Dr. John E. Johnson

Dr. John E. Johnson


There comes a moment in the life of every leader when he or she stands at a crossroads and must ask, “What’s next?” When I read these opening words of the book, H3 Leadership: Be Humble, Stay Hungry, Always Hustle, I knew this would be a timely read. For this is the question I am asking myself—and perhaps some of you are as well.

Brad Lomenick was once President of Catalyst, a premier conference and content provider, but after years of full out ministry, he recognized it was time to move on and probe God’s vision for the next stage. Time to ask some important questions—who am I; where do I want to go? How will I get there?

What follows is one of the better leadership books I have read. Lomenick begins by talking about habits. Twenty habits are foundational to his life, and they fit under three categories: Humble, Hungry, Hustle. Part of humility is to honestly assess yourself, apart from the organization you lead. It is easy for pastors to erase the line between themselves and the church, measuring their lives by their ministry. But our identity is found in who we are—not what we do. I will soon retire from pastoral ministry, and a real question for me in these days is—who will I be outside of “pastor.”

Developing the habit of discerning who I really am is critical. It’s also important to be hungry—hungry for God’s next direction. This requires passion and thinking in fresh, innovative ways. What better time to think outside of the box than when one is repositioning. Going out on a limb and taking calculated risks, for this is where the fruit is. This means staying ambitious in a healthy way. Content, yet never satisfied. Always curious and always learning. Hungry for what is next, even if you are staring at the second half of your sixth decade.

I am feeling these hunger pains. Such pains drive me to consider, with greater clarity, the end game, working backwards to where I presently am. Pressing on, even if certain doors may close. I am encouraged by these words: “Rejection is not the end of your influence, but may actually be the beginning of something great. A habit of ambition many times is built because of more nos than yeses.” I have learned this with book proposals!

Finally, Lomenick exhorts the leader to take this humility and hunger and go out and hustle. I know I have to. The days keep going faster. No time to squander. He urges his readers to establish a habit of excellence. Set a standard that scares you to death. As the writer of Ecclesiastes commands: “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (9:10). Crash through your quitting points. I have to remember this next time I am on the tennis court, or when I am inclined to hold back and coast.

In the hustle, however, protect your margins. Honor rhythm. Maintain low tide and high tide. And know when it is really time to hand things off. Let go. Step out so others can step in. His closing words are fitting: “Transition doesn’t mean you are through. Reimagine new leadership, a new role, a new life. You don’t need to run away; you just need to get out of the way.” And, I would add, then find your new way.

Leave a Reply