The Faithful Pacesetters

Learning leadership from those who led in the Bible

Archive for the tag “Courage”

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.

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The Unwelcome Storms

Bible Character:  Paul

But the ship struck a sandbar and ran aground.  The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf.  Acts 27:41NIV

Sometimes this is what happens, we get caught in a great storm, and it turns into a shipwreck.

Uncontrollable Circumstances

Leaders are sometimes faced with circumstances that they cannot control, leaving a reality that was not expected.   Nonetheless, often it’s the reaction of a leader that defines them.

Paul was not in command, but ended up taking control of the situation. He was a prisoner on a boat with soldiers who would not allow him to put his hand on the rudder.  They directed the boat into a violent storm that took the vessel out of the control of any man, and eventually shipwrecked.

What was Paul’s reaction to this?

Courage: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery. (Dictionary.com)

“Men, you should have taken my advice not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss.  But now I urge you to keep up your courage… Acts 27:21-22 NIV

Paul stood tall during the storm and encouraged determination.  There is little to no comfort during a storm; you’re vulnerable, weary, and can feel helpless.  Being brave may be a leadership trait that is not always teachable, but the first step is overcoming fear.

Strength: mental power, force, or vigor. (Dictionary.com)

Often strength is not about how many muscles you possess, but how much mental power you have.  A storm tests your strength, and often time people can be more capable after it.

Paul showed both courage and strength during the unwelcomed storm, a model for leadership.

The Golden Calf

Bible Character: Aaron (Older brother of Moses)

Aaron is best known for his contributions in helping Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Eventually he found himself alone in the desert with the Israelites.

When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us.” Exodus 32:14 NIV

From that situation we have what is known as the “Golden Calf.” How could Aaron let the Israelites worship a god other than Yahweh?

Sending the Wrong Message

What’s your reaction when a member of your team’s conduct goes against the established guidelines? One temptation is to avoid the conflict and let it go. The problem is by not correcting the behavior, we have just endorsed it. People notice when no one is held accountable to the standards that have been previously identified.

Lack of Courage

It seems that in the case of the “Golden Calf”, Aaron chose the path of least resistance. Maybe he feared for his life if he did not appease the crowd? Nonetheless, it appears that he lacked firmness and chose the easy way out to pacify the Israelites.

Focused on Wrong Initiatives

The real problem with leaders letting the wrong behavior take place is we lose focus on the actual initiatives. The Golden Calf represented a destructive behavior, but more importantly took the Israelites’ focus off of God who was helping them become a great nation. The same can happen to our organizations.

Moses eventually returned from the mountain and was filled with anger from what he witnessed. After correcting the situation, I can only imagine he had lost a little trust in Aaron’s leadership.

Surrounded by the Wrong People?

Bible Character: King Darius

Darius the Mede threw Daniel into the lion’s den!  How could he make such a huge mistake?  How could execute someone like Daniel, whom he had planned to set as administrator over the whole kingdom?

Darius, like many leaders, surrounded himself with many people of influence.  Just like now, during Bible times some of these individuals did not have pure motives.  Other government administrators were jealous of Daniel and tricked King Darius into writing a decree, barring worship of any other God or man, except the king.

How can we avoid following bad advice?

Know the People You Trust

Good leaders try to find individuals who are not “yes” people.  It’s tempting to surround yourself with individuals that are just like you, or people who tell you what you want to hear, but in the end it is destructive.  A leader needs people who will be honest with them.

There were probably other government administrators who knew the decree was wrong, but did not have the courage or honesty to speak up.

Don’t Be a Narcissist

King Darius’s decree was not beneficial to anyone but himself. If something is not beneficial for the greater good, the question needs to be asked:  “Should we even be doing this?”

The King must have got sidetracked by the request of individuals who did not have his, or the kingdom’s, best interest at heart.

While Daniel was in the lion’s den, King Darius spent the night fasting.  The next morning he quickly went to find out if God had rescued Daniel.  As many of you know, God had sent an angel to shut the lions’ mouths and Daniel was not hurt.  Following Daniel’s release, the individuals responsible for  convincing Darius to write the decree were thrown into the lions den.

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