Augustine on Leadership


Augustine by Sandro Botticelli

Saint Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo, was an early Christian theologian and philosopher whose writings were highly influential. Without a doubt Augustine was one of the most important figures in Western Christianity during the 4th and 5th centuries. He is also considered by many to be the early father of the Reformation. Two of his most prominent works were The City of God and The Confessions.

Augustine was also a great mentor of leaders. I have written a previous post about this aspect of his life and some of his methods. Through his sermons and writing Augustine had much to say about leadership. In many ways he was a forerunner of the servant leadership philosophy.

In one of his pastoral sermons Augustine uses Ezekiel 34 as a background text to describe some of his convictions about leadership. Ezekiel 34 stands as a strong rebuke from God towards the religious leaders of Israel. They were to be watchful shepherds over God’s flock. Instead, they proved to be wayward shepherds only interested in bettering themselves.

Here are some of Augustine’s translated leadership principles from this sermon (Sermo 46, 1-2: CCL 41, 529-530):

. . . true shepherds take care of their sheep, not themselves.

I must distinguish carefully between two aspects of the role the lord has given me, a role that demands a rigorous accountability, a role based on the Lord’s greatness rather than on my own merit. The first aspect is that I am a Christian; the second, that I am a leader. I am a Christian for my own sake, whereas I am a leader for your sake; the fact that I am a Christian is to my own advantage, but I am a leader for your advantage.

Many persons come to God as Christians but not as leaders. Perhaps they travel by an easier road and are less hindered since they bear a lighter burden. In addition to the fact that I am a Christian and must give God an account of my life, I as a leader must give him an account of my stewardship as well.

Here are a few other quotes from Augustine with implications for leadership:

Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.

No man can be a good bishop if he loves his title but not his task.

Order your soul; reduce your wants; live in charity; associate in Christian community; obey the laws; trust in Providence.

Other related posts:

Leadership the Augustine Way

15 Augustine Quotes That Helped Shape Modern Christian Thought

5 for Leadership-April 11th


5 for Leadership is a collection of great posts on the topic of leadership from this past week. This week there are posts on everyday leadership, leadership questions, what to do when the well runs dry, and differing leadership styles from around the world.

When The Well Runs Dry-Part 1  “Pastors are unusually dependent on “the well.” All people are to one degree or another, but pastors are more dependent on “the well” than others—in part because they participate first-hand in helping replenish the wells of others. When we dry up, the results are felt by others.” This comes from Tim Spivey, a church planter and pastor in San Diego, California.

When The Well Runs Dry-Part 2  “Realizing the well is dry is difficult to admit. It really isn’t difficult to recognize . . . here are some ways to begin replenishing–getting whole again.”

3 Powerful Questions To Start and End Your Day  “Your questions determine the quality of your answers. A good question will get you a lot farther than a quick answer.” This comes from Jesse Lyn Stoner and will help you live every day on purpose as a leader.

Leadership Styles Around The World  This is a great infographic that Paul Sohn published last fall. It defines well a number of different leadership styles that one may encounter in any global effort . . . and the need to pay attention and understand.

How Are You Committed To Everyday Leadership?  “It’s easy to underestimate the way we lead our own lives or inspire others. A seemingly small gesture of support or a word of encouragement can make such a difference.” This comes from the Lead Change Group blog and provides some very practical advice for leading every day.

There is 5 for Leadership for this week. Enjoy the Masters!

(photo credit)


5 for Leadership (4/4/15)

6000569509_28942bcaaaHere is a fresh collection of leadership posts on 5 for Leadership. This week there are posts on better understanding your senior pastor, the practice of servant leadership, the best leadership quotes of all time, essential leadership strategies, and your pursuit of your dream job. Take a look at one or more!

60 Top Leadership Quotes of All Time  This comes from the N2Growth blog and is worth the read.

Servant Leaders Aren’t Doormats  “How do you serve for results without being manipulative?” Dan Rockwell brings some of his own principles to bear, as well as a synopsis of Cheryl Bachelder’s new book.

