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?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Take Me To Your Leader

Everyone follows someone; even leaders have their heroes. As one who has others counting on you, where do you get your inspiration from?

There is a song whose lyrics echo what strong leaders pray when they are seeking wisdom and favor.

Lead me Lord, I'll follow any where you open up the door,
let me know your wisdom, show me things I've never seen before.
Lord, I want to be your witness, you can take what's wrong and make it right.
Daystar shine down on me, let your love shine through me in the night.

When your desire is to follow Jesus, you're following the leader of all leaders, providing the perfect model to imitate. As you continue to emulate His example, His favor will be evident in your life. That is what you want. Your goal should be to get others to ask what the secret of your success is. And then you tell them.

Not in a preachy, condescending manner, but in the way one would brag about weight loss, or finding a steal-of-a-deal at the grocery store. Sharing about your hero should come as naturally as everyday conversation. If you can master that technique, you will be successful in leading others to Him. Of all leadership positions, can you really improve on that goal?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

It's OK to say "I don't Know."

I'm a bit of a control freak. I admit it and I own it. I also realize that I'm not alone. I have found that the more responsibility a person has, the greater their propensity to dominate situations. They weigh their decisions knowing, or at least speculating, that one wrong resolution could topple the pyramid of obligations.

As a Christian executive, don't you know that God is probably not pleased with our tendency to be controlling. "Be still and know that I am God" was not written by David just as a filler to his thick book of songs. It means something. It means that when we are tempted to claim responsibility for the outcome of a situation, especially one in which we are treading in new territory, we need to stop and know that He is God. He did not create any one person to have the ability to manage every situation that comes along. Even Solomon with his God given wisdom didn't know it all.

My four year old son is going through his independent stage. Many times, as I offer to help, he gets frustrated and says "No, Mom. I got this. I can do this." As much as it makes me smile, there are days when I wish he would trust me with the outcome and let me intervene.

I can just see God at times shaking his head saying, "Oh, Mary. My little independent one." And then other days, when I refuse to heed the red flags and continue into chaos, I imagine God shakes his finger passionately while asking "Why are you so stubborn?"

Here is the great truth. We don't have to know it all. We don't have to have all of the answers. It's OK to say "I don't know." It doesn't make us less of a person just as faking to know it all won't make us a greater person. We might as well call it the way it is. During those times when we are faced with impossible decisions, it might be best to close our office door and be still for a while. Better yet, hit the pavement and while walking, throw the situation back at God and relieve yourself of the burden.

Be still-don't wrestle with the problem.

and know that I am God-let God do the wrestling for you.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Become A Change Agent

If you are a man or woman of character, corporate America needs you. During the many years I spent working in the office environment, it was, at times, a hostile environment. Working closely with others provides a front row seat to observing their best and worst, sometimes in the same day. As a coworker, to be the peacemaker in the midst of adversity is a high calling, and one that only an individual with leadership skills can tackle.

As a Christian, it is our responsibility to impress others to make a decision to live their lives with integrity, character, and the knowledge that God is needed to be successful in every area. That can be challenging, though. Here is the situation succinctly stated by Paul in Romans.

People did not think it was important to have a true knowledge of God. So God left them and allowed them to have their own worthless thinking and to do the things they should not do. They are filled with every kind of sin, evil, selfishness and hatred. They are full of jealousy, murder, fighting, lying, and thinking the worst about each other. They gossip and say evil things about each other....They are rude and conceited and brag about themselves. They invent ways of doing evil...They are foolish, they do not keep their promises, and they show no kindness or mercy to others.(1) They know God's law says that those who live like this should die. But they themselves not only continue to do these evil things, they applaud others who do them.(2)
~Romans 1:28-32

(1) This passage clearly describes many situations, from the day to day interactions in a dysfunctional family to the office environment. Jealousy, lying, thinking the worst about each other, gossiping, being rude and conceited and bragging, breaking promises and showing no kindness or mercy. Paul never would have mentioned these things unless he knew they would become characteristics of an abnormal lifestyle. He mentions them in a worst-case-scenario presentation. Yet, walk into any corporation and you will see that starting at 7 AM, this is typical behavior. We have become complacent to the worst-case-scenario that Paul warned would come when people decided having "a true knowledge of God" would no longer be important.

