Doers Or Delegators

“It’s better to put ten men to work than to do the work of ten men.”  D. L. Moody

When I read that quote, it etched itself in my memory as being one of those universal leadership truisms that I would want to apply in everything I undertake as a leader.

Ephesians 4:12 makes it clear that various types of leaders are to equip people for ministry…not do all the work of ministry themselves (refer to Exodus 18 for a good example of this.)

After 43 years of vocational Christian ministry, I have come to understand that some leaders are doers and some have graduated to delegators…having learned to equip and empower others to share the ministry with them rather than, possibly, dying a premature death trying to do everything themselves.

A friend of mine who is an outstanding leader, both in his church and in the market place, recently observed that there is a difference between what he called “workhorses” and “leaders.” 

He elaborated by saying, “Some people can produce a great deal of quality product/output (workhorses) , but they don’t seem to do well in leading a team or setting direction (leaders) .” 

If one of a leader’s primary roles is developing other leaders (which I believe it is), then so- called leaders who don’t equip and empower others for significant ministry are perhaps not truly leaders at all but “workhorses” which is a horse of a different color (pun intended).

My friend went on to note that, as a result of this distinction between “workhorses” and “leaders”, his team is re-evaluating to make sure that their best investment is in the people who will soon be leading their own teams.

When I left a ministry a number of years ago, I was asked to find my replacement.  I had to interview a lot of candidates who were essentially workhorses, before I found one who was truly a “Leader” (committed to equipping and an empowering other leaders).

Here are three questions to ask yourself:

 1. Are you a workhorse or a leader? Look at how you spend your time.

 2. If asked, could you supply the names of 2-3 people you are currently pouring your life and time into as you develop them into leaders?

 3. Is it a value in your church, organization or team to hire/recruit delegators (leaders) or doers (workhorses)?





Crazy with a capital "C"

It has been a while with no weekly bog from me!

Since June 10th (when we made a week-long trip to California to hunt for a home to lease as we make the move from Seattle to Orange County) until this moment it has been a whirl-wind of ceasless activies: Hotels, being hosted by gracious families,  meals out, signing papers both here in Seattle and in Laguna Hills (our destination city), and saying good-bye to lots of friends.

We have signed more papers in the last two weeks than at any other two week period in our lives.  I think they had to cut down one more tree just for the paper work required to get us out of our home in Seattle and into one in California.

We are not finished yet.  We have had a couple of speed bumps in the closing of escrow on our Seattle home with the final "It is done" due as late as Tuesday, June 28th the same day we get the keys to our Laguna Hills home.  With the delays coming at the 11th hour, I am tempted to play the "What if" game.

What if this falls out of escrow? What if we have to make payments on two homes? What if we have to start all over again and find a new buyer?

I choose (empowered by Him) to rest in His sovereignty and His promises to take care of us and provide for our needs (Matthew 6:33, Philippians 4:19).

He has His time-table and desires for us. He is more interested in our character than our comfort or convenience.

In crazy times like this, I am so glad I am the recepient of "Crazy Love" (as Francis Chan calls it). Crazy grace and crazy forgivness helps as well.

I have learned a lot in the last 14 days:

1. God is  still sovereign even when I am most worried and stressed

2. I am still (even after 50 years of walking with Jesus)  a sinner and capable of the worst of sins when under pressure and things are totally crazy

3. Even when I act like a jerk (which I did plenty of times in the last two weeks) Susan allowed His grace to flow through her toward me

4. Sin happens but doesn't define who I am...the Gospel does



What you can and cannot change

Some of you will recall the “Serenity Prayer”

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

--Reinhold Niebuhr

It seems to me that there is a lot of wasted energy focusing on things that I  can’t change instead of giving time and attention to the things that, by His grace, I can change. 

The key is to live in the moment…not to get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow, and not anchoring my emotions with regrets regarding what happened yesterday, last week, last year or ten years ago.

Here are a few things I cannot change that are not worth fretting over or worrying about:

The weather. I am rather tired of weather discussions. I thank the Lord my life does not revolve around the weather. It is what it is.

My past.  Mistakes, sin and stupidity are just that…the past. With His help I will repent, ask for forgiveness and move on, leaving the past behind me. I don’t want to play the woulda, shoulda, coulda game. It will hinder my hopes for the future.

Other people’s attitudes and actions.

Not having enough time.  I’m never going to get more time, so need to stop saying I wish I had more time. I have all the time I need to do what God is asking me to do.  Time is never the issue. Priorities/values are.

Harmful words spoken to me.  Let them go and move on. Use the past as a guide post, not a hitching post.

My family of origin.  Using my family as an explanation, not an excuse, for the way I am.  Jesus can transform me.

Here are a few things I can and should change…by His grace and with His help:

My prayer life.  Living a life of humility and dependency on the sovereign lord of the universe and of my life  as reflected in prayer, praise, worship, repentance and confession

My attitude.   Attitude more than aptitude will determine my altitude…think about that!

My perspective.

My responses to other people’s actions.

My words...especially vengeful, hurtful and critical words.

My current priorities
 and values…do they reflect biblical values?

My habits.  What current habits are significantly hurting me, big time?

My weekly commitments.  Am I overloaded and overwhelmed? What do I need to stop doing or do less frequently?




Creating A Great Work Environment

What you read in posts at are mostly my thoughts…ideas I have been thinking about, wrestling with and applying to my own life and ministry.

