#238: What Does It Take to be a Godly Leader or Follower?

Every leader I know deals with challenges to their leadership just about every day. These challenges come from the world around us, our own fleshly temptations, and the devil who would love to take us down!

Leader Follower

With so many forces coming against as leaders, it begs the question, “What does it take to be a Godly leader, or for that matter, a Godly follower?

The Apostle Peter warned of these very dangers in 1 Peter 5. Although Peter was addressing his fellow elders in the church, his warnings are equally valid for us as leaders in the workplace.

Be Shepherds

Peter began by admonishing leaders to be like shepherds caring for God’s flock. Being a shepherd doesn’t mean much to most of us in the business world, but it was perfectly clear to the people Peter was addressing. They all knew what the responsibilities of a shepherd entailed.

According to Psalm 23, there are five primary responsibilities of a shepherd,

1) to lead (Psalms 23:2),

2) to provide spiritual guidance and feeding (Psalm 23:3),

3) to offer comfort (Psalm 23:4),

4) to strengthen (Psalm 23:4), and

5) to correct (Psalm 23:5).

Based on the command to be a shepherd, leaders have a lot of big responsibilities! We are to lead, and that means we are out front making decisions based on what is best for the flock. We are to be spiritual leaders that feed the flock. We are to offer comfort when and where needed, and we are to strengthen the flock. And finally, when necessary we to are correct the flock.

Right Attitude

Next, Peter said leaders must have the right attitude about leading. We should lead, he said, not because we have to but because we are eager to serve the flock. We should not seek to lead for money or to have power over others.

Peter’s admonition about Christian leaders having the right attitude stands in stark contrast to the secular worldview in which leaders seek the position for the monetary rewards and for the power that comes with leadership.

Christians are to stand apart as leaders by having the attitude of a shepherd caring for their flock.

Be an Example

Third, Peter said Christian leaders are to be an example to those we lead. The example for a Christian leader is Jesus Christ, the chief shepherd. Just as Jesus is an example for Christian leaders, Christian leaders are to be an example to their flocks.

Advice for Everyone

Peter closed out his letter with instructions for everyone, leaders, and followers.

1) Be submissive to your leaders. Peter’s point about being submissive to leaders is directed to followers, but it’s important to note that everyone follows a leader. Everyone has a boss, and everyone is ultimately accountable to God.

2) Be humble toward one another. Both leaders and followers need to be humble toward one another, because as Peter reminds them, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (Proverbs 3:34).

3) Be Self-controlled and alert. Every Christian needs to be self-controlled in their own behavior. We also need to recognize that the devil is real, like a roaring lion seeking to devour those who stand for Christ. Therefore, we must remain on alert and resist the temptations of the devil.

4) Cast your cares on God. Peter reminds both leaders and followers to cast all our cares on God because He cares for us. Whatever trials, tribulations, or suffering we endure in this world are nothing compared to God’s grace and mercy.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you struggled with any of the five elements of being a shepherd leader? Have you been a follower under a leader who was a poor example?

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Category: Relationships | Servant Leadership

 

#147: Is Being a Servant Leader Really a Good Thing?

There’s been a lot of talk of talk the past few years about the importance of being a servant leader in business. In my experience most of the time it’s just talk. It sounds good to be called a servant leader. It strokes our frail little egos if we can convince ourselves that we are servant leaders.

Jesus Servant Leader

But the cold-hard truth is being a real servant leader is hard, and it requires more dedication, trust, and work than most people are willing to put forth.

The Servant Leader

The priority of the servant leader is to equip, enable, and encourage their subordinates to live up to their full potential.

Servant leaders combine a desire to serve others with a steadfast commitment to lead. They are often described as being visionaries, empowering, relational, trustworthy, and humble.

