#214: Seizing Victory from the Agony of Defeat

Have you ever been so discouraged you felt like giving up? You saw the light at the end of the tunnel and realized it was just another train about to mow you down.

Victory Defeat

It seems there is an epidemic of discouragement and uncertainty in our world today. We live in most uncertain times. Economies around the world are experiencing turmoil. More people live in poverty than ever before. Millions and millions of people have become refugees fleeing their ancestral homes to avoid war.

On a more individual level, a decline in spiritual maturity has been met with moral decay. Marriages are failing at record rates. More children are being born into single-parent homes than ever before. Crime in our inner cities is out of control.

How are we to make sense of it all? How can we avoid the spirit of discouragement or defeat that has surrounded so many?

The answer lies in our faith. Let’s look at a few Bible characters whose faith allowed them to seize victory from the agony of defeat, who were down but not defeated.

Joseph Endured Difficulties

Joseph was his father’s favorite. He had a bright future, but his jealous brothers pretended he was dead and sold him into slavery. Things were looking up a little when he became the house manager for a powerful man but then he was falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison.

Job Experienced Adversity

Job was successful and wealthy with a large family. In a period of days his flocks, his herds, and even his family were all taken from him. In the midst of his despair, he was struck with painful boils all over his body.

Naaman was Ostracized

Naaman was a revered military commander. At some point in his life, he contracted leprosy and became a complete outcast from society and even his own family.

Daniel Faced Governmental Oppression

As a teenager, Daniel was taken prisoner by a conquering army. He was ripped away from his family and taken to a foreign land. He was ordered to worship the king, but Daniel refused, vowing to worship only the Lord God, even if it meant death.

Esther Faced Racism

Esther was a Jewish virgin who was taken to be part of the harem of the king of Persia. She found favor with the king who made her his queen. But Haman, a high-ranking official in the Persian government, hated Jews and hatched a plan to annihilate the entire Jewish population throughout the Persian empire.

Ruth was a Refugee

Ruth was a Moabite widow who left her homeland with Naomi, her mother-in-law to travel back to Naomi’s homeland. She had no possessions and no money. She was forced to pick grain at the edge of the fields to survive.

Great Faith was Rewarded with Victory

Joseph, Job, Naaman, Daniel, Esther, and Ruth were all down but never defeated. Because of their great faith, they all rose above their persecution.

  • Joseph got out of prison and rose to second in command of the Egyptian empire. This put him in a position to save his father and brothers from starvation during a seven-year famine.
  • Job maintained his faith in God throughout all his trials. Because of his faith, God restored Job’s wealth and granted him more children. He lived 140 more years and saw four more generations born to his children.
  • Naaman believed his Jewish servant girl who told him if he had faith the prophet of God could cure his leprosy. Naaman had faith, sought out Elisha the prophet, and was cured of his leprosy.
  • Daniel survived certain death in the lion’s den because God protected him. The king was so happy that God had protected Daniel from the lions that the king wrote a letter declaring Daniel’s God to be the living God who endures forever.
  • Esther became aware of Haman’s plan to kill all the Jews, so she hatched her own plan to trap Haman. Her plan worked. Haman was hung, and the king issued an edict allowing the Jews to take revenge on all those who had threatened them.
  • Ruth followed the advice of Naomi her mother-in-law to seek out Boaz, her nearest relative. Boaz redeemed Ruth and became her husband. Their great-great grandchild was David, the king of Israel.

Paul said it well as he wrote to the Philippians when he proclaimed, I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. We can experience victory. But we must have faith, and we must trust God when He says that He will work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you ever experienced difficulties persecution like Joseph, Job, Naaman, Daniel, Esther or Ruth? Has there ever been a time when God enabled you to seize victory from the jaws of defeat?  What happened?

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

 

 

#213: 7 Things Bad Bosses Taught Me About Being a Good Leader

Thank goodness for bad bosses! I know that seems like an odd thing to proclaim, but it’s true. I am thankful for bad bosses.

