Archives For Leadership

Lead Like A King

June 17, 2014 — 6 Comments

small__149688248The biblical book of Deuteronomy is a retelling of the Law of Moses to a new generation of Israelites. The first generation who should have inherited the Promised Land failed to do so because of disobedience. Moses recounts much of what is contained in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers to this second generation. Deuteronomy is a sobering call to love and obey God.

In chapter 17 we find a section that gives instruction about Israel’s kings. Moses is anticipating what Israel will desire years into the future as she looks around at the other nations. There are five prerequisites for any would be king over God’s chosen people. These requirements help define the kind of king Israel should desire.

1. This king must be God’s choice.  God knew that the Israelites could ultimately fall prey to asking for a king for all of the wrong reasons, and therefore choose poorly. As a general rule, people do not have a great track record in choosing their leaders. God desired that the people seek Him for His choice of someone to rule over them.

2. This king must be an Israelite.  God also knew that the Israelites might be tempted by the pagan people who were already residing in the Promised Land to choose a leader from among them. But that would surely be a leader who would not follow God heart and soul. It would end up being a leader who would lead God’s people astray.

3. This king must not amass great personal wealth and military might.  God understood that a king would always be tempted to use his great power to surround himself with more power and great wealth. Leaders today are tempted to do the same. Moses goes on to further warn this king to certainly not lean on other nations for a military alliance, such as Egypt. The king was to find his security in God alone.

4. This king must not take many wives.  This is not simply a prohibition against polygamy. D.A. Carson states that in the Ancient Near East kings showed off their greatness by the number of wives they possessed. Therefore this was a limitation on the kings power and a preventative measure to keep his heart from being led astray. It is not because these women might be inherently bad, it is that the king would be tempted to acquire wives from surrounding nations that worshiped lesser gods.

5. This king, once he ascends to the throne, must write out a personal copy of God’s Law and read it every day for the rest of his life.  This was a tall task to help insure that the king would revere God, follow God’s commands as he led, and to not place himself above the common Israelite.

Summary: God chooses God’s person who will rule not from power and might, but whole heartedly towards God’s purposes for God’s glory and the well being of God’s people.

How do these precepts inform your own leadership?

In the day of Moses there was another king coming who would defy cultural connotations by eschewing worldly power and passions. He would carefully follow all of God’s words. He was intent on building an alternative kingdom, a spiritual kingdom. He would sacrifice himself for us. This is the Servant King we wait for again. King Jesus.

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Keeping Idols At Bay

June 5, 2014 — 1 Comment

small__9756724403You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the Lord your God. You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord. Leviticus 26:1-2. (emphasis mine)

If you want to understand the sixteen prophetic books of the Bible, you must also come to terms with Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26. These two chapters in the Old Testament spell out the blessings of covenant obedience and curses of covenant disobedience. Chief among the warnings is the danger of idolatry. God warns his people that to give allegiance to anything other than himself is idolatry. Ultimately the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah fall prey to covenant disobedience and are taken captive and exiled by foreign nations. And leaders led them there.

These are not just Old Testament realities. We too can fall prey to idolatry in this day and age. Anything we give allegiance to over and above God himself places us in the category of idolaters. As leaders this can be things as subtle as power, status, and gain. I have argued before that leadership is always a leveraged proposition. Our choices as leaders always affect a greater number of people. Our decisions, no matter how personal, ripple with consequences towards others. When we are seduced by the idols of our age we run the risk of leading others down the same path.

The writer in Leviticus offers us a double edged solution, sabbath and sanctuary.

Sabbath is about rest.

Sanctuary is about worship.

Both are grounded in trust.

When we maintain a sabbath rest on a weekly basis we are declaring that we are not omnipotent. We require rest and refreshment. The passage tells us that we must guard, keep, and protect our sabbath rest. There is only one who is omnipotent, and he can lead just fine during our down time. He can supply what we need through sabbath that we might lead again with fresh perspective and power.

When we engage in daily personal worship and weekly corporate worship we are bending the knee to declare that we too stand under authority. We must lead from a posture of surrender and submission. Worship is royal imagery that portrays a subject kissing the hand of a supreme ruler. It is giving adoration to one who is worthy.

Rightly choosing to maintain regular sabbath will keep us from making tired, self centered decisions that might lead to self promotion and self protection.

Rightly worshipping the King of Kings will keep us from worshipping something less.

Instead of falling prey to leadership idolatry, and to leading our people toward the same, we can enjoy the holy intimacy that flows from sabbath and sanctuary. And that will keep our idols at bay.

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small__176461247Here are 5 new posts on leadership. I am highlighting some new authors for me this week. Take a look and see if something scratches your itch.

10 Characteristics Of High Performing Teams  There are many paradigms available to provide a framework for high functioning teams. Our organization uses one that has a 6 fold approach. This list comes by way of a book by Ron Ricci and Carl Wiese entitled The Collaboration Imperative. Fresh paradigms keep our thinking and learning fresh.

