ILM #023: Your Example as a Leader Reflects Your Faith

Today in our Inspired Leadership Minute I want us to look at Proverbs 19:16: “He who obeys instructions guards his life, but he who is contemptuous of his ways will die.”

The instruction in this proverb seems pretty clear; the person who obeys instructions preserves his life while the person who refuses to obey instructions will die.

The question is, whose instructions is Solomon referring to? He could certainly be referring to his own instructions. Since he was king he had the power of life and death over his subjects.

But I think it is far more likely that Solomon is referring to obeying God’s instructions. Thus, he is saying if a man obeys God’s instructions, he guards his life but the man who rejects God’s instructions will die.

What does this mean for us as leaders today?

Christian leaders, we are called to be salt and light to the world. We are called to set an example for non-believers that honors God in such a way that others will be drawn to Him.

To set that God-honoring example, we must obey God’s instructions, and to obey God’s instructions we need to know and apply His Word to every aspect of our lives, every day

That’s it for this week’s Inspired Leadership Minute. My prayer is that together we will be the powerful, inspired leaders God intends us to be!

Please leave me a comment and let me know how this week’s Inspired Leadership Minute inspired you!

#198: Build Performance by Learning How to Use Leadership Styles Effectively

Plus a Bonus Whitepaper

There are dozens of books about leadership and developing your leadership style. Authors have compared leadership styles to animals (lions, tigers, bear, beavers), and military generals (Napoleon, Attila, Sun Tzu, Alexander) all to help managers sort through the tough task of understanding what a good leader is.

Leadership

Business View

Most of us have been trained that the function of a manager is “Getting work done through others.” The more work, the better, preferably at the lowest possible cost. Inherent in this school of thought is the idea to use power to “control” others.

An example of this “controlling” style of leadership is portrayed in Matthew, “You know the rulers of the gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them” (Matthew 20:25).

Jesus is not condemning a leadership style that seeks to control. Rather, He is showing that it is inappropriate for the relationship between the disciples and Israelites.

Biblical View

Over 40-years ago in his book Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices Peter Drucker noted,

“to make the worker ‘achieve’ demands that managers look upon labor as a resource rather than as a problem, a cost, or an enemy to be cowed. It demands that managers accept responsibility for making human strengths effective.”

Drucker’s point is that as managers we must change our focus from managing personnel to leading people.

One can summarize this philosophy as “Getting work done with others.” The idea is to use power to serve others; to enable them to do their work more effectively.

Jesus explains this requirement for leadership; “Not so with you. Instead whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mat 20:26-28).

To the disciples, the “Gentiles” that Jesus referred to, were quite likely Roman leaders or soldiers. Imagine how revolutionary this concept must have seemed to the disciples; give leadership responsibilities to servants and slaves! From this single passage, we see the definition of a participative leadership style that emphasized the importance of relationships.

Styles Defined

There are four styles of leadership prominent in business today; Dictator, Authoritarian, Consultant, and Participative. Here are profiles of “pure” examples of each style:

Dictator. The dictator answers all the questions of who, what, when, where, and how work should be done himself. Opinions contrary to that of the dictator are not allowed.  The dictator’s biggest weakness is that he could care less about the people around him or the consequences of his actions on others. The dictator’s biggest strength is his ability to quickly summarize a situation, determine a strategy, and to act.

Authoritarian. The authoritarian usually answers most of the who, what, when, where, and how questions himself because he holds his own opinions in high regard. An authoritarian’s biggest weakness is his lack of regard for the skills of the people around him; either in using these people effectively or in recognizing the work they have done. The biggest strength of an authoritarian is their ability to gather information, decide, and act quickly.

Consultant. The consultative leader usually seeks input from others to answer the who, what, when, where, why, and how questions. But make no mistake, he usually makes the decision himself. The biggest weakness of the consultative leader is that their decision-making process is slowed by searching out and evaluating opinions from others. The biggest strength of the consultant is that their people are very loyal and perform at or near peak levels.

Participative. The participative leader seeks input from the balance of the “team” before answering who, what, when, where, why and how questions. The biggest weakness of a participative leader is that they are often incapable of deciding on their own. The greatest strength of a participative leader is that their workers are fiercely loyal, hardworking, and performing at peak capacity.

Which Style Is “Right”?

Some writers would have you believe that only the participative team style is biblically correct. But filtering this notion through the record of Scripture yields a different answer; there is no one style that is always correct, but there is probably one best style for any given situation. Consider how Moses demonstrated each of these leadership styles:

Dictator. Moses exhibited a dictator style in several situations. In Exodus 32 we have the account of the Israelites making the golden calf. Moses immediately has the calf burned, ground into powder and thrown into the water. He then made the Israelites drink the water. Moses showed no hesitation. He took immediate action to stop the blasphemous activity.

