Entries by Dave Kraft (1015)


12 key traits of leadership from John Maxwell:

One of my most favorite and most quoteable Leadership gurus is John Maxwell. Here are "Twelve Key Traits of Leadership from John!

I'm not sure what translations are being used for the verses.


—The ability to persuade people to work together for a  greater goal.

“Whoever works to do good will find love and loyalty. It is a mistake to work

at doing evil.” (Proverbs 14:22)


—Being truthful by living in a way where your actions and  words match.

“People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will be

exposed.” (Proverbs 10:9)


—A feeling expressed by behavior.

“Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding.”

(Proverbs 3:13)


—An aspiration, a goal, or an idea that guides your life.

“Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to

poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5)


—The ability to control your feelings and actions.

“A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.”

(Proverbs 25:28)


—Knowing the best time to take action.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own

understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to

take.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)


—Adding value to people and putting them first.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (Proverbs 22:6)


— Taking positive action.

“A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes

blindly on and su‑ers the consequences.” (Proverbs 27:12)


—Connecting with people in a way that clearly brings

them to understanding.

“From a wise mind comes wise speech; the words of the wise are persuasive.”

(Proverbs 16:23)


—The ability to make and keep commitments.

“Don’t excuse yourself by saying, ‘Look, we didn’t know.’ For God understands all

hearts, and he sees you.” (Proverbs 24:12a)


—Determining how to best spend your time.

“How much better to get wisdom than gold, and good judgment than silver!”

(Proverbs 16:16)


—A process that continues daily, requiring focus, intentionality,

and a sense of purpose.

“Only a fool despises a parent’s discipline; whoever learns from correction is

wise.” (Proverbs 15:5)




Discipline or legalism? What's the difference and what difference does it make?

I can’t think of a topic that has caused more harm and more stunted growth in the lives of Christ followers than the confusion and controversy that exists over the subject of personal discipline: How it relates to grace and how it differs from legalism.

This volatile issue caused no end of debate in Paul’s letters to local churches and church leaders, and was also a topic that often came up in Jesus’ discourse with the religious leaders. We still continue to argue about it and discuss it today.

The value of personal discipline is clearly and unequivocally stated in I Timothy 4:7 (ESV):  “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. rather train yourself for godliness”   (Emphasis mine)

Some translations render the word “train” as discipline.

We find the same concept in I Corinthians 9:24-27 (ESV):

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others, I myself should be disqualified.”  (Emphasis mine)

The word translated train/discipline in 1 Timothy 4:7 is the word Gumnazo (from which we get our word gymnasium). The word carries with it the idea of exercising to train the body or mind with a view toward godliness.

It’s referring to the Greek athletes engaging in athletic exercises in the gymnasium as they got ready for competition, and (according to Strong’s Concordance) literally means to “practice naked in the games.” Sort of like the stripping down advocated in Hebrews 12:1.

The book of Proverbs is loaded with advice on personal discipline as a key to a God-pleasing life. Here is one example:

 “People who accept discipline are on the pathway to life, but those who ignore correction will go astray.” Proverb 10:17 (NLT)

The Message renders Proverb 10:17 as: “The road to life is a disciplined life; ignore correction and you’re lost for good.”

I have come to the conclusion that being self-controlled and disciplined in a number of key areas of life are critical for long-lasting and effective leadership.

Among other things it means being disciplined with my:

  • Time/schedule
  • Eyes and thought life
  • Tongue
  • Possessions/money (neither overly frugal nor overly materialistic)
  • Exercise
  • Eating
  • Sleep
  • Time alone with the Lord

Many of us admire accomplished athletes and musicians and often muse that we would like to be like them.

Oh, I wish I could_______ like________ 

Are you willing to train and discipline yourself like_______ does? If not, forget ________like he/she does. (fill in the blank with your most admired star)

And so it goes in every area of life. Excellence comes not from wishing hard but from working hard and disciplining yourself in key areas of life as you lean into and trust the power of the Holy Spirit who resides in you to give you both desire and diligence.

(As Philippians 2:13 suggests )

Discipline is encouraged in scripture, and legalism is discouraged. Jesus and Paul had some of their toughest battles with legalists, as recorded in the gospel and in Paul’s letters.

Can commendable discipline degenerate into damnable legalism? Of course it can!  Is all discipline legalistic? Of course it isn’t! 

How do you know when good discipline lapses into bad legalism.