Good leaders

Why?

Because bad bosses can teach us a lot about being a good leader. If we learn something from the example of a bad boss then they are a fulfillment of Paul’s proclamation in Romans 8:28, “…we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

A bad boss may be miserable to work for today, but if you learn something from them that makes you a good leader, then it makes enduring them worthwhile.

Last week I wrote about two bad bosses in my life (you can read about them here). This week let’s dig in and look at a few of the things I learned about being a good leader from these two bad bosses.

1. Lead by Example

All leaders lead by example. The issue is, are you setting a good example or a bad one? Peter, writing to the elders (1 Peter 5:1-4), admonished them to be willing, servant leaders not taking advantage of those they lead.

Paul writing to his young protégé, Timothy, said: “set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (Timothy 4:12). That’s the kind of example good leaders set.

2. Trust Those You Lead

David wrote that it is better to trust in the Lord rather than in men (Psalm 118:8-9).

Yes, our ultimate trust must be in the Lord, but I have found that if people see that you trust them, they will return your trust. On the other hand, if people feel that you don’t trust them they will become untrustworthy themselves.

3. Get Out of Their Way

One sign that you trust your people is that when you give them an assignment, you get out of their way and let them work. Being a micro-manager who hovers over your people makes you a poor supervisor, certainly not a leader.

General George Patton said, “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”

It’s been my experience the more you tell people what to do the more you restrict their creativity. The more you restrict someone’s creativity, the less they have invested in your success.

4. Take Responsibility

Leaders take responsibility when things don’t go according to plan. Solomon wrote, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

If you are a good leader, you don’t throw your people under the bus when results don’t come in as expected. It was your job to lead. It was your job to anticipate and deal with problems. So, if things go haywire, it was your fault. Take responsibility.

5. Give Credit

When things go well good leaders know the results accrue to the hard work of the team and they give the team credit.

I learned early in my management career the quickest way to build morale in the organization is to build up the people who did great work. Shout their achievements from the rooftops. Let everyone know how great your team is.

Andrew Carnegie said, “No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it.”

6. Don’t Play Favorites

Good leaders do not play favorites. I know it’s hard not to have favorites sometimes. There are some people you like more than others. Some are kindred spirits that you click with the minute you meet. Others make you tense up the minute they come into the room.

But good leaders avoid the temptation to play favorites. Solomon warned against playing favorites when he said, “To show partiality is not good” (Proverbs 28:21a).

James also warned against playing favorites when he said, “But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers” (James 2:9).

7. Listen for Understanding

One of the most valuable skills any leader can have is the ability to listen. Learn to listen, not just to hear, but to understand. Often understanding comes from comprehending that which is beyond what is said.

James exhorted fellow believers saying they “should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). You cannot listen for understanding if you are readying your response while the other person is still talking.

These are just seven of the leadership traits of good bosses I learned from my bad bosses. If you are already a leader, make sure you exhibit each of these traits. If you are on the road to leadership, make sure you make each of these traits is part of your leadership character.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. If you’ve worked for a bad boss what did you learn from them about being a good leader? Are there any of these leadership traits you need to work on?

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

 

 

 


#212: Have You Worked for Either of These Kinds of Bad Bosses?

There are two kinds of bad bosses, and I have worked for both kinds. There is the boss who doesn’t know they are bad, and then there is the boss that is bad, he knows it, and he doesn’t care!

Bad Bosses

Looking back over the 36-years of my business career I can only think of a couple of bad bosses (maybe my memory is shot, but that’s all I can remember).

The Unwitting Bad Boss

This boss came along later in my career. He was someone I had known for years and even worked with on several occasions. He was a pleasant enough fellow when I worked with him on projects, but when he became my boss, I saw a whole other side of him.

He took credit for the good work my team did even when he didn’t have anything to do with it. But, when something went wrong, he was the first one to throw my team and me under the bus.

I tried hard to work with him and even talked to him about how his behavior was impacting the morale of the organization. He didn’t seem to realize that his behavior was causing his people to pull away from him.

