The hardest thing Leaders have to do

It was one of the most helpful leadership tips I have ever heard/received. My wife, Susan, and I were at a summer training program with The Navigators in East Lansing, Michigan.  It was an evening meeting and the speaker, Jack Mayhall, made this comment, “If you become a leader, plan on being misunderstood.”  I didn’t think much of the comment at the time, but did write it down.  Fast-forward 49 years and I have experienced being misunderstood numerous times and have learned a ton!

So what is the hardest thing leaders have to do?

I would say it is learning how to get along with many different kinds of people, starting with those who misunderstand you, often followed by criticizing you, judging you, labeling you, questioning your motives, questioning the authenticity of your walk with Jesus;  sometimes questioning everything and anything. It always hurts and is always painful on multiple levels.

For me personally, the hardest of the hard was hearing from a person on a team I led question whether I was even a Christian. That comment sent me into the woods to pray and think long and hard about my leadership style and philosophy that would elicit that kind of comment. I had some significant repentance to do.

Along the lines of getting along with all kinds of people, James 3:17 brings fresh insight to me which I seriously need.

In the ESV it reads, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”

In The Message it reads, “Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.”

Now here is the take-away for me!  Godly wisdom is simply doing the hard work of getting along with others.  James is equating wisdom with relationships, which I have never understood before.  I always thought of wisdom as making good decisions…being able to apply information and things I understand to various aspects of my life.  I had never (until meditating on James 3:17) equated wisdom with relationships…being misunderstood, criticized, judged, etc. and still being able to relate to those people in healthy, biblical ways.

It’s hard work (as The Message says) to get along with others. It’s hard work for employees to get along with their employer. It’s hard word for parents to get along with their kids (especially when they hit the teen-age years.) It’s hard work for team members in the church and in the market place to get along with each other… learning to celebrate rather than resent each other.

Sometimes the hard work is speaking the truth in love, which Ephesians 4:15 encourages us to do.  Not so loving that I’m not truthful; but also not so truthful that I’m not loving. Pastor Bill Hybels of Willow Creek church put it this way:

“Truth telling is more important than peacekeeping…the well-being of the other person is more important than the current comfort level in the relationship…peace at any price is a form of deception from the pit of hell. A relationship built on peacekeeping won’t last. Tough love chooses truth telling over peace keeping and trusts God for the result.”

I don’t know about you, but finding the balance between being loving and being truthful is a lot of hard work--work that some leaders (including yours truly) are reluctant to do.

So here are two conclusions I draw:

  1. Being in leadership means being misunderstood along with all the other things that flow from that
  2. Truly wise leaders are always learning how to get along with all kinds of  people as they strike a balance between truth and love

Question to ponder:

How wise are you…really?  You might be street smart or book smart, but are you people smart?


Way too many "Power-Hungry" leaders out there! Are you one of them?

 Having an outsized Ego, power-grabbing, grasping for attention, being dictatorial  are never good when discovered in a leader who should be seeking to honor our humble Lord Jesus. Unfortunately there are far too many “Power-hungry” leaders in the body of Christ today. Here are ten signs to look for that would tip you off as to being “Power-Hungry.

Originally posted by Chuck Lawless

Christian leaders are called to be servant leaders, willing to be last in order to lead (Matt 20:26). Even Christians, though, wrestle with a desire to be powerful and influential. Take a look at your own life, and be aware of these signs that you might be a “power hungry” leader:

