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A Wise Leader (Part 4)

This is the last in a 4-part series on leadership.

In Part 1, I addressed the difference between feedback and criticism, as well as the important role feedback has in effective leadership.

In Part 2, I acknowledged some things that I learned about myself through the process of asking for, receiving and accepting feedback and a few things I will be doing to help move myself forward in this area as a leader.

In Part 3, I recognized some truths about others that I learned through this process and have a game plan to help me be willing to hear what others have to say.

© Depositphotos.com/ ysbrand

© Depositphotos.com/
ysbrand

Now on to Part 4…

Love truth form a good leader; sound leadership is founded on loving integrity. Proverbs 20:28 (The Message)

According to this verse a good leader is one who is truthful, has integrity and is loving. The first two make sense, although I think our society too often lifts up those who are willing to bend the truth and break a few rules to get ahead. This verse contradicts that idea by throwing in love. And not just once, but twice. And not just here and there, but right from the start.

“If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:2 (NLT)

Love is required for good leadership. Again, in society, we think of people as good leaders because they’ve accumulated wealth, status and a following of thousands, maybe millions. Obviously, they’ve got something worth having, hearing or imitating. But followers eventually get hurt or are left empty when a leader loves themselves and their own benefit more than those they lead.

When love for others drives the thoughts, decisions and actions of a leader, they will be someone worth following.

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” John 13:34 (NLT)

In light of God’s love for me, what does that mean for me as a leader? What does it mean for me as a follower?

What I learned about God is that ultimately He wants me to see myself through His eyes, not my own or those of others, because His love for me is true and trustworthy.

God knows who He intended me to be when He created me. Sin has left its mark and tainted the beautiful creation He has made. Sin has stained my view when I look at myself through my own eyes. I am not unsusceptible to its effects. In fact, we all, every one of us, suffer its effects whether we realize it or not. But, when we do recognize it and are willing to let God change us, He begins to work with us as if we are already who He created us to be. I am not good enough on my own, but in Christ I am not a lost cause. God has given me strengths that sin has distorted. I also have weaknesses that sin accentuates. On the other hand, when I see myself through His eyes, there is only beauty. I see no flaws in any way that really matters. I am willing and able to address issues and apologize freely. My heart is open, honest, loving and caring. There is joy, energy and passion for what He is doing in me, through me and in the world around me. And I thank God for the people He has put in my life who are helping me see myself through His eyes because they see what He sees. What a blessing to experience life in His kingdom now knowing it’s only going to get better.

As I think about what this means for me, I also have to consider what it means for my relationship with Him.

  1. God is for me.

Everything God does in teaching, loving, correcting, disciplining and encouraging me is meant to draw me closer to Him and make me more Christ-like in my attitude, actions, thoughts and ways. God wants the best for me. It doesn’t mean I’ll always have the best according to the worlds definition. Status, position and power aren’t how we know God is for us. His blessings don’t always show themselves in worldly qualities and easily quantitative results. Sometimes His blessings show up in the dirty work of persevering. Sometimes His blessings show up in the painful experiences that help us trust Him more. But when I know and trust that God is for me, I will know that He can bring good from every situation, conversation and experience I go through.

  1. God is with me.

I am not alone. Ever. I spend so much time working alone: processing information, deciding next steps and wondering if I should think about things the way I do that I get quite lonely. I feel separated from others so when I’m around them I tend to think they feel just as separated from me. It’s hard to break back in. But when I know God is with me, I can talk to Him just as if another person was sitting with me. I can listen for His guidance, direction, thoughts, and input. And God is with every other person who knows Him as well so He is in fact drawing us all closer to each other as well. In Christ, we are unified, not divided nor separated, but coming together for His purpose so we never need to feel like we are against or opposed to each other, or on different paths. He is the way, He is the path. We walk it differently, but we walk it together. When we can find our common ground, our differences can actually be used to our advantage.

  1. God isn’t done with me.

There is a constant work in progress going on inside me simply because I’m still here. God doesn’t stop or give up even when I choose a wrong path, make a mistake or even fall back into old patterns and ways of thinking … not when I turn back to Him. He won’t force me to change, but He will lead me to change. His love makes the change worth it. A relationship with Him makes the challenges, difficulties and hardships worth it. When I’m willing to hear, receive and accept His feedback, I’ll be better able to hear, process and understand the feedback of others. His love leads to love. I hope to lead and love well.

