An Open Invitation to Grow {Free opportunity to deepen leadership ‘skills’}

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Hi friends,    You already know I make shameless plugs for things I’m excited about…so, here goes.    A few weeks ago I finally picked up a book on ‘leadership’ called Spiritual Influence, by Mel Lawrenz (here is the link to Amazon…I put … Continue reading

Spiritual Influence {Leadership Thoughts from Mel Lawrenz, Part IV}

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Today is the fourth and final installment of highlights from Mel Lawrenz’s Spiritual Influence. Part Four of his book is Facing Challenges. On expectations– “Playing to expectations of others can drain our best energy and distract our attention…Worst of all, … Continue reading

Spiritual Influence {Leadership Thoughts from Mel Lawrenz, Part III}

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If you’ve been tracking with my highlights from Mel Lawrenz’s book Spiritual Influence and maybe thinking you’ll skip the whole book and settle for my quotes…don’t. Part Three needs to be read…by everyone. You need to read it. Here’s what I think … Continue reading

Too Big for Your Own Britches {A Leadership Antidote for Pride}

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“And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment,either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.” ~Deuteronomy16:18-20 Someone’s got to be in charge, right?  I’ve watched this unfold thousands of times with children at play.  Put three children in a room and the leadership vacuum … Continue reading

Leadership Lessons from Toy Story 3

(Warning:  Toy Story 3 plot spoiler.)

A Lotso lurks in all of us.

In Disney’s Toy Story 3, Woody, Buzz, and the other toys are mistakenly sent off to Sunnyside Daycare where they meet up with the daycare Toylord, Lotso.  While he smells like strawberries, Lotso is anything but sweet.  Instead, this big, pink teddy bear rules Sunnyside with an iron meat mallet; thwarting justice for all the toys who are forced to finish out their existence under the gaze of his control.  Kindness and pretense of concern are tools used for emotional control and when that doesn’t work, physical oppression serves to secure power.

Lotso’s leadership schema is built on the pain of the past.  Like gauze wrapped around a seeping wound, cruel and calculated bitterness safeguard Lotso’s broken heart.  Rejected by the one he believed loved him, Lotso is no longer able to give or receive love.  His worth as a person is now tied up in the role he plays.  And so he does what many of us do who can’t face our pain–we lock down freedom and shut out love.

A Lotso lurks in all of us who lead—parents, coaches, bosses, managers, teachers, pastors, alike.  He lurks in the shadows of our hearts, telling us we can right wrongs of the past by what we can control today.  He is anywhere power is used for the good of self instead of for those we lead.  He is anywhere people are exploited for what they can do, rather than esteemed for who they are in God’s image.

Lotso, like many leaders, think leadership is about greatness.  He with the most power, most influence, most persuasion, wins.

Jesus had a different idea about leadership—and it is one that every Lotso, myself included, must confront.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus”  (Philippians 2:3-4).

How can we as leaders avoid the Lotso Affect?

  1. Resist the urge to right life’s wrongs through the things you can control–instead hand over your disappointments, rejections, and wounds to the Lord and His healing.  Tightly controlling things will not heal you; it will only hurt others.  Make no mistake:  Everyone’s past is a part of their current reality.  Will you lead through a past that has been redeemed by and reconciled to the cross?  Or will you perpetuate your pain through inflicting hurt on others by guilting them to therapy your wounds and losses?
  2. Recognize your worth comes from who you are; not from what you do.  When we know who God has declared us to be before the foundation of the earth in the secret place with Him (Ps. 139:15), we can assume a humble position in life, like our Lord.  What possibly can I prove about myself  that will make me more fearfully and wonderfully made?
  3. Serve others for their good.  Look deeply into the eyes of others and ask the Lord to show you for what greatness He has created them…then partner with Him in helping it come to pass.  Our destiny is not the landfill, as the toys at Sunnyside Daycare believed.  Our destiny is the presence of God, reflecting His image in all its glory (2 Cor. 3:18).

