Category Archives: Leadership

The Jeremiah Challenge

Many of the reality (?) TV shows are formed around a challenge.
Participants are called contestants; they are given objectives and
criteria to meet; they are given guidelines and then challenged to come
up with the results. Far from reality though, these programmes are
contrived to illicite certain results and should not in any way be
considered to resemble what is real-life. People dream of their
opportunity to be a part of these contrived “real life” experiences.

Yet today every believer has the opportunity to participate in eternal
reality of far greater consequence and far greater reward for those who
stay the course. Like a reality show only those who reach the end share
in the prize. Entering the show does not a winner make! The prize
however is enough for everyone. This is no dog eat dog contest but a
genuine team enterprise where all may participate and all may win (cf
Phil 3:12-16).

I believe we are drawing closer to the conclusion of the earthly
portion of our eternal reality and today we are being called to respond
to the Jeremiah Challenge. If ever there was a time when Jeremiah’s
ministry was needed it is now. Many Old Testament leaders have been
used as types to symbolise leadership for today, people like Moses,
Joshua, Deborah, Esther, and David. Essential leadership qualities can
be gleaned from their exploits. Devotion to God, faith, courage,
determination, strength of character, obedience etc are characteristics
of kingdom living.

The Jeremiah Challenge however is a little different. It is not a study
of character or devotion but a challenge of principle that is essential
for ministry in the 21st century church. If you believe that the
contemporary church is doing very well thank you very much, then this
challenge is probably not for you. If on the other hand, you believe it
is no longer a time for “business as usual” but a time for “unusual
kingdom business” then maybe this is for you.

Jer 15:19

19 Therefore this is what the LORD says:
“If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you
utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. Let this
people turn to you, but you must not turn to them. (NIV)

Jeremiah’s Commissioning
Jer 1:9-10

9 Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said
to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, today I appoint
you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and
overthrow, to build and to plant.” NIV

Jeremiah was commissioned to give God’s perspective on the state of
God’s people. His work would be to “uproot and tear down” to “destroy
and overthrow”. Then he would “build and plant”. Certainly this
process of uprooting, tearing down, destroying and overthrowing is the
beginning of any work of God.

The Apostle Paul states we “died” – that’s right, we have died – so
that we might live. Therefore we are called to “put to death” things
that belong to the earthly nature; put off the old self and put on the
new self which is being renew in the knowledge of God. (Colossians
3:3-11)

The most painful part of “new life” is that of putting to death the
old. When kingdom builders endeavour to build into peoples’ lives they
must eventually face the reality that uprooting, tearing down,
destroying and overthrowing, is an essential prerequisite for building
up and planting incorruptible seeds of life.

The experiences of those who have walked this pathway have discovered
that people generally have their identity wrapped up in their sin. Try
to suggest to an overweight person that they should lose weight and you
will know what I mean. It is socially unacceptable to identify
another’s faults regardless of the purpose. When kingdom builders see
faulty character and destructive behaviour in those entrusted to their
leadership they naturally want to help uproot, tear down and destroy
the behaviours of death.

In 1 Timothy 1:3 the apostle Paul instructs his representative Timothy,
to “command” certain men and then in verse five goes on to say that the
goal of this command is love. To uproot and to tear down has as its
goal building strong Christ-like churches.

The sin nature however does not die willingly. Like Jeremiah, if you
are called as a kingdom builder you will first be required to tear down
and up root. Like Jeremiah, you will discover that people will not like
nor appreciate such ministry and many will fight you to their own
destruction.


Jeremiah’s Discovery

In chapter fifteen, Jeremiah complains about his lack of acceptance or
popularity. He says why was I born? Why is everyone against me? “I have
neither lent nor borrowed, yet everyone curses me.” (15:10)

This is an amazing discovery. When God calls men and women to partner
with him as kingdom builders there can be a sense of euphoria and a
naïve belief that at last the man or woman of power for the hour is
about o come forth and amaze God’s people. The reality however is that
true kingdom builders are going to have to tear down and destroy.

In the Old Testament popular prophets spoke popular words and won the
popular following. Prophets of God spoke the Word of God and
encountered opposition and rejection. Is leadership in the 21st century
any different? Are people different?

