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Transfer of Power

I had the Presidential Inauguration playing in the background. There is always a lot of talk about the transfer of power during the period between Election Day and Inauguration Day. Although the transfer of administrations in America is a wonderful testament to our form of government, my thoughts were not occupied with the transfer of power that was taking place.

Transfer of Responsibility

I was struck with the transfer of responsibility that occurred. As President Obama and the First Lady sat through the ceremony and then boarded the helicopter to resume life as public citizens once more, I wondered if they felt relieved by the transfer of responsibility from themselves to President Trump and his wife.

Feeling the Weight

I put myself in President Trump’s position. The Office of the Presidency of the United States has an enormous weight of responsibility. I feel for the level of scrutiny the President must endure. I feel for the great weight of obligation and duty a President is tasked. Decisions must be made that literally have life or death consequences.

Capability and Responsibility

A weight of responsibility is calculated by the aptitude of the person in the given position. I remember in the 5th grade playing at a friend’s house and seeing his high school age sister doing homework at their kitchen table. I looked at her textbook and wondered how I would ever be able to do the work she was required to do. Thankfully I was not being asked as a 5th-grader to the work of a high-schooler. Also thankfully, my aptitude grew as I faced the responsibilities of high school.

Bearing the Weight

As I look at the “textbook” a President is assigned, I feel the same way as I did looking at my friend’s sister doing her homework. My aptitude does not match the weight of responsibility of the Presidency. I am not interested in delving into whether President Trump has the capability to bear the weight of responsibility that is required. He has far greater experience and knowledge than I do. I am grateful for anyone willing to step under that weight.

An Unknown Weight

The weight of responsibility is always an unknown quantity until the situation calls for it. The circumstances and events to be faced are yet future, so it is yet to be calculated the exact weight of responsibility. Wouldn’t it be great to know that ability would always match the responsibility of every circumstance? For yourself, wouldn’t it be nice to know your capacity could match whatever you had to face? 

A Known Capability

What if there was someone with boundless aptitude? What if there was someone who possessed all strength, energy, knowledge, and foresight? That person could face any situation with total confidence. That person could be fully trusted with any responsibility. There would be no question as to whether that person could bear the weight of responsibility. 

Infinite Capability

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.” (Isaiah 40:28)

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3 Things a Leader Brings

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If you are in a position of leadership, you have something to bring to every situation that others often can't.

If you are in a position of leadership, you have something to bring to every situation that others often can’t.

Embarrassing

I am color blind. It is an embarrassing condition at times. Particularly with my kids, when I put something on that doesn’t match. For example, I had two pairs of the same style shoe in different colors. It wasn’t until I was work that I saw them in the right light and realized I had mismatched them.

Not aware

My kids question what colors look like to me. I remember one of them asking if everything was in black and white, like an old TV show. It’s impossible to describe something that I am not aware of missing.

Others can’t

Some people are leadership blind. If you have leadership ability it is important to remember that some people do not see things the same way. It is hard to imagine everyone doesn’t see what you see. Leaders see what others simply can’t.

What a leader can bring

In Exodus 18 we are given 3 examples of what a leader can bring, because leaders simply see what others can’t. Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, sent word that he was going to visit. It sounds like there was some family tension. We had not heard anything about Moses’ wife since Exodus 4.

Good news

Moses was ready to receive his father-in-law, wife, and kids. A lot of good things had happened since Exodus 4, such as the plagues against Egypt, parting of the Red Sea, and they had just conquered the Amalekites. Moses had a lot of good to news to share.

Bad news

Verse 9-12 Moses relates all that had happened and Jethro was delighted. We’re talking major in-law points. But the next day (v13) Jethro actually saw Moses on the job. Morning til night, Moses is engaged in arbitration, dealing with the people’s problems. Jethro asked Moses, “What in the world? This is crazy!” Jethro offered his son-in-law some insight as a leader.

Leaders see solutions

Here’s the first leadership insight Jethro had: he had the ability to see solutions. Moses was only addressing the problems. A lot of people can see a problem, but it takes a leader to bring a solution. Moses said, “When they have problems, they come to me.” (v16) Jethro saw a solution. Jethro said, “Select capable men…and appoint them as officials.” (v21) Leaders bring solutions. Jethro’s solution was delegation.

