What Every Leader Needs to Succeed

It’s one thing to lead people or a team. It’s another thing to lead leaders. What do you do if you’re in charge of an organization and have developing leaders who answer to you? It’s the difference between leading people directly and leading through others. And often those leaders have great potential and are in the process of development.

One thing that is helpful to me is to see examples of this in scripture. Jesus, for example, did more than lead disciples. He developed them to lead others as He prepared them to advance His kingdom.

Another great example is the way the Lord prepared Joshua to advance into the Promised Land. After 40-plus years of floundering and wandering, it was time for a new day. But before the Lord prepared the nation, He prepared the leader!

In the Lord’s instructions to Joshua, He addressed issues every leader needs to succeed. Some of those issues are personal; others are organizational. Take a look:

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It’s been more than 40 years, but the scene hasn’t changed all that much.  Downhill run, dirt road, just north of the family farm.  Back in the day I was driving my Granddaddy’s pickup and my grandmother was in the passenger seat. I don’t remember the occasion, but most likely we had taken Lucy or Dot or some other domestic help back to their house, and we were headed back.

Just as I cruised down the dirt road, flexing my pride in the manly art of driving, the pickup slipped off the road into a shallow little ditch.

“Ditch” is too harsh a word.  More like a little soft trough where rain water would gently ease down the hill. Really wasn’t that big a deal.

“Oh, no, we’re stuck,” Grandmother said immediately.

Ridiculous!  It wasn’t deep, we were doing downhill, and all I had to do was give it a little gas, turn the wheel, and…

Well crud.  We were stuck. [click to continue…]

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Navigating the turbulence and cross-winds, whether in life, work, or play, means mastering the art of the pivot.

To pivot is to change directions quickly in response to a new set of circumstances.

New opportunity? Pivot.

Setback?  Pivot.

The beauty of the pivot is that those do it well make it look as though it were completely planned all along. [click to continue…]

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Making the right choice

It’s been a couple of years now since I repented of New Year’s resolutions.  I knew it was time when somebody asked me about mine a few years ago and I said, “Oh, you know, the usual.”

(Totally irrelevant side note:  Wouldn’t be funny to go into a gym today or tomorrow and find some dude who’s built like a tank and who looks like he’s lifting one and say to him as those muscles rip through his shirt – “Ya’ know, those New Year’s resolutions never really work.”  Anyway…)

That’s why when somebody introduced me to Mike Ashcroft’s idea and book a few years ago it really hit a nerve.  The idea is very simple:  Build your year around one simple word – one theme that describes who or where you want to be at the end of the year.  What amazes me is how easy it is to land on a theme based on what I call my descants of the soul – the themes that seem to be repeating themselves in my life recently.

In 2011, my one word was Finish!  I didn’t finish a lot, but it was exciting to think about.  Lean was the word in 2013.   And my one word for 2014 was One.  Both have been helpful in shaping my thinking and focus for the year.

This one is different.  It’s more of a call to action, and frankly, a part of me doesn’t like it.  I’ve reached a point in my life where a significant part of me is screaming out for quiet, simplicity, retreat, and life on the porch.

Not time for that yet. [click to continue…]

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(Part 1)

Abandoned Boat

There come those times in the life of every Christ follower when we are faced with a set of choices.  These aren’t salvation issues – far from it. But they are faith issues.  Growth issues.  Issues of maturity and usefulness and power.

One of those choices has to do with your strengths, or areas of confidence.  It has to do with whether you will acknowledge that even in the places where you’re an outright genius, God may have a better idea.  That maybe – just maybe – He’s even smarter than you are.

Another has to do with just the opposite – your areas of fear or insecurity.  Will you be willing to leave the predictable, the safe, and the orderly to do something completely unprecedented if Jesus calls you there?  Even if the people closest to you are telling you you’re a complete fool?

Still another has to do with having courage in the wake of failure.  Will you believe the testimony of grace that Jesus declares over you, or will you give failure the final say in your life?

It all comes down, friends, to what you do with your boat. [click to continue…]

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I will sing a new song to You, O God;
Upon a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You,
Who gives salvation to kings,
Who rescues David His servant from the evil sword.

This comes from a victory song.

David celebrates victories he’s won to this point.

What now? [click to continue…]

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pha112000020I’m a big believer in cross training – especially since no less than Solomon said that “a wise man will hear and increase in learning.”  Under the banner of “all truth is God’s truth,” I make my living helping people find truth and wisdom in places where they may not otherwise look. That starts with scripture, of course. But even scripture sometimes points us to learning from other sources.  Check this out:

Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise… (Proverbs 6:6).

So in the spirit of being teachable, I have previously suggested that there are things you can learn from an orange salesman,  a party crasher, a baseball franchise, a ghost house, and a fired CEO.

Today’s teacher is a little less dramatic and a lot more in line with Solomon’s insect example.  [click to continue…]

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Yacht TeamI’m a huge believer that the quality of your life and leadership is the direct result of the quality of the questions you ask. Ask good questions, you get good answers and good direction. Ask lame questions, you get lame directions. Ask no questions at all, and you’ll soon be the blind bleeding the blind.

Here are seven daily questions any leader, parent, or achiever can ask quickly to zero in on the most effective use of your time and life. Answering any three daily can quickly shape your day and your influence.  Aligning the answers to all seven daily can revolutionize it.

This little collection uses the classic “five W’s and an H – who what, when where, why and how – with an added little bonus – an “if” question. [click to continue…]

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“You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.” – Yogi Berra

 Had a blast from my past yesterday.  I returned to the scene of one of my greatest personal undertakings, which I wrote about here.    And it was an interesting reunion.

Twenty years ago, flush with vision and excitement, I began a project that many people refer to today as their Bucket List.  I took three pieces of paper and began three lists – 100 Things I Would Like to Be, Do, and Have.  Now 20 years later, it felt good to see some of the things that had been achieved.  Earning a Ph.D. was one of those.  Becoming a grandfather was another.

I also found things on the lists that still had value to me, but had yet to be fulfilled.  Places to go.  Things to accomplish.  Roles to embrace.

In between was a lot of fluff, trivia, and some disappointments.  If I intended to do anything with the lists anymore, it was definitely time for an overhaul.  Some things needed to be punted.  (Example:  I had listed about nine different master’s degrees.  Hey… it was a phase.)  Some things needed to be written off as a bust (no more dreams of Rogaine or the Hair Club for Men).  And some things were valid, but needed serious reworking.

Most importantly, over the last 20 years, my horizon has changed in major ways.  What was important – heck what was possible back then – has changed dramatically.

In the process of some major course correction and target adjustments, I’ve learned some things about how to recognize goals that need reevaluating or reshaping.  Take a look at where you are headed in light of these warning signs: [click to continue…]

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How do you gauge success?

Does being a Christian or being in ministry change that somehow?

I don’t know anybody who gets up in the morning and prays, “Oh God, make me a failure!”  But there have been many times when I and many others have used bad gauges to measure it.  Here are the three most common:

1.  Do I feel good?  Was the service pleasurable?  Do I feel encouraged, energized, healed or empowered?  Do I feel loved, important, or attended to?  Do I feel the pleasure of other people or God’s pleasure?

2.  Did I see something good?  In church world that is measured by the countable things like noses and dollars and building funds.  In the Christian business world, the same thing is true – it’s about profits and losses and tangible contributions to the community.

3.  Do I feel good about myself?  Do I feel affirmed?  Do I look good?  Did people tell me I performed well?  Did someone thank me or praise me or ask for my help?

So what’s wrong with any of that?

Absolutely nothing. [click to continue…]

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