Greatness—true greatness—will never be found in subverting justice.  Whenever those who are called to lead, lead from self-imposed power and control instead of from sincere love and service, justice unravels at the seams.

If, like Ken and Barbie, we want to make life groovy for those in our realm of influence, we must seek a fresh calling from the Lord today to lead people deeper into their original callings.  If man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, than those of us who lead—wherever that may be—must make God our chief enjoyment so that others may be recipients of His righteousness, peace and joy through us.

Where do you lead?  How are you calling out other’s greatness through serving them?  Are there any people who you lead–children, employees, athletes–that you are looking to for enjoyment that should be found only in God?

“leadership lessons from henny penny”

“The sky is falling!  The sky is falling!” We’re all familiar with the ridiculous antics of Henny Penny and the flurry of hysteria she created among her followers.  She’s a perfect picture of what every leader must avoid. 

I’ve been burdened in the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake that many leaders within the Christian community have read Henny Penny’s leadership manual.  There is a lot of scurrying around, but not many matters of faith are getting worked out in practice. 

A crisis like Haiti is a good check-up for the soul, because a tragedy best reveals what beliefs our hearts most confidently practice.  In times of relative calm and ease, we can masquerade successfully as people of faith, but crisis betrays are true beliefs.

To what are you turning to in response to Haiti?

     Fear or faith?

     Technology or Truth?

     Pragmatics or prayer?

     People or God?

     Kingdoms of man or an Eternal King?

Watching the benefit concert on CNN last night I realized how anyone, Anderson Cooper or George Clooney, can raise money.  Only the people of God can pray.  God has never saved the day on anyone of man’s dimes.  He has always worked in the midst of faith.  Raising money or jumping the next plane to Haiti will not bring a movement of God.  Every movement of God I see in the Scriptures finds the people of God at rest in His sufficient sovereignty and waiting (and beseeching) Him to save the day.  Certainly, God will call some–hopefully many–to be His hands and feet of love, compassion, and redemption in Haiti.  However, He calls us ALL to pray.  The actions that will have sustaining power in Haiti will only be those that are bathed in prayer…quiet, persistent, fearless, fervent prayer!

If we find ourselves running Henny Penny–trying with all our sleepless strength to save the day ourselves–we should at least recall that even Henny Penny knew she needed to tell the king. 

Are you finding that Haiti is making you a stronger person of faith and prayer?

“who not what”

I love a good game plan.  Especially in a time of great need, a solution that holds possibility energizes me to action.

However, a bad strategy… Oh my!  Within seconds I find myself with a knot in my stomach the size of Kansas and a headache more persistent than a precocious five-year old.   It is insufferable to me, especially if I am asked to be a part of it.

I have to think  Moses shared this sentiment when God described His strategy for getting the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 4).  Having been raised an Egyptian, Moses received the plan with cynicism.  Signs or no signs, Moses most assuredly had seen spectacular signs in the House of Pharoah.   Moses knew that the Egyptians would require more than staff turned to a snake to convince them that he represented a God with whom to reckon.

I easily identify with Moses.  My first response to a call is to wallow in self-doubt (see yesterday’s post), only to overcome it and become overwhelmed by what other’s will think of my call. Will they believe it?  Will they listen to me?  Will I be ignored, discredited, or dismissed?  However, I am most significantly paralyzed by analyzing if something will work.  How many times I’ve concluded it won’t and declared, “Oh no, Lord, send someone else.”

God makes it clear to Moses he is to trust the Sovereign Planner, not the plan, not himself, not another’s response. “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind?  Is it not I, the LORD?” (Exodus 4:11) Simply trust God.   The life of faith is always settled in the “Who?” question, not the “What?” question.   

Many “What now?” questions riddle my life.  Today I will answer them with the”Who?” question.  How about you?

“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just.  A faithful God who does no wrong.” Deuteronomy 32:4