The Faithful Pacesetters

Learning leadership from those who led in the Bible

Are You Nice Or Kind?

Bible Reference: The Beatitudes

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22NIV

These virtues listed in Galatians 5 are essentially the foundation for freedom in Christ.  Kindness appears in the list of Beatitudes, but how is it any different than being nice, and how does that relate to leadership?

Nice

Are you agreeable and pleasant with others?  If you answered yes, than you are a nice person.  This is not a bad thing…right?

BUT…If you are too nice, it can become a problem, especially if you are a leader.  One temptation of a leader is to aspire to be “liked”.  It can be dangerous.

Kate Nasser writes about this in her blog…”Needing to be liked can steer you to many poor leadership behaviors. It can drive you to sacrifice results for the virtual hug. This can earn you the label of too nice to lead”.

Kind

Are you considerate and have compassion for others?  Kindness has some roots in compassion, which is closely related to another beatitude…love.  Love may appear on the surface as being soft, but it is actually the opposite.

Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud…Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  1 Corinthians

Love rejoices with the truth, but the truth is not always easy.  Honesty is also one of the keys to being kind.  In leadership that puts you at risk to not be “liked”.  Someone who is kind brings the truth to the surface, but often a nice person will let it sink to the bottom…to hide it.

Leadership often calls us to be kind…but not always nice.

 

Kate Nasser, Smart SenseAbilities Blog, Are you too nice to lead.

What’s Determination Have To Do With It?

Bible Character:  Samson

“O sovereign Lord, remember me.  O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.”  Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood.  Judges 16: 28-29 NIV

Even when facing death, Samson was filled with determination to fight the Philistines, a characteristic that was present the entire 20 years that he led Israel.

Self-Determined

A leader has to have a strong inner desire to succeed.  Often self-determination is what separates a leader from a follower.  If the coach is not the most determined person in the room, the team will have trouble winning.

Leadership is often faced with difficult situations.  It takes a resolute individual to confront those challenges, conclude the best answers, and deliver the correct solutions.

Commitment

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes… but no plans.” – Peter Drucker

Commitment is similar to determination, but it is the engagement part of the formula.  It’s almost like a promise, which means you will follow through on your goals.  When this is used in a team environment it can be very powerful.

In athletics, you often see this concept.  Two individuals with the same raw ability, but one has a larger commitment towards practice… the hard work to hone that raw talent.  Often when the others on the team see that talented individual putting in the necessary work to improve, others follow suit.

Patience

Samson could be accused of not having much patience; nevertheless, often patience is needed at some point of leadership.  Seeing the long term vision, and sticking to the plan even through the peaks and valleys that accompany the effort, is the sign of a determined leader.

Do We Really Have To Collaborate?

Bible Character:  Solomon

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work.  Ecclesiastes 4:9 NIV

The book of Ecclesiastes is a collection of writings from Solomon.  He spends much of the book defining what is meaningless to human existence.  Nonetheless, in the above verse he informs us of how much more powerful two can be compared to one.

Why Do We Resist?

Have you watched a table of young people sitting together lately?  Well, even adults are getting into the act now; a group of individuals who are physically together…but not engaging with each other.  What are they doing?  Usually they are on their smartphones.  Our society is shifting in a direction where direct communication with others happens less frequently.

How does that affect leadership?

Well, if you have a group that doesn’t appreciate collaborating with each other, teamwork will not be effective.  We need each other’s ideas, skills, gifts and consideration to be successful.  It can sometimes be uncomfortable, but it’s important.

It Can’t Be a One Man Show

Things have become more complicated over time and rarely can one person be the jack of all trades.  Because of this we need many individuals with different gifts to make our organizations successful.  Collaboration can be a little scary for a leader whose personality tends to favor being a control freak.

“I can’t think of a business where one leader, acting alone, can deliver superior performance.  We all operate in interdependent teams that rely on each team member or each department to do their piece of the puzzle.” – Cheryl Bachelder

Even Solomon, from way back in biblical times could identify that collaboration between two people is better than one individual acting alone.

Cheryl Bachelder, 2015, Dare-to-Serve p. 94. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Often…It’s All About The Preparation

Bible Character: Esther

“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me.  Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day.  I and my maids will fast as you do.  When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law.  And if I perish, I perish.  Esther 4:16

Many know that Queen Esther was going to appeal to the king that he not kill all the Jews.  One interesting aspect of this passage is how important the meeting preparation was.