Something to Consider…

God is for you. He made you and knows you intimately. He has your best intentions at heart. Will you turn to Him and let Him speak His truth and love into your life?

If you’ve accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit dwells in you. God is with you. If you haven’t already, say yes to Jesus and let God’s love lead you.

God isn’t done with you. Life is an ongoing process of learning ourselves and leading others into a deeper relationship with the One who loves you best. Continue to seek God’s guidance in your life and willingly walk alongside others who will help you be a leader for those who follow behind.

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A Wise Leader (Part 3)

friends(View: A Wise Leader Part 1 and Part 2)

Love and truth form a good leader; sound leadership is founded on loving integrity. Proverbs 20:28 (The Message)

As I’ve gone through the process of learning to ask for, receive and accept feedback, I’ve learned so much about myself, others and God. I know I need to be more comfortable with and accepting of who I am. I need to allow myself room to learn and grow understanding that the process is not always easy. As soon as I feel like I’ve done something that seems inadequate, I fold which is why feedback has been so difficult.

Because I see myself as inadequate, I expect others to as well. I read a blog by Seth Godin a while back where he talks about the idea of always bracing yourself for the worst. It’s a difficult, defeating and draining place to live. It also makes relationships hard to navigate because you never really feel like you can be at ease with others. Rather, you have to be in a posture of defense, ready to deflect or fight back.

So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! 2 Corinthians 5:16 (NLT)

But this isn’t really fair to others. In Christ or not in Christ, all people need to be viewed from Christ’s point of view. People fit into two categories: Those who already know Jesus and those who Jesus wants to know Him. All people are made in the image of God. Jesus died for everyone so I need to view them as someone He loves, and be secure in His love myself as I love them, too.

So what does this say to me about others in regards to feedback?

What I learned about others is that they do truly want to be encouraging and helpful.

While I think this is true in general, I believe it goes to a higher level in the family of believers. When people are aware of their own sin, failings and shortcomings, they are more willing to forgive, overlook and come alongside someone who struggles. Because we know our hearts are set on Jesus, we trust each other’s hearts in a deeper way. Their hearts are for us just as God is for us. Sometimes the truth is hard to hear, but when heard with an understanding that this person has a desire to move you forward, lift you over a hurdle or straight-out break down a wall, it can be received with the grace, kindness and love it was intended.

So here are a few ways I hope to be intentional with others.

1. Be open.

People like to give feedback. People like to be heard. Sometimes, we just need to listen. Listening doesn’t mean we need to receive what they have to say, but when we really listen, we might just hear something we really need to know. We might also learn something about the person speaking because God actually wants us to enter into a conversation that will help them as well.

2. Be discerning.

As I said before, we don’t need receive everything that’s said to us. We also don’t need to ask everyone for their opinion. Discernment helps us know who to engage in the process of growing. It helps us hear and recognize truth from lies, understand who has well-intentioned motives, and determine if they really have a solid understanding of what they are talking about. There is so much information available today that people think they are an expert just because they read it on the internet.

  1. Be grace-filled.

I say really stupid stuff sometimes. This isn’t about me being inadequate. It’s just a fact that I’m flawed and make mistakes. I don’t have all the information, I don’t have a complete understanding of the situation and sometimes, I don’t speak from a humble servant’s heart even though I know I should. But God has never turned His back on me so when others say things that hurt, I need to be willing to offer grace, forgive and give them room to learn and grow as well. It’s easy to want to fight back and defend, even accuse, but that’s not the way of Jesus. Grace that doesn’t overflow hasn’t been fully accepted.

Something to Consider…

Do you tend to brace yourself for the worst? Do you dismiss people who don’t say what you want to hear? Do you have a hard time seeing others through God’s eyes, especially when what they have to say seems harsh and unfair?

We are a broken people. In Christ, we have the freedom to be broken. In Christ, we have the freedom to love broken people. As we are healed in Christ, we will love and listen to each other His way.

A Wise Leader (Part 2)

© Depositphotos.com/ petrograd99

© Depositphotos.com/petrograd99

Love and truth form a good leader; sound leadership is founded on loving integrity. Proverbs 20:28 (The Message)

As I mentioned in my last blog, I’m participating in a two-year leadership program at my church. Part of leadership is the ability to receive and deliver feedback in a constructive and encouraging manner so that all parties are able to move forward in the best possible way. Feedback has always been difficult for me because I tend to hear it through the lens of criticism.

