Lead Well: Work on Our Character

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…

Pride.
Lying.
Killing people.
Scheming.
Quick to do wrong things.
False witness towards others.
Bringing discord.

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.

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Walking With God: 5 Things to Help us ‘Go For The Prize’

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. [1 Corinthians 9:24-27]

At school we are taught that it was the taking part which mattered the most. [Thoughts like these surely only come from people who never won anything]. Yet right here in scripture we see Paul encouraging us to ‘go for the prize’, to ‘go for the win.’

Everybody can participate, yet only those with a certain set of characteristics actually win the prize

Jesus has set us up for the win already. Everything that could possibly hold us back as been nailed to the cross, the only restrictions are those we place on ourselves through lingering doubts and unbelief, or those spoken over us reminding us of our past, our shortcomings or the impossibility of success.

5 things which may just help us…

Know your race. We are not running for ourselves, we are running for Jesus. We are not running because we ‘have to’, instead this is a race we have ‘chosen’ to be part of.  When I was at school I was more a sprinter than a long distance runner so there was a difference when I ran the 100 metres as opposed to the one time I was asked to fill in for the 1500. One was my race and I ran thinking I could win, the other I ran thinking when will this be over, especially as I finished at least half a lap behind everyone else.

Run as if to win. Be determined. When you know you are running the right race for you then you can run as if to win. When it comes to the Christian faith, knowing what has been done for us, and the prize that awaits us, should give us enough motivation to run with the attitude of someone who already understands they are a winner.

Develop some self-control. Train hard, keep learning. This is the stuff we don’t like so much but its often in these small areas of discipline and hard work which influence the level of our success in any race. Prayer. Fasting. Worship. Reading the Word. Fight the good fight of faith. Each one build our stamina and ability to run well for the entirety of our journey with God.

Focus. Run with purpose. Always keep the bigger picture in view. We don’t run for ourselves, we are running for our Saviour. We are not competing to win a prize for our own sense of accomplishment but rather for a prize of greater value and importance. To hear the words of Jesus when we enter glory. ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’.

Don’t disqualify yourself. Stay in the lanes. There may not be a need for any qualification to become a runner in this race but we can easily disqualify ourselves. Don’t run over people to get to your victory. The way we run is as important as the running itself.

Lets not be so focused on the finish line that we miss out on the opportunity to win along the way.

A better way to win is taking others across the finish line with you, which means always being on lookout for ways to help others join the race with us, as well helping those who are running alongside us to keep on running their race too.

How’s your attitude to the race? Still running ‘as if to win?’ Why not take some time out today and ask God to help you run your race well.

Lead Well: Let Love Be Seen

love-001

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. [‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-7‬]

We read these words and the familiarity of them can cause them to lose their power. But they must not.

Love is the difference. 

More than gifting, more than position, more than anything we may consider important, love has to be evident. It has to become more visible ~ in our marriages, our family, our homes, in our teams, our churches, and between leaders.

Love reveals itself in a whole bunch of simple way so that we become people who are…

patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not arrogant, not rude, not insistent on our particular way, not irritable, not someone who resents, not keep records of wrong, truthful, enduring all things. 

How about taking an inventory on how we love? In every sphere of life, leader or not, how is our love quotient? On those characteristics above how would we score ourselves out of 10? Where is there a need for honesty and improvement?

Let love be an evident fruit of the Spirit in our life which causes others to comment. Not a soppy romantic love but a strong, resolute love. Something which remains regardless of what’s going on around us. And not so we can boast either, except to recognise the work God is doing in our life  as we choose to live by the Spirit and not according to the flesh.

I would love to hear what you think…

Be Willing to Learn from Others

In Genesis 18 we see Moses was doing a good job but the observation of Jethro was similar to what some of us maybe heard at school ‘could do better’.

He was getting the job done. He was making progress but the wisdom of Jethro brought insight to Moses he may never have seen. Sometimes we can be so busy doing what we do, we never consider there could be a better way.

Learn from Moses how we can always be learning and looking for ways to improve our leadership effectiveness…

Listen. 

Listen to the right people. 

Listen to the right people who have a desire to see you succeed. 

Act on what you have heard. 

Become a leader who is willing to release others. 

Become a beyond you leader. 

Be a leader who sees something in others which they may not see in themselves. 

I am thankful for a couple called Kevin & Tina Hudson who did this for me. Now I am trying to do the same for others. That’s the heart behind my book ’19’ which should be published later in the year.

When it comes to building a church, a business, a life even, then we have to be willing to learn from others and make changes if necessary.

What would you add to this?