As leaders, why is preparation so important?

It’s Like Painting a Room

Many of us have had the joy of painting a room in our house.  If you haven’t, let me inform you, the hard work is in preparing the walls before you actually paint.  It’s a tedious exercise of carefully protecting everything that is important by scraping, taping, and fixing the room.  The preparation of the room often takes longer than the actual painting, which is the fun part.

Why do we do this?

Most remarkable work is accomplished through good preparation.  Whether it’s an important conversation we need to have with a staff member, a critical presentation for a meeting, or a long term strategy that needs to be implemented…often all is won or lost in the groundwork.

Abraham Lincoln said it best, “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my axe.”

Good preparation is not easy.  Look at Esther; she was fasting before her meeting.  What’s not documented in the biblical text is was what she was doing instead of eating.  Was she praying? Organizing her thoughts? Seeking advice?  Whatever it was, I would assume it had a lot to do with the success she had during her meeting with the king.

What Prevents Us From Encouraging Others?

Bible Character:  Barnabas (Paul’s assistant)

 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (Which means Son of Encouragement) Acts 4:36 NIV

Barnabas was one of Paul’s helpers in establishing the early Church.  He was an encourager of others.

Why do we sometimes fall short in this area?

It’s out of my comfort zone

Maybe its shyness or maybe it feels awkward, or maybe you just let someone else hand out the compliments.  Sometimes giving compliments just doesn’t feel natural, and one could wonder if it would be worse if it is forced?  Often the awkwardness can be overcome by practice, and sometimes you just need to find ways that it fits your personality.  Giving verbal encouragement is not the only way to give support to someone.

I’m too Busy

Sometimes we are simply so busy that we don’t have time to encourage others.  Our society is centered on productivity, and often that gets in the way of us having the time to genuinely invest in others.  Few minutes in a day can be more valuable than assisting the development of others.

It’s All About You

Here is one that can really sneak up on even the best.  Thinking about ourselves first, and others later leads to a self-centeredness that reduces the appetite to advocate for others.  When we truly care for others we stop comparing their success to ours and, selflessly encourage their achievements.

When he (Barnabas) arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. Acts 11:23 NIV

Barnabas truly wanted what was best for the people and he knew that their relationship with Christ was of upmost importance, and applauded their blessedness.

When In Doubt…

Bible Character: Zechariah (Father of John the Baptist)

And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.  Luke 1:20 NIV

God promised him a son, to be born to his wife Elizabeth, but Zechariah did not believe.  Many of us would have done the same thing; not having the confidence to believe.

What gets in our way of believing we can accomplish the extraordinary?

Believe What We Think

Zechariah had prayed that his wife would bear a child, and then when God told Zechariah she was pregnant…he did not believe it.  Doesn’t the same thing happen to us?  We have great thoughts, dreams, and goals, but sometimes don’t really trust that our conditions will change.  We Doubt!

You must expect great things of yourself before you can do them.” –Michael Jordan

If you had the privilege to watch Michael Jordan play basketball you know that he was gifted, but beyond that, he had high expectations for himself, and he worked hard to accomplish his goals.

Support

Let’s face it…often we need help.  God needed to create Elizabeth’s pregnancy, she was an older woman.  Often our goals cannot be reached without the assistance of others.  Surround yourself with the right people; a community that shares common values and continually builds you up.

Get it done…The right way

Most great things in this world are earned.  We often fantasize about this instant success that we desire, and when we run into resistance, we falter.  Keep an internal compass so that you don’t go in the wrong direction and move away from the positive course that leads to success.

The Fleece Test

Bible Character: Gideon

“Allow me one more test with the fleece.  This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew.” That night God did so.  Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.  Judges 6: 39-40

God had called Gideon to defeat the Midianites, thereby saving the Israelites.  In the above verse, Gideon seemed to “test” God, to make sure this was really the proper conclusion.

When it comes to major decisions…why is it sometimes okay for leadership to move gradually?

Full Consideration

When making major decisions for an organization, there are lots elements to consider.  Often decisions affect many people, in ways we don’t always realize.    Knowing the consequences up front can be beneficial in processing towards the conclusion.  If we rush, and have not fully considered all the ramifications, it’s much more difficult to manage.  Collaborating beforehand with the proper people can help immensely.

