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Entries by Dave Kraft (1091)

Thursday
Dec072017

Attributes of a maturing leader

Leaders worth their salt have a strong desire to continue to grow and mature. Satus Quo won't do. What does increasing maturity look like for a leader? Ron Edmondson shares seven attributes.

Originally posted by Ron Edmondson

I frequently say to our church I’m less interested in where a person has been and more interested in where they are going. I would make that statement about leadership also.

The best leaders I know don’t have all the answers. They haven’t got everything figured out yet. Most wouldn’t even consider themselves “experts” in the field of leadership. (I certainly don’t consider myself to be one.) They are humbled why people would ask for their input. They realize they have much to learn.

What they have done and are doing is to continue maturing as a leader. The best leaders I know are consistently getting better.

In fact, you can often spot a maturing leader. They share common attributes.

Here are 7 attributes of a maturing leader:


1. Able to think strategically in the moment.

They don’t just spout off the first thing that comes to their mind and worry about cleaning it up later.All of us have done that at times, but maturing leaders have learned their words carry great weight and so they choose them carefully. (I wrote a post about that HERE.) They are encouraging and guard their tongue from reckless and hurtful words. It’s not a matter of being politically correct — it’s caring for people. It’s valuing others. It’s being intentional to use the power of words to bless others rather than tear them down.

2. Recognizes the contributions of others and willingly cheers other’s success.

It’s natural, especially early in a person’s leadership to seek to “build a resume”, but a maturing leader doesn’t have to get all the glory. In fact, they may get none, because the attention is shifted to the team — often to those who did the real work. This leader has learned when others succeed the leader succeeds.

3. Doesn’t act in anger.

They carefully plans a response. They take time to “cool down” before addressing a heated issue. Possibly they have been burned by their own quickness to react and so now they are becoming more careful and methodical in their approach.

4. Releases more control.

Maturing leaders place trust in others. They empower people to do work and take ownership. They know, often by painful experience, the more they control the less things can grow and be healthy.

5. Thinks beyond today.

Personally and for the organization, the maturing leader is guiding a path towards a better reality. They strive to see what’s coming and prepare for it. They likely experienced not being prepared and want to protect the vision for the long-term.

6. Concerned about, but doesn’t stress over small things.

Some things just don’t matter as much in the grand scheme of things. Leaders should be concerned about the details — even the smallest things can make a huge difference, but maturing leaders look to the big picture and dismiss issues which have little impact on the overall vision. A maturing leader has learned they cannot make everything matter or nothing really will.

7. Receives correction without becoming defensive.

This is huge. Maturing leaders don’t hold a grudge. They forgive easily. They see feedback — even that which is hard to hear — as valuable information which can make them better. Leadership can be painful, so it takes time for a leader to get here, but maturing leaders have learned life is too short and there is no value in lingering in the past.

You may not have all of these as attributes yet, but my encouragement is to keep improving.

Brag on yourself: Which of these are you doing well?

Be honest: Upon which of these attributes do you most need to improve?

Sunday
Dec032017

Fatal Flaws of a Leader

Winston Churchill:  “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” I usually don’t take issue with a well-known leader, but…

There are examples of successful leaders falling because of serious flaws in their lives. President Richard Nixon comes to mind. 

Are there certain kinds of flaws that Christian leaders may develop which could spell the end of their leadership effectiveness, their leadership altogether or, worse yet, the downward spiral of their walk with  Jesus? I believe there are. Here are three to consider:

1.  NOT BEING A PERSON OF INTEGRITY

Integrity has been at the top of my “Essential Leadership Qualities” list for a number of years. Integrity leads to credibility which leads to trust which leads to influence. No influence, no leadership. People should be able to trust me without wondering if I will do what I promised and deliver it when I promised. I can think of few things worse that having someone say, “I don’t trust you!” I am increasingly careful about what I say and how much I promise, because I’m committed to integrity in all I do. Recently I sat with a pastor who had sent out an e-mail with information about me that was flattering but not accurate.

