Monday, May 7, 2012

Wisdom From Everett

While nursing a stress/sinus combo headache this morning, I was fortunate enough to catch my all time favorite movie: My Best Friend's Wedding. Admitedly, though I have watched the antics of Julia Roberts more times than I have fingers to count on, I don't grow tired of seeing her big moment to say "I love you" pass under that by dock. Nor do I grow weary of her dance with Dermot Mulroney when she realizes she just blew that one chance. Later, Rupert Everett delivers the single most profound line in the movie that, I believe, gets overshadowed by the chase scene. Speaking to Roberts, he states "You have a small but distinct window of opportunity to do the right thing."

Here's the cliffnotes of the movie: instead of telling her male bff that she is in love with him, Jules plays games and indirectly wrecks havoc during four days of wedding festivities. What is your "small but distinct window of opportunity"? Is it related to a family crisis, work situation or perhaps an opportunity for personal growth? We will have many "small but distinct windows of opportunity" throughout our lifetime. Are you observant enough to recognize them and motivated enough to take action? Or will you see the obvious and instead of doing the right thing, indirectly cause havoc?

Jules had to bite her pride, surpress her arrogance and admit she was wrong before she could attempt to repair the relationships she severed. In order to take advantage of our small but distinct window, we may have to bite, surpress and admit our own issues, but it's part of doing the right thing. The path to integrity is often bumpy and sometimes things happen out of our control. However, when you see that "small but distinct window of opportunity to do the right thing", don't hesitate.

In the end, Jules didn't get her man, but she did earn the respect of and a fun dance with Rupert Everett. Not a bad consolation prize, if you ask me.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

There's a popular song whose lyrics boast "I'd rather be happy than right" which implies that in marriage, compromise and picking your battles is better in the long run than being right.

There is a time and place, though, when maintaining a moral code is worth the battle. When coworkers try to legislate unethical behavior, or you are tempted to "just this once" compromise your standard, being right would be better than being happy. What is it about being moral that sometimes leads to unrest and the opposite of happiness?

When others place you in the minority because of your standards, or when you are laughed at for taking a stand, it can feel as if those standards aren't worth the battle. Consider the eight blessings (or Beatitudes) mentioned by Jesus. The last one states: Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

You may find that your support system is weak on some days, but be courageous and take your stand anyway. Jesus says you are blessed for being persecuted for doing the right thing. That's worth at least a little smile.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Constructive Criticism

The tough part of being a leader is smiling and nodding through the criticism you will receive. Admit it. You have been given a lot of advice since you embarked on your journey; some of it noteworthy, some of it, well, nothing more than an opinion. Being a good listener does come with the territory, however, listening is more than just tolerating an opinion. There may be some reputable constructive criticism in there somewhere.

Bob Gas offers excellent advice for those that will no doubt at some point be the recipient of good natured, constructive criticism.

'...A wise person stays calm when insulted.' Proverbs 12:16

How can you tell constructive criticism from destructive criticism? By practicing these principles from God's Word:

1) Resolve that whatever it is, you'll handle it constructively. 'A wise person stays calm when insulted.' Angry responses only short-circuit rational thinking and trigger emotion-driven reactions. 'If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding' (Proverbs 15:31-32 NLT). Always ask yourself, 'Can I learn something here?

2) Consider the character of your critic. 'An honest witness tells the truth; a false witness tells lies. Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing' (Proverbs 12:17-18 NLT). Is your critic trustworthy? Are their words meant to help you? If so, appreciate them and grow wiser. 'Better to be criticised by a wise person than to be praised by a fool' (Ecclesiastes 7:5 NLT). Are their words intended to demean you and damage your self-worth? Words that humble you have a godly purpose, but words that humiliate don't; so reject them.

3) Check your conscience. Paul wrote: 'My conscience is clear...It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide' (1Corinthians 4:4 NLT). If you're in the clear, leave the outcome with God. He alone sees the whole picture.

