Consecration: In Ministry and Leadership

consecrate

This is a guest post by my friend Greg Atkinson. Greg is an author, speaker, consultant and the Editor of Christian Media Magazine. Greg has started businesses including the worship resource website WorshipHouse Media, a social media marketing company, and his own consulting firm. As a consultant, Greg has worked with some of the largest and fastest-growing churches across the United States. Greg is the author of Church Leadership Essentials and Strange Leadership.

Consecration by Greg Atkinson

Consecration or the act of consecrating means “dedication to the service and worship of a deity.” We serve, lead, and minister from a place and posture of consecration. This is the prerequisite for God choosing to use us in His grand plan.

The book of Exodus uses the word consecrate nineteen times. The book of Leviticus uses it eleven times. It’s used several more times throughout the Old Testament and a few times in the New Testament. Under the direction of king Hezekiah, the priests consecrated and purified the temple of the Lord, clearing out everything that was ritually unclean. Side note: You want to talk about innovation and creativity? Just look at all the work that went into building the temple. Wow.

“Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There are devoted things among you, Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove them. —Joshua 7:13 (NIV)

God tells Joshua to tell the people to consecrate themselves in preparation for a coming battle. He says they will not win unless they do it. I’m sure you’ve realized by now, we’re in a war. I’m not talking about Iraq or Afghanistan or Russia, or whatever the current conflict is when you are reading this. I’m talking about the spiritual war we as ministers of the gospel are all engaged in. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

If you want to see supernatural innovation in your life and ministry—something that can only be explained by the hand of God and changes people’s lives for eternity, you must be a consecrated servant leader. I’m not talking about being perfect, for we know only One has lived a perfect life. I’m talking about striving for a life of personal purity and holiness and dedicating our whole being to the will of God. Then and only then, will you be able to “stand against your enemies.” This is important because each of you, in your city and community, have strongholds and evil forces at work that are waging a war for the souls you so desperately long to reach. God may be wanting to do a “new thing” in your midst and shower you with the blessing of insight, knowledge, wisdom and discernment, but He is urging you (like He did Joshua) to “consecrate yourselves in preparation
for tomorrow.”

We recently moved into a new building at my church and when we were preparing for our first week in the new building, God gave me the following verse:

Then Joshua said to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.’ —Joshua 3:5 (NASB)

I had an art piece made up and our entire congregation signed it with Josh 3:5 in the middle of the art piece. Many Saturday nights, I will post the Scripture on Facebook and ask people to pray for what God will do in the morning when we gather for worship.

Friends, don’t miss this: consecration is required if you want to see God move. I’m talking about personal and/or corporate consecration. Let’s take a quick look at what the Bible says about Noah.

This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. —Genesis 6:9

Noah was a man consecrated to God, and God used him to change history. Proverbs 3:32 tells us God “is intimate with the upright.” To truly be led by the Spirit, one must be upright and live a life of daily consecration. Out of this can flow all sorts of new ways of ministry and innovation.

[This has been an excerpt from one chapter of Greg Atkinson’s new book Strange Leadership: 40 Ways to Lead an Innovative Organization. Go to the book’s website for more info: http://strangeleadership.com/]

A Message from an Old Guy to Young Parents

Boredom

I’m an old guy now.

Officially.

Not really — at least I don’t think so — but to some.

My kids are grown. Out of the house.

Recently, we were having a meeting about church activities and a young man said, “We should get some of the older people in the church involved.”

He meant people my age. I guess “older” isn’t old, but it certainly felt that way at the time.

But, us old guys have learned a few things. And, so here is a word from the old guy.

To parents. Parents who are younger. With younger children.

Here goes…

It’s okay for your child to be bored.

There. I said it. See how old I am?

It’s okay for some time to pass where your children has nothing to do. Where they have no toys — or electronics — nothing to entertain them.

It’s okay for your child to be occasionally bored. It won’t hurt them. It might help them.

I’m a people watcher. It doesn’t seem some parents know this. The children are always being entertained. In the restaurant they have your phone — or their own phone. In the car they have a video rolling. In the store they are often being occupied by something electronic.