Because integrity is a high value, I set the record straight. Charles Colson was once asked what he considered to be the top three qualities of a leader. “Well, the first one would be integrity—and the second would be integrity. And the third one would be (you guessed it) integrity.” Did his experience in the inner circle with the Nixon administration have any bearing on his response?

2.  NOT CONTINUING TO GROW

I don’t think I can lead if I don’t grow; especially considering the warp speed at which everything is traveling and the number of major changes coming my way on a daily basis. I want to continue to develop and grow myself (especially spiritually), to stay vibrant and relevant in my living, thinking and practices.

Very much related to growing is being teachable. I’m reminded of the person who said he wanted to learn but didn’t want to be taught! No can do! Learning is synonymous with being taught. I’m a committed life-long learner, ready to learn from any source, any person, any time. At times, I’m humbled regarding the sources from which I receive needed insight and instruction. I once had a non-Christian make significant suggestions on how to change my presentation of the Gospel (that was hard to take.) Listening well is a good way to continue to grow oneself.

A few years ago, I was talking with Catherine (extremely gifted and very articulate) who is responsible for the women’s ministry at a mega church. She shared with me that the most important thing she was learning was being a better listener by asking lots of questions rather than doing most of the talking.

I’m learning that as well. I don’t feel I have arrived in any area of my life, even though I have been a Christian for 57 years, been married 49 years, been in vocational Christian ministry 49 years and have four adult children. & seven grand children I’m still eager to learn even more about ministry, marriage, caring for kids and grandkids and cultivating my intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 1:6 in The Message says, “From the very first day you heard and recognized the truth of what God is doing, you’ve been hungry for more.” That’s me—hungry for more. More of God and all He has for me. Yesterday’s home runs won’t win today’s ball games!

3.  NOT STAYING SEXUALLY PURE

I was talking with a counselor who told me that sexual addiction is the number one problem among men with whom he counsels. This scares me to death. We live in a cesspool of explicit pornography and graphically displayed sex, which is hard to escape or avoid. I have been faithful to my wife for 49 years and, with God’s help and grace, intend to keep it that way. It is an increasing challenge. II Timothy 2:22 in the Living Bible: “Run from anything that gives you the evil thoughts that young men often have.” Although I am not young any longer, the advice still stands. I need to run away from movies, books, magazines, music, web sites--whatever displeases the Lord and can cause me to go down a road from which retreat is difficult. 

The song “A Pure Heart” by Rusty Nelson speaks volumes to me.

 “A pure heart, that’s what I long for; a heart that follows hard after Thee. A heart that hides Your word so that sin will not come in; a heart that’s undivided but one You rule and reign; a heart that beats compassion, that pleases You my Lord, a sweet aroma of worship that rises to Your throne.”

I’m reminded of Paul’s warning in I Corinthians 9:27: “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” The Living Bible adds: “…and be asked to step aside.” What a horrible thought…to be taken out of the game…sidelined…watching the action from a distance…to be “unblessable.” I’m not talking about my salvation, but being unable to bear fruit for God.

Is failure fatal? 

In some cases it may well be. I have seen it and, perhaps, so have you. Do you need to make some changes? How close to the edge are you skating?

Wednesday
Nov292017

One key ingredient in a team worth working for!

Here is a good word from prolific blogger and author, Michael Hyatt. I could not agree more with his assessment and conclusion.

Originally posted by Michael Hyatt

One Key Ingredient in a Team Worth Working For

And Here’s a Hint: It’s Not Talent, Skill, or Expertise

Is there anything more frustrating than trying to accomplish a big goal with someone who’s negative, unimaginative, and defensive?

Thankfully, it’s been a while since I’ve tried. But I’ve had my share in the past, and I can tell you that nothing will kill an organization’s productivity and vision like a can’t-do person.

But if this kind of cynicism brings a team down, what can lift it up?

Several weeks ago my team and I met to review our business and make plans for the coming year. The whole process was exhilarating, but one part that stands out for me was when we discussed our values.

We identified what matters most to us about the way we work and collaborate. It was important for us to identify not what we wanted to be, but who we really are.

