credit,
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17m 52s

Episode 1: Influence, Honor & Leading Up

December 05, 2016

Episode 1: Influence, Honor & Leading Up

Mingo catches up with Rod Kaya (20+ years experience as Executive Pastor) on the tricky landscape that comes with rising influence.

His insight will leave you with some great keys to be used immediately in your own sphere.

EPISODE RESOURCES

GO DEEP INTO THE DIMES DROPPED, CONNECT WITH THE SPEAKER, AND CHECK OUT THE LINKS & RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

Rod Kaya Resources:

  1. Instagram: @thestratlife
  2. Twitter: @rodsprod
  3. Email: rodsprod@gmail.com

Other Resources Mentioned:

  1. Book- A Resilient Life by Gordon MacDonald

Episode Quotable

Grab your reading glasses and download the PDF here.

Episode 1 Transcript

Mingo Palacios:

We’re with Rod Kaya. You live in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Rod Kaya:

Fort Collins, Colorado, and at a church called Crossroads Church, where I serve as the Operations Director.

Mingo Palacios:

What was your journey before that?

Rod Kaya:

I bring 20+ years of pastoral ministry experience, and I served at a great church called Horizon Christian Fellowship San Diego.

Mingo Palacios:

The RV is parked at the Purpose Driven Essentials Conference. The title of our conversation was “is it even possible to lead up?” You and I were having a phone conversation. I was driving the RV through Denver.

Rod Kaya:

That’s right.

Mingo Palacios:

We started this conversation randomly about how difficult it is for leaders who have vision, for leaders who are somewhere in the system or in the stream of their church – you hear the principle “leading up” – can I lead this thing up? You and I had an interesting conversation about it.

Rod Kaya:

Here’s the thought I think that I would want to share. Regardless of how good an organization is, an organization’s never perfect. There will always be maybe a department or two that might have some challenges.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s fair.

Rod Kaya:

If you find yourself in that respective department, even though there might be good traction in other areas, those one or two pockets might have some challenges. But even in the most challenging environments, usually there’s a bright spot within the organization.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s so good. And I’ve experienced that.

Rod Kaya:

Yeah, I think many of us have. So when I said that, I’m not sure if it’s possible – I think it’s to what depth or to what degree –

Mingo Palacios:

To what impact.

Rod Kaya:

Yeah, to how far you believe your leadership can influence a particular organization. I think if we begin with the most baseline idea of whether or not leading up is possible – let’s get very, very pragmatic here.

Mingo Palacios:

Here we go. This is why I’m excited.

Rod Kaya:

I think at the most pragmatic level – I can’t even remember who was the influential leader that shared this. Mingo, you’ve probably heard this, given the circles that you’ve been a part of. Honor publicly gives you influence privately.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s really good. Can you just say that again? Because it’s so good.

Rod Kaya:

Honor publicly usually gives you the right to have influence privately.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s excellent.

Rod Kaya:

When we first think about leading up, I think that’s one of the baseline principles.

Mingo, I don’t mean to divert here, but I’ve got to share this story. I think it’s very, very helpful. There was a time when I was interviewing with a church that was over 100 years old, and they were very rich in tradition and they were looking to make a shift in how they approached their programming.

One of the concerns was that as they were looking at potential candidates, I was one of the younger candidates, and part of the reason why they had me in that particular dynamic to candidate for the role was they were looking to make a shift.

Mingo Palacios:

When you say you were younger, how young are you?

Rod Kaya:

In the 30s. But you’ve got to think, it’s over 100 years old and it’s a very traditional model of doing the church. Very influential. I was on a conference call with a group of elders and leaders; the majority of them had been tenured in that church and maybe even represented the voice of the constituents that are open and they want the change, and at the same time have some reservations.

One of the things is I remember a story that was in this book called A Resilient Life by Gordon MacDonald.

Mingo Palacios:

“The Brazilian Life?” [laughs]

Rod Kaya:

No. [laughs] A Resilient Life by Gordon MacDonald.

Mingo Palacios:

Okay, if you’re writing down book titles: A Resilient Life.

Rod Kaya:

But he’s probably most noticeable for the book Ordering Your Private World. Then he would later write a book called Who Stole My Church? It’s him dealing with transitions between younger and older generations.

But here’s something that Gordon mentioned. He said in the book A Resilient Life, he went to a worship conference, and it became pretty obvious to him that the majority of the people were all under the age of 30 at this worship leading conference.