They never seem to be bored. If they get bored it seems most of you scramble for a way to quickly entertain them.

And what I’m suggesting is that it’s good for your child to be bored.

Really, it is.

There will be days — when they aren’t ‘being entertained all the time — they might play with sticks. Get their hands dirty. Or, they might just create something new. They could invent a new game. Expand their imagination.

And, in high school — college — in their first job — they’ll get bored. It’s okay. They’ll know what to do — and what not to do — when that occurs.

Don’t misunderstand. Exposing your children to exciting things is fun. The Disney experience can be magical. Enjoy it. I encourage you too if you can, but you don’t have to try to maintain that level of excitement when you come home. It makes Disney even less magical.  Occasionally let them be bored. That’s all I’m suggesting.

And, the old guy spoke.

I know — none of my business. And, you can dismiss it as quickly as it took you to read.

But, for some of you — maybe just one — trust me in this.

3 Ways to Helpfully Lead First Chair Leaders

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In my post 7 Ways to Attract First Chair Leaders to a Second Chair Position I presented thoughts on keeping a leader who could be the first chair leader (or someday wants to be) in the second chair position. I received good feedback from the post, but some questions, so I decided to write more thoughts on the topic.

I’m still working on a post to identify first chair leaders. I’ve been attempting to do that throughout my leadership career, but haven’t spent much time putting in writing what I have observed. Stay tuned.

Recently, however, I was in a meeting discussing this issue and a specific question was asked I felt I could address now.

A leader asked, “How do I help first chair leaders?”

This team has several first chair leaders, and this seasoned leader is wondering how to best help — and ultimately lead — other seasoned leaders. In a strictly organizational structure or reporting sense, this leader supervises other first chair type leaders, but the reality is, and he readily admitted, they have equal or more experience than this leader has in the area they are assigned to lead. They have a certain expertise in areas they lead this leader doesn’t have. And, many times, he feels they could lead without him in the picture. Yet, this leader is supposed to supervise — lead — them. (That is, by the way, a great start in being a humble, servant leader — recognizing they could do it without you.)

How does he do that in a helpful way?

Great question.

This is not an exhaustive or detailed list. I deal more in principles with this blog, because specifics are harder to answer for each context. And, my previous post shared some other, broader ways. This was the answer that came to my mind at the time. And, it seemed helpful.

Hopefully, if nothing else, it helps shape a thought process. I went to a board and drew out an attempted suggestion of how to lead first chair leaders. (See the picture with this post.)

Do you want to help the first chair leaders you supervise?

Help the first chair leader you supervise draw lines.

That’s right. Draw lines.

Then help them grow within the lines.

Here’s what I mean. Or, at least, I will attempt to share what I mean.

Help them define their purpose. (Represented by the two red lines in the picture.)

These lines represent the scope of what the first chair leader has been assigned to do. They’ve been asked to lead small group ministry, for example. Or, they’ve been asked to lead a missions ministry. Whatever it is they’ve been asked to accomplish, help them draw lines around that assignment — some boundaries if you will — a defined objective. If they are to be successful in what they’ve been asked to do, what would that look like?

Help them realize success. (Represented by the green arrows.)

Help them write clear goals and objectives. Share resources with them. Ask questions to stir their thought process. Give them assistance where needed or requested. Be a consistent cheerleader. Empower them. Don’t control. (See previous post.) Get out of the way when you’re in the way and get in the middle of things when you’re needed and requested to be there. Remember, these are first chair leaders. They can likely handle this without a lot of supervision, but your position, authority and experience may be extremely helpful at times. Be available when needed. Also, you may have to provide accountability at times and be their coach. And, if absolutely needed, you may need to be the hard voice in their life to help them stay on track towards success.

Help them protect the lines. (Represented by a blue “X”.)

There will always be interruptions — competing ideas and agendas — for a person’s time. As a leader of first chair leaders, you can help keep them within the predetermined lines. You can help protect the influences outside the lines. When they are asked to do something that doesn’t line up with the goals and objectives agreed upon, you can defend their right to say no. Of course, we all have to handle interruptions at times and do things we hadn’t “planned” to do, but you can help them discern when to step outside the lines.

