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Thursday
Nov132014

The Price And The Payoff of Leadership

As I look around the landscape and see all the corporate / political damage and “dead bodies,” it really is scary and unnerving. At times I ask myself if being a leader is worth it.

The Price Of Leadership

First of all, there IS a price to pay. Often it is the price of loneliness. The loneliness of wrestling with issues that, at times, others don’t see or care about. There is the loneliness of making tough and unpleasant decisions. Part of what makes some decisions hard is the temptation to keep everyone happy. Bill Cosby said, “I don’t know what the secret to success is but I know what the secret to failure is, and that’s trying to keep everybody happy.” Would you be inclined to agree? I would.

 I collect definitions of leadership and one of my favorite’s is: “A leaders is a person who makes decisions some of which are right.” But the price a Christian leader pays in praying, thinking, information gathering, and emotional and mental sweating can be high. Leaders live with a lot more stress than others due to the nature of the decisions that fall to their lot. Your motives can be judged, called into question, or outright attacked. Maybe that’s why there is so much “buck passing” and finger pointing when a decision turns out to be a bad one.

Years ago someone told me that if I accepted the role of a leader, I should plan on being misunderstood. I didn’t comprehend it then, but I certainly do now. Oh, the horror stories I have heard of what has happened to good leaders of integrity who have been ambushed by what Marshall Shelley calls, “Well-Intentioned Dragons.” In the book by that title, Shelly says, “Criticism comes with the territory-some of it deserved, some of it unfair, all of it devastating.” How true. How true. There is a big price tag on leadership.

In II Corinthians 4: 8, 9 the Apostle Paul speaks to the price when he says, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” And, again, in II Corinthians 11:27, 28, “In weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness, besides the other things, what comes upon me daily; my deep concern for all the churches.” Now, admittedly, some of what Paul faced had to do with his calling as a mobile apostle, but at the same time it was part of being a leader.

The high price of leadership keeps some from ever stepping into it and forces others into quickly stepping out of it. I have long since lost track of those who once served as leaders who would rather drink motor oil than try again. It is so sad. I think that the key to lasting as a leader is weighing the price against the pay off. I have been tempted to quit many times. To come to the conclusion in my mind that I can’t handle it any longer, but the grace of God and the promises of God give me the fortitude to continue on.

The Payoff Of Leadership

The thrill of winning a game keeps people on the floor, the field or the ice and allows them to put up with the training, the pain and the pressure. The coach’s job is to help the players keep perspective and keep their eyes on the payoff. Winning the game, the league championship, being world champions, the end result of the process.

Is it any different in the world of Christian leadership? It’s imperative to keep our eyes on the end goal. Standing before the Savior with joy and love in our hearts and hearing his “well done.” I heard the story of a missionary couple returning home by ship after many years of faithful and difficult service. As it turned out Teddy Roosevelt’s ship came in about the same time. There were great crowds awaiting Teddy’s arrival , but hardly anyone welcoming this couple home. As he started to be discouraged, he heard the Lord quietly remind him, “But you’re not ”home” yet.

Paul again has something to say to the weary. beat up and  discouraged leaders who are paying a high price that is exacting a toll. “Therefore we do not lose heart. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. While we do not look at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” II Cor 4:16-18.

When we get to heaven and see all the people we have deeply impacted, the lives that have been transformed, the people who have come to faith through our lives and our lips, it will be worth it all. I heard about a Christian lady named Helen .

Ever since she was a small girl she made decisions by asking herself “Is it worth it?” After serving the Lord for many years, things got tough and she was paying the price of leadership. She began to waver and asked herself if “it was worth it.” Jesus put a vastly different question to her, “Am I worth it?”

Yes, Jesus is worth it. The price is worth the pay off. As the old song puts it, “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus. All problems seem so small when we see Christ. One look at his dear face, all trials will erase, so bravely run the race ‘till we see Christ.”

So fellow leader. Hang in there. Don’t quite because of the price. He didn’t quit when the price was high! “Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross despising the shame and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. 12:2

Tuesday
Nov112014

Excellent Ideas From Matt Perman on Delegation

Delegation is a lost art today among leaders. Too many do too much and are not trained enough and secure enough to entrust decision-making authority to other capable leaders.

Here is Matt Perman sharing five components of effective delegation. Matt is the best selling author of, “What’s Best Next.” A book which I very highly recommend. His book is the best out there on how to anchor energy and time stewardship in a gospel centered way.

Originally posted on the Catalyst website by Matt Perman

With so many things on our to-do lists and so many new things coming at us every day, how do we stay above water as leaders?   

One common answer is delegation. That’s good advice, but it’s often incomplete. The problem is that we often aren’t taught how to delegate effectively. As a result, when we finally overcome the mistake of not delegating at all, we easily end up making the other mistake of delegating in the wrong way. Unfortunately, this mistake can be even worse! Bad delegation results in frustration, confusion, and discouragement for the people we delegate to.