Every Speaker Should Remember The Cynthia Test  There is always a premium on communication for every good leader. Here is a post that provides a simple test for the effectiveness of your leadership communication.

3 Invaluable Lessons One Business Leader Could Only Learn From A Church Plant  This is a guest post on Carey Nieuwhof’s blog by Chris Lema. “Over the course of the last twenty years I’ve helped start five software startups and five church plants. In each I’ve held executive level positions – paid in the software world and voluntarily in the church world.” Read what Chris has learned.

Leadership On Tap  This comes from Artie Davis. “The vision and the passion we communicate with those we lead is often just tapping.” See what Artie is talking about.

5 Successful Components of a Successful Leadership Equation  This final post comes from Geoff Surratt. Here is his driving question for this post, “What if we could find a simple but elegant theory of organizational leadership?” Geoff takes a solid shot at answering his own question–see what you think.

There are the 5 for this final day in May. Here’s to a great June!

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small__4608963722Leaders, by definition, aim for intentional influence.

Leaders bring change.

Do you want to change the world?

You should in some meaningful way.

There is tremendous article in the WSJ entitled “Life Lessons From Navy SEAL Training.” It is an excerpt from a commencement address given at the University of Texas by Admiral William H. McRaven. In this era of over sensitivity to college graduation speakers and the convoluted reasoning that has accompanied such decisions, it is refreshing to know these grads heard something of great substance. To lure you into the full text of this address I have provided you with the 10 lessons that Admiral McRaven shared.

1. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.

2. If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.

3. If you want to change the world, measure people by the size of their heart, and not the size of their flippers.

4. If you want to change the world, get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.

5. If you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses. 

6. If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.

7. If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.

8. If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.

9. If you want to change the world, start singing when you are up to your neck in mud.

10. If you want to change the world, don’t ever, ever ring the bell.

You will have to read the full text of the address to understand the “whys.” It is worth the read!

If you are unable to open the WSJ version, here is another link to a Blaze version of the address. There is also a YouTube version if you would like to watch the address.

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medium_3286624895Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
    but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox. Proverbs 14:4

Confession.

I like clean.

I like neat and organized.

My greatest problem is that leadership is messy–all the time.

I think that is largely because leadership necessarily involves people–people like me.

The word “ox” or “oxen” is listed some 70 times in our English Bibles. The ox in the Ancient Near East was a prized and valuable animal. The ox was used for plowing, transportation and threshing.

Oxen were often yoked in pairs. Lighter work might only require one pair of oxen. But for more difficult work oxen were sometimes teamed together up to ten pairs.

Do you see the leadership implications? Teams of oxen equally yoked together can produce abundant crops. They also create a lot of mess, if you know what I mean. Of course, where there are no oxen, the stable is clean.

I see two strong principles from this proverb for leaders. Leadership is about leading people, teams of people. A leader will never get far without a team. Leaders must build teams to accomplish much. Leaders must also be the primary person who insures that the “oxen” are equally yoked, moving in the same direction, equally pulling their weight. These two functions are required basic tasks for every leader.

In many cases this is the hard, daily work of leaders. I think there is a prerequisite to be successful.

Matthew 11:28-30 seems to be terribly relevant to this discussion. Listen to the words of Jesus.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. 

imagesHere are the five most popular posts from my blog for the month of March. Thanks for reading and contributing. My hope is that you become a stronger leader in the process.

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?” This is the most popular post in the history of my blog.

Four Critical Questions for Strategic Planning  “My aim to help everyone engage is to keep the process simple. To do this I think there are four main questions that every strategic planning process must answer.” Maybe this will be of help the next time you need to lead a team through the planning process.

Close: Leading Well Across Distance and Cultures  This is a book review of Ken Cochrum’s new book. He addresses the growing reality that all leaders face, and he does so in an insightful and practical way. This is a great book for any leader. Take a look at the review and learn more about Close.

Innovation & Faith  “A leader is not always recognized for his or her innovation immediately. Somethings are more important than recognition.” Here is a six and half minute video that will give you some fresh perspective.

Ken Blanchard on Collaboration  “I have admired Ken Blanchard for many years. I have never had the privilege of actually meeting him, but I have at least come to know much of his thoughts on leadership through his wonderful writing. Here is a 16 minute video that was a TEDx presentation in San Diego in 2012. The topic is collaboration.”

images-2Here is a new 5 for the last week of March. I hope your weekend includes some Sweet 16 craziness and some warmer weather. And I hope you find something here that will enhance your leadership.

The Holy Spirit’s Role in Leadership  This comes from Stephen Blandino’s blog. “It’s very easy in leadership to grow increasingly dependent on our own abilities and skills. This tendency exists in all arenas of leadership whether business, education, media, or the church. Because of this temptation, leaders often fail to recognize the role of the Holy Spirit in leadership.” This is a good read!

