Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

 

November 5th, 2012

Confession Time

 

Okay…confession time. I’m a bit of a political junky. Why? Well, putting aside the simple explanations like…I’m dysfunctional, have a bizarre sense of what’s entertaining, and I must not have enough to do in life…which I can promise isn’t true, I believe there are some rational reasons.

My dad was an attorney and heavily invested in politics. He actually held some elected offices. It’s a part of who I was nurtured to be.

I’m very interested in leadership…it’s not just a significant part of my ministry responsibility…I’m also a student of it. I’m fascinated by leadership…it’s role in influencing outcomes, determining direction (for good and for bad), bringing dreams to life, and how such uniquely different people with different gifts and personalities can all be equally great leaders.

The fact that God, for reasons that sometimes defies our ability to figure out, has always chosen to work through human leaders in accomplishing His purposes on this planet.

And, the list could go on…but, since I sense you’re already bored, I’ll force myself to stop now.

But, here’s my point…if I’m not careful, I can allow my interest to turn into obsession. So, for sanity and the sake of wisdom, I have to consciously force myself to not get carried away.

When it comes to political elections, like the one we’re facing on Tuesday, I believe it’s wise for me to understand the vision and values that the different candidates embrace, their apparent capacities to lead their vision and values into reality, and whether they have a proven character to actually do or attempt to do what they are promising. And, then I do what I can do. I vote.

But then, though it’s very hard for me, I have to leave it in the hands of God. After all, He’s in control. I’m not. And, He’ll be in control whether the person I pull the lever for wins or not. It’s my job then…to trust Him…and to pray for whoever wins. (Checkout 1 Timothy 2:1-1 and Proverbs 3:5-6).

Why am I sharing this? Well, first, if I’m honest, because I couldn’t sleep. But, secondly, because I think some of you have the same problem I have. Because I think some of you may be over anxious, a little or a lot stressed, and probably…obsessed. Am I right?

If not, you stopped reading this long before now. But, if so…here’s my advice. Do what you can and then…let it go. Do what you can and then…trust God. And, when it’s over, if you’re vote was cast for the winner, don’t gloat. Pray. And, if you’re vote was cast for the loser, don’t get depressed. Pray.

Remember…no matter what happens on Tuesday…if you’re a believer, your King will still be on the throne.

Okay…now it’s time for me to read this and try to follow my own advice. :)

 

December 2nd, 2010

Invisible Pathway

 

Wow…this passage lit me up big time this morning.

“Your path led through the sea,your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron,” Psalm 77:19-20.

This is all about the great exodus of God’s people from Egypt. In Exodus 14, we discover that God specifically led His people into an impossible circumstance. From a human standpoint, it was the worst leadership possible. He, through Moses, led them to a place of certain disaster…destruction. And, the people responded appropriately to this sorry leadership. They dogged Moses and God. Though it was a bit late, they wanted different leadership. They wanted out.

There’s only one problem with their response. It forgot to take into account that God ALWAYS KNOWS WHAT HE’S DOING AND CAN ALWAYS BE TRUSTED. As the Psalm above notes, God led them there because He had designed a pathway that was invisible to His people…but real none-the-less. It was the perfect pathway.

And, as you can read in Exodus 14, Moses, though He couldn’t see the pathway, knew and trusted God. In verse 13, He says to the complaining crowd…don’t be afraid…watch our God, the God of the impossible and invisible, do His AMAZING WORK. And, God opened up the invisible pathway by parting the Red Sea.

What a God! Yes. But, think of Moses. Because He genuinely knew God, He trusted, even when He couldn’t see the pathway, that God knew what He was doing. And, the result? He made a profound difference. He lived a life of significance. He was a leader worthy of following.

As for me…though I’m a great distance behind Moses…I want to be like Him. I want to know God so well that I am willing to follow Him into the impossible…I am willing to step off an obvious cliff when I know He’s leading…because I know that He sees the INVISIBLE PATHWAY that I don’t see. I want to make a difference, live a life of significance, and be a leader worth following. But, to do it…I have to trust God enough to walk the invisible pathway.

Come on…let’s follow God into the impossible and then through the Red Sea together. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.

 

September 11th, 2010

Eternity is On the Line

 

This past week, I had the privilege of sharing a “game changing” experience with thousands of leaders through a Leadership Network Video Event called “The Nines.” I thought it would be worth sharing with you here. Let me know your thoughts or how it impacts you.

