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5 for Leadership-May 2nd

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Here is a new 5 for Leadership for this first weekend in May. There are important posts on topics such as leadership decision making, Baltimore, leadership influence, losing your team, and leadership from the life of King David. There is something here for you!

5 Thoughts on Leadership from the Life of David  “I love reading about King David. From his time in the wilderness and serving as king, good and bad, we learn a great deal about leadership and what is required to successfully lead by observing David.” Ron Edmondson provides some clear and compelling learning principles from this biblical great.

When It’s Safe To Rely On Intuition (and When It’s Not)  “We often use mental shortcuts (heuristics) to make decisions. There is simply too much information coming at us from all directions, and too many decisions that we need to make from moment to moment, to think every single one through a long and detailed analysis. While this can sometimes backfire, in many cases intuition is a perfectly fine shortcut.  However, intuition is helpful only under certain conditions.” This comes from Connson Chou Locke on the HBR Blog. There are some valuable principles here regarding the art of decision making.

Be Aware Of How You Are Influencing And Learn From It  “All of us are influenced by people, places, events and situations all of the time. Sometimes we are affected more or less by these things, but we are continually being influenced by what happens around us. It’s also true to say that we cannot NOT influence those around us, so the trick is to become conscious influencers.” This post is by Kevin Watson on his Leadership Coaching blog.

What To Do When Your Team Leaves  “Whether you’re leading a Fortune 500 company or tending a small church, you’ll experience staff turnover. Sometimes it’s small. Other times it’s a major blow. One team member leaves and then another. Then another and the more. It’s like a dam broke and the water cleared out everyone you thought would always be there.” Joseph Lalonde share some practical insights regarding this common challenge.

A Baltimore Teacher’s Perspective on So-Called “Thugs”  ““Thug,” “animal,” “criminal,” “monkey.” These are phrases I’ve heard tossed around all week in regard to my students and other students throughout Baltimore City following Monday evening’s “Purge” and subsequent riots.”

This has been a difficult week in light of the tensions in Maryland. As leaders we need to continuously grow in our perspective and understanding of culture and race. This is an important piece to read and consider.

There are the 5 for this week. Read well. Lead well.

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A Father’s Leadership Prayer For His Son

small__3573376194I have been reflecting on Psalm 72. This is a recoded prayer from King David for his son Solomon, who will be the next king of Israel. King David was a renowned king. He was the second king of Israel who united the kingdom and ushered in peace and prosperity. He was the covenant king as Yahweh promised that his throne would see no end, referring to the coming Messiah. To this day there is no more revered king to the people of Israel than King David.

But David’s human reign could not last forever. He too would pass and another would take his place. God’s chosen successor was Solomon, the second child from the marriage of David and Bathsheba. Solomon was a very significant king in his own right. He was to be the king who would build the first temple of Israel, a dwelling place for the presence of God. David would supply all of the resources, but it was Solomon’s task to execute the building project and see it through to completion. There was much on the line.

So what does David pray for his son? The themes of this prayer are powerful and instructional.

David asks Yahweh to provide Solomon with a clear sense of justice and righteousness as he leads. Kingship is a heady thing. It is easy to lose perspective on the purposes of your rule and role. David understood that Solomon must be a righteous and just ruler. 

David also prayed that Solomon would be a protector of the defenseless. Once a leader tastes power it is easy to use people rather than defend them and provide for their needs.

David prayed for a prosperous reign, one that would continue the national peace and be recognized by the nations surrounding Israel. 

David prays that Solomon would be a redeemer king, one who free his people from oppressors. David longed for Solomon to be a king who would look out for the needy and the weak. 

David prayed that Solomon would be a king who would experience abundance of provision that all the people might be blessed. 

Finally, David acknowledges that it is God’s glory that is most important. It is He who sustains leaders and uses them to bring His storyline to full fruition. It is His name that matters more than any leader’s name.

Take a fresh look at this Psalm, this prayer for a future and coming leader. What are your observations? How did this turn out for Solomon?

(photo credit)

A Leader’s Prayer-Psalm 61

UnknownDavid was the greatest king Israel ever had.

He was the second king of Israel and not only expanded her territory, but brought a sustainable peace. David was a great warrior, demonstrated early on by his defeat of Goliath. It was sung among the people that “Saul had struck his thousands and David his ten thousands.” (1 Samuel 18:7)

Yet David was not without difficult times or controversy. There was a point in time when David shirked his kingly duties, committed adultery, and murder by proxy. Still, the New Testament records him as “a man after God’s own heart.”

