Leadership Lessons from the Easter Season

The Unavoidable Example of the Ultimate Leader

The Unavoidable Example of the Ultimate Leader

For many, and for Christians in particular, this is Holy Week. Today is Maundy Thursday. Many will attend a Tenebrae Service tonight. Tomorrow is Good Friday. And Sunday will be Easter.

When you are a blogger it can be sometimes difficult to tackle certain topics. When you are a Christian blogger, it is really a daunting task to write on the subject of Jesus Christ and His leadership. It almost makes that aspect of who He was, seem corporate or secular. But, this week, I feel that I must address it if I am to be true to who I am as a writer and as a person.

The Ultimate Leader

There are many aspects of Jesus’ life that I could point out on any given day. And I don’t begin to know how to prioritize a few of them as we approach Easter morning. But, let me point out one or two for our consideration as we approach the darkness of Good Friday, the quiet of Saturday and the joy of Easter morning.

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Behind Every Great Man

No One Does It Alone

Behind Every Great Man

One of the greatest leaders of all of history is Moses of Biblical fame. Moses is considered a great leader because of the mighty deliverance of God’s people from the bondage and slavery of Egypt.

It is not my normal habit to use too many Biblical illustrations in my writing. But today is Mother’s Day and today I am reminded of Moses and of his mother. Do you recall her name? Don’t go look it up. Try to remember it. Do you give up? The mother of Moses was Jochebed.

The name “Jochebed” translates or implies, “glory of Jehovah” or, “Jehovah (is her or our) glory.” Therefore, you could make the case, based upon this name of the mother of Moses, that the announcement of Jehovah, as the name of God, was not made for the first time when God revealed Himself under that title to Moses in the burning bush. Rather, Jochebed’s name revealed what God himself would later reveal to Moses out in the desert.

What is the leadership lesson on this Mother’s Day?

It is this.

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Is Bigger Always Better?

Or, is it quality over quantity?

Is Bigger Always Better?

I don’t have all of my thoughts completely together on this issue. But I am questioning in my own mind the drive of many organizations toward growth at all costs.

As I stated right off the bat, I don’t have all of my thoughts fully baked. Instead, I may have more questions than I have answers at this point. And I’ll get to those in a moment. But first, I have a few observations. Perhaps the best way for me to illustrate my thoughts is through a personal story.

I have attended church my whole life. I was practically raised in the church and attended every time the door was open. (I am thankful for that, by the way.) I grew up in a series of churches that rarely exceeded 200 in attendance on any given Sunday morning. Most of the churches that I have been fortunate enough to worship in have been under 100 in regular attendance. In fact, my ”favorite” church up to this point was right at 200 in regular attendance. It was my favorite for many reasons. I served on my first church board at that church. We went through a building program, a pastoral search and had many other real and exciting experiences in that church. We were part of a great group of young couples and we were heavily integrated into the life of the church through various avenues of involvement. We knew everybody. Everybody knew us.

By contrast, we had the opportunity to worship in one of the largest churches in the metropolitan Houston area. A church with the stated goal of getting larger through acquisition (my word, not theirs) of smaller churches, through satellite churches operating in theaters, and also through traditional growth and influx. I knew the pastor by name only. I think I knew his wife’s name. I didn’t know his children’s names. He didn’t know me. He didn’t know my children. He wouldn’t even have known I was a member if we ran into each other in the grocery store. If I was to have gotten sick, or been in the hospital, or had a family crisis I wouldn’t have had a clue who to call. The Bible study class that we attended right before we left had about 110 people who attended regularly.

This all sounds like I am complaining or whining and that is not my intent. I am just trying to illustrate a reality in the modern church. I then want to draw some leadership applications from those observations and experiences.

What is the leadership application in this story?

The leadership application is that leaders are not absolved of their basic duties as leaders after an organization reaches a certain size. And if they feel that they cannot be effective after reaching a certain size, decisions must be made that will determine if growth will remain healthy, or become too much weight for a leader to bear?

So, here are some questions that are in my head that will be challenging to leaders in small, medium, and large organizations alike:

Is bigger necessarily better? — It is hard not to hearken to the Siren’s call to get bigger and bigger and bigger.

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Toughest Leadership Role, Ever!

Some Thoughts on an Unheralded Leader

Toughest Leadership Role, Ever!

Consider something for just a moment as we prepare for Christmas this week. Can you imagine a more difficult leadership role than being the earthly father of Jesus Christ? I cannot!

My goal is not to make this article an overtly spiritual one. However, given the Christmas Season and my thoughts at this time of year, some observations and some leadership lessons are unavoidable.

Just who was this man Joseph, the husband of Mary and the adoptive father of Jesus?

We really don’t know a whole lot about him other than what we read in the few places he is mentioned in the New Testament. Traditional Christian narrative and theology state that God chose Joseph to be the earthly father of Jesus. We can read in the Gospel of Matthew, that Joseph was a righteous man. His actions toward Mary, his betrothed wife (fiancé), revealed a great deal about his character. It demonstrates that he was a patient, kind, understanding, and sensitive man. When Mary told Joseph she was pregnant, he had every right to feel disgraced and humiliated. He knew the child was not his.

He had “rights”. Our rights have always been an important thing to us as individuals. Joseph not only had the right to divorce Mary but under Jewish law, she could be put to death.

Joseph’s initial reaction was to break the engagement. This was the culturally and religiously appropriate thing for a righteous man like Joseph to do. However, consistent with his character, he treated Mary with extreme kindness. He did not want to cause her further shame, so he decided to do what needed to be done quietly.