People began throwing different qualities on the board, and we built out a good list. But it didn’t feel complete. Something was missing. Finally someone mentioned the infectious enthusiasm of a fellow teammate.

Bam! That was it. Infectious Enthusiasm.

Everyone on our team has this quality, but sometimes the fish don’t notice the water they’re swimming in. We needed to identify it, highlight it, underscore it, and put it in BIG LETTERS.

Infectious enthusiasm is a key ingredient in a team worth working for. Talent, skill, expertise are only part of the picture. If you’re not bringing energy, optimism, and creativity to the party, it won’t be much fun. Why?

1.  Motivation. Enthusiastic people bring their own battery pack. You never have to worry about motivating them because they’re already plugged into the business and fully engaged.

2.  Solutions. Problems and obstacles are part of business. A former colleague of mine used to say that if work was easy, they wouldn’t pay us. But enthusiasm unlocks innovative thinking. Instead of seeing the roadblock and turning around, enthusiastic people find workarounds. They’ll go over, under, around—or just build a new road.

3.  Ownership. Can-do people own whatever part of the process and outcome they’re responsible for—and they’re usually willing to assist on the rest. That means they don’t need heavy management. They just get going and get things done.

4.  Achievement. Achievement takes energy. If you have motivated team members who are eager to find solutions and own the outcome, guess what happens? You start accomplishing goals.

5.  Culture. Whether good or bad, attitudes are communicable. Enthusiastic people are fun to work with, which means they can bring up the mood of the whole team. It’s infectious. The net result is a positive team culture. And here’s the great thing. It’s practically self-perpetuating.

Some people might object and say this is really a question of personality. What they mean is that people can’t help it. They’re either positive or not. But that’s not true.

Enthusiasm is a choice. the attitude we bring to our circumstances is entirely within our own control.MICHAEL HYATT 

 

 

 

Saturday
Nov252017

King David's other sin!

The First Sin:

 King David committed adultery and then murder...

 “David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’”  

 ~2 Samuel 12:13a (ESV)

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.”

~Psalm 51:1-4a (ESV)

Psalm 51 has been of huge encouragement to countless people regarding sin in their lives.

This first sin (committing adultery with Bathsheba and then having her husband Uriah murdered) is well-known and has been preached on and taught for several thousand years. In most evangelical circles committing adultery and/or murder would have serious consequences and would, in most cases, disqualify someone for leadership for a long time, if not forever.

Most everyone has heard this story and most everyone would agree that the sin was grievous in God’s sight. We know that it carried a huge price tag for David in his personal and family life.

The average Bible-preaching, Jesus-honoring, gospel-centered church today would come down heavy on the sin of adultery. Sexual sin among leaders usually results in swift action.

But there is another sin David committed that is hardly ever mentioned. It is more prominent and widespread than adultery, but is, for the most part, overlooked, with scant attention paid to it.

 The Other Sin:

King David took a census numbering the people of Israel...

“But David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the Lord, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.’” (Emphasis mine.)

 ~2 Samuel 24:10 (ESV)

The story is problematic in that it appears that the Lord suggested David count the people. (2 Samuel 24:1) Perhaps the sin lies in David’s heart and motivation in the counting. At any rate, 70,000 people lost their lives as a result of David’s second sin, whereas two people (husband Uriah and the baby) lost their lives as a result of David’s first sin. So by sheer body count, the other sin was more costly. 

We pay a lot of attention to the sin of adultery today, but what attention do we give to “counting.” What is the sin in this?

It was Albert Einstein who said, “A lot of what can be counted doesn’t count, and a lot of what counts can’t be counted.”

 Allow me to add to that by saying that what really doesn’t count is easy to count and what really counts is hard to count.

 I’m not 100% sure of what David had going on in his heart and values, but find it interesting that he says, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done.” Not just sinned, but “sinned greatly.” He also goes on to say, “I have done very foolishly.

Not just foolishly but “very foolishly.” So, he discerns in his heart that he has “sinned greatly” and done “very foolishly.” As to why he actually did what he did is open to speculation, but one thing is clear and that is that he was convicted that he had sinned greatly and acted foolishly.