David’s repentance set him apart from Israel’s other kings.

In Psalm 61, David cries out to God as only a leader can and should. Many scholars believe that David penned this psalm during the time that his son Absalom usurped the throne. This put David on the run, away from Jerusalem and away from the tabernacle of God’s presence. We can divide the psalm into two parts. Both represent David’s dependence upon God. Both demonstrate a spiritual leader’s need to be anchored in God.

Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.

Let me dwell in your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah
For you, O God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

Prolong the life of the king;
may his years endure to all generations!
May he be enthroned forever before God;
appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him!

So will I ever sing praises to your name,
as I perform my vows day after day.

David Finds His Hope In God  Verses 1-4 reveal David’s desperate plea to be led by God. How profound. A leader seeing his need to be led. David, in the midst of anarchy, cries out to God in desperation. He literally says that his heart is faint. David, in a very intense fashion, pleads with God to be his security-his rock, his strong tower. He declares that God is his hope, his refuge. Even though he is on the run, in peril from his own son, he finds his hope in God, the only surety that he has. Hope is always forward looking. Real hope must be anchored in the God who controls it all. Otherwise, our leadership trials and difficulties make no sense. Our heart will become faint, fragile. We need the rock that is higher than us, who will comfort us with his presence and shelter us with his tender care. Our titles and success provide us with no sure foundation of hope. Only a God who higher than we can be a viable hope.

David Finds His Source In God  Verses 5-8 show David’s understanding that only God can bring him through these difficult times. David recognizes that his leadership success comes from God. He recognizes too that the very people he leads belong to God. David asks for more life and he asks for a longer reign. He understands that it is only God’s unmerited love and faithfulness that will see him through. David, through vows of prayer, will offer up praise to God as a right response to His character being displayed for the future of Israel. David sees himself as just a servant, a steward on duty for the sake of salvation history. So are all of us who seek to lead in His name. If our source is anything or anyone else, we will be left destitute and surely disappointed. But if we are able to sing His praises, we will find the strength to fulfill our prayerful vows unto Him and for His glory.

What is your prayer today?

A Leader’s Prayer: Psalm 25

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Glen Scarborough on Flickr

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.  There is something profound about that notion.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
    teach me your paths.
 Lead me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are the God of my salvation;
    for you I wait all the day long.

The driving points within these two stanzas are “Make me know your ways” and “Lead me in your truth and teach me.”  David, the King of Israel, prays to Yahweh to be led.  King David longs to know the ways and paths of the Lord.  Our ways are regularly out of step with God’s ways.  Our ways long for our own glory and control.  David asks to know God’s ways and how to walk in them.

David asks to be led by God’s truth.  He desires to be taught.  David then expresses two reasons for this request.  Only God can save David and David is demonstrating his complete dependence upon God.  David declares his humble reliance upon God for that which only God can provide.  That fuels David’s request for truth–God’s truth.

Humble leaders who rightly feel the burden of their stewardship should echo David’s prayer.  We need to be leaders who long to be led.  We need to know God’s ways, paths, and truths.  Because, as leaders, he is our salvation and we are desperate for him.

Lead well.

Underhanded Leadership

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Eigenberg Fotografie on Flickr

In 2 Samuel 15, we find an incredible picture of deceit, craftiness, and subversion.

Absalom is preparing to usurp King David’s throne. King David of Israel had several wives and many children. Absalom was the 3rd son of David. Absalom also had a sister named Tamar. Amnon, the half brother of Absalom, raped Tamar, and Absalom eventually got his revenge and had Amnon murdered. Absalom showed great cunning in this act of murder–but it was just the beginning. For three years Absalom was exiled from his father David for his murderous deed. But upon his return it wasn’t long before he was plotting again–and that brings us to 2 Samuel 15. We don’t know Absalom’s motives at this point. We don’t know if he was angry at his father David for not defending Tamar’s honor. We don’t know if Absalom was an opportunist and saw an opening to take the throne. We do know that this episode took place after David’s adultery with Bathsheba in chapter 11. And we know that as a result, God declared that David’s family would implode. But in this scenario we see what underhanded leadership can look like.  Webster provides this definition for “underhanded”: marked by secrecy, chicanery and deception.