Your mission as a Christian leader could not be made clearer; be a best-case-scenario employee. Be truthful, kind, not participating in listening or spreading gossip. Don't brag on yourself or take credit for work you didn't do. Keep your promises and instead of being self promoting, look for ways to advance others.

(2) Perhaps the greatest form of leadership is in knowing the right thing to do and then actually doing it. As Christians, we sometimes think doing what the majority does will cause us to blend in and God won't see our tiny indiscretion. Or, you may think that He will wink on it because, after all, others are doing it, too. By having this mindset, you sabotage the very opportunity God has given to you to make a difference and excel as a man or woman of influence. And, need I say it? Although the majority does "it", that does not make "it" right. God maintains a standard of right and wrong whether our society acknowledges it or not.

When your hostile work environment becomes normal and something you put up with-when any situation is tolerated instead of changed-you miss a vital role in provoking long term influence. It's tough being that one in a million, especially when it does not come natural to do the right thing. But that is the exact purpose in your existence wherever you go; be the one others notice for all the right reasons. Be the one to raise the standard, and watch the worst-case-scenario Paul spoke about turn into the best-case-scenario. Someone needs to do it. Are you up to the challenge?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Basin Theology

The difference between a leader who looks out for himself and one who puts others first can be seen in the last hours before Christ's crucifixion. Bruce Thielemann, former pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, says that this contrast was pointed out to him during a conversation with a member of his church.

"You preachers talk a lot about giving," he said, "but when you get right down to it, it all comes down to basin theology."

"Basin theology?" Thielemann asked. "What's that?"

"Remember what Pilate did when he had the chance to acquit Jesus?" he answered. "He called for a basin and washed his hands of the whole thing. But Jesus, the night before his death, called for a basin and proceeded to wash the feet of the disciples. It all comes down to basin theology: which one will you choose?"

~As appears in The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leader's Day by John C. Maxwell

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

You Will Never Reach Your Maximum Potential

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” ~Matthew 19:26

If this verse is true, and I do believe in the authenticity of every single verse in the Bible, it means there is no such thing as reaching your maximum potential. That would be limiting yourself. In human form, we have many limits, but if God lives in us, and we posses power through Him, our influence and our potential then becomes limitless. We have no end point, no destination, no such thing as maximum.

What could we accomplish today if we asked God to expand our potential and influence beyond human limits into the realm of limitless? Nothing, nothing, would be impractical, out of the question or impossible.

All things would then be possible!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Definition of Success

I have learned that there is no universal definition of success. I may view it as one thing but you certainly will have your own parameter that you judge personal achievements by. However, if we could come relatively close to representing a clear picture of success so that anyone could fully understand and grasp its meaning, there is no greater interpretation than the one penned by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children,
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty,
To find the best in others,
To leave the world a bit better
whether by a healthy child, a garden patch,
or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier
because you lived.
This is to have succeeded.

May all leaders of influence-wherever you are placed-endeavor to succeed by these standards and not through superficial external wealth alone.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Somebody's Got To Set The Standard...Will It Be You?

Who is holding you accountable? Chances are, no one is, and here's the reason.

Our society is one of tolerance. Whatever you believe to be right, is right. You don't have to worry about someone else infringing on what you think or do, as long as you do not go against the laws of the land. It has to do with tolerance, religious freedoms and unspoken moral codes. But here is where it gets sticky.

Personal morality is just that-personal-and not something society will try to mandate. With that said, is wrong only wrong if you get caught? Is it OK to take office supplies home for personal use as long as no one catches you? What about the interoffice dating rule. Is it an offense only if you get caught at Applebee's holding the hand of your secretary?

