Wednesday, December 12, 2018

12 Lessons from Leaders in the Bible (Part 2 of 4)

The greatest leadership lessons I have learned have not come from leaders of today but from leaders in history, most notably leaders from the Bible.  Some of the greatest examples of effective leadership can be found within the pages of the Scripture.  For leaders today, there is much to learn from these ordinary people who made decisions that transformed them into extraordinary leaders.  I discussed four of them in my last post.  Here are three more Bible leaders we can learn from.

5. Joshua: Leaders lead and inspire by example.
In Joshua 24:15, after leading his people into the Promised Land, in one of the most inspiring speeches of the Old Testament Joshua places two choices before the children of Israel. “But if it doesn’t please you to worship Yahweh, choose for yourselves today the one you will worship: the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living” (HCSB)  Joshua said, “You have two choices.  Choice one: Serve the God who brought you into the land. Or choice two: serve the false gods of other peoples.  And then, Joshua leads by example by revealing his choice. “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (ESV).

Because the people believed in Joshua’s leadership, they follow his example. “Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. And the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God” (Joshua 24:16-18 ESV).  Joshua didn’t have to force or threaten them; by his example he inspires them to follow his lead.

6. David: Leaders are willing to face giants head on.
The story of David and Goliath may be the most famous story in the Bible.  In 1 Samuel 17, the Israelites are being humiliated by the Philistines and their 9-foot tall giant - Goliath.  Goliath taunts the Israelites and challenges them to send him one man and, if that man should defeat him, the Philistines would become their servants.  David, a small shepherd boy who will not even fit into the armor he is provided, volunteers. When Goliath mocks him, David says, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied” (v45 ESV).  He then takes a stone, slings it at Goliath, striking him in the forehead and knocks the giant to the ground - dead.  Leaders understand where their real strength comes from.  Therefore, they don’t run from problems, they face them head on.

7. Isaiah: Leaders rise to the occasion
In Isaiah chapter 6, God lays out a need for someone to go and speak for Him.  God has a message and needs a messenger.  Isaiah responds, “Here am I. Send me!”  God issued a call for someone to go.  Isaiah saw it as an opportunity to make a difference for the glory of God.  Leaders don’t wait for someone else to step up when something needs done. They take initiative. Leaders rise to the occasion when the occasion calls for a leader.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

12 Lessons From Leaders in the Bible (Part 1 of 4)

The greatest leadership lessons I have learned have not come from leaders of today but from leaders in history, most notably leaders from the Bible.  Some of the greatest examples of effective leadership can be found within the pages of the Bible.  For leaders today, there is much to learn from these ordinary people who made decisions that transformed them into extraordinary leaders.

1. Noah: Leaders do what’s right even when no one else is.
In Genesis 6, because of humanity’s wickedness God decides to blot out the human race and start over. “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” because he was “a righteous man, blameless in his generation” (Gen 6:8-9).  “Then the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation” (Gen 7:1). In a world of unrighteousness Noah was willing to stand alone and do what was right because it was right.  Leaders do what’s right even when no one else does.

2. Abraham: Leaders take risks.
“The LORD said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you” (Gen 12:1)  Abraham lived in Ur in Chaldea with his family. God tells him to leave his homeland and take his family with him and go to a land which God will lead him to. God does not tell Abraham where He is sending him.  He simply tells Abraham to go. To put it another way, Abraham is instructed to leave his comfort zone and march into unknown territory.  Thomas Stearns Eliot wrote: “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go.” Leaders are willing to take risks in order to grow to their maximum potential.

3. Joseph: Leaders maintain integrity.
The story of Joseph beginning in Genesis 37 is powerful. He was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. His father was told that he was killed by a wild animal.  He was falsely accused and thrown into prison because he refused to sleep with his owners wife. Leaders are consistently faced with circumstances which tests their integrity.  Although Joseph was wrongly imprisoned, he maintained his values. Two full years passed before Joseph was presented with an opportunity to get out.  Ultimately, Joseph became the leader of all Egypt–second only to the Pharaoh. Because he maintained his integrity God used him to save an entire race of people.

