Are You Just A boss Or A Genuine Leader? Find Out!

What is the difference between being a leader as opposed to being a boss? How are they the same? How are they very different?  Here is Ron Edmondson to answer that question.


Originally posted by Ron Edmondson

Are you a boss or a leader?

I have to be honest I hate the term boss. When someone refers to me as their boss I almost feel like I’m doing something wrong as a leader.

Forgive me for making me think I’m the boss.

There are so many differences in a boss and a leader. If only in connotation.

A boss seems to have all the answers — even if they really don’t.
A leader solicits input to arrive at the right answer.

A boss tells.
A leader asks.

A boss can be intimidating — if only by title.
A leader should be encouraging — even if in a time of correction.

A boss dictates.
A leader delegates.

A boss demands.
A leader inspires.

A boss controls systems.
A leader spurs ideas.

A boss manages policies.
A leader enables change.

People follow a leader willingly. You have to pay someone — or force them — to follow a boss.

By connotation there is really only one boss.

In fairness, there are times I have to be the boss. Even the “bad guy” boss — at least in other people’s perception.

But I much prefer to be a leader.

And in any healthy organization there will be many leaders.

Do you work for a boss or do you serve with a leader?

Be honest.


Concerned or Responsible?

“Learning the difference between a concern and a responsibility may save your ministry, your family and your sanity.”  “Leading on Empty” by Wayne Cordeiro

I was introduced to the concept of  “Concerned or responsible” when I read Wayne’s book “Leading on Empty.”

I must say that this distinction has done wonders for my emotional, mental, relational and spiritual health.

I have come to understand that I can be concerned about many things, without having to take personal responsibility for these things.  The question will be asked as to how I (or anyone) decide (among all the things I’m concerned about) which are my responsibility and which are not? 

First of all, the answer is not an easy or simplistic one. I believe that people would need to determine that for themselves.  In part, the answer will probably flow out of a sense of calling, identified gifts, passion and capacity (calendar and emotional.)

Additionally, counseling with good friends and listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit through prayer and scripture will greatly assist in making these  important decisions in how one allocates time and energy.

I’ve drawn the conclusion that if everything I was even remotely concerned about became my personal responsibility, I would face an untimely death as a result of having overtaxed my God-given ability and capacity to deal with all these concerns. It would also contribute (if I remain alive) to a great deal of emotional stress for me and my family.

The opportunities/concerns/problems that I know of will always exceed my ability and capacity to address them. I cannot, and should not, accept personal responsibility for everything that concerns me. I have to prayerfully and carefully decide what I am/am not responsible for.

It was Oswald Chambers in his classic “My Utmost for His Highest” who said, “The need is not the call.”  Just because there’s a need doesn’t mean that I’m supposed to  meet that need.

It probably boils down to having the courage and freedom to say no to a need or  person and not feel guilty for doing so.

It is not, and cannot be, my responsibility to address everything that comes my way; help every person who asks me, give to every worthy cause for which I am concerned.

Lorne Sanny (President of The Navigators and my boss during my 38 years with The Navigators) summed it up well when he said, "It was a wonderful feeling the day I resigned as master of the universe."

It takes lots of wisdom, courage and security in Jesus to allow some people to be unhappy with me--at least for a while. It was that great theologian and philosopher Bill Cosby who said, “I don’t know what the secret to success is, but I do know what the secret to failure is and that’s trying to keep everybody happy.”  Allowing some people to be unhappy with me is part of the price to pay for being concerned but not responsible to act.

Here is a short list of some needs that will cause emotional turmoil if any of them are of concern to you and you are wrestling as to your potential responsibility.  How can I just say no and turn my back on these great needs and causes? Am I not responsible to do something or to give money?

  • The homeless
  • Persecution of minority groups
  • Worldwide endemic diseases
  • Poverty
  • Displaced people
  • Human/sex trafficking
  • Police brutality
  • Criminal injustice
  • Immigration issues
  • Child abuse
  • On a more personal note, here are some things that can come your way for which you are concerned and need to ask if you are responsible to do something :

    • A needy adult child who struggles financially
    • Old friends who want you to be there emotionally and/or financially for them,  having asked consistently over a number of years
    • Staff at church who regularly ask you to volunteer for a position which needs to be filled, especially when they say that they have prayed and God keeps bringing your name to mind
    • An underperforming co-worker
    • The run-down look of your neighborhood

    I close with this from Wayne’s book: “You could go to a million therapists and spend the fortune of Bill Gates and not get better advice than what we find in Philippians 4:6 ‘Don’t worry about anything…pray about everything.’ ”

     “So many of my worries have come from my inability (or unwillingness) to discern between a concern and a responsibility. I had mixed them up, and as a result, the world was resting on my shoulders.” 


    Things That Will Weaken Your Leadership Effectiveness

    I truly don’t believe that anyone starts off with the goal of becoming a weak leader. Any leader I know, or have read about, would pray against and work against that ever happening.