So how do we delegate in a way that works? That is, what does real delegation actually look like, and how do we do it?

That first thing to know is that real delegation is above all based on a philosophy, rather than a series of steps. The philosophy is simply this: respect for the individual. Since people are created in the image of God and have incredible intrinsic worth, they are always to be treated in accord with that worth (even when delegating!).

Practically speaking, this means that our aim in delegation should not just be to the get the tasks done.

It should be to build up the other person through the accomplishment of the tasks.

Real delegation is about more than just the tasks; it’s about the people and the tasks.

When our aim is to build up the other person through the tasks that they are delegated, we treat the other person as they ought to be treated and  create far better results. For this type of delegation is motivating, instills ownership, and ultimately increases the capacity of the entire organization.

With this philosophy of delegation in place, how do you delegate in a way that gets the tasks done and builds people up in the process? You do this by communicating five things.

 1. Desired Results

These are the things that need to be accomplished. This is the most important thing because the person won’t be able to get anything done if they don’t know what they need to do in the first place. But note that these are the what—not the how. For example, when I call up the local sandwich shop to order a sub, I ask for a #2 (roast beef) and tell them my address. I don’t tell them how to make it, how to get to my house, or how fast they should drive. Likewise, the key to delegating in an empowering and motivating way that instills ownership is to make sure the outcomes are clear while preserving as much freedom as possible for the person to find their own way to accomplish those ends.

 2. Guidelines

Of course, while you want to preserve as much freedom as possible, it’s not enough just to tell the person what is needed and give no other guidance. There are often standards that are essential to accomplishing the task effectively. So, give the guidelines and point out any wrong turns they should be aware of. But note that you are giving guidelines, not detailed rules. You aren’t determining methods; you are showing the broad parameters that will help them to be effective. Also make sure that they are truly empowered—they need to know that they are free to do whatever it takes to accomplish the desired results, within the guidelines.

 3. Resources

This step is often skipped in delegation. Let the person know what is at their disposal, such as the budget available (if relevant) and additional personnel.

 4. Accountability

You don’t need to define accountability for every task delegated—that would get tiresome. Accountability just needs to be in place for the overall context of the relationship. This means knowing what the standards of performance are and when the regular reviews are.

 5. Consequences

Again, this doesn’t have to be defined for every specific task, but simply as part of the larger framework of the relationship. This would include both the good outcomes if the accountability is fulfilled and what will happen if it isn’t. Positive outcomes might include increased responsibility, promotions, financial rewards, natural consequences, and so forth.

It is true that delegation means that some things will be done less efficiently—at first. But it is worth it, because the aim is not just efficiency, but building people up. By building people up in this way through delegation, you increase the capacity of the entire organization for the long term—which is always both more efficient and effective.

Matt Perman is former director of strategy at Desiring God and author of  What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done. He blogs at www.whatsbestnext.com and lives in Minneapolis. Twitter: @mattperman 

 

Sunday
Nov092014

Being a Strong Leader without Being an Abusive Leader

Strong leadership doesn’t have to become abusive and arrogant; but, sadly, that’s what sometimes occurs. Let’s all strive for, and grow in, strong and humble leadership.

As a student of Christian leadership, it deeply troubles me that we tend to move from strong leadership to abusive leadership. We then make the mistake of assuming strong leadership is always dangerous and  gravitate toward weak, apathetic and indecisive leadership as a reaction toward abusive leadership.

Strong and decisive is not the problem; arrogant and abusive is. What we need to do is move from strong and abusive to strong and humble, which is what the Bible clear demonstrates in leadership from Genesis to Revelation. Jesus was, without a doubt, the strongest and most humble leader who ever lived!

So how does biblically and appropriate strong leadership morph into unbiblical and inappropriately abusive leadership?

As noted, the Bible clearly teaches that leadership can and should be strong and decisive, not fearful or hesitant; and certainly not abusive. But we know of many strong leaders who, nonetheless, become abusive in some way or another. Peter warns us of this:

“Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly as God would have you, not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” I Peter 5:2,3 (ESV)

I have worked with churches that once had abusive leaders and seem to have never completely gotten over it.  In  overreacting to this, they are understandably very careful (too careful) in their leadership to not be overbearing or domineering in any way. But this has also affected their ability to be confidently strong in making the difficult decisions they need to make and which inhibits them from growing and making the difference they could make.

I have also seen the opposite, where a church has a strong leadership vacuum (due to passive or hesitant leadership in the past) and tries to fill it with a strong leader who over time, unfortunately, becomes abusive and is asked to leave, or stays and splits the church.

We can vacillate between abusive and apathetic. The Bible clearly advocates for strong and decisive leadership that is not afraid to lead and make the tough calls.

