Don’t rush me. The hurrier I go the behinder I get

Years ago I saw this on the counter at a Jewelry store. It was true then and even more true today. 

"Don’t rush me. The hurrier I go the behinder I get"

As I observe leaders, groups and churches, it seems to me (maybe it’s just because I’m getting older) that people and things are moving faster and faster.

We live in a world where we think that bigger is better (than smaller) and faster is better (than slower).  Think again!

Our computers run faster, our food is served faster, we are encouraged to be faster or else be replaced by a person or a computer that is faster.

Here are a few things that need to be done slower:

  • Be slow to add someone to your team
  • Be slow to change your vision and direction to please some people
  • Be slow to borrow money or sign for someone who does…even if they are relatives
  • Be slow to take up someone’s cause without hearing the other side of the story
  • Be slow to believe everything you hear or readBe slow to confront and correct until you’ve checked your motives and your heart
  • Be slow to open your mouth and give your opinion
  • Be slow to accuse someone of something
  • Be slow in accusing the Lord of being unfair, unjust or uncaring

 At times slower is better. Do these things slower and with His grace you will be a better leader!




I would venture a guess that most leaders I have known and worked with struggle mightily with managing and stewarding their time and energy well. Given the demands of ministry and the sheer volume of people’s needs, it is not always easy to decide what (or whom) to say yes to and what (or whom) to say no to.

Carey Nieuwhof offers us some salient advice on the 7 things the smartest leaders always make time for.

Originally  posted by Carey Nieuwhof


It’s difficult to find the time to do everything on your list at work, let alone in life.

And if you really drill down on it, there are at least 7 things in leadership most leaders feel there will never be enough time for…unless, of course, you make it.

These also happen to be 7 things all the smartest leaders always make time for.

It’s amazing to me, but when you talk to leaders who operate at the highest level, they seem to have time for exercise, family, vacation and the five other things on this list.

It’s easy to get mad at them and pretend they live in some artificial bubble, while you go back into your very real world and complain about how slammed you are.

I get it. My guess is that whenever you read this, you’re already feeling pinched for time and a bit overwhelmed.

Welcome to leadership. Welcome to life.

If you study the differences between great leaders and poor leaders (as I outlined here), many of the best leaders are pro-active. They refuse to make excuses and they have an abundance mindset (not a ridiculous mindset, just an abundance mindset).

Another key difference is that great leaders refuse to let their days get sucked up by meeting after useless meeting, email and being pulled into other people’s urgent priorities.

If you’ve ever made it Friday and had a hard time answering the question “What did I accomplish this week?” it might be because you failed to make time for these 7 things for which great leaders always make time.

So, if you really want to edge up your leadership and begin accomplishing something significant, start making time for these 7 things. And remember, read through the end for some free help on freeing up the time to do exactly that.


Guess who will monopolize your time if you’re not proactive?

Your most problematic people. Problem people will occupy your calendar unless you decide they won’t.

When volunteer X didn’t show up for the 5th time, most leaders will spend incredible time and effort trying to fix that. Or you’ll get yet another meeting request from person Y, who always seems to have some irresolvable crisis going on in his life.

And in the process, your best leaders will be ignored.

Your best people—the ones who show up on time, every time, prepared and ready to do an exceptional job—rarely ask to meet with you. They never call you. They never bother you.

A great leadership practice is to spend the majority of your one-on-one time with your best people.


It makes them better.

It makes you better.

It moves your mission forward faster.

And—let’s be honest—it’s not like the problem people really get better as a result of your meeting with them anyway. They continue to be problematic.

So, cut your losses and spend the bulk of your time with your best people.


There’s never enough time to do an awesome job planning for the future.

But if you study top performers, you realize they do something many other leaders don’t: they spend significant amounts of time working on plans for the future.

Naturally, they execute as well, but having a carefully crafted and shared mission, vision, strategy and even a set of values can guide your organization beautifully into the future.

If you don’t plan for the future, the future will simply happen to you.

If you plan for it, you’ll shape it.

When was the last time you took a full day—or even a full week—to work on the future?

