Posts Tagged ‘accessible leader’

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Enemy Behind the Lines- Self-Righteousness

July 16, 2009

In our series on the Enemy Behind the Lines, we have explored a number of enemies to our personal walk with Christ.  These enemies behind the line refer to those sometimes silent, stealthy that can undermine the efforts made in our daily walk with Christ.

Take a moment to read Romans 1: 28-32.  In this passage, chance are, you find yourself nodding in agreement.  It is pretty easy find some sense of comfort or a sense of the next Enemy Behind the Linesself-righteousness.

“Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, fighting, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip.  They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They are forever inventing new ways of sinning and are disobedient to their parents.”  Romans 1: 29-30

You and I both know these “type of people.”  You know the ones.  Those who are perpetually lost and seem to be devoid of God’s hand in their life.  As it states in Romans 1, God, at some point, will leave those to their own desires after denying the Truth for so long.

I found myself nodding in agreement with Paul as he spoke of these people.  I kept nodding until I began Chapter 2!

Someone has once coined the definition of a jury as: “twelve people chosen to decide who has the best lawyer.” The Jews were generally a proud sort of people, that looked with a great deal of scorn and contempt upon the poor Gentiles, as not worthy to be set with the dogs of their flock; while in the mean time they were themselves just as bad.  Paul shifted from talking about the Gentiles to talking about the Jews who had the law and still disobeyed.  The Jews, like those of us who are Christian, know that God will judge according to the Truth, not just interpretation.  We must be careful not to point out the wrongs in everyone else’s life or be so eager to condemn those who are not Christian.  (There is a difference in holding a fellow Christian accountable and condemning someone who is already lost and we will discuss that in one of the next posts.)

Many of the Jews seemed to have felt and acted in a similar manner to many of us who are Christians today.

Romans 2: 3  “Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?”

These two verses fit the saying, “Mercy for me and justice for everyone else.”   Paul takes some time to compare the two presumptions that Christians could make about the judgment of God

i.      First: We will escape the judgment of God

ii.      Second: God is kind to those who love him so we will merely get by

In Enemy Behind the Lines- Self-Righteousness Part II, we will continue with the remaining part of Romans 2 and delve further into this concept of Self-Righteousness in the Christian mindset.  Paul brings out three attributes of God’s riches: kindness, forbearance and patience.  All three are to complete a specific mission on Christ’ behalf.  Be sure to join us in this series on enemies behind the line.

If you liked this post, you might want to check out the others in this series:

Guilt

Fear Part I

Fear Part II

Unwillingness to Change

Unforgiveness

Regret

Self-Reliance

The Lie

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

Christ-like Leadership, Christian coaching, Christian Leader, Christian Leadership, Christian perspectives, church leadership, Christian men, Christian warrior, Christian Home Leadership, Christian father, Christian husband, Christian dad, Christian family leadership, Christian children, Enemy Behind the Lines

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We are Salt of the Earth…

March 24, 2009

Salt. Not much to think about. It’s white, tasty, useful, and cheap. Did you know it is a change agent? Did you know that it is one of the most widely used change agents? Did you know that it was Christ’s secret word for us to become change agents? No?

Salt is such a basic that we rarely consider the ramifications it has in the world. It touches so many things. Let’s look at some interesting salt facts:

· Salt is a commonly occurring mineral, the technical name of which is sodium chloride. It is the sodium part of salt that is important. The body needs a certain amount of sodium to function properly.

· Sodium helps to maintain the concentration of body fluids at correct levels.

· It also plays a central role in the transmission of electrical impulses in the nerves, and helps cells to take up nutrients. Salt plays an important part in the body’s main function in energy conversion-change.

· In various ages throughout history, salt was actually more valuable than gold. In fact, it was trade for gold.

· Slaves were traded for salt, which is where we get the aphorism, “not worth their weight in salt.”

· Salt was used to spice and preserve foods.