The great need today in the body of Christ is to raise up strong visionary leaders who are anchored in Christ, secure in their calling, solid in their convictions, and bold in their decisions for needed changes; all without being abusive, bullying, arrogant or domineering.

It has been both my experience and observation that sometimes when leaders see success early in their tenure, it goes to their heads, leading to pride and a domineering leadership style that doesn't honor Jesus and his gospel. This is why Paul warns us in 1 Timothy 3:6 that a leader should not be a recent convert so he doesn’t become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil?

Mark 10:42,43 in The Message is very instructive on this issue:

"You've observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, he said, and when people get a little power how quickly it goes to their heads. It's not going to be that way with you."  

In today's leadership world, sad to say, it's not only godless rulers (leaders) who throw their weight around, but Christian leaders as well. And not only does power go to their heads, but acclaim, accolades, popularity, book sales and hits on their blog site also go to their heads.

Jesus has a good word for all of us: It should not be that way with you. Rather tenderness, sensitivity, humility, kindness, etc. Exactly what Galatians 5 and I Timothy 3 spell out for us.

Jim Collins, in his excellent book, "Good to Great" refers to these humble leaders as level five leaders. We need many more of them.

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God…” I Peter 5:5-6

Pray for strong, decisive, visionary and humble leaders to lead his church! And do be ever so careful and prayerful for yourself. Have others hold you accountable for your leadership style and attitudes (I Timothy 4:16.)

 

Saturday
Nov082014

Proven Strategies To Sleep Soundly And Accomplish More

Ask anyone about better productivity and getting enough sleep will be near the top of the list. It is no secret that many leaders are sleep deprived and are paying a steep price for it.  Here are some excellent tips by the venerable Michael Hyatt on how to do better on your sleep and thereby better at your work.

Originally posted by Michael Hyatt

Six Strategies to Sleep Soundly, Wake Rested And Accomplish More

Leaders and business writers like Arianna Huffington and Tom Rath are devoting more time to the topic. Greg McKeown’s Essentialism, a book I’m very excited about right now, spends a whole chapter on it.

The line we’ve all heard is, if you snooze, you lose. But it turns out the opposite is true.

The costs of not getting enough sleep are staggering. And a key difference maker in accomplishing more is more sleep.

So we all know it’s important. But how do we actually do it? There are a lot of factors working against us, but many of these are easy to address. You don’t have to follow any of these perfectly—I certainly don’t, at least not all the time—but here are six strategies for getting more and better sleep starting tonight.

1. Get Committed

How many times have we been up later than we wanted because there was one more link to click, one more episode to watch, one more page to read, one more whatever?

Researchers call it “bedtime procrastination,” and it’s really about willpower. If we want the benefit of extra sleep, we have to decide on the tradeoff: one less link, one less episode, one less page. Determine to go to bed at a set time and then do it.

2. Set an Alarm

To help follow through on that commitment, set an alarm. There’s an inertia to being tired. We’ve all experienced this. It’s easier to just go on than go to bed. But a calendar alert or phone alarm can help us change gears when we might otherwise cruise along for another hour or more.

Blogger Eric Barker started using an alarm to signal sleep time and reports it’s even more beneficial than a morning alarm.

3. Establish a Ritual

It’s easier to do just about anything when there’s a pattern or a rhythm we can follow. As parents and grandparents, we know bedtime rituals work for our kids, but they can work for us too—especially if the ritual includes things that are helpful in making the transition to sleep, like:

  • Getting a warm bath or cup of herbal tea
  • Prayer and devotions
  • A novel saved just for bedtime
  • Processing the day with our spouses in bed

The key is to follow the same pattern most nights, even on weekends. I find winding down with Gail and prayer are essential for my evening ritual, and when I skip them my sleep suffers.

4. Go for a Run, but Not Before Bed

We all know about the benefits of exercise for health and longevity, but it’s crucial for improved sleep as well. Research shows that exercise in the morning or afternoon can benefit sleep.

David K. Randall’s survey of sleep science, Dreamland, confirms these findings and adds another side benefit of exercise, particularly outdoor activity. Exposure to sunlight helps “keep the body’s clock in sync with the day-night cycle and prime the brain to increase the level of melatonin [the sleep-regulating hormone] in the bloodstream,” he says.

The important thing is to avoid exercise right before bedtime, which will make it harder to fall to sleep.

5. Kill the Lights

Just as important as getting enough natural light during the day, it’s critical to extinguish artificial light at night.

More than nine in ten of us use electronic devices before sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Not only can the tweets, emails, videos, and articles we consume leave our minds buzzing and unrestful, the light from the devices themselves—even little LEDs—can compromise our slumber.