The 9 Essential Leadership Strategies in the Age of Information  “Once upon a time, in a land called Industrial Age, the leaders of organizations resided at the top of a hierarchy, managers were in the middle, and workers were supervised.” Jesse Lyn Stoner provides some great principles for today’s leader.

When You Realize You’ll Never Get Your Dream Job  “I once had dreams of becoming like Bruce Springsteen. Now, at age 62, I write about him, go to his shows, sing along to his songs in my car, teach my children about his significance, use his works in my Wharton classes, and even serve as a Guest DJ on E Street Radio. But despite my earlier wishes to live a successful musical performer’s life, it’s not going to happen. I’m not Springsteen, and never will be.” This comes from the HBR blog and will prove insightful, no matter where you are in your career.

10 Secrets of Many Senior Pastors  “I share this post simply for the purpose of understanding. I know and have felt the extreme love most of the church has for it’s senior pastor. I’m grateful for that in my own life. Hopefully this helps you love and understand your pastor even more.” This comes from Ron Edmondson.

There are the 5 for this week. Happy Easter!

5 for Leadership (3/28/15)


In 5 for Leadership this week there are posts on the cost of profanity, the biggest issue in the church, servant leadership and virtual teams, how to plan your next big meeting, and the one necessary bias for every leader. Each topic packs some power. Find one that interests you.

Why Leaders Who Hold THIS Bias Are The Most Effective Leaders  “You probably have something exciting that you’ve been thinking about doing for a long time. Every leader has dreams, goals and hopes. The challenge is you haven’t done anything about it…yet. And as a result, so few leaders end up with a track record of accomplishment. Why? Because almost all of us struggle with something the most effective leaders in their field don’t struggle with. What is it? It’s a bias so few leaders have. But the great ones all possess.” This is Carey Nieuwhof at his best.

How Much Business Is Your Profanity Costing You?  “follow a lot of speakers, bloggers, and podcasters who swear on stage, on screen, and at the microphone. I’m no fan of profanity, but I’ll wade through it if there’s a payoff.” This is a topic I have addressed several times myself. I am a strong proponent of “every word matters.” Michael Hyatt does a great job of speaking to this important topic.

Minimum Viable Spiritual Growth Plan  “Leadership Network recently surveyed over 1,600 ministry leaders of large (1000+) churches. The most frequently cited issue facing churches today is ‘discipleship.'” This comes from my friend Eric Swanson, who is an excellent thought leader and practitioner. Take a look.

How Can A Leader Of A Virtual Team Express Servant Leadership?  “As my workday begins, I pop into our Facebook group, my team’s virtual water cooler, to say good morning. I often add the request: Let me know how I can serve you today. As I do it, it feels, at times, like an empty offer.” This comes from Becky Robinson on the Lead Change Group blog.

A Checklist For Planning Your Next Big Meeting  “In theory, everyone understands that preparation can make or break an important meeting. The more work you do before you walk into the room, the more productive and efficient you’ll be. But who has the time to properly prepare? Our checklist makes meeting prep quick and easy—be sure to print it out or save it for later.” This is a very practical post from the HBR Blog.

There are the 5 for the final week in March. Lead well.

(photo credit)

5 for Leadership (3/21/15)

1024356696_d0e9d5590bThis version of 5 for Leadership is long on variety. There are posts on learning from mistakes, keys to followership, the necessity of the next meeting–or not, leadership reminders, and uncovering insecure leaders. There is something here for you.

The Naked Truth: How To Uncover An Insecure Leader  “If you’ve ever worked with an insecure leader, you understand the problem of insecurity–and the damage it can do. The trick is to discover and intercept the warning signs of insecurity within yourself. It’s a necessary effort because, no matter how you think you are perceived on the outside, insecurity always shows.” Lolly Daskal on INC.