Leaders see the big picture

The second leadership insight Jethro had was the ability to see the big picture. Moses was up to his eye balls with the people’s problems as they “stood around him from morning till evening.” (v13) It’s hard to see very far when you have problems all around you. Jethro saw the big picture for Moses “to stand the strain and all these people to go home satisfied.” (v23) Call it vision, the preferred future, or the ideal destination – whatever you call it, Jethro could see the desired result. Leaders bring vision. Jethro was able to provide a leader’s perspective and imagine the end goal for what Moses was trying to accomplish.

Leaders see order

The third leadership insight of Jethro was to see order. If delegation is the what and vision the why, how to organize people for the what and the why is necessary. Jethro suggested a system of “officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens.” (v21) Leaders bring structure. Jethro was able to see order out of chaos.

Bring your perspective

Jethro’s perspective made an immediate and immense impact. He was able to bring solutions, vision, and order to a situation where others could only see problems, the short-term, and chaos. If you are a leader, don’t take for granted that you see things differently, farther down the road, and more clearly. You bring a perspective that others simply don’t have the ability to see.

Question

What do you as a leader need to bring to a situation that others can’t provide themselves?

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Are You Using the Most Powerful Tool You Have?

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If what you are doing is not becoming easier, you need to evaluate how well you are utilizing your most important tool.

If what you are doing is not becoming easier, you need to evaluate how well you are utilizing your most important tool.

Thrilled to share

Moses was told the in-laws were coming in town. Moses must have been thrilled to share with his father-in-law, Jethro, everything that had happened. The last time Jethro had been with his son-in-law, he was a fugitive. Now, he was the head-honcho of an entire tribe. Moses must have been beaming when Jethro delighted in the turn of events (Exodus 18:9). Jethro must have been relieved his daughter and grand-kids would finally be provided for.

This isn’t good

But then Jethro saw his son-in-law on the job. He knew the way Moses was going about it, he wasn’t going to be around for his family very long. Moses was working daybreak to nightfall. Jethro’s question was, “What is this you are doing for the people?” (Exodus 18:14) I don’t think that question says everything that Jethro was thinking. He was not impressed with Moses’ new occupation. Exodus 18:17 sums up Jethro’s opinion: “What you are doing is not good.”

A lighter load

Is your load heavy? Is the strain of ministry weighing you down? Maybe you need to hear the advice Jethro gave his son-in-law. He told Moses, “Make your load lighter by sharing the work.” The term we typically use is delegation. Could it be that God wants your load lighter?

First is priority

I would submit two reasons this is precisely what God wants. The first is priority. God wants you focusing on what is most important. This is what Jethro told Moses. He recognized Moses didn’t have time for his most important work. “You must be the people’s representatives before God and…teach them” (Exodus 18:19-20). Moses didn’t have time to pray for the people or teach them God’s ways, so they could avoid the problems they were bringing to Moses in the first place! These were to be Moses’ priority.

Second is opportunity

The second reason I see why God would want Moses to share the load is opportunity. Moses was a bottleneck. One channel only provides so much capacity. Sharing the work gave other capable people the opportunity to be a channel for solutions, so the people would “go home satisfied” (Exodus 18:23). It’s a win-win-win situation. The leader is happy, other leaders are being raised up, and the people are being served better.

Dust off your delegation

If you want to give priority to what God has asked you to do, learn to delegate. If you want to develop leaders, learn to delegate. The most beneficial and least used tools in a leader’s tool bag is delegation. I know it isn’t easy. I am as big of a control freak as anyone. We will have to take a deep breath in at least three areas, as we reach for delegation and pull it out of the tool bag.

  1. Responsibility. This often has to be given, at first, even before a person has proven themselves. Do you give others freedom, once you have given them the job?
  2. Authority. You have to give permission to make decisions. Can you relinquish control?
  3. Pulse. You have to figure out how they are hard wired and then tell them. Are you getting to know them, not just monitoring what they do?