Authoritarian. Moses exhibited an authoritarian style in Exodus 18. Here Moses listens to his father in law, Jethro, who explains to Moses that Moses should set up a hierarchy of judges to settle disputes among the people. Moses listened to Jethro and immediately set up a hierarchy of judges within each family so that only the most difficult cases would be brought before him for a decision.

Consultant. Moses exhibited a consultative style in Exodus 35-39. In these chapters, Moses related to the Israelites the preparations needed for the building of the tabernacle. Moses gave specific instructions for the construction of the tabernacle and its implements. He allowed each skilled worker to complete their work. But ultimately Moses inspected their work to see that they had done it correctly (Ex 39:43).

Participative. Moses used the participative style in Numbers 13. Here Moses prepares a group of 12 leaders (one from each tribe) to explore the country of Canaan. He gave the men specific instructions about where they were to go, and a list of eight questions he wanted to be answered. When the men returned from their scouting expedition Moses debriefed them. Ultimately, Moses even let the decision of the scouting party override his own opinion.

One Last Thought

An effective leader is one who can adeptly change his management style to suit a given situation. A dictator when fast, decisive action is required, An authoritarian when fast action is necessary, but there is some latitude in how to accomplish the task at hand. A consultant when working with experienced people on complex problems. Or participative when working with highly trained people on issues that require creative problem-solving.

Regardless of the leadership style you find yourself using, remember, you are a servant to the people you are responsible for leading. It is your responsibility to find out what their workplace needs are and to help fill them. If you do, you will build the performance levels of bosses, subordinates, and peers!

Bonus Whitepaper

This week’s post is excerpted from a 6-page whitepaper entitled, Build Performance by Learning How to Use Leadership Styles Effectively.”

This whitepaper includes a discussion of:

  • A broader description of each of the four styles.
  • When it is appropriate to use each style.
  • Leadership style versus group size.
  • The importance of the servant’s heart demonstrated in all four styles.

You can download the free 8-page whitepaper here: Build Performance by Learning How to Use Leadership Styles Effectively.”

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have worked for or with someone who demonstrated only one leadership style? Was it appropriate for the situation? What was the impact on the organization?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Skills | Leadership Development

ILM #022: Use Words of Encouragement to Build Others Up

Today in our Inspired Leadership Minute I want us to look at Proverbs 18:20: “From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied.”        

This proverb is a little hard to wrap our heads around because most of us are not familiar with these metaphors. In this case, the “fruit of his mouth” is a reference to the words he speaks. The reference to the “harvest from his lips” speaks to the result of his words.

Solomon is saying the words we use have the power to build others up; filling them, satisfying them. Words also have the power to tear down, leaving the hearer empty, starving for affirmation.

What does that mean for us as leaders today?

Has someone ever offered kind words of encouragement to you? Did their words build you up; satisfy you? Did their encouragement make you want to do more?

Or has someone come at you with harsh words, tearing you down? Did you feel discouraged, worthless? Did their verbal attack cause you to want to do more, or did you want to slink away into a dark closet for a good cry?

Christian leaders, we need to realize the powerful impact our words have on those around us. We need to be careful to always use words that that will yield a good harvest!

That’s it for this week’s Inspired Leadership Minute. My prayer is that together we will be the powerful, inspired leaders God intends us to be!

Please leave me a comment and let me know how this week’s Inspired Leadership Minute inspired you!

#197: Who Does God Call to do Great Things?

Who was Noah before God called him? He was a simple, good man who lived among an increasingly evil people. God called Noah to build an ark when Noah was 600 years old, and God promised to bless him.

God's Call

Who was Abraham before God called him? Abraham was living in the land of the Chaldees when God called him at 75-years old to take his family and travel to Canaan where God promised to bless Abraham.

Who was Esther before God called her? Esther was an orphan child being raised by her cousin, Mordecai. They were Jews living in the capital city of the Persian Empire when God placed Esther in a position to save the entire nation of Israel from extermination.

Who was Ruth before God called her? Ruth was a Moabite widow who left her homeland and followed Naomi, her mother-in-law to Bethlehem. Ruth became a lowly fieldhand gleaning grain from the edges of a field to survive. It was only then that God placed Ruth in a position to meet and marry Boaz and become the great-grandmother of David.

Who was David before God called him? David was the youngest of seven boys. He was a simple shepherd, only 15-years old when God sent Samuel to anoint him as king over the people of Israel.