6 Foundations of Followership “As military members, we are commonly told our most marketable skill after retirement is leadership. Yet, as you progress through the ranks and attend various military colleges, we always seem to be looking to civilian authors and courses for lessons on leadership. What is the magic dust that makes military leaders great? The answer is simple…followership.” Chris R. Strickilin on the General Leadership blog

Do You Really Need To Hold That Meeting?  “Although scheduling a meeting can be the right solution in many instances, it’s not always the best answer. I’ve come up with a decision tree to help you quickly determine if a meeting makes the most sense.” Elizabeth Grace Saunders on the HBR Blog

Some Gentle #Leadership Reminders  Tanmay Vora gives us 19 quality leadership principles in a bitesize, memorable way. These will help you recalibrate and refresh your leadership.

Mea Culpa  “Coming out of seminary, Kyle McClellan was considered a “five-talent minister.” In comprehending that term, think of a five-tool baseball star who hits for a high average, flashes plenty of home run power, runs fast on the bases, plays great defense, and throws with a cannon arm. If you’re old school, think Willie Mays. If you’re new school, think Mike Trout. When these players are young, observers often say they “can’t miss” becoming a hall-of-famer.” This post is a good summary of a book by Kyle McClellan on lessons learned from mistakes in pastoral ministry.

There are the 5 for this week. Enjoy.

5 for Leadership (3/14/15)

402570696_4c0d253605Here is a fresh 5 for Leadership with topics covering leadership effectiveness, Albert Einstein, mentoring leadership, leadership mistakes, and the top 30 leadership posts for February. There is a wealth of leadership perspective here for anyone.

10 Mistakes Leaders Make  “Mistakes are a facet of life. We all make mistakes and we all learn to move on from those mistakes. However, if we can be warned of common mistakes we might make in advance, it’s wise to look over them and prepare yourself in case these mistakes pop up in your life or leadership.” This comes from Joseph Lalonde on his blog.

3 Critical Skills of Effective Leaders   “Great leaders translate vision into decisive action — a skill that’s especially vital in tough times. But what are those skills? Do you have a blind spot? Should you be doing more?” Rich Gee offers three clear and practical skills for every leader–with resources. See what you think.

What Albert Einstein said on his deathbed sheds light on his incredible work ethic  This is a very insightful article by James Clear on Business Insider web site. It was actually published back in February. There are some excellent leadership principles here. Read it for the 1st time if you missed it–or read it again.

My Mentor, Bill Bright  “I had the amazing privilege for many years of working closely with Bill Bright. Needless to say, his thinking, his faith, his ideas have made an indelible impression on me.  Of course, Bill Bright and I did not agree on everything, and I was grateful that he would listen to my ideas.  And sometimes agree and even change.” This post comes from Judy Douglass who is a writer, speaker, and director of Women’s Resources at Cru. Take some time to read more of Judy’s writings on her blog–it will be worth it.

Top 30 Must-Read Posts on Leadership  Paul Sohn posted this recently as he looked back at February. There are some outstanding articles here. Also take a look at Paul’s other posts for great leadership insight. You wont be disappointed.

There are the 5 for this week.

(photo credit)

5 for Leadership (2/28/15)


Here is a fresh 5 for this final day in February. The topics include forgotten women leaders in history, how to collaborate, leadership legacy, questioning leadership and ways you might be sabotaging your leadership. Be challenged.

50 Years After I’m Gone  Just this past week I had the privilege of hearing D.A.Horton speak. He is fiery, grounded, biblical leader and communicator. I also was able to meet him personally and interact briefly. I was also struck by his humility and sensitivity. I think he is a rising leader worth getting to know. This post is from his blog and written back in December. It provides a good window into his heart on leadership and what he hopes to accomplish.

