Leading versus “lording”

Bad bossJesus was talking to his disciples and he said this.  “You’ve observed how….rulers throw their weight around and how quickly a little power goes to their heads.  It’s not going to be that way with you.”  Matthew 20:25, The Message.

Jesus’ statement came directly after one of his disciples asked for appointment to a seat of power for her sons in what she thought the Kingdom was going to be.  Sound familiar? Continue reading →

Five Reasons for Integrity

new-york-times-best-seller-list-imageThe internet lit up recently with story after story about a Seattle pastor who used over $200,000 of his megachurch’s money to buy his way on to the New York Times best seller list. It’s bad enough for any author to attempt such a deceit, but it’s more painful when it’s a person making claims about representing Jesus. The criticisms of such behaviors get “enhanced” much like the prison sentence of a person using a gun for a crime or belonging to a criminal street gang. Continue reading →

We want to sit at the head table.

Power 03“You let people walk all over you.”  A friend recounted how an advice-giver told him to “get a spine.”  Seemed like good advice.  Being everyone’s doormat is not a good thing.

Although…  Power is funny because it doesn’t always give what it promises to its possessor.   Continue reading →

My Top Five Reasons for Public Service

Public Service 01A friend of mine recently asked me to speak to a local civic club about the value of public service.  It’s a topic I feel particularly passionate about, so I said yes.  Here are my top 5 reasons that everyone should find ways to serve his/her community.

Public Service (hereafter PS) is a small attempt to return some of the benefits of living in a village, town, or city.  Regular garbage pickup, potable water, relatively crime free environments, orderly traffic, public schools, places to purchase items needed for life such as food or medical care, and entertainment venues are just a few of the many benefits of life in a community.  The greater the involvement of the citizenry, the greater these benefits become. Continue reading →

Letting People Down

down or depressedThe president began the meeting with, “We can’t do any business because we don’t have a quorum.”

It has happened before.  A carefully constructed agenda and set of to-do’s was turned into just an interesting conversation.  The meeting ended with nothing getting done in spite of the fact that the organizational clock was ticking.

Those who didn’t attend had lots of reasons.  Worked spilled over into the meeting time.  School called to ask a parent to attend to a sick child.  Second thoughts about belonging to our group.  Too many commitments and not enough time.  All legitimate reasons.  But all shutting down the actions of the group. Continue reading →

The Top Five Reasons for Getting Rid of Your Office

OfficeI don’t have an office.

Necessity required that I give up my bookshelf-lined office and half of my library in order to move to a new town as a church planter. A church “planter” does just that – plants or begins a new church. Church planting requires a change of context, new skills, and a new “audience.”

It also requires a new place to “office.” My new office happens to be coffee shops. One business writer calls this “going bedouin” as in moving from one place to another.

Continue reading →


Teamwork 01One of the greatest sins a “leader” can commit is to work alone.  Good leadership equips, empowers, trusts, and releases.  The best way to do this is through teams, and this is a good definition of team.  “A team is a group organized to work together to accomplish a set of objectives that cannot be achieved effectively by individuals.” 

Teamwork is the wisest means by which to contribute to an organization.  An organization that does not use teams is limited by the capabilities of its weakest or most fearful leader. 

Weak leaders function like log jams that slow everyone else down or even prevent forward motion.  Fears, vested interests, ego, or prejudices can hamper the health and effectiveness of an organization.

That’s why teams are important.  In teams, everyone has a vital role to play, everyone is empowered to contribute, and every opinion is important in the formation of direction.  Teams also require humility to function correctly.  A “leader” with huge ego issues will not be able to function in a team setting; it will be too threatening.

The same article about teams, quoted above, has a set of guidelines for team membership.  The whole list is not printed here, but note the emphasis on individual contribution in the items listed.

  • Contribute ideas and solutions
  • Recognize and respect differences in others
  • Value the ideas and contributions of others
  • Listen and share information
  • Be flexible and respect the partnership created by a team — strive for the “win-win”

Autocratic and egotistic leaders are only able to reach to their personal limits.  In team work, individual commitment usually transcends the team. A team outperforms an individual and all reasonable expectations given to its individual members. That is, a team has a synergistic effect…one plus one equals a lot more than two.

Jesus understood the importance of “team” and its ability to transform individuals.  He took 12 men who, individually, could never have accomplished what they did as a team in a few short years.  During his three years with them, he empowered them, allowed them to fail, and when needed, supplied specific teaching.

Teamwork is vital to healthy organizations, business or religious.  An individual that tries to “lead” by himself is a danger to progress and growth, because he will function like a governor on a motor and slow the organization to his own limitations.