4. Moses: Leaders can take criticism.
Leaders are loyal to their followers even when their followers complain and criticize. When Moses was leading the Israelite’s in the wilderness, numerous times they complained and blamed God and/or him for their hardship. Several times God wanted to wipe the people out and start over. But Moses interceded for the people and prayed for God to have mercy on them.  Most people would have said, “Ok God, wipe them out.”  Moses demonstrates that effective leaders love and care for their people even when the people are unlovely and criticize them.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Satisfaction - The Enemy of Success

Satisfaction - The Enemy of Success.

Thomas Edison once said, "Show me a thoroughly satisfied man, and I will show you a failure." He is absolutely right.

That is not to say that we should not be spiritually content. Spiritual contentment brings glory to God. John Piper said, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." Contentment should be found in our relationship with God. However, each of us should be totally discontent with our current level of accomplishments. For when we become satisfied with our achievements, we tend to hang where we are and cease to move forward. And when we cease to move forward we miss seeing and experiencing all the amazing things that God determines to do through us and for us. Successful people continually live with a motivating sense of discontentment.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Encouragement Makes a Difference

Encouragement Makes a Difference

A group of frogs were traveling through the woods, and two of them fell into a deep pit. When the other frogs saw how deep the pit was, they told the two frogs that they were as good as dead.  The two frogs ignored the comments and tried to jump up out of the pit with all their might. The other frogs kept telling them to stop, that it was useless, they were never going to get out, their fate is sealed.  The frogs kept jumping until finally, one of the frogs took heed to what the frogs above were saying and gave up, laid down, and died.

The other frog, however, continued to jump as hard as he could. Once again, the crowd of frogs yelled at him to stop the pain and just die.  But as exhausted as he was, he kept jumping until, surprisingly, he made a jump so high he made it out.  Once out, the other frogs asked, "Why did you keep jumping after we kept telling you it was useless?" The frog, reading their lips, answered, "Oh, I'm deaf, seeing your motions and yelling, I thought you were encouraging me the whole time."

Few functions a leader performs are more important that that of encouraging others.  Encouragement keeps hope alive.  In the Bible, no other person was better at this than Barnabas (his real name was Joseph).  He was such an encourager to those around him that they gave him the nick name Barnabas, which means, "Son of Encouragement."  What a name to be given.  Whenever Barnabas was approaching, people would say, "Here comes son of encouragement."  That is a good name to be known by.

If you want to stand out in your leadership, one secret puts you head and shoulders above everybody else – be an encourager.  Encouragement is very difficult to find today.  The Bible says, “Encourage one another and build each other up.”  

The frog story above teaches us two lessons:

1. There is power of life and death in your words. An encouraging word to someone who is down can  lift them up.  It can motivate them to make it through today because encouragement restores hope for a better tomorrow.

2. A negative word to someone who is down can be all that it takes to push them over the edge and destroy them.

During those times in which others are down and in despair, effective leaders will do all they can to lift others up and out of despair with words that speak hope for a better future.  They'll infuse them with optimism about themselves, their circumstances, others, and the organization.

Effective leaders don't make lite of or deny the circumstances.   Neither do they speak vain words of false hope.  They don't deny reality.  But what they are do so well is sustain hope by offering words of support and of a brighter future.

Anyone can speak words that tend to rob another of the spirit to continue in difficult times. Special is the individual who will take the time to encourage another.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Years ago I learned a significant leadership principle that has helped me grow tremendously as a leader.  Not only was this leadership principle significant, it was also simple: Leaders are Learners.  The moment we stop learning, we stop leading; therefore, it is essential that we become life-long effective learners if we desire to be life-long effective leaders.

I want to grow continually as a leader.  This past week I read every day on leadership and listened to several leadership podcasts.  I have been doing this for nearly 30 years.  Every week I come away with pure gold.  The principles and practices I learn help me to be a better leader.

