Find your own style

For years I’ve been trying to follow other people’s rules and guidelines, just to end up overwhelmed and exhausted. But when I gave myself permission to be myself and network my way, it became much easier to reach out to new people and stay connected. Even as you scroll through the tips and ideas below, keep in mind that what works for me, doesn’t necessarily have to work for you. Pick and choose what is a good fit and implement it into your own approach. Feel free to leave the rest.

2. Prepare

Doing the research before your meeting, setting the expectations and preparing your questions in advance will help you manage the expectations, connect with the right people and guide conversations like a pro. You will know exactly what to ask, why and when to end the meeting, which is absolutely key to feeling confident at the event or meeting. To take it up a notch, you can even make a list of opening lines to use at networking events or conferences.

3.  Smile

It not only helps you look more confident, but it also makes you more approachable at the events. Putting a smile on your face will be your best accessory at any event. Give it your best effort and people won’t even know that you are an introvert. They will WANT to connect with you because you seem to be a positive person.

4. Find a buddy

Everything is easier once you have a buddy in the room. You can support each other, push one another to make yet another connection, even complement each other as you speak to other people.

5. Less is more

If you are an introvert, walking away with 2-3 meaningful connection from each event will take you further than trying to push it and have 55 business cards in hand after the event. You will feel more connected and the follow up will be much easier. Focus on quantity – the right connections, the right information, the follow up techniques, and so on. Numbers can be misleading. Quality is over quantity.

6. Ask for introductions

Some of the best connections I made are people who were introduced to me through existing contacts. Introductions make networking much easier and warmer. Here are couple questions to help you move in the right direction:

  • Who do you already know? Identify your introducers, key connections who can help you kick start your networking efforts.
  • Who do they know that has the challenge you solve? People usually know at least one person who has similar challenges. Just get clear on what problem you help resolve or what benefit you offer. The more specific you are, the easier it will be to find the right person to connect with.
  • Who is your best client? What type of people do you want to connect with? Who should your friends be introducing to you?

7. Reach out before the event

This is probably my best strategy. It works every time. Usually people show up at the events, meet people and follow up after. To set myself apart and make attending events easier, I decided to flip this strategy around. I now reach out to people I want to meet before the event sending them a quick email or message on social media to let them know that I’m coming and I’m hoping to connect with them for at least couple minutes. This strategy removes the hassle from trying to find the person, because now it’s both of us looking for each other. It positions me differently as there are already people in the room who know about me and it just turns networking into a breeze. Plus, way less people reach out to decision makers prior to the event, which means that my emails are not getting lost in the huge amount of emails these people get after the events they attend.

You don’t have to be an extrovert to have a strong network. Take your time, put in an effort, be intentional about what you do and how you do it. Be yourself, but challenge yourself to take your existing connections to the whole new level and meet new people who can either introduce you to others or help you grow your business.



It’s really quite simple. People with significant leadership gifting respond best to significant challenges.

Under challenge them and they won’t stay engaged for long.

So many church staff and non-profit staff I talk to are worried about giving their volunteers too much responsibility. Newsflash: That might be exactly why you don’t have enough high capacity volunteers (not to mention a thousand other problems on your team).


People want to serve a cause bigger than themselves. And actually, that’s what the church (and most nonprofits) are all about: Causes bigger than ourselves.

But often our mission, vision and strategy are fuzzy.

Mission is the What.

Vision is the Why.

Strategy is the How.

Even if they’re written on a piece of paper most people functionally can’t tell you what they are.

That’s a tragedy. The motivation for volunteers IS the vision. It’s the why behind the what.

And—get this—the church has the best vision and mission on planet earth. So why on earth do we hide it?

Quite seriously, helping people discover the God who created them is the most rewarding work volunteers will do in their lives, regardless of what they get paid to do their day jobs.


Few things are more demotivating than giving up your time as a volunteer only to discover the staff person responsible didn’t set you up to succeed.

The tools they need to do the job are missing or incomplete. The rest of the team is late.

Or maybe—worse—they’re not even 100% sure what they are supposed to do or how they are supposed to do it.

You can always find people who will put up with disorganization, but many more will simply give up.

And high capacity people will make a beeline for the door.


I know, I know.

They’re volunteers. And you can’t hold a volunteer accountable can you?

Wrong. You most certainly can. And should. For everyone’s sake.

If a volunteer is late, it’s really no different than if a staff member is late. Sure, you want to address it kindly, but you need to address it.