Even after being confronted with what was going on he never changed. Before long complaints about his behavior reached the ears of upper management, then human resources got involved. Eventually, he was demoted and transferred where he had the chance to start over with another division of the company.

The Bad, Bad Boss

I was a sales manager responsible for three states, and our team had just gone through a particularly tough quarter. Right after the close of the quarter, the mailman brought a large package and inside was what we lovingly referred to as the “Boot Trophy.”

Our boss had taken one of his old hiking books and had it mounted on an oak plaque. This became the Boot Trophy. It was to be held in the office of the worst performing manager for the entire quarter. It would then be sent on to the next manager who had the worst quarter’s performance.

I am sure the boss thought me having to stare at the Boot Trophy all quarter would remind me of the unit’s shameful performance and motivate my team to work harder and do better.

It didn’t.

I threw the stupid thing into the back of a closet. I didn’t look at it or tell my people about it. And then when it was time to forward to another manager, I “lost it.”

The Boot Trophy was just one of the examples of this manager’s abysmal leadership. He would rig sales contests to favor people he liked. He manufactured reasons to transfer or fire employees he didn’t like.

Eventually, he butted heads with his boss. My bad boss was given what I like to call, “alternate employment options” (an office and 30 days to find a new job and resign or get fired).

Dealing with Your Bad Boss

The Bible has a a lot to say about dealing with difficult people. My favorite passage comes from Jesus who gives instructions to the disciples regarding discipline among church members.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17).

If we apply these instructions to our organizations, there are four steps we should take in dealing with bad bosses:

  • Address the issues privately with him/her, one-on-one. If this does not resolve the situation then,
  • Take one or two others with you and discuss the issues in private once again. If this does not resolve the issue then,
  • Take the issue either to higher ups or the human resources department depending on your organization. If the situation is resolved, great. If not then,
  • Break off relationship with the bad boss. This can be tricky in an organization. You may need to ask for a transfer, or you may need to start looking for a new job.

Regardless of how the situation is resolved, we need to practice forgiveness. As Jesus continued teaching the disciples in Matthew 18:21-22 he told them they were to forgive the person who had sinned against them seventy-seven times.

We must forgive also. As hard as it may be, we must forgive those who have sinned against us for our sakes, for the sakes of our employees, and for the sake of the organization.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you worked with an unwittingly bad boss or the boss who was bad and knew it? How did their leadership affect the organization? How did you handle the bad boss?

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 | Conflict Management

 

 

#211: 13 Traits of Remarkable Biblical Leaders You Should Have

Plus a Bonus Whitepaper

What does it take to be a remarkable leader? The Bible provides many examples of both strong and weak leaders.

Biblical Leaders

Characteristics of remarkable Biblical leaders capable of meeting the needs of the people include loyalty, courage, desire, emotional stability, empathy, decisiveness, risk-takers, a sense of timing, competitiveness, confidence, accountability, trustworthiness, and a servant’s heart.

Loyalty

Loyalty between master and servant, and between servant and master is a reciprocal relationship common among strong leaders.

Elisha was loyal to Elijah to the extent that even though Elijah encouraged Elisha not to follow him, Elisha refused (2 Kings 2:1-12). On three separate occasions, Elisha restated his desire to stay with his master until the very end. His reward for this loyalty was to inherit Elijah’s powers and responsibilities.

Courage

Leaders must have courage. The job of leadership is often a lonely one, confronted with obstacles and adversity. A good leader must have the courage to bear up under these difficulties.

One of the most powerful pictures of courage in the Bible is the young boy David who steps onto the battlefield to face Goliath (1 Samuel 17). David was a shepherd whose only weapon was a sling. He faced Goliath, a giant over nine feet tall, who was a professional soldier.

Desire

Strong leaders have a desire to lead that is inescapable. They would rather lead others, affect the outcomes of events, and change processes than anything else.

