#239: The Woman Who Overcame Evil with Good

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

On more than one occasion during my teenage years my mother, all 100-lbs of her, would have to step between my hot-headed father and me until cooler heads prevailed. Mom was always the level-headed, even-tempered one in our family.


My mother’s actions that brought about peace in the family remind me of the Biblical account of Abigail recorded in 1 Samuel 25. There is much we can learn about leadership from mom and Abigail.

A Tense Confrontation

We are introduced to Abigail after a nasty confrontation between David’s men and her foolish husband, Nabal.

David and his army of 600 men had spent the year patrolling the area of Israel around where Nabal lived. They had protected Nabal’s servants, his sheep, and his crops. During harvest time, David sent 10-men off to Nabal to ask for an offering to help feed his men.

Nabal disrespected David’s men and arrogantly questioned their integrity as he refused their request and sent them away empty-handed.

David was furious when he learned of Nabal’s insults. He strapped on his sword, gathered his men, and headed off to kill all of Nabal’s household.

In the meantime, some of Nabal’s servants ran off to tell Abigail how Nabal had mistreated David’s men.

Abigail’s Wise Response

Without telling her husband, Abigail gathered up 200 loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five butchered sheep, a bushel of roasted grain, 100 clusters of raisins, and 200 cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. She headed off with her servants to meet David.

When Abigail saw David, she knelt at his feet and took responsibility for her husband’s foolishness. She asked David to accept her gifts and forgive them for the offense.

Abigail went on to praise David, saying the Lord would give him victory in his battles and he would not have remorse over shedding Nabal’s blood needlessly.

Abigail’s Leadership Lessons

There are many leadership lessons we can take away from Abigail’s interaction with David. Here are my top five:

1) Discernment. Abigail demonstrated discernment. She realized her husband had insulted David’s men and this had the potential to cause a drastic reaction from David.

Leadership Lesson. Effective leaders need a keen sense of discernment. Solomon prayed to God to give him discernment to lead the people (1 Kings 3:9). We should do the same!

2) Immediate Action. Abigail responded immediately when the news reached her. She assembled her offering to David and set out to meet him.

Leadership Lesson. There’s a time for thinking, and there is a time for action. When a crisis looms, leaders need to take immediate action. Many times in the Bible we see leaders praying for God’s guidance then taking action!

3) Humble Nature. When Abigail met David, she got off her donkey and humbled herself by kneeling before him.

Leadership Lesson. People in tense situations tend to go on the offensive to defend their positions. A leader who is humble will diffuse most situations.

4) Soft Answer. Abigail understood the power of Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” She asked David to accept her offering, and took responsibility for her husband’s bad behavior.

Leadership Lesson. The buck stops with you, the leader. Emotional responses are diffused when you take responsibility for the situation.

5) Wise Counsel. Abigail counseled David not to take harsh action against Nabal that he would regret later. She assured him the Lord would give him victory over his enemies and he would do great things for the people of Israel if he did not shed blood needlessly.

Leadership Lesson. Once tempers have cooled, people are more open to accepting wise counsel. Leaders, take this opportunity to give counsel that builds your people and strengthens your organization.

Not every crisis can be averted, but strong leaders practice these five leadership lessons. Rate yourself on your effectiveness in each area and pick one to work on over the next month.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Which of these five leadership lessons is most important to you? Why??

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Category: Relationships | Healthy Alliances

#204: Do You Need a Powerful Influencer in Your Life?

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

Is there a powerful influencer in your life? Do you even need one?

Powerful Influencer

Moses had one, and his advice dramatically changed the way Moses led the people of Israel for the rest of his life. Moses’ key influencer was Jethro, his father-in-law, who made a brief appearance in Exodus 18.

Many thanks to Barbara K for suggesting Jethro as the topic for this month’s “Lessons from the Lesser Known.”

The Influencer Backstory

Moses was leading the people of Israel out of Egypt on their way to the Promised Land. Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, met up with Moses as they traveled. Moses recounted to Jethro all that the Lord had done for the people of Israel. Jethro proclaimed the greatness of God and brought offerings and sacrifices to God (Exodus 18:11-12).

The next day Moses resumed his usual activity judging issues between the people of Israel from morning until night (Exodus 18:13).

Jethro the Influencer

Jethro questioned Moses, asking why he was doing all the judging for the entire nation by himself. Moses explained that his role as leader was to judge disputes between the people and to teach them God’s statutes and laws (Exodus 18:15-16).

He bluntly told Moses his way of doing things was not good because he would wear himself out personally tending to the needs of all the people.