No one will ever ask you to do it, they’ll just criticize you if you don’t. So do it.


If you broke what you do into categories from ‘lowest value’ to ‘highest value’, you’d learn something interesting.

You will naturally spend most of your time doing the things that provide the least value: answering email, going to meetings that went too long, didn’t need to happen or that you shouldn’t have attended, and answering questions that really didn’t move your mission forward.

Think about it this way: if you didn’t engage in any of the above for a week, what would truly be lost (other than having a full inbox to empty?).

But you also do things that provide exceptionally high value. While it will vary from leader to leader, for me, those things would be creating great sermon series, setting objectives for the months and years ahead and ensuring our senior leaders are healthy and on-mission. I know when I do those things well, our church does best.

In my personal time, I blog, podcast and write. Recently, I’ve cut back on the number of original blog posts I’m writing so I can focus on launching my new book.

The decision was simple. Something had to give, and I believe a well-written book has the potential to help many more leaders over a longer window of time than a 1200 word blog post.

If you consistently spend time on high-value projects, you will have a far greater legacy as a leader than leaders who don’t.

So what’s the greatest value you bring to your organization? Budget significant time for that.


I avoided this for too long in my leadership. For the first decade in my time in leadership, I hardly exercised.

Ironically, I worked more hours and got less done.

While I’m not perfect in my exercise routine, exercise has been a bigger part of my life in the last five years than at any other point. So has proper sleep (see point 5, below).

Perhaps not coincidentally, in the window in which I’ve exercised the most and slept the best, our church has grown to the largest it’s ever been. I’ve also written 3 books, launched this blog and launched a leadership podcast.

This may not be a coincidence.

You’ll make time to go to the doctor if you suffer from obesity, diabetes or heart disease. So why not make time for exercise instead?


In the 80s and 90s leaders used to brag about how little sleep they got.

I bought that line of thinking until it almost killed me.

Chronic lack of sleep was a major factor in the personal burnout I went through almost a decade ago (I outline 7 painful truths about burnout and leadership here).

Today, I don’t cheat sleep anymore. In fact, I believe getting a full night’s sleep and even taking naps is a secret weapon most leaders miss.

You think more clearly and are simply nicer to be around when you’re rested. Everyone is. And those are two key characteristics of effective leaders.

Everyone will ask you to stay up later to get things done.


Go to bed on time. You’ll actually get more done—refreshed and alive in the morning.


Everyone wants you to have a great family life as a leader, but then they’ll ask you to please attend their event next Saturday (which happens to be your family day).

What do you do?

Too many leaders cave and say yes to the event.

Every time you say yes to an event on your day off, you’re saying no to your family.

Every time you say yes to an evening out, you’re saying no to your family.

Every time you say yes to a project you can’t aadequately manage, you’re saying no to your family.

Two things can help with this.

First, pre-determine what your family time will be. Then, when people ask you whether you’re free, you can simply say “I’m sorry, I have a commitment”. If all you have is a blank space in your calendar, you’ll end up saying yes. So write “FAMILY” into your calendar as a commitment.

Second, you need to learn how to say no nicely. I show you why that’s so important and how to do it in the second free training video below.

One day you will retire from leadership. You will never retire from your family.


Every leader needs time to think.

If your life is a series of long meetings, administration and endless texts and emails, you will never take time to truly think. Add to that the constant digital disruption you carry in your pocket or purse and you’ll almost never have time to think—unless you make it.

Innovation never arises from leaders who just want to get it done. Innovation comes from leaders who question what ‘it’ should be.

Again, you can carve white space out on your calendar just to think. Go for a long car ride with the windows down. Find a coffee shop to linger in. Take a walk in the woods. Hop on your bike. Or lock your office door, shut your laptop and grab and pen and paper.

You can actually develop some strategies to become a better thinker (I outline mine here), but first, you need to simply create the space and time to think!


One of the most important skill sets a leader needs to possess!

Probably no skill would be more helpful to acquire and develop than that of being an excellent communicator.  I believe that communication is a skill that can be learned.