So let’s talk about numbering/counting, as it goes on incessantly today in Christian circles. Now, let me be clear in saying that numbering or counting is not wrong in and of itself, but what we count and why we count is where the sin may lie.

I love 1 Corinthians 4:7 in The Message; “Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing?”

Having an unhealthy and unbiblical interest in knowing how much/many of anything I have as a leader and looking to that for significance can be sinful:

 1. Number of people in my ministry

 2. Number of dollars in the bank

 3. Number of hits on the website

 4. Number of followers on Twitter

 5. Number of friends on Facebook

 6. Number of attendees at conferences

 7. Number of subscribers to my blog site

 8. Number of books sold

Any of these things can become idols and replace love for/of Jesus in my heart and affections, which can lead to being driven (rather than led) to want more and more in every category mentioned above.

John D. Rockefeller was asked how much money it takes to make a man happy? His response: “Just a little bit more.” How much more do we need of the above eight mentioned items (and perhaps you can think of others) to keep us satisfied? Just a little bit more?

So fellow leader, hopefully you have not, or are not, falling into David’s first sin; and, even if you have, there is total forgiveness and restoration available to you. (Psalm51).

But where are you on “The Other Sin?” Are you attempting to get your sense of value, worth and identity by counting—and, thereby, competing and comparing with your fellow leaders?  

 

  • Is it time for you to rethink your definition of success, from God’s vantage point?
  • In your heart have you rewritten, “Well done good and faithful servant”  to read, well done good and successful, famous, better, most popular, fruitful servant?
  • Is the grace of God and the sovereignty of God your source of stability and security or have you been looking elsewhere? 

 

 

 

 

Friday
Nov242017

Being a leader worth following

Leading is not always easy nor is following. However, there are some things a leader can and should do that make following him/her easier. Ron Edmondson shares seven of them.

Originally posted by Ron Edmondson

Are you easy to follow as a leader?

I might ask — are you followable?

Followable may not be a Scrabble approved word — or even a word — but the application and the intent of the word is huge.

A followable leader has people who want to follow. See how elementary I can be?

Seriously, leaders who are easy to follow inspire people to join them on a journey and they develop loyalty from their team.

A couple of good questions to ask yourself: Do people want to follow my lead? Why would they want to follow me?

The best example I know of a followable leader is Jesus. Consider some of the reasons He was able to develop such loyalty among the people He led — why He was easy to follow.

Here are 7 qualities of an easy to follow leader:

1. Have a vision worth following - A leader needs a vision which lasts beyond today. There needs to be an element of faith and risk to motivate followers. The vision needs to take people somewhere they want to go, but aren’t sure how to get there. It needs to be a “bigger” reality than people are experiencing today. (Do I have to make that point for Jesus?)

2. Willing to lead the way – A leader who is easy to follow is willing to go first. They pave the way. (Jesus went first. He suffered first. He challenged the tired, worn out system first. Others could follow, because He led by example.)

3. Remain steadfast – Even through difficult days, a followable leader stays the course. Followers know they can depend on the, resolve, strength and fortitude of the leader during the darkest hours. (Jesus went all the way to the Cross!)

4. Display patience – A followable leader extends grace and forgiveness when mistakes are made. They pace the team until the team is ready for greater challenges. They equip the team with the proper training and resources to complete assignments. (Jesus gave His disciples — and everyone He met — much grace.)

5. Challenge followers with high expectations – People want to follow someone who sets the bar for achievement high. There’s no intrinsic value in following easy-to-attain goals. (Jesus pushed the disciples beyond what they thought they could do. Recall Peter walking on water?)

6. Practice humble servanthood – To be followable, a leader should display humility and be a servant of others — especially those he or she is supposed to be leading. (Jesus washed the disciples feet.)

7. Place energy into others – Followable leaders consistently invest in other people. They give real authority and responsibility as they encourage and develop other leaders. They even replace themselves in key positions. (Jesus sent the disciples out — and He’s left His church in our hands.)

Would you follow a leader with such qualities?