Leading In A Way That Solicits Respect And Loyalty

The story of Abraham and his oldest servant is a great picture of the leadership style Abraham must have exhibited.  As Abraham was dying, he called his oldest servant to him and asked for his help carrying out his final wishes.  Read the servant’s response in the passage here:

Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and left, taking with him all kinds of good things from his master. He set out for Aram Naharaim and made his way to the town of Nahor. He had the camels kneel down near the well outside the town; it was toward evening, the time the women go out to draw water. Then he prayed, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham.(Genesis 24:10-12 NIV)

What sincere loyalty the servant had!  Loyalty like that does not come without merit. That is indeed a challenge for me in the way I lead.

Are you leading in such a way as to solicit respect, loyalty, and admiration from the people you lead?

For more thoughts on leadership, click HERE.

Your Life Can Change In One Day

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One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro… (Exodus 3:1)

It began as just a normal day for Moses. That morning, Moses set out, just as he had many years, to tend to his father-in-laws flock of sheep. Shepherding was a dirty, thankless job, but it was Moses’ livelihood and so in typical fashion, he began another day’s work. As the story goes, however, it was not just a normal day for Moses. This particular day would change the course of Moses’ life forever.

If you know the story in Exodus 3, this was the day Moses met God in the burning bush. This was the day God recruited Moses for Kingdom service. This was the day Moses became the chief representative for God to the Israelites. Beginning this day, Moses led the people out of Egypt towards the Promise Land. Along the way, God used Moses to lead the people through a parted sea, deliver the 10 Commandments, and feed the people with manna and quail. Oh yea, and Moses got to speak to a rock and watch as water poured out also. Moses life was never the same from that day forward.

The story of Moses is a great reminder to me of the power contained within a day. In one day, a life can be changed. One change of direction can alter a person’s future for good or bad. One new resolve, one decision to do the right thing (or the wrong thing), or one personal conviction can alter the outcome of a person’s life in positive or negative ways.

That really leaves me with one question for you: How are you allowing your “one days” to shape your life? Is there something in your life you know you need to be doing, some change of direction you need to make, some new commitment, but so far, you have not been obedient to what you know to do?

Could this be a day you surrender to the will of God for your life? Will this be the day you begin to head your life in the direction you actually want it to end? Will the resolve you make today carry you towards the vision you have for your life?

Life altering decisions usually begin “one day”. Is this your day?

For more devotional thoughts, click HERE.

Don’t Rush Your Checklist

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I am a self-admitted checklist guy…

However, I’ve learned not to stress as much if not every item is checked at the end of a day or week…

The fact is that sometimes the desire for completion gets in the way of achieving the greatest success…

My need to check the item off my list often causes me to miss the best timing…

The natural tendency to complete can lead to less than perfect preparation…

By not waiting, sometimes I proceed without the best plan…

Therefore, I achieve a less than possible outcome…

Don’t misunderstand…
I still make checklists…

I think you should also…

But now I am willing to move an item to the next checklist if it means arriving at a better plan…with better timing…and greater success…

Are you a checklist person? Do you stress if your list is not complete?

Planning For A Better Year In 2010

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Are you planning yet for 2010?

Now is a great time to start evaluating the year and planning for a better year in 2010.

I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping for an even better year. 2009 has been one of the hardest years for Cheryl and me personally that we’ve had in recent memory, and while most of the reasons could not have been avoided, (deaths, sickness, hurts of others etc.) there are things we can do now to plan for improvement.

I try to start by asking myself a few questions. Here are some random ones I have used before:

  • What do I want to improve upon or accomplish in the new year?
  • How can I accomplish my goals for the year? What action steps need to be taken? What changes in my life need to be made?
  • Are there disciplines I need to add to insure success in a particular area of my life?
  • Do I have the accountability and structure in my life to carry through with these disciplines?
  • How is my walk with Christ? How can it be improved?
  • What things could I stop doing to give myself more time to accomplish the goals I have set for a new year?
  • If I know the direction I want to go in the new year, what changes need to be made to head myself in that direction?
  • What areas of my life need the most attention for improvement; work, family, leisure time, finances, health, etc.?

You can think of better questions. The questions are not as important as the process. Start planning now for an even better year.

Do you plan for the new year? What strategy do you use?

For more thoughts on vision for life, click HERE.

Capturing The Best Ideas For Your Organization

team_building_ringA couple times a year we do an extended weekend staff retreat at Grace Community Church.  This weekend we are headed to Nashville for an all staff planning retreat.  An added twist is that our spouses will join us on Friday night for fellowship and then on Saturday morning for a special brainstorming session.  (We think they may have better ideas than we do!)

I was reminded in planning for this retreat of an important leadership principle:

Some of the best ideas for your organization…

Are probably not at a conference…

They are not in a book…

They are not even at your competition or sister organization…

While these are great places to learn new ways of doing things…

Some of the best ideas for your organization…

Are with the people who know your organization best…

The people already on your team…

Your challenge is to draw those ideas out of them….

(The fact is they may have learned their new ideas from a conference book, or from someone in another organization, but the collective knowledge is critical to moving your vision forward.)

How are you capturing the best ideas for your organization?

For more thoughts on innovation click HERE.

My Personal History of Leadership Development

iStock_000008266083XSmallI was honored this week when Jesse Phillips with CatalystSpace blog called me a “seasoned leader”. I feel I still have more to learn than I have learned, but it did cause me to reflect on some of the experiences I have had and people that have influenced me in my leadership ability.

Here are a few of those experiences and people that quickly come to my mind:

When I was in high school I served as student body president of a large, new school. My principal gave me freedom to do things most students never get to do. We wrote the student government constitution, organized clubs, hosted assemblies, and had a load of fun doing so. (I saw my principal recently and thanked him again for his influence. He taught me to release responsibility to people early and be willing to take a risk on others.)