Reading through John Maxwell’s “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” I came to “The Law of Process” and underlined this quote in the book…

“In a study of ninety top leaders from a variety of fields, leadership expert Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus made a discovery about the relationship between growth and leadership; “It is the capacity to develop and improve their skills that distinguish leaders from their followers.”  Successful leaders are learners. And the learning process is ongoing, a result of self-discipline and perseverance. The goal each day must be to get a little better, to build on the previous day’s progress.”

Simply put… leaders are learners.  Leaders never arrive and are always interested in becoming better.  Some “leaders” want to become better for themselves… but I will argue that real leaders seek to become better because they not only want to grow themselves, but they also want to help those they lead grow as well.  Leadership that is all about you is not leadership at all!  We learn so that we are better stewards of the people we have been given to lead.

If you are in leadership but you’re not doing what it takes to get better, people who are following you will either fall by the wayside or the leaders following you will begin to pass you up!

What leadership lessons have you learned recently?  What is your plan to continue to learn?  It’s true that the best leaders are learners.  This is easier when you are “starting out” on your leadership journey. I find, however, that many leaders lose that hunger after a few years.  Continuing to learn is what separates successful leaders from unsuccessful leaders.  Keep learning so that:

  •      You can be your best in your current leadership role
  •      You can be ready for your next opportunity
  •      You can model growth for those you lead
  •      Your leadership won’t wither and die.
What’s your plan to grow as a leader?  I am already planning for growth in 2019.  My plan includes:
·         Read one leadership related book per month.
·         Listen to at least one leadership lesson per week.
·         Attend at least one leadership conference or workshop.
       Teach one leadership lesson per month.

Growth requires intentionality. Take some time and develop a learning plan.

Friday, April 20, 2018

May 3 is the National Day of Prayer for 2018.
Pray for the unity of our nation.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Problem Solving in the Church

One thing that leaders learn very quickly, especially church leaders, is that with growth comes problems.  The early church experienced this.   At no other time in Christian history has the church been characterized by the phenomenal growth which it experienced in the first few weeks of its existence.  Yet it was in this most exciting moment in the history of the church, when the church was being multiplied in size, a problem arose in the church that caused dissension and a division.  The apostles acted immediately to deal with this threat to the unity of the church.
What we learn from the apostles in problem solving.
I. Handling Problems Demands DiscernmentActs 6:1 “Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.”
As any organization grows, things cannot be handled spontaneously or informally any longer.  Organizational growth requires constant evaluation and change in the way things are done.
The complaint, here in Acts, concerned the welfare of the widows.  The apostles discerned that this was a real problem in the church and it needed to be dealt with.
II. Handling Problems Requires DecisivenessActs 6:2-3 “And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.”
There are several possible ways they could have dealt with problem.
(1) They could have Ignored the Problem
Ignored problems do not go away.
(2) They could have Resented the Problem.
They could have taken the criticism personally and reacted with resentment.  This never leads to a solution.
(3) They could have Over-reacted to the Problem.
Sometimes the temptation is to overreact by giving in to criticism even before we check out its merits, and possibly do more harm than good.
(4) They Faced the Problem.
Every problem that arises gives us the opportunity to do three things.
(1) Examine the effectiveness of what we are doing.
(2) Exercise faith (in God and in each other).
(3) Express Love in the way that we work out the problem.
III. Handling Problems Requires Delegation.Acts 6:4-5 “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch.”
It would be easy to read this as though the apostles were saying, “We’re too good to serve tables.”  But if you read it that way you miss the meaning of the passage. The apostles were convinced that their primary calling was to pray for the church and to proclaim His Word.
The disciples knew their calling and therefore they knew they needed to prioritize and organize.  Therefore, Instead of taking it over themselves, they delegated responsibility.
Acts 6:3 “Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.”
This ministry was important. So the apostles laid out specific qualifications.  These men were to be men of character.  Men who have demonstrated they were trustworthy and wise.  
IV. Handling Problems Produces DividendsActs 6:7 “And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.”
The first result of handling this problem was that unity was restored among the people.  According to verse 5, the proposal made by the apostles “pleased the whole multitude.”
Verse 7 starts out with “And”.  Many versions use the word “Then” or “So.” In other words, it was only when the problem was solved that they church started to grow again.  “The word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly.”