Jethro advised Moses to divide his responsibilities among other trusted men of God. He should appoint men over thousands, hundreds, and tens to judge the minor disputes among the people. These men were to be God-fearing, trustworthy, and hate bribes.

Moses was to continue to personally teach the people God’s statutes and laws (Exodus 18:17-22).

His final direction to Moses was to consult with God and act if God so directed him.

Moses listened to Jethro’s advice and did everything he told him by appointing leaders over the people, while Moses continued in his responsibility to teach the people about God.

Lessons for us About Influencers

Moses exhibited two characteristics common among type A leaders: 1) he thought he could do it all, and 2) he had lost sight of what was most important.

Many of us tend to exhibit the same two characteristics; we think we can do it all, and in the attempt to do it all we lose sight of what is most important.

This tendency is precisely why leaders need key influencers in their lives. We need someone we can trust to give us honest, sometimes blunt feedback, and keep us focused on doing what is most important.

What Should You Look for in a Key Influencer?

There are at least four important takeaways about key influencers from the example between Jethro and Moses.

  • People who we allow to be key influencers in our lives should themselves be men and women of God.
  • Key influencers should feel free to speak the truth in love, even bluntly when necessary.
  • Leaders should listen to the advice of key influencers and bring it before God in prayer.
  • Leaders need to be action oriented. Once the advice is given and confirmed by God in prayer, act. Do it now!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Is there a key influencer in your life? What criteria do you look for in a key influencer? What role do they play in decisions you make?

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: Relationships | Healthy Alliances


#145: Building Positive Attitudes Builds Results

10 Biblical Principles

Seldom, if ever, will a thing be done by someone who thinks it cannot be. Building your business requires the work of people who believe that a thing can be done.

The evening of October 21, 1931 lights all over the United States were dimmed to honor the passing of Thomas Alva Edison at the request of President Herbert Hoover. Years earlier one of Edison’s lab assistants said they had failed to make a working electric light despite 10,000 tries. Edison replied that they had not failed once, but that by having tried 10,000 times they were just that much closer to having found the answer.

Imagine where we would be today if Edison had replied, “You’re right, let’s quit trying.” Edison believed they could make an electric light work, and he passed that positive attitude on to his young employee.

Here are ten Biblical principles to help you develop and maintain positive attitudes in the workplace:

1. Set positive goals

Everyone knows high achieves regularly set goals for themselves. As you consider goals that are important to you make sure that they are positive goals; goals that will focus on, and achieve that which is important to you.

Paul writes, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13b-14). Paul clearly had a goal in mind, and he wasn’t going to let past difficulties keep him from reaching towards achieving future goals.

2. Develop specific action steps to achieve goals

Goals in and of themselves do not help us very much unless we also develop specific action plans that will help us achieve our goals.  

Moses did precisely this as he instructed the spies going into the Promised Land to determine the strength of their armies. Nehemiah also developed very specific action steps when he went to rebuild Jerusalem. Luke wrote, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14:28).

3. Review progress toward goals frequently

You can review your progress yourself, but a wise leader will also get feedback from superiors, peers, mentors, and those whose opinions he trusts. Solomon wrote, The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7).

Check progress toward goals and ask for feedback regularly. The longer you wait to assess progress the more likely you will find yourself off-course.

4. Underscore the positive

Develop a habit of reviewing your work to see the positive in what you have done. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8 NAS). Paul’s admonition is clear; find the positive and dwell on it rather than the negative.

It is important for you as the leader to convey a positive attitude at all times, and to be able to reinforce the positive attitude in others. This is impossible to do if you focus on everything that is wrong, but is easy if you focus on the positive.

5. Associate with positive people

Attitudes are contagious so surround yourself with people who have a positive outlook. Moses understood how contagious negative attitudes are when he said, “And now, is anyone afraid? If you are, go home before you frighten the rest of us!” (Deuteronomy 20:8 LB). Moses was giving instructions to the military commanders about who should be allowed into the army. He didn’t want anyone who wasn’t fully committed that might have a negative attitude because he knew that their attitude would affect others.

Gideon provides another example as God reduces the size of his army from 32,000 to the 300 bravest men and Gideon then defeats the Midianite army that “could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore” (Judges 7:12).

6. Turn negatives into opportunities

View negative situations as opportunities. No work environment is perfect so there will be times when things go wrong. If you approach these difficult times as opportunities for growth you will maintain and spread a positive attitude in your organization. James writes, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever your face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:23). Every difficult or negative situation is an opportunity for you to stand apart from the crowd by being positive. Endeavor always to turn negatives into opportunities!