Does that help? What other questions does it generate for you?

Should the Position Be Paid or Volunteer?

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I received a great question recently. 

Unfortunately, I couldn’t give a good answer. 

Or, at least, not the answer they were seeking. They wanted an answer that would solve the issue. I couldn’t give that answer. 

This individual is being asked to do a part-time job at the church plant he attends. It would be launching a new ministry within the church. As with most plants, there is a limited budget, so they can’t afford to pay him. He agrees with the church’s philosophy to mostly have volunteers instead of paid staff. He believes, however, that this position is too involved to be volunteer — especially for his current life situation. He feels he should be paid if he agrees to take on the challenge, but the leadership disagrees. 

He asked me if I would write a post about when a position should be paid and when it should be volunteer. 

Here is my answer:

I wish I could tell you there are hard set guidelines here, but there aren’t — in my opinion. So much of this issue depends on context. 

The post I would write, and I think I might, would be more on principle than anything. 

It depends on the church and the individual. And, both should be part of the answer. And, the answers don’t always easily mesh. 

First, what is best for the church?

For example. Some churches are almost all volunteer. Sounds like this church plant is that way. So, I would want to know about other similar workload positions in the church. Are they paid or volunteer? 

It’s dangerous to start paying one person and not another with similar workloads, unless there is a valid reason for doing so. It causes tension and disharmony. 

At the same time, churches have to make decisions that are best for the church long term. Once a decision is made to start paying for a position, that usually locks the church into having that position and the ministry for a long time. If that person leaves the church, most churches will look for someone to replace them. It becomes a part of the annual budget process. That is a big commitment, which should be considered. The same is not necessarily true of a volunteer position. 

Then it also depends on the person.

Can that person commit that much time and be volunteer? Some can and some can’t. 

I know one very large church — several thousand people attend each week — that has a volunteeer executive pastor — and he is full time. He’s a self made millionaire and didn’t want the church to pay him. Obviously, this is an extreme example, and most churches couldn’t do that, but there are times the person simply doesn’t need the income for their volunteer efforts. That’s okay — and a huge blessing to the church.

I also know a church that had a single mom as a key volunteer. As her role grew she needed to be paid in order to handle the extra time she could have worked elsewhere and her child care. The church felt it would have been taking advantage of her otherwise. 

A church has to think what’s fair and equitable for the church and all the individuals involved. 

I advised this gentleman that I would probably be asking myself if I could afford to do this for free or, if I’m going to invest my time — in fairness to myself and family, do I need to be paid? 

The church needs to be asking a fairness question too, because it impacts more people than just this one person. If they pay him, will that open up a need to pay others with similar workloads? Will it set a precedent for this ministry and others?

But, that brings up a few thoughts about answering these type leadership issues:

I always try to go with principles first. What’s the larger principle guiding the individual decisions? Sometimes it helps to think in those terms. 

I try to think big picture. Almost every decision impacts more than one person or one situation.  

I am careful not to lock myself into one answer — on non-Biblical issues. One problem I have with a strict policy is that it often keeps the church from individualizing their response based on the unique set of circumstances at the time. In the case above, whether positions should be paid or volunteer, there are always parameters to be considered beyond that which a rule can be clearly written. 

Those are a few thoughts — long answer to a shorter question.

But, aren’t most leadership issues like that? Many times we find it easier to write hard, fast rules than to do the harder work of thinking bigger. Without the rules it’s messier too, but that’s why we need good leadership — to navigate through the messy to get to the best.

What do you think? 

I Say This In Love…

Grumpy, pissed off, unhappy old man

“I say this in love…”

You can injure a lot of people with that term.

“I say this in love” has caused a lot of damage over the years.

In marriage…
In church relationships…
In work situations…
In families…

It can be in person or online.

It’s often the start of some of the “best” gossip — or unfair judging. Certainly some very hurtful criticism begins this way.

I’ve been the recipient of this kind of “love” and sometimes it doesn’t seem very loving to me.

Sometimes people seem to think they can say anything — in any form — without considering the consequences — as long as they begin with that phrase.