When God laid out rules for living to Moses, he specifically said:
You must not do wrong just because everyone else is doing it....You must not tell lies just because everyone else does. Genesis 23:2

If you are a Christian, there are no excuses. Your coworkers might be OK with you bending or even breaking the rules. You might even get away with doing it and no one else knowing. But God clearly points out that you know better. You can't use the old "everyone else is doing it" argument with him.

Besides, what a lousy leader you would make if you lowered your standards to those of society's, don't you think?

Friday, February 17, 2012

"Cause You Were Called, Dummy"

Occasionally, I like to give other leaders the chance to sound off on the difficulties, joys and rewards of leadership including the good, the bad, the in between. Today's guest nails the concept of leadership on the nose, not only as it applies to church leadership, but to the life of influence as a whole.

There are some days we feel like we can change a nation like William Wilberforce, and there are other days when we are courageous enough to take a bullet like Martin Luther King, Jr. There are days of clarity and a resounding affirmation of vocation. You know why you do it in the bottom of your gut. In the words of Will Campbell, “‘Cause you were called, dummy!”

Then there are the days when ministering to people on the margins–doing church differently–that can get to us. Being on the margins means suffering through the in-between times: The time between sermons, meetings, group ministry, and joyous youth events. Them are some lonely times.

Jesus tells a parable of a shepherd who leaves the comfort, conformity, and safety of 99 sheep in order to search for that one sheep on the margins. Never mind that it is easier to just let that sheep meet its fate out in the desert; the sheep probably deserved it anyway.

No, Jesus’ shepherd leaves home to find that one sheep.

So, for those facing hardships and find yourselves on the margins, on that journey road in between safety and conformity and that place on the horizon (“Cause you were called, dummy!”), this is for you: You are not alone.

Visit Baptist Spirituality to read the article in its entirety.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Shortest Route To Success

An influential leader motivates, not manipulates, people.

That's a tough task to take on, but one that can be accomplished with the right tools. For a Christian executive, there is one tool that should take priority over workshops, conferences, and retreats.

Joshua, be strong and brave. Be sure to obey all the teachings my servant Moses gave you. If you follow them exactly, you will be successful in everything you do. Always remember what is written in the book of teachings. Study it day and night to be sure to obey everything that is written there. If you do this, you will be wise and successful in everything. Remember that I commanded you to be strong and brave, Don't be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you everywhere you go.
~Joshua 1:7-9

The formula described in Joshua is foolproof. If you want to be successful, study the word of God-specifically his laws found in the Torah or first five books of the Bible. Don't just read it, study it. Contemplate the purpose for each law and then make sure to obey those laws. From that comes wisdom, which I believe, is the key to becoming a great leader in the eyes of the Lord. Without wisdom, you can lead and influence, but will it be long lasting? Will it change the lives of your employees or just make yes-men out of them?

Study, obey, acquire wisdom and be successful. But then, God commands that great leaders like Joshua follow through on one more important aspect of leadership. Being fearless. Be strong and brave and never forget that whatever you encounter, God is with you.

There is no shorter, more effective route to leadership success than God's way.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Bless Your Heart

There is an ancient tradition that somehow never made it into recent history. The blessing.

When our patriarchs were ready to concede life and move on, they would speak a blessing over their children that became a sort of premonition and later reality. Read the words Noah spoke over his children. Shem's blessing was pithy:

May the Lord, the God of Shem, be praised! May Canaan be Shem's slave. Genesis 9:26

From the lineage of Shem came Abraham, and later, his sons who, you guessed it, enslaved the land of Canaan.

The Old Testament is peppered with such predictions and blessings. It's important to take your words seriously and not withhold blessings from your family, co-workers and employers. A wise leader will not refrain from speaking any words of encouragement, motivation or, yes, that word again, blessing.

Only you know the right words for each person and what it will take to truly empower them. If not, write their name on paper, pray, and whatever God leads you to write, speak those words audibly over them. You will be blessed for blessing them.

