Posts

The Top Posts of 2016!

I trust you have had a good and profitable 2016. Here are the top 5 posts from my blog for this past year. Thank you for helping to make this blog a success. I hope your leadership was strengthened this past year–and may you excel still more in 2017!

Delegation vs Empowerment

To delegate means to choose or elect a person to act as a representative for another. To empower someone means to give power or authority to someone else. Do you hear the difference?

A Leader’s Prayer-Psalm 25

King David penned Psalm 25.  We are not sure when he wrote this psalm.  Therefore, we are uncertain about the circumstances of Psalm 25.  David speaks of his enemies in verse 2 and verse 19.  But David had many enemies and they were a consistent part of his life and leadership.  What most intrigues me about this psalm or this prayer from David lies in verses 4 and 5.  David the leader asks to be led.

Two Types of Courage

Merriam-Webster defines courage as the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous. Real leadership deals in the currency of courage on a daily basis. Yet there are different kinds of courage. Some forms are more valuable than others.

3 Marks of Leadership Maturity

One aspect of leadership I have been pondering is how Christ-centered leadership matures. As I have looked back over my own leadership life it is clear that there have been seasons marked by immature leadership–leadership that was more focused on self than on Christ and others.

The Principle of Focus

There are many things to which you can give your leadership energy.  The tendency is to fall prey to the urgent, which as Mr. Covey reminds us does not always include the most important priorities.

Top 10 Posts for 2014

medium_96228072Here are the 10 posts that you made the most popular during 2014. Thank you for helping to make this past year such a success for me and The Leadership Crossing blog. Lead purposefully and effectively into 2015.

Delegation vs Empowerment  “To delegate means to choose or elect a person to act as a representative for another. To empower someone means to give power or authority to someone else. Do you hear the difference?”

Winston Churchill on Leadership  “Winston Churchill was certainly one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century. But it was not without trial nor failure. His leadership character was forged in the crucible of suffering and fatigue.”

3 Types of Leadership Decisions  “This is the 2nd post on the topic of leadership decisions. In the first one I discussed the nature of leadership decisions and offered some diagnostic questions to help you in thinking through every leadership decision you make. In this post we will look at three types of leadership decisions.”

3 Marks of Leadership Maturity  “One aspect of leadership I have been pondering is how Christ-centered leadership matures. As I have looked back over my own leadership life it is clear that there have been seasons marked by immature leadership–leadership that was more focused on self than on Christ and others.”

4 Critical Questions for Strategic Planning  ““Strategic planning” has become buzz terminology in the past ten plus years. There are several varieties of strategic planning approaches. All are designed to help teams and organizations focus on the most critical aspects of reaching a desirable future.”

Monty’s List of 7 Necessary Leadership Qualities  “Taken from his Memoirs, here is a list of what Monty believed to be seven necessary qualities for a military leader. I would suggest they would stand well for any leader, and certainly spiritual leaders who realize they are ultimately in a spiritual battle.”

A Leader’s Prayer-Judges 5  “The period of the Judges in the Bible was a tumultuous one. During this time, Israel as a nation entered into cycles of sin that constantly required a deliverer  in the form of a judge.”

Courage and the Next Leader  “In this case Joshua is succeeding an icon in the man Moses. Yet it was Joshua’s task to take this million plus people  across the Jordan River and into Canaan. Four times in eighteen verses Joshua is exhorted to be courageous. You would need a healthy dose of courage too if you were leading over a million people into a hostile land.”

Finishing Well  “Recently, I was part of an energizing time of leader development with all of the staff of our church here in Austin. While I was upfront making a brief presentation on the framework that we would be using for development, a critical question was asked by one of the participants. I had made the comment that I think it is difficult to finish well as a spiritual leader. The question was asked, “How does one finish well?”’

The Principle of Focus  The key to complexity is not simplicity, but focus. “I have often made that statement about leadership and stand by it.  I usually preface that statement with the idea that if you are not dealing with some level of complexity then you are not really leading anything of significance.”

Two Types of Courage

Footprints-Courage

Joshua Davis on Flickr

Courage is a valuable trait in a leader.

Merriam-Webster defines courage as the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous. Real leadership deals in the currency of courage on a daily basis. Yet there are different kinds of courage. Some forms are more valuable than others.

One of the most epic stories in the Bible is the narration of Israel, not only becoming a people, but becoming a nation by inheriting the promised land. In Genesis 12, God chose Abraham to become the progenitor of a people who would become Israel. After some 400 years of slavery in Egypt, God led over a million Israelites out of bondage by the hand of Moses. It was time for Israel to have a land of its own. But by the end of the book of Deuteronomy, there was a necessary leadership succession. Joshua, the ever present lieutenant to Moses, was to be installed as the next leader of the people of Israel. It would be Joshua who would move to the front in taking this rag-tag group of people across the Jordan River and dispossess those who resided there. Moses had been God’s chosen instrument to fulfill the promise of redemption from slavery. Joshua would be God’s chosen instrument to fulfill the promise of possession of the land.

