Why David was a “Man After God’s Own Heart” (Repost)

shepherd

An often-confusing term concerning the Biblical character of David is the term “man after God’s own heart”.

Have you ever wondered what that really means? What does that kind of heart even look like? There is one verse from the writings of David that I believe perhaps best captures the meaning behind this phrase.

I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”

(Psalms 16:2)

That’s it. Pretty simple, huh?

But, it’s really not that simple.

David recognized that the only good in him was the God in him. Great godly leaders and people are willing to step aside from their own need for ego building and self-confidence and humble themselves before an almighty God.

I have heard before that President Theodore Roosevelt often went outdoors at night, looked up into the vastness of the universe, simply to remind himself of his humanity compared to the vastness of the universe. I think that is an important principle for all of us that claim a leadership title.

Next time someone asks you why David was called “a man after God’s own heart”, point him or her to Psalm 16:2. It’s an attitude of heart…of recognition…of worship.

(Every year this is one of my most read posts. You might also read “David Remained a Man After God’s Own Heart (Except that time…)” , “10 Reasons David Is A Man After God’s Own Heart” and “5 Thoughts on Leadership from the Life of David“)

Personal Values as a Leader (Repost)

(I’m counting down the top posts of the year.)

I write about leadership. I try to keep it personal. I don’t always accomplish everything perfectly that I write about, but my goal is to be a growing leader.

One critical aspect of leadership, in my experience, is to be aware of the values one holds. As in life, each leader has certain values that are especially and even uniquely important to him or her. Without thinking about it, we typically will favor those values in the way we lead others…when we make policies, in the way that we manage and the issues which get our greatest attention. Because we make decisions based on what we value, it’s important that a leader understand what he or she values in leadership and to recognize also that others may hold values which are different from ours.

Have you ever considered your personal values as a leader?

I’ve spent time over the years realizing the things I tend to value most in leadership. Those whom I lead can probably clearly see these displayed in my leadership. This doesn’t mean other values aren’t important…perhaps even more important…but that these are the ones most important to me.

Here are my top 7 values as a leader and why I hold them:

Responsiveness – I believe leaders are required to be responsive to those they wish to lead. If people don’t hear from you they make up their own scenarios, become afraid, and lose interest and motivation. (I’ve written about that before HERE.)

Accountability – Leaders are extremely vulnerable individuals. Sometimes the leader is the last to know there is a problem. Power in leadership can lead to problems with pride and corruption. (I believe and practice this personally and have written about it numerous times. You can read one HERE. I even offer specific consulting to help leaders in this area.)

Grace – No leader ever gets to the top without a tremendous amount of grace along the way. Isn’t it only fair that a leader reciprocates the grace received into grace given? (I write about grace and forgiveness frequently. You can find several HERE.)

Authenticity – If a leader wants people to follow, he or she must be trustable. That requires realness and transparency. (I wrote specifically about that HERE.)

Integrity – Leaders are taking people places where they may not be completely comfortable going. If a leader has been granted trust, he or she should honor that trust with honest and moral leadership. (I’ve frequently written about this value. You can find one instance HERE.)

Change – Organizations that stand still die. Change brings momentum and creates opportunities for growth. Leadership development happens best during change. (I’ve written about this in my personal life HERE and numerous times organizationally, such as HERE.)

Intentionality – Nothing happens without action. You can have the greatest dreams and they will remain only a dream without a plan, a strategy, a system and genuine effort. (Intentional is a word I use frequently with our staff and challenge it in our church. You can read a post example HERE.)

What are your personal values as a leader (or person)? I’d love to hear your top 7. They will most likely be different from mine, but that’s what makes the world of leadership so interesting. Different leaders…different values.

(I previously wrote 7 non-negotiable traits to work on my team. Those are different from values in that I can require them. I can’t always require everyone hold the same values I have…although I’m confident I subconsciously look for them in the people we hire.)

10 Characteristics of Good Leadership (Repost)

(This time of year I typically share the most popular posts of the year.)

Leadership Ahead

Here are 10 characteristics of good leadership:

Recognizes the value in other people, so continually invests in others – Good leaders see a large part of their role as developing other leaders. Leadership development takes place in an organization as good leaders begin to share their experiences, good and bad, with others.

Shares information with those in the organization – There is a tendency of some leaders to hold information, because information is power, but a good leader knows that the more information the team has that collectively the team is better, which directly benefits the leader.

Has above average character – There are no perfect people, but for a leader to be considered good, they must have a character that is unquestioned within the organization. Leadership always draws criticism from someone, so a leader may not be able to get everyone to believe in him or her, but the people who know the leader best should trust the leader’s character.