Examples of Servant Leaders

There are many servant leaders in the Bible. I’ve selected just four examples to share today:

  • Abram (Abraham) led his men to victory in battle. He refused to take any spoils for himself, but allowed the men who joined him in the battle to take their share of the spoils. Abram cared more about the men who risked their lives in battle than he cared about enriching himself. (Genesis 14:21-24)
  • David cared for Mephibosheth. King David, out of loyalty to his friend Jonathan, son of Saul, took in Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth. David restored Mephibosheth all the property and possessions that had belonged to Saul. David served Mephibosheth out of love and loyalty to Jonathan. (2 Samuel 9:1-13)
  • Mordecai worked to save the entire Jewish population. Not concerned for his own safety and security, Mordecai enabled Esther to confront King Ahasuerus with Haman’s evil plan to annihilate the Jews. The plan was foiled and Mordecai, along with Esther, ended up saving the entire Jewish people. (Esther 9:1-10:3)
  • Jesus washed the disciple’s feet. Foot washing was the job of a household servant, but Jesus washed the disciple’s feet as an example of what it meant to be a true servant leader. Jesus turned the world’s values upside down: The Son of God, lived and died serving others. (John 13:14-15)

Disadvantage of Servant Leadership

The primary disadvantage of adopting a servant leadership philosophy is it is a long-term strategy. It takes time to establish the levels of trust, employee engagement, loyalty, etc. that positively impact results.

Leaders who naturally operate out of an autocratic style of leadership often do not have the courage to release authority and trust subordinates. They don’t have the patience for a long-term leadership style like servant leadership. They want results now and they want it done their way!

Advantages of Being a Servant Leader

There are many advantages to being a servant leader, but here are five that I think are most important:

  • Servant leadership maximizes the career development of employees.
  • Servant leadership leads to high levels of employee loyalty. Turnover is reduced.
  • Servant leadership builds trust within an organization which leads to high levels of employee engagement.
  • Servant leadership leads to high levels of customer service and customer loyalty.
  • Servant leadership has the power to impact society in a positive way.

Of all the advantages of servant leadership it is this last one; the potential to impact society in a positive way, that makes servant leadership worth all the effort, and counters all the potential disadvantages.

Join the Conversation

Have you worked for servant leaders in the past? How does that compare to non-servant leaders you know? Do you think being a servant leader can be an effective leadership philosophy in today’s business world?

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Category: Relationships | Servant Leadership

#146: There are only Two Kinds of Leaders

There are only two kinds of leaders.

Leaders

There are those who view their leadership position as an opportunity to take as much as they possible can from the organization. I call them the takers.

The other kind of leader views their leadership position as an opportunity to give to the organization. I call them the givers.

Givers and Takers. As a leader it all boils down to, are you a giver or a taker?

The takers take things like the big office, the title, the salary, and the extra perks. They believe organization owes them these things because of who they are.

The givers look to see what they can give to the organization. They look for ways to serve the organization. They care less about themselves and more about the organization.

On the very top of my takers list of Biblical leaders are Judas and Herod the Great.

Taker: Judas

Judas was an apostle of Jesus. He was called to be one of the top 12 leaders to take the Gospel to the world. But what was he worried about? Judas was stealing some money out of the money bag when he saw fit, and then complaining when a woman anointed the Lord with perfume.

He hoped Jesus would crush the Romans, and establish Himself as king. Then, being in the inner circle, he would score a nice plush job, with a big office in the temple. Knowing his fondness for money he probably had his eye on the job of Secretary of the Treasury. He was in it for what he could get; money, power, and position.

Taker: Herod the Great

It is said that it was safer to be a dog in Herod’s palace than one of his family members. Herod had most of his wives and even his own children killed because he saw them as questioning his authority or a threat to his rule. Of course Herod was also the king who heard about a baby born in Bethlehem who would be king, so he ordered all the babies in Bethlehem under two years old killed. Herod loved to tax the Jewish people to fund his lifestyle and his personal building projects. All Herod wanted to do was hang on to the money, power, and position he already had.