Not bad for a chemical compound you most likely thought very little of. Jesus, however, made it a point to mention in his Sermon on the Mount accounted for in Luke and John. The exact meaning of the expression salt of the earth is disputed, in part because salt had a wide number of uses in the ancient world. There are several different possibilities for the originally intended meaning of the salt metaphor:

  • Exodus, Ezekiel, and Kings present salt as a purifying agent
  • Leviticus, Numbers, and Chronicles present it as a sign of God’s covenant.
  • The most important use of salt was as a preservative and hence the most common interpretation of the metaphor is as asserting the duty to preserve the purity of the world.
  • In the Rabbinic literature of the period salt was a metaphor for wisdom.
  • Salt was a minor but essential ingredient in fertilizer and so a few scholars such as Gundry believe that earth should be translated as soil (i.e. salt of the soil), and hence the metaphor asserts that the audience should help the world grow and prosper.
  • One interpretation of salt of the earth is that it orders the audience to take part in the world rather than withdraw from it
  • Among the ancient Hebrews salt was used as a preservative, in seasoning food, and in all animal sacrifices. Lev. 2:13; Ezek. 43:24; Mark 9:49-50. So essential was it to the sacrificial ordinance that it was the symbol of the covenant made between God and His people in connection with that sacred performance. Lev. 2:13; Num. 18:19; 2 Chron. 13:5. [1]

Am I the only one amazed at the number of uses and Scriptural references to Salt? So why bring this up in a topic labeled “Change Agent?” The answer is quite simple and can be explained using an equation like this:

If Salt = Change Agent

Then we could substitute the variable in the verse to reflect the following:

BEFORE:

Matthew 5:13-16:

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its ability, how shall its saltiness be restored? … You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

AFTER:

Matthew 5:13-16:

You are the change agent of the earth; but if the change has lost its ability, how shall its ability be restored? … You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Christ was very intentional in most everything he said. He knew the meaning behind his statements and what is so funny to me is there are numerous songs, poems, books, and dissertations debating the meaning behind the use of the phrase, “salt of the earth.”

For our discussion it is quite simple. Salt is fairly basic, but is used in a variety of ways as a change agent. It is used in our bodies to change or help convert various elements of our body into energy. Salt is used the change various things in the earth but the ironic fact is that salt doesn’t change. Once formed, it holds its taste and its abilities. Even though it can be dissolved in water, salt does not change its chemical makeup. It is still salt. That is the beauty of this change agent.

One of the most trying situations for most novices in the area of becoming a change agent is that of solvency. Rather than serving as a real change agent, most of the time, through various trials, tribulations and influences, we become stagnant, ineffective, or just plain… bland. I have seen so many people who were fired up for a mission or directive provided to them by Christ. They would leave their mountaintop visit with a vision and soon lose it to the circle of buzzards, also known as committees. (That was not a stab, a group of buzzards are called committees… ironic, but true)

As a change agent, we are to be the salt of the earth, or better put, change for the earth. Salt is composed of sodium chloride and is extremely stable, thus, unable to lose its flavor. So salt that has lost its flavor cannot ever literally refer to actual salt. The most common explanation for this is that salt in the era was quite impure, not only due to extraction methods, but also due to unscrupulous merchants mixing it with other substances. So what was Christ implying? If salt cannot lose its flavor…

The words translated lost its flavor actually translate from the Greek as became foolish, but the Aramaic for both phrases is the same, and English language translators universally accept that the verse is talking about flavor rather than intelligence. Some scholars do however feel that this may be wordplay related to the Rabbinic use of salt as a metaphor for intelligence.

The other aspect to consider is there are two chemicals in salt: Sodium and Chloride. The chemicals are dynamic together. In order for salt to lose its flavor, something would have to be mixed in with it, in effect, slightly contaminating it or quite simply, making it impure. The same can happen in our lives when we get out of balance. Allowing various sins and distractions into our lives can essentially introduce various “impurities” to create some instability in our spiritual formula. In a sense, it dampens our ability to become true, stable, change agents (with taste).

Part of the manifesto for this book is to help all of us called to be change agents to focus on the qualities, characteristics, abilities, practices, and beliefs of the various change agents throughout the Scriptures. They changed their surroundings by answering the call. Some lost their flavor by introducing some impurities in their lives, but we will study the ways Christ calls us back to him.

If you go through Scripture like most do, you almost live for those characters who add a little spice to your reading don’t you? I wonder if they would be so “spicy” if they were unwilling to be change agents for God.