Who were the brothers Peter and Andrew, and James and John when Jesus called them? All four were probably only teenagers under 18-years old, and they were all lowly fishermen tending their nets when Jesus called them to be His disciples.

Who Does God Call?

God calls people of all ages. You are never too young or too old to be called by God.

God calls both men and women. Look around. God is calling men and women all around the world.

God calls people without regard to their vocation. It doesn’t matter to God if you are a street sweeper or a CEO. He calls people from all walks of life.

God calls people without regard to their standing in society. Don’t think for a minute that God only calls people at the top of the society ladder. He calls simple shepherds as well as kings.

Here’s why God calls people without regard to their sex, age, vocation, or standing in society. God looks not on the outward person but our hearts!

The prophet Samuel explained God’s choice in calling David to be a future king over the people of Israel saying,

“People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

God sees the heart of the person He calls. He sees their willingness to follow Him.

God told Noah to build an ark and promised to bless him, but the blessing didn’t come until long after Noah followed God’s instructions to build the ark.

God told Abraham to gather his belongings and his family and travel to an unknown land where God would then bless them. The blessing to Abraham came after he followed God’s instructions.

God directed Mordecai to give instructions to his young cousin Esther, and because they both followed God’s direction, Esther saved the Israelite nation from annihilation.

God directed Samuel to anoint young David king over Israel. Luke records God’s description of David as “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22).

Jesus called Peter and Andrew and James and John to be His disciples when they were fishing. They immediately put down their nets and followed him.

Do you see the pattern here? It doesn’t matter who you are in the world’s eye. It only matters who you are in God’s eye! What matters is if we are ready and willing to answer God’s call.

When the Lord described to Isaiah the terrible situation Israel had gotten themselves into God asked the question, “Whom shall I send” to save them? And Isaiah answered, “Here I am. Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

Isaiah was willing and ready to answer God’s call to serve Him and His people.

I must ask myself, “Am I willing and ready to answer God’s call whenever it comes?”

I pray that I am.

Are you willing and ready?

I pray that you are as well.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Are you willing and ready to answer God’s call on your life?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Obedience to God

ILM #021: Bribes, Given or Received, Are Wicked in God’s Sight

Today in our Inspired Leadership Minute I want us to look at Proverbs 17:23: “A wicked man accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the course of justice.”     

In this proverb, Solomon is warning against the man who offers or receives a bribe, referring to them as wicked because the purpose of the bribe is to pervert justice.

The original judges in Israel were appointed by God to lead the people. Judges were expected to be above reproach. They were to render decisions honestly and fairly because they represented God.

What does this mean for us as leaders today?

Look around in the business world and across the political scene. It is easy to see the impact of bribes that have perverted justice.

Bribes are commonly the exchange of money for a favor. But bribes may also take the form of special treatment granted for favors. Like the politician who gets a tip on cattle futures from an insider; she makes a lot of money, and then she does favors for the man who gave her the insider information.

Christian leaders, we need to be examples to our organizations. We need to be above reproach. We cannot offer nor accept bribes of any kind. The short-term gain that might be won from engaging in bribery is never worth being seen as wicked in God’s eyes.

That’s it for this week’s Inspired Leadership Minute. My prayer is that together we will be the powerful, inspired leaders God intends us to be!

Please leave me a comment and let me know how this week’s Inspired Leadership Minute inspired you!

#196: Have We Forgotten the Real Meaning of Thanksgiving?

This week in America we will celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. It is a holiday steeped in America’s rich heritage.

Thanksgiving

The first formal Thanksgiving proclamation came in 1676 when the Charlestown, Massachusetts governing council voted unanimously to proclaim a day of praise and thanksgiving to the Holy God in recognition of His blessings upon them.

Some 113 years later in 1789, George Washington, at the urging of both houses of Congress, issued the first presidential proclamation calling for a day of thanksgiving. The first paragraph of Washington’s proclamation reads:

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Abraham Lincoln formalized the holiday when he established the last Thursday of November as the date for all of America to celebrate Thanksgiving in 1863. His proclamation reads in part:

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

Imagine that!

A governing council of a town set aside a day specifically to praise and thank God for His blessings to them.

Then, of all things, BOTH houses of Congress urged Washington to declare a day of Thanksgiving and prayer to Almighty God. Washington said it was the DUTY of all nations to acknowledge God and be grateful for His benefits while they also prayed for His protection and favor.

Finally, Lincoln, in the midst of the Civil War, recognized in his Thanksgiving proclamation that the extraordinary bounties enjoyed in America were derived from the providence of God.

Fast Forward to Today

Today the Thanksgiving Holiday stands for a lot of things but rarely, if ever, does the idea of thanking our Almighty God for His blessings enter the picture.