4) If you are criticised because of your faith, consider yourself blessed. 'If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you' (1Peter 4:14 NIV). Rejoice, your life is pleasing to God.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ten Signs You Are An Insecure Leader

#1 – You see people as working for you and not with you.

#2 – Everyone who pushes back on any of your ideas is automatically branded as disloyal. (Because for you “ loyalty” is defined as, “loving everything I say and do!”)

#3 – Every time someone begins to say something good about someone else, you always have to be the person who says, “Yes, but what you don’t know about them is…” and from that point tear them down under the disguise of being concerned about them.

#4 – You get jealous when someone on your team receives any sort of public affirmation but you are not mentioned at all. (Remember how Saul felt when it was said, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.”)

#5 – You cannot celebrate what God is doing in other churches. (OR you always critique instead of celebrating!)

#6 – You always believe someone on your staff is going to attempt a coup and try to take over your role as a leader. (This leads to suspicion and distrust, which will destroy ANY team.)

#7 – You dismiss what God is doing in another ministry because it does not line up exactly with where you are theologically.

#8 – You lead through intimidation, always threatening to “fire someone” if things “don’t shape up around here.”

#9 – You really do like the fact that people on your staff are afraid of you.

#10 – You feel the need to prove yourself in every meeting you are in by seizing every opportunity you have to speak, believing that everything in the meeting is not going to be its absolute best until you have had your say about it.

Perry Noble is the founding and senior pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson, Greenville and Florence, South Carolina.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Confronting Mob Mentality

Some of those that cried "Hosanna" on Sunday, cried "Crucify him" on Friday. The crowd can turn on you quickly, and when this happens, how will you respond? Having the inner strength to endure the hostility of those in your organization takes patience and time to cultivate.

Some leadership principles are placed in you in utero; for others it takes the tried and true method of time and experience to successfully master them. You will not be able to conquer every obstacle at the beginning of your career, just as Jesus didn't deal with the crowd turning on him at the beginning of his ministry. By committing to a life long goal of leadership, you realize each hurdle offers the experience needed to surmount the next one. Don't get in a rush to learn it all, do it all, or arrive at a certain destination because it's a journey. Be willing to stick with it for the long haul, challenge by challenge.

One more thought regarding mob mentality; just as it can turn against you, given enough time, the crowd will soon be your greatest source of encouragement. Don't take it to heart or say something that could burn a bridge in the process. Keep your cool, look beyond the present situation and smile through the negativity. This is how you earn your reputation as a man or woman of influence.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The One Leadership Question You Can't Ignore

My Three Sons is a tv show I have been a fan of for years. It chronicles the adventures that a single father, Steve, encounters while raising two biological and one adopted son. In one particular episode, the oldest son Robbie is "going steady" with two girls. When Steve finds out, he confronts Robbie.

"How can you do this?" He asks.

"Easy, Dad. One's in high school and one's in college. They will never run into each other."

"No, Rob. I mean, how can you morally do this?"

How often do you hear that question asked? I'm afraid if it were voiced too many times, most of the entertainment on both the big and small screens would vanish. Reality shows would hold no value in the absence of immorality, while many prime time shows that thrive on sexual corruption would cease to exist.

While asking that question will kill silver screen entertainment in one swipe, it's a necessary proposal if you want to lead and be successful doing so. Who wants to follow someone they can't trust? At the heart of immorality is skepticism and suspicion, qualities that make for great entertainment, but poor leadership.

By the end of the thirty minute show, Rob found out you can't go steady with more than one girl and not get caught, just as in real life you can't juggle an unethical lifestyle without it eventually being exposed.

Are you willing to sacrifice everything with one deception? When you are tempted to engage in the slightest indiscretion, stop and ask, "How can I morally do this?" Not to brainstorm the mechanics of following through, but as a voice of reason to remember the end result. For the leader engaging in a corrupt enterprise, it will have a devastating ending. Are you prepared for that?