NASHVILLE – Two popular Christian leaders opened the National Religious Broadcasters Convention & Exposition in Nashville, Tenn., Saturday morning with inspiring speeches on how Christians should manage their relationships, weather in business, family or church, and how spirituality can influence one's performance as a leader.
Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson – the largest Christian publishing company in the world and the seventh largest trade book publishing company in the U.S. – and Sam Crabtree, pastor of Bethlehem Bible Baptist church in Minneapolis, Minn., who serves alongside pastor and author John Piper, emphasized that focusing on hearing and affirming others and focusing on one's own spiritual needs are things many leaders overlook. These are crucial to success as far as business relationships, and the relationship with God go, they argued in consecutive speeches.
We all need to correct others, whether at work or in personal life, Crabtree said, but corrections need to be "overwhelmed by affirmations," otherwise we risk turning people against us, which is not only un-Christian but not professionally beneficial. Corrections are "draining" energy from relationships, and "affirmation" is putting that energy back in, the popular pastor said.
"If we have too much correction, and not enough affirmation, people will stop hearing our corrections; they'll just tune out," he noted. "And then they'll stop hearing you. Not just your corrections. They won't want to talk to you. ... If you correct everything they do, they just get on the bandwagon. They correct everything you propose."
And that can spoil relationships both with coworkers as well as our closest ones, including spouses, the minister explained. Affirmation is an important and a Christian thing to offer. "You have good things to say" to your spouse, organization, family, and ministry, Crabtree assured.
The minister published a book this past year, Practicing Affirmation: God-Centered Praise of Those Who Are Not God. Crabtree has been a pastor for 30 years, including 16 years at Bethlehem. He also serves on the Board of Desiring God, and chairs the Board of Bethlehem College & Seminary.
Hyatt – who is an expert on leadership, productivity, publishing, and social media – emphasized the role a heart plays in leadership, whether it is business or spirituality. The voice of the heart is not something to be overlooked, as Christians should be listening to it while making all decisions.
Hyatt has devoted his entire career to the publishing industry, having started and owned his own publishing company, which was eventually acquired by Word Publishing. As a literary agent for a number of years, but missing the world of corporate publishing, Hyatt joined Thomas Nelson working divisional and corporate management. He later served as CEO for six years.
"Your heart is the most valuable leadership tool you have," he said Saturday morning to the room full of Christian media professionals.
"Satan knows that if he can take out your heart, than he can basically change you into a zombie," he added.
It is worth minding what the heart says sometimes, including the need for rest, the successful businessman said. Even business leaders need to rest, Hyatt reminded.
"The leaders I know are not getting enough rest," he told the audience. "What happens when you get exhausted? You lose profits, you start making bad decisions. You begin to grumble and complain."
Hyatt is also an active blogger writing about media and leadership.
The NRB Convention is an international event that networks thousands of Christian communicators, from program producers to authors, pastors to engineers, directors to vendors. This year's event will continue through Tuesday.