Joshua 1:1-9 provides us with God’s charge to this new head of state. Moses was dead and it was time for Joshua to lead. Three times in nine verses God tells Joshua to “be strong and courageous.” Verses 2-6 define the first type of courage that Joshua would require. Verses 7 and 8 define the second type of courage that Joshua would need. Verse 9 provides the foundation for the two types of courage that God called Joshua to exhibit.

Strategic Courage

Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. (v.2)

Throughout the Bible God chooses different individual leaders to move his salvation history forward. Joshua was to be God’s leader to take the people of Israel into this great land. The borders were predefined. The promise of victory was already given. The reality of God’s presence was assured.

Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. (v.6)

To possess the land would require great strength and courage. To settle 12 tribes of people in a land that was already settled by others would require planning, insight, and right steps. Strategic courage was necessary. It was what the people of Israel, led by Joshua, were to do.

Moral Courage

Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. (v.7)

The law that was given to Moses was God’s moral code for the people of Israel. It would mark the Israelites as God’s people and make them distinct from all the other people on earth. Strength and courage would be required again. The people who Israel would dispossess worshiped false gods–idols. There was the opportunity for Israel to turn away from the one true God and fall into pagan ways that were incredibly destructive. The word “success” in verse 7 refers to the idea of wise living. If Israel followed God’s moral code they would have real success, not just material prosperity based on superstition. It was what the people of Israel, led by Joshua, were to be.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (v.9)

There would be many opportunities to be afraid or to be discouraged. Strategic courage and moral courage, leading by “doing” and leading by “being,” brings on many challenges. That is why leadership is difficult and dangerous. The final charge to be courageous is anchored in the sure knowledge that God’s “withness” is real and always present.

May I suggest that “being” always precedes “doing.” Moral courage is in short supply today. There is no lack of perceived strategic courage. But if one wants to lead others into circumspect thinking and wise living, one must be wise and display true character. Moral courage and strategic courage, based on God’s principles and his strong presence, will display God’s goodness and wisdom to a world in desperate need.

Don’t miss that this is covenant stuff. The Law and the Land were critical aspects to the Old Covenant. But in v.9 there is also the foreshadowing of another who would not only be “with you” but “among you” and “in you.” The New Covenant inaugurated in Jesus was coming–and is here!

Profile in Leadership: Abigail

250px-Antonio_Molinari_David_y_AbigailIn 1 Samuel 25 there is an intriguing story about a woman who exhibits great courage and leadership.

David, the would be 2nd king of Israel, is on the run from Saul, the reigning 1st king of Israel. Rightfully, David should already be on the throne, but Saul will not relinquish his seat of power. As a matter of fact, Saul is doing all that he can to kill David. So David is running and hiding from place to place trying to evade Saul and wait on God’s sovereign timing to assume the throne. While David is hiding in the wilderness, he provides protection to a band of shepherds who are tending the sheep of a very rich man. When David and his men become hungry, he sends a delegation to this wealthy man to request food.  The man, Nabal, refuses to provide anything for David and his men. In his arrogance, Nabal refuses to recognize the protection that David has afforded the shepherds. And he also fails to recognize David’s plight, but instead accuses David of being a runaway slave. David decides to take action and intends to slaughter Nabal, his household, and all of his servants. This is where Abigail, the wife of Nabal, steps in. One of Nabal’s servants reports to Abigail the foolish decision made by her husband.

In these circumstances we see three character traits that would serve any leader well in pressing circumstances.

1. The inclination to take action.  Leadership is influence. But leadership is also active, not passive.  Leadership clearly sees the situation at hand, determines a course of action, and moves ahead properly. Abigail decides to intercept David and his troops and offer them the provisions that Nabal withheld. There is no way that she could be sure of the outcome. A woman trying to stop a king bent on vengeance usually does not stand a chance. But she threw off convention and cultural custom to intervene on behalf of a foolish husband and his household. This was bold action.

2. The ability to demonstrate sincere humility.  Humility leads to boldness and pride often lives in fear. It not only takes a clear sense of the situation for a leader to act, but it also requires a great sense of knowing who you are, and who you are not, to be able to act correctly. Abigail confronts David and his men on the road. When she does, she immediately falls down before David on her face in a powerful demonstration of humility and reverence for David. She clearly understands the possible consequences that confront her, unlike her husband, Nabal. She knows the protection that David and his men have provided for the shepherds of Nabal. And she rightly knows the nature of her husband’s folly. But rather than flee and save only herself, she pursues David, and out of humility seeks his favor.

3. The fortitude to claim corporate responsibility.  Good leaders take responsibility. Good leaders take responsibility for mistakes made and give credit for successes gained. Before David even has time to address Abigail, she claims corporate responsibility for the sin of her husband and asks for forgiveness. Abigail was completely ignorant of Nabal’s folly when it occurred. She wasn’t to blame. But one person stood in the place of a whole household to seek salvation. Sound familiar?