My blessing today for you is this:
May the Lord give you success,
and may he give you and your children success.
May you be blessed by the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 115:14-15

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I Just Might Bend But I Won't Break

Sometimes encouragement defies written words and is better said through music. Here is your daily inspiration courtesy of Mercy Me.

I just might bend, but I won't break.
There's gonna be brighter days.

It's time to move!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Add John C. Maxwell To Your Friends List

In case you haven't met John C. Maxwell, this is a good time for an introduction.

John C. Maxwell is an internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker, coach, and author who has sold over 19 million books. Dr. Maxwell is the founder of EQUIP and The John Maxwell Company, organizations that have trained more than 5 million leaders worldwide. Every year he speaks to Fortune 500 companies, international government leaders, and organizations as diverse as the United States Military Academy at West Point, the National Football League, and the United Nations.

A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week best-selling author, Maxwell has written three books that have each sold more than one million copies: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Developing the Leader Within You, and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader.

If you are into social networking, facebook is probably pretty familiar to you. The concept of meeting like-minded individuals and friending them for business purposes, or connecting with family is the brain behind the machine. When it comes to leadership, it's important to become "friends" with those that can mentor you into that next level and take you beyond your comfort zone. You need to choose leaders who are ethical, successful and are purpose driven.

It is not always possible to find motivating individuals in your local vicinity. Sometimes, thanks to the internet, you can make cyber "friends" with leaders that can propel you forward. One such mentor is John C. Maxwell More than just a successful author, Maxwell is responsible for training an elite group of leaders that know who they are and how to get the job done. His concept of leadership will challenge you to become better. He will require that you grow, and oh, what a proposition that becomes at times. It is well worth it, though, to become known for being a leader of excellence. You want to be more than a worker, more than a manager, more than a President or owner. In fact, if title matters little to you, you are the audience Maxwell is seeking. Leadership is not limited to a nameplate; it is a way of life. Maxwell isn't driven to become more by any materialistic standard, but instead employs a way of thinking that embraces ethics and morals and motivation as well as investing in others.

Lest I become his short infomercial, check out his link and long list of best selling books, and become familiar with the strategies that are working for him. In the meantime, here are a few of his quotes guaranteed to precipitate your success!

Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.

A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.

Leadership is influence.

The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That's the day we truly grow up.

The greatest mistake we make is living in constant fear that we will make one.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What's In A Name?

"How lucky a country whose king comes from a good family,
whose leaders eat only at mealtime and for strength,
not to get drunk."
King Solomon

I know you have seen them. Leaders who diligently worked towards a means of success seem to do very little once they get there. They polish their name plate, flash their business cards, and will tell anyone, anywhere, what their title is. While they are quick to announce themselves, they have a hard time telling you exactly what it is they do. That is, once they have that title, they do very little. Leaders by title only are like a pecan shell that is empty once it is cracked open.

What is a title? It certainly can not become the goal itself. In fact, if a leader gloats in it, he is not a true leader. Leaders worth their title don't care about the title.

Remember Joseph, the seventeen year old who was a victim of his brother's jealousy and ended up in prison? I would hardly call a prisoner leadership material, but he proved to be more than his label. He rose beyond ex-prisoner status to the interior of leadership. He didn't deserve the title of prisoner any more than some leaders deserve their title.

Are you preoccupied with the status of your position?

Are the fringe benefits of your title worth as much as your salary?

Do you walk the halls of your office, silently demanding respect based solely on what your business card says?

It's time to reevaluate. What matters is your contribution, your work ethic and being an employee of integrity. Here is the challenge. Although corporate America signs your check, it is the one who sits in heaven that you really answer to. He is the one who has designed you with a conscience for a purpose.

Laziness is a quality that is anything but attractive. Make sure that when you do achieve your satisfactory level of success, you continue with honorable business practices, lest you be labeled a lazy leader.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Don't Get In A Rush

Ever feel as if everything we do is on a microwave schedule? It's the pace of the world. Fast. Racing fast with no time to breathe. In the business world, you are bombarded with the same messages.

Stay ahead of the game.