I’ve seen people preface a mean-spirited zinger of a comment with a disclaimer of love, but it’s still a mean-spirited zinger. The way you begin a conversation doesn’t remove the need to be kind, even when offering correction or extending criticism.

We should do all things in love. That’s a command. As believers, we have to learn how to critique, criticize, complain and even rebuke people — in love.

But, let’s make sure we display love all the way through our conversations.

Not just with the first five words.

In a future post, I’ll to help us think through this issue more with some hopefully helpful tips.

7 Ways to Attract First Chair Leaders to a Second Chair Position

Handshake - extraversio

I was asked a great question recently while visiting with a group of leadership students from a nearby Christian college.

How do you attract (and keep) “first chair” type leaders into a “second chair” position?

These young leaders are ambitious. They are ready to make their mark on society. Most are studying for ministerial positions within the church. I always advise young leaders, if they can, to sit under a seasoned leader for a while, learning all they can, before they venture out on their own. I had just offered this advice which prompted the question.

I realize that’s not always the advice a young, ready-to-go leader type wants to hear — and I get that, since I was one of those younger leaders. And, we learn mostly by failure, so there is something to be said for jumping out on your own, getting both feet wet (to use another cliche metaphor), and starting something new.

Many of these young leaders will be church planters, and we need them to be. We need more church planters. Still, if I was advising one of my own children, I’d give the same advice. If possible, sit under a seasoned leader first.

This group had been studying the concept of first chair and second chair leadership, so that prompted a good, obvious question.

(For some help with definition, if needed, the first chair leader usually has a title such as C.E.O., President, Senior Pastor. Second chair leaders have a title such as C.O.O., Vice President, Associate Pastor.)

How do you attract (and keep) “first chair” type leaders into a “second chair” position?

They followed that question with another equally good question.

They asked if I felt I could ever again be a second chair leader. At this point, they knew my history. I’ve been a first chair leader for well over 20 years.

My answer to the second question first.

Yes. I could be a second chair leader.

My answer to the second question. With the number 7 — of course.

Here are 7 ways to attract (and keep) first chair leaders in a second chair position:

Remove the lids – The real reason most people resist the second chair is they don’t want to be limited in how much they can achieve. The best first chair leaders are willing to get out of the way and let people around them lead — even if the second chair person’s success gains more notoriety than the first chair.

Empower individual dreams – If a second chair person feels the freedom to dream big dreams — even individual dreams — they’ll be fueled to continue in the role. They may have to be empowered to work on dreams that are even outside the vision of their current organization. Of course, they still need to meet all the requirements of a good second chair leader, so there should be loyalty to the place where they are currently serving in the second chair.

Let the leader build a team – Second chair leaders, who are qualified to be first chair leaders, need to have the freedom to build their own teams. They should be able to recruit and lead their own people. (Again, I can offer this qualifier in every point, but this is with the understanding that there is an overall vision that must be maintained, and ultimately that vision holder is the first chair leader.)

Invite their input into larger decisions – This is huge. Second chair leaders who could be first chair leaders want to play a part in the overall strategy and implementation of the organization. They have ideas. They have energy to invest in them. They want to make a difference. If you want to keep them you have to give them a seat at the lead table.

Give them a voice – This goes with the last one, but not only should they have a seat at the table, but their input should matter. Their opinion must make a difference in the overall direction of the organization. The weight of their suggestions must be valuable in making final decisions. Hyper controlling leaders will have a very hard time with this one, but it’s critical to retaining the best “first chair minded” — second chair leaders.

Don’t Micromanage – This one probably goes without saying. The best first chair leaders don’t micromanage anyone, but this is especially true if you want to attract the first chair leader types into the second chair. You certainly can and should have broad goals and objectives for them to achieve, and, again, they should be working for the same overall vision of the entire organization, but then, if you want to keep them, get out of their way and let them do their work.

Extend recognition – Don’t hog the glory. (Of course, the only real glory goes to God, but don’t be afraid to celebrate their success.)

Let me be clear, as I tried to be with the leadership students, there are exceptional second chair leaders who never desire to be first chair leaders. They are awesome! I love having them on my team. In fact, I’ll be transparent enough to say that without some of them I am very ineffective as a first chair leader. You don’t want me in the first chair unless I have some good second chair people around me.