As he addressed this particular group – this is so brilliant, the insight, and the takeaway was invaluable, because I shared this with this particular group of elders that were interviewing me – he shared with this group of young worship leaders, “I believe that youth and the emerging generation will always drive the music.” That’s why we always have to pay attention, and that’s the right place.

But he said, “What I would also be mindful of is that you would just be mindful that yes, we want to support that, but just be mindful for where the rest of the congregation may be.” He said the great thing about the worship songs today – and I’m going to tie this all back – the great thing about worship music today is it’s very ambitious, because when you’re young, you believe that you have the whole future in front of you.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah, you have a lofty faith. You can accomplish anything.

Rod Kaya:

Very ambitious. You believe you can do anything with God. All things are possible with God. But what he said was really insightful; he said, “But every once in a while, I would ask that, in the style and the flavor of music that makes sense to the current generation, maybe introduce a song that gives us hope.” Because “On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking stand.” The idea being that some of us are maybe looking at our twilight years…

Mingo Palacios:

Oh, that’s such a good point.

Rod Kaya:

Looking at our twilight years, that we can say “You know what? I still have a rock-solid faith I can hold onto.”

Mingo Palacios:

There is something solid.

Rod Kaya:

Even though the majority of my life, my best years, or maybe some of my ambitious years are gone, I still have a solid rock I can lean onto.

The reason I bring that up is I think that we cannot help but give respect. I think respect is the foundation in our ability, honoring people publicly, and then it gives us the ability to lead privately.

Mingo Palacios:

What are some practical ways that you can pay honor to a guy who is in the senior role?

Rod Kaya:

When you’re talking about a leader that is trying to pay homage to a senior leader, when I say public, it’s any time there’s two or more people. It could be a staff meeting.

Mingo Palacios:

No place is too small if there’s somebody else there.

Rod Kaya:

Yes, I think that’s the general rule. Any time there’s another person present, you always want to honor the senior leader. I think also the private influence, again, gives an opportunity, because then the leader is not on the defensive. He’s at a much more relaxed posture. I think the key thing is the leader in a public setting can be often thrown off-guard if you introduce something.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s happened to me before. Oh my gosh. You get a great idea, or you go “you know what’s not working?” And you do it at the roundtable with all the pastors. [laughs]

Rod Kaya:

Exactly, we know how that goes. And our intention, we don’t even think we’re trying to lead up. We just think that we’re throwing out an idea.

Mingo Palacios:

Sensing it could be a collaborative moment when it’s actually not. [laughs]

Rod Kaya:

Exactly. I think in those particular settings, the senior leader has a much more relaxed posture and he’s at a position where he can say “You know what? I’m open to what you have to say.”

I also think, too, asking for permission.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah. That’s a foreign concept, too, to ask permission, which is a huge honor act. Instead of telling “Hey, I’m going to go here.”

Rod Kaya:

One of the principles that I learned several years ago in a leadership setting – Bill Hybels was the one that first introduced this idea – he said in organizational thinking, the language they use is “the last 10%.”

Mingo Palacios:

I’m familiar with this. Unpack it, because it’s really strong.

Rod Kaya:

I think the idea of the last 10% is this: whenever there’s a situation that might need some corrective feedback or maybe an additional position, the initial 90% is pretty obvious to everyone.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah, everybody can describe the dysfunction up to the 90 degree mark.

Rod Kaya:

I think everyone can state that. But the last 10% oftentimes can speak to maybe motive; it can often speak to maybe where the hard truth needs to be spoken. Using that principle, not just for the last 10%, but even asking for permission – something as simple as “Hey, regarding this current initiative, do I have permission to maybe share a couple other thoughts of a couple different directions we can take?”

Something as simple as that, as using kindness and manners, actually can earn you a lot.

Mingo Palacios:

But the 10% is the final truth –

Rod Kaya:

It’s the final thing that usually speaks to motive.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s like the nail in the coffin.

Rod Kaya:

The point I’m trying to make with that, Mingo, is I think we use it for those extreme situations. I’m saying that we can use it in the most normal of conversations.

Mingo Palacios:

Oh, and then that becomes normative.

Rod Kaya:

Normative, yeah. If I’m talking with a senior leader and say “Hey, do I have permission to maybe share some thoughts?”, when I say that, it’s not that the leader I’m speaking with is so off or defensive. But I think just a little statement of respect goes a long way, and I think it puts down their posture.