3 Lessons on How to Promote Successful Collaborations  “One of the benefits I garner through my work are opportunities to collaborate with different groups and individuals. Through these collaborations, I not only get the chance to learn and understand different perspectives, but to discover new ways to work with people who have different approaches to guide things forward.” Tanveer Nasser, whom I have highlighted several times before, provides some great insight to collaborative work. This is essential in the 21st century for every leader.

The Most Amazing Female Leaders That History Books Forgot  This is a really cool infographic from the Linked2Leadership blog. There are 10 women portrayed who have had great influence–that you might not know about.

5 Questions Leaders Should Ask Themselves  “Leadership isn’t without pitfalls. We can easily find ourselves in compromising situations or making bad decisions. This happens when we stop asking ourselves vital questions. Questions that look deep into our motives and propel us in the proper direction. When leaders ask questions of themselves, they’re able to look within. And every leader could use a little more of this introspection.” These 5 questions give us a good daily diagnostic on our leadership lives–from Joseph Lalonde.

10 Belief Triggers That Sabotage Success  “Some of our inner beliefs can trigger failure before it happens. They sabotage change by cancelling its possibility! Discover how to recognize these sabotaging beliefs and learn what you can do about them.” This coms from Marshall Goldsmith on his personal blog.

There are the 5 for this final week of February. Here’s to hoping that we are about done with snow and cold weather. May March bring the colors of spring.

(photo credit)

5 for Leadership (2/21/15)


In this installment of 5 for Leadership there are posts on leadership and money, the “Don’ts” of success, developing young leaders, life management, and an every day, real life character test. There is something here for you. Take a look at one or more of these fresh posts.

8 Things Successful People DO NOT DO Every Day  “If you get decent value from making to-do lists, you’ll get huge returns — in productivity, in improved relationships, and in personal well-being — from adding these items to your not to-do list.” I recently highlighted Jeff Haden and believe that this is another practical and helpful post.

Angel Investors: How Religion Changes Our Perspective on Money in Surprising Ways  “I had never met a leper before. But here I was surrounded by several of them at Nirmal Hriday, or “Home of the Pure Heart.” It’s also known as Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying & Destitute in Kolkata, India. Established in 1952, it is a small hospice for thousands of poor people who are found languishing in the streets. Someone dies there almost every day.” Kabir Sehgal provides us with a fascinating view of religion and money. This will help shape your leadership philosophy.

How A Young Leader Develops As A Leader  “I am a young leader. The kind that desires to not only improve my own leadership capacity, but one day grow into a great leader in a great position. I recognize that I have a long way to go in developing my own leadership skills, and I recognize that I have plenty to learn about leadership in general.” This is a guest post by Tyler Crosson on Ron Edmondson’s blog. Tyler’s 7 questions of learning are worth the read.

Turning Time Management Into Life Management  “The concept of time management is outdated. You can’t manage time. You can manage life. Often, the ambitiousness of our plans does not result in equally laudable accomplishments.” This is a very insightful post from the Lead Change Group blog. I love the perspective that Vasiliy Smetanin provides in discerning the difference between these two styles of stewardship.

9 Little Character Tests That Tell You Way Too Much About Yourself  “Sometimes progress in life can be tough to measure. You might feel stuck right now. Or just the opposite—you might feel like you’re making incredible progress. But are you?  How would you know?” This is insightful and you will be challenged–from Carey Nieuwhof on his blog.

There are the 5 for this week. Be inspired.

(photo credit)

Leadership Is About Removing Obstacles


Last week was a rich time of learning as I participated in a Doctor of Ministry intensive. One or our professors for the week was Dr. Jason Carthen (check out his web site). He introduced us to the Path-Goal Theory of Leadership.This theory was popularized by R. J. House and T. R. Mitchell. This is not a new concept, but it was new to me. As he described the role of the leader according to this theory I came to realize another aspect of servant leadership that is critical.

While the Path-Goal Theory is not exact, it often includes three basic steps: determine the employee and environmental characteristics, select a leadership style, and focus on motivational factors that will help the employee succeed.

