There are moments in this life when things just aren’t “clicking” the way you had planned. Somewhere along the road it went a rye and you wonder, “what happened?” You plot and plan your goals, ideas, passions, direction and seemingly everything…. except we forget to think about the unknown even more we forget to plan for failure. Not to come across negatively but the reality is not everything we do will succeed. Alas, we get to a place where we begin to question….EVERYTHING… then in turn begin to question God, his plans and purposes for our lives. And it is at that exact moment when we realize that we have been attacked by the enemy and have been convinced of the lies we were told.

For me, it is so easy to just think about how easy is it to give up, give in, to question my skills as a husband, father or the like. I want to believe that everything I will attempt in my life will be a failure because it is easy to and easy to just not even try. I know I cant. I know that those are the lies that the enemy wants me to believe so that I become ineffective and useless but I cant, I won’t and in fact I MUST fight back….

As an encouragement to you- take some time to just write down the lies that are being told to you, because when you see them in front of you, you can then find truth to each one and disband the horrific lie.

1 Tim. 1:18-19 it says at the end, “…fight the good fight.(19) To do this you must hold firmly to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck in regard to the faith.

FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT!

Next time you question your abilities to pursue your God-given vision , consider the story of Moses:

Moses said to the LORD, “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.” The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” Exodus 4:10-13

Moses was used of God to do incredible things for God’s glory, yet Moses, more than many leaders I know, questioned his own abilities. He lacked confidence and would have probably never volunteered for the job. His reasons might have been:

  • Past failure
  • Fear
  • The task was overwhelming
  • He was intimidated by the Asker
  • He felt unqualified

What’s your excuse for not obeying the vision God has placed in your heart? Is it really a valid reason? Not to sound cheesy or anything, but perhaps you need to do as Moses did…walk by faith, not by sight. Don’t allow the fear of failure to consume what could be, think about it… often times in our relationship with God we have to have a setback before we have a comeback!

As I have recently read a phenomenal book called “Leadership & Self-Deception (Getting out of the Box)” it gave me a very raw and real look at myself and leadership in general. I recommend this book to everyone, whether you are a leader or not!

Some of the lessons that I gleaned from reading this is that too often in leadership we want to get the ultimate goal accomplished but in doing so we start seeing people as objects and not people. I know it seems like such a simplistic idea, but honestly we do it all the time. We EXPECT the people that help us to DO what is asked of them with no personal connection nor understanding if in fact the work doesn’t get done.

However, above all to be an effective, impacting and an influential leader you must above all else be transparent with your team that you lead! You cannot expect anyone you lead to be more transparent than you. If the leader doesn’t become relevantly transparent your group will become more and more disconnected. We need to always improving in this area. No excuses, or justifications. If you do not then  we will always blame others of their shortcomings to justify my failure to improve.

Pastor Ron Edmondson wrote a wonderful blog on what it means to have a good and healthy organization/ church staff. I could not look over this and not share it, I hope you are able to apply this and enjoy these fundamental principles.

“I love organizational leadership as a subject and I am happy to serve on a healthy team. It’s amazing how many church leaders I know that say their team is not healthy.  Recently I started wondering why it is that I claim our team is healthy and it led me to this post.  Here, in my opinion, are 10 elements of a healthy organization/team:

  1. A shared vision is held by all team members.
  2. Team members and their individual ideas are equally valued.
  3. Leadership development is a part of the strategy.
  4. The organization readily embraces change and risk taking is encouraged.
  5. Team members are continually energized and encouragement flows freely.
  6. It’s a fun place to hang out…people enjoy their work and relationships are deeper than just the professional environment.
  7. Mistakes are considered part of the learning process.
  8. The structure doesn’t limit growth, but provides healthy boundaries.
  9. There is a freedom to offer constructive criticism, even of top leadership, without fear of retribution.
  10. Conflict is not discouraged, but used to make the team better.”

Being a leader you oftentimes get into a position where you either have to, or need to, make a difficult decision. And you know your decision will effect others around you – perhaps positively, but also negatively.  The most important action to take at that moment is to stand by your decision, it may be uncomfortable, or uneasy, but stand by it.  However, the only time you EVER retract a decision is when pride, arrogance or selfish ambition is your driving force in making the decision. Otherwise, stand hard, tall and true to the convictions of your soul. If your tough decision is based around what God has put into your heart, you will convey that message to others in a humble, caring and heartfelt way and in a non-threatening fashion.