Mingo Palacios:

And you’ve experienced this personally.

Rod Kaya:

Oh, always. Always. It’s become second nature, where any time I want to give some kind of potential feedback that may not question the idea, but draw attention to another way of looking at something, especially when I know the senior leader is very passionate about it – I just use that term. “Hey, do I have permission here to share a few other thoughts?”

Mingo Palacios:

It just affords you a small platform to speak your piece.

Rod Kaya:

I think if, genuinely, the original motivation for you to want to share the perspective or the variants of maybe a different way of looking at something – if you’re genuinely thinking of the best for the organization, I think that you truly do celebrate the fact that the senior leader has owned it and has made it his own.

Mingo Palacios:

That it’s implemented regardless of origins.

Rod Kaya:

Yeah. Also, the key thing with that is if the senior leader is the one that’s propagating it and sharing his own idea – which it actually is his own idea, because he has to own it in his own heart and mind.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s fair. That’s 100% fair.

Rod Kaya:

So even if you lay it on the table, Mingo – I would rarely say, even if the way he or she took that particular idea is never going to be exactly the way you and I…

Mingo Palacios:

True, because it’s translated and it’s processed.

Rod Kaya:

It’s translated, it’s put through a filter of his or her own mind and experiences. Therefore, I think that that becomes their idea at that point.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s hard. That’s hard for me.

Rod Kaya:

I know, it’s really hard. But I think, again, if we truly –

Mingo Palacios:

If the organization – let’s call it the church. It could be a business. But if the organization is at the front of everyone’s “this has to succeed,” then you’re okay being anonymous. That’s a mark of maturity.

Rod Kaya:

That is, that is. I can say that now at this stage of my life, but maybe earlier on it was a little bit more difficult, obviously.

Mingo Palacios:

I just think to myself, if there’s next-generation leaders or leaders in the middle of an organization and they’re listening and they’re frustrated because they’ve got all these great ideas, they put them on the table and they get adopted, but there’s never recognition – the instant return on that, the Christianese is like “in God’s time.” Wait. Your time will come. To it’s like, “for the greater glory.”

But it’s a wrestling match. Let’s say you’re a manager above me and you’re making calls to the senior guy, and I’m giving you the best that I’ve got. It’s hard sometimes to sit on the sidelines while you get praised for the great idea.

Rod Kaya:

Okay, you’re bringing up a whole different variable. I think it’s one thing when it’s – the direct leader is one thing. But when it goes to your supervisor and then the supervisor passes it off to the senior leader…

Mingo Palacios:

And you’re not invited to that meeting.

Rod Kaya:

The idea that you’re nowhere in the conversation or the equation, that can be a little bit more difficult. But here’s what I would say to that. Mingo, you’ve been a part, and I have too, of fast-moving organizations.

Mingo Palacios:

True.

Rod Kaya:

Here’s something that a leader shared with me. I was in a room with him, and he was working with a team of consultants. He knew that we were pushing to get this initiative off the ground. Something he shared with me that has stuck with me, and I’ve used this over and over again – he said, “I’ve learned, in a high-impact church organization, to always think the best of one another.”

Mingo Palacios:

That’s so good. That’s so, so good.

Rod Kaya:

To always think the best of one another.

Mingo Palacios:

It keeps the organization running fast.

Rod Kaya:

Even in that situation that you and I have both been in at different times, where the idea gets pushed off as their own, I’m going to think the best of my supervisor because I know that he’s running, he’s trying to get things to move forward, he’s happy that the senior leader is open to this idea.

Mingo Palacios:

And shouldn’t you be happy that the idea is getting put into practice at the end of the day anyways?

Rod Kaya:

Absolutely.

Mingo Palacios:

I really do believe, even though it sounds so cliché, that you’re building a reputation for what you bring to the table. In a fast organization, it’s typically the best idea gets put into place. It’s not “the supervisor thought of it, the guy who’s not the supervisor didn’t, so it’s not getting put into place”; it’s the best idea wins.

Rod Kaya:

I think this is where humility has to – Mingo, you and I have known this. We’ve been in ministry long enough. There’s no original idea under the sun.

Mingo Palacios:

It’s so true. Everybody steals. [laughs]

Rod Kaya:

If we’re really honest with ourselves – and here’s where I think we’ve got to get to: we may have been the one to discover the thought, but we’re not necessarily the one that created it. You probably got that idea from – the challenge today is we are getting how many different content inputs in our life?

