Confident or Arrogant--How can you determine the difference?

Throughout my 57 years as a Christian, I have hit upon some ideas that beg for an answer to satisfy my curious and processing mind. Sometimes I get some resolution…sometimes not. When I hit on a thought or make an observation, my mind and heart go into overdrive as I study, think, pray and ask for wisdom.

Here are three of the questions and puzzles I have wrestled with through the years

1.  How can we have a free will and God be sovereignly in control at the same time

2.  Why is it that so many Christians don’t seem to grow, mature and become transformed even though they are sitting under some of the best preachers and teachers in the world

3.  What role does obedience play in the Christian life? If everything is of grace in salvation and sanctification and has nothing to do with human effort or what I may bring to the table, where does obedience fit in?

Not too long ago, I had a meal with a very successful young businessman. Even though he is in his early 30s, he has already achieved more than most do in a lifetime of work. He is very confident in who he is, has an incredible work ethic and possesses a very winsome personality.

He is certainly heading toward being the CEO of something before he is 40. I told him to be very careful of becoming proud/arrogant due to how fast he is rising and how gifted he is. He said he would give that some very concentrated thought and prayer.

As we were eating I asked him several questions:

1.  What is the difference between being confident and being arrogant?

2.  How might confidence morph into arrogance?

3.  What is the difference between God-confidence and self-Confidence?

It says in 1 Peter 5:5,6 “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (ESV). No thinking Christian wants to be opposed by God, and yet this verse says God opposes the proud.

I remember many years ago, listening to a very well known Christian leader whom I felt exhibited amazing confidence in his message, his gifting and his work. Someone else listening to the same man called him extremely arrogant. That experience was the first time I began to wrestle with the difference between confidence and arrogance.

Admittedly and intentionally I have not provided answers, but simply raised questions around a critical issue.

Using the comment section below, providing some answers to the three questions above?  Let’s get a good dialogue going on a very important topic.





Ten ways leaders can waste time

Time is precious and once it’s gone, you can never retrieve it. There are many ways a leader can let time slip their fingers; not be wise, efficient and effective in how they steward their time. Chuck Lawless shares ten time wasters for leaders.

Originally posted by Chuck Lawless

If you’re a leader, you know the importance of using time wisely. That doesn’t mean, though, that most of us use time well. Here are some of the most common leadership time wasters, in my opinion: 

1.  Checking email. Truth is, we could be doing email all day long. Schedule times to check it.

2.  Disorganized meetings. Most meetings can be more productive and still require less time.

3.  Poor scheduling. Setting aside an hour for a meeting that could accomplish its task in 30 minutes is a misuse of time.

4.  Mishandled interruptions. Interruptions happen, but they need not waste our time. Handle them wisely and quickly.

5.  Text conversations. It takes a while to type out a conversation. If you have to talk, use the phone.

6.  Unclear goals. If we don’t know where we’re headed, we wander – and that always takes more time than a focused, intentional journey. 

7.  Cluttered desks. I know this addition will probably frustrate some readers, but I do suspect that working through “desk chaos” takes extra time.

8.  Bad filing. Whether it’s in a folder or on a computer, poor filing requires more time to find the documents when you need them.

9.  Poor rest. When we don’t get enough rest, everything slows down. And, our work is often subpar.

10.  Not praying. Praying over the day raises the bar about getting the work done. Commit the day to God, and you’ll strive to work more wisely. 

What other time wasters would you add to this list?    





Four critical areas on which to focus

Over the years I have worked with lots of younger leaders and there has been this ongoing debate about the merits or harm of multi-tasking. I have heard numerous leaders, especially the younger, tell me that they can listen to music, watch television and work simultaneously; or check email and listen to a speaker simultaneously.  What I’ve read recently has begun to increasingly say it just ain’t so!

But there is one thing I’m learning that really is so (regardless of your age) and that is that you need to cultivate the habit of being multi-focused. Multi-tasking, maybe not. Multi-focusing, definitely yes.

With that in mind, here are four focuses of a leader.

Focusing on your Lord

As a Christian leader, Jesus needs to be your primary focus. Leadership is essentially about him, not about you, the mission, or the people. When we loose sight of him, it’s the beginning of the end of truly biblical leadership. He needs to be the why we lead, the how we lead and the where we lead people. It is his church, his vision and his mission. I think Hebrews 12:2 says it best, “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God.” (ESV)  He is the founder and perfecter of not only my walk with Him, but also my work in Him. It is as I am led by Him, empowered by Him and honoring him that my leadership as a Christian will become what he intended.

Focusing on yourself

As we keep Jesus central, we now need to pay close attention to ourselves --understanding ourselves, disciplining ourselves, leading ourselves. The key to being able to lead others well is in leading yourself well. There is a huge emphasis in 1Timothy 3 about leading yourself…about inward character, about fruit of the spirit…“above reproach, sober-minded, self-controlled, gentle.” In fact, this favorite chapter on leadership for many is long on what the leader is and short what the leader does.