Today’s Leadership Reminders

Reading feedback today from our first Growth Track session last night and I am reminded of some important leadership principles…

Be willing to listen to other peoples opinions. It can make for uncomfortable reading but by involving others you have the potential to take something which is good and make it so much better. This is why I love that we are doing a ‘pilot run’ of the Growth Track, for such a reason and some of the comments are great.

Be willing to admit when it wasn’t quite right. All the planning in the world doesn’t make up for actually going through something with a bunch of people. The feedback just reminded me of things I had meant to say, they were in my notes but I just forgot.

Be willing to work hard at making necessary changes. Some of these are on me to do and then getting others to help with the rest. It’s no good listening to comments to just ignore them. Leaders execute stuff, they get stuff done and work hard to make things better.

Team is always best. This for me is an example of Team Xcel at it’s very best, collaborating on what we all agree will be a great success and help many people in their journey with God. Team can also help in making the suggestions happen too.

It’s all about helping people move on one step with God. It’s why I am excited about the Growth Track and what it can mean for people and their connection with God, with others, with their purpose and with the church family.

What have your leadership reminders been today?

Embrace the Tough Conversations

Leadership often involves tough conversations. Here’s what I have observed from my own journey…

1. Character develops when you are stretched. Learning how to handle tough conversations will definitely do that. No one enjoys this part of leadership development. How we respond, shows what we are made of.

2. The pressure of a tough conversation can be good for us. Not so much pressure that we are completely destroyed but just enough that we are broken, ready to be remade and reshaped the way God intended.

3. Tough conversations give greater opportunity for growth. We might not like what we hear but if we respond correctly we will be the better for it. The choice is ours whether we become bitter or better from the experience. Whether we grow as leader or grind to halt as a leader.

4. Take the hit. At age 19 a lot of the conversations about my leadership were tough. I don’t think I really listened. Possibly I felt invincible. However, I do remember being sat in the kitchen in my leaders house and them asking a simple question ‘Is it true?’ I took the hit and it saved me.

5. Always be honest. Cover up, blagging it, telling a lie, hoping that an almost truth is enough, denial – none of them really work. Honesty is the best policy. Get whatever is being talked about into the open, dealt with and begin to move on.

Good leaders will have the conversation, desire to see the issue resolved and not return to it again, unless you take them through your own repeat behaviour.

Now, I am on the other side of the equation and find myself as a leader having tough conversations with future leaders and I endeavour to make sure I keep the following in mind…

Don’t be too harsh or judgemental
Remember you were a young leader once
Everyone misses the mark at times
Look for where the change can be made and encourage them towards it
Make sure they know you still believe in them

It’s about grace and truth. Too much truth and we hurt people. Too much grace and we don’t learn about the consequences of our actions. It’s about the truth with a way through.

If you are leader, what would you add? What’s your experience of tough conversations? How do you handle them now?

Book Review: Leading Character by Dan Allender

Another of the great Leadership Library books, easy to read but full of punch.

Sharing from his own journey as a leader he challenges that not only do we need to have character as a leader, we must also be a character too. “The primary focus is not what we speak, but how we live. We are to have character that invites others to the goodness of Christ and to be a character that intrigues and compels others to discover what it means to be forgiven and set free to live with passion and joy.” Don’t think you can say it more clearly than that.

I enjoyed the honest reflection, which added weight to the challenge for me to be honest for the sake of my integrity and how that reveals the character of God as I show strength & love in my life and leadership.

To have the right character…seek prayer, grow in wisdom, live with freedom.
To be the right character…display gratitude, be truthful, have boldness, always be willing to look at the facts.

“The more we allow our hearts to hear with strength and courage, tenderness & mercy, the more we will be amazed at how God has worked in us and longs to continue the good work he has begun.”

A good read. Recommended. Check it out here.

[Other Leadership Library books by Bill Hybels and Andy Stanley]

Integrity: The Protection Facet

Been thinking about integrity recently and what it looks like…

it’s many facets
the qualities displayed
the benefits it brings
it’s enemies that challenge it
the producers of integrity

Would love your thoughts on this subject and the opportunity to create a dialogue over the next few days. Here’s my first observation: FACET 1:

PROTECTION:
Obvious I guess but integrity brings protection.
Nothing hidden, no surprises. No skeletons in the cupboard.

KIng David wrote in Psalm 25:21 ‘may integrity and uprightness protect me.’ Your gifting may open the doors of opportunity but it will be your integrity that keeps you there. Staying blameless, keeping a short account, maintaining your uprightness – with God, with others.

Integrity is the diamond in the crown of great leaders.

So here’s a question: a challenge maybe: do we all have something that we don’t want others to know about?

In what ways has your integrity protected you?
Has a lack of integrity let you down in the past?