    But over time it nonetheless happens to many leaders. So what are some things that slowly, but surely, contribute to becoming a weak leader?  Here is Ron Edmondson to answer that question for us.
    Originally posted by Ron Edmondson

    There are times I’m a better leader than other times. Sometimes that my fault. Other times the cause is unavoidable. If we can begin to identify what interrupts strong leadership, we can become better leaders. I have personally experienced some things in my own life that weaken my leadership. I am consistently finding ways to guard against them.

    Here are seven things that weaken leadership:

    1.  Distractions

    As leaders, we do our best work when we are pointing people toward worthy visions. Some would say that’s precisely what leadership does. It’s easy to get distracted with things that, while they may be good, they don’t help move the organization towards the vision. In fact, they delay progress towards the vision.  I’ve also learned that I need to be leading in my strengths and if I ever get weak in my courage to say no to some things, my yes will be far less valuable.

    2.  Lack of discipline

    It matters not that there is a great vision if we don’t discipline ourselves to reach it. That includes having good plans  good goals. Good objectives. Good systems and strategies.

    3.  Negative influences

    It’s hard to be the only positive in a room full of negatives. Sometimes as a leader I’ve felt like more cheerleader than coach. It’s one reason I surround myself with people who have a good outlook on life. I don’t want all “yes” people, but if everything is always an immediate “no” — or “I don’t like it but I have nothing better to offer” — that’s draining and it is only going to bring down me and the strength of the rest of the team.

    4.  Fear

    Risk is involved in every leadership decision. Notice I said every. And I meant every. I didn’t say risk was involved in every decision a leader makes but every leadership decision. Leadership is taking people to an unknown. That involves risk. Every time. And every risk involves a certain level of fear. That’s natural. Fear keeps leaders from moving forward when they allow the fear to dominate the decision more than the opportunity of the risk.

    5.  Pride

    Pride goes before the fall. Pride destroys. Absolute pride destroys absolutely. Okay I embellished that one, but you get the point. Prideful leaders are always weakened by that pride. No one truly follows a prideful leader. They may obey. They may even be infatuated for a season. But, they don’t follow.

    6.  Contentment

    Leadership involves a sense of urgency. When we lose that we lose the inner drive to lead well. We become weakened by our own loss of personal momentum.

    7.  Success

    All of us love to succeed. I think attempting to is a pretty good goal. We might even plan for it.  Sadly, though, sometimes a little success can usher in complacency. We can begin to think we’ve figured out a system to success. Before long, we don’t think we have to be intentional anymore — maybe not even have to try as hard as we used to try. We can become weak quickly by our own delusions of grandeur.
    Those are a few things that have weakened my leadership.


    He was one of the greatest voices and authors of the last 50 years on leadership issue

    He was a giant in the world of leadership ideas and thought creation. He was well ahead of his time in concepts and philosophy that are only recently beginning to be accepted as good practices and thinking.

    Although not a Christian (but Jewish) as far as I know, nonetheless many of his writings and thinking have a biblical worldview flavor.

    I have been, and still am, significantly influenced by him in the way I think about leadership and the way I lead.

    In the Sunday edition (August 3, 2014) of the Los Angeles Times (to which we subscribe), there was an article by David Colker on Warren Bennis who passed away July 31, 2014. 

    He was 89 and a fixture on the USC faculty for 35 years.  He wrote 30 books, mostly on the topic of leadership. He knew and worked with Dallas Willard, another writer and USC faculty member, from whom I have greatly profited also. Dallas passed away May 8, 2013. 

    My favorite book by Warren is On Becoming A Leader

    My favorite book by Dallas is Renovation of The Heart.

    My favorite quote by Dallas is “Grace is not opposed to effort but to earning.”

    Bennis also taught at MIT, but left because he felt pressured to conform to established business norms.  In the 1960s, David Colker tells us, Bennis began formulating management principles that, at the time, were considered far off the beaten path. Gotta love it when a leader marches to a different drum beat that is well ahead of his time and spot on!

    Sitting on my bookshelf are four Bennis books--just scratching the surface of the 30 he wrote.

    Susan keeps her eyes open for things related to leadership and puts them on my desk, as she did this one.

    Here are a few thoughts/quotes from David's piece on Warren Bennis: In quotations are actual statements by Bennis:

    Warren started to hone his ideas about leadership during the 2nd World War, where he served as an infantry officer saying that, "Leadership is most effective when it steered away from strict, top-down hierarchies." 

    "A leader is someone whose actions have the most profound consequences on other people's lives, for better or for worse, sometimes for ever and ever."

    Warren believed that leaders had to abandon command-and-control attitudes that stifled creativity and new ideas. And he warned against micromanaging that could get companies stuck in outmoded ways of doing things while the world changed around them. 

    "The manager has his eye on the bottom line; the leader has his eye on the horizon."

    "The manager does things right; the leader does the right things."

