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.

5 for Leadership-October 24th


Totororo.roro on Flickr

This week in 5 for Leadership there are posts on servant leadership, how to deal with anxiety, the difference between careerism and leadership, leadership lessons learned, and important leadership trends. Take a few minutes during this fall day and stretch your leadership.

Top 12 Trends in Leadership Today

This is a great, quick read from Brad Lomenick that will keep you thinking. These are trends that merit your attention.

Are You A Serving Leader? A 5-Point Checklist

“Ken Blanchard believes there is one fundamental question all leaders need to ask themselves:  Is the purpose of my leadership to serve—or is it my expectation to be served?  A leader’s answer is important because it leads to two fundamentally different approaches to leadership.” This comes from Terry Watkins on the Blanchard Leadership blog.

The Surprising Difference Between Careerism and Leadership

“Are you leading with purpose or just trying to get ahead? Do you actually believe in something larger than your compensation, your career trajectory or your next success? I often tell young leaders, if their work has no meaning or satisfaction, they are better off quitting and sitting on the beach until they decide what they want to do.” This comes from Bill George on Linkedin Pulse.

What My Boss Taught Me About Leadership

“Let me set the scene. My career was plateauing. I had done well, but things had started to get a bit stale. Then, I had a meeting/interview with Neil Hobbs. Neil would have the biggest impact on my professional life.” Colin Shaw shares some poignant principles on leadership lessons learned–on Linkedin Pulse.

Anxiety & Prayer

Finally, I offer this brief, 2:43 video on anxiety and prayer by Crawford Loritts. All leaders face anxieties on a daily basis. What is your solution to dealing with them? Dr. Loritts provides the secret.

5 for Leadership (1/31/15)

medium_12334085603Here is a fresh 5 for Leadership for the final day in January. The topics include approachable leadership, passive leaders, active leaders, personal leadership vision, best jobs for your personality, and the prayerful leader. Take a few minutes and refresh your leadership.

The Best Jobs for All 16 Myers-Briggs Personality Type in One Infographic  “I’ve always been fascinated by the intersection of personality and career. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality test is a widely known tool used in the business arena for helping you find the “right” career.” See what else Paul Sohn has to say.

How To Turn Passive Followers Into Active Leaders  “You aren’t worthy of leadership if fear of giving control controls you. Successful leaders move away from ‘permission mode.’” Dan Rockwell does a great job distinguishing between permission and intention when you lead.

10 Ways To Become An Approachable Leader  “We’ve all been subject to the leader who wasn’t approachable. And that made our jobs miserable. That’s why we’ve got to be aware of what makes a leader approachable. We’ve also got to implement the actions of approachable leaders.” Joseph Lalonde provides some sound wisdom and actionable steps for becoming more approachable.

Guidelines To Create A Compelling Vision  “A compelling vision helps you make choices about where to focus your energy. Without vision, you are in danger of trying to be all things to all people, scattered or adrift.”

Vision is knowing who you are, where you’re going, and what will guide the journey.

“Who you are is your purpose. Where you’re going is your picture of the future. What will guide your journey are your values.” Jesse Lyn Stoner always writes compelling material to grow your leadership.

8 Lessons From The School Of Prayer  Spiritual leaders should also being praying leaders. D. A. Carson speaks poignantly to this necessary dialogue. “Throughout my spiritual pilgrimage, two sources have largely shaped, and continue to shape, my own prayer life: the Scriptures and more mature Christians. The less authoritative of these two has been the advice, wisdom, and example of senior saints. I confess I am not a very good student in the school of prayer. Still, devoting [space] to their advice and values may be worthwhile before I turn to the more important and more authoritative of the two sources that have taught me to pray.”

There are the 5 for this week. Pass it on.

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. 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.

A Leader’s Prayer-King Asa

UnknownOn several occasions I have highlighted the prayers of leaders recorded in the Bible. Often, they have been the prayers of King David. That is because he penned so many of the Psalms. But today I want to focus on the recorded prayer of King Asa.

Following the reign of Solomon, Israel was divided into two separate kingdoms, Israel and Judah. The son of Solomon, Rehoboam, reigned in Judah for 17 years and was seceded by his son, Abijah. Abijah reigned for 3 years and was seceded by his son, Asa. 2 Chronicles 14:2 tells us that, “Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God.” This is remarkable because it was not always true of the kings of Judah and it was never true for any of the kings of Israel. But Asa was diligent to rid Judah of idolatry and point his nation back to the one true God. For 10 years Judah enjoyed rest and prosperity under the rule of Asa.