One practical application of the Path-Goal Theory is the removal of obstacles by the leader that might stand in the way of any follower. This is a crucial role for any leader to play. If a leader truly sees that one of his or her primary functions is to raise up more leaders, then this aspect of the Path-Goal Theory should be a daily mandate.

But how does one practically go about removing the obstacles of followers, and thus empowering them to become potentially great leaders. I think there are three specific steps each leader can take.

1. Through Greater Personal Development  As a leader we can first seek to remove obstacles by providing great personal development. This usually begins with a 360 review process that will lead to a personal development plan. Every emerging leader needs this type of feedback rich environment to ensure their ongoing development. The personal development plan needs to be specific, largely focused on a a person’s strengths, and with specific measurable goals. It should also be accompanied by some monetary investment towards outside training programs that will add to the emerging leader’s skill development.

2. Through Providing Adequate Resources  Another key way to remove obstacles from your emerging leader’s path is by providing adequate resources in fulfilling their assigned responsibilities. A leader is in the unique position of steward. A leader needs to constantly think about what their followers need to get the job done. Those resources might include funding, tools or more people for their teams. Don’t ever forget that the most important resource you may provide on a daily basis is hope. Emerging leaders need a variety of resources to succeed and grow. Be sure that they have them.

3. Through Acting As A Sponsor For Those You Lead  A final way in which a leader can help remove obstacles from the path of an emerging leader is by providing sponsorship. Every emerging leader will one day need a good word provided on their behalf. This may be a word to a senior leader. This may be a word to a potential partner. This may be even a word on behalf of the emerging leader to that leader’s team. Sponsorship is an asset and a blessing that every established leader can gift to an up and coming leader. I guarantee you had someone act on your behalf somewhere along the way.

The Path-Goal Theory is about helping those that follow you, and have the potential to be good leaders themselves, by removing the obstacles that stand in their way from becoming truly great leaders.

Who do you have your sites set upon? What obstacles can you identify that are standing in their way of success? What are you going to do about it?

(photo credit)

5 for Leadership (2/14/15)

3915604902_f66d2bf6e1Here is a fresh 5 for your Valentine’s Day. We have posts on Tim Tebow, leadership inquiry, leadership truths, leadership trust, and happy habits. Take some time and become more informed as a leader.

Trust & Leadership  “The key to a leader’s success is the relationship they develop with their constituents. This relationship is always based on trust. Without a deep sense of trust, a leader cannot have any relationship with constituents.” This comes from Will Lukang on the Lead Change Group blog.

7 Inquiry Methods You Must Master  “For most adults, inquiry is a route to information. For teenagers, questions are a rhetorical way to emphasize their point. For toddlers, questions serve to drive their parents batty. There’s also a more nuanced role for questions.” This provides an interesting paradigm for influence–from David Fields. Take a look.

Did You Learn These 9 Critical Leadership Truths?  “As I was visiting my children’s school*, I was struck by 9 critical leadership truths that were being promoted. What impacted me was the fact that as a leadership coach and consultant, I am often talking about these very same qualities and skills with my ‘adult’ clients.” This comes from Andrew Bryant and was found on Linkedin Pulse.

7 Essential Habits of Happier People (How Many Do You Possess?)  “Happiness: everyone wants it, yet relatively few seem to get enough of it, especially those in their early forties. (That’s about the time many of us start thinking, ‘Is this all there is’)” Jeff Haden offers some worthy reflection–this too coming from Linkedin Pulse.

Out of the NFL, Tebow Builds His Lasting Legacy  “The incredible fourth quarter finale to this year’s Super Bowl, complete with a bobbling catch and unlikely interception, made me wonder what’s become of a Christian brother with a knack for fourth quarter heroics: Tim Tebow.” Here is a leader who continues to make a difference in the lives of others.

There are the 5 for this week. Read more than one of these posts and consider.

(photo credit)