There are good first chair leaders serving in second chair positions. Keeping them is more difficult, because they are natural first chairs. There’s another blog post here on how I spot a first chair leader, but I have always had some on my team. They make me and the organization (or church) I lead even better.

Granted, some don’t even like this type discussion, especially in a ministerial context, because Jesus is in the first chair — ALWAYS — and, I totally agree with that — and to some, who don’t appreciate the concept, it my sound egotistical. I get that too. I’ve written about the church afraid of leadership previously. But, if you want to ignore the realities of organizational structures that exist in any place where two or more people are gathered, including the church, you can probably ignore this post.

If you want to attract and keep them — I hope this post helps.

Releasing an Employee for Less Obvious Offenses

Unemployment

One of the hardest decision a leader makes is to release someone from employment. I’ve only known a few very callous people who weren’t extremely bothered by having to fire someone. Making any kind of employment decision comes with the sobering reality, regardless of what the person did wrong, that the decision will likely impact others who are many times innocent in the offense.

I’ve heard good leaders say repeatedly that we should “hire slow” and “fire fast”, but that’s much easier to say than it is to do.

When the offense is clear, due proces has been given and every reasonable attempt to restore has been exhausted as a leader, we must make the right decision for the good of everyone involved. Most leaders agree with that statement. Even as hard as it is to make.

If someone is a thief
If someone consistently lies
If someone is blatantly lazy

Those aren’t easy decisions, and due process, fairness, and grace still play a part, but they are often easier to clarify what needs to happen.

One of the harder decisions for me (and other leaders I’ve spoken to), but one I’ve had to make numerous times, is when I have to release someone for less obvious offenses. They aren’t black and white issues.

Sometimes it’s not for the offense but for the integrity of the organization that is at stake when employment decisions need to be made. And, many leaders miss these, because they are more difficult to clarify. (By the way, I’m writing this in an organizational sense, but this includes churches too.)

Years ago, I had someone on my team who was a tremendous producer. One of our best. He could sell anything. In a strictly bottom line — on paper sense, he made the company money. But, it was some of the external, not as easy to define aspects of his employment that made him a poor fit for the team. (He was disrespectful, never attended meetings, bad-mouthed the company, etc.)

It was hard to lose a top performer, but there were larger issues at stake.

Here are a few examples of situations I have personally experienced or walked through with other leaders.

1. The person has lost all credibility with the team. This is could be with peers, a team he or she leads, or with volunteers (this is especially true of volunteers). At this point the energy trying to repair their relationships would be too overwhelming. Everyone else is wondering why you haven’t moved sooner to make a hard decision. Sometimes it’s best for everyone if we simply start with a clean slate.

2. The person refuses to support the overall vision. They may have the skills to be outstanding, but their attitude causes them to serve as more of a cancer to the team than an asset.

3. The person has “left the building” in terms of wanting to move on to something else, so they no longer give any heart for the job. And, everyone knows it. It’s bringing down the morale and work ethic of the rest of the team.

There are others, but hopefully you get my point. Again, hard decisions. Not always easy to define.

But, making the right decision protects the integrity of the organization, the teams involved, and, often, the ability of the team to respect your leadership.

Do you have a hard decision you need to make these days? It won’t be easy. It may even be a temporary setback for the team. But, your credibility and success as a leader may depend on the quality of decision you make.

What are your “last straws” that cause you to release someone?

7 Truths about Pastors Who Disappoint You

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I wrote recently about another fallen pastor. I shared how devastated I was at the news.

I’ve been amazed at some of the rude comments I’ve received. And, I love that this is my blog and I can delete them if I want to. It’s like they never read my post about Christians being less mean online. :)

Seriously, though, some people seem to think pastors are supposed to be super humans. Sure, pastors are held more responsible in the eyes of God for how we lead in the church, but we aren’t any better –or more equipped — at living a victorious Christian life than any other Christian. It’s all grace. It’s all a work of His Spirit. Apart from Him I can do nothing. And, whenever I stop submitting my will to His will — I fail. Every time. (One guy commented that since I said something like that in my previous post that I must be hiding an affair also. What? I deleted that comment.)