Shortly after this decade of national peace and prosperity, Zerah, the Ethiopian, came out against the nation of Judah with an army a million strong. The rest was broken. Judah’s days as a peaceful and prosperous nation were being threatened by a powerful neighbor to the South. Asa did what any worthy king in the Ancient Near East would do. He mustered his army and went out to meet this foreign threat. The problem was that Asa had less than 600,000 soldiers to meet the million man army from Ethiopia. This was new leadership territory for Asa. He had not faced intruders or this kind of battle before. The odds were significantly stacked against him. This prompted Asa to pray. The Bible says that Asa “cried to the Lord his God.”

“O Lord, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O Lord, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.”

This prayer contains two requests and four declarations of faith. Asa’s two simple requests are what you might expect: “Help us” and “Let not man prevail against you.” Any leader would cry out to their god for help in similar circumstances. They would ask for victory. But it is in the faith declarations that we see the strength of Asa’s requests and what he believes about Yahweh.

  • O Lord, there is none like you to help
  • We rely on you
  • In your name we have come against this multitude
  • You are our God

The first declaration is towards God’s uniqueness in power. God is not constrained by the circumstances. As a matter of fact, God loves to prevail on behalf of the weak.

The second declaration is towards His trustworthiness. God was worthy of Asa’s trust. God had led Asa toward peace and prosperity. And God had led Asa to prepare an army in peace time that he might be ready in times of trial. God could be trusted in these circumstances also.

The third declaration is towards His glory. When Asa invokes God’s name he is calling upon God’s total character. A person’s name represented all of who they were. In our English Bibles the word “Lord” in these verses is in all caps. That is because Asa was crying out to YAHWEH. This was the covenant name of God. It symbolized that God would do what He had promised. This name stood for the majesty of God, His glory.

And the fourth declaration is toward God’s claim on His people-and their claim on Him. Asa was declaring that he and the nation of Judah belonged to God exclusively. Asa was declaring his allegiance and trust to God. Notice too that the final request is that man not prevail against God, not against the armies of Asa. This reflects Asa’s belief and identity being anchored in God.

These faith declarations, tied to the character of God, frame and support the requests that Asa makes. As spiritual leaders we would do well to frame our pray requests in a similar manner. A leader’s prayer based on the character of God, made by a devoted follower of God, will be heard by God. James, the Lord’s brother, said it this way, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:16). May we be praying leaders, sure in the nature of God, and confident in our requests.

What are you learning about prayer as a leader?

A Leader’s Prayer: Psalm 25

David-Leader-Prayer-Psalm 25

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.

Two Critical Ingredients to Team Unity


UnknownSometimes I am asked by Christian leaders, “What are the elements that lead to true team unity?”  Unity is defined as being in a state of harmony.  It is the quality or state of being made one.  It is not the loss of diversity or uniqueness.  It is the confluence of gifts, abilities, like mindedness and effort towards a common cause.  My experience tells me that there are two primary pieces to creating team unity: Shared experiences and prayer.

Shared Experiences  Unity is enhanced when people are exposed to their weaknesses and made to depend on one another.  When a team tackles a difficult task, as a team, there is a comradery built around the need to pull together to be effective at that task.  The nature of the common task can vary greatly.  It can be an organized team building task.  It can be a true to life ministry effort.  Whatever the make up of the task it must include something significant enough to demand every member of the team to contribute well.  It must be of a nature that each team member begins to realize the value of every other team member.  The end result is that the team begins to see that they are better together than alone.  There is a sense of oneness that becomes apparent.  Therefore, there are appropriate times or seasons for a leader to require that a team go after something together-rather than continuing to be a collection of individual efforts under the same banner.

Prayer  Prayer is a spiritual exercise and it has power to shape the core of a team.  What I mean is that prayer, directed toward God, as a team, is a unifying experience because, by its very nature, it too expresses a deep dependence upon God.  When a team rallies around prayer as a collective expression of dependence, God has the opportunity to also form a collective heart.  Therefore it matters what teams pray for.  Therefore, there ought to be some God sized requests that a team can trust God for together.  As God acts in response to prayer, a team can also celebrate to His glory.

Shared experiences and prayer, when genuine, are important ingredients in forming team unity.  What are some of your thoughts?