  • Joy is replaced by fear
  • We don’t allow divine intervention and interruption in our habits/routines
  • Form replaces freedom
  • The motivation is to try to win God’s love and acceptance; not understanding that we are already loved and accepted because of the finished work of Jesus on the cross
  • We loose sight of the why behind the how and the what
  • When methods get enthroned and principles get forgotten
  • Someone turns a non-biblical method they practice into a biblical mandate for others

 “Every year I speak at Baylor University and I tell the students, ‘You will never have success in your personal life, your spiritual life, your physical life or your emotional life unless you are disciplined. The philosophy if it feels good do it will destroy us as individuals and it will destroy us as a nation.’” Mrs. Kenneth Cooper


One of the tools in the enemy’s toolbox is to confuse our thinking about discipline and legalism so that we push back on being disciplined in various areas of life because we don’t want to become, or be called, legalistic. We have bought into a lie that is keeping us from experiencing all God wants us to experience in our walk and work.

It’s like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Would I stop eating because some abuse food? Would I stop using money because some abuse the use of money?  Would I stop eating chocolate because some eat too much chocolate?  Okay, I threw that one in to make sure you were paying attention, and also because my daughter, Sara, gave me a plaque for father’s day that now sits on my desk: “I’d give up chocolate, but I’m not a quitter!

Love to hear from you on discipline verses legalism! 



Three problems with being "Too Nice" as a leader!

Is it possible for a leader to be “Too Nice” and thereby hurt people as well as the church or organization?

Ron Edmondson thinks so, and gives us three reasons why it's not the healthy or right thing to be.

Originally posted by Ron Edmondson

I remember talking with a leader not long ago. She’s an incredibly kind and gentle person. She’s smart, hard-working, and loyal. She’s a relational leader and usually brings out the best in people, so she’s had success in leadership. At the time of our conversation she was experiencing problems in a new position and asked for my help.

In talking through the specific situation, it quickly became obvious she had one weakness and it was effecting her entire team. It’s a common weakness among leaders. At times, most of us will struggle in this area.

Her weakness?

She was being too nice!

I realize this doesn’t sound like it could ever be a weakness. And, it has made her well-liked in the organization. She’s incredibly popular. And, she likes that. But, it also had made her team less successful than it could have been. And, thankfully, she recognized it, but wasn’t sure how to fix it.

A few team members were taking advantage of her niceness by under-performing in their role. She hadn’t challenged the problems, even though she knew she should. She was losing sleep over it, but didn’t know what to do. The relational leadership in her, which is a positive about her leadership style, was not working for these team members.

Perhaps you’ve seen this before in an organization. Maybe you’ve been on either side of this issue. If this is your situation, you have probably even thought or said things such as, “I gave them an inch and they took a mile.” 

I am not suggesting one become a mean leader. It would be wrong. It certainly wouldn’t be Biblical leadership. I am suggesting one become a wise leader. Wisdom learns to guide people in the direction which is best for them, the leader, and the entire team or organization.

In this situation, I advised my friend to take off her “nice hat”, at least temporarily, to address the few people causing the majority of the problems which were impacting the entire team. As hard as I know it would seem at first, in the end it would be a blessing for the entire team – and my leader friend.

I have learned people accept the what better if they first understand the why – so then I shared with her why I feel her default niceness is causing current problems for the team.

Here are 3 problems with being too nice as a leader:

1.  It’s bad for the leader

The leader ends up stressing over the wrong things. Instead of focusing on the big picture, the leader is focused on a few problems with usually only a few people. The leader feels unsuccessful, even like a failure at times, as the team achieves less than desired results.

2.  It’s bad for the organization

The team suffers because a few people mess up the system and progress for everyone else. Those on the team who wish to do the right thing lose respect for the leader. Others will follow the example of those taking advantage of the leader and lower their own performance standards. The organization loses.

3.  It’s bad for the person taking advantage of the leader’s niceness

 Enabling bad behavior is never good for the under-performing team member. It keeps him or her from identifying their full potential and from realizing personal success. They may be a superstar if they were given structure and held accountable to complete their work. And, they may never improve. Sometimes the best thing you can do for a person – certainly the team – is help them move on to something new.

And, for those still struggling with my concept here, let me give a more sobering example. I understand this is extreme, but it is the same principle. We have friends who’s adult son got into a serious drug problem. He’s now recovering, but the parents and child would tell you the answer came only when they decided to demonstrate tough love, not enable him, and literally refuse to bail him out again.

Again, extreme example, but sometimes being “too nice” is not the best way to love others.

“To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction.” Proverbs 12:1 

Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone is to challenge them. 

For the continuation of this post, go to  Ron Edmondson.


Honestly, are you overwhelmed, over-capacity and over-committed?


Hardly a week goes by without me having a personal conversation, or an email discussion, with a leader who feels like he’s lying on the beach getting hit in the face with wave after wave, never being able to catch his breath.  Busy has become tired, has become exhaustion, has become “I’m not sure I can keep doing this for very much longer.” 

If we paced ourselves better, would we need to take a month to three months every few years to recuperate?

