Archives For Leadership

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


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


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.

5 for Leadership (11/2/13)

November 2, 2013 — 2 Comments

images-4Here is a fresh 5 for a new month! The World Series is over, it’s a mediocre college football weekend, and it is way too early to get excited about the NBA–so take a few minutes and click through the posts below.

The 8 Elements That Bring People Together  “Working together to solve a common problem provides us with a more complete picture of the problem, and can offer us more options, synergies and solutions, than we could achieve by working alone. Many of the issues we face will require collaboration at some level to solve or even manage them. ” This comes from Leading Blog and highlights a new book on the value of convening.

Leaders: Opening a Widow to the Unknown You  “Knowing what, and how much to reveal about yourself is a challenge in all relationships at one point or another. For leaders in particular, such challenges occur with some frequency as they try to balance the need to develop trusting relationships with the hope of engaging employees on various levels, while at the same time establishing appropriate boundaries within those relationships.” Andrea Pampaloni reintroduces us to the Johari Window, a valuable leadership tool–found on the Linked2Leadership blog.

The Complex Problem of the Persecuted Church  Spiritual leaders must constantly be aware of cultural issues and how to lead other towards viable solutions. The persecuted church is a global issue that is coming more and more into the light through social media. What are we to do? This post from Darren Carlson on The Gospel Coalition blog takes on the issue.

Slow  This comes from Rachel Held Evans and offers a good perspective on the nature of the Kingdom of God. As leaders we can rush, drive, push, press–all in an effort to force Kingdom growth. Maybe we should think “slow.”

Dumb and Dumber  This final post comes from Dan Rockwell. I love his title because, to my wife’s chagrin, I like the movie by the same title. “The same people sitting around the same table produce the same results. It’s dumb to think otherwise. It’s even dumber to expect the people who caused the problem to solve it.” Dan gives us a good dose of his always practical wisdom on problem solving.

There are five posts to warm your weekend and get you started toward a better leadership week.

5 for Leadership (10/19/13)

October 19, 2013 — 1 Comment

images-2Here is a fresh 5 for this 3rd week in October!

10 Questions On Leading With Ethics  This comes from Linda Thornton on the Leading In Context blog. This is a very thought provoking post on what it looks like to lead with ethics-see what you think.

How John Wayne Stunted Leadership Development  “Unwittingly, in many of his movies, John Wayne “proves” that you can succeed alone. All you need is the biggest will, the most stamina, and the fastest gun.” But is that true? See what Kevin Eikenberry says about this view of LD.

Are You Ready To Dare Greatly and be A Whole-Hearted Leader?  “Wholeheartedness – The capacity to engage in our lives with authenticity, cultivating courage and compassion . . . What if we were to adapt the concept of wholeheartedness specifically to leadership, in our organizations, work and business? ” Take a look at Mary Schaefer’s points on what could be true.

Pastors Need Women Teachers (and Vice Versa)  “There is little disagreement among Christians that women can and should teach women. But if the gift of teaching has been given to women, how might a pastor properly value, cultivate, and employ the gifting of women teachers?” See what Jen Wilkin has to say–found on The Gospel Coalition blog.

You Can Lead With Influence  “Leaders with influence stand out . . . An aspiring leader might start off with this vision for influence, but over time the rookie’s eagerness can fade into a fog of authority and experience. Experience assures the leader that entrenched behaviors can’t be broken, touchy people need more leeway, and elder meetings must be boring. Thus, forfeiting influence, the former idealist starts to rely on his own authority to get results.” This is an insightful post from Peter Krol. See what he says about staying in the effective realm of influence.

There are the 5 for this week. I hope you find something that hits you right where you are today.

images-2Here is a new 5 for the 2nd week in July. We have three, count them, three posts from the Harvard Business Review blog. The HBR is a wealth of quality leadership thought and practicalities. In this 5 we will take a look at strengths, personal development plans, leadership development programs, the very nature of leadership, and some interesting facts about a spiritual leader whose legacy is profound. I hope you find something that will challenge you!

3 Myths About Your Strengths  This comes from the HBR Blog and written by Zenger and Folkman. “One of the most dramatic changes in leadership development in the last decade has been the shift in focus from correcting weaknesses to identifying and expanding on strengths. As this movement continues to catch hold, three myths have emerged that deserve to be dispelled.” You will enjoy this post.

Why So Many Leadership Programs Ultimately Fail  This too comes from the HBR Blog. “I have never seen a leader fail because he or she didn’t know enough about leadership. In fact, I can’t remember ever meeting a leader who didn’t know enough about leadership. What makes leadership hard isn’t the theoretical, it’s the practical.” Peter Bregman offers two very salient ideas that work when all else fails.

20 Questions To Assess The Quality Of An Individual Development Plan  My organization values have a personal development plan. It is an extremely helpful tool to ensure that we are all involved in self leadership. This post from Dan McCarthy on the Great Leadership blog provides a quick way to make sure your plan is a good one and in line with your role.

How And Why To Be A Leader (Not A Wannabe)  How about one more post from the HBR Blog. Umair Haque offers a motivating look at the deep need for leaders today and 6 ways to start being a real leader and not just a wannabe. See how you stack up–and what you think of his paradigm.

9 Things You Should Know About John Calvin  This final post comes from The Gospel Coalition blog. Calvin, the great reformer, was certainly a leader whose legacy continues strongly today. July 10th was the 504th anniversary of his birth. Take a look at these nine facts to see how his leadership was shaped by his circumstances and for his times.

There are the 5 for this week. Enjoy!

BI_DLMoody1Dwight L. Moody was an American evangelist in the 19th century. He founded the Northfield Schools in Massachusetts and both the Moody Bible Institute and the Moody Church in Chicago. Moody had no formal education beyond the 5th grade. He gave considerable time and energy to the YMCA. Moody gave much of his time and energy to the destitute of the city as well. He saw the unique contribution that women could make for the sake of the gospel and enlisted Emma Dryer to establish a training school for women. He was considered one of the greatest evangelists that has ever lived. He addressed larger audiences than any other man of his generation, both in America and abroad. His impact certainly out distanced his education, training and natural presence. He was used mightily of God to impact his generation.

Here are some quotes attributed to Moody that relate firmly to leadership. Notice how Moody had great focus, a singular focus, especially on character. Moody understood well that a man cannot lead beyond who he is on the inside.

Give me a man who says this one thing I do, and not those fifty things I dabble in.

We can stand affliction better than we can prosperity, for in prosperity we forget God.

What makes the Dead Sea dead? Because it is all the time receiving, never giving out anything. Why is it that many Christians are cold? Because they are all the time receiving, never giving out anything.

There are many of us that are willing to do great things for the Lord, but few of us are willing to do little things.

If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of me.

A good example is far better than a good precept.

Preparation for old age should begin not later than one’s teens. A life which is empty of purpose until 65 will not suddenly become filled on retirement.

Character is what a man is in the dark.

Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant. It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest.

Where one man reads the Bible, a hundred read you and me.

I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And that which I can do, by the grace of God, I will do.

Seeking to perpetuate one’s name on earth is like writing on the sand by the 
seashore; to be perpetual it must be written on eternal shores.

I have more trouble with D. L. Moody than with any other man I ever met.

Salvation is worth working for. It is worth a man’s going round the world on his hands and knees, climbing its mountains, crossing its valleys, swimming its rivers, going through all manner of hardship in order to attain it. But we do not get it in that way. It is to him who believes.