To prevent experiencing what expert Michael J. Breus calls “junk sleep” consider:

  • Turning off TV’s, tablets, and other screens an hour before bedtime
  • Putting your phone in a drawer or leaving it in another room
  • Getting black-out curtains for summertime or sleeping with an eye mask
  • Reading a genuine paper book instead of a tablet before bed—remember those?

There’s no sense getting to bed on time if we’re getting poor sleep throughout the night.

6. Blow off Work

For high achievers like us, this is really important. Let’s agree to let the report wait for morning—the design comps, too, and the email. Unless we’re already totally exhausted, all of these things just keep our minds active long after we close our eyes.

Our bosses don’t own our sleep. And if you—like me—are your own boss, then let’s give ourselves a break! If you can’t let something go, just write it down, hit the hay, and deal with it in the morning.

“Each day has enough trouble of its own,” Jesus said.

The evidence for the importance of sleep is clear at this point. All that remains is for us to take it seriously enough to change our habits. After all, becoming more productive, efficient, and effective in every other area of our life is pointless if we cheat our minds and bodies the rest they deserve.

Thursday
Nov062014

A Leader Is A Dreamer

They said it would never work, that it would lose money, that people wouldn’t come to see it. He had a dream and was motivated to invest a lot of his own money into the project. He, in actuality, staked his entire reputation on the three-hour epic of which he was the director, co-producer and star. “Dances with Wolves” took the world by storm and was nominated for twelve Oscars, winning seven of them. Kevin Costner not only danced with wolves, he marched to a different drummer. The world awarded him because he dared to dream. Welcome Kevin to the dreamers’ hall of fame.

 Zig Zigler tells the heartwarming story of Bernie and Elaine Lofchick. They had their delight dashed when they received the devastating news, your son is a spastic. He has cerebral palsy. He will never be able to walk or talk or count to ten, if you believe the prevailing medical opinions. The world-renowned specialist told them that their son David could make it and be normal but they would have to dream big and work hard. It happened…oh, it happened!

That boy whom the experts said would never walk, talk, or ride a bike could, at the age of 13, do 1,100 pushups in a single day, had run six miles non-stop and was wearing out his third bike.  He grew to be a strapping 195 pound adult, who has a family and is leading a perfectly normal life. David made it because Bernie and Elaine dared to dream, defying the doomsayers. Welcome Bernie, Elaine and David to the dreamers’ hall of fame. May your number increase.

As a leader, there was a time when you had a clear vision, a dream. God gave you a vivid picture, an idea of what He wants to accomplish through your leadership. But as time has progressed, perhaps you have met defeat, been discouraged, been criticized. Perhaps you have given up your desire, your determination to dream, thinking that you misheard what the Lord said, don’t have what it takes, aren’t gifted enough. Abraham Maslow said that the story of the human race is the story of men and women selling themselves short.

Don't let it happen to you. God is not through with you, even though you might feel like it. And it's never too late, even though it might seem like it. I would encourage you to rejoin the ranks of the daring dreamers. Starting to dream again will give you a fresh start--fresh hope for the future.

She was born in a shack in the backwoods of Tennessee. During her early childhood she was sickly and frail; and, due to a severe illness, had a paralyzed left leg for which she had to wear a brace.  But she had a wonderful mother who believed in her and taught her to dare to dream.   She dreamed of being the world’s greatest woman runner. In high school she began to enter races and came in dead last in every race she was in.  Then she finally won her first race and from then on she never lost. 

She linked up with a coach in college who kept the dream alive and took her all the way to the Olympics.  She won the 100 meter event and the 200 meter event, she had two golds. She was a member of the 400 meter relay team. Running the last leg she found herself pitted against Jutta Heine, the greatest, fastest woman runner of her day. In her excitement Wilma dropped the baton and everyone assumed she was through…that there was no way to catch up with the fleet-footed Jutta Heine. But she did and she won her third medal. She achieved her dream. Welcome Wilma Rudolf to the dreamers’ hall of fame.

I am personally in the dreamer’s hall of fame. I wasn't inducted. I signed myself up; and, furthermore, have issued myself a lifetime membership. At 74 years of age I am still a hopeless dreamer, a crazy visionary. I am not ready to retire and spend my time sitting on the front porch waiting for the mailman to show up, or to sit staring blankly at the TV screen, or to while the hours away hitting an elusive little white ball around the green grass numerous days a week.  

I must tell you though that I am sad as I walk the corridors of the hall, because there are so many empty picture frames adorning the walls.  Could there be an empty frame there with your name on it?  If you were assured you could not fail what dream would you pursue?

“Most people go to their graves with their music inside them.”-George Bernard Shaw.  May it not be said of you and me!

Play all the music God has given you. Don’t be consumed with the fear of failure. Don’t be afraid of what others may think about you. They’re probably not thinking about you at all, because they’re too busy thinking about themselves. Let it all hang out…go for broke…leave it all on the field for Jesus! Watch what God does with your two loves and five fishes!