2 great things have happened this week…
Firstly, my book ’19’ will be released on the 27th October. This is a book for leaders of all ages but very much to those beginning on their leadership journey. I was 19 when I was given my first introduction to leadership, becoming the leader of the local church youth group.
Now, 28 years later, I am still leading in local church, and I am passing on what I have learned along the way. Things I know any young leader will need to learn so they can still be leading in 25 years time.
Secondly, the website The 19 Project is live. Very much coming from the premise of the book and my desire to help resource and raise the next generation of young leaders, my hope is the site will become a hub of useful articles, free resource and eventually offer access to live Q&A’s, training material, connection with other leaders, and much more.
You can join The 19 Project and help to shape it for the future. It’s free. When you do this, you will be able to download a free chapter of the book, pre-order it at a discounted rate and take a quick survey to provide some initial feedback on the site.
Thanks for the support along the way. Not sure what is going to happen with this site but why not come over to The 19 Project now and stay in touch with all that is happening over there. You can find me on Facebook too. Click on the links below…
Just click below to answer 6 very short and quick questions. It only takes 2 minutes!!
Check out the Bonus question too if you’d like to get early access.
A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger, with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord; therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing. There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. [Proverbs 6:12-19]
Nobody wants to be known as someone with bad character, yet this is the state many of us find ourselves in, if only for the lack of a little focus and intentionality. Such a state brings calamity, demotion and in reality means people don’t want to hang around us.
Good character is not our default position.
Good character comes through purposeful design.
Think about it. We are inherently selfish. We give most of our attention to ourselves. We want to make sure we have what we want, not just what we need. We will bump people out of the way to make a way. We expect as much as possible for as little as possible. We praise and curse with the same mouth. The list of our character flaws is probably endless.
I have learned this lesson by getting it right and getting it wrong. Through awkward conversations and times of confrontation by people who care for me. I have discovered that to lead well in life is to be watchful and protective of the right kind of character. And such watchfulness takes concentration and effort. Start by avoiding the list of those things which don’t look good from Gods point of view…
Quick to do wrong things.
False witness towards others.
Then remember how Jesus took the standard higher on many of these in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, 6 & 7. Let’s be honest, we all have our weaknesses, those unredeemed aspects of our personality which we can use to quickly blame our words and actions on.
Instead let’s be those who are different. Living by design. Who lead well. Are above reproach. Live a life worthy of the calling to which you are called. Honour God in all things. Watch. Be alert. Sin and temptation are always at the door. Stay focused on Jesus. Keep your eyes on Him. Don’t allow yourself to drift. Hold fast your confession of faith. Do not be afraid. Repent quickly.
My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; like Sheol let us swallow them alive, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse”– my son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths [Proverbs 1:10-15]
Life is a challenge. I would go as far to say that life is one long test. Things go well, things don’t go so well. Good days and other days.
I have made big mistakes which have had little or no impact on me, while other smaller, daft ones, have had the potential to cause major consequences. You just don’t know sometimes.
The challenge then becomes about protect yourself. To protect your future. To protect the God-given future. It doesn’t mean doing nothing and taking no risks. Verses like these in Proverbs have helped me to create some non-negotiables for how I travel, make decisions and walk with God through life.
Do not consent. Stay strong. Learn to say NO. There are some things which I should just not agree to.
Be alert to ambush. Keep an eye out for what’s going on around you. Call them boundaries, guardrails, whatever. Put them in place, they will keep you from getting caught out.
Stay away from the place of danger. Don’t go to those places where temptation may be too strong. It’s too easy to justify our behaviour sometimes but ultimately it only hurts us.
The crowd is not always right. This may be the message of the world but we are not meant to just go with the way of the world. It doesn’t matter everyone else is doing it or even that society says it’s ok. Do what is right because it is the right thing to do.
Hold back when appropriate. Take a moment. Look. Really look. Fools do rush in. It can be difficult but learn to wait for Gods lead.
All with the power of the Holy Spirit helping you too. This is the adventure of leading well in life. Go for it!
Would you add anything else to the list of non-negotiables?
As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. [Proverbs 27:17]
Everyday we interact with others. Everyday how we deal with these interactions can help us win friends and influence people. Or maybe not.