I read an article recently by a minister highlighting areas of change
needed in the modern church. He expressed some of the problems in our
activities etc and identified some positive changes. The rebuffs were
immediate and ferocious. Ministers (?) everywhere began to defend the
modern church telling this “prophet” to leave it alone. They concluded
he obviously does not understand that the church was made up of sinful
people and was far from perfect. Yet to my way of thinking, doesn’t
such defence only enforce the need for regular evaluation, a lifestyle
of putting to death the sin nature within the church?

We need to remember that the cross is an offensive message to those who
are perishing and kingdom builders must be ready to associate with that
offence to save people from perishing.


Jeremiah’s Complaint

In verses 15 to 18 Jeremiah rehearses his faithful service and then
complains that his reward has been to “suffer reproach”. “I sat alone”
he says, “because your hand was on me”. Jeremiah then concludes by
asking if God would be “like a deceptive brook, like a spring that
fails?”

Does God indeed promise so much and deliver so little? This is a
dangerous time for the prophet and for all who are called to be kingdom
builders. Opposition plus little results equals failure to the modern
mind. In our churches God’s blessing is equated with popularity and
prosperity. Speaking against sin, against excesses in the church and
against a church culture that is more attuned to the world than to God
will inevitably bring not popular success and prosperity but reproach.


The Jeremiah Challenge

At the end of chapter fifteen God gives Jeremiah a very clear challenge:

Jer 15:19
19 Therefore this is what the LORD says:

“If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter
worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. Let this people
turn to you, but you must not turn to them. (NIV)


Repent

The challenge begins with repentance. A number of years ago I was going
through a difficult time and was being helped by one of my mentors at
the time. Like Jeremiah, I was listing my complaints about others. My
confidante paid no attention to my complaints, gave no thought for my
“feelings” but was intent on tearing down to save me from destruction.
He firstly challenged my view of God and then likened me to a minister
for whom I had little respect. That hurt, because I thought I was so
far above that person in character and integrity. My mentor showed me
that my sin was not in my actions but in the attitude of my heart and
in my perception of God. My flesh wanted to leap out and attack but my
spirit knew that this was true.

Like Jeremiah, I served God though I believed he was deceptive and
offered water from an empty well. I would not have thought this
objectively in my conscious mind, but it was evident in how I served.


Discern what is in your own heart

God wants spokesmen who know the difference between their words and
God’s word, between kingdom activity and worldly activity. John Kelly
in his book “End Time Warriors” describes a vision of soldiers in God’s
army standing in a circle not engaging the enemy in warfare but
competing with each other. The enemy, expecting to be engaged, were
surprised and stood around the army of God mocking it and throwing
stones at it. The army then returned to their camp rejoicing that they
had engaged in war when in fact all they had been was to “spill God’s
incorruptible seed” on the ground and be an object of mockery without
even knowing it.

It is not enough for us to stand around wasting God’s gifts and talents
yelling that we are at war but in reality we are playing our own games
like children in the market place.

The church is doing business as usual while the enemy is building
fortifications. It is time to tear down and root up the practices of
ineffective or inconsequential activity. The NASU version says it this
way, “If you extract the precious from the worthless,
You will become My spokesman.”

What is in your heart? Are you a true shepherd or a hireling? If you
minister out of pure motives then and only then are you God’s
spokesperson.


God’s Mission

Market research is a strategy used by business to identify peoples’
wants and needs and then access the best techniques to get them to
respond to a product and advertising strategy. Much of what the church
does today fits into this marketing strategy. The contemporary church
markets itself as the church of the people. The method and the
practices of the church are designed to “attract” todays unchurched.

While it is not about how we do church that is the issue it is the
“Why” that raises questions. For example, the worship team at Living
Way is led by my 19 year old son. The musicians and singers range in
age from 16 to 30. The majority of the congregation is young families
and as a result our worship tends to be contemporary. Our youth
dominate the worship and so our practice of worship reflects this. We
do not have beat-y up tempo music to impress the world; our music is a
reflection of who we are.

The Jeremiah Challenge is this – “let the people turn to you, you must not turn to them.”

If popularity and prosperity are the aims of our churches and ministry
then we will turn to the people. We will do our market research and
find out what they want and minister to that want. If we are “spokesmen
of God” we will not care about popularity or prosperity but rather
about turning people to God. We will minister what God says not what
people want. And we will accept the reproach associated with kingdom
service.

