Jeff Haanen




12 Leadership Lessons


Occasionally I sit down with a cup of coffee and try to distill the leadership lessons I’ve personally learned over the past few years. Here’s what I came up with this morning:

1. Do not be caught without vision when God decides to provide the money.

2. Quality systems build trust; a lack of systems sows distrust.

3. Don’t try to fit a round peg in a square hole; don’t try to get somebody to do what they’re not fit for.

4. Listen to others, even their harsh complaints; and then give them hope.

5. Focus on quality, not quantity. Thriving organizations grow from a “hot center.”

6. Trying to influence people’s actions is futile; influence their vision and actions will follow.

7. Many have vision. Unfortunately, it’s not very specific.

8. Prayer is a strategy, perhaps the most important strategy.

9. Spend half your time on what’s urgent, not “important;” the other half of your time on what’s urgent and important. Try to ignore the rest.

10. Recruit godly leaders. Amazing things happen with the right people in the room.

11. Seek wise mentors. They’re indispensable.

12. Give. It is the foundation of leadership.



Denver Institute for Faith & Work

In late 2012 I resolved to create new nonprofit called Denver Institute for Faith & Work. The following is a letter I sent to friends and family in January 2013 explaining my idea.

Dear Friends and Family,

I’m writing to share with you a new project that I am launching in 2013 along with several good friends. I’m creating a new nonprofit organization called Denver Institute for Faith & Work that helps people integrate their faith and work.

Why faith and work? Well, there are several reasons. First, we spend the majority of our waking hours at work, yet most struggle to relate the two worlds of faith and work.  God calls most believers to secular work – electricians, account managers, teachers, homemakers, engineers – yet many are stuck in the sacred/secular divide, or isolated from other believers in their fields. One of my favorite theologians, Lesslie Newbigin, has said,

 “And we need to create, above all, possibilities in every congregation for laypeople to share with one another the actual experience of their weekday work and to seek illumination from the gospel for their secular duty. Only thus shall we begin to bring together what our culture has divided—the private and the public. Only thus will the church fulfill its missionary role.”

This is what I’m trying to do with Denver Institute – connect what our culture has divided through illuminating our work with the gospel.

Second, I believe we’re living in a cultural moment that desperately needs the gospel applied to areas of public life. Strategies to influence culture in the past 50 years have been too heavily focused on seeking political power. I think a better strategy to influence public life is through work. As author Andy Crouch has said, culture is changed not primarily through critique, copying, or condemnation, but through creating more of it. Work is where we do our culture-making.

There are many more pressing reasons as well, ranging from the feeling of hopelessness many feel in their work to the need to provide a supportive community to individuals struggling to live as Christians in secular contexts. There are too many important reasons for this new organization to mention in a short email, which is one reason why I recently launched a blog on the topic of faith, work and culture. It deals both with the “why” of integrating faith and work, and the “how” – what this looks like in real life.

Denver Institute for Faith & Work will have four programs:

  • Illuminate: Teach a class and curriculum on the integration of faith and work for the local church
  • Connect: Connect individuals in their fields to discuss their work in light of the gospel through “frontier groups” and an online community
  • Inspire: Host seminars and conferences on issues of faith, work and culture; and share stories of those applying the gospel to their work
  • Create: Help people create new products and services that reflect the Christian commitments of creativity, service and hope

The mission of Denver Institute for Faith & Work is to cultivate a movement of personal joy and cultural renewal through applying the gospel to work.

I want to ask for your prayers. I’m beginning to create class materials and develop our website (under construction), and am also in the early phases of recruiting a board, getting 501(c)3 status, requesting donations, and setting the foundation of the organization. Pray for God’s wisdom and guidance, and pray for “early adopters” who will give their passion, time and commitment to this vision, especially as board members and donors.

Please let me know if you’d like to be on our email list as well. I plan on sending monthly newsletters tracking our progress.

Thanks for your support and prayers. I look forward to hearing from you.

Grace and peace,

Jeff Haanen