Families gather together for a bountiful feast but more often than not, the purpose of the feast is not thanksgiving and prayer, it is centered around a television as we watch one of several football games.

Do you know of a single church that has a special service on Thanksgiving to offer prayer and thanksgiving to God? I don’t.

Given the acrimony and division I have witnessed this past year, it is more important than ever that we come together this Thanksgiving to spend a few moments in reflection and prayer as we thank Almighty God for His provision in this country.

While we have not achieved the ideals we might wish for; we have much to be thankful for. At the very top of that list is the freedom to worship as we choose.

So, let’s all do this, this Thanksgiving Day, let’s stop fighting amongst ourselves for a day, and spend time in prayer.

Let us lay aside our differences and love one another as Christ first loved us.

Let us thank God that we live in a country in which we can pray and thank God for His great provision.

Then, let’s be Christ-like and carry that love for our brothers and our thankfulness to God over to the next day, and the next. And let us live lives of love and thankfulness so that all the world will see our light and glorify our Father in Heaven.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What are you especially thankful for this Thanksgiving?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

 

ILM #020: Trials Can Strengthen and Purify Us

Today in our Inspired Leadership Minute I want us to look at Proverbs 17:3: “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart.”

Silversmiths and goldsmiths would heat up the silver or gold until it was liquid. Impurities would rise to the top and could then be removed, leaving the pure metals behind.

In the same way, the Lord uses the fire of trials to test our hearts and purify us.

What does this mean for us as leaders today?

Just like metals are strengthened by being purified and tempered, so the Lord uses trials to purify and strengthen us.

James, the half-brother of Jesus, admonished believers in James 1:2-3 saying, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”

Being a Christian leader in today’s world is sure to bring trials as you stand against the secularization of our society. But when the trials come, and they will come, realize the Lord is purifying and strengthening you for an even greater work if you remain steadfast in your faith.

That’s it for this week’s Inspired Leadership Minute. My prayer is that together we will be the powerful, inspired leaders God intends us to be!

Please leave me a comment and let me know how this week’s Inspired Leadership Minute inspired you!

#195: Do You See Yourself in the Life of Zacchaeus?

Lessons from the Lesser Known

Have you ever read a Bible story and imagined yourself in the place of the main character? You think, “that could be me!”

Zacchaeus

Some people may see themselves as a leader like Moses, courageous like Joshua, wise like Solomon, or brave and determined like Paul. Others may see themselves more like Peter; bold and outspoken.

I wonder how many of us see ourselves like Jonah, who ran from God’s call on his life? Or like Jacob who deceived his father and brother all in an effort to get ahead?

One person most of us probably don’t identify with is a man Luke tells us about; Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector (Luke 19:1-10).

Zacchaeus is described as the chief tax collector in the city of Jericho. He was a Jew who had become rich by extorting more money in taxes from his fellow Jews than required by Rome.

He was small in stature, an outcast despised by his own people.

Despite his wealth and influence with Rome, there was something missing in his life. When he heard that Jesus was passing through town he wanted to see him. He was too short amidst the crowd following Jesus to see him, so Zacchaeus ran ahead and climbed a tree to get a better look at this man, Jesus, that he had heard so much about.

As Jesus approached the tree where Zacchaeus was, Jesus called him by name and told him to come down because he was going to stay at Zacchaeus’ house. So Zacchaeus scampered down and received Jesus joyfully.

While the crowd muttered against Jesus for staying with a sinner like Zacchaeus, Zacchaeus jumped down and immediately announced he would give half of everything he owned to the poor and pay back four times the amount of anything he had cheated out of others.

Jesus said salvation had come to the house of Zacchaeus that day. The Son of Man had come to seek and save that which was lost.

5 Lessons from the story of Zacchaeus

1) He was searching. Money and influence were not enough. Zacchaeus knew there was something missing in his life.

2) He was determined. Something in Zacchaeus drove him to set aside his pride, rush ahead of the crowd, and climb a tree just so he would have a chance to see Jesus.

3) Jesus came to him. Despite being surrounded by a crowd, Jesus came to Zacchaeus and dealt with him as an individual.

4) Jesus knew him. Jesus not only called Zacchaeus by name, but He knew the condition of his heart.

5) He responded to Jesus immediately. When Jesus called out to Zacchaeus, he jumped down immediately and responded to Jesus with rejoicing. He publicly repented of his sins against his people. He promised to give away half of his fortune and to make restitution to those he had cheated.

