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Learning Leadership From the "Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! "

Those of you who are regulars at Leadership from the Heart will recall me saying that if I get one good idea from a book or a movie it was well worth the investment.

Over Thanksgiving catching a bit of the Macy’s Parade, I heard three ideas mentioned as goals for education:

  • Curious minds
  • Compassionate hearts
  • Courageous spirits

I jotted those down knowing that I had three key elements for effective leadership. So, let’s take them one at a time.

Curious Minds

It may be true that “curiosity killed the cat,” but it’s also true that lack of curiosity “kills” the leader. If there is one thing that marks the true leader it’s a spirit of curiosity. Always asking, always, probing, always learning, always exploring, always thinking of a better way to do something, always praying for God to do what only he can do in and through the individual.

The ineffective leader keeps doing the same thing(s) he/she has always done hoping for better and/or different results. Sort of like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. As you roll into 2017, I trust you will experience a curious mind before the Lord and not rest on your laurels as it were.

Compassionate Hearts

 The verse which supports everything I put in “Leadership from the Heart” is Psalm 78:72 (ESV) which describes King David’s leadership:

“With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.”

Good and God-honoring leadership is always a healthy combination and balance between heart and hand; compassion and work. I confess that it’s easier for me to get things done than to love the people I do it with and for.

If I’ve learned one thing through the years (and need to continue to learn) it is that loving people is the most valuable thing I can do. People want to know (and have a right to know) that their leader genuinely cares about them and loves them for who they are--not just for what they can do.

Paul expresses this in I Thessalonians 2:8 (ESV):  “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God, but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” Quite simply, Paul loved (not used) the people he ministered to and with.

Every day I pray for the ministry he has for me--that it would increasingly be characterized by genuine love and care for people. Recently I memorize Luke 9:48 in the (old) Living Bible:

“And he said to them, anyone who takes care of a little child like this is caring for me! And whoever cares for me is caring for God who sent me. Your care for others is the measure of your greatness.” (Underlining is mine!)

I took notice of what Jesus didn’t say. He didn’t  say: your biblical insight, your high productivity, your time-management, the size of your ministry is the measure of your greatness, but your care (compassion, love, concern) for others is the measure of your greatness. I want to be a great leader by His standards, and it begins and ends with love.

Courageous Spirits

I love what Mark Twain said in this regard:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover”

Ships are safe in the harbor, but that’s not what ships were built for. I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to shy away from taking risks.

I don’t like to fail, or look like a fool. But over the last several years He has been nudging (sometime kicking) me out of my comfort zone into uncharted waters.

As Twain says, “Explore. Dream. Discover.” I turned 77 a few days ago, and have no desire or plans to retire. Tired is a biblical concept, but not retired. Some of my best years might still be ahead of me. I am claiming Joshua 13:1 (ESV) as I look down the road: “Now Joshua was old and advanced in years, and the Lord said to him, you are old and advanced in years, and there remains yet very much land to possess.” 

He has more for me to be and do, and as fearful as I may be, I’m going for it. I want to leave it all on the field as I am led by him, empowered by him and seek to honor him.

By his grace, what can you do in 2017 to develop…

A more curious mind

A more compassionate heart

A more courageous spirit!



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