From time to time I take somebody else’s ideas and build on them.  On rare occasions I have a guest blogger who has written something that I totally resonate with and could not have said it better if I tried.

Today I am sharing a post from Matt Perman who works with John Piper at Desiring God as director of strategy.  Matt has been a friend for several years and we talk once a month, exchanging ideas on leadership related issues.

You can go to this link  for a recent post Matt wrote.  You will see a place on the right to subscribe.

So, let me introduce you to my friend, Matt Perman:

So, what does it look like to create a culture that fosters intrinsic motivation in people — a culture of engagement rather than compliance?

1.  Trust people and have high expectations for them. Trust is at the heart of a healthy culture. Most people want to do a good job and want greater responsibility. If you trust them and have high expectations, people will generally live up to that. (Likewise, if you have low expectations and don’t trust people, people will typically live down to those.)

2.  Make the vision, values, and top priorities clear; then allow people to find their own way to accomplish the objectives. This is most consistent with trust and creates space for initiative and autonomy, which are at the heart of motivation.

3.  Lead from values, not rules. This, again, is most consistent with trusting people. Detailed rules say “you are not competent, and therefore we need to control you.” People will live down to that and not apply their extra initiative. But leading from values says “we trust you” and allows people to use their judgment and creativity. It also gives purpose, which is another of the core components of motivation.

4.  Seek to extend people’s autonomy to the greatest possible extent. Managers should keep expectations clear, but within that framework people are to manage themselves. The manager becomes not a boss, but a source of help.

You see the implication of self-management right in the text (Ephesians 6: 5).  Paul exhorts workers to be self managing when he says don’t obey by way of eye service or as people pleasers. In other words, do what you do because it is right, not just because you are told or to score points. And, doing this “from the heart” implies: take initiative. For that is what we do when we are doing something from the heart.

Individualize. If workers are in the image of God and thus to be respected, we should not seek to mold them to fit a highly standardized version of the role. The role is to be flexible, not primarily the person. Highly standardized versions of a role not only run over the individuality that each person brings and is a potential source of incredible contribution; they are also impersonal. People are personal beings by nature; there is no virtue in regarding “impersonal” as essential to the meaning of being a professional.

By the way, what is management? It is unleashing the talents of the individual for the performance of the organization. Individualizing and unleashing the potential of the person are not just good practices, but are intrinsic to the nature of management itself.

The results of this will be:

1.  Motivation, because this syncs with the three components of motivation: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

2.  People will grow because they are required to be responsible and exercise judgment. And this is critical because management is not only about getting things done through others, but developing people through tasks. Management is a matter of serving.

3.  Greater efficiency, believe it or not. Trying to control people doesn’t scale. It also results in higher turnover, and kills the initiative that leads to great results.

4.  Initiative and innovation. Again, this unleashes greater initiative and the best ideas of your people.

Employee engagement.

  • A strong workplace. (That’s not just a throw-away phrase; there’s great and specific meaning in what a “strong workplace” is that would be great to go in to sometime.)
  • An exciting workplace — a place where people want to work and enjoy their work.

Your people will be served and built up, and the organization will be served more effectively as well.

Failure to manage this way is why so many people want to retire, by the way. So many workplaces treat people merely as cogs in a machine. It’s no wonder people want to escape at 65. What a waste! I’m not saying retirement is bad — it can be a great thing to transition to a different type of contribution after a lifetime in the workplace. But far better to also manage our workplaces in such a way that people don’t want to retire to get away from the job, but rather retire because of the potential for a different type of contribution later in life.




Nine Empty Drawers

I heard it years ago, but never forgot it.  (That seems to be a pattern with me in the way I learn…I read/hear something in a sermon, speech or at a conference  which hits me and it sticks with me.)  What did I hear? Okay here it is:

Your mind is like a filing cabinet with ten drawers.  The average person only uses one of those ten drawers…the other nine are, for all practical purposes, empty and sitting idle! 


For some reason, it popped into my head awhile ago as I was reading about the danger of putting a lid on my ability to learn, grow and increase my capacity. 

Here is the question that was bouncing around in my head.  Is intelligence (IQ, or other types of so-called innate intelligence) fixed or can it grow with experience, practice and study?  Are you born with a lid on your intelligence, gifting, capabilities from which you cannot escape or exceed?

There’s lots of discussion out there on this topic.  I recently read a book titled, “Talent is Overrated,” by Geoff Colvin. (You will find it under “booknotes” on my website,  This book opened up a whole new way of thinking for me as to why some people are really good at certain things. And, according to Geoff, it has very little to do with the set of “cards” (family, geography, finances) you think they were dealt at birth, or the genetic makeup you have or don’t have. God is bigger than all of that.

So, when I heard the speaker say that nine of my mental drawers are virtually empty…doing nothing, it sparked me to become a life-long learner and see if I could start, productively, using the nine empty drawers. I am not sure which drawer I’m currently filling, but, by His grace, I believe I have moved beyond drawer one.

 “We all live under the same sky, but we don't all have the same horizon.” ~Konrad Adenauer.

What is setting the limits of your horizon? How far is Jesus enabling you to see, beyond the limits you have fixed in your thinking? How many drawers are you putting to use? What’s holding you back from going places you’ve never been, trying things you’ve never tried, or launching a new idea people said you were not capable of launching, or evening thinking about launching? If you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right. There may be a drawer (s) inside of you waiting to be tapped.