  1. You get jealous when others have information you don’t have. Power hungry leaders want every advantage, including being “in the know” more than others are.
  2. You hire only “yes” men who support your position. That’s one way to protect your power – hire only people who depend on you and look up to you.
  3. You network only with people who can help you gain position and prestige. You know what you’re doing, too, when you make deliberate choices to hang out with the power brokers.
  4. You look for wrong and weakness in people who disagree with you. You feel more powerful, more in charge and in control, when you can tear down – in a Christian way, of course – those who oppose you. 
  5. You speak critically about leaders who hold the positions you want. It’s easy to judge those who are where you want to be. After all, you’re really more qualified for that role, anyway – right?   
  6. You remind people of your pedigree and accomplishments, even in sermons. If you find yourself seldom missing an opportunity to talk about what you’ve done, you might be trying to secure your power.
  7. You’re always thinking about the assumed greener grass in the ministry that is larger than yours. Power hungry people seldom get settled where they are since there’s almost always a ministry with greater size and stronger influence. 
  8. You use your title more than your name. In some circles, titles like “Dr.” carry weight. Power hungry people know what those circles are. 
  9. Your public life is more important to you than your private life. That is, you “shine” in the public while spending little time with God in private.
  10. You place your ministry above your family. Daily, you spend more time trying to climb ladders than hanging out with your family. That’s seeking power at much too high a cost.  

What other warning signs would you add?



What does an empowering leader look like?

There has been a lot written about "Empowering" those on your team and with whom you work.

How do you know if you are truly empowering or perhaps inadvertently disempowering poeple by your attitudes or behavior?

Here is some solid insight adapted from "Bits & Pieces." 

The more freedom you give people to do their jobs the way they’d like to do them, the more satisfaction they’ll get from their work.
Most leaders are supposed to be a little smarter than other people and, in most respects, they probably are.  But if leaders insist on doing all the thinking for their organizations, if everything has to be done THEIR way, what’s left for the people who work for them to be proud of?
How much personal satisfaction can there be in doing a job that is completely programmed, where your muscles or brain are used to perform repetitive operations already planned and dictated by someone else?
There ought to be something in every job that’s satisfying to the person who does it.  Unfulfilled people can be just as serious a problem as inefficient methods.
Creating a climate that gives people some independence, without losing control, takes a lot of leadership skill.  It also hinges on the content of a job and the judgment and ability of the person handling it.  Here are some techniques which are used by many successful leaders:
Managing by objectives - Giving especially capable people a clear idea of the results you want to achieve and leaving the methods to them.
Suggesting methods rather than dictating them, with the understanding that people are free to devise something better.
Consulting people affected by a problem or a proposed change and asking their ideas, regardless of whether you think you need them or not.
Enriching jobs by delegating decisions as far down the line as possible. If a worker is capable of being trained to make a certain decision intelligently, why have it referred to a supervisor?  If a supervisor is capable, why refer to someone above?
Guiding your people to think of constructive suggestions you may already have in mind rather than simply presenting them yourself.
Eliminating needless rules and allowing people as much freedom and mobility as possible as long as they produce excellent results and don’t interfere with others.
Leaders who successfully practice these things will enjoy excellent morale among their people.  If it can be done without abdicating responsibility--without losing control of the situation--they’ll also get excellent results.


You’re Not a Leader If You Never Say You’re Sorry

There are some things that good leaders never say or do. Here, Eric Geiger shares a few of them.

Originally posted by Eric Geiger

You’re Not a Leader If You Never Say You’re Sorry 

You are not a good leader if you never tell people you are sorry. There are a myriad of issues in the heart of a leader who never apologizes. If you never apologize, at least one of the following is also true:

1.  You reveal you think you are infallible.

If you never apologize, if you never say, “I was wrong,” you show people you actually believe you are always right. You reveal your foolishness, not your wisdom, if you never admit to being wrong. People are hesitant, as they should be, to follow someone who thinks he/she is always right. There is only One who is faultless, and it is not you.

2.  You are never having difficult conversations.

If you never need to look at someone on your team and say, “I am sorry, but…” then you are ignoring difficult conversations that would make the person and the team stronger. If you talk about people instead of to people, you are not a good leader. If you work around deficiencies instead of confronting them and providing opportunities for growth, you are shirking your responsibility.