7. Maintain good physical, emotional, and spiritual health

Your good mental and physical health shapes your attitudes. Maintaining your health is an important part maintaining a positive attitude. “Being cheerful keeps you healthy. It is like slow death to be gloomy all the time” (Proverbs 17:22 GN). Making time for exercise, rest, you family, and God will go a long way toward keeping a positive attitude.

8. Believe in yourself

You have overcome difficult situations before, and the difficulty you face today is probably no worse than other situations you’ve faced. Believe that you have the skills to overcome a negative situation by maintaining a positive outlook. “If the axe is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success” (Ecclesiastes 10:10). Know that God will give you the strength and skill to face every challenge if you look to Him.

9. Serve others

Consider donating time to the service of others. The opportunities for service are endless; churches and para-church organizations always need volunteers, so do hospitals, schools, etc. Find a worthy organization and give them a few hours a month. You’ll be amazed at how this simple act of service will change the perspective you have on the rest of your life.

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul exhorts them to “Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ. So, then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Gal 6:2,10 NAS).

10. Focus on God

It is difficult to maintain a positive attitude when things are going well most of the time, and near impossible to do when chaos erupts all around us.

The key to keeping your head when all around you are losing theirs is to keep your focus on God. As Luke points out, “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to one, and despite the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16:13 NAS). To keep your focus on God join a church, consider a good bible study, read your bible every day, and spend time in prayer.

One Final Thought

There are a number of people who expound the “power of positive thinking”. They say that your power to think positively leads you to positive results.

This is where the Christian leader must separate themselves; the ability to maintain a positive focus is driven by our faith in God. Consider the prophet Jeremiah’s warning to Judah, “But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when the heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8).

Keep your focus on God and you will not only have a more positive attitude yourself, but you will help those who work with you to keep a positive attitude as well.

Bonus Whitepaper

If you would like a broader discussion on this topic, download the free 6-page whitepaper, Building Positive Attitudes Builds ResultsIt includes:

  • the 4 origins of attitudes
  • the affect of attitude on self-image
  • 6 ways an employee’s perceptions inform their attitudes at work

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. How does your attitude effect your work? How does it impact how you feel throughout the day?

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

#057: When A Friend Calls Out of The Blue and Makes Your Day

A friend who I have known for 30 plus years called me out of the blue just recently and taught me a lesson about the importance of friendship. He was calling because he knew I had gone through some difficult situations in the last few weeks, and he just wanted to know how I was doing.

Friend, Friends

We talked for a full hour, 60 minutes. I know the ladies out there are shrugging their shoulders going “so, big deal,” but for most of us men, talking on the phone just for fun and camaraderie is a bit unusual, and for a whole hour is nearly inconceivable. I am lucky. There have been men like this in my life, most of my life, and happily several of us remain quite close even though we are separated by hundreds of miles.

By the time we were saying goodbye I felt better. My friend reaching out to me quite unexpectedly had raised my spirits. By the time we hung up after our marathon call, we had agreed to meet with another friend every few weeks just for coffee or for lunch. We want to be friends following God’s call to love our friends like brothers! And therein lies the lesson, which admittedly is more of a lesson to be learned by men. We need friends in our lives, throughout our lives!

The Bible has quite a few great examples of great friendships upon which we can lean for instruction.

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#046: Five Lessons on Handling a Crisis from Governor Chris Christie

Regardless of your opinion of Governor Chris Christie, the recent crisis surrounding what is being called “Bridgegate” by some in the media provides insight into how an executive should react when managing through a crisis.

Chris Christie

As background, the mayor of Fort Lee, NJ did not endorse Christie’s recent run for governor. In what was seemingly a politically motivated punishment, some senior staffers conspired to shut down several traffic lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge, which connects NJ to New York, for four days claiming that the closure was to conduct a traffic study.

Christie said today when the news of the closures first reached him he assembled his senior staff and told them they had one hour to bring forth any information they might have about the closure to either his chief of staff or chief counsel. All the staff denied having any knowledge or role in the closures. Based on these interviews, Governor Christie conducted a press conference last fall saying that no one on his staff knew anything about the closure nor were they involved.

Yesterday (January 8) a news story broke in a local paper containing emails that indicated that the governor’s staff had indeed ordered the shut-down of the lanes. This morning Christie conducted a press conference to apologize, detail what he had learned, and describe the actions he had taken.

From his press conference I gleaned five lessons leaders should take when dealing with a crisis:

1)      Seek the truth. Before it even became a crisis, Christie took action by assembling his staff to seek the truth. Relying on that information he conducted a press conference saying his staff was not involved, but that his office would cooperate with the two investigations that were underway.