Be a trailblazer.

Maintain one step in front of your competition.

Learn to make decisions on the spot.

Society seems to frown on the idea of taking time to do anything. Rest? Forget it. Take a minute to think.....about anything? Forget that, too. Yet, waiting on the appropriate answer, action and word for the task at hand is the exact strategy that a seasoned leader employs.

An interesting fact I learned while studying for Kids Church was the way in which we measure time and the way our Biblical patriarchs measured it. We have time scaled down to seconds-even a fraction of a second when talking about how fast you blink your eye. Thousands of years ago, time was measured by day and night. Simple, isn't it? Wouldn't you love to dictate your schedule by day and night and not in 15 minute increments like a physician's appointment book?

Although we could never live like that, we can still respect the process of patience and waiting. The wisest leader in history, King Solomon, wrote a beautiful passage in reference to time in Ecclesiastes chapter three. It reminds us that it's OK to slow down, examine the problem and find the best solution. It's time to stop flying by the seat of our pants, making a decision on a whim, hoping it turns out alright. No, we can do better than that.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Go From People Pleaser to Ideal Leader in Five Words or Less

“For as long as you can remember, you have been a pleaser, depending on others to give you an identity. You need not look at that only in a negative way. You wanted to give your heart to others, and you did so quickly and easily. But now you are being asked to let go of all these self-made props and trust that God is enough for you. You must stop being a pleaser and reclaim your identity as a free self.” ~Henri Nouwen

Plain and simple, if you are a codependent leader, that is, one who thrives on the approval of others, you are not a leader, but instead, a follower. It is a hard habit to identify and harder yet to break. Once you understand, however, that your authentic leadership begins when the opinions of others do not affect you, it is a liberating experience. Your decisions need to be based on what is right, what is moral, what is best for all involved.

It's not about you. It's about getting the job done; progressing in your business, creating a God-centered ministry within your church, and making political decisions based on the best interest of the people.

Trust. That. God. Is. Enough.

Read more on Henri Nouwen (prounounced Now-Win) here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Change...Yes We Can!

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." Martin Luther King Jr.

When reminiscing of MLK's famous speech, thoughts of racism come to mind, but he wasn't a visionary just as it relates to equality to all. MLK dreamed of a time and place in society when character would be a priority. We have made great strides in overcoming hate for other races. In fact, we are presently a culture of cultures. Our most pressing objective should be to reflect on the inner lives of ourselves, (not the outer deeds of others) and seek to make changes where they are necessary. Our current President was not far off the mark when he repeatedly spoke of change during his campaign. Our society as a whole craves conversion, and unless we make a concerted, intentional effort to dictate positive change, we will spiral in the wrong direction. Humanity is in a perpetual state of evolution. We can either guide it along, or watch as we haphazardly reap the consequences of indifference. What kind of society do you wish to cohabit in? What changes are you willing to make to achieve those results?

Thought for today: If you were judged by the content of your character, what would it look like?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Mind-Body Connection Unveiled Through The Ten Commandments

"The presupposition of both the Ninth and Tenth Commandments is that the right ordering of life depends on more than the mere performance and avoidance of various outward deeds. It takes in the entire inward life. To the pop mantra "I can't help my feelings" it replies, "You know better." J. Budziszewski

Is it enough to avoid doing the wrong thing alone, or does your thought life and inward focus matter as well? As Budziszewski points out, according to the Ninth and Tenth Commandments, we have the complete picture of not only Holy living but of sound leadership.

Many leaders falsely believe as long as they say the right thing, and do the right thing, they will be noted as one of the best. They will be known within their circle as the one who did right. But what is right? Isn't that relevant to society, and if we are doing right by society, is that necessarily right by God?

These are tough questions to contemplate, but we have to ask them if we are to progress as a spiritually healthy leader. Not only do we have an obligation to judge our actions, but our inward reflections are to be scrutinized as well. They are not off limits to any moral judgement just because we do not act on them. Why do our thoughts matter?