Consider the example of Paul, who by his own account was shipwrecked, flogged, and thrown into prison for years. Paul endured this because of his intense desire to see the job he was commissioned to do completed.

Emotional Stability

Ever increasing levels of responsibility bring more and more stress. Good leaders have the ability to maintain composure in the face of adversity. They can recover quickly from the disappointment of failure with their perspectives clearly in focus. This kind of emotional stability and resilience are marks of a strong leader.

Job provides a wonderful example of a man, who in the face of adversity, maintained his emotional stability through his faith in God.

Empathy

Leaders must be able to appreciate the differences between people’s values and other cultures. Empathy brings about a unique understanding that is required to be able to meet people’s needs.

Jesus is the greatest example of a man who understood and valued the differences between people. In the selection of the apostles he chose a wide variety of people; a Pharisee, a tax collector, Jews, Greeks, young, old, well-educated, and those with no education. He chose them all with a complete understanding of how they would work to complete the missions assigned to them.

Decisiveness

Leaders must be able to make decisions. Wishy-washy procrastinators confuse and discourage subordinates.

Jesus never had any trouble making decisions. When He encountered the moneychangers at the temple, He immediately overthrew their tables saying, “My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers” (Mat 21:13).

Risk-Takers

Leaders are willing to step out and take risks when others retreat to the comfort of stable security.

Paul’s life during his three missionary journeys, conducted over a twelve-year period, are a testimony to a man willing to take risks. He willingly placed himself in circumstances of great risk to fulfill his commission to spread the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 13-28).

A Sense of Timing

A leader must develop a sense of timing. The ability to know how and when to make a decision, when to make announcements, when to make changes, etcetera.

Jesus provides many examples of a perfect sense of timing. He always knew the right word or the right lesson, and the perfect time to deliver them.

Competitiveness

Leaders have an intense desire to win. Second place is not good enough. Although no one wins all the time, strong leaders know which races are the most important to win.

In his letter to the Corinthians Paul writes, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Cor 9:24). Paul encourages the Corinthians to understand which races are important and not settle for second best.

Confidence

Strong leaders exude confidence. Despite personal doubts, they appear confident of their ability to succeed at all times, and this confidence carries over to subordinates.

Moses provides an example of outward confidence and inner doubt as he said, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:10).

Accountability

Leaders understand the need to praise others for their work and take responsibility for failure. Strong leaders not only give credit where credit is due but take responsibility for the failures of their subordinates.

Remember the parable of the talents that Jesus taught the disciples (Matthew 25)? The master gave three servants five, two, and one talent of money to invest on his behalf while he was away. When the master returned, he rewarded the men who invested well. The master held the man who did not invest well accountable for his actions.

Trust

A leader has the trust of friend and foe alike. His word is his bond. His yes means yes and his no means no.

Jesus provides an important lesson about trust saying, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” (Luke 16:10).

Servant

Above all else, a leader knows that it is his or her job to serve. There is no need for a shepherd if there is no flock.

Certainly, no one can be seen as more of a master and a servant in the Bible than Jesus himself. Among the dozens of examples of how He cared for His flock is a simple but dramatic example of when He abruptly stopped eating dinner to wash the disciples’ feet. He did this to provide an example of how He wanted them to serve and care for others (John 13).

One Final Thought

In his book, Leadership Is an Art, author Max Dupree notes, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor. That sums up the progress of an artful leader.”

If we are not the quintessential leader that we might hope to be, we can study great leaders, understand their strengths, and try to emulate them. Eventually, with experience and dedication, you can develop the leadership skills you desire!

Bonus Whitepaper

This week’s post is excerpted from a 5-page whitepaper entitled, 13 Traits of Remarkable Leaders You Should Have.”

This whitepaper includes an expanded discussion of each of the 13 Biblical leadership traits and three lessons about leaders from the life and experiences of Ezekiel.

You can download the whitepaper here: 13 Traits of Remarkable Leaders You Should Have.”

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Which of the 13 traits of Biblical Leaders are your strengths and which are areas where you want to improve?

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