Leaders Listen

Sprache - Schall

What are you listening to right now?

Music, a clock, traffic, people talking, wind, a dog barking, a baby crying, the TV, etc.

How many sounds can you identify all around you right now?

One of our challenges as leaders is to know what sounds to let fall into the background and which ones we need to focus on because they are important. Too often we focus on the wrong sounds and miss the right ones.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. They are either speaking or preparing to speak.” – Stephen R. Covey

Over the years I have worked with and for some great leaders. One of the skills I feel takes a leader to the next level is their ability to actively listen to others. How about you? On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the best, where would you rank your listening skills?

One of the core competencies of all types of coaching is Deep Listening. This is a key area when I teach either basic coaching classes or discipleship coaching seminars. We intentionally spend extra time on this area because I know it is a challenge for many of us and is an area we can all improve.

I believe there are six levels of listening:

  1. Ignoring – another person is talking, maybe directly to us, and we are not paying any attention to them at all. Our minds are occupied somewhere else.
  2. Pretend Listening – someone is talking to us and we are nodding our head and saying “uh huh” just enough to make them think we are paying attention.
  3. Selective Listening – we hear a few words or phrases, but not enough to catch the whole meaning. This often causes us to ask someone to repeat what they just said.

__________________________ Active Listening ___________________________

  1. Attentive – we hear every word and understand the meaning being communicated to us. Very few conversations ever reach this level.
  2. Empathic – not only do we hear every word and understand the meaning, we also “get” how what is being communicated to us is making the other person feel.
  3. Spirit – for Christians, this is where we hear the Holy Spirit communicating to us through what the other person is saying. We hear their words, understand how they feel, and have a clear sense of God’s Spirit within the other person.


Even the very best listeners can find it challenging to stay in the “active listening” area all the time. Like any skill, it takes practice and intentionality.

Here are a few best practices to help you improve your listening skills:

  • Make eye contact with a person talking to you. Do not let yourself be distracted by things going on around you.
  • Learn to quite your mind chatter so you can be fully present during a conversation.
  • The words “listen” and “silent” have the same letters. Practice being silent a few minutes a day. Become comfortable with small amounts of silence in conversations.
  • Watch a TV show or movie with the sound turned off for a while. Notice body language and non-verbal clues.
  • Watch the TED Talk of Julian Treasure, 5 ways to listen better.
  • Resist the urge to share a story or brilliant comment during important conversations with others.
  • Stop trying to multi-task when you should be listening.
  • Listen to understand, not fix the other person.

Most people cannot remember the last time someone really listened to them. How sad. As leaders we are called to model the way. Make it a point today to improve your listening skills.

Listening is a tremendous gift. Give that gift to someone today!

Here are a few suggested next steps to grow your feedback skills:

1) Work with a professional coach who can partner with you in a confidential and results focused process.

2) Engage with a professional trainer and facilitator to work with you and your team. Contact me if you are interested in hosting a Listening Skills seminar.

3) Check out my church leadership online webinars at: www.leadership4transformation.thinkific.com


Identifying Leaders


What’s something you purchased recently where you did a lot of research beforehand?

A new home, iPhone, car, computer, major appliance, TV, drone?

How did you know what to look for? What factors influenced your final decision?

When my wife and I take a trip she is great about doing lots of research. She will buy a book on where we are going, search internet websites, talk to people who have been there, check out the hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues. We are both very organized, so we tend to plan out our relaxation. 🙂

Just like it is always important to know what you are looking for before making a major purchase, we should take the time to clearly identify what we are looking for in new leaders.

Many of the churches and pastors I work with talk to me about the challenges of identifying leaders for their ministry positions. They often find themselves in the position of filling a leadership slot and feel pressured to do it quickly. Does this sound familiar to you?

Now is the perfect time to intentionally get ahead of the game by investing a little time and effort in the process of identifying new leaders for your ministry. I would like to encourage you to start with prayer. Ask God to help you see the leaders he has already brought to your church. There may be some people who are on the sidelines just wanting to be seen and asked. Pray also for God to bring new leaders to your ministry.

“For the eyes of the Lord search back and forth across the whole earth, looking for people whose hearts are perfect toward him, so that he can show his great power in helping them.” – 2 Chronicles 16:9

While there are many important traits, skills, competencies, etc. to look for in new leaders, I’d like to share six that I feel are critical:

  • Character: confidence in their walk with Jesus, evidence of honesty, teachability, humility, reliability, a healthy work ethic, willingness to serve (always a red flag for me when a potential leader is not already serving somewhere)
  • Competence: ability to do the job, Spiritual Gifts, experience, education, talents, skills
  • Chemistry: ability to fit into the culture and work with the current team
  • Conviction: passionate about the mission, vision, and values of the church
  • Commitment: devoted to growing as a disciple, demonstrating movement in their own spiritual life
  • Courage: willing to take a chance, push the envelope, challenge the status quo


These are of course areas where every leader can grow too. There are many things we can do to encourage that growth. But when they are absent—it is difficult, if not impossible, to create them in someone.