If ministry is a strain and endurance is low, chances are you are poorly delegating. If you want to regain focus and see ministry opportunities surge, reach into your tool bag and dust off your delegation.

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3 Reasons You Do Not Have More Leaders

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Leadership development

The best way to add leaders

What difference would it make in what you are trying to accomplish to have an additional, talented leader on the team? I would guess you would say, “It could only help! Send them my way!” Well, not so fast. Talented, contributing team members, do not typically just arrive on our doorstep. We all want fully-formed, mature people to join. They usually don’t come that way. The best way for you to add leaders to your team is to develop them.

What is your game plan?

What is your game plan for developing those around you? I have observed that most leaders are reluctant to spend their time and resources on developing leaders. I see three reasons for this.

  1. Producing, not reproducing
  2. Valuing things over people
  3. Fear

Who is a leader?

To be clear, I am speaking of developing leaders, not growing followers. A leader is someone who takes initiative for the benefit of others. A follower is a participant, but is not an initiator. A leader is willing to take on a level of responsibility and ownership that a follower is not required to carry.

A producer mindset

The first reason development does not happen is most leaders are content to be thought of as a producer. We get stuff done. Granted, there are certain things we must get done. We have to show results. But I would submit our main calling is not to produce. We should only be satisfied once we have become reproducers.

Intentional reproducing

When all our time is spent producing, there is no time left for developing others. Organizations do not drift into being an environment that develops people. If development is to happen it must be done with intentionality. If you are driven, however, by a need to show what you can get done, you will never have time to reproduce other leaders.

Our main job

This idea of reproducing is of vital importance to those of us leading in the church. Our main job description is developing people! You have been given to the church in order to equip others to serve (Ephesians 4:12). As I’m sure you know, this idea of equipping is about making a person complete. Our main job is to help others be who they are meant to be, so they can do what they are meant to do.

Investing in tools

The second reason development does not happen is we are reluctant to give the proper resources to it. We are happy to invest in systems, programs, buildings, and equipment. I can hear people say, “We need the right tools to do ministry.” But none of these matter without leaders using them. Another argument I can hear people say is “People leave, but resources stay.” What would you rather have: to not train them and have them stay; or to give them all the training you can and maybe they leave?

People appreciate, tools don’t

We should always prioritize investing in people over resources. People are the only assets that can continually appreciate. Systems become dated, buildings deteriorate, machinery wears down, and programs run their course. But a person can grow and grow and grow if another leader is intentional about that person’s development.

To illustrate:

Consider the way we view spending money on technology versus people. Most of us will gladly drop a thousand dollars on a computer that we know will be obsolete in a few years. But we hesitate to spend a hundred dollars to send someone to a conference or ten dollars on a book, that will further develop that person. The value we add to people, only appreciates, unlike the so-called investment made in office equipment.

We are scared

The third reason the development of leaders is not happening is fear. Some leaders are scared to develop other leaders. There are many factors why this is so. Tying into the reasons above, it is safer to produce and develop tools. It is safer to simply continue to do what you can do and spend money on hard assets. There is a sense of control maintaining your own work and acquiring things, the tools of ministry. The only problem is it is not what we are called to do. We are to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:12).

Leaders multiply the work

If you aren’t developing leaders, at best, you are only gathering followers. I say at best, because many people aren’t content to remain followers, so they will leave to look for someone who will develop them. Scared leaders drastically minimize what can be accomplished. You want others on your team who are taking initiative for the benefit of others. That is what leaders to. Followers are focused on benefiting themselves. Far less gets done with a group of followers.

Get a game plan for developing leaders

If you aren’t going to develop leaders, why would God bring you leaders in the first place? God wants people to grow, so he puts them where they will be developed. If you are bemoaning your lack of talented leaders, perhaps it is a result of your own lack of intentionality to develop leaders. Get a game plan in place and ask God to entrust you with leaders.

Next week:

Next week I will talk about how to start developing other leaders.

Question to consider:

Who are you intentionally developing around you?