I think the undue pressure on pastors is one of the leading causes of pastor burnout. And, ultimately complete failure. And, granted, much of this is self-induced pressure. I admit that. And, no that is not an excuse. Sin is sin. Sin is a horrible offense to a Holy God. All sin. And all have sinned. And fall short of His glory. (That was my last sermon series by the way.)

I received lots of positive feedback also, but, like us pastors often do, I couldn’t get past the few negatives to celebrate all the positives. (I wrote a blog post about this problem some pastors — and others — seem to have.)

So, it led to this post. Just some random thoughts about pastors. Especially those who disappoint you. And me. Because I’ve been disappointed by pastors too. Shoot, I’ve been disappointed in myself.

Let me share a few things you may not know about pastors. Seven things to be exact.

Because I like the number seven.

And, let me be clear. I’m not taking this lightly. Sometimes I write more light-hearted to balance the extremes of those who seem to have forgotten how to even smile. And, yes, I think we are to rejoice — find joy — even in the midst of suffering. Because I read that somewhere.

To the contrary. Times like this, when another pastor falls, always reminds me of the horribleness of sin. It always causes me to look inward again at my own life. (And, that’s never a bad thing to do — “Search me God” — as David prayed.)

But, there are some things you need to know about pastors.

7 truths about pastors who disappoint you

One person, working on behalf of self, can’t destroy the work of the Holy Spirit, working on behalf of God. Your pastor may disappoint you, but that ultimately can’t destroy the work God began in you — even through the pastor’s teaching. You may be stunned for now, but you’ll grow back stronger if you continue to surrender to His will.

Pastors — and even a local body — come and go. But the church — Christ’s body — is here to stay. God WILL protect His church.

People will deceive you — even some pastors. But God’s Word will never fail you. Ask yourself — who are you extending ultimate trust to anyway?

Pastors lead. I write about it consistently on this blog. I believe God uses people to lead his church. But ultimately they aren’t in control. God is. He WILL have the final word.

Just because we preach truth, doesn’t meant we’ve always mastered it. We are still being sanctified too. Isn’t that why we need a Savior? And, why the pastor isn’t your Savior?

Pastors are often skilled at acting like everything is okay — even when it isn’t. You’ve fooled others before — right? So has your pastor. Some pastors have this false idea that we are supposed to keep you from seeing that we are human. Almost like it was seminary trained into us. (BTW, if I was supposed to get that in seminary — I didn’t.)

A pastor is less likely to be transparent with unpredictable outcomes. If they doubt the grace you’ll extend, they’ll be less likely to share their deepest struggles. We’ve almost created a system that makes it difficult for the pastor to have failings. And, yes, again, much of this is self-induced pressure.

We need help. All pastors do. All people do. We need people who truly care. Who can accept us flaws and all. Who will love us on days we are doing everything right and days we seem to do everything wrong. People who will call a sin a sin before it reaches the magnitude that destroys other people’s lives, damages our greater witness, and hurts the Kingdom work we felt called to do. And, isn’t that a primary purpose of the church — making disciples? We need the church too.

That’s my seven. Okay eight. But, sometimes we miscount too. Even on Sundays :) We aren’t perfect. And, there. Told you. Random. But, you need to know.

So I’ll stop there for now.

How’s that for honesty?

Now, again, none of this is aimed as an excuse. It’s just for transparency.

What are other random facts about pastors others may not know?

7 “BE’s” of Effective Leadership and Management

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One of the chief goals of this blog is to encourage better leadership. In this post, I’m including the term management. I believe the two are different functions, but both are vital to a healthy organization. Whether you lead or manage a large or small organization — or church — there are principles for being effective.

Here are 7:

Be aware – Know your team. People are individuals. They have unique expectations and they require different things from leadership. Some require more attention and some less. Use personality profiles or just get to know them over time, but learn the people you are supposed to be leading or managing.

Be open – Let them know you — as a person outside of the role as leader or manager. Be transparent enough that they can learn to trust you.

Be responsive – Don’t leave people waiting too long for a response. They’ll make up their own if you do — and it’s usually not the conclusion you want them to reach.