A number of years ago I realized that my ability to communicate well needed major work, so I joined Toastmasters International in order to improve both my private and public communication. It was by far the best investment in my leadership portfolio that I have ever made. I am still reaping the benefits of the 18 years I was a Toastmaster.

Brian Tracy, author, speaker and seminar leader says,

“Your ability to communicate effectively with people will contribute more to your success than any other skill that you can develop. I’ve studied success and achievement in America for more than 30 years. I’ve spoken to more than a million people, individually and in groups, and I’ve taken extensive courses on speaking and the art of persuasion. I’ve read countless books and articles on how to influence, negotiate with and persuade people.

“I’ve learned that fully 85% of what you accomplish in your career and in your personal life will be determined by how well you get your message across and by how capable you are in inspiring people to take action on your ideas.”

Wow! Learning to communicate is essential and critical to good leadership!

What is involved in saying what you mean, meaning what you say and having others understand your meaning and respond positively? Let’s go way back to Aristotle who lived, wrote and taught three centuries before Christ. What he had to say still serves us well today. He believed that effective communication was comprised of a combination of: the speaker, the message and the audience. To get across what you want to say, to be understood and not misunderstood, was a combination of ethos (the credibility of the speaker) logos (the truth and relevancy of the message) and pathos (the emotional and appropriate response of the receivers). The ethos of the speaker sharing the logos of the message will elicit pathos in the audience. What he believed has been accepted, taught and practiced for 23 centuries. 

Must be something to it!

For the remainder of this post, I want to focus on the “Ethos” of the leader. Realizing, of course, that having well-prepared, truthful and relevant content (Logos) and understanding and listening to your audience so as to elicit a response (Pathos) is equally important.

Ethos: We, of course, get our word ethics from Ethos. Aristotle identified three principles in the communicator’s Ethos (intelligence, character, good will). Translated, I believe it means:  Knowing our subject. Being a person of inward genuineness, conviction and sincerity. Having the interests of others as a high value. It is safe to say that people want to know three things about the person who is communicating. Do we really believe what we say we believe? Secondly, do we live by it? Thirdly, does it make much difference?

I think that an important aspect of Ethos is being passionate about what I say. It has a grip on me. I recall hearing about two leaders who were discussing what they believed and how it was different or similar. After a few minutes one said to the other, “Well, it appears to me that we believe the same things”. To which the other replied, “The difference is that you have it on ice and I have it on fire.”

Ethos should be truth on fire, conviction, deep passion that is picked up by the listeners. Aristotle believed that people are much more likely to respond to a message if, in addition to understanding it, they experience the emotion which elicits an appropriate response. This emotion starts with the communicator. In today’s high tech, information overload culture, facts and reasons alone are unlikely to trigger action. We need some fire, some excitement. I am not suggesting phony, trumped-up enthusiasm, empty emotionalism, but conviction from the heart. I believe that effective communication is, first and foremost, a “work of heart.” People know if you really believe it and if it grips you. If not, why should they care?



The 5 most painful leaders to be around

Most of what I share about are positive leader atttributes.

Dan Rockwell tells us about some negative aspects of painful leaders to be around. Unfortunately I have worked for, and with, some of these leaders Dan describes. Can we not agree, by His grace, not to be like them?

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell


Some leaders are painful to be around. To be honest, sometimes you and I are the pain.

We’ve all been the leader others complain about.

The 5 most painful leaders to be around

Nit-pickers. You’re a bad case of heartburn when you belittle the 80% that’s good with the 20% that’s bad. (Enjoy the 80%. Improve the 20%.)

Ball-droppers. You’re a toothache when you don’t follow-through and follow-up.

Drama-makers. You’re an empty glass in the desert when everything’s a crisis.

Down-in-the-mouthers. You’re a stone in a shoe when you always need a pick-me-up from your team.

Hand-wringers. You’re an energy suck when all you see is what could go wrong.

Don’t expect success if you’re a constant pain.

5 surprising ways to advance your success with others:

#1. Care deeply about relationships. (It’s not just results.)