Some things you can teach—and some things you cannot.

What about you? What do you look for in new leaders? I encourage you to use my list as a starting point, but don’t stop there. Spend a few minutes right now and identify what you should look for in new leaders.

Here are some suggested next steps:

  1. Read the book Lead Like Jesus by Ken Blanchard.
  2. Contact Ken Willard to see about creating a leadership development process for your ministry.
  3. Order a Leadership4Transformation Leadership Development guide from Ebay
  4. Pray about who might already be in your church now waiting to be asked for a leadership role, and for God to continue to bring you new leaders.

You don’t have to do it alone. Ken can walk with you and your church as he has with many other churches and organizations to provide coaching, training, encouragement, resources, and support along the way. Together we can equip leaders in your ministry!

Let’s take a step in that direction today!


Discipleship Coaching


“When you relate to a person as a faith coach, you participate in the work of the Spirit by coming alongside people as an advocate and helper.” – Hall, Cooper, and McElveen in the book Faith Coaching

Have you ever had a one-on-one conversation with anyone about your personal spiritual journey?

Discipleship is a very hot topic in the church world today. After many years of using membership as the main target, we are beginning to see churches focus more on making disciples and less on making members. This is a wonderful trend and I hope this is the start of a revival throughout churches everywhere.

There are many spiritual disciplines which will help people grow closer to the image of Christ: reading the Bible, serving others, financial giving, prayer, observing the Sabbath, attending worship, sharing the faith, involvement in a small group, etc. However, I believe we are missing a critical element in most church discipleship ministries. . .

compassDiscipleship Coaching – the ministry of meeting with individuals one-on-one in order to help them take the next steps on their spiritual journey.


Please don’t misunderstand, I think there is tremendous value in all of the spiritual disciplines – AND people certainly grow as disciples in small groups, classes, worship services, and lots of other settings. I just think we are missing a very important piece of the puzzle without one-on-one conversations.

When I’m working with a church on creating a new discipleship process we always include coaching. As a certified coach, I will provide some basic coach training along the way. Here are the qualities I recommend looking for in potential discipleship coaches:

  • A Christian mature enough on their own walk to be able to provide guidance to others.
  • An active listener. Someone who can discern quickly the meaning behind what people are saying and hear God’s Spirit in each believer.
  • An encourager. A person who sees the best in people. Someone who can challenge others to use their Spiritual Gifts, heart, abilities, passions, and experiences in the Kingdom.
  • A committed member of the church who is familiar enough with the church to be able to connect someone to the appropriate leaders or ministry areas in order to grow as a disciple in all areas of their spiritual life.

One of the best things about discipleship coaching is that it works no matter where a person is on their spiritual journey. For someone new to the faith this can be a safe place for them to ask questions and focus more on the next small step and not be overwhelmed by how far they think they feel they need to travel. For a person who has been in the church for years, but may feel “stuck” this can be a conversation about trying new things and breaking out of their old patterns. No matter where we are on our spiritual journey, there is always a next step.

Another great thing about discipleship coaching is that it can be done in any size church. All you need is at least one person to get started. So no matter what size congregation you have, you can start helping people grow as disciples.

In the past few years I’ve had an opportunity to have dozens and dozens of discipleship coaching conversations with people. Each one is different, but there are two big things I’ve learned that I will leave with you to think about. First, none of the people I’ve talked with have ever had a one-on-one conversation with anyone about their personal spiritual journey. I bet the same is true in your church. And second, every single one of them struggles with reading the Bible. They all had the desire, but there was something getting in the way. How about everyone in your church? When is the last time you taught on reading Scripture? Are you just assuming everyone is in God’s Word?

Here are some suggested next steps:

  1. Read the book, Coaching for Christian Leaders: A Practical Guide by Linda J. Miller.
  2. Read the book, Stride: Creating a Discipleship Pathway for Your Church by Mike Schreiner and Ken Willard.
  3. Contact Ken Willard to see about adding Discipleship Coaching to your church’s discipleship process. Ken@L4T.org
  4. Order a Discipleship Coaching participant workbook from Ebay.
  5. Pray about who might be the right person to invite as your first discipleship coach.
    • Be sure to invest in their training to ensure they are ready to help others.
  6. Check out my church leadership online webinars at: www.leadership4transformation.thinkific.com

You don’t have to try and do it alone. Ken can walk with you and your church as he has with many other churches to provide coaching, training, encouragement, resources, and support along the way. Together we can do it!

Let’s take a step in that direction today!