The end result is that David relents of his quest for revenge because of the courage and leadership of Abigail. David views Abigail’s intervention as divine and grasps the nature of her substitutionary act. He realizes that Abigail has kept him from committing a transgression himself. When Nabal finally dies, David remembers Abigail and makes provision for her by taking her as his wife. This was an act of generosity on David’s part since a widow in the Ancient Near East would have had no way to provide for herself. One strong act of kindness was met by another.

Abigail took bold action, with great humility, and corporate responsibility.
Abigail stands as a representative of leadership traits we should all imitate.
By the way, Nabal’s very name means “fool.”  Let us lead like Abigail!

Courage & The Next Leader

medium_475035174I have always been fascinated by the biblical account of Israel entering the promised land under the leadership of Joshua. Joshua had made a career of being the right-hand man to Moses. But through disobedience Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land and God tapped Joshua as the successor to lead the people into this new destiny. I have blogged before about leadership succession and I used these two leaders as my context.

It is not easy to be the next leader.  

In this case Joshua is succeeding an icon in the man Moses. Yet it was Joshua’s task to take this million plus people  across the Jordan River and into Canaan. Four times in eighteen verses Joshua is exhorted to be courageous. You would need a healthy dose of courage too if you were leading over a million people into a hostile land. And remember, this large, rag tag bunch did not have the best track record for obedience. And, for added pressure,  this is your first role as commander and chief. But what stands out to me within these four exhortations to courage is not how they relate to Joshua’s weaknesses, but rather how they relate to his mission.

1. Courage For The Mission Matters.  Two of the four charges to courage are directly related to the objective.  V. 6 states, Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. The land, the promised land, is part of a covenant relationship between Yahweh and his people.  This goes all the way back to Genesis 12 and the story of Abraham. Even today there is little that is of more importance to the Jewish nation than the promised land.  Yet, the land in Joshua’s day was occupied and those occupants would have to be displaced. God promises to be with Joshua every step of the way, yet it will still take courage to fulfill God’s will.  V. 9 says, Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.  Again, this command to courage is related to the going. It is tied to the leadership task that Joshua has been given. There will certainly be days when Joshua will be tempted to be afraid and dismayed. But God says that he can take courage for the very reason that the God of the universe goes with him. It is God’s idea and God intends to use Joshua to fulfill his plans. The missional objective is clear and God expects Joshua to step into it.

2. Courage In The Method Matters.  The other two exhortations to courage are directly related to how Joshua carries out the mission. It is not easy to stick to moral principles. It is not easy to lead consistently out of core convictions.  V. 7 states, Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you.  Notice that God knows that it will take courage to accomplish God’s plans God’s way.  Yahweh does not want Joshua to depart from his teaching, recorded in the Law. Apparently it matters to God how a  task is accomplished as much as it is accomplished.  In the final verse of the passage, v. 18, we read, Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous. This a recorded response from the tribes of Gad, Reuben, and the half tribe of Manasseh. They had decided to take up residence east of the Jordan, but promised to help their brothers in conquering all that was west of the Jordan. Notice again that their call to courage relates to how the mission is accomplished. These tribes believed that if Joshua was closely following God’s commands then no one person should disobey Joshua as God’s representative. Both the what and the how of leadership in this situation mattered.

This should inform us too when it comes to leading in God’s kingdom.

Our calling to lead should rightly include God’s leading toward a clear vision and mission.

Our calling to lead should rightly include a proper means towards that accomplishment.

What we lead people toward and how we lead them both matter.

May our courage and strength to lead well be found in the grace that is Jesus Christ.

Lead well!

(photo credit)

LQW: What are the causes, dangers, and implications of fear based leadership?

A few weeks ago I posted a Leadership Question of the Week on courage.  Now I want to discuss the other side.  As I mentioned in that pose, I often see leaders lead in fear.  I see it in contemporary life.  I see it in the Scriptures and I see it in me at times.  So the question has been put in the title:  What are the causes, dangers, and implications of fear based leadership?  I would love to hear from you in the comments section below.

LQW: Leadership Question of the Week-What is Courage?

I am starting a new weekly post to create some conversation around leadership principles.  I have chosen the topic of “courage” as my first attempt.  I have thought a lot lately about how fear can creep into the life of a leader and cause some pretty bad results.  I see it in the biblical account of several leaders and I see it in contemporary life.  I see it in me.  If courage is the antidote to fear-then we must define it well and know its source.  You and I have both heard varying definitions of courage-try this one on for size and comment at the end of the post.  I think this is really worth considering because we are desperate for courageous leaders today.  What do you think of the definition below?  What are your thoughts on the need for courageous leadership and its sources?

Courage: The combination of indignation and compassion towards something, fueled by faith.

Let the conversation begin.