 
 

My time in Nigeria is now a memory, but it’s impact, on me personally and the thousands of leaders we had the privilege of teaching and challenging, continues.

One of the memories I will long cherish is the opportunity I had to spend with Pastor William Okoye.

He is the pastor of a very large, impacting, and influential church in Abujah, Nigeria. For nine years, he was the Chaplain to the President of Nigeria. Because of his commitment to unwavering integrity in a political environment more known for compromise, he won the admiration and respect of pastors and spiritual leaders from every spiritual background and denominational heritage. Now, he is seeking to use that influence to bring new life to the churches of Nigeria and ultimately profound change to the people, culture, and condition of his nation.

It was because of his leadership vision and influence that I had the privilege of sharing God’s truth and my passion for the church with so many leaders. It was both a pleasure and privilege to spend so much time with him over the past couple of weeks and even more to now count him as a friend.

Upon returning home, I received this letter from him.

Dear Brad,

So very appreciative of your unquantifiable sacrifice in coming to Nigeria to train Christian leaders in four major cities; Lagos,Port Harcourt,Owerri and Abuja. You were selfless and almost preached yourself to exhaustion.

Your revolutionary teachings on change made indeliable impact on all of us, including mainline denominations. (There are good reports in this respect).

Thank you also for giving us the right to reprint your book, without demanding any royalty on it. Thank you for your partnership, as we look forward to a changed Nigeria as a result.

Blessing.

William Okoye

Though I am the one who owes him gratitude and should be reaching out to encourage him in his courageous leadership, he wrote as an expression of gratitude and encouragement to me. As in all of his leadership, again here he reveals the character of a great leader. Great leaders are always grateful and encouraging. He truly is a great leader.

I pray my leadership will reflect the same kind of consistent and uncompromising character that he embodies and that I will impact other leaders as he has me and thousands of others in Nigeria.

 

March 27th, 2010

God Sees Me

 

Just went through all the names of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Though it was a meaningful exercise in its entirety, I found myself really drawn in and moved by one title for the Father in particular – “the One who sees me.”

Of course, this is a truth that I know and have reflected on and taught a lot through the years. It’s one of the truths that makes Psalm 139 so meaningful and impacting to me. But, today, it just stuck out.

God SEES me.  This is so valuable to me. After all, if I’m honest, I love the feeling of being seen. I always have. I remember as a kid loving the feeling of looking up in the stands while playing basketball and knowing that my parents were watching. When they weren’t, I would purposely work harder to do something that would catch their eye. I wanted them to keep their eyes on me. I loved the feeling that came with knowing that they were seeing me. Of course, this usually caused me to mess up. I’d try to do something beyond my abilities or I wouldn’t be a team player.  What started with the desire to be seen ended in wishing I could run away or disappear.

Sadly, there are times in my life and leadership when I find myself doing the same thing with God. You know, trying to do something spectacular to get His attention. In those moments, I’m feeling like He’s not seeing me. And, in those moments, I usually try to do something beyond my ability or outside of my calling. These moments almost always result in regret. But, when it comes to God, these kinds of feelings are always wrong and this kind of behavior is never necessary.

The truth is that I don’t have to do anything spectacular to get God’s attention. God never takes His eyes off me. He SEES me. I never have to feel like my dreams aren’t being realized or my passion to help more people isn’t coming to fruition because He’s forgotten about me. He hasn’t. He can’t. At all times and in all places, He sees me.  There is never a moment that He loses sight of me. He knows where I am and what I’m doing.

What a relief. I never have to strive to get His attention. My striving needs to be simply to please Him. If I’m faithful in living to please God, He will open all the doors and give me all the opportunities that fit into His will and Kingdom purposes. No matter what does or doesn’t happen, I can always be assured that He hasn’t forgotten or failed me.  And, just as important to remember, He knows what He’s doing.

When I find myself striving for His attention, I have found that there’s a bigger problem. In those cases, my problem is that I don’t trust Him. Or, I am not finding my value in Him seeing me and/or being pleased with me. Or, I don’t care as much about His will and Kingdom as I do my own will and Kingdom. Of course, all of these are significant problems. I might as well build me a couple of golden calves like Jeroboam did in 1 Kings 12:25-30.