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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Enemy Behind the Line-Unforgiveness

March 20, 2009


Continuing our series on the “Enemy Behind the Line“, I wanted to spend some time on one I have struggled with and continue to struggle with: unforgiveness.  Read this Scripture Passage from Luke 15:

“The son got up and went to his father. While he was yet a long way off, his father saw him. The father was full of loving-pity for him. He ran and threw his arms around him and kissed him. 21 The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am not good enough to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to the workmen he owned, ‘Hurry! Get the best coat and put it on him. Put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet. 23 Bring the calf that is fat and kill it. Let us eat and be glad. 24 For my son was dead and now he is alive again. He was lost and now he is found. Let us eat and have a good time.’

While pondering today’s Scripture Reading, I noticed one line of this story I had never really taken into account.  Of course, we all know the story of the two sons, one son who works the fields while the other one spends his inheritance on matters of the world and after finding himself with the pigs, decides to go back to his father for forgiveness.  You know this story as do I and most us focus on the wonderful correlation to how the father welcomed his son home regardless of his faults and how Christ does that to all of us when we turn back to him.

When reading this passage this morning, I was struck by one line, look below:    

The son got up and went to his father. While he was yet a long way off, his father saw him.

Notice the part I underlined.  These four words brought a totally new perspective for me to this story.  I felt the Holy Spirit inspire me to ask myself the question, “How did the father see his son from afar if he wasn’t already looking for him?”  Of course with my mind, I began racing to the mental theater in my mind now seeing a piece of the play I had not paid any attention to before.  Rather than the father simply seeing his son by happen-chance, I now see the father pacing on the hill, constantly looking for his lost son to return home and when seeing him, being filled with joy and then running to embrace him.

This has helped me better understand something about Christ that I have always been told and an attribute that Scripture supports.  We all use the passage in Revelation about Christ knocking on the door and “letting him in to dine with us,” but isn’t it a comforting revelation for all of us who strive toward a more Christ-like life to know in our heart of hearts that when we have strayed from the right path, Christ, like the father in the parable, is pacing on a hill looking for us to return?  And it’s not like He waits for us to run to Him and throw ourselves before his feet and beg for forgiveness, the simple act of turning to Him and taking the first step almost forces the heart of Christ to run to us where we are.  Now that is a Saviour!  Unlike those we live with day in and day out who wait for us to approach them wtih an apology, and at times revel in our graveling for their forgiveness, Christ waits to run to us.

I think we all to often forget that forgiveness is part of the requirement of us.  It is very easy for me to sit and brew over something.  Although I say I have forgiven that person, in actuality, I have not.  Unfortunately, I believe this is a battle many of us have to fight.  One simple foothold Satan can use in our lives is that of unforgiveness.  It is the seed of so many thorns in our lives that will choke the Word being scattered in our lives by Christ.  It starts as a simple vine, then eventually, it will take over.  It is one of the enemies behind the line.  As a Christian man or Christian Leader, you have to uproot this weed before it is too late.

One final thought for you to ponder: Do you think it is ironic that the father in this story was pacing on a hill looking for his lost son?  I can’t see anything Christ doing as being simply ironic, but rather, divinely inspired, only because He still paces on a hill waiting for us.  The hill is called Calvary!

So if you are a father or in a leadership position, let’s try to remember to be actively looking for opportunities to forgive and embrace those who change their hearts…

If you liked this post, you might want to check out the others in this series:

Unforgiveness

Self-Reliance

The Lie

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Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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Leading in Turbulent Times

February 25, 2009

This is a repost of an earlier article.  With everything going on in the current events, thought it would be good to revisit it.

As a Christian leader, please know now is the time to shine. Because of our stature within the organizations we serve and the natural disposition of associates to seek our counsel, we are poised to be able to show the fruits of putting 1 Thessalonians 5:19 to work. Those around us naturally look to us for cues on how to act or interpret the most recent news in the market.

With the market in turmoil, I’ve been exposed to a number of my clients’ anxious phone calls, questions about the future of the company, and more close to home, how are they going to be affected. I could be worried about the status of my position, whether my bills would be paid, how would I provide for my family and the other items on the list of eternal worries, but if I did that, would I not be any better than those who did not know Christ? Aren’t we supposed to be in the world but not of the world? If we have anxiety and spend time biting our nails about the economy and the state of the world market, what then do we have to offer the lost? After all, acting in this manner, we are not showing we have anything more to give them than what the world does. This should not be the case.