In some of these conversations, I’ve mentioned a new book coming out in late September with the title “Crazy Busy” by Kevin De Young. You know something is not quite right when an author can write a whole book on this subject. Obviously the author and the publisher believe this will resonate with a lot of people, in general, and with leaders, in particular.

Many of us are super freaking busy, slammed most of the time and chasing our own tail in the traffic of life and there doesn’t seem to be any letup in sight. We are in the cage with the rats and it’s spinning faster and faster. We are on the merry-go-round and it’s going at such a speed that jumping off can get us seriously hurt!

Here are ten things that (by His grace) I try to keep in mind and practice regularly to avoid become a casualty:

  1. Plan each day with margin instead of filling each day so full that there is hardly white space anywhere on the page.
  2. Continually ask myself, what are the most important things I should be working on right now?
  3. Practice saying no to lots of things so I can say yes to a few things.
  4. Stop feeling like I have to apologize, explain or feel guilty for telling somebody no to a request.
  5. Keep my purpose and vision in mind as a filter, blueprint and guideline in deciding what to do or not do.
  6. Ask when somebody needs an answer in order to buy time to think, pray and consult with others before making a commitment to do something or be somewhere.
  7. Ask others for help with the things that I am not especially good at or like to do. I know it sounds strange that there may be people who love to do what I hate to do, but it is nonetheless true.
  8. Remember that He is “Lord of the harvest” ~Matthew 9:38~ (the end results) and I’m not. Taking on that role will wear me down and wear me out faster than anything else I know.
  9. Create finish lines for each day when I will intentionally shut down my computer and power off my cell phone and only do those things that will replenish, refill, relax and refurbish my soul. All work and no play may not only make Jack a dull boy but a dead boy if not careful.
  10. Keep in mind that the need is not the call and that there is a difference between what I’m concerned about and what I’m responsible for. I can be concerned about an issue without assuming personal responsibility to do anything about it. I am concerned about taxes, hunger, poverty, orphans and war, but have no plans to personally attack any of these issues and make these issues a part of what I give substantial amounts of time, energy or money toward (whereas others might).

I don’t have the emotional, physical or mental capacity to get involved in every concern or issue I am aware of, but need to focus on my vision, calling and gifts. I need wisdom and courage to stay focused on a few things and not spread myself too thin, becoming perennially sick and exhausted and not being of much good to Jesus or anyone else.


Ten things pastors can do to become "Good Bosses." 

A few days ago I posted an article by Thom Rainer on ten things pastors do to become “Bad Bosses.”

If that discouraged you bit, and you were ready to hand in your “Boss Badge,” here are ten things that pastors can do to become “Good Bosses;" if you are willing to work at it as you are led by Him, empowered by Him and seek to honor Him!

Originally posted by Thom Rainer

“There is no other person I would rather work for.”

“I enjoy my work and ministry so much, and the biggest reason is I serve under an incredible pastor.”

“My pastor rocks.”

Those are some of the laudatory comments we heard from church staff persons who serve under excellent pastors. In my previous post, I shared the top ten ways pastors can be bad bosses. In this article, I look at the positive perspective.

Here are the most frequent comments we heard from church staff. These are ten ways pastors can be great bosses.

1.  Cast a clear vision and path. “You have no doubt where he is leading our church and us. He is clear, articulate, and his vision is compelling.”

2.  Support other ministries. “As a children’s minister, I have served in churches where the pastor never says anything about our area. My pastor, though, is always lifting up my ministry and other ministries.”

3.  Create a fun atmosphere. “Those who serve on staff in local churches face many serious and challenging issues. I love the way our pastor encourages us to have fun and enjoy our work. I love the way he jokes around with us.”

4.  Provide a good role model and example. “Whether it’s work ethic or character issues, my pastor serves as an excellent role model. Even when I disagree with him, I never question his integrity or commitment.”

5.  Be decisive. “This pastor is the first I ever served under who does not hesitate to make a decision, even if it’s a tough decision. We are never left wondering if or when something will happen.”

6.  Include other staff as part of the team. “We have different responsibilities and ministries among our staff, but our pastor makes certain we see the big picture. He really helps us to feel like we are part of the team.”

7.  Have the back of your staff. “I knew what kind of boss I had the first time a cantankerous church member read him the riot act about me. My pastor let the church member know he supported me and respected me. I will never forget that.”

8.  Listen well. “He is really a rare leader. You know when you go to talk to him about something you have his full attention. He not only listens, he responds very well.”

9.  Support the staff member’s family. “I don’t know how he found out about our financial struggles. But my husband and I cried openly when he quietly gave us a check from funds he had collected from church members. I suspect he contributed a lot himself.”

10.  Communicate frequently and clearly. “Most leaders, pastors included, never communicate enough. That is not the case with my boss. We are always in the know. He actually worries about over-communication. I love it!”