Zacchaeus was desperate to see Jesus, but at the same time, Jesus was on his way to meet Zacchaeus. The Lord knew Zacchaeus’ heart and he responded just as the Lord knew he would. The world may have despised or even hated Zacchaeus. But the Lord saw him through a different lens; one that saw his repentant heart and his desire to know the Lord.

Many of us are searching for the something that is missing in our lives. We work hard to accumulate wealth, power, and influence only to find that they are not enough. Then we go searching for what will fill that God-shaped hole in our lives.

Hopefully, when Jesus comes to us we will put away our pride, greet Him with rejoicing, repent of our sins, and follow him as the Great Shepherd!

The Lord knows His sheep and they recognize His voice (John 10:14).

 Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you ever imagined yourself in the place of a Bible character? If so, who and what about that character did you identify with?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Character

 

 

 

ILM #019: Are You Doing the Right Thing for the Right Reason with Pure Motives?

Today in our Inspired Leadership Minute I want us to look at Proverbs 16:2: “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit.”

I think there are a couple of ways of thinking about this proverb.

First, there is the man who believes he is doing the right thing for the right reason. He is pure in his own eyes.

Second, there is the man whose actions seem innocent from the outside but in reality, he is hiding impure motives.

In both cases, the Lord knows the condition of our hearts. He knows whether our actions stem from a pure heart.

What does this mean for us as leaders today?

Christian leaders take a hard look in the mirror of your soul. Make sure that your actions stem from pure motives.

Additionally, pray for God to reveal any impurity in your motives. David prayed in Psalm 139:23-24 for the Lord to search his heart, reveal any wickedness in him, and lead him in the way everlasting.

Do the right thing, for the right reason, with a pure heart so when the Lord weighs your spirit He will say, “well done, good and faithful servant.”

That’s it for this week’s Inspired Leadership Minute. My prayer is that together we will be the powerful, inspired leaders God intends us to be!

Please leave me a comment and let me know how this week’s Inspired Leadership Minute inspired you!

#194: Do You Know the 3 E’s of Expanded Leadership?

I had the great pleasure of attending the Global Leadership Summit hosted by Willow Creek Church again this year.

Expanded Leadership

Among the incredible speakers was Jossy Chacko, founder and president of Empart, Inc, a global church planting ministry.

Jossy’s talk entitled, “Unquestionable Ways to Expand Your Leadership Reach” was based on the Parable of the Talents recorded in Matthew 25:14-30.

As He teaches the disciples this parable, Jesus described the master who is going on a journey and called his three servants together to entrust his property to them. To one servant he gave five talents of money, to the second servant he gave two talents, and to the third servant he gave one talent.

The man who received five talents and the man who received two talents both put the money to work and doubled it. The man who received one talent was afraid of his master, so he just took the talent and buried it in the ground.

When the master returned, he held his servants accountable for their results. The man with five talents and the man with two talents who had doubled what they were given were commended by the master and invited to share his happiness.

The man with one talent who was afraid and hid the talent in the ground was reprimanded for not at least investing the talent, so what he had was taken from him since he was a worthless servant.

In God’s economy, the two men who multiplied what they were given were rewarded, while the man who just returned what he was given was not rewarded.

What talent has God entrusted to you? If God has entrusted you with leadership responsibility, how you are multiplying and expanding your leadership?

The 3E’s of Expanded Leadership

1) Enlarge Your Vision

  • One man with a small vision played it safe by burying his talent in the ground. If your vision is only to keep what you have, you’ll never see the opportunities all around you.
  • Your vision is directly related to your view of God. If you have a small vision, you have a small view of God. If you have a large vision, you have a large view of God.

2) Empower Your People

  • The master gave the money to the three servants and left! He went on his journey without giving specific instructions of what each person was to do—he left that decision to them individually.
  • People’s character is built through being held accountable for their actions. People often fail for lack of character.

3) Embrace Risk

  • See risk as a friend. The third servant said, “I was afraid,” but Paul, writing to Timothy said, “God has not given us a spirit of fear” (2 Timothy 1:7).
  • Don’t let the fear of losing what you have, keep you from getting what God has for you.

Perfection is Not Required or Expected

When Jesus selected the apostles, He knew they would all be weak and abandon Him in His darkest hour. He knew Peter would deny Him three times. He knew Judas would betray Him.

Jesus didn’t expect the apostles to be perfect. In fact, knew they weren’t! He selected them anyway. What He expected was they would come back to Him in faith to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).

Jesus doesn’t expect us to be perfect either. In fact, He knows we’re not but He has called us anyway. The question is, will you be a servant who answers the call and multiplies the talents you have received?

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Has God entrusted you with the responsibility of being a leader? If so, how are you multiplying and expanding that talent to others for the benefit of the Kingdom?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Character