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