It is lonely at the top, and after your decision has been made their will be a “moment” (if you will) that it will be only you. Sure you might have some close friends and family with you, but just for awhile, you will be on your own… that is the time to get closer to God. For those leaders, in whatever capacity of life: be strong…, be courageous…., be who God wants you to be.

To live is to make decisions.  We all know that.  Some of those decisions are as simple as deciding whether to have French or Italian dressing on a salad.  But other decisions like whether to get married, change a job, move to another part of the country, or go back to school, are tougher.  They are complex, involve other people, and have life changing impact.  Aristotle wrote, “It is hard at times to decide what sort of thing one should choose—and still harder to abide by one’s decision.”

Some decision making may be linked to your personality.  Some people, for example, are risk-takers who make decisions quickly and are willing to abide by the consequences.  Others are more insecure, hesitant people who fear making mistakes, want to be sure before making any commitments and, as a result, avoid making decisions for as long as possible.

There can be several reasons why people have difficulty making decisions.  Sometimes we are afraid of making the wrong choice or making a decision that might not be pleasing to God.  At times, we don’t have enough information to make a wise decision.  At other times, we may be overwhelmed with all of the possible outcomes of a decision, so we delay taking action.  The problem of deciding is compounded when the decision maker is given conflicting advice by equally respected people.  As a result, we struggle for a long time and don’t take action.  There is no more miserable human being than the one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision, according to psychologist William James.

Making difficult decisions is never easy but the Christian begins with an awareness that God is the only ultimate source and giver of wisdom (Prov. 2:6).  He will give wisdom to those who seek his guidance (Prov. 3:5-6, 4:11, Ps. 32:8).  For this reason, prayer and knowledge of the Scriptures are crucial for decision makers and their counselors.

A simple, helpful approach to decision making involves dividing a page of paper into columns, one for each of the alternatives, then listing the pros and cons for each decision in the appropriate column.  This puts the issues in front of the decision maker and helps clarify the alternatives.

Questions such as the following can also help.  Consider writing your answers on paper so that they can be added to or consulted again later.

  1. Is each alternative consistent with Biblical teaching and likely to honor Christ?
  2. Are the alternatives consistent with my life goals?
  3. Which alternative makes the best use of my abilities, past experiences, interests, training, and spiritual gifts?
  4. What do other people (who are in a position to know) think about each alternative?
  5. Is each alternative feasible in terms of my time, finances, schedule, energy, etc.?
  6. How (if at all) will my marriage and family be influenced by the decision?
  7. How (if at all) will my career and work be influenced by my decision?
  8. How (if at all) will my spiritual life be influenced by the decision?
  9. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative?
  10. Do I have any inner feelings about what should be done?
  11. Are there good reasons for delaying this decision temporarily?  Some decisions, such as the decision to get married or to change one’s career, are best made after taking the time to deliberate carefully.  A delay in making decisions doesn’t always mean you’re procrastinating.

And what if you answer all these questions but still don’t know what to do?  Consider taking a tentative step in one direction.   Just as it is easiest to steer a vehicle that is moving, so God may make his guidance felt when we take tentative steps in whatever direction we think might be best.

Here are a few areas to consider that are consistent with 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 as you reflect on leading yourself.

  1. My gifts. How am I doing at leading myself to know my gifts, stay within my limits, and develop those gifts to their highest, God-pleasing potential?
  2. My character. How am I doing at leading myself to be a person of integrity who follows through on promises made and is a person that others can trust?
  3. My purity. How am I doing at being careful of what my eyes see, my ears hear, and my mind thinks about? How are my relationships with members of the opposite sex? Do I have guidelines, safeguards, and appropriate and honest accountability?
  4. My pride. How am I doing at keeping Christ at the center? Am I the hero of my own stories? Do the words I speak communicate an attitude of arrogance and superiority, or am I characterized by humility and teachability?
  5. My pace. How am I doing at leading myself in the use of my time? Is my schedule writing checks my body can’t cash? Am I going at an unbalanced pace that is digging myself, and those whom I lead, an early grave? Do I have a biblical view of work and leisure, or am I a workaholic who gets a sense of self-worth based on my work?
  6. My finances. How am I doing at leading myself in the money arena? Do I have healthy protection and checks and balances built-in regarding organizational funds that don’t belong to me? Are there healthy audits over all financial dealing with which I am associated? Do I resist the lusting and grabbing lifestyle of my culture, choosing instead to be content and satisfied with God’s provision? Or is my happiness at the door of the next purchase?
  7. My anger. How am I doing at leading myself emotionally? Do I have a reputation for being a hothead and having a short fuse? Do I keep score regarding perceived slights, insults, and put-downs? Do resentment, bitterness, and lack of forgiveness characterize me? One survey I came across revealed that bitterness is the major cause of burnout for men between 38 and 50 years of age.