Lord, when I strive to do something spectacular in order to “feel seen”, forgive me. Help me to be satisfied striving to please you in whatever role you call me to. If you want me standing behind others who you’re lifting up, help me to be good with that and to stand and support them humbly and graciously. If you want me standing beside others that you’re lifting up, help me to be good with that and to stand and support them humbly and graciously. If you want to lift me up so that I’m standing in front of others, help me to be good with that and to do it humbly and graciously.

Lord, help me to be satisfied with this truth…You see me.

Just curious, can any of you relate?

 
 

In both the Old and New Testaments, there were seasons when the majority of those who claimed allegiance to God and His truth had actually replaced Him with other things. This was clearly seen by the rejection of God’s prophets and ultimately Jesus Himself. They were rejected, not just by outsiders, but by insiders. And, as Jesus promised, this happened to those seeking to genuinely follow Him in the early days of the church and it continues to happen today.

This happens because people, without realizing it, slowly begin to commit themselves to the forms of faith rather than the life changing reality of faith. Though far more subtle and less dramatic, it’s no different in its consequence than those who rejected Jesus while He was on earth. This is why Paul warned us about this danger and to stay away from people like this in 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

It’s important to note that the terrible days are not the result of people having these selfish characteristics. This is what unredeemed people have always been like by nature. The warning Paul is giving is that these characteristics will become representative of those who profess to be followers of Christ and His truth. They will have a “form of godliness” but will be “denying its power.”

How does this happen? The same way it’s always happened. While declaring allegiance to Him and His truth, they shut Him out of their lives. They make a commitment to…

-Their traditions over His truth (Matthew 15:1-3)

-Past experiences of Him over present experiences with Him (Philippians 3:12-14)

-Trying to defend what they have over trying to take new ground (Matthew 16:18)

-Living for duty rather than for love and desire (2 Corinthians 5:14)

-The church as a place rather than as God’s people following Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10)

-Their church culture, structure and strategy over God’s mission (Matthew 28:19-20)

-Talking the talk rather than walking the walk (1 Corinthians 4:20)

Here’s the reality of our world today: most of our churches aren’t creating a revolution of light and love because they’ve replaced Jesus for their routines. They have chosen the “form of godliness” over “it’s power.”  Of course, this was the problem in many of the seven churches of the Revelation. So, Jesus shouted out in Revelation 3:20, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

I believe He’s shouting the same thing today to His Church. The questions is: will we hear His knock and open the door…or NOT?  How about you?

 

March 2nd, 2010

Revolutionizing the Church

 

If we’re going to fulfill the mission that Jesus gave us as the church, we must become revolutionaries and start a worldwide revolution by revolutionizing the church.

The world is changing…exponentially. It’s moving further and further away from what it really needs…God, truth, forgiveness, purpose, and hope. In a word, it needs redemption. But, in order for the people in and of this world to find what they need, those who have it must wake them up to it. And, therein lies the problem.

A world that is going through revolutionary changes can’t be reached, convinced, or woken up by a church where everything remains the same. Of course, I’m not talking about the truth itself. Truth never changes. But, I am talking about the way the church engages the world with the truth. To wake up a world going through revolutionary changes requires that the church is revolutionary itself.

While I know this sounds foreign to a lot of Christians and church leaders, the reality is that this is exactly what God has called us to be and do. In fact, it should come naturally for genuine Christ followers because…Jesus was a revolutionary.

A simple reading of the Sermon on the Mount makes this clear. He entered a world that was turned inward and focused on keeping God and His promises for the few. He started a revolution that turned God’s people outward and focused on sharing God and His promises with the many. He entered a world that viewed power and prosperity as a means of being served. He started a revolution that viewed them as a means of serving others.

Of course, the early church followed in Jesus’ footsteps. It became a revolutionary force focused outward and bent on serving others. This picture is beautifully painted in Acts 2:41-47.

Sadly, the majority of those who claimed to be “God’s people” rejected the revolution of Jesus and the early church. They preferred keeping God and His promises to themselves. They chose to see God as being in the world to serve them rather than them in the world to serve Him and those He loved. As a result, they put Jesus on a cross and persecuted His Church.  They did this because they had lost God in the predictability of their practices. Over time, their traditions had replaced God and His truth. Jesus made this clear in Matthew 15:1-3.

Though we are 2000 years removed from these events, we have to realize that the same thing is going on today. Many of those who claim to be “Christ followers” have lost Jesus in the predictability of their practices. They have turned inward and see their faith as being for the few. They are seeking to keep the church serving their interests and preferences rather than making sure that it is serving God’s purposes.