The most important relationships are with people who depend on you.

If you care about your future, care about relationships with coworkers, supervisors, and direct reports. The people closest to you are most relevant to job satisfaction, opportunity, and advancement.

#2. Invite and act on feedback.

I’m working on connecting with the team. (Context enhances feedback.)

What do you see me doing that strengthens connections?

What do you see me doing that weakens connection?

What suggestions do you have? (Seeking input elevates the status of giver and receiver.)

Would you tell me when I do something that works? Doesn’t work?

#3. Advance the agenda of others, without sacrificing your own.

What challenges are you facing?

What’s important about this?

What crossroads are you facing?

How can I help?

Those who add value are always welcomed.

#4. Understand the difference between advising and advocating.

Advisers aren’t attached to advice. Freedom goes down as advocating goes up.

#5. Say what others fear saying.

Point out inconsistencies.

Describe negative patterns.

Challenge and confront in private.

What types of people are a pain to be around?

How might leaders advance their success with others?




My core values haven't changed in over 30 years

My Seven Core Values

One of the things I have all my coaching clients do is to create a list of “Core Values” for themselves.  Values are like the banks of a river, a road map, or a compass. They help us decide what to do and what kind(s) of people we invite into our teams.

Thirty four years ago I attended a Steven Covey seminar.  I believe their main purpose was to get me to buy their materials and concepts, but the Lord had another reason for my being there. 

The first day of the seminar the leader asked us to make a list of our most cherished values…values that we wanted to live by and have as a foundation for our life and work.  I made the list then and there and I still have it; and, by his grace, live by it as I make decisions and follow Jesus. 

I thought you might find it interesting and instructive to see what I wrote down thirty years ago.  I’m not sharing this list to have you emulate it, but to get you thinking about what your values might be.

I (Dave Kraft) highly value:

1.  Immediately respond to God’s revealed truth

“Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5 ESV) I want to continue to develop the consistent habit of doing what God tells me to do without procrastination or making excuses for myself. Sometimes he shows me things directly through scripture, sometimes through my own thinking processes and sometimes through other people, like my wife Susan. Whatever he is making clear to me, I want to “Just Do It,” as Nike says.

2.  Being a person of Integrity

With so much falsehood and deception all around me, I want to be a person who has integrity and can be trusted to tell the truth at all times--even when it’s uncomfortable or costs me something.

3.  Listening/Loving/Learning/Laughing

I tend to be serious-minded and want to continue to grow in laughing--especially at myself--and not take myself too seriously. Additionally, when it comes to those in my sphere of influence (especially my family), I want to listen well, love well and continue to learn from everybody.

4.  Continuing to develop myself spiritually, mentally, socially and physically

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52 ESV)

I am set on being a life-long learner and want to grow in all the ways mentioned in this verse. Admittedly, I don’t need to grow anymore physically (either upward or outward) but I do want to take care of myself physically through adequate sleep, exercise and eating the right amount and the right stuff. The older I get the greater the challenge is for me.

5.  Staying faithful to my purpose of leadership development

I am called to be a leader developer, helping to equip and empower the next generation of leaders in local churches. I don’t want to allow the good to become the enemy of the best, so will be very protective and prayerful as to what I choose to do keeping my purpose, calling and vision in mind.

6.  Being first and foremost a Christian husband and father

Being a husband, the father of four adult children and the grandfather of seven poses challenges for me. I will make time to connect consistently and invest significantly in all 12 of them.  Next to my relationship with Jesus, my family is my highest priority. Being the task-oriented leader I am, I often fail at this, but I will not give up or give in.

7.  Taking sufficient time to pace myself and finish well

To practice what I preach, I will have a good Sabbath ethic as well as a good work ethic, and will pace myself well so that I am a “Leader Who Lasts.” To do this I need solid accountability and will have some men, and my wife, continue to ask me the tough questions.

So, there are my core values.  How about taking a few minutes and make a first draft of your “Core Values” to guide your life and your leadership.

If you do create a list for yourself, I would love to see it: