Archives For April 2012

I have a fresh 5 for you on this last day in April!

6 Things I Have Learned About Failure    This comes from Steve Morgan.  Steve is a friend of mine who serves with Cru in Mexico in leading leaders.  He has some great insights and offers up some great principles in this post.  Take a look!

Now Is The Time For Gen Y Leaders  This post is from Scott Eblin who is an executive coach, speaker and author.  Scott downplays some of the negativity surrounding Millennial leaders and makes a good case for why we need them.

6 Secrets of Inspirational Leadership  I have been reading Dan Rockwell for some time.  Dan is creative, succinct and very practical.  His insights on leadership have helped me and spurred a lot of good thinking.  Be sure to check out some of his other posts while on his site.

Lessons in Leadership:  How Lincoln Became America’s Greatest President  This post comes from Hitendra Wadhwa,who is a professor at Columbia Business School.  Wadhwa highlights how President Lincoln mastered self discipline into character growth to become a great leader.  This is a really interesting read!

Seven Reasons Leaders Fail  This final post comes from Thom Ranier and I found it on churchleaders.com.  Thom does some research on leadership failure in history and discovers some common characteristics.  All of us who lead need to learn from these lessons.  This is an opportunity to look into the mirror.

There are the five for this week.  I hope you will be nurtured, warned, blessed, and informed.  Lead well!

This is a guest post by Joe Schlie. Joe and his family serve with Campus Crusade in Paris, France and are committed to communicating the love of Christ among the university students of that city. It is not an easy task. I have known Joe for several years and greatly admire his leadership. He recently shared some touching and worthwhile thoughts from his dad. Read and be blessed.

Lessons Learned From My Dad On the 44th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, it’s does us well to remember other giants who serve as models today. Let us not just remember them, but let us seek to live and serve like they did so that the Good News of the love of Christ might continue to shine in even the darkest of places.

We all stand on the shoulders of giants. Some giants are less known, but they are giants. Pastor David Schlie, my dad, is one of them. He started pastoring in the 1960’s, in some of the most challenging situations of that era. The Pruitt-Igoe housing complex in Saint Louis, Missouri has been described as hell on earth -(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7RwwkNzF68)

He would wear his pastor collar in the buildings so that people would know why he was there. He would preach, teach, pray and serve so that the love of Christ would be proclaimed in this most difficult place.

He left Saint Louis to pursue a call to pastoring Trinity Lutheran Church in Albany, Georgia around 1968. The 1960’s in Albany was a hotbed of racial tension and in the forefront of the civil rights movement in the deep south. It was in this kind of climate that he came to learn and serve in the city. It was in this kind of climate that he came to serve Him who came to bring justice, peace and reconciliation. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBrZ4utBse8)

He left Albany to move north with his family, and came back to his “roots” in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He originally came back to teach in a Lutheran high school, but chose to settle his family on the opposite side of the city. We settled in the southeast side of Fort Wayne, in a changing community where many of it’s white residents were moving out.

He became the pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, and continued to serve and learn in this poor community for almost 20 years. The lessons learned are innumerable: How to serve in a changing neighborhood? How to serve in a church that is shrinking? How to serve the whole city with the whole gospel?

And yet, the greatest lesson I’ve learned from him is to follow Jesus. Follow me, Jesus said. I trust that as ministry and mission moves forward, we will continue to be people who will wrestle with and judge ourselves by this simple mandate: Follow Jesus!

Here’s what my dad wrote to me several years before his passing. When we first arrived in France, I asked him what he would do if he were in my place. Here are his words:

I don’t have any secrets or special wisdom to share with you that has not already been made known to us by Jesus. I don’t believe in orchestrated programs or specific steps which lead to success. That is not to say that God can’t use them if they share Jesus with someone. I am not one who is good at building organizations or buildings or programs. I will share with you some of what I believe comes from Jesus. First, a little experience in my life.

When I was first ordained and received the call to serve the Church in Pruit-Igoe where we had no building and no organization, I had given no thought as to what I would be doing. No plan, no dream, system, nothing but a call to be a missionary to the people of that community. On the Monday after my ordination I drove to the projects and parked by the Community Center. Then it really hit me. What was I going to do? I was at first frightened. I sat and I prayed and I thought, “God, what am I supposed to do?”

After spending about 15 minutes in the car, a black man walked up to one of the buildings and sat down. In a few minutes I just got out of the car and went over and sat next to him. We talked for maybe a half an hour. There was some religious talk, but I’m sure there wasn’t much. But it was a warm conversation and it got me stirring. I went back to the car for a few moments, and then waled over to an apartment in which one of the people who came to our worship services lived. We talked and shared and prayed, and I left-going over to another home and doing the same thing. After doing this , I went home and prayed and thought.

To make a long story short, I got to know people. I learned how to pray with them, and I learned to know their joys and sorrows and needs. I learned the needs of their neighbors and I visited with them. One thing led to another.

Now, about you and France. I don’t know one thing, except they are God’s children, and Jesus died for them, and you want them to be saved, even the college students.

So, here we go. Try to meet people wherever they are. For example, at a sports activity, at a library, on a park bench, at a store. Then listen carefully and try to pick up any felt needs, any problems or any status problems. Jesus addressed the needs of people and showed he cared.

Don’t try to blow people over with your knowledge of religion. Paul said, “Knowledge puffs up, love builds up.” I Corinthians. 8.1 Build relationships. Try to identify with people, that’s what Jesus did when he was baptized, when He ministered to them, when He died with them. Christians are often: too intellectual, too sophisticated, too mechanical. Jesus told stories, was down to earth, was loose and improvising.

Pray for the Spirit; He led Jesus to:

Preach to the poor Good News

Proclaim freedom for the captives

Bring sight to the blind

Bring release to the oppressed

Reveal God’s favor to the down-trodden

Bind the broken-hearted

Comfort the mourners

Jesus turned life right side up

See Luke 4. 18,19 ; Isaiah 61.1-3 ; Luke 1.48-53.

Jesus was a master of identification: Matthew 3.15-17 ; Luke 5.8-11 ; Luke 5.12-16 ; Luke 5.17-26 ; Luke 5.27-31 ; Luke 5.36-39 ; Luke 15.1,2 ; Luke 23.39-43. Don’t judge – who had the faith? Luke 7.1-10 ; Luke 7.36-50 ; John 3.16-21.

My whole point is this: Lead by example and follow the leader supreme, Jesus. To follow Him is to do what He did.

Saban on Leadership

April 24, 2012 — Leave a comment

Nick Saban is the head coach of the University of Alabama football team and has won two national championships in the past three years.   He spoke in Mobile, Alabama this past Monday evening for a charity fund raiser and had this to say about leadership.  I think he is spot on.

“If you’re going to be a good leader,” Saban said, “you’ve got to have vision, you’ve got to have a plan, you’ve got to set a really good example for other people, you’ve got to hold people accountable, and you have to have some very defined principles in your organization so everybody can be accountable to them.  The last thing you have got to do to be a good leader is, you have to serve other people. …”


Saban finished by highlighting Mike Gottfried (a former university football coach) as a good leader.  It was Mike’s charity that Coach Saban was there to support.  The charity is Team Focus and strives to provide positive role models for fatherless boys.  Here is a link to the web site if you would like to read more about their efforts.  Team Focus

Here is a fresh 5 for this fourth week in April.

7 Dangers of the Proud Leader  This comes from Ron Edmondson.  Proverbs 16:8 says, “Pride goes before destruction.”  Ron offers up seven potential aspects of pride in a leader’s life.  This is a good opportunity to look in the mirror and heed the warning.

If I Spoke At Your Leadership Conference  This comes from Tim Milburn.  I just highlighted Tim on my last “5 for Leadership” and I thought you would benefit from this post too.  Tim works with university student leaders and provides five solid leadership principles from which he would design conference content.  Take a look and see if you are hitting on these principles as you develop leaders.

Three Leadership Lessons I Learned Through Tragedy   This is a very good guest post on Michael Hyatt’s blog.  This comes from John Tiller who experienced a traumatic episode with his young son.  Here is a statement from John in the post-let it motivate you to read the whole thing: Crisis creates defining moments because it reveals the decisions we have already made.  This is a touching and profound article.  Take a look.

Getting Naked: The Importance of Vulnerability in Service  This is a post from the Willow Creek Leadership Summit back in August of 2011.  It comes from Patrick Lencioni.  I found this important because of some recent research I did on the longing of followers for authentic leaders-leaders who can share their whole lives.

Leadership Character: The Role of Reflection   This final post is from Col. Eric Kail.  Col. Kail speaks to the need to take time and truly reflect on our leadership experiences, both good and bad-so that we can truly learn from them.  He also speaks to the important role of a mentor in reflection.  Look below this post to find the rest of his series on leadership character.

There are the 5 for this week.  Lead well!

What is Fairness?

April 20, 2012 — 4 Comments

I rarely write about social/cultural issues on this blog but I have been bothered during this political season about the concept of “fairness.” This term is being used frequently by our President as leverage for raising taxes on the rich-that they might pay “their fair share.”  It is being used as a common refrain by the Republican party as a counter attack about the “50%” of the population that pay no tax at all-”is that fair?”

What is fairness?  How are we to think on that word and therefore decide who is telling the truth.  “Fairness” according to Merriam-Webster is something which is marked by “impartiality and honesty-free from self interest, prejudice or favoritism.”  At least that is one central piece of the definition.  And it is this piece that I think is missing in the debate.  I’m sorry, but I don’t really trust either side when it comes to impartiality and honesty.  I don’t believe that either side does not have some self interest, prejudice or favoritism at stake in this matter.  Apparently many Americans share my point of view.  In the most recent RealClearPolitics poll, 78% of Americans disapprove of the job that Congress is doing.  According to RCP polls Americans are split right down the middle on the President’s job approval-47% approve and 47% disapprove.  Confidence is waning.

Fairness, as it is being bandied about in political circles today, is arbitrary.  What is fair for one does not seem fair for another.  It is idealogical in nature.  And I have never seen a political landscape so divided along idealogical lines in my lifetime.  We are being hoodwinked into thinking about “fairness” when we should be considering “justice.”

“Justice” as it is defined by Merriam-Webster means “the administration of law” and “conformity to truth, fact or reason.”  Justice has a measuring line.  Justice has a standard.  Justice forces you to determine where you truly are in the argument.  It is not arbitrary-at least not be definition.  And therein lies the problem with human fairness or justice.  We are inherently unfair and unjust.  We are arbitrary about all things because we are inherently selfish and self preserving.

To have true “fairness” and “justice” there has to be a true standard.  A universal standard.  There has to be a universal law and lawgiver that is righteous-so that justice can prevail.

Consider the following from the Bible:  Romans 3:22-26                                                   For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.  This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he passed over former sins.  It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

To rise above our self centeredness we have to admit our need for the just law giver who graciously provided our redemption through the cross.  We will never get to “fair” or “just” any other way.

Time for a fresh “5 for Leadership.”  I have added some new contributors for this 2nd week in April.  I hope you enjoy these posts and benefit from their wisdom!

Developing Your Soul for Leadership  Here is a great post from Tim Milburn.  Tim serves as the Director of Campus Life at Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho.  In this post he offers up seven principles for lifelong leadership.  Check out the “Resource” tab on his blog too.

A “To Be” List for Aspiring Leaders  This post comes from Angela Maiers who is an educator, researcher, writer, and entrepreneur.  She highlights nine “be attitudes” for a successful and effective leader.

The DNA of a Servant Leader  This post is actually part of a book written by Bill Flint.  Bill is located in Indiana and has over 38 years of entrepreneurial business experience.  This is a little bit of a lengthy read-but worth it.  Bill provides 10 markers on the DNA of a servant leader.  Bill’s heart for God comes out clearly too as you digest his life learned principles.

Why We Pick Bad Leaders  This is a quick read from Tim Sackett.  Tim argues that we often promote people based on something other than their character.  If we elevate competencies over character we pay the price.  Tim offers seven inward traits for what should be the foundation for choosing good leaders.

A Leader’s Most Dangerous Thought  This final post is from the Leading Blog.  It too is a quick read-but very thought provoking.  It looks at the posture of our leadership and calls into question the very reason for why we lead.  Take a look-and be challenged.

There are the 5 for this week.  Lead well!