If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding. Proverbs 15:32 (NLT)

A couple of weeks ago I emailed a leadership and character review to a number of people I’ve worked with in a variety of roles and positions. 24 people took the time to offer me feedback.

I learned so much from the specific information in the survey. I’ve taken the time to go through all of the comments and have focused in on a few areas that need to be addressed. Beyond the specifics, I also learned a few things about myself and others just by going through this process.

I commented in my last post about how I basically completed the survey for myself, specifically highlighting the worst about myself so that nothing would surprise me.

What I learned about myself is that I’m my own worst critic.

For the most part, no one mentioned the things I said about myself at my worst. Only 1% of people rated me lower than I rated myself. Either I’m a really good actress, which I’m not, or I’m not responding or performing as poorly as I think I am as often as I think I do.

It’s important to be able to take an honest look at yourself and the actions and attitudes that make relationships and work environments difficult. It’s also important to remember what you do well and how you contribute to the overall purpose and mission of whatever group you’re part of.

While I’m not sure I like the idea of others being my worst critics, I know I’m way too hard on myself and need to focus on what’s true, good and right about myself. I’ve come up with a game plan to help shed some light on what I tend to keep in the dark. Here are a few things I hope to do going forward:

  1. Cut myself some slack.

I’m not perfect now and I’m not going to be later. I’m a work in progress and it’s a process I can trust because God has promised to complete it.

  1. Concentrate more on the solution than the problem.

I can’t undo what’s been done, but I can acknowledge what should be done going forward. God’s mercies are new every morning and in each moment we can decide to do it differently. When I realize there’s a problem, the wise thing to do is address the problem, make a decision and let that be where my mind focuses.

  1. Confess quickly.

When something does go wrong or not as intended, be willing to acknowledge the problem, accept responsibility as needed, ask for and offer forgiveness to both others involved as well as myself. The longer I hold onto things, the more ammunition I have against myself. God forgives quickly when we confess and repent and doesn’t hold anything against us. The sooner we can get the junk out of us, the sooner God can grow something beautiful in us.

Something to Consider…

How do you see yourself? Are you fair with yourself or do you let your own expectations weigh you down? Do you need to cut yourself some slack understanding that you are still growing and learning?

Do you tend to focus more on what’s gone wrong and how you messed up all the while looking back and feeling stuck or do you concentrate more on what’s good, right, lovely and true while moving forward?

Are you able to acknowledge problems quickly and let go or do you need to bring some issues out into the light so you can be free of the hold they have on you?

God’s heart for you is good. Let Him have room in you to move: growing, changing and transforming you into the person He created you to be. Learn to enjoy the process He has started.

A Wise Leader (Part 1)

© Depositphotos.com/ robertprzybysz

© Depositphotos.com/
robertprzybysz

This is a multi-part blog based on my experience of learning to ask for, receive and accept feedback.

Love and truth form a good leader; sound leadership is founded on loving integrity. Proverbs 20:28 (The Message)

I’m involved in a two-year leadership program at my church. It’s been both challenging and rewarding as we learn about leadership characteristics, church history and movements, and ultimately, what it means to be a Christ follower leading with a servant’s heart. We also break into smaller discipleship groups and talk specifically about what God is doing in our lives, how He’s teaching, loving and caring for us, as well as using us to show His love and compassion to others. Each week we set ourselves aside and soak up what the speaker has to say, what God wants us to hear and how we can move more freely in what He wants us to do. It’s truly a great opportunity to come alongside others who want to be living fully in God’s presence specifically in an area of leadership, wherever that may be.

Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. Proverbs 15:31 (NIV)

A few weeks ago we heard a talk about feedback versus criticism (delivered by my wonderful husband, Craig, by the way). I admit this has been a very difficult place for me. I hear through the lens of criticism most of the time. I’ve realized over the last two years that I do not trust many people and even those I trust most, I am still hesitant with in certain situations and with certain topics. I don’t expect others to think the best of me. I also expect to be sacrificed for the sake of others.

God’s love, and the way we are to love each other, is a sacrificial love. It’s a love that gives, serves and even dies for another. But this sacrificial love requires a willingness on the part of the one sacrificing. It is a choice to put yourself in front of an issue and take a stand understanding the risk versus someone taking a step back or no step at all and putting you out in front to take the brunt of the problem.