By violating the Ninth Commandment, we are en route to violating the Sixth.

By violating the Tenth Commandment, we are en route to violating the Seventh.

This is such a broad subject that it covers not only morality, it also implies that negative thinking can not produce positive results, and likewise, if you are a motivating leader, you can expect those you impact to react with enthusiasm. Make the connection to how your daily activities are altered and commanded by your thoughts, and you have hit on a gold mine.

Go a step further and watch the performance of your employees and co-workers, and you will know what their thoughts are.

With so many book titles on the market related to body language and knowing what a person thinks according to how they sit or stand, it is far more indicative of a person's true character to focus on their day to day actions. The commandments that Moses carved on that rock tablet were not fancy psychobabble phrases or a group of suggestions for daily living. They truly are the building blocks to a sound mind, good work ethics, and morality that surpasses doing the right thing.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Take Me To Your Leader

Where do you go for advice? When you need to brainstorm on a personal level, talk through issues that can't be made public, do you have a confidante?

If you are a religious leader, you may approach other ministers to get their feedback. If you are in politics, there are other politicians that have been down the same path and can give excellent advice. The problem usually arises when, as a leader, discretion is important and finding someone to keep your confidence can be hard.

People love to talk. People love to talk about leaders even more so. You have the enormous responsibility of protecting your reputation and the reputation of your political aspirations, church or business. After all, others are counting on you.

If you are empty handed when it comes to advisers and mentors, consider King David's endless references to his leader. Several times in Psalm alone, he pays tribute to his King. One of the most admired and memorable kings in history, steps aside and pays honor to the King of Kings. Among his acclaims, he gushes that God is his leader.

I praise the Lord because He advises me.
Even at night, I feel His leading.
I keep the Lord before me always.
Because He is close by my side, I will not be hurt. Psalm 16:7-8

You will always have a leader, confidante, and mentor. Better yet, you have at your disposal THE leader, confidante and mentor. Although He might not audibly answer when you pray, He will lead you and you will find that making decisions are easier and done with a greater sense of peace than when you try to go it alone.

Try consulting the King of Kings next time you need to brainstorm. It's possible you may echo David's sentiments when he boosts I love you, Lord. You are my strength. Psalm 18:1

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Leadership Ethics By the Book

As a Christian leader, our moral code is not dictated by society which changes with the seasons. Honestly, it is a full time job keeping up with the latest ethical trend and we are too busy for that. Our code of ethics never changes, even when our business partners, the Wallstreet Journal, or leaders of the globe insist it is protocol. We will always adhere to the business plan described by King David thousands of years ago, yet, remains relevant to modern success. Reading Psalm 15, there is no argument as to what kind of leader God expects us to be. King David asks the question, 'Lord, who may enter your Holy Tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?' and goes on, through experience, to answer the question.

Only those who are innocent and who do what is right.

Such people speak the truth from their hearts and do not tell lies about others.

They do no wrong to their neighbors and do not gossip.

They do not respect hateful people but honor those who honor the Lord.

They keep their promises to their neighbors, even when it hurts.

They do not charge interest on money they lend and do not take money to hurt innocent people.

King David punctuates the above by stating: Whoever does all these things will never be destroyed.

Note, he didn't say you'd never have problems, but he did have the assurance that God has our back and when problems come up, they would not destroy us. It's a call to action-are you up for the challenge?

Note: All scriptural text-unless otherwise stated is NCV-New Century Version.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Responsibilities or Opportunities?

Responsibility is a heavy word. It brings to mind pictures of a load or burden. And truly our responsibilities are heavy. We have our place to fill faithfully. The demands of our roles come thick and fast, and often we are bogged down under the weight of responsibility. We don't have what it takes, we complain.

Did you ever think of your responsibilities as God given privileges and opportunities? Try it. It makes such a difference. Consider the privilege of sharing life with your family, the opportunity of teaching and influencing others, the privilege of sharing Christ's love daily. It takes the drudgery out of serving and gives life a propelling power. ~Mary June Lapp