Uses their influence for the good of others – Good leaders are as interested in making a positive difference in people’s lives as they are in creating a healthy profit margin. This doesn’t mean that balance sheets and income statements aren’t important, in fact they are vital for the success of an organization (even non-profits), but a good leader doesn’t separating a desire for helping others from the desire for financial success. Good leaders find ways to leverage financial health to strengthen the well-being of others.

Is skillful and competent – Good leaders can be depended on for their professionalism and follow through. You don’t question whether a good leader is going to be able to complete a task. If they don’t know how to do something, they will find someone who does, but they will ensure that a job is done the best way it can be done.

Not afraid for others to succeed (even greater than their own success) – Good leaders realize that some followers will outgrow the leader’s ability to develop them any further. Good leaders, however, aren’t threatened by another’s success. They are willing to celebrate as those around them succeed.

Serves others expecting nothing in return – Good leaders have a heart of service. They truly love and value people and want to help others for the good of the one being helped, not necessarily for personal gain.

Continues to learn – Good leaders are always learning and implementing those learnings into the betterment of the organization. That could be through reading, conferences, web-based learnings, or through other leaders, but also through people who report to the leader.

Remains accessible, approachable, and accountable to others – Good leaders don’t isolate themselves from people regardless of the amount of responsibility or power he or she attains. Good leaders willingly seek the input of other people into their professional and personal lives.

Is visionary: Thinks for the organization beyond today – Good leaders are always thinking beyond today. “What’s next?” is a common question asked by good leaders, knowing that someone must continually encourage change, growth and strategic thinking for an organization to remain healthy.

What would you add to my list?

An Organizational Growth Cap Theory

When I consider companies like Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon, the one constant I think of is change. Interestingly, after I typed that first sentence, I Googled “Most Innovative Companies” and found Fast’s list for 2012. How close do you think I got to their list? See for yourself HERE. But, don’t be impressed with my guesswork. You could have done the same thing, because it’s obvious to us that these companies are all about change.

Then I think of churches I know…some of the most growing, Kingdom-impacting churches I know are also the most innovative…the most open to continual change. I think of LifeChurch.tv, for example. Not only have they impacted many with their vision for multi-site/video venues, but they’ve also helped us discover or been a part of YouVersion and Open, a resource website for churches and ministries. I also think of Andy Stanley’s North Point and how their version of doing church and Andy’s preaching style has impacted so many others. Both LifeChurch and North Point appear to be a culture of change. From what I read about their culture, change is continually being introduced.

Let me be clear. I’m not advocating that either of the church models is the right one for every church. Neither are they the exact right model for the church I pastor. I am interested in church growth. I do like to see progress. I do want to avoid capping Kingdom growth.

I am suggesting that there may be something about growth we can learn from the two examples…business and church. My personal experience, and watching other organizations succeed, has led me to believe that there is something about continual change that produces continual growth.

In fact, I wonder if:

The level of growth an organization can experience may be determined by its level of tolerance or resistance to change.

I’m still processing that thought.

What do you think?

Another Characteristic of Leaders with Long-term Success

Endurance

I previously wrote “One Secret of Leaders with Long-Term Success“. I still believe that’s a powerful part of leadership. At the same time, I talk with leaders (mostly pastors) every week who are questioning if they can continue to lead in their current positions. Sometimes the pressure of leadership is more than one can bear. Many of these leaders tell me they have some good days, but it’s the bad days that get the best of them.

I understand.

Leadership is full of:

  • Ups and downs
  • Highs and lows
  • Good times and bad times
  • Wins and losses
  • Congratulations and complaints
  • Pats on the back and personal attacks
  • Days of certainty and days of confusion

If you’re a leader, you know each of these.

The problem in leadership is that there are no guarantees. Leadership is going somewhere the team hasn’t been. It requires steps of faith, courage and tenacity.

If you want to last as a leader, you’ll have to learn to endure the varying seasons of leadership.

Leadership is at it’s best when we learn to endure.

Where are you right now? Are you struggling as a leader?

(Send me a private email so I can pray for you.)

When the best seat in the house…isn’t…

I was at a dinner theater recently. We had “good seats”. At least that’s what we were told. What that really meant is that we were in a crowded room, with lots of people I didn’t know, eating, watching a play, while it seemed like every was looking through us (really at us) to see the play.

Stand out.

In front.

On the floor.

In the center of attention.

Conspicuous.

For the introvert in me…that “best seat in the house” quickly became the worst seat in the house.

That’s a silly illustration, perhaps, but it’s a good reminder for church leaders.