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Why You May Not Be Seeing the Outcomes You Want

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Pendulum Experiment

Improvisation

This may not have been my finest parenting moment. It was what came to mind in the moment though. There is not a script to go by with for each unique situation with kids. Parenting is largely improvisation.

Bully move

I was on the treadmill which is in our family room. Bella, the 6-year-old, is standing in the middle of the room when Madyson, the 9-year-old, walks up to her and shoves her to the ground. I watched this happen. Bella did not instigate this. It was a total bully move on Madyson’s part.

Go to your room

I immediately yelled at Madyson to go to her room. I said I would come up to talk to her when I got off the treadmill. A few minutes later, I walked into her room, dripping with sweat and breathing heavily from the treadmill. She was standing by her dresser. I grabbed her by the shoulders and forced her flat to the ground.

How does it feel?

As I straddled over her I asked her if she was scared. Her bulging eyes told me she was certainly surprised. I said, “The way you feel right now is how you made Bella feel, coming up to her and shoving her for no reason. I don’t want Bella to be scared of you, so I don’t ever want to see you push her like that again. She is supposed to feel her bigger sister will protect her, not be someone to fear.”

How God acts

Then I said, “You know the verse mom and I say to you about God not giving us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind? God does not do things to make us afraid, but to give us power, make us loving, and solid thinking. He treats us that way, so we’ll treat each other that way.” Now, disregard the fact I tried to scare Madyson as I explained this to her. Like I said, this wasn’t my finest parenting moment.

Action for reaction

The lesson wasn’t lost on me, though. I felt God taught me an important insight. He acts for reaction. The response God wants from us is set up by his corresponding activity. It makes sense. However, I often expect certain reactions without setting them up properly. And I wonder why I don’t get the responses I want. If I expect certain outcomes, it would make sense for me to take the corresponding initiative.

Creating reaction

For example, our church works very hard to create an invite culture. We want people to always be thinking about bringing others to our services and events. One way the staff tried to create this reaction was to print business cards with information about the church and a heading that simply stated “You are welcome here.” It is an action that communicates the reaction we want to see. I gave one of these cards to a guy I recently met and he, his wife, and son have come the past three weeks.

By taking action

What outcome do you want from those you are leading? If you are not doing anything to set that outcome in motion, you are not leading, you are simply making wishes. What action can you take that will create the reaction you want to see? Take action to create reaction.

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Show and Tell

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Show Tell

Showing without telling is often incomplete, as is telling without showing. There is power when the two are brought together.

Show and Tell is a classic off-curriculum staple of elementary school. It is an effective teaching device. A student brings in something from home to show classmates. Then the student tells something about what is being shown. It is a simple concept.

Do you remember something you brought in for Show and Tell? I think the last time I brought something in was after going to the circus. I had a poster of Gunther Gable Williams, showing off his bulging, veiny arms, along with several of his tamed tigers. I told about going to The Ringling Bros. Circus at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis.

Bella, my first grader, has Show and Tell everyday in her class. It offers kids a chance to express their individuality or show-off, while, unbeknownst to the them, exercising the ability to communicate.

The two elements together, are a powerful leadership tool. Showing is demonstration. Others get to see the what or the how being presented. Telling is explanation. Others get to hear the why of what is being presented.

Either, by itself, reduces the impact of the communication. Imagine a kid bringing in a jelly bean and holding it in viewing of all her classmates. She presents it, saying nothing, and promptly takes her seat. Her classmates snicker and the teacher scratches his head. The “show” with no “tell” would be strange.

What if while holding the same jelly bean she told of a trip to the White House, where she was brought into the Oval Office. The president at the time was Ronald Reagan. While in the Oval Office, the president himself took a jar of jelly beans off his desk and invited her to grab a handful to take with her. Showing the jelly bean has a much different impact now, coupled with telling the source of it.

I’m sure you can think of an example where explanation without the demonstration would produce similar results. The point is, the power is with the two together.

Yesterday I was reading Psalm 25:4 where David wrote, “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me.” God is the master of Show and Tell. He doesn’t do one without the other. He provides examples of what he explains. He not only tells of truth, he guides a person into it.