A Leader’s Prayer-Psalm 101


Dennis Hill on Flickr

The book of Psalms found in the Bible is a collection of poems. It is Hebrew poetry. The individual psalms were often sung and recited as prayers or praise to God. Most of the Psalms found in the Bible are penned by King David of Israel. Psalm 101 is one such poem. It is a brief psalm, only eight verses long.

David addresses his poem of prayer to Yahweh. In the opening four verses he makes five declarations. Each declaration begins with the phrase “I will . . . ” David as a leader is taking a stand before God as to the type of leader he wants to be. But don’t forget that this is a prayer also. While David is declaring his intent he is also trusting in the steadfast love of God and the justice of God to make this true of him (see v.1).  These are prayer declarations. David is committing himself to lead with integrity. Look at the declarations below.

I will sing of steadfast love and justice

I will ponder the way that is blameless

I will walk with integrity of heart within my house

I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless

I will know nothing of evil

I would suggest that we as leaders pray the same declarations before God today. We can’t make these come true in our own strength. We need the grace of the gospel that is in Jesus Christ. Thus, why we pray. Prayer is always an act of dependence. But if the above declarations were becoming more true each day of you and I, think of the difference it would make in our leadership-and the blessing it would be to those we influence.

Lead well!

A Leader’s Prayer-Judges 5

medium_2680204486The 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.

The repeated pattern was the following:

  • Israel would sin through idolatry.
  • God would discipline them through conquest by a godless nation.
  • The Israelites would eventually cry out for a deliverer.
  • God would provide a judge to deliver them.
  • The people would live in peace for a season, until the cycle began again.

Deborah became an unlikely deliverer for the Israelites against a king of Canaan. Deborah was both a prophetess and a judge during a particular era of Israel’s history. Through Deborah, God raised up a deliverer,  a man named Barak. But Barak was wise enough to know that there would be no victory without Deborah. So through Deborah’s instruction and Barak’s execution, Israel threw off the chains of Canaan. Through this great victory Israel was accorded 40 years of national peace and rest.

In Judges 5 you find the words to a celebratory song from Deborah and Barak. It is an anthem of praise to God and an acknowledgement of his deliverance. It recounts the military exploits that God accomplished through Israel.

What is intriguing to me is verse two:

That the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly, bless the Lord!

The opening line to this song is a prayer of thanksgiving to God that leaders led well and people followed willingly. Isn’t that amazing? At a time of national crisis when leaders were desperately needed God raised up a woman and a man to rally leaders to lead. And when leaders led well, people followed. That was a reason for praise to God.

There are principles here for us as modern day leaders.

As leaders, we too must wholly lean on God in times of crisis.

As leaders, we must have the wisdom to recognize the word of God for us (in this case represented through Deborah) and not abandon that word.

As leaders, we must recognize that we accomplish little in our own resources and we must be careful to give God praise.

When leaders lead well and people willingly follow, we too must give thanks.

Pray that leaders all around us would lead well unto God’s purposes.

(photo credit)

A Leader’s Prayer-Psalm 5

medium_1795109345King David in the Bible faced many leadership challenges. Some were outside his control and some were a direct result of his personal sin. We do not know the exact circumstances that surround Psalm 5, but it is clear that David feels some anguish and senses his need for divine help.

Give ear to my words, O Lord;
    consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry,
    my King and my God,
    for to you do I pray.

David is expressing an attitude of heart as well as a petition. He groans and he cries out. Notice that David calls the Lord “my King and my God.” David rightfully acknowledges his own dependence and submission as he calls upon Yahweh. Certainly David is facing threats from those who are less than reputable. He speaks of these opponents as “bloodthirsty and deceitful men.” What is the essence of David’s prayer?  We find it in verse eight.

Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness
    because of my enemies;
     make your way straight before me.

David the leader prays to be led. He prays for God’s righteousness to prevail and for straight paths. David is crying our for clarity and for vindication. He looks not to his own resources but to God alone.

When we as leaders are faced with half-truths and deceptive practices we must also rely upon the One who controls it all.

When we may be tempted to grab control and retaliate we must lean on the One who deeply understands and is able to act on our behalf.  

David concludes this Psalm by pointing to God’s protection and blessing. David the king places his trust in the King of Kings. This is a leader’s prayer.

Can we do any less?

(photo credit)