    I personally resonate with this and with most of what Bennis has said in the books I have read. I love it when a person sticks by his guns and does what is right, not what is popular or politically correct. 

    I believe that a leader is a person who intentionally, deliberately and proactively seeks to influence and persuade people to go from where they are to someplace else--a better place.

    I believe that a true leader sees a better future and is strongly motivated to go there and take as many people as possible with him/her on the journey.

    My prayer and desire for you (and myself) is that all of us will be led by Him, empowered by Him and honoring Him as we lead.

    May your journey toward the preferred future Jesus has allowed you to see be faith-stretching and adventurous for you and those who travel with you.



    Seven Ways To Follow God's Will For Your Wait

    A number of years ago I wrote an article titled, “He Hates to Wait.” 

    I pray most every day for patience to wait for his timing on things I want to see happen. I have made more poor decisions and committed more sin around the issue of patience than anything else I can think of. Sometimes when you walk with God, he seems to walk awfully slow. The hardest times can be the times in between!

    Here are some marvelous thoughts from Paul Tripp on learning how to wait with grace and God-given patience.

    Originally posted by Paul Tripp on The Resurgence

    Seven Ways to Follow God’s Will For Your Wait

    Sometimes God calls us to wait, and that is hard. But waiting for God is not passive; it is active, purposeful, and spiritual.

    In ministry there are often moments when you are propelled by a biblical vision, but called by God to wait.

    Waiting can be discouraging and hard. So what does it look like to wait in a way that makes you a participant in what God is doing rather than someone who struggles against the wait? Let me suggest seven things.

    1. Remind Yourself You Are Not Alone

    As you wait, tell yourself again and again that you have not been singled out. Remind yourself that you are part of a vast company of people who are being called to wait.

    Reflect on the biblical story. Abraham waited many years for his promised son. Israel waited 420 years for deliverance from Egypt, then another 40 years before they could enter the land God had promised them. God’s people waited generation after generation for the Messiah, and the church now waits for his return. The whole world groans as it waits for the final renewal of all things that God has promised.

    In ministry, it is vital to understand that waiting is not an interruption of God’s plan. It is his plan. And you can know this as well: the Lord who has called you to wait is with you in your wait. He hasn’t gone off to do something else, like the doctor you’re waiting to see. No, God is near, and he provides for you all you need to be able to wait.

    2. Realize Waiting Is Active

    Usually our view of waiting is the doctor’s office. We see it as a meaningless waste of time, like a man stuck in the reception area until he has nothing left to do but scan recipes in a two-year-old copy of Ladies’ Home Journal.

    Our waiting on God must not be understood this way. The sort of waiting to which we are called is not inactivity. It is very positive, purposeful, and spiritual. To be called to wait is to be called to the activity of remembering: remembering who I am and who God is. To be called to wait is to be called to the activity of worship: worshiping God for his presence, wisdom, power, love, and grace.

    You are part of a vast company of people who are being called to wait.

    To be called to wait is to be called to the activity of serving: looking for ways to lovingly assist and encourage others who are also being called to wait. To be called to wait is to be called to the activity of praying: confessing the struggles of my heart and seeking the grace of the God who has called me to wait.

    We must rethink waiting and remind ourselves that waiting is itself a call to action.

    3. Celebrate How Little Control You Have

    Because the constant striving in ministry to be a little god over some corner of creation is draining and futile, waiting should actually be a relief. It’s a reminder that I don’t have as much power and control as I thought I had. When I am required to wait, I realize again that I do not have to load my church onto my shoulders. I may have God-given responsibilities in a number of areas, but that is vastly different from pretending I have sovereignty in any area.

    In ministry, it is vital to understand that waiting is not an interruption of God’s plan. It is his plan.

    The church is being carried on the capable shoulders of the Savior Shepherd, King of kings. All I am responsible for is the job description of character and behavior that this King has called me to in his Word. The remainder I am free to entrust to him, and for that I am very, very thankful! He really does have the whole world in his hands.

    4. Celebrate God’s Commitment to His Work of Grace

    As you are waiting, reflect on how deeply broken the world that you live in actually is. Reflect on how pervasive your own struggle with sin really is. Then celebrate the fact that God is committed to the countless ways, large and small, in which his grace is at work to accomplish his purposes in you and in those to whom you minister.

    When it comes to the ongoing work of grace, he is a dissatisfied Redeemer. He will not forsake the work of his hands until all has been fully restored. He will exercise his power in whatever way is necessary so that we can finally be fully redeemed from this broken world and delivered from the sin that has held us fast.

    To be called to wait is to be called to the activity of remembering: remembering who I am and who God is.

    Celebrate the fact that God will not forsake that process of grace in your life and ministry in order to deliver to you the momentary comfort, pleasure, and ease that you would rather have in your time of exhaustion, discouragement, and weakness. He simply loves you too much to exchange temporary gratification for eternal glory!


    ...For the continuation of this article go to Paul Tripp