Blasting or Blessing People

In leading people, you can operate from one of two philosophies:

1.    People really do want to work and do a good job.

2.    People are basically lazy, really don’t want to work, are praying for a lottery win and will do as little as possible to earn a paycheck and keep people off their back

The command-and-control or top-down leadership style is reflective of the second philosophy. Using the old carrot-and-stick approach…you either have to punish or reward people to get them to do their work and do it well.

Everything I have read, studied and experienced in the leadership of others confirms the first philosophy is the one to go with.

The problem in most cases when philosophy #1 is not working is not the people, but the leadership and work environment that combine to mitigate against good work habits and good team morale.

As a leader, I will be the first to admit that it is easier, and more tempting, to catch people doing something wrong rather than catching them doing something right…to blast them rather than bless them.

The modern “progress review,” or it's equivalent, is set up to catch people doing something wrong and then telling them what they need to change to do it right. It is operating from a negative rather than positive starting point.

A few years ago, I read 1 Peter 3:9 in my daily devotional time with the Lord:

“ Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but, on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called that you may obtain a blessing.” ESV

“ That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead bless--that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.” The Message (The bolding is mine!)

It was verse 9 in The Message that hit home with me.  “…Instead bless—that’s your job, to bless…” I asked myself what it would look like to do God’s job…for me to bless people instead of blasting them (as I did by criticizing, judging, fault-finding, nit-picking and trying to catch them doing something wrong)?

Memorizing this verse, praying over it and asking Jesus to help me be a blesser and not a blaster has made a huge difference in the way I do most things.

It is impacting the way I talk on the phone, talk in person, treat my wife, kids and grandkids. It slips into most emails I write as I look for a chance to encourage, say something positive, bless people through my spoken and written words. It is unarguably true that a pat on the back goes much further than a kick in the pants.

Be honest with yourself. Ask your family, your co-workers. Do you operate as a blaster or blesser in your relationships at home, church and work? Is some confession and repentance in order?



Hope and Trust

When you make a promise, you create hope. When you keep that promise, you create trust.

Spinning off this, experience has taught me that trust is indispensible in creating and maintaining healthy relationships. Patrick Lencioni in his book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” suggests that the absence of trust is where teams first go south…that it’s all downhill from there.

The key is to under-promise and over-deliver, not over-promise and under-deliver.  I see a clear pattern of leaders promising too much and then not delivering on those promises which leads to lack of trust, low morale and loss of motivation in working for, and with, such a leader.

Psalm 15:4B is instructive at this point: “…who keeps his oath even when it hurts…” (NIV). Keep it simple by saying what you mean and meaning what you say. As Jesus instructed us (Mt. 5:37 NIV), let your yes be yes and your no be no!

For years I have had the habit of not committing or promising anything until I have had time to pray and think about it. When I say I will do something I fully intend, by His grace, to do it regardless of the cost or time commitment. I want to be a man of my word, not a flake. I want to build trust, not break trust.

Think back on your own upbringing. If you had a parent who often promised he/she would do this or that…take you here or there, you were hopeful and excited, but soon become jaded when those promises were not fulfilled. Even now, as you think back on it, the anger can resurface. Don’t be that kind of parent, leader, team member or employer.




A succinct sentence or a muddled paragraph

For many years I have been encouraging leaders to be focused…to not spread themselves too thin; more like a laser and less like the sun. You see the power of the sun when the rays are focused onto a mirror or piece of glass causing all that energy to zero in on a single target. That is the new technology of laser surgery which is becoming more and more popular.

It is my increasing conviction that most leaders are trying to do too much…traveling too fast. Consequently, they often feel overwhelmed and overcommitted…because they are! It’s like lying on the beach being hit by wave after wave…barely able to catch a breath of air…but, instead, inhaling mostly foul tasting salt water.

In his book “Drive” Daniel Pink mentions that in 1962 Congresswoman Clare Boothe Luce gave some advice to President Kennedy because she feared Kennedy’s energy was so scattered that he risked becoming a muddled paragraph instead of a single sentence.

Boothe Luce told Kennedy that Abraham Lincoln was defined by a single sentence. “He preserved the union and freed the slaves.” Franklin Roosevelt was defined by a single sentence. “He lifted us out of a great depression and helped us win a world war.”

Having a “single sentence” define you is akin to creating a purpose statement. Mine is “He left footprints in the hearts of God-hungry leaders who multiplied.”

What’s yours?  Do you have a defining sentence?  Are you focused or scattered?  Do you feel energized or depleted most of the time?