There are quite a few Biblical leaders who were givers. Aside from the obvious choice of Jesus, one of my top picks for a giving leader is Barnabas.

Giver: Barnabas

Barnabas was a Levite from the island of Cyprus who converted to Christianity early on. Barnabas’ first act of service to the young Christian church was when he sold some land he had and gave the entire amount to the apostles to distribute as they saw fit.

Later, when a new convert to Christianity named Paul wanted to work with the disciples in Jerusalem, it was Barnabas who stood up for Paul, introducing him to the disciples, and vouching for him.

Barnabas saw a need and helped to meet the need out of his own resources.

He saw a young man named Paul and believed in him. He helped Paul establish himself as a preacher of the Gospel.

Some time later Paul and Barnabas were working hard in the mission field with a young man named Mark. Mark was younger and less experienced. Rather than continuing on with Paul, the star of the mission field, Barnabas took Mark under his wing and mentored him.

Barnabas saw something special in Paul and Mark. He cared not for his own status, but was a giver who was only concerned with doing everything he could to further the Christian church.

The End Result is Relationships

The kind of leader you are, whether a giver or taker, will have a bearing on the kind of relationships you build with those you lead.

Judas sold out the movement and ended up killing himself all because he didn’t get what he wanted.

Herod ruled through fear and intimidation. Paranoia was the guiding light to his leadership style.

Barnabas, on the other hand, was a generous and supportive leader. He was not afraid to stand up for what he thought was right. He cared little for his own position and more about equipping the fledgling organization to take the Gospel to the world. Barnabas’ name means “Son of Encouragement” and it is easy to see why.

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. What kind of a leader are you? Are you a giver or a taker? What kind of leaders have you worked for – givers or takers? Which did you want to work for?

 

Category: Relationship | Servant Leadership

 

#144: The Five Essentials to Adding Value to Others

As leaders, we know to be successful in the business world we need to be adding value to our consumers if we expect them to beat a path to our door. More enlightened leaders recognize the importance of adding value to employees. But exactly how does a leader accomplish this goal of adding value to employees?

Adding Value Father Son

In his recent book, Intentional Living—Choosing a Life That Matters, author John Maxwell provides five essentials to adding value to others. Maxwell’s focus is general; how we can add value to others, but I want to borrow his 5 essentials framework and apply the principles to leaders and employees.

To add value to employees I MUST:

1) Value Myself. As Maxwell says it is impossible to consistently value others if I do not value myself. In other words, my image of self controls my daily behavior. My self-image should be formed by how God views me, and He views me very highly.

  • Psalm 139:13-16 says God knitted us together in our mother’s womb, and that we a fearfully and wonderfully made. God loves us and cares for us as His children more than we can possibly imagine.

2) Value Others. People need to know that they matter to others. Much of people’s self-image is informed by the environment they live in. If they do not feel valued they will not act valued. What would happen if I demonstrate I value others the way God values them?

  • Philippians 2:13 says in humility we should value others above ourselves.

3) Value what others have done for me. If I am thankful for what others have done for me, that attitude of thankfulness will be apparent to others. Have you ever met a “negative Nancy”? Think of Eor, the donkey in Winnie the Pooh. Eor was eternally negative and pessimistic. That kind of negative attitude wears on people. If I am thankful for the many blessings I’ve gained from other people in my life it’s an easy step to express that to others.

  • Ephesians 5:20 says we should give thanks always and in everything to God in Jesus’ name.

4) Know and Relate to what others value. People naturally respond to people who show interest in them or take the time to get to know them. If I know what is important to someone (their faith, their family, their career, etc.) they know I care. If they know I know and care, they’ll feel valued.

  • Matthew 7:12 Jesus says we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us (aka Golden Rule).

5) Make myself more valuable. I cannot add value to someone else unless and until I have something of value to give them. I need to keep growing in order to keep adding value to other people.

  • Proverbs 1:5 says wise men listen and add to their learning and the discerning obtain guidance.