This in no way allows for arrogant leadership that pays little regard
for people. As Jesus said to his disciples, we need to be as wise as
serpents and as gentle as doves. We need to understand that we have
clear objectives laid out by our commander in chief and we are called
to use wise strategy in fulfilling those objectives.

We are not to become the church of the people; we are to remain the church of Jesus Christ.


Concerning Calling and Anointing

Jeremiah was called by God, neither because he had good theology nor
because he was “ready” but because God chose him. Like Jeremiah, a call
into service is not an affirmation of spirituality. It is not a
statement of maturity. Jeremiah was far from “mature” spiritually or
naturally when he was called. Commentators put his age when called,
between 14 and 20 years of age. Throughout his ministry he is described
by commentators as timid, shy and constantly complaining. Barnes’
describes him as follows:

Of all the prophets there is not one who so frankly lays open to us his
brooding melancholy nature. He discloses to us his innermost thoughts.
We find him sensitive to a most painful degree, timid, shy, hopeless,
desponding, constantly complaining, and dissatisfied with the course of
events, with the office which had been thrust upon him, and with the
manner of the Divine Providence.

(NOTE: For example, He accuses God of injustice because all Jeremiah’s
efforts seem to be without result. Bad men prospered Jer 12:1; false
prophets resisted those who had the divine commission Jer 14:13. No
miracle was performed by him or for him. No prediction was suddenly
verified in a startling way. No demonstration of power was granted to
him in common with the prophets of old, and therefore “the word of the
Lord was made a reproach unto him, and a derision daily” Jer 20:7.

His one task was to foretell the downfall of his country because of its
persistence in sin. And his reward was to be a man of strife and of
contention to the whole earth: everyone “doth curse me” (Jer 15:10;
compare Jer 20:7). And, for this apparent failure, he was not prepared.
He contrasts the joy with which he had entered upon his office with the
disappointment of his hopes Jer. 15:15-18, 17:16 ; and when put in the
stocks Jer 20:2, he even accuses God of deceiving him, and determines
to abandon his office Jer 20:7-18.)

(from Barnes’ Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Jeremiah is constantly readjusting his position with God. He is told to
repent and doing so he remains faithful the call. Jeremiah has one
obvious strength, despite all, he boldly ministers God’s word and never
uses the anointing to further his own ambitions.

Most ministers realise that the training begins AFTER they start to
serve. The danger is when people think service is God’s affirmation of
them. The anointing is not God’s affirmation of the anointed; it is for
those he is called to minister to.

I knew a minister who preached for me once and during the service, even
though people were ministered to, I felt uneasiness toward him. Later
he spoke of the anointing he felt and wonder what God was going to do
through him. He believed the anointing he felt was a confirmation of
his ministry. I explained that the anointing was not for him but for
those being ministered to. The next day I discovered that man was
committing adultery and had to subsequently remove him from ministry.

People often ask how someone can be anointed and yet serve themselves
rather than God. Though Jeremiah never failed morally; the
principles of anointing which answer this question, can be identified
through his life and calling. The call and the empowerment to minister
are not subject to people’s level of spirituality. However, to continue
in the calling and anointing of God it is essential to grow into the
calling. Remember, God calls the things that are not as though they are.

After years of service Jeremiah had to change his understanding of God
and repent of how he was serving God. To fulfil the calling of God –
that is to receive the “well done” of Jesus – growing in God’s grace is
essential.


Conclusion

God’s call is for men and women to rise up and accept the Jeremiah
Challenge. It is to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow the
systems of the world that have become entrenched in they way we do
church. The challenge is to build and plant according to God’s pattern
(Jer 1:9,10) impregnating the church with the incorruptible seed not
mixed with corruptible seed (1 Pt 1:23 nkjv).

God’s pattern for the church is that of an army (see appendix A below)
led by apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, officers
of God’s army given by Jesus to the church (Eph 4:8,11,12). Each
ascension gift of Jesus must be in order by recognising their rank and
fulfilling their role/duty, willingly following the lead of God’s
apostolic generals.

The church needs to be released (rescued?) from the control of
businessmen and care workers and empowered through the strategic
guidance and leadership of apostles (cf Lk 7:8,9). Members of the body
of Christ must be equipped as soldiers in God’s army, prepared for
battle and trained to obey. Soldiers committed to pleasing their
commander rather than their own agenda (2 Tim 2:3,4).