Again, few things are more disheartening for a motivated volunteer than if they did their homework and showed up early only to find that others didn’t, and then, to top it all off, have a staff person excuse the behavior of the people who didn’t pull their weight with lines like “It’s okay, we’re just glad you’re here.”

The high-capacity leader dies a thousand deaths every time he or she hears a staff person utter those words. And then, almost 100% of the time, the organized, highly-motivated, exactly-the-kind-of-leader-you-were-hoping-to-keep will leave, and the slackers will stay.


Another big challenge for church leaders and nonprofit staff is the innate desire most of us feel to treat all people ‘equally.’

You don’t want to play favorites, so everyone should be treated the same.

Again, wrong.

The church should always be a loving organization. But certain people require more of your time and attention.

Unless you’re intentional, you’ll end up spending most of your time and attention on your most problematic people and the least amount of time with your highest performing people.

Flip that.

Cut ties with the low performers and spend most of your time walking alongside and developing your best leaders.

And before you think that’s completely unfair, just know your entire team will thank you for it because you’ll end up with a strong team.

By the way, Jesus did this too. He had crowds of disciples, but then a group of 72, an inner group of 12, an inner circle of 3 and then placed his greatest investment in 1 (Peter).


It’s never fun to lead alone.

As soon as you find a high-capacity volunteer, your next step should be to recruit more and move others alongside them.

Nurture this team. Build into them. Take them for lunch. Take them with you when you travel. Do life with them (again, I think Jesus modeled this pattern).

Sadly, many leaders don’t do this, and high capacity leaders once again walk away, demotivated.


Research study have shown that nearly two-thirds of pastors feel stressful and frequently overwhelmed.

Your well-being depends on it. Psalm 23 provides us with a tremendous blueprint for reducing stress. In the Psalm, David outlines seven stress-busting habits that will make us happier and healthier.

1. Depend on God to meet your needs. The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need” (Psalm 23:1 NLT).

It’s easy to put your trust in other people to meet your needs—your spouse, your congregation, your friends, and so on. 

But that’s also a constant source of stress. We should never base our security on something that can be taken away from us. When you realize God will meet every one of your needs, it calms you down. He will never disappoint you, either.

2. Obey God’s instructions about rest. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters” (Psalm 23:2 NIV). 

So much of the stress you face comes from being in a hurry and working too much. Rest is the antidote to that stress. Rest is so important, God put it in the “Big Ten”—the Ten Commandments. 

When God tells us to take a day of rest every seven days, he isn’t giving pastors a pass. Just because we work on Sundays doesn’t mean we don’t need one day a week to rest.

It doesn’t matter whether you take your Sabbath on Sunday, Monday, Friday—or Wednesday. Pastor, you need the rest. Jesus did. When you study Jesus’ ministry, you see how often he took time to relax. Jesus didn’t feel guilty for taking time away from ministry and neither should you.

What do we do on a Sabbath? 

  • Rest our bodies. Take a nap. 
  • Refocus our spirit. Spend some time in worship.
  • Recharge our emotions. Take part in a recreational activity.

3. Recharge your soul with beauty. “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside peaceful waters. He renews my soul” (Psalm 23:2-3 GW).

One of the reasons that Psalm 23 is the most beloved Psalm is because we can visualize it. We can see the lush meadows and calm lake. They’re particularly comforting in a 21st-century urban world. You need beauty in your life. It’s an incredibly important part of stress management. Beauty inspires, encourages, and motivates. God created humans for a garden, not a skyscraper. 

So how can you get more beauty into your life?

  • Get outside every day. Take a walk and get in touch with God’s creation.
  • Start your day with God, not the media. The first seven minutes of your day set your mood. Start with the Good News, not bad news.
  • Intentionally put beauty around you. Surround yourself with pieces of art and music that inspires you.

4. Go to God for guidance. “He guides me along the paths of righteousness for the sake of his name” (Psalm 23:3 GW).

The most common source of stress in your life is indecision. That’s why the declaration of God’s guidance in Psalm 23 is so important for stress relief. God will guide us at the right time and in the right way. He’s never off target. 

It’s easy to look for guidance from the latest ministry fad or a pundit somewhere. But the only guidance you can trust completely comes from God. So, depend upon him.

5. Trust God in the dark valleys. “Even though I walk through the dark valley of death, because you are with me, I fear no harm. Your rod and your staff give me courage” (Psalm 23:4 GW).