The best example is the Word that became flesh. Through the Word, truth was told. But the word made flesh, also showed us the truth. Show and tell came together and dwelled among us (John 1:14).

I see this as a master class in communication by God. What if we made sure these two elements were part of whatever we were presenting. To see it and hear it, have it demonstrated and explained, would change the effectiveness of our leadership. I think we would be less frustrated with our initiatives. I think people would be less frustrated with our leadership.

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Maybe We Are Praying All Wrong

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Fields White Harvest

Jesus Prayer Request

Jesus made a prayer request to his followers. He said, “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:38) People get this request for more sending all wrong. Jesus did not request prayer for the harvest. The crop is ready. Nor did Jesus say there is a problem with the workers. The problem, in his mind, was that the workers were not in the right place. His request was for workers to be launched into the harvest.

Plenty of Ripe People

There is not a problem with the number of people ready to welcome the good news. People want to hear the gospel. They are harassed and helpless and want leadership. The most successful person you know, has problems. The person you think has it all, is harassed by something and feels helpless about something. There is no lack of people ripe for the help and hope of the gospel.

Plenty of Ready Workers

There is not a problem with the number of workers to help. The workers are few in the harvest field, not that too few exist. They aren’t in the right place. The workers are there, they need to be sent out. The problem is the workers have not been released and launched. Jesus said to, “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field.” The issue is there are not enough workers sent out.

Compassion Is the Place to Start

For Jesus, it started with compassion. The story is, two verses earlier, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36) Praying that more people come to our services or more people share their faith is not most important. I am not suggesting it is wrong to do that. However, it may not be the place to start. Praying that more people are filled with compassion is the place to start. Could the reason be we are not seeing more workers in the harvest is a lack of love?

No Compassion, No Crop

The Father is in charge of the harvest, according to Jesus. He emphasized the Father is “the Lord of the harvest” and that it is “his harvest field”. So God brings in a crop where he pleases and as he pleases. Perhaps it doesn’t please him to bring the harvest to our ministries because he knows we will not love them well. If our schedules are full of the right programs and our teaching is full of the right doctrine, but our hearts are not full of compassion, why would God direct people our way?

Maybe We’re Praying All Wrong

Maybe we are praying Matthew 9 all wrong. We don’t need to pray for a good crop or more workers. We should be praying that the workers we have are launched.

I thought of 3 ways that can launch more workers into the harvest:

  1. Stir up compassion.
  2. Tell people your vision.
  3. Take more risks with people.

Stir up Compassion

Tell people about the needs around them. We can’t create compassion in people, but we can stir up compassion. I think this is what was meant in the passage, “Let us consider how we might spur one another on to love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24) We are trying to do this in the year-end campaign. We can highlight the reality people are living in. We get shielded from the hurt and pain many face. But, compassion can be stirred as we remind people of the common problems we all face.

Tell People Your Vision

Tell people of the opportunities you see. Four years ago, my pastor, David, mentioned a vacuum he saw in our church. A lot of people between the twenty-somethings and the senior saints were falling through the cracks. He asked if I’d be interested in organizing something for the thirty-somethings. I had no idea this was a need, even though I am a thirty-something. Jamie and I have plenty of friends and are spiritual self-feeders, so we didn’t see the need. That conversation launched a new ministry and for the past four years we’ve organized classes and dinners for this group. I would have never been sent if David had not mentioned the problem that he saw. Don’t assume people see what you see.

Take More Risks

Give people a chance. This is what Jesus did. Jesus had a process of people development. The record we have of his ministry, doesn’t reflect three years of busy meandering, without purpose. He was on a mission and part of that was to develop people to continue that mission in his stead. The only way to do that was to give people a chance. The next passage after this statement of Jesus to send workers, is about the twelve disciples being sent (Mt 10). Were they ready? No way! But Jesus gave them a chance.

The Request Is about Launching

Ask the Lord of the harvest to show you ways to send out more workers into the harvest field. Ask him to show you creative ways to stir up the compassion within people. Ask him to show you specifically whom to talk with about the opportunities you already see. Ask the Lord of the harvest whom you should give a chance, even if you don’t think they are ready.

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