Principled Leadership

April 4, 2012 — 5 Comments

I have noticed lately that there is a tendency for leaders of any stripe to over utilize social media to discover the latest and greatest strategy that they can employ.  Don’t get me wrong-I am obviously using social media now to get a point across.  We live in a wonderful age where there is more practical information available to us than ever before.  And leaders can and should take advantage of this great resource.  The problem lies in that we are a people who tend to believe that the latest strategy that worked for someone else will be equally effective for us.  But leaders must innovate and contextualize to be effective in their own setting.  Therefore, we can’t afford to get caught up in the “latest and greatest” craze.  The key is to take a principled approach to our leadership.

Every leadership role has a context.  That context is shaped by a vision, mission and values (or at least it should be).  The best way to tap into the ideation that exists through social media is to be ruthless in looking for the principle beyond the strategy.  Look for what drove a particular strategy.  Ask “why” another leader chose to utilize a specific strategy to achieve effective results.  True leadership principles stand the test of time.  Strategies come and go.

The key to your effectiveness will not be in mimicking someone else’s success.  It will lie in discovering the principle behind the new idea and to contextualize that principle according to your organization’s DNA and vision, mission and values.  Only then can you know that you have led purposefully and strategically for the context you are in.  This is why I strongly advocate keeping a leadership journal.  It can be a digital one or an old school ink and paper variety.  Let it be a place where you can regularly capture leadership principles that can then be considered and thought through for fresh contextualized application within your leadership setting.  Lead well!

For the first week of April, here is a fresh 5!

Leaders in Beta: Testing What Works  I found this on A Slice of Leadership blog.  It is written by Hans Balmaekers who is Dutch and is the founder of the Young Leaders Academy.  This is an insightful post about Millennial leaders and their desire for regular feedback-for seeing themselves in “Beta.”  It is also a push to let Millennials lead.  Hans offers some helpful tips in leading Millennials as well.

Does Your Passion Match Your Aspiration  This post is in the Harvard Business Review blog and is by Rosabeth Moss Kanter.  I have not highlighted Rosabeth before, but she is a well known thought leader and I often gain real insight from her.  She notes that leaders who create real possibilities are both passionate and tenacious in their pursuits.  This is not new information.  But Rosabeth offers up 12 questions as a passion test to see if you have what it takes to make a difference.  She is quick to say that this does not guarantee success-but you can’t get far without this kind of passion.  Take the test-see where your passion quotient lies.

Why Great Leaders Are In Short Supply  This also comes from the Harvard Business Review blog roll and is written by James Rosebush.  Rosebush argues that it is not so much that leaders themselves are in short supply as that the context for leadership has changed dramatically over the last few decades.  This is an argument for a new kind of leader in a very new reality.  He lifts up integrity as the greatest qualifier.  See what you think.

Only Secure Leaders Give Power Away  I came across this post on Twitter.  Peter Borner is new to me.  This blog post is actually a summation of one of John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, which you may have read.  But Peter does a good job of succinctly placing Maxwell’s principle in the context of why many leaders do not empower others.  Look at some of Peter’s other posts as well.

The History of April Fools Day  Did you get pranked yesterday?  Would you admit it?  I am ending with a little fun information.  This is a link to a short video on what we know about the history of April Fools Day-enjoy!

There are the five for this week.  Be looking for some original posts later this week-I am excited about hearing your feedback.

I recently bought a little book entitled Stop Loving The World.  It is by William Greenhill and is in the Puritan Treasuries For Today series by Reformation Heritage Books.  The Puritans often take a beating in our current culture-but the Puritans were astute thinkers and understood well what it meant to cultivate a true love for God.  I want to highlight a few critical points on “Examining Our Hearts.”  Let this be a part of your preparation for Easter.

1 John 2:15 states, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.”  Consider these questions:

1. Am I more concerned about the things in the world than I am for heaven and spiritual things?

2. Does the world push aside and cut out the things that are of God? Do the things of the world jostle the wall of the things of God?

3. Am I content with a little when it comes to matters of the soul?

4. In what then do I find most sweetness and contentment?

5. Do I use questionable or unlawful means to get to the world? Do I neglect lawful and unquestionable means that would get me heaven and spiritual things?

6. Do I love ideas, learning, wisdom of words, talents, gifts, and things of this nature?

7. Am I more grieved over the loss of outward, worldly things than I am for the loss of spiritual things?

Greenhill ends with this thought: “Honestly answering these several questions should help you know whether you love the world or not.  And if you find that your heart is set on this world, you are worthy of great blame.”