Some people seem to be naturally gifted in building relationships, handling confrontation, harnessing the opportunities that new encounters can bring. Some of us aren’t. Instead we focus more on ourselves, our interests, our point of view, our growth and our need for affirmation.
To lead well in life is to turn the focus from ourselves on to other people. To intentionally think of them. To take responsibility for playing our part which in reality is the only part we can take responsibility for.
Smile. Costs nothing to give.
Remember names. Who enjoys being called by the wrong one.
Speak words of encouragement. Specific words show we have noticed something someone has done well.
Believe the best of people. This is the difference when we focus on others and not ourselves. We can be too keen to protect our own position because we believe in us more than others.
Recognise the power of having the right people around you. People can work with you, help you to grow, stop you from making mistakes, and keep you on track with all you want to accomplish.
Pass on what you know to someone. Help others to grow. Pour into another what you have had poured into you.
The best of relationships take time and effort. Building anything takes time and great relationships are no different. Don’t compare the depth of your friendships with people with the ones they have with others. Just be a friend, serving and loving them the best you can.
Help people to know you better. It’s not that people don’t like me, it’s that they don’t understand me. Or I could put it another way and say it’s that they don’t know me well enough.
When we focus on these things we sharpen others. We make them better. We brighten their countenance. We lift them. We put a smile on their face. We put a spring in their step. We become someone known as someone who is all about helping others to flourish.
The alternative is way too selfish and doesn’t bear thinking about.
How do you sharpen your people focus?
We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps [Prov 16:9 NLT]
We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it. [Prov 16:9 Message]
When I was younger I don’t remember having any great ambition to be something or someone in the future. Maybe you did. I would have loved to have been a sportsman of some sort as I was pretty good at a few. I can complain about lack of opportunity but I lacked the discipline needed when the opportunity came along.
Since then I have discovered that leading well is less about the destination and more about the steps along the way. It is less about what I achieve and more about who I become along the way.
Don’t get me wrong, we need the big dreams and a vision of a preferred future but it is the steps we take along the way which determine where we get to. And then we need to happy that when we get ‘there’ the preferred future may doubtless look different to what we anticipated.
Dreams are exciting and in reality, quite easy. We can all imagine great things. Steps though are more tricky, they represent where the rubber hits the road.
Steps take courage.
Steps involve action.
Steps are time consuming.
Steps demonstrate our faith in God.
Steps will grow us.
Steps can be hard work.
Steps can be quick sometimes or slow at other times.
Steps are often lonely.
Steps take us somewhere.
Steps are Gods to determine. After all, He wants to get us to where we ‘need’ to be more than we want to get to where we ‘think’ we should be.
At the age of 47 I never imagined I would be where I am, doing what I do, but I am. God’s plans have worked out how He saw best. To say I have faith in Him means trusting where I am and the journey I am walking are the steps He is wanting me to take.
My responsibility is simple ~ keep walking, one step at a time, with God very much in the lead position.
Why not take a moment to thank God for where He is brought you to?
Then pray and give Him permission to keep ordering your future steps.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge [Proverbs 1:7a NIV]
Start with God – the first step in learning is bowing down to God [Proverbs 1:7a The Message]
Anything we do has a start.
Anything we want to do has to have a start.
To get fit. To lose weight. To learn a new language. To become better qualified. Whatever it is for us, the only way it happens is by making a start.
A good start makes all the difference.
To lead well in life we have to start somewhere. As a Christian I can place my focus on any number of good practices ~ reading my Bible, praying every day, listening for Gods voice, connecting with others, enjoying some time in worship.
To lead well in life we have to start at the right somewhere.
Know our place. Know our position. Know our purpose.
This verse is a simple reminder to me that to lead well in life is to start with God.
To know my place is to remember that I am not God, and that He is. It is to honour Him and to ‘bow down’ before Him. It is to be humble before God.
To know my position is to walk with God, to be led by the Holy Spirit, listening out for His voice and being continually in conversation with Him about all life brings.
To know my purpose flows from these. As I honour God ad walk with Him, my purpose becomes clearer and my life naturally becomes about the things of God, not my own selfish ambitions.
Start well. Run well. Finish well.
Leading like this will cause others to follow.
Why not take a moment thanking God for who He is in your life? If necessary, make today a new start.