not longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know.” He advised his board by saying, “Execute our succession plan.” (quoted from Mashable.)

This phrase got me seriously thinking about pastors and churches and their “succession plan.” I think most pastors view their role like a judge – lifetime appointment – rather than like a businessman and implement a succession plan.
Do you have a succession plan or do you feel that the success of your ministry or church is solely dependent on you living forever? Or maybe that ever-faithful hope of “Jesus will return before I have to turn over my church to someone else.”
As much as I hope Jesus will return soon…the reality of progression is that you won’t live forever and if the Lord tarry you need a succession plan.

Tim Elmore president of Growing Leaders teaches a Habitude called, “The Joshua Effect.” In a nutshell he explains that if we do not equip and mentor the next generation we are setting them up for failure. In order for your ministry to continue growing – beyond your lifetime – is to have a culture that is constantly mentoring and raising up people to possibly take over one day. Perhaps even take over in your lifetime. Gasp!

What is your plan of succession?


Just Say NO!

In order to stay sane and effective, there is one word we all must come to love, and it’s NO. I love this word. No – builds boundaries. No – directs a vision and calling. No – replaces confusion with clarity and direction. No also helps walk-out the different seasons of life. I’ll never forget what Casey Treat, pastor Christian Faith Center, Seattle, WA, says, “When you know what you’re called to do, you also know what you’re not called to do.”

How many times in a year do people bring ideas and opportunities to implement into your schedule or ministry organization? I love new ideas and new opportunities, but let’s face it, you can’t do everything. I respect leaders and church organizations that say NO to a lot of ministry opportunities that come by. Why? Because they understand three things:

  • They know their vision
  • They know their culture
  • They understand the life cycle of seasons – personally and organizationally

Now, I’m not advocating that we should say no to every opportunity or new idea that comes across our paths. All ministry leaders have a responsibility to keep their finger on the pulse of what God’s doing beyond their church walls. Staying on top of the happenings could lead to awesome ideas and opportunities. However, I’m aware of several churches that helped fund great ideas and opportunities, but never implemented it within their own church. Why? Because they saw the need and impact it would have on the Kingdom, but it wasn’t a fit within the vision of their church organization.

I’ve noticed that healthy leaders and healthy organizations say no far more than they say yes. I know quite a few churches and ministry organizations that say YES to almost everything because they have a religious addiction to keep people happy. When this happens, corporate and personal vision gets foggy and unclear because of a million ideas and opportunities trying to be implemented at the same time. It’s at these moments leaders start finding themselves trying to do what everyone else is doing, instead of following what God has called them to do personally and corporately.

Tim Elmore, president of Growing Leaders, Atlanta, GA illustrates this principle in his book, Habitudes: Volume 3. He uses the image called, Rivers & Floods. Leaders and  organizations will either function as a river or as a flood. A river flows in one direction, bringing life to everything around it. However, a flood goes in many different directions causing damage and disaster to everything in it’s path.

As leaders, we should build our lives and our organizations that functions like a river, not a flood. But, to do that, we must value the word NO. To be a leader who builds and functions like a river, learn to say NO!

Your Thoughts?