What I’ve come to understand and am learning to accept is that God is my protection regardless if I’m “sacrificed” by my own choice or the decision of others. Regardless of what comes at me or what I’m thrown into, God has my back. He loves me unconditionally and I am safe, accepted, protected, and loved simply because I trust Him to do so. He is the One through whom all blessings flow, all good things come and He will never leave me to figure things out on my own. He’s in it with me. I just need to trust and obey.

So, back to the point of my message … feedback and criticism.

We were tasked with sending out a review to people who are over, under and next to us. In other words, those who we answer to in our work or volunteering, those we work or serve alongside and those who answer to us in some role or have experienced us as leaders. This can include at work, at church, in ministry, volunteering, family and even friends. (i.e., my husband and I are part of a small group and we’ve organized many functions together. They know how I operate in a group setting working together to accomplish a common goal.)

After I sent the survey, the first thing I did was make a list of every negative thing people could say so that nothing would surprise me. This way, maybe it wouldn’t hurt so bad to actually hear what a failure I’ve been. The next thing was to go through the list of rated questions and rate myself. I don’t know that I would actually recommend doing either of these things, but it’s just the truth of what I did at the time.

We received our responses this week. In my next blogs I’d like to share a few things I learned about myself and others through this process. For now, I wonder if you’d be willing to consider a few questions yourself.

Something to Consider…

  1. Do you understand the difference between feedback and criticism? Here is a simple definition of each:

Criticism – to find or point out fault

Feedback – to give evaluative or corrective information

Criticism tells you what you did wrong. Feedback helps you move forward. In The 360 Degree Leader, John Maxwell addresses this topic. I highly encourage you to check out this book if you are interested in growing as a leader.

  1. How well do you do at giving and receiving feedback? Do you dread hearing what others have to say about your quality of work or your ability to respond and interact with others? Or do you welcome counsel and advice about how to improve your skills both practically and relationally?
  2. How might God want to grow you in this area? How might God want to use you to help others grow in this area?

 

Follow Me

© Depositphotos.com/ rachwal

© Depositphotos.com/
rachwal

“As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.” Matthew 9:9

Prior to this, Matthew was following the Roman government and other tax collectors. He was hated and reviled by the Jewish people. And yet, Jesus, a Rabbi, called Matthew to follow Him. In other words, He called him to stop doing what he was doing and start doing something new. Matthew would have to give up what he was pursuing in his following and pursue what Jesus was doing. It didn’t take but a moment for him to decide to take Jesus up on His offer. He walked away from it all.

Following isn’t mindlessly going where everyone else is going. In this case, it’s an intentional decision to go somewhere and do something very specific. There is an intentional effort to learn and do what someone else already knows and is doing. We learn what we pay attention to. We learn what we see, hear and experience.

Psalm 1:1-2 says:

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.”

There is a benefit to giving careful consideration to our actions, relationships and who we pay attention to and learn from.

Paul in writing to the Philippians, Thessalonians, Corinthians and others says, “Imitate me.” Do what I do, follow my example and put into practice what you hear me say and watch me do. Why? Because I follow Christ. He is my example.

Paul also tells Timothy that he is to be an example.

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

There are plenty of people who are in the spotlight and are considered role models and examples regardless of whether or not they want to be one. Some take it seriously, others just assume it’s not their issue.

As a follower of Christ, you are to follow the example of Jesus and those who knew Him. These examples are recorded in the Bible. We also follow the examples of those who have followed the followers of Jesus, and those who have followed the followers of the followers of the followers…

Something to Consider…

So who do you choose to follow and why? Whose example do you imitate? Have you given it much thought? Take an inventory of who influences and affects your decisions, words and actions. Do they help you follow Jesus or lead you away from Him?

If you are a follower of Jesus, you are also an example to others. Do you know who is following you? Ask God to show you any thoughts, behaviors or words that don’t honor Him. Ask Him to grow your understanding of the importance of demonstrating the true character of Christ with others.

Choose today to follow Jesus wholeheartedly. He is the role model worth imitating.

Come … Willingly

© Depositphotos.com/Madrabothair

© Depositphotos.com/ Madrabothair

 “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9a

We have a rule in our house. We actually have several, but this is one we’ve actually been able to hold to pretty consistently. It’s even been used in settings outside our home with others.

If you volunteer someone else to do a job, you are the one who will do it.

Why? Because volunteering requires a willingness and when you volunteer another instead of volunteering yourself, you impose your will on another. You say, “I don’t think I should have to do it. I think you should do it.” And when they don’t, judgment creeps in.