3.  You are afraid of making mistakes.

If you take risks and try new things, you will make mistakes. And wise leaders own those mistakes and learn from them. If you hate saying you are sorry, if you hate ever being wrong, you will be much more risk adverse and unwilling to try new things to advance the mission.

4.  You are never repenting.

Most importantly, a leader who never apologizes is a leader who is not repenting. Great leaders repent. Tertullian said, “We were born for nothing but repentance.” The first of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses is “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’ (Matthew 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” If you never admit your wrongs and ask for forgiveness, you have an elevated view of your holiness and a woefully incomplete view of His.

The post You’re Not a Leader If You Never Say You’re Sorry appeared first on Eric Geiger.


7 Habits of Highly Ineffective People

Stephen Covey wrote a book describing the seven habits of highly effective people. Well, if there are habits that people can acquire to make them effective, then there are also habits that leaders will want to avoid or break that cause them to be ineffective.

Here are some I have been thinking about and working on:

Leaders who want to be effective will be careful that they are not:


Leadership guru Warren Bennis notes that most organizations are over-managed and under-led. There are major differences between managing and leading. Here are a few:

Generally speaking:

  • Managers think short term, leaders long term
  • Managers control and minimize change, leaders initiate change
  • Managers are reactive (responding to ideas) leaders are proactive (creating ideas)
  • Managers solve problems, leaders create excitement, generating more problems by coming up with new ideas never tried before
  • Managers are process-oriented (how it is done), leaders are result-oriented (why and if it is done)
  • Managers motivate by rules and regulations, leaders by empowerment and vision


John Maxwell makes the observation that people with very strong mercy gifts don't function well in visionary leadership. They don't want to hurt anybody or make decisions that offend or cause conflict. My experience would verify that.

Those leaders who know they have a strong mercy side must be very careful about who they spend time with. All their available time and energy will go to the hurting and the discouraged, leaving minimal time to develop future leaders which is the leader’s main responsibility. The hurting will find you. You will have to find the leaders.


The leader needs to be a proactive fire lighter, not a reactive fire fighter. Many leaders spend so much time dealing with issues in a crises mode that they have precious little time left to deal with the longer term issues so as to not be caught behind the change curve.


We have all heard the expression, "Don’t just sit there, do something." Leaders need to practice, "Don’t just do something, sit there." A good leader will balance out doing and dreaming, active and quiet, energized and hibernating. A good leader will have less on the "do list" and will free up time to "just sit there"--not always chasing his own tail light in the traffic of life. 

Many leaders are entirely too busy with the day-to-day issues and spend comparatively little time in creative dreaming and time alone with God. Peter Drucker says that action without thinking is the cause of every failure. 


The war will not be won from behind the pulpit. Many leaders invest entirely too much time in public teaching in spite of the fact that statistics show that 70-80% of most audiences are not listening and will not apply what they are getting. Speaking to the crowds needs to be balanced out with investing quality and quantity time with the few who can and will reproduce (2 Timothy 2:2).


Short-term thinking leaders do it all by themselves, long-term thinking leaders get others to help them. You have two choices in your leadership. Do it yourself, or get others to help you carry the load (Number 11:17). Your willingness and determination to train, delegate and work through others, more than anything else, may well define your effectiveness and success in ministry. 

Today is the day of the team and collaborative leadership, not "the Lone Ranger." I have been in the hiring position numerous times through the years and the person I'm always looking for is the one who does ministry through people, not for people, or with people. Delegate or suffocate, which will it be?


I wish we had more leaders (in the church as well as in the private and public sectors) who do the biblically correct thing and are not overly worried about the politically correct thing. Leaders who don’t hold their wet finger in the wind to see which way it is blowing but using that same finger to turn the pages of Holy Writ to see which way the Spirit of God wants to move.


  • Lead, not merely manage
  • Develop future leaders
  • Light new fires
  • Spend time praying, dreaming and planning
  • Do ministry through others
  • Make biblically based decisions

So, my fellow leader, how are you doing? Is there something you need to change, do differently?

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