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Friday
Oct062017

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 77 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!

Wednesday
Oct042017

Seven traits of courageous leaders

There are leaders are a courageous and we admire and respect them. What do courageous leaders do, or what qualities do they possess that we can develop as well. Ron Edmondson share seven of these qualities that courageous leaders have in common.

Originally posted by Ron Edmondson


 Seven traits of courageous leaders

There are many courageous leaders in our world today. Certainly coming to mind are the military and emergency personnel who serve faithfully everyday.

It takes courage to be an organizational leader also. And, I see many courageous leaders, as evidenced by the strong organizations that thrive even during difficult economic times.

But, what does it mean when we talk about courage and leadership? Every leader I know wants to be considered brave, strong, courageous.

Who are the truly courageous organizational leaders among us?

I have a few thoughts. I wish I always lived up to all of them.

Here are 7 traits of a courageous leader:

1.  Doesn’t bail on the team when things get difficult. Courageous leaders remain steadfast when others are departing.

2.  Not afraid to make big requests of others. They make big asks of people, but are willing to pull equal weight to accomplish them.

3.  Willing to take the first move into unproven territory. Courageous leaders are pursuing the unproven by willingly taking risks.

4.  Moves forward by faith. Even when the outcome is unclear, courage helps these leaders face conflicts others tend to avoid. Uncharted waters are the courageous leader’s playground.

5.  Makes hard decisions regarding people. Leaders with courage entrust others with genuine responsibilities. They empower people even before they completely prove themselves. They invest in people others are willing to dismiss — But they are also willing to acknowledge when a team member is no longer a good fit for the team and — as graciously as possible — move forward without them.

6.  Protects the God-given vision. In the midst of criticism, hard economic times, and setbacks courageous leaders stay the course. They know God has called them to something bigger than today and they hold fast to His plans for their life and the people they lead.

7.  Implements needed changes. Change is never easy. It’s why most of us avoid it, but even when they are uncomfortable or not immediately popular, leaders with courage push forward to lead change with diligence. They challenge the status-quo with which others have grown contented.

 

Sunday
Oct012017

What is biblical contentment?

There are four things I pray for myself most every day:

1.  Purity (both sexual purity and purity of motive)

2.  Humility

3.  Contentment

4.  Patience

I have met, and worked with, my share of frustrated, unhappy, angry, domineering leaders--but not a lot of contented leaders.

Some equate contentment with laziness, complacency and lack of ambition. Nothing could be further from the truth. You can be very content and very ambitious at the same time. Contentment has less to do with the amount of, or intensity, of the activity you are involved in and more to do with your mind-set. Who are you truly trusting to see things happen in your life, relationships, work and ministry--yourself or God?

Over the last several months the theme of contentment has been on my mind, in my prayers and in my planning more than usual.

In some extended time with the Lord a week or so ago, I read through the book of Philippians in the Phillips Translation. In chapter four, starting with verse 10, Paul deals with contentment.  These statements stood out to me: “I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances may be.” And, “Yes, I am quite content.” (Phillips)

I so want this for my own life and His ministry through me!                   

Here is what I am thinking about and praying about most days as it relates to contentment:

 WHO I AM

This has to do with my identity in Christ.  Who he has made me to be: my gifts, my capacity, my personality, my upbringing, my education. I am a composite of all of these elements—and perhaps others as well. I don’t want to be somebody else, but just want to be me. I love Romans 12:6 in The Message, “Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.”

My daughter Anna once saw a bumper sticker that said, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”  Gotta love it!

WHAT I AM

Now, I want to make an important distinction between who I am and what I am. Who I am has to do with identity whereas what I am has to do with maturity. I don’t want to be content with what I am, but desire to grow--deal with sin in my life and confess and repent when the Holy Spirit calls me out on something. I don’t want to ever fall into the trap of making excuses by saying, “Well, that’s just the way I am.”

WHERE I AM

Where I am has to do with sovereignty. I believe that God is sovereign and has allowed me to be where I am. It’s too easy to say I would be doing better, be more effective or fruitful if I were somebody else or someplace else.

Acts 17:26 (ESV): “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.”

Lorne Sanny, former president of The Navigators said, “Serve God where you are, because you can’t serve him where you aren’t.” Oh, to serve right here where I am and not be discontented or desire to be somewhere else.

WHAT I’M DOING

I want to be content with what he is allowing me to do and the opportunities he is sending my way for influence for the gospel and the kingdom. I want to begin each day with thankfulness for what lies before me and not be unhealthily desirous for something else.

I have heard many leaders say they are not happy where they are or doing what they’re doing, and are looking forward to something else, somewhere else.

Now, obviously there may come a time when the sovereign Lord of your life will give you something else to do and somewhere else to do it; but, until that happens, be content in your current situation.