I understand there are restrictions around what we can and cannot say in the workplace about our faith. (Even though, based on my reading of Title VII, it protects Christians too, but that’s another blog.) There are ways we can show Christ through our actions, words, and most of all, silent conviction. Think for a moment of the old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” If that is truly the case, what picture do you present when you have the opportunity to interact with one of the clients you support? Is it a picture of worry? Anxiety? Anger?

If we portray the “solid rock” we stand on through our actions, we do not have to necessarily lead a Bible study in our office, or carry the Bible in our hands during meetings, or place a poster of Christ behind our desk for people to know we are more than just card-carrying Christians… we are true believers. When the disciples were upset with the waves and the wind of the storm they were facing, Jesus was asleep. He knew His destiny, He knew that God would protect Him and He rested in that faith. When the disciples awoke him, he almost seemed (at least through my version) as if he could not believe they woke him up for that “little storm” that was tossing their boat. With only a few words, “Peace be still,” the waves, rain, and wind came to a screeching halt. They were no more. Christ knew the providential protection of his father in heaven, but was still trying to teach that to his disciples. If you notice, they remark at his calm nature when trying to wake him, the thought had entered their minds, “What does he have that I don’t that he can remain so calm?” Jesus had honest, pure faith. Jesus did not begin a huge “lesson on the boat” series, choosing rather, to teach them through his actions.

As a Christian leader, we have the wonderful ability to touch several divisions within the organizations we serve. Right now, if we were to look outside of our boat, we would see the storms of this life. We would recognize the fear and anxiety of those around us. With this said, we have a critical choice to make in this moment. Do we choose to show anxiety about the storm tossing our boat, or do we choose to do like Jesus did and rest in the sweet faith that God is ultimately in control. If we show that type of silent, convicting faith through our actions, those who do not understand will come to us, seeking that which we have… peace. It will be in those moments the Holy Spirit will be with you and allow you to work great mini-miracles of faith by simply sharing your own personal testimony with someone who is standing on the shifting sands of life.

Do not let your position in the company be a hindrance, but rather

  • Choose to fan the flame of your Spirit’s fire by daily spending time with Christ in prayer and in the Word
  • Test everything and only hold on to what is good. How do we do that? Recognize the feelings we possess by their fruits. (more on that in another blog)
  • Make the conscious effort to stay away from evil. With the market crashing as it is and the anxiety level of those around us, the temptation to jump in the hog mire will become more attainable. Remember, Christ will always provide you a chance to flee.

Do you have some ways that you’ve used in the past that work? How about stories? Please share.

Stumble It!

About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

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SERVANT Leadership- A is for Accessible

November 12, 2008

Of all the SERVANT Leadership traits, this has to be one of the most difficult to address.  Why?  Well, this is one of those traits that has to have an absolute balance, there’s no wiggle room.  First, let’s look at some of the characteristics of an Accessible Leader :

  • One word- COMMUNICATOR
  • Responds to every voice mail or email
  • As a leader, they have a passion and focus to recognize all attempts to communicate with them.
  • This is the leader who will respond to emails or send out emails late at night or early in the morning
  • Driven by the need felt for their advice on a subject-which is one of the reasons they are so addicted to responding to everyone.
  • Out of a crowd, this person will often be cornered for long periods of time by individuals wanting to speak with them.

42-17526725Accessible Leaders are most likely going to be your most visible; after all, they love people!  Chances are, your most Accessible Leader are considered Yellows on the Colorful Masterpiece scale.  (If you are unfamiliar with this, please refer to the Colorful Masterpiece series or click here.)  One of the great aspects or traits of an Accessible Leader is that they seem to have a pretty good idea of what is going on in their organization and more importantly, on their team. You know these types!  They have the blackberry in their hand typing a message while listening to a group conversation to be able to make a comment and all the while, making a note to themselves to follow up with someone else about that “thing” they were to discuss.  Whoa… did your head spin during all of that?