I worked full-time all the way through college. As a sophomore, I became a retail department manager of a large store. Most days I was in over my head, but one of my colleagues was an older, mature, retired businessman. Although he technically “worked” for me, he taught me more about leading people than I could learn in college. (I learned to listen to those with more wisdom than me.)

I remained in retail after college, completed a management-training program for Belk Stores Services, and then served in several positions over a few year period. When my family began to grow, I decided to look for better working hours and so I became an independent insurance agent for Farmers Insurance Group. I was extremely successful in this venture and learned the principles of building something from nothing, marketing, and managing cash flow. (Funny how much those skills are needed in church planting!)

An opportunity to buy a small manufacturing company came available, and I convinced my wife to join me. We closed out successful careers to chase a dream. If it could go wrong, it did, and we sold within 5 years to the first serious buyer to come along. Through that negative experience, however, I learned huge principles of taking risks, leading under pressure, managing stress, to not run when things are difficult, and ways to overcome obstacles.  (Failure sometimes teaches us our biggest lessons.)

When God called me into ministry, He had me begin with nothing, then quickly sent me to an old, historic church seeking to rebuild. That rebuilding experience led to my first church planting type environment and it was there God instilled in me a passion for church growth and ultimately the desire for church planting.  I left this church to become involved  my first church plant and, a few years later, God called me to plant the church where I am today. Today God is still allowing the experiences and people in my life to shape my leadership abilities.

Where did you learn leadership? Who are the people and what are the experiences that have shaped the leader you are today?

For some of my leadership principles, click HERE.

Don’t Miss Opportunities Because You Don’t Have a Plan

Don’t say no to opportunities…say yes to an organized plan…

People always ask me how I do it all…

The truth is I don’t…

I just have a plan for my life…

And I do the things that fit in that plan…

I hear people say, “I know I need to be ______, but I don’t have time”….

I say “Yes” to Twitter and Facebook, for example, because right now, it works in that plan….(You can read about how that works HERE.)

But I don’t play Mafia Wars on Facebook either…

Why?  It doesn’t fit in the plan…

I don’t read everyone’s status updates or look at all the pictures either…

Why?  Same reason…

It’s more important that I’m there….making a presence….building connections…

That’s the plan…

Saying no is not the answer….

Saying yes to a plan is…

What are you not doing that you should be doing, because you don’t have a well-defined plan for your life?

Do Ministry Even If You Can Do Something Else

Praying Hands With BibleOne of the most frequent “encouragements” I have heard from pastors to those that are sensing a call to full-time vocational ministry is:

Don’t do ministry if you can do anything else…

I have made it a practice never to give that advice to people seeking my counsel. That cliché sounds good, but I am not sure it is practical, helpful, or even completely true.

For years, I resisted a call to ministry, partly because of this advice. The simple fact was that I could do some things besides ministry. I had some success in business. In fact, at one point I was extremely successful in my field. In my own strength, I found I could do many things.

What I could never seem to do on my own was find contentment. Resisting God’s call on my life for vocational ministry took me down numerous career changes looking for that one thing I was “supposed” to do. It wasn’t until I surrendered to full-time vocational ministry that I discovered what I was “designed” to do. I never knew contentment in my work life until God was my employer.

My advice if you are truly called to ministry is to do ministry, even if you can do something else. Nothing provides peace and contentment in life like obedience to God’s call on your life. For more thoughts on the call to ministry, click HERE.

Are you running from a call upon your life? Are you resisting something God is calling you to do?

The contentment you are looking for in life may not be found until you obey.

Just saying…

The Real People Behind The Online Presence

I enjoyed meeting some of the people that I admire online this week at Cultivate Conference in Chicago. Names that appear bigger than life to me, because I enjoy their blogs and work so much, were up close and personal. I shook the hands of people like, Jon Acuff, Kem Meyer, Scott McClellan, Kent Shaffer, Tony Steward and Rhett Smith.

I think the humbling thing for me was the reminder that these are real people. I heard a couple of their stories. They have real stories too.

Sometimes I think we tend to forget that behind the bigger than life appearance a strong web presence gives someone are real people with real stories…and real problems and challenges to life.

That’s true for all of us…

That’s true for me….

The fact is that I blog a lot. (Some would say too much.) There may be the tendency to believe I know what I’m talking about sometimes….

…Sometimes I actually do…

…Many times its because I learned a lesson the hard way…

But with everyone that has an online presence, including in my case, it’s important to remember that the online presence may not be a complete picture of reality. We can seem to have it all together through our blogs…but behind the computer sits real people with real stories…and real problems and real challenges to life.

What’s your current problem or challenge?  Do you clean it up well online?

One Contrast Between Leaders and Managers

One contrast between a manager and a leader is that good managers enjoy stability…

The best managers love systems that work…

…While leaders love chaos…

They may not admit it, because it sounds somewhat morbid, but leaders love when things are just a little messy…

The truth is leaders love fixing a problem…

Leaders love leading a charge through adversity…

Leaders love a challenge…

It’s not that leaders don’t want things that work well…

Leaders just thrive on change…on adrenaline…

Since, leaders are heads up more than heads down…

…And tend to see the big picture over the details…

Real leaders thrive best when everyone else is looking for a leader.

He or she loves figuring out solutions to different situations….

Leaders love forming a new strategy…

Leaders love shaping a team through rough waters…

Leaders love attaining those things everyone else said couldn’t be attained…

Leaders love to lead…

In fact, if things get too comfortable…well…I wrote about that concept HERE.

Considering this observation, are you more of a leader or a manager? (Read THIS POST for more on this subject)

Be honest leaders: Do you agree? (Feel free to disagree.)