So that’s it; five essentials for leaders to add value to employees. It starts with us, we need to understand and accept how much God loves and values us. We need to let employees know how much we value them. We need to be thankful for all that others have done for us. We need to know and relate to what others value. And finally, we need to keep learning and growing so we can continue to add value to others.

I highly recommend John Maxwell’s new book Intentional Living—Choosing a Life That Matters. For everyone who is a leader and for everyone who wants to be a leader, this is a must read. If you purchase it on Amazon though this link you’ll pay the same price, but I will receive a small affiliate commission from Amazon. To purchase or learn more click here.

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. What do you think is essential to add value to others? Do you struggle with any of these?

 

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Category: Relationships | Servant Leadership

#118: Whatever You Did for the Least of these Employees, You Did for Me

Employees come in all shapes and sizes. Employees are different. Employees have different expectations. And most importantly, employees have different needs.

Stressed Employees

Some of the managers I met over the course of my career didn’t seem to have a clue that everyone didn’t think and act the way they did. They were oblivious to the needs of the employees who worked for them.

Sadly, I was one of those kinds of managers early on in my career before I became a Christian. I was focused on what worked for me and didn’t really think too much about the employees who worked for me, or how their needs might be different than my own.

Then I ran into this passage in Matthew 25 where Jesus is teaching the disciples about what will happen in the end times. The Lord will divide nations into two groups that He referred to as goats and sheep. The sheep are referred to as righteous because they cared for the people in different ways (feeding them, giving them something to drink, clothing them, providing hospitality, caring for the sick, and even visiting those in prison (vv. 35-36)). This care for others, Jesus said, is like caring for Him, because these people are part of His family.

Some of you may be thinking, “OK, but what does this have to do with being a leader in the business world?” To that, I say, “Everything!” “Our employees ARE these people.” Yes, Jesus was teaching the disciples about ministry, but that Word today is for all of us who call ourselves children of God. If we claim to believers in Jesus Christ, then we must follow His teaching in all aspects of our lives. There is no secular life separate from our life of service to Christ.

So if you have been given the privilege of leading others, you bear a greater responsibility to also care for them.

Mark 1:31 describes a scene in which Jesus left the synagogue and journeyed to Simon’s house. Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed. Jesus went to her, took her by the hand, and helped her up. In this case, Jesus cared, not for one of his followers, but for someone that was important to one of his followers, his mother-in-law.

Jesus didn’t ignore her as though he was too busy and had other things to do. He stopped and helped. Jesus didn’t instruct someone else to help her, he got personally involved by going to her and helping her up.

Jesus modeled how we, as leaders, should respond to and care for our employees.

Be Sensitive to the Need

Jesus didn’t presume to be too busy or too important to help. He was a sensitive leader whose heart recognized someone who needed help.

Be a Role Model

Jesus didn’t delegate this task. He was a role model to the disciples showing them how to care for someone in need.

Be Personally Involved

Jesus personally went to the woman and took her by the hand to help her.

Be Willing to Meet the Need

Jesus was willing to meet the woman’s need. She needed healing and that is what He provided. Jesus didn’t offer her a coat, or some food, but met the need she had.

This last semester, I had a student who was engaging and bright. All of a sudden her countenance was downcast, her work lacked the polish it had previously. After class, I asked her about it, and she confessed to being in the midst of a great personal family trial. I told her to focus on doing what she could to help her family. I also offered to give her more time to redo an assignment and provide some due date grace on others.

She struggled with her family issue for a time, but knowing that I cared about her and her family gave her a peace of mind and a renewed spirit.

Sometimes all we need to do is listen and be the vehicle that provides God’s grace and reassurance. Sometimes the need is simple, sometimes it is not. Regardless, God has called us, as leaders, to care for his children, our employees.

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you had a need met by an employer? As a leader, have you had an opportunity to minister to an employee? What was the result?

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 | Servant Leadership