But that is not what happened. Instead, Scripture tells us that God sent an angel to Joseph. It may even have been the same angel that visited Mary to bring her the news that she was going to give birth to Our Lord. This angel verified the same story that Mary had told Joseph and reassured him that his marriage to Mary was still God’s will. In fact, it had been the divine plan all along. It is important not to lose sight of that fact. So, Joseph willingly did as the angel told him, in spite of the public humiliation he would face. Perhaps it was this quality that made him God’s choice for Jesus’ earthly father.

Beyond this and the story of the one time that Jesus was left behind following a pilgrimage to the Temple, the Bible does not reveal much detail about Joseph’s role as a father to Jesus Christ. However, we do know from Matthew 1, that Joseph was an excellent earthly example of integrity and righteousness. We know that Joseph trained Jesus in a very necessary trade of the times — carpentry. It was not glamorous. But, probably no one ever described Joseph in those terms.

Joseph is last mentioned in the Bible when Jesus was 12 years old and they made that annual visit to the Temple in Jerusalem. So really, all we know from written evidence is that Joseph passed on the carpentry trade to Jesus and that he raised him in the Jewish traditions and spiritual observances of the Law.

So, what is the Leadership Lesson here?

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Vision, Foresight, and Observation

Are vision and leadership synonymous?

Vision, Foresight, and Observation

Are “vision” and “foresight” the same thing? Or, more importantly, are they synonymous with “leadership”? Let me say quickly that I do not believe that they are synonymous. Consider this as a follow up to last weeks article about a quote that has been attributed to Henry Ford. In that article I called him a “foresighted innovator.” I equated foresighted innovation with being a leader. So, does that mean that Henry Ford was therefore a man of vision? Does that mean that he was a leader by many of the other accepted leadership definitions?

I find myself reflecting this week on a Bible passage that you may hear occasionally when some other types of leaders wish to address their followers. Personally, I have seen it used when church leaders want to speak to the issue of visionary leadership. Here is that often misquoted (and occasionally misused) scripture.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish”. 

It is found in the Old Testament in Proverbs 29:18. It is used many times from a church pulpit to exhort us to catch the vision that a pastor has seen and to encourage us onward to the destination that has been seen in the vision.

Having vision, communicating a vision, and catching a vision are all vital skills for leaders and followers alike. But I submit to you that there is a BIG difference between being a visionary person and being a leader.

Let me explain my thoughts this way.

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What Sharpens Iron?

What sharpens iron?

What sharpens iron? Every leadership “junkie” has probably been exposed to the Biblical passage from Proverbs that gives us the answer to that very question.

It is iron that sharpens iron. Or at least it is some other substance that is as hard as iron such as a whetstone or grinding wheel. If that is the case, that iron sharpens iron, then what are the implications for you and I as leaders?

We often only look at ourselves as the ones that will be doing the sharpening. But what (or who) is sharpening you? We need to constantly be in contact with something or someone who sharpens our leadership skills.

The first time I was exposed to this concept was many years ago in 1990 when Steven Covey published The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. “Sharpen your saw” is Habit #7. This habit was encouraged so that we take care of ourselves on physical, mental and emotional levels. Only then would we have the “strength” to remain highly effective.

Only the confident and strong leaders will offer themselves to be sharpened by others. In fact,

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Five Fundamentals for Young Leaders

5 Fundamentals for Young Leaders

It is graduation season. In fact, I attended a graduation celebration today for some very impressive young women who are graduating from high school.  And it is Summer Intern season where I work. So, youth and optimism are in the air.

I thought I might take this opportunity to offer up some advice for those making the transition from high school to college, college to career, and ultimately, child to adult.

As a young professional just starting out, you may think you can’t lead because of your youth or short tenure within your new company. I am going to invite you to reconsider that thought.

In fact, youth and short tenure can be assets. Young professionals may not bring years of experience to a company, but they bring optimism, enthusiasm, energy, exuberance, a set of new ideas, and experience with new technologies that others in the company may not have. They also bring a fresh perspective — a new look at old problems.

As a young professional, you can still be a leader even though you may not have yet achieved a position of power. In fact, if you exercise your leadership skills as a young professional, your road to a more desirable position can be much shorter.

Consider if you will these five fundamental things you can do to cultivate and exercise your leadership skills without having positional power:

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What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

What to do when you don't know what to do

What should we do when we don’t know what to do? You know the times I am talking about. Things seem to be coming at you a bit too hard and a bit too fast. Yesterday you thought you had it handled but today things are a bit too much. What do you do when it seems like things aren’t headed in a good direction and something needs to change quick before the situation either explodes or implodes and leaves nothing but pieces in its aftermath?

Many times we find ourselves doing a number of similar things each time things get a bit out of control:

  • Decompress
  • Self-medicate (through drugs, caffeine, nicotine, food, etc)
  • Rest and relaxation
  • Escape
  • Comfort aids (food, drink, music, other)

But are these the right things to do? What happens when we take this approach?

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New Beginnings

New Beginnings

Everyone loves to have a new beginning.

To be sure, we all need new beginnings.

Some come everyday.  Some come during certain seasons in life.

A new beginning is the end of what has come before and starting on the path to what is next.

Spring is a season of new beginnings. After the winter when everything has either died or gone dormant, Spring is the time when things are “reborn”, “revitalized” or “reawakened”.

Spring is when Easter is as well. Easter is the time when we remember and celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He died so that we might have new beginnings. He rose again so that we might have new beginnings. Jesus’ death and resurrection are all about us closing the door on the past sins, failures and dead-ends and receiving His free gift of new life!

Since this is Easter weekend it seems fitting to consider the new beginnings available to us.

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