Urban Church Plantations  A colleague passed this article on to me as we were discussing issues of diversity. I think this is one that every spiritual leader should read. Christena Cleveland gently, but clearly challenges the suburban church in how it views urban ministry. “The empire says that our church needs to be present in every community, our church has the answers, and our church’s resources are our resources alone. If we follow this path, power dynamics remain unchanged and urban church plantations ensue.”

10 Critical Leadership Battles (And How You Can Win Them All)  This comes from Terry “Starbucker” St. Marie. You will like this list of common dichotomies that show up in every leadership world. Take a look.

12 Ways Christians Can Be Less Mean  This comes from Ron Edmondson, whom I reference often. In light of the social media battles that erupted this past week over World Vision’s stance on marriage and hiring (which they then recanted), this might be timely. See what you think.

3 Communication Tips That Every Leader Should Use  This is a very practical post by Joe McCormack on the Great Leadership blog. “Who needs to get the message that talking less and listening more is an essential 21st-Century leadership skill? What can professionals do to avoid the lure to be long-winded?”

There are the 5 for this final week of March-is it really spring yet?

images-4After a brief break from blogging to enjoy my family, here is a fresh 5 for the final week in 2013.

How to Break the 7 Barriers to Leadership This is Dan Rockwell at his best. He also gives you 12 ways to break those barriers.

The Trouble With Control This is a guest post by Jen Shirkani on the Great Leadership by Dan blog. Jen highlights the subtle ways leaders exert control over those they lead–and the consequences.

Discovering and Developing Great Leaders: An Art or a Science? This is from the Linked2Leadership blog. Dr. Tommy Shavers offers five ways to discover and develop leaders.

Where There’s A Why, There’s A Way “There are a gazillion methods and tactics, but there are very few whys. When we have a vision and believe in it, instead of seeing drudgery, we see discovery. Instead of aimless wandering, we see ourselves at the low-end of our personal growth curve. Once we know our why, there will be a how.”

It’s a Good Time to Remember, Reflect, and Resolve the end of one year and the beginning of another is a prime time to take stock. This post, from Garrett Kell, provides some solid principles for doing so.

There is your five for this last week in December. Happy New Year!

 

Top Posts for November

December 2, 2013 — 2 Comments

imagesHere are the five most popular posts for this past month. Take a look for the first time, or again.

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?”

3 Types of Leadership Decisions  “Sometimes leaders look at decision making like a game of rock, paper, scissors. We use the same approach in every situation and we leave it up to chance. But there is a way to think through the type of decision that should be made for the best possible result.”

What To Look For In The Next Leader  “This past year I was a part of a leadership development venue for 16 national level leaders. During a Q&A time with our North American Director he was asked what he looks for in a future leader. He quickly provided us with this list of four key traits.”

Humility in Service  “A critical character trait in the life of a leader is humility. I actually believe that pride can lead to great fear and humility can lead to exceptional boldness.” Take a look at this Puritan prayer for a great picture of what I mean.

Underhanded Leadership  “Beware of underhanded leaders below you. Even more, beware of becoming an underhanded leader who diminishes, exaggerates, and subverts the authority of others.”

There are the five posts that you have help to make the most popular ones for November. Thanks so much for visiting this blog. I hope that it has been some benefit to you and your leadership.

Humility in Service

November 8, 2013 — Leave a comment

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A critical character trait in the life of a leader is humility. I actually believe that pride can lead to great fear and humility can lead to exceptional boldness. I also believe that humility has to be anchored in a secure identity, an identity that stands outside of self–an identity that is realized in our Creator and His redemptive plan. I am offering a Puritan prayer today for your consideration. It comes from The Valley of Vision. It is entitled “Humility of Service.”

Mighty God,

I humble myself for faculties missed, opportunities neglected, words ill advised, I repent of my folly and inconsiderate ways, my broken resolutions, untrue service, my backsliding steps, my vain thoughts.

O bury my sins in the ocean of Jesus’ blood and let no evil result from my fretful temper, unseemly behavior, provoking pettiness.

If by unkindness I have wounded or hurt another, do thou pour in the balm of heavenly consolation;

If I have turned coldly from need, misery, grief, do not in just anger forsake me:

If I have held relief from penury and pain, do not withhold thy gracious bounty from me.

If I have shunned those who have offended me, keep open the door of thy heart to my need.

Fill me with an overflowing ocean of compassion, the reign of love my motive, the law of love my rule.

O thou God of all grace, make me more thankful, more humble;

Inspire me with a deep sense of my unworthiness arising from the depravity of my nature, my omitted duties. my unimproved advantages, thy commands violated by me.

With all my calls to gratitude and joy may I remember that I have reason for sorrow and humiliation;

O give me repentance unto life;

Cement my oneness with my blessed Lord, that faith may adhere to him more immovably, that love may entwine  itself around him more tightly, that his Spirit may pervade every fiber of my being.

Then send me out to make him known to my fellow men.