What the church today needs is what Jesus came to bring…a revolution. (In my next post, I’ll address more of what this looks like.)

Thoughts?

 

January 28th, 2010

No Surprises

 

In leadership, as in life, there really aren’t any surprises. As God makes clear in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

Yes, there are surprises in the details. We can be surprised by the specifics of who, when, where, what, and how of what happens. But, if we understand people and the reality of life and leadership from a big picture perspective, we will never be surprised that certain things happen with regularity. In fact, we should always be living and leading in full expectation that these predictable things will happen.

For example, Jesus made it clear that “trouble” will happen in our lives and leadership, (John 16:33). It’s a predictable certainty, and we can and should expect it. However, He also told us that we could be “of good cheer” when it does because He has overcome it and, in Him, so can we. Through Paul and James, He also made it clear that God uses the predictable “trouble” we’ll face to shape our lives and to bring about ultimate good.

Now, for the “so what?!” From my experience, I’ve learned that there are three things we can always expect in life and leadership. In reality, I’ve found that they form the template for what we should expect.

  • Crisis – events or circumstances will erupt that have the potential to deter, damage, or even destroy us
  • Challenge – we will face new obstacles and roadblocks to our vision, purpose, values, and goals
  • Change – successfully dealing with crisis and challenge demands, not only embracing change, but that we intentionally create appropriate change

When we understand the predictable certainty that these three things will play in both our lives and leadership, it gives us a huge advantage. We will be ready and prepared for them. We won’t be thrown off course or stride but we will be able to adjust appropriately in order to stay on mission. Though the specifics involved in these areas have the potential to cause pain and grief, knowing that they are inevitable realities can help us to live and lead well through them.

I’m curious, what would you add to my thoughts and/or list of predictable certainties?

 

January 26th, 2010

Leadership Lessons from 2009

 

I strongly believe the following life and leadership maxim. When we stop growing, we stop genuinely living and leading. So, this year, as with every year, I’m trying to grow forward by taking the time to learn from last year.

Here are some of the lessons that I’ve drawn out of my leadership failures and successes in 2009.

  • We can do all the same things in all the same ways but, if we lose our passion, they’re not the same things being done in the same ways. They lose their impact.
  • Because people, circumstances, and the world around me are dynamic, I need to keep changing if my leadership is going to remain effective and impacting.
  • I need to stay fully engaged in my leadership or the tide of need and change will get ahead of my ability to see and effectively lead through it.
  • If there is no change, there is no leadership. Therefore, no matter how much change I’ve already led through, as long as I am privileged to lead, I must keep doing the hard work of leading change.
  • To lead a continually growing and impacting ministry demands that I develop more and more leaders to do what I was once able to do alone.

Of course, identifying these lessons was the easy part. Now, it’s time to apply them. My prayer is that I learn and apply this year’s lessons so well that next year I’ll have to learn all new lessons. Now that would be a great year.

I’d love your thoughts and comments on my lessons, but, even more, I’d love to hear yours.

 

January 12th, 2010

Review & Refocus

 

As we begin a new year, if you’re a leader, I want to encourage you to review last year and refocus your leadership this year in two ways… not just one.

First, in your personal life. Effective leadership requires effective living, which requires good SELF-leadership. To realize our full potential, we have to discover, develop, and discipline ourselves to live out the right vision, purpose, values, and strategy for our lives. No easy task. (As a believer, I thank God that He has given us everything we need for this process in His Word and by His Spirit.) Practice good self-leadership.

Second, in your leadership of others.  Effective leadership is all about moving a group of individuals forward toward a worthwhile vision. Of course, the difference is found in its increased difficulty. As we all know from our personal experiences and failures, good self-leadership is VERY difficult. When you add a group of people together, it multiplies the difficulties. This helps to  explain why leadership is so hard and so few are truly effective at it. It also sheds light on the  old saying “speed of the leader, speed of the team.” After all, if an individual isn’t effectively practicing self-leadership, there is no way that they will be able to effectively lead others over the long haul.

First, practice good self-leadership. Then, focus on your leadership of others. Because without the first, the second will always fall short.

I’d love to hear any thoughts or expanded ideas you have on my line of thinking. I’d also love to know if and how you approached these two practices this year.

Happy New Year!