Mingo Palacios:

Right. How many people are speaking something, bringing something to the table?

Rod Kaya:

We might’ve just read a tweet and we have no idea who we got it from, but the idea germinated in our mind, and now we’re trying to present it off. We’re not giving that person credit either.

Mingo Palacios:

Man, stay humble. Stay humble. [laughs]

Rod Kaya:

I guess what I’m trying to share is that I think a lot of times it’s a matter of discovery on our part of the person’s idea. Rarely have we been the one that actually created it.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah. Man, and it’s so frustrating sometimes because if you have leadership in your bones, you’re just trying to get to a place where you can lead, period. You’re submitting to an organization, you’re submitting to a system, you’re paying deeply into it – you’re wondering, “man, if I could just be ahead a few clicks, then I could do this better.”

The truth of the matter is, do as good as you’re capable of doing in the place where you’re at, because that’s where God’s afforded you an opportunity. For a kid who’s not yet a pastor who thinks “if I was just a pastor, then this thing could be 10 times better…”, my belief is you can make it as good as you want it to be right where you’re at. You don’t need a position to make you actively engaged in whatever it is that you have an opportunity to be engaged in.

Rod Kaya:

Yeah, totally. Rarely does the position ever drive anything. We think of that one Proverb that says “a man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before kings and princes.” Eventually, if you’re faithful, your gifting does win out and allows you the opportunity to influence.

Mingo Palacios:

I think that gifting put into practice will eat position for breakfast every day. If you’ve got something and you put it into play, it doesn’t matter if you hold the title that says what it is that you’re putting into play. If you’re doing it as a nobody, eventually it will equate to something. With a good enough leader, somebody will recognize it.

Rod Kaya:

Can I just share one last thought?

Mingo Palacios:

Always.

Rod Kaya:

This one thought passed into my mind. We’re living in an era where we can access content anytime, and I think what you just shared is so critically important. Young leaders are smart, and they can access content better than I could ever.

Mingo Palacios:

It’s second nature.

Rod Kaya:

It’s second nature, the way they can digest content. They know how to take it in doses quick. They can extract key principles out of a quick learning environment.

Here’s the great thing, though. A lot of these guys are taking these things that we once learned, and now they’re applying them in fresh settings and they’re breathing new life into these things. If you sit down in a room of younger leaders, you’re going to find that they’re actually – and I’m not saying this just because of the agreement part, but one of the things that I find so fascinating is that they track a lot more than we think.

Mingo Palacios:

Processing.

Rod Kaya:

Processing. But here’s the thing: you’re getting fresh learning. I’ve got a couple guys that I’m in regular conversation with, and I can’t tell you how much I learn from them.

Mingo Palacios:

Totally. Just the way that they’re seeing it, how they apply it.

Rod Kaya:

How they’re applying it – I’m taking their ideas all the time now.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s really good. There’s nothing more exciting than when you get to disciple somebody and you watch them, for the first time, process and understand something, and you go “that’s why I love this.” This is why it’s so good.

Rod Kaya:

Absolutely, absolutely.

Mingo Palacios:

I’m hoping that this conversation encouraged some people out there who may be frustrated with the context of ministry or the context of leadership that they’re in. You dropped a ton of great dimes. That’s like wisdom. That’s what my generation says. [laughs]

Rod Kaya:

I know. [laughs]

Mingo Palacios:

I just appreciate you, Rod.

Rod Kaya:

I appreciate you too, Mingo.

Mingo Palacios:

Thank you so much for paying into the next generation, for paying into me. You have no idea.

Rod Kaya:

Thank you. Very kind, very kind.

Mingo Palacios:

We’ll talk to you guys later. You can find more information on Touring with Purpose; that’s our blog. You can find more conversations there. Rod’s on Instagram. Find him as a consultant, as – what is it?

Rod Kaya:

I do StratOp and LifePlan.

Mingo Palacios:

There you go, something that a 20-year-old is interested in. [laughs] What’s your Instagram?

Rod Kaya:

@thestratlife.

Mingo Palacios:

You can go find Rod and his sports musings there. You can find me @mingo2 on Instagram.

Rod Kaya:

You don’t believe I have a Snapchat account? [laughs]

Mingo Palacios:

I don’t even want to know about your Snapchat. [laughs]

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