Jesus didn’t sit behind His followers and say, “Pick up your cross and do as I tell you.”

Rather,

“He (Jesus) called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’” Mark 8:34

And,

“I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:15

Jesus says He will not volunteer you for anything, but if you are willing, here is what is required. He will not volunteer you for anything He is unwilling to do, but as His follower, He will ask you … no, no, He will expect you to do what He has already done.

We have a choice.

Jesus knows we are not perfect, yet here are His ground rules:

  1. Deny yourself.
  2. Take up your cross.
  3. Follow me (Jesus).
  4. Do as I (Jesus) have done.

Jesus has accomplished His purpose of reconciling the world to God. We don’t need to do this. It is finished!

However, as His ambassadors in this world, this is the message we spread. Jesus has paid the price for our sins and set us free to live His way. If we are unwilling to “do”, we’ve stopped short of accomplishing our purposes for God.

We don’t wait for God to show us who to love; we love those we are with. Our expectations of what others should be doing dictates what we ourselves believe is right.

Jesus invites you to come. Will you?

Something to Consider…

Jesus will not volunteer you for the life He wants to give you, but He has set the perfect example and He invites you to come willingly. What is He currently inviting you to come and join with Him in doing?

What expectations do you have of others, yet you yourself are unwilling to do? As you seek God’s kingdom in your own life, let Jesus be your example. When you choose to follow Him, you will be less concerned with what others are doing or not doing because you will be doing what He is doing.

Why Go to Church?

IMG_1781“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.” Luke 4:16a

“Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them.” Mark 10:1

I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with Christians about why we go to church. Or better yet, why people don’t want to go to church. Conversations that honestly surprise me. I don’t expect people who don’t know Jesus to want to go to church. But when they decide to seek Jesus, when they decide they want to at least get some information about knowing Jesus, people often decide to go to church. So if those who don’t know Jesus go to church to find Him, why don’t those who know Him go there to experience His presence as well? Why don’t those who know Him go there to help others find Him?

Going to church is not a salvation issue. Let me repeat, not going to church will not send you to hell if you know Jesus and have faith in His saving grace.

You are not a bad person for not going to church. However, you are a sinner. And I’m a sinner. And in Christ we are washed cleaned clothed in His righteousness and are adopted into the family of God as His child.

So if you are a Christian and you battle with why you should go to church, let me offer this one perspective and hopefully you will find it to be an encouragement to begin or continue going to church.

We have an opportunity to know God and experience His presence. Jesus promises that when two or more gather together, there He is as well. (Matthew 18) So when we come together at church, as the church, we join in unity with others to love and worship God and experience His presence. Yes, we can meet other places but understand that the gathering of God’s people is His church so you may already be doing the very thing you think you don’t want to do. And when we gather and God is present, there is joy and blessing found in His presence. Do you need a little joy in your life? Go to church with the expectation of experiencing God’s presence and joy.

We also have the opportunity to love others who love Jesus. Just like you go to visit your family at their homes for various reasons at various times because you love them, we can gather together and spend time with our spiritual family. Each person who knows Jesus is your brother or sister in Christ. Do brothers and sisters sometimes hurt each other? Of course they do. People who go to church are no different. Sometimes there are pains and hurts, but in Christ, the goal is restoration and reconciliation. The hope is that those difficulties can be overcome because God is our perfect Father who works out our relationships. He helps us understand what it means to love our families the way He loves us. Do you need some hope for your family and relationships? Go to church with an expectation of help to love and hope that it will be better.

And we have the opportunity to love those who are wanting to know Jesus and looking for a family of their own. You can be the one to introduce them to Jesus. Do you need to be at church to do this? No. Hopefully, you are introducing people to Jesus all the time because you display Him through your words and actions. They know the truth about Him because of who He is in you. Do you let Him show? Do you want others to know Him? Do you want to be encouraged by the hearts of those seeking Jesus so that you can remember why it matters? Go to church with a heart set on Christ so you can see others through His eyes.

There is one issue of salvation: Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ?

Then there are issues of the heart. Is church an issue of your heart? Ask Jesus to be the ultimate authority on whether or not you go.

“Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.” Matthew 4:25

We have the opportunity to gather together to hear the teachings of Jesus from someone anointed with the Holy Spirit to preach and teach His Word. People came from all over traveling great distances on foot so they could be in the presence of Jesus. You can give whatever reasons you want not to go, but Jesus went, so I go, too. He is the one whose example I want to follow.