Among other things, this means stewarding your time, your energy and your gifting well. As a leader, you need to lead from strength and health… pacing yourself well, eating, exercising, resting and carving out regular time to hear from your Captain. As I coach leaders and conduct seminars I’m concerned about how many exhausted, discouraged and leading-on-empty leaders I encounter.

Focusing on your team

As John Maxwell says, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” Things always go better as we build and work through teams (See Exodus 18).

 As you are led, empowered and honoring him, and as you continue to lead yourself, you are now set to focus on the team that God has given you. Because of your initial and ongoing focus on Jesus and your stewarding yourself well, you have the right motives and healthy energy to shepherd and develop your team as growing disciples so you can equip and empower them in their roles and responsibilities.

If the focus is only on you--with inadequate, or no, focus on Jesus--you will tend to manipulate, dominate and use those under your care (rather than motivate them) for your own selfish purposes.

Keep your direct reports low (3-5) so you have the time and energy to truly care for those under your supervision.

Focusing on your vision

A leader is leading people from where they are to someplace else. What is your vision, your burden? What keeps you up late at night and wakes you up early in the morning? What’s wrong in the world for which God has given you a passion? What do you want to change,  give birth to or get rid of?  You need quality time to think about your vision, put words to your vision and prepare to rally people to your vision. People follow leaders because they respect their leaders, and are and are excited about where their leaders are going.

The chances of you achieving your God-given vision will be directly proportional to allowing Jesus to lead you, staying healthy and strong by leading yourself well and genuinely caring for those whom you lead.

I’m convinced we can only be the leaders God intended as we:


  • Focus on Jesus
  • Focus on ourselves 
  • Focus on the team
  • Focus on His vision


For maximum fruitfulness and productivity: up with “Multi-Focus” and down with “Multi-Tasking.”






Bully leadership; how to recognize it and what to do about it!

For me personally, one of the most helpful (and convicting) passages of scripture on the subject of leadership is 1 Peter 5:1-11.  I am often nailed with the instruction “Not Domineering” in verse 2.

At a leadership training event a number of years ago, Proferssor Sam Storms addressed a group of us on the subject of "Bully Leadership."

In light of what has transpired since his teaching, I thought this was worth revisiting.

In addition to being a professor, Sam has authored numerous books and articles and pastors a church in Oklahoma City.  You can Google him to discover more of his background, current interests and involvements.

Dr. Storms shared with us some practical insight as to what it can look like to be “domineering.”  I am including his thoughts in their entirety without editing out anything or adding in any of my own comments.

Please sit down and take some time to read this slowly and prayerfully. Be prepared to participate in some sobering self-evaluation and repentance, for the Holy Spirit may convict you of some attitudes and practices that have crept into your leadership.

 May I introduce Dr. Sam Storms:

  “How might a pastor or elder “domineer” his flock?

 “A man can “domineer” or “lord it over” his flock whenever he threatens them with stern warnings of the discipline and judgment of God, even though there is no biblical basis for doing so.

 “A pastor domineers whenever he threatens them with public exposure of their sin should they not conform to his will and knuckle under to his plans.

“A pastor domineers whenever he uses the sheer force of his personality to overwhelm others and coerce their submission.

“A pastor domineers whenever he uses slick verbiage or eloquence to humiliate people into feeling ignorant or less competent than they really are.

 “A pastor domineers whenever he presents himself as super-spiritual (his views came about only as the result of extensive prayer and fasting and seeking God. How could anyone then possibly disagree with him?).

 “A pastor domineers whenever he exploits the natural tendency people have to elevate their spiritual leaders above the average Christian. That is to say, many Christians mistakenly think that a pastor is closer to God and more in tune with the divine will. The pastor often takes advantage of this false belief to expand his power and influence.

“A pastor domineers whenever he gains a following and support against all dissenters by guaranteeing those who stand with him that they will gain from it, either by being brought into his inner circle or by some form of promotion.

“A pastor domineers by widening the alleged gap between “clergy” and “laity.” In other words, he reinforces in them the false belief that he has a degree of access to God which they don’t.

 “Related to the former is the way some pastors will make it appear that they hold sway or power over the extent to which average lay people can experience God’s grace. He presents himself in subtle (not overt) ways as the mediator between the grace of God and the average believer (cf. the RCC concept of the priesthood). In this way he can secure their loyalty for his agenda.

 “He domineers by building into people a greater loyalty to himself than to God. Or he makes it appear that not to support him is to work at cross-purposes with God.

 “He domineers by teaching that he has a gift that enables him to understand Scripture in a way they cannot. They are led to believe they cannot trust their own interpretive conclusions and must yield at all times to his.