Even if you are in your 20’s or 30’s it’s not too early to begin thinking about who Jesus made you to be and what you need to focus on.  Even if you are in your 60’s or 70’s it is not too late to think about who Jesus made you to be and what you need to focus on in the years you have left.


Take This Job and Love it

Almost everything I have read about the numbers of people who enjoy their employment and look forward to going to work on Monday (as opposed to looking forward to leaving on Fridays) is not very encouraging.

It would appear from the all the studies done, all the interviews conducted and all the people sharing their frustrations and disappointments (and even anger) connected to job dissatisfaction, that we have a major problem that is costing us multiplied millions of dollars in productivity with workers who no longer care.

How about you?  Are you one of the many who flat out don't like what they do, feel you are not very good at what you do and are looking for something else to do? Or are you in the minority that want to stop “eating” at TGIF and begin dining at TGIM (thank God it's Monday) because you truly like the people you work with, the work you do and get enough good feedback to keep you encouraged, motivated and getting better at what you do.

One interesting fact I have discovered is that the main reason a person leaves his/her job is due to a poor relationship with the immediate supervisor, which makes this a leadership issue at root. When I visit a place of business, whether it is a restaurant, a repair shop or a retail outlet and receive poor service, I am prone to lay the problem at the leader’s feet, not the worker on the floor. But that is a subject for another post.

Here are some excellent questions from author and speaker Marcus Buckingham to give you food for thought. I want to encourage you to park yourself, answer the questions and begin some dialogue with people close to you to see what should and can change in your work attitude and environment; especially if you are the leader, owner, boss or manager for whom others work.

  1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?

  2. Do I have the materials and equipment that I need in order to do my work well?

  3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?

  4. In the past seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?

  5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?

  6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

  7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?

  8. Does the mission or purpose of my company make me feel that my job is important?

  9. Are my coworkers committed to doing quality work?

  10. Do I have a best friend at work?


God's Character

I usually don’t have revelations or dreams before getting ready to create a blog post, but I did this time.

Early this morning (somewhere between 2a and 4a) three words (omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent) popped into my mind.

I leapt from bed, went into my office and wrote them down. I am going assume that this is what I am supposed to blog on today, since this is the first time this has ever happened, and I can’t remember having thought about these three words in at least ten years.

So, here we go.

I believe that God always returns by way of His promises, and His promises are always based on His character.

There are numerous names given to the Lord in scripture and those names always denote some aspect of His character. Names such as:
ADONAI-Malachi 1:6, meaning "Lord", a reference to the lordship of God.
JEHOVAH—YAHWEH- Genesis 2:4, a reference to God's divine salvation.
JEHOVAH-MACCADDESHEM-Exodus 31:13, meaning "The Lord thy sanctifier"
JEHOVAH-ROHI-Psalm 23:1, meaning "The Lord my shepherd"
JEHOVAH-SHAMMAH-Ezekiel 48:35, meaning "The Lord who is present"
JEHOVAH-RAPHA-Exodus 15:26, meaning "The Lord our healer"
JEHOVAH-TSIDKENU-Jeremiah 23:6, meaning "The Lord our righteousness"
JEHOVAH-JIREH-Genesis 22:13-14, meaning "The Lord will provide"
EL-SHADDAI-Genesis 17:1,Psalm 91:1, meaning "God Almighty"
Perhaps the most well known is El Shaddai because there is a worship song by that name in which we also find Adonai.
So let’s add to the above list with the three “O’s”

  1. Omniscient- Infinitely wise

  2. Omnipotent-Having unlimited power

  3. Omnipresent-Always everywhere at the same time

Personally, I find it very encouraging to reflect on God’s promises that are generally anchored in some character trait He possesses.

Omniscient- I often lack wisdom and am glad that James 1:5 is still in my Bible and encourages me to ask the Lord for the wisdom I need. He is wiser than all human counselors, philosophers and books ever written.  His wisdom has saved me from countless errors and sin.

Omnipotent- He is the all-powerful one. Don’t go to your Lord and tell Him how big your problems are, but go to your problems and tell them how big and powerful your Lord is. Nothing is impossible for Him to do. He has all power in heaven and on earth and we can tap into that power by virtue of our sonship. Ephesians 3:20,21

Omnipresent- I don’t understand how it works, but He is everywhere all the time. It’s no wonder I don’t understand since He is infinite and I am finite. He neither sleeps nor slumbers (Psalm 121: 3,4) but watches over me. I don’t fully understand how the internet or electricity work either,  but I avail myself of their benefits.

Thoughts of His omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence are three character traits that encourage me and keep me going, by His spirit, when I am ready to quit or question His goodness and sovereignty.