The Faithful Pacesetters

Learning leadership from those who led in the Bible

Archive for the tag “Christian”

Use History As A Guide

Bible Character: King Josiah

When the King heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. He gave these orders…”Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for all Judah about what is the written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because our fathers have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”

The Book of the Law had been hidden and neglected for years. The Israelites should have been paying closer attention to the information that was in it.

Often organizations act similarly!

Use the Past

We have all heard that history repeats itself. So, would it not be vitally important that we are aware of our past successes, failures, patterns, etc.? Often we try to “reinvent the wheel” when we simply need to use our data.

Data Collection & Analysis

It starts with data collection. It might not be flashy, but we need to be gathering important information to help us make better decisions. If something is not being monitored it’s probably not being managed.

Leaders are tasked with noticing new emerging trends, what better way than using data.

Accountability

King Josiah figured this part out fairly quickly. Once he discovered the Book of the Law, he used it to hold his people accountable to the standard of living that God expected of them. He knew that God would judge them if he did not.

In somewhat of a similar fashion, we need to use data in our organization to hold all accountable. Results are definite, and they are the true account of how an organization is doing. We all need to hold each other answerable by not hiding history like the Israelites did.

The Good Old Days

Bible Character: Solomon

Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions. Ecclesiastes 7:10 NIV

It’s sometimes tempting to think our best days are behind us. How do leaders embrace a brighter future?

Half Glass Full

A leader’s perspective on circumstances influences the overall organization. We often hear the question…is your glass half full or half empty. Some symptoms of viewing the glass half empty are…continual negativity, weak convictions, a resistance to change, and an overall unpleasant attitude.

The opposite is the optimistic individual. Optimism is having a more favorable view or approach to the conditions that surround you, and expecting positive outcomes.

A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.Harry Truman

Vision

Seeing opportunities that lay in the future and setting the course falls on leadership. The optimistic leader can apply a positive prospective to a forward looking vision.   That positive perspective enables them to inspire others towards the vision more easily.

Founding Fathers

Our country was founded by individuals who believed in a different, better way of governing people. Their vision for a free society and determination for something better resulted in the United States of America. They studied all the history of world governments up to that point and came up with something greater than anybody had ever conceived. They sacrificed their personal safety and wealth to create this country for us. We are lucky they were not the type to buy into the notion that the best days were behind us.

Time Is Precious…Don’t Waste It

Bible Character: Paul

Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity….  Ephesians 5:15-16 NIV

Make the most of every opportunity…that’s easier said than done.  Paul was instructing the Church of Ephesus on how to live their lives for Christ.

As leaders we have never had so many tools to help manage our time and increase efficiency, but still we often don’t have enough time.

Start With a Plan

Goals are still vitally important to success; they play a key role in helping us stay focused.  If we don’t have a plan, we are missing the basic infrastructure for production.  The consequence will be a lack of direction and us wasting precious time.

“Goals in writing are dreams with deadlines”. Brian Tracy

We Get Distracted

Today’s modern advancements have given us great technology.  With our modern day electronics come an entirely different way of communicating, and sometimes that can distract from the flow of our day.

How many times do we need to check our email in a day?  Are personal texts diverting you from your work?

The revolution of social media has made it difficult to separate our personal lives and our professional career.  Not that any of these methods of communication are evil, but there is the risk to waste precious time by the distraction.

Help People

Leaders are in the business of helping other people.  Paul’s warning is important.  He wanted us to be careful in how we live, because time is precious.  There are only so many minutes in a day.  Using our time to invest in others is far more profitable and can have much more eternal significance than looking down at our cell phone to check the latest email or social media post.

Perception Is Reality

Bible Character: Jesus

Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi.  On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”  They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

People held many misconceptions about Jesus.  If Jesus experienced this, it is fair to assume we are all susceptible.  Others’ perception of us often matters more than our own image of ourselves.  What we have created in our mind may be the truth, but it’s not always correct.

As a leader, how do we shape our image?

It’s Personal

Individuals view leadership from their perspective or department.  If you invest in only one area, which quite likely is the area you enjoy most, it will be noticed.  Your staff is observant, and soon they will sense you leaning stronger towards one area of interest.

Make yourself available as much as possible.  I know people that have a closed door policy…literally…and it instantly sends a message, “don’t bother me”.

Good Communication

Often people’s perception is misguided simply because we don’t communicate properly.  We may start a new policy within the organization, but if presented incorrectly, it will be viewed differently by the staff.  Perception soon turns the policy into a “negative” instead of the “positive” that you intended it to be.

Titles

What is the difference between being called “coach” and “Vice President?”  Can a title get in the way?

Jesus had a message from God that he was trying to get out to the people.  He knew that if he started by telling everyone he was the Christ, his audience would have been distracted from his teachings.  Similarly, we can’t let titles get in the way of your overall leadership message.

Act Your Age…Not Your Shoe Size

Bible Reference: Hebrews

In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again.  You need milk, not solid food!  Hebrews 6:12 NIV

In this passage the author is referencing their discouragement within the Christian church receiving this letter.  He believes they took early steps towards spiritual development, but have since taken steps backwards.

In a similar sense, one must demonstrate continued growth towards their personal development as a leader in order to be an effective influencer of others.

Personal Responsibility

This is an area where any of us can fall short.  It appears there is an ever growing tendency to not take personal responsibility for our actions.  If a leader does not practice accountability, the whole organization will suffer.  Others will soon follow and no one will be answerable.

Emotional control

A competent leader is able to control their emotions.  Worthy leaders take the next step and are able to understand others emotions too.  Leading others’ can be very complicated, but if you don’t meet people at their own level and further develop their capabilities, it will continue to stay complicated.  Leaders start with understanding others and move them into areas of growth.