We all go through the dark valleys. In fact, we’ll go through many of them in our lifetime. Loss is particularly painful, whether that means loss of life, job, or health. 

We lean toward one of two responses to loss—either grief (which is good) or fear (which is bad). Grief is a godly emotion. Fear will paralyze you. 

Psalm 23 uses a shepherd metaphor to describe how God uses a rod and a staff to protect you in the dark valley of death. God walks with you as you face loss, and he is active in protecting you against anything that can hurt you. You can trust him.

6. Let God be your defender. “You prepare a banquet for me while my enemies watch. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows” (Psalm 23:5 GW). 

David knew what it was like to be attacked. He spent much of his young life running from Saul. He hid in caves as he was being maligned and demeaned by the king. Yet David wouldn’t say anything bad about Saul. He let God become his defender. 

Pastor, you face attacks often. It takes a lot of faith to trust God and let him defend you. When you’re attacked, you want to defend yourself. You want to correct the lies of others. But you are most like Jesus when you remain silent while under attack. It’s what he did when religious people attacked him. He never retaliated. 

I’ve learned this from experience. When you remain silent under criticism, you usually end up with more influence, not less. Your critics usually end up helping you in the long run.

7. Expect God to finish what he started. Certainly, goodness and mercy will stay close to me all the days of my life, and I will remain in the Lord’s house for days without end” (Psalm 23:6 GW).

Another reason we face stress is we fear the future. We’re always asking, “What if?” But notice how David writes of his certainty that goodness and mercy will continue in his life. 

We tend to look at our future in one of two ways. We either expect everything to go wrong or we look at the future and say: “Certainly goodness and mercy will stay close to me all the days of my life.” 

You lower your stress with the second option.

I don’t know what burden you’re carrying, but I know your stress isn’t too big for Jesus. 

Jesus tells us, “Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30 CSB).

Jesus wants to help you carry the load. Will you let him?


Mistake #1: We make plans without asking God.

At first glance, the plan James describes in verse 13 doesn’t sound out of the ordinary. He writes, “Look here, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit’” (NLT).

James is describing a person with a thoughtful business plan, one even the book of Proverbs backs up. It’s important to have a strategy about how you’ll engage the future. 

But this entrepreneur is missing something. You’ll notice he doesn’t mention God. It’s all about self-reliance. Four times he mentions what he and the other leaders will do. But there’s not a single word about what God will do.

I know a lot of leaders like this—even pastors. They plan like God doesn’t exist. If you want God’s blessing, you need to involve him in your planning.

Proverbs 3:5-6 famously says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (NLT).

As you look toward the future of your life, your family, and your church, do more than just plan—pray.

Mistake #2: We presume we know what tomorrow holds.

James writes in 4:14-15: “You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. What is life? You are a mist that is seen for a moment and then disappears. Instead, you should say, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we will live and carry out our plans’” (GW).

James goes on to say in verse 16 that presuming to know the future is a form of arrogance. The Bible says there’s both good pride and bad pride. It’s good to say that you’re proud of what God is doing in your life. But the kind of pride in James 4:14-15 is clearly a problem.

If there’s anything 2020 taught us is that we don’t know what tomorrow holds, much less what God will do in the next year. 

The good news is, God’s love, goodness, and reliability can all be counted on. Nothing else in life is dependable.

Mistake #3: We put off doing what’s right.

Procrastination is always the wrong way to handle uncertainty. We procrastinate when we know what we need to do but don’t do it. 

James makes it clear that if we procrastinate doing what’s right, it’s a sin. He writes like this in 5:17: “Whoever knows what is right but doesn’t do it is sinning” (GW).

Procrastination wastes your life and misuses your time. If you procrastinate, you’ll likely miss golden opportunities God has placed before you.

Sin isn’t just about what you do. It’s about what you don’t do. Many of you have been talking for years about a step you know you need to take in your own spiritual journey and in your ministry. 

Why are you waiting?

John writes, “We are sure that we know Christ if we obey his commandments. The person who says, ‘I know him,’ but doesn’t obey his commandments is a liar. The truth isn’t in that person” (1 John 2:3-4 GW).

So don’t put off doing what God has clearly told you to do.

You’ll never escape uncertainty in your ministry. No matter what you’ll face in 2021, you don’t have all the answers right now. Yet by recognizing and avoiding these common mistakes, you can head into uncertainty with faith rather than fear.