Confidence

We operate so much better when we are convinced of our conclusions.  Gideon was able to get a confirmation from God, and could proceed confidently.

Not All Decisions Should Be Slow

Even though sometimes by just waiting to make a decision, the problem can take care of itself…that approach can also be harmful at times.  Many situations require timely decisions by leaders who are confident enough to execute quickly.

If we’re realistic, we know that not all the decisions we make will be good ones, even if we take our time.  I’m not sure if testing God is a positive thing to do when making a decision, Gideon was able to get away with it, and it’s most likely better than defying God.

Die Rich

Bible Character: King David

And he died in a good old age, full of days, riches, and honor: and Solomon his son reigned in his stead. – 1 Chronicles 29:28

When you hear that someone is rich, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?  Of course, we all think that person has a lot of money.  Being rich really means having plenty of something or abundance.

Why did David die a gratified leader?

Fulfilled His Calling

God had a purpose for David’s life, just like he does for all of us.  David was not perfect, but his relationship with God was the most important aspect of his life.  His continual effort to listen to God helped him discover his objectives.  By centering his life on God, he was able to draw strength from Him.

Serve

David was not the type of leader to have other people do his “dirty work”.  He was a military leader…so he fought in the wars.  His soldiers had great respect for him because when they were fighting and looked over…they saw David with them…fighting.  The verse above says that King David died with honor, because he accomplished great things through God, but he was slow to take credit.

Positive Influence

When a leader is fulfilling their call, they find gratification.  This fulfillment is not a result based on power, but by the positive influence they can be to others.   David left things better than he found them.  That is the goal for many leaders.  Using leadership to positively influence other people will result in relationships and accomplishments that mean a lot more than accumulated wealth.

A gratified leader dies rich…and it has nothing to do with money!

The Youth Vs. The Experienced

Bible Reference: Proverbs

The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair. Proverbs 20:29

This verse is short…but it tells a lot.  It’s important to consider that there is value in both the young and the old.

You are leading someone that is younger or older than you…how do you find success?

Trust Each Other

The Baby Boomers are still a large portion of the workforce, and are slow to trust someone half their age…especially if that person is their boss!!  The same can be said for much of Generation X.   I can personally remember going the extra mile for Baby Boomers, trying to build their trust, only to have them become more skeptical of me because I was treating them extra nice.  Frustrating.

Why did this happen?  It’s really not about treating each other extra special as it is about having respect.  The verse above references gray hair; I assume that’s referring to experience.  When we’re young we often think we know it all.  Having a “know it all” approach is not constructive when trying to garner support from an older generation.

Respect is a two way street.  If it’s only the younger generation respecting the more experienced…there will definitely be a breakdown.  We need the strength of the youth too, and that energy is something to be appreciated.

Honesty

The older generation believes in total honesty, and often will not trust individuals who don’t subscribe to this policy. Sometimes we don’t comprehend how important this is…even on the small issues.  Baby Boomers want to hear the truth, even when the truth hurts.

The youth and experienced don’t have to just co-exist; they need to come together as one.

Firm but Flexible

Bible Character:  Jesus

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin.  But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – Justice, mercy and faithfulness.  You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.  Matthew 23:23

Jesus’ leadership is so hard to emulate because he struck a balance between firm and flexible.  Somehow he could practice authority and be a servant at the same time!

Honesty

Truth telling can be tempting to avoid.  It would have been easier for Jesus to avoid reprimanding the teachers and Pharisees in the verse above, but he knew he needed to be honest, even authoritative.  Jesus’ purpose was to move the Pharisees and teachers away from concentrating on a bunch of rules, but that does not mean he did not appreciate measuring one’s conduct.

High Standards

Love comes in many forms, and one of those is maintaining high standards.  A misconception is that being flexible means lowering standards.  Having a strong resolution to uphold the organization’s principles, and consistent implementation of the standards is priority.

Adaptability

Having the ability to adjust is a key to flexible leadership.  It starts with being a continual learner, which allows you to be able to change quickly.

Servant Leadership

In Matthew 20:28 Jesus says, 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.  NIV

Servant leadership focuses on maintaining a person’s human dignity and empowering that individual, giving them the ability to make choices on their own.  Even though servant leadership was Jesus’ main form of influence, he often used other styles when needed, allowing him to be firm but flexible.

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