2)      Take immediate decisive corrective action. When the truth came out, and Christie saw the actual emails yesterday that implicated his deputy chief of staff, he confronted her and terminated her immediately because she lied to him. He also announced that his former campaign manager had been callous in his remarks, showing a lack of judgment. As a result, Christie told him to not place his name in the running for the nomination to state party chairman and to withdraw as a consultant to the Republican Governor’s Association.

3)      Apologize. Christie’s apology was directed to the people who had been inconvenienced by the lane closure, the mayor of Fort Lee, the legislature, and the people of New Jersey. His press release apology was direct, without the conditions that so many so-called “apologies” contain. For example, we often hear, “I am sorry if this offended anyone.” That’s not an apology for your actions, it’s an apology the other person was offended, as though the person was at fault for being offended! Christie took his apology a step further announcing that he was traveling to Fort Lee this afternoon to apologize to the mayor and the people directly and in-person, because he said, “they deserve it.”

4)      Take responsibility. Several times during today’s press conference Christie took responsibility for the actions of his staff. At one point he said even though there are 65,000 people reporting to him as governor, and he doesn’t know what they are all doing every minute of the day, he is still responsible for them.

5)      Make a promise. In his closing remarks, Christie said no government is perfect because it is made up of people who make mistakes. But he promised when a mistake is made he will be honest about it, deal with it head on, and take corrective actions to prevent similar issues in the future.

It will be interesting to see how this story unfolds, and what if any, further action is needed or taken. Seldom is all the truth known all at once when a crisis occurs, which makes it important that leaders continue to stay on top of the crisis, and continue to manage it carefully.

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. How have you handled a crisis in your organization? did you do something different that worked well?

Category: Relationships | Healthy Alliances


#039: Six Steps to Building Healthy Alliances that will Build Your Business

I am embarrassed to say that I was pretty self-centered in the early stages of my career. I was focused on climbing the success ladder, not really caring all that much about the people around me. Simply put, I used people for what they could do for me, either right then, or their perceived value to me in the future.

Business Alliance

All that changed one year shortly after becoming a Christian when in my performance review, my boss read quotes from my peers. Most said they respected the results I achieved, but did not trust me or want to work with me. OUCH! I resolved to turn that situation around by the next year—I did not want to listen to comments like that from my co-workers again! I resolved to build healthy alliances wherever I could from there on out. It took a year of concerted effort but the next year was a complete turn-around in my peer reviews. Along the way I discovered the power of building healthy alliances to build your business!

It turns out that a great example of how to build healthy alliances is found in the story of David’s journey as he evaded Saul and his army, and eventually in his victory over the Amalekites (1 Samuel 30).

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#023: Christians Need, Receive, and Share Comfort

Are there days when you need a little extra comfort? It might come in the form of a big hug from someone who loves and cares about you.


Or it might come in the form of a kind word, or maybe even a “random act of kindness.” But chances are if not today, certainly by the end of the week, there will be a moment when an extra measure of comfort in your life will turn that frown upside down!

Writing to the Corinthians, Paul describes the terrifying circumstances that caused him to even despair of his life (v8)! Certainly Paul needed some comfort, some encouragement, in his life. In 2 Corinthians Paul pours out his heart describing Christians’ need for comfort, how we can receive comfort from God, and that we should share our comfort with others.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (NASB)
3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
4  who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
5  For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.
6  But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer;
7  and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.

Christians Need Comfort. Paul experienced such suffering in his missionary journeys that he despised his life. God does not protect His children from trials and tribulations

8  For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life;
9  indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead. 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (NASB)

Christians Receive Comfort. Paul writes that God is the Father of all mercy and God of all comfort. Despite the afflictions that faced him, Paul knows that ultimately God gives the biggest hugs of all.

3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4  who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5  For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.

Christians Share Comfort. Paul says while the Corinthians share in his sufferings, they also share his comfort

6  But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer;
7  and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.


Becoming a Christian does not mean all your problems will instantly go away, and that life will forevermore be a bed of roses. In fact, as we read the Scripture, we see the opposite is often the case. Certainly we see that in Paul’s life. If an APOSTLE can face so much and continue on, we should endeavor to do the same.

Christians need comfort. We will face tribulations. Christians receive comfort from God who gives it abundantly. While God is the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, He does not give us these mercies and comfort just to make us feel better but to help others as well. Warren Weirsbe said, “God’s comfort is not given, it is loaned, and you are expected to pass it on to others!”

 Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you found that giving comfort to others has a way of lessening the pain of your own trials?

Category: Relationships | Healthy Alliances