Granted, there are some people who are great at this and have it mastered.  Chances are, if you are reading this, you do not do so well in this area.  Perhaps you are one who is owned by your communication time lines and gadgets.  If you are unsure, let me ask you this question, does it kill you to know that there are emails you have not yet answered?  Or how about this.  If you were to lose your PDA or messaging device, would you lose your mind until you get back on track or would you simply take your time and be cool about it?  If the mere questions before this sent a chill up your spine or caused a spike in your heart rate, chances are, you are addicted to your communication.  This is the result of an Accessible Leader being “too accessible.”

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And for those of you laughing at the readers categorized above, now it is your turn.  If you are not bothered as much or at all when you are unable to return an email or answer someone’s question, this is not the best thing either. As a leader, you need to have a great communication avenue not only with your peers, but more importantly, with your staff.  One of the greatest causes of discontent in the workplace are employees who feel as if they work for the Wizard of Oz.  (you know, the man behind the curtain with the big voice)  It is always good to have a stable balance with honoring your position but also remembering who you are to serve as a leader.

If you were to grade yourself in this area and would declare this was your lowest score on a self assessment, I would consider implementing some of the following:

  • This is a tricky one because you want to be accessible and approachable to all, but not to the point that you strangle other needed qualities.
  • Set an attainable bar or expectations for follow up and interaction with your staff first, and then with everyone else.  This could be something as simply as a before 2pm = Sundown Rule.  Simply put, if someone leaves you a voice mail or sends and email, you will return it by sundown that same day.  Even if this means you simply call/say/email, “I will get back to you, today has been crazy.”
  • If group interaction intimidates or scares you, be sure to slowly expose yourself to more situations that will put you outside of your comfort zone.

If we were to ask your team to grade you in this area and this would be the lowest grade on your survey, this could mean a variety of things:

  • Your team does not approve of your follow up skills
  • Perhaps you are too busy or too “stuffy” or “lofty” in your presence that may discourage your team from speaking with you openly.
  • Chain of command is a great thing, especially for a large staff, but you still want to somehow convey that you are approachable.

In the beginning of this post, I mentioned this was the hardest topic of the SERVANT Leadership series.  Let me give you a reason in list form.  When I was sitting down to write a “top reasons list”, this is what I came up with:

1.  Be an Accessible Leader, but do not let your communication style, tactics, needs, etc overtake you.

2.  Accessible Leaders need to be approachable, yet they have to have boundries considering time, place, etc

3.  The team of an Accessible Leader should feel able to bring topics to the leader, yet still respect the chain of command

4.  Leaders cannot simple lead the battle from the hill, but also cannot spend the entire time on the front lines.  Learn how to and when to delegate.

5.  Being accessible to your team allows you to bond, coach, and observe them, however, it can also consume your day, break your concentration, and monopolize your schedule.

So, if you are truly wanting to be an Accessible Leader, I would stress this more in this topic than others, achieve BALANCE!!!!  Again, this is a great trait to have and I would argue, a necessary trait to have if you are to be an effective SERVANT Leader.  If we look to Jesus as the ultimate example of being an Accessible Leader, we would find several times where he would separate himself for prayer, but it was after mingling with his flock.  He met people on their level and like the woman with the hemorrhage, he gave everyone their moment.  For this reason, and for so many more, Jesus had a following.  People loved him because he was accessible, but even Jesus put necessary parameters in place.  If you are struggling either as or struggling to be more of an Accessible Leader, I would definitely look to Christ, the Perfecter of this and every other great trait.

If you are interested in learning more about the SERVANT Leadership series, please contact Christian Management Consulting. We offer a complete training on this and many more topics. Typically, we provide you with a test to measure your key signatures in each of the SERVANT Leadership areas. A survey would also be sent out to your team/direct reports to provide feedback on your performance and behaviors in all of the SERVANT Leadership areas as well. We will go over the key signatures as well as the positive and negative extremes of each in one-day training with you and other leaders in your area. Once we go over the signatures, from a high level, we will provide you with your results and spend some time going over how to read your personalized chart. We will also provide some time for you to personally review your results and reconvene to go over questions.

Once the training has been completed, Christian Management Consulting will meet with you regularly via phone to discuss your progress and to walk alongside you in this time of development. At the end of six months or one year, we will resend the test to you and your team to measure the changes in your behavior and make modifications to our plan.

This is a great program and a great way for any organization to implement succession strategies and train both their current and up and coming leaders.

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About the Writer:

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Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.