Be approachable – You can’t be everything to everyone, and you may not always be available, but for the people you are called to lead or manage, you need to be approachable. They need to know if there is a problem — or a concern — you will be receptive to hearing from them. I realize the larger the organization the more difficult this becomes, but build systems that allow you to hear from people at every level within the organization.

Be consistent – Over time, the team you lead or manage needs to know you are going to be dependable. The world is changing fast. It’s hard to know who to trust these days. We certainly need to be able to trust people we are supposed to follow.

Be trustworthy – Follow through on what you say you will do. If you make a promise — keep it. If you can’t support something — say it. If you’re not going to do it — say no. Let your word be your bond. Spend time building and protecting your character. Be the quality of person you would want to follow.

Be appreciative – Recognize you can’t do it alone. Be grateful. Be rewarding. Celebrate. Love others genuinely and display it well.

What would you add? Upon which of these do you most need to improve?

Wisdom in Years — As Fast As I Could Write

wisdom road sign arrow

I met with a near 80 year old business leader recently. I’m not sharing his name. He’s not famous, but he is well-known in the region where I live. But, he’s been exceptionally successful. He’s made lots of money. And, as a result, he has tremendous influence and a very comfortable lifestyle. He’s a straight, candid talker. In spite of his success, he was exceptionally approachable and genuinely seemed to be a kind-hearted man. His benevolent activities in the community indicate that is true.

(As a side note, I’ve learned people such as this man are willing to share their wisdom if asked. They are often honored to do so.)

This man is still working hard today — hasn’t slowed down a bit — in fact, the day we met he was exploring a new business deal that will take an enormous amount of his time, but has huge potential for returns.

Knowing that I connect with community leaders — I feel that’s a large part of growing a church these days — several people suggested I meet with him. He’s very active in the region and therefore I knew he would have insight into how our church can be more involved locally. He is a believer, but does not attend my church.

I quickly knew I was in for a overload of wisdom. I couldn’t capture it quick enough. (Which is another reminder to always take a way to record notes when you have such a meeting. I’m glad I did.)

He was particularly interested in the next generation. He used the term “entitlement” several times. He feels we’ve perhaps spoiled our children too much and it is impacting who we are as a society. You’ll see those thoughts in our talk. We were surrounded by pictures of his family. I suspect he’s concerned for his children and grandchildren’s future.

I share some of his statements in our conversation without commentary — just as he shared them with me. My purpose in sharing is just to give you the opportunity I had — gleaning from a successful, self-made, community leader.

Here are some of the random notes I took away from our conversation:

A huge problem with leaders at times is the zeal axis and the wisdom axis aren’t aligned. By the time you develop your character enough (wisdom axis) you lose your zeal.

The older I get the easier I can see a bigger picture. I’ve learned a few things I wish some of our younger employees would hear.

I always try a team approach to an issue. I don’t like surprises. Worst thing in leading is a surprise. With a team approach there are fewer.

Don’t burn bridges. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t make them bad people. Don’t treat them that way. You may need their connection down the road.

I carve out the piece of someone I don’t like and love the rest of them. You can love them without loving that piece of them (that they may not even like themselves).

As a businessperson, I’ve had some of my best success dealing well with the least of these. Don’t consider others better than yourself and you’ll be rewarded eventually (for your humility).

There are no substitutes for hard work.

I quit hiring people who have “lifeguard” or “golf caddy” on their resume. I hire people who have worked at Wal Mart or Dairy Queen — places like that. I want to know you know how to actually work for a paycheck.

Many of the young people we hire today want all the quality of life benefits now, but they don’t want to earn it.

At what point did we become entitled to Spring Break? Or to better shoes than the mom has?

I believe every business leader owes it to their community to participate in making the community better. It makes you feel better. It helps the community, and the bonus is you actually get business out of it.

Every good thing that ever happened to me (apart from God’s grace) I earned. Every bad thing that ever happened to me (apart from God’s mercy) I earned.

You reap what you sow, generally speaking. As the old saying goes, “The harder I work the luckier I get.”

You may or may not agree with everything he said, but what stands out to you most?