These are my key areas of “self-leadership.” What areas of self-leadership do you need to focus on?

Who is “Leadership” for? In other words, if you are leader…who should reap the benefit of your leadership?

The answer to that question is the difference between worldly leadership and servant leadership. And there are often times worldly leadership bleeds into the world of ministry. However, if you care about the people you lead, if you have your follower’s best interests in mind or if you want to see your people succeed, then you are a servant leader. This is much easier said then done and the reason is that you as the leader, above all, must have balance. Balance to serve the priority of the people rather than the number of people. The priority says God, family, then ministry – any other order is ungodly and unhealthy. Yes, ministry will “cost” at times to your family; but never should your family be sacrificed above ministry.

I believe many of the problems we see in churches today are due to worldly leadership concepts…being a leader primarily for your own gain and your own glory.

When you seek to serve others, and help them grow and succede, they will benefit, the organization will benefit, and ultimately the mission of your organization will be realized and be healthy.

In the coming week, ponder this thought: Who am I leading? Why am I leading? What am I doing to help my people be successful?

“You don’t lead by pointing & telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place & making a case.”                                                                                                                                              ~Ken Kesey

Now…go and BE that type of leader.

I recently read the story again about Joseph (Genesis 37-47), and how he grew from an immature teen into a leader that was handed the keys of authority in Egypt and who saved an entire nation.

What can we learn about Godly leadership through the life story of Joseph?

  1. Know this leaders are developed…not born. As a teen, he created division in his family with his young arrogance and  attitude. He didn’t have natural abilities.
  2. Developing a leader takes time. His journey started at the age of 17. He was 30 before he was given a “true” leadership position. It took 13 years to develop the right kind of leader God needed.
  3. Refrain from cursing God, wherever he might lead you. Joseph remained faithful and allowed God to use him. His character and integrity were never sacrificed. Don’t sacrifice yours!
  4. He didn’t take revenge when his position would have allowed him to do so, instead he forgave his brothers. He used his leadership position to serve, not to be served.

There are many more lessons to be learned from this story, but here are a few thoughts to make this personal.

Remember, God’s timing is long term…not short term. Am I asking God to do something in my life NOW!? What if God has a bigger long term plan for my life. It’s better to follow God’s purposes/will, than attempt to get God in line with my purposes/ will.  Believe me when I say I am learning this lesson as I type.

Do you sometimes feel like you just aren’t as effective or influencial as you want to be? Do you sometimes feel like your gifts and abilities are just not being used to their fullest? Remember that leadership takes time and is developed daily. Look at your daily habits and start taking intentional daily steps at growing in a particular area. Be open to new opportunities (big or small), and seek out opportunities to serve.

Who knows, over time, God might just use you for GREAT things you never saw coming.

Too often in the conversation of leadership we always discuss great principles, ideas, and “how-to” that we often forget about those around that “main” leader. The leader(s) around the main leader would be considered the second leader. This person is probably the most valuable and needed leader on any team. To neglect this leader, everything else crumbles. So who might this second leader be? This is the person that is the most crucial and yet the hardest position to fill.  Why? Because often times this is the guy who is getting all the behind the scenes done without recognition, this is the guy who is constantly working on humility and above all has a great attitude. Not a lot of people can handle this position.

So what are some practical things a second leader does? A big principle to remember: A second leader must make the main leader look awesome! A second leader is always trying to make sure all the small insignificant details are covered so that the main leader looks flawless. How do you thing you are doing with that? Another big principle is:  Always encouraging others! You can never encourage people enough, those you work/serve with or to your family. These principles may seem easy, but what often comes of living in the second leader position is = humility, by far the toughest character trait to learn let alone to master!