Absalom’s strategy consisted of three strategies:

1. He played upon the legitimate needs and emotions of people.  In verses 1-3, Absalom takes a small garrison of soldiers and horses to look official as he stands at one of the gates to the city.  He greets strangers that have arrived to bring legitimate complaints and judicial cases before King David. Absalom inquires about their home town and the nature of their case. Then he says to these sojourners, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you.”  Absalom lies and in doing so he acts as if he actually cares. He dashes their hopes long enough to set himself up as the compassionate provider. Don’t miss this–his lying statement also diminishes the current king. That is what underhanded leaders do, they subvert the current leader by diminishing their credibility.

2. He boasted and exaggerated about his own ability to resolve the situation.  In verse 4 Absalom reveals the next step in his plan by saying, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.” Absalom sets himself up as the problem solver–if only he were the one in power.  After an underhanded leader diminishes the credibility of the current leader, he moves to supersize his own credibility through lying and exaggeration. Notice that Absalom says that he could solve all of these disputes, if only he were in charge. He diminishes the current authority to establish the legitimacy of his own.

3. He showed feigned compassion and equality with the people.  He ends these galling greetings by taking these people by the hand and giving them a kiss. He tries to show them compassion. He attempts to put himself on common ground. It is the height of hypocrisy. Absalom doesn’t really care about their plight. He cares about the throne. The last statement of the section is telling, “So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.” Success. Absalom is ready to spring his plan. Soon he will call all of Israel to his side and David will have to flee.

Underhanded leaders play upon people’s emotions when they are needy. In so doing they diminish the credibility of the current leader. Underhanded leaders exaggerate their own ability to solve problems and lead. They seek to establish their own authority as they lie about their superior’s.  Underhanded leaders will always mask their true intentions behind hypocritical actions that look like empathy.

Beware of underhanded leaders below you.

Even more, beware of becoming an underhanded leader who diminishes, exaggerates, and subverts the authority of others.

A Leader’s Prayer-Psalm 131

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Art Gallery ErgsArt on Flickr

Psalm 131 in the Bible is for leaders. It was written by a leader, King David. It was penned from a leader’s perspective. It is a Psalm, a prayer, that every spiritual leader must heed. It is that important.

Many do not read the Psalms as they were intended. We try and read Hebrew poetry like one of Paul’s letters. It can’t be done, at least not in a meaningful way. Poetry is meant to affect your soul. It is meant to move you, to draw out your emotions towards Yahweh. There is meter, rhythm and rhyme. Of course, some of it is lost in translation. But most of it remains fully in tact. And it is God’s inspired and infallible word, so it can still have the desired result in our lives.

Leaders can spend most of their days in an emotionless world of strategic plans, HR decisions, or cost-benefit analysis. Even spiritual leaders can get caught in a very man-centered approach to giving oversight and direction. We need to pray back the Psalms to God and allow the emotions He gave us to wash over us, so that we feel as leaders and not just think like one.

Psalm 131 is a very brief Psalm, yet it is packed with wisdom and perspective.

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore.

This is a psalm of ascent, meaning it was one that was prayed, quoted, or sung on the way to the temple on a holy day. But notice the language and the emotions of this psalm. David declares that his heart is not lifted up. This is King David, the most revered king in Israel’s history. He had great power and authority. He had every reason to be proud. But his own status and accomplishments were not his focus. Notice that his only audience in this Psalm is the Lord. Any other would draw his focus to himself.

He proclaims “my eyes are not raised too high.” David recognizes where his help comes from, even as a leader. The greatest stumbling block for any leader is self-competent pride. Most leaders, especially when they have tasted a measure of success, quickly lift up their hearts and raise their eyes, not unto God, but unto themselves.

David goes on to say that he does not occupy himself with things too great or too marvelous. Instead, he states that he is like a weaned child–that his soul is like a weaned child. A weaned child is one who has learned to draw nourishment other than through suckling. A weaned child is a content child, one who is quieted and calm. A weaned child is one who has moved past infancy into the role of a toddler, and who is content to simply be with his mother, not always demanding of her the next meal. David ends the psalm with the exhortation for all of Israel to “hope in the Lord.” This is a humble prayer, a humble declaration to fully trust in Yahweh. This is from a king, a great king! This is a song of great humility. And humility is a necessity for great leadership.

How many leaders do you know that live like this?

How are you doing?

Do you live a leadership life that is occupied with what God has given you to do?

Do you lead more from self-competency or godly character?

Do you live and lead as a calm quieted soul, or as a hurried, preoccupied driven person?

The issue is one of humility, hope, and trust.

Will you lean into Him for life and leadership?