 “He domineers by short-circuiting due process, by shutting down dialogue and discussion prematurely, by not giving all concerned an opportunity to voice their opinion.

 “He domineers by establishing an inviolable barrier between himself and the sheep. He either surrounds himself with staff who insulate him from contact with the people or withdraws from the daily affairs of the church in such a way that he is unavailable and unreachable.

 “Related to the above is the practice of some in creating a governmental structure in which the senior pastor is accountable to no one, or if he is accountable it is only to a small group of very close friends and fellow elders who stand to profit personally from his tenure as pastor.

 “He domineers by viewing the people as simply a means to the achieving of his own personal ends. Ministry is reduced to exploitation. The people exist to “serve his vision” rather than he and all the people together existing to serve the vision of the entire church.

 “He domineers by making people feel unsafe and insecure should they desire to voice an objection to his proposals and policies.

 “He domineers by convincing them, ever so subtly, that their spiritual welfare is dependent on his will. To cross him is to cross God!

 “He domineers by misinterpreting and misapplying to himself the OT command: “Don’t touch God’s anointed.”

“He domineers by building a culture of legalism rather than one of grace. People are thus motivated to embrace his authority and bow to his will based on extra biblical rules that supposedly are the criteria for true spirituality.

 “He domineers by arguing or acting as if his movements and decisions are ultimately determinative of the spiritual welfare of others (cf. 2 Cor. 1:23-25).

 “He domineers when he leads people to believe that their faith hinges (i.e., rises or falls) upon his life and decisions.

“He domineers when he uses people as a means to his own satisfaction rather than enabling them to experience satisfaction in Christ alone.”

Love to hear your reaction and experience with "Bully Leadership."




I love what author Marcus Buckingham says (“The One Thing You Need to Know”): 

What defines a leader is his/her preoccupation with the future…leaders are fascinated by the future…Whenever a person strives to help others see a better future, there is leadership…you do it because you can’t help it. You do it because you see the future so vividly, so distinctly that you can’t get it out of your head.”

Let’s think about moving toward some God-pleasing dream/goal/idea/burden in the future as strategic thinking and strategic planning. It is leading proactively rather than reactively.

 As I have been thinking about/teaching this concept for a number of years, here are five critical steps in being strategic in your leadership:

1. Purpose ~ Who Are You?

We start with who you are. How has God created you? What are your spiritual gifts, passions, natural abilities, experiences? Where are they pointing? As you think through these areas of your life, you can develop a purpose statement which can serve as a road map/blueprint/compass to guide you into your exciting future.

2. Vision ~ Where Are You Going?

Leaders are visionaries at heart. As you look into the future, what bothers you, keeps you awake at night, gets you up early in the morning? If you could make a significant contribution to right a wrong, give birth to something that doesn’t yet exist, improve something that is not what it could be, what comes to mind? Buckingham says: “leaders rally people to a better future.” What is that better future  you see that you want to rally people to so they can join you on your exciting journey?

3. Team ~ Who Do You Need To Get You There?

From the people who are traveling with you toward your desired God-pleasing future, what kinds of people do you need to select to be on a team that can complement you? A good team has different kinds of people: dreamers, administrators, implementers, problem solvers, etc. Carefully and prayerfully select people who are different than you. You need some go-getters, some very sensitive people-oriented team members and some very detailed people. Think in terms of Prophets, Priests and Kings.

4. Goals ~ How Will You Get There?

You will want to set goals to help you move toward your vision. Steps you will take that, over time, will get you to where you want to go.

One thing has become clear as I’ve studied the life of Jesus and Paul and that is that they had goals they were working toward. Ref. John 17:4, 2 Timothy 4:8, Phil 3:13,14.

Goals can be divided into time frames: life goals, long-range goals (5 years or longer), intermediate goals (l year), short-range goals (daily/weekly) as well as into areas of life: personal, spiritual, mental, physical, social, family, ministry. One person planned goals around the four areas in Luke 2:52: mental, social, spiritual, physical. You want your goals to be SMART:

---> Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time frame.

There is an excellent book on my blog site under Book Notes by Brian Tracy called “Goals.”

5. Evaluation ~ How Will You Monitor Progress?

On a regular basis you will want to evaluate how you’re doing by asking yourself some questions:

  • What is going well?
  • What is not going well?
  • What do I need to start doing that will help me?
  • What do I need to stop doing that is hurting me?
  • What do I need to do differently that will improve what I am doing?
  • How can I better use my time?
  • Who else do I need on the team to make us better?
  • What is the most important thing I should be working on today, this week that will move me toward my desired future?

Why not take a personal inventory as to how you are doing on these five aspects of being a strategic thinking/planner so you can improve your leadership?