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Character and Belief

1 Tim 4:11-14 Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

The important thing to remember in leadership is that leaders are heading somewhere. You may be the point person (primary leader) or one of the leaders within a team, but you are going somewhere and responsible to encourage, motivate and equip followers to participate in the journey.

One major mistake leaders make is to think that it is all about their giftedness rather than about the goal or mission. We think, “I am a leader so people should follow me”. Rather than, “I am going somewhere and those who follow will need support”.

Rather than trying to gather a following or being appointed to a position, leaders are concerned with leadership issues such as: “Where am I going? Do I have a destiny and purpose? Am I part of a visionary team?” “As I pursue that dream others will follow. Am I a person worth following?” “Followers will need help. How can I honour those who choose to follow?”

In the passage above Paul reminds Timothy that his task as a leader is to keep the main thing the main thing. That is: command and teach THESE things, the things concerning the mission and purpose. In short, do not forget where you are going. Don’t be consumed by side issues, get on with the mission and focus on those who are following. (Leaders are not politicians aiming to please everyone. They quickly pass over those who endeavour to hinder the work. )

Three essentials for leadership are noted in this passage in order of priority. Firstly, an exemplar life surrendered to the reign of Jesus Christ as evidenced in speech, life, love, faith and purity. The second in priority is a devotion to the mission of the Kingdom and finally the imparted gift recognised and released through apostolic impartation.

These three things could be understood this way: if a man or woman has a passion to be like Jesus and willingly surrenders to His reign in their life; if he or she passionately wants Jesus’ mission to be fulfilled and is sold out as a servant of the kingdom; then Jesus himself will impart specific spiritual gifting and give them as a gift to a particular house or houses; Jesus will direct that persons apostolic covering to recognise and release him or her for servant leadership.

In this paper I want to deal with the matters of character and belief. That is, the evidence of surrender to the reign of Christ through an ordered life that is confirmed through the personal leadership of self and family. And the associated matter of leading through sound biblical doctrine.

Be an example: Character
A large number of
issues concerning leadership arise in any church or organisation, but what is more important than the issues is the character of leaders. Leaders are FIRSTLY examples; examples in speech; in how they live; in demonstrated biblical love (not the insipid politically correct type of western love, but a love that willingly engages others and challenges excellence); faith in God, people and possibilities; and in purity.

It is amazing to me the number of people that will follow self-proclaimed leaders who lack demonstrable character. We live in a world that thinks any character will do so long as they get the job done. What this age fails to realise is that integrity of character establishes the validity and the foundation of any work.

Character is not to be confused with a quiet personality. If a person “seems” nice that does not make him/her a person of character. No Old Testament prophet could be described as “nice”. Yet all were men of character and integrity. Leaders are people with personalities that are varied. The Myers/Briggs Personality Type identifies 16 different personality types consisting of 8 natural preferences that are dichotomous in nature. That means they are opposites and as such can produce conflict between types. Western society favours some types and discriminates against others. For example; an extravert is energised by people but an introvert’s energy levels are drained in crowds. So, on a Sunday morning an extraverted leader who happily “works the room” is seen as a “nice” person while an introverted leader who seeks solitude after a period of ministry is “aloof” or “uncaring” etc. In fact, either could lack character or be strong in character despite their personality preference. Personality is not character and the renewed mind must discern between them.

Leadership begins with a life demonstrably rooted in Christ. The leader is then called to the process of doctrine. Many feel they have something to say but their life is not an example of godliness. Despite clear biblical evidence, churches and church leaders ignore the criteria for leadership. Paul makes it very clear to Timothy that a man who is unable to lead his house is unable to lead in the church (1Tim 3:4,5). All of the stated criteria for leadership deal with character and family with one exception, the skill of teaching.

If you are a leader or a future leader your life example is the first evidence of your ability to lead in God’s house. The reason for this is that your life is the evidence of your spirituality. Leadership is being in a place of spiritual covering. If a person’s covering does not influence the home and family then it is non-existent.

The western church, strongly influenced by a non-spiritual society, regularly fails to see the link between the spiritual conflict and the natural world. Failure in the home is as much to do with spirituality as it is to do with natural skills. Good parenting with a lack of spiritual authority can still result in a spiritually disordered household.

Similarly, failure in character represents a lack of spirituality. If ones life is not in order, they have no ability to order the house of God. You may have a natural charisma to lead, but that is not the qualification in the House.