I remember several years ago, while meeting in a school theater, having a discussion about closing off the loge (balcony) section to force people into the center section of the auditorium. There was one big section apart from the loge. I struggled with that. I was with the people who resisted that change. It made sense to create more energy in the center of the room, but in the process, for some people, wired like me, we were making the “best seat in the house” the worst seat in the house.

That principle is true in other areas of ministry. When we plan activities and programs, even the welcome portion of our service, we have to remember that everyone is not wired like us. For some people, it is the best way to do something. For others, it is the worst. When we force people out of their comfort zone, simply to create what we think is better for others, we may be making things worse.

The best approach here is to always ask other people, people not wired like you, to sit at the table of discussion and invite them to speak into the process. And, value their voice.

Because…

Sometimes the best seat in the house…isn’t.

Am I alone? Is the “best seat in the house” sometimes the worst seat for you?

Some of my best work…

Is done when I can’t understand all that I’m doing…

  • When things are messy…
  • When my head is cloudy…
  • When I have more questions than answers…
  • When my faith is being stretched…
  • When I am unsure of my position…

If you wait until you have all the answers…where doubt is removed completely…

You’ll often find yourself stagnant on making decisions…

You’ll seldom achieve “the best you can do”…

And the rewards you receive will be less than monumental…

Part of living the Christian faith is actually using it!

How are you currently having to walk by faith?

One who watches the wind will not sow, and the one who looks at the clouds will not reap. (Ecclesiastes 11:4)

What Happens When An Organization Slows

I was talking with a young pastor recently. He is battling the leadership of the church to make changes he feels he was called to the church to make, but because they have experienced some difficult years recently, they are resisting any efforts he makes. He’s questioning if he should give into them or push forward with more changes.

Of course, the way change is introduced is incredibly important, but after years of decline, change is certainly needed if they expect to see any new growth. As the saying goes, “More of the same will not produce change.”

It reminded me, however, of some common characteristics I have observed in organizations, whether the church or in business, when growth begins to slow or future progress appears to be in question. In uncertain times, probably because both the church and businesses involve people, each has a tendency to react similarly.

During times of difficulty, organizations:

Resist taking risks

Avoid change

Cling to tradition

Think inward

Control everything

Become selfish

Granted, I’ve been in both sides of the equation. I’ve been in the times of fast growth and the times of steady (even rapid) decline. I’ve even contributed to each of these reactions at one time or another. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen them work. They feel needed, even more comfortable for a time, but they fail to produce that for which they were intended.

In my experience, these are the exact opposite reactions that spur growth and progress.

Here is why I’m writing this post:

If you are in a time of decline, perhaps it’s time to think differently than your natural, even understandable emotions would lead you to act.

Perhaps you need to:

Take new risks

Embrace change

Hold tradition loosely

Think outward

Empower others

Become generous

To the church leader, I would say this: Walk by faith. Keep walking by faith. I know it is natural to react in fear and hold on to what you can easily understand when circumstances become difficult…I’ve been there…but if you want to grow again…you’ll have to walk by faith again.

Have you seen an organization react this way in times of decline?

The Fine Print in Christian Leadership

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God…” Deuteronomy 29:29

Make your plans.

Work your plans.

That’s good leadership.

I’m an advocate of strategic leadership. I don’t believe the church should run from leadership. We need it, just as does any other organization of people. God uses men and women to lead His people. You can see it throughout the Bible.

Without a vision, the people perish. (Proverbs 29:18)

In his heart a man plans his course. (Proverbs 16:9)

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost“? (Luke 14:28)

“Aaron and Moses were from this tribe. And they are the men the Lord spoke to and said, “Lead my people out of Israel in groups.” (Exodus 6:26)

With the best you know how to hear from God, make plans accordingly. God really does use the minds He created for His glory.

The difference for spiritual leaders, those desiring to receive godly direction…is that “secret things belong to God“.

I’ve always loved the Deuteronomy verse because it comes at the end of God renewing His covenant with His people. He promises to be with them, bless them and carry them safely forward. At the end of His encouragement, we find this verse. The secret things belong to God.

Isn’t that true in your life?

It has been in those secret moments where God has always seemed to do some if His best work in my life. I’m working my plans…the best I know how…and seemingly out of no where God brings a surprise. I must adapt accordingly. It’s scary. Uncomfortable. It stretches me. But, it’s always best. His way is better than mine and His strength is perfect in my weakness.

Always be attentive to the still small voice and give God room to interrupt your plans. Always. Don’t be afraid of the fine print of the Christian life. Some of God’s best is found there.

That’s the role of a Christian leader.

When is the last time God interrupted your plans?