WHAT HE’S DOING

I can’t make someone grow or cause someone to become a Christian. I can plant and water but God makes it happen, “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord has assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” ~ I Corinthians 3:5-7 (ESV).

I don’t want what someone else is or has. I don’t want what God is doing through and for someone else. By his grace, I want to be content with what he is doing right now, right here, in and through me…nothing more and nothing less. I don’t want envy or jealousy, flowing out of comparing, to be a slap in the face of the one who has called me and put me where I am.

After 49 years of vocational Christian ministry I am finally starting to understand  what true biblical contentment is all about. I hope it doesn’t take you that long.

 

 

Wednesday
Sep272017

Seven marks of healthy and unhealthy cultures!

Some churches/organizations have very unhealthy cultures that are causing great harm, and there are others that are healthy and bringing great joy.

Which is yours?

Dan Rockwell compares two very different kinds of culture. Seven marks of each kind.

 Originally posted by Dan Rockwell

Seven signs your culture is sick:

1.  Isolation prevails. Leaders and employees work in silos.

2.  CYA dominates. The first thing people think about when something goes wrong is how to cover their asses. CYA translates into, “Who can we blame?”

3.  Gravy stays at the top. Leaders keep the good jobs for themselves and delegate crap to everyone else.

4.  Gossip is endorsed. I’ll never forget a leader endorsing the practice of talking about people behind their back under the guise of confidentiality.

5.  Secrets abound. Organizations that need secrets have too many inequities.

6.  Politicians prevail. When brown-nosers, butt kissers, and credit-stealers prevail, self-serving and mediocrity wins.

7.  Developing people is an inconvenience.

Seven signs your culture is healthy:

1.  Organizational success trumps personal success. Team members commit to do what’s best for their team and organization. It’s time to leave if what’s best for the organization isn’t also good for you.

2.  Elephants dance. Healthy cultures discuss tough issues with optimism, toughness, and kindness.

3.  Diversity abounds. Cross-functional teams, diverse age groups, and the presence of female participants is expected and normal.

4.  Open minds win. Alternatives are invited, honored, and explored. Teams committed to one solution can’t adapt as they go.

5.  Leaders lift others. The spotlight points to performance not position in healthy organizations.

6.  People know and respect each other’s strengths. One of the best things you can do for your team is take the Clifton Strengthsfinder and publicly discuss results.

7.  Everyone knows what matters. Boldness requires confidence. Confidence is born in knowledge of and alignment with mission and vision.

 

 

 

 

Monday
Sep252017

Making the best of your job the most of your job!

Making the best of your job the most of your job is a thought from Marcus Buckingham.

Marcus has written two books that have been immensely helpful to lots of people and you will find “Book Notes” on my blog for them:

1.  “Go Put Your Strengths to Work”

2.  “The Truth About You”

If having a job you actually look forward to doing is an issue for you, I recommend that you check out these two books by Marcus Buckingham.


From the study and research I have done over the years on job fit (and people really liking their jobs), the conclusion I have come to is that most people don’t like their jobs. They live for the weekend and dread “blue Monday” when they have to return to work.

It’s so sad to spend a good chunk of your life doing something you are perhaps not very good at and don’t enjoy. I have always enjoyed the truth of Ecclesiastes 5:19: “Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift from God” (NIV).

Work is not punishment for the sin committed by Adam and Eve. Work was assigned to them before the fall. Work is a privilege in order to live out how God has created you and use the gifts he has bestowed on you.

It seems many people never seem to find the best fit. They spend a lot of their time at work on things that weaken rather than strengthen them. My dad was a locksmith most of his life. He confessed on numerous occasions that he was good at it and made a good living for his family, but he never really liked it.

He was not a happy camper most of his working life, but was willing to continue as a locksmith with the hope that he could retire early and do something else. He died at 52 and never got to that something else. I learned a great lesson through observation.

I’d rather do what I am good at and enjoy while making less money than making a lot of money doing what I’d rather not be doing. Since work occupies such a large portion of many people’s lives, it makes sense to get a good handle on who you are and where your greatest and most helpful contribution would be.

The key is to be gift/strength based; not need/money based in my job/career/leadership position choices...

Here are a few practical suggestions:

  1. Begin the process of crafting a purpose statement for yourself. If you email davekraft763@gmail.com - I will send you a document to get you started in this. This will provide a roadmap/blueprint to help you in making good career choices.
  2. Talk to some people who know you well and solicit a list of activities that they feel you are good at.
  3. Read the “Book Notes” for the two Buckingham books mentioned above.
  4. Volunteer in some areas that incorporate the activities you are good at.
  5. Initiate a conversation with your boss on spending more time on the things you are best at and less time on the things you are not. It will be a win for your employer and for you personally.
  6. Pray asking the Lord for his guidance and leadership in this area of your life
  7. If you know you are in the wrong job slot that has little to do with who God made you, don’t be afraid to consider another line of work. Life is too short to be miserable.