The Faithful Pacesetters

Learning leadership from those who led in the Bible

Archive for the tag “Strength”

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 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.

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.

When is it the right time to Delegate?

Bible Reference: The choosing of the seven

The formation of the early Church was a very busy time for the disciples. So…what did they do when widows were being overlooked for the daily distribution of food?

So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:2-4


The disciples were facing the question that many leaders face…when is the right time to give more responsibilities to others?
Not Your Strength
We all have areas of strengths and weakness. We often spend much more time trying to develop our areas of weakness instead of growing our areas of strength. Many times it would be wiser to delegate that area of weakness to another individual so we can concentrate on our areas of strength.
Neglected Responsibilities
Sometimes organizations grow at a rate that requires adding staff to take on the responsibilities of the current leaders. This is what happened in Acts, the disciples did not have the adequate time to continue with all their responsibilities. By adding Stephen, Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, they were able to delegate responsibility of feeding of the widows.
The disciples knew they needed to devote their time to prayer and the ministry of the word. The entire ministry would be lost if they were not able to concentrate on these areas. By adding the seven they were now freed up to concentrate on those vital areas.

Is it Gray or Grey? Leadership is often not Black or White

Bible Character: Jesus

But they remained silent.  He looked around at them in anger, and deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.  Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.  Mark 3: 5-6 NIV

Jesus healed on the Sabbath…and that was “technically” against the rules.

A good leader realizes not all situations can be treated as black or white.  The Pharisees wanted to make all decisions based on a rule of law that had been previously established; with no room for gray.

Strength

Jesus showed strength by healing a man on the Sabbath.  Jesus was more concerned about the individual than the rules, even with the realization that he could potentially lose his life for it.

Effective leaders survey the situation and make the best decision for all involved, and many times it is not clearly black or white.

Negotiation

The key verse before Jesus healed on the Sabbath is Mark 3: 4.  Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” NIV

He gave them the opportunity to understand the predicament he was in and why he would perform this miracle, but they remained silent.  He sought open communication with them so they would not be exasperated.  Sometimes people don’t care what the reason is for your decision; they just see that you broke the rules.

It is frustrating to those you lead if you constantly change the rules and do not support employees, but that must be balanced with making sensible decisions.

Are You in it for the Long Haul?

Bible Character:  Mary

Endurance is an important attribute of a leader.  Mary, the mother of Jesus, persevered more than most people could ever imagine.  What an honor, to be the mother of the most important person who ever lived.  What a great responsibility God gave to Mary.

Luke 12:48 From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

What characteristics of Endurance did Mary display?

Strength

After Mary’s pregnancy was revealed to the public she suffered great humiliation.  She was strong enough to give birth to Jesus, only later to watch him be beaten by the authorities, and eventually killed.  It would have been hard to work through the disappointment, but leaders need to show strength during difficult times.

Long Term Vision

Mary understood the mission was bigger than her.  We all have to realize this, and continue to pursue a long term vision for our organization.  This is more than just meeting a few quarterly financial initiatives.  We need to be really reaching to meet the goals and priorities that will make the future better.  Mary understood that Jesus’ purpose was the most important thing.

Involved

Mary never stopped being involved with Jesus’ ministry.  She guided Jesus into his first miracle, was there to watch his death, and stuck with the disciples in the upper room even after Jesus’ ascension.  Many might think that after giving birth to Jesus her work was done; but she stayed involved. As leaders it is easy to think that we don’t have to keep an eye on the small stuff, and that all we need to do is think about #2, long term vision.

Mary was in it for the long haul and completed her mission!

 

 

 

 

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