Collaboration

Once personal responsibility and emotional control are common place in an organization, collaboration can become a valued practice.  Maturity gives us the capability to work together while allowing for free exchange without the worry of being judged.  The organization becomes a group of departments that enjoy working with each other and strive to see each other succeed.

The spiritual maturity of the Hebrews was important, and so is leadership maturity.

The Danger Of Inappropriate Gifts

Bible Characters: Joel & Abijah (Sons of Samuel)

When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel.  The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba.  But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.  1 Samuel 8:1-3 NIV

How can this scripture apply to current day leaders?

Outside Influence

One reason your vendors might be giving you gifts is so they can secure your business.  Receiving a gift with the intention of making favorable decisions towards an organization can be improper.

At our family business this is written in our handbook, “Employees should only accept gifts with discretion and in such a way as they do not obligate themselves or cause themselves to be influenced in the performance of their duties.”

We all need to guard our decisions against the influence of gifts.

Favoritism

Inappropriate gifts are often given and received.  Sometimes the inappropriateness is the actual item that is given.  Other times the gifts could be viewed as favoritism towards one individual over another.

The holidays can be a time where this situation arises.  Even though it’s a personal Christmas gift, everything needs to be done above reproach so our actions are not viewed or judged incorrectly by others.  A good practice is to give individual gifts of equal value.

What are the Potential Consequences?

For Samuel, one result of Joel and Abijah’s consent to bribery was the desire for the Israelites to have a King instead of Judges.

For current day leaders the consequences may go beyond dissatisfaction with other staff members.  A person found to accept bribes can lose their job and even face legal challenges.

What Goes Around, Comes Around

Bible Character:  Obadiah (Prophet)

As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head. Obadiah 1:15 NIV

Obadiah’s warning that he gave to Edom serves the same today as it did back then.  If you don’t treat others correctly and have a low ethical standard, it will catch up to you.   The basics attributes of being honest, fair, respectful, and bringing a positive attitude are often not observed, which seems to be leading to an ever increasing abuse of power.  Sure, times have been worse before, but God’s blessing has also left.

The people of Edom definitely did not respect Israel, which eventually cost them dearly.  The Edomites were really the people of Esau, and they were fighting the Israelites, who were really the people of Jacob, so in a roundabout way, Esau was still being exposed for what he had done.

Quality leaders don’t compromise.

Integrity = adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty. (Dictionary.com)

Morals = concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong; ethical (Dictionary.com)

Individuals who maintain high integrity and moral standard shine like bright stars on a very dark night.  Their character gives them credibility, which is something people will follow. People will respect and trust them.

Opposite of a quality leader is the one who struggles with “fleshy” wrongdoings.  They never seem to take personal responsibility.  They can suffer from an overindulgence of selfishness, deceit, too much pride, greediness, and anger.  A leader can get away with this type of behavior for a short period of time, but generally they are exposed, just as the Edomite’s were.

Ref: Bible Hub, Obadiah Summary, by Jay Smith, Ultimate bible summary collection.

Turn Your Weakness Into A Strength

Bible Character: Ehud

Again the Israelites cried out to the Lord, and he gave them a deliverer – Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite.  Judges 3:15 NIV

Ehud, the leader of the Israelites, was left-handed!  During that time period, being left-handed was often considered a weakness…a handicap.  Ehud used this “handicap” to his advantage. He was able to hide his sword on the opposite side from where most men hid theirs, thus he could surprise the oppressive Moabite king, killing him and releasing the Israelites from bondage.

Many of us have experienced interviews where the dreaded question is asked:  “What is your weakness?”  This is usually followed by an interviewee’s response that explains why their weakness can be a positive attribute too.  It may sound dishonest, but there is powerful truth to it.

You may be a perfectionist or way too competitive.  Sometimes people are too optimistic, or never satisfied, or have way too many ideas.  The list goes go on and on.  We all have some type of weakness.  Nevertheless, almost all of our weaknesses can be channeled into a positive character trait.

A perfectionist is usually going to get things right.  A competitive person can really bring success to an organization.  Optimistic people are vital to an organization and company morale. People who are rarely satisfied push the organization to never rest on its laurels.  Creative people with many ideas often cast the organizational vision.

Ehud was brave; it took a lot of courage to kill King Eglon.  He was able to accomplish something others couldn’t, because he was left-handed.  He turned his weakness into a unique gift, which made a positive impact for his people.

Coach, Play The Bench!

Bible Reference: Body of Christ

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.  And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.  1 Corinthians 12:27-28 NIV

Why do leaders, just as coaches, need to play their bench?

Experience

Coaches can learn a lot about a player by seeing how they perform in an actual game.  They also need to have people on the bench ready to play in case they lose one of their players.

Leaders of organizations need to be doing the same thing.  Pressing inexperienced individuals into pressure situations can be educational for both the individual and the leader.  Don’t just let the veterans do everything, because you never know when you might lose one of them.

Different Gifts

Coaches realize all players are different and possess different special gifts.  In first Corinthians 12, Paul uses the same analogy to describe the body of Christ.  We all have different spiritual gifts and need to be using them.

The same applies to our teams.  Everyone has strengths; it’s leadership’s responsibility to identify and encourage the use of those gifts by our staff.

Competition

Often the players on the bench push the players on the floor to do their very best.  The players in the game know that if they don’t work hard, play smart and mistake free, the coach may very well replace them with a bench player.

Accountability in our organizations should be no different.  The culture should be in place that expects maximum effort from all individuals…even if you’re on the bench.

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.

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