Spiritual covering in the house is essential for the protection of the flock. Leaders do not have the luxury of dealing with God’s house on a natural level. They must govern the house with spiritual insight. A house that appears orderly but has a people powerless to live Christ-like is a house of disorder.

An exemplar life is the outward expression of submission to God in Christ Jesus through the power of the Spirit. Only this life has the authority of Jesus to rule in God’s house.

If you are in a position to appoint leaders, take extreme care. Do not look for leaders according to the flesh but the spirit. I believe we take to lightly the requirements for leadership and appoint talented men and women rather than spiritual men and women to leadership.

Be Devoted to Scripture, preaching and teaching: Belief
The area of belief or doctrine is subservient to lives that evidence the indwelling Christ. This is because a life that does not evidence surrender to the Kingdom of God is still in servitude to the satanic kingdom. That kingdom is one built on lies. The foundations of the kingdom of darkness are slander (gk: diablous – questioning a leaders character as Satan slandered God in the garden), rebellion – disobedience to God, and deception or lies.

When a person serves the darkness in any area of life that darkness produces deception. For example, an associated problem that occurs when leaders fall morally is that of doctrinal error. I have experienced first hand the deceptive workings of ministers trying to justify their sin before man and God. Long term immorality has led to serious error being preached and taught in churches.

Put simply, those who walk in the light will see, those who walk in darkness – or any variations thereof – will not see clearly. A leader whose life and house is not in order is a person unable to discern spiritual things and thus has no capacity to protect the flock from spiritual attack.

Romans 12:1,2 makes this point clear,

1. Live exemplar lives that honour God:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.
2. Live in conformity (surrender) to Kingdom patterns:
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
3. Then you will have insight into the things of God’s Kingdom
Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Paul says that we are not in conflict with natural things but with spiritual darkness (Eph 6:12). Leaders with areas not surrendered to God are dupes of the enemy. Their belief system becomes unsound no matter how “reasonable” it seems. A life surrendered to God’s Kingdom is a mind open to renewal.

A life surrendered to God is the first step to knowing His will and His ways. It is the only way to come to “know God”. Salvation is entry into God’s Kingdom but “knowing God” is the result of a surrendered life.

As an apostle I know that a person’s doctrine will develop as they submit to God’s entire rule in life. I can work with their doctrinal differences if I see a life that evidences surrender to God. A person’s doctrine can be adjusted and developed if their character is right. A person with good doctrine but inadequate character or personal leadership is of little value as a leader because they have little or no spiritual authority. And leaders, as the spiritual covering for the flock over which Jesus has appointed them, must contend with deeply spiritual matters.

The preaching and teaching of the Kingdom of God emphasises the rule and reign of Jesus as He brings all things into subjection to Himself (1Cor 15:25). Any gospel that fails to be rooted in the Kingdom of God is to be avoided as unhelpful. For it is only in the preaching of the Kingdom that deliverance can be encountered, darkness expelled and Jesus return ushered in (Matt 24:9-14 Note this gospel is surrounded by persecution, death, falling away, betrayal, deceit, increased wickedness, and a standing firm to the end. (Definitely a gospel that contradicts much of the ticket-on-the-bus-ride-to-heaven philosophy).

Only a surrendered life can grasp the power of this gospel and courageously proclaim it to a society whose worldview is existential and hedonistic.

The Leadership Call: Are you equal to the task?
It is not in the area of ability but spirituality that true leadership stands.

1Tim 4:15, 16 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. NIV

 

Surrender wholly to these matters so that your progress can be recognised by those within the house. Watch your life AND your doctrine for your salvation and that of your followers rest upon this (cf Phil 2:12).

Leaders are the spiritual covering Jesus places over his house (Act 20:28; 1Pt 5:2). They are accountable to God for the souls of those within the house (Heb 13:17). Leaders have no right to deal with people on a natural level but a spiritual one, identifying the clash within the house between God’s kingdom and Satan’s kingdom. Only a surrendered life and a complimentary belief system will ensure success in this high spiritual calling.

2 Cor 2:14-16 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? NIV

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Overcoming Stress (Part IV)

Helpful Hints

If you are experiencing stress now, it is important to be aware of it. Take time to discover why you are feeling stressed. Ask the Lord to show you those things that are natural stressors for you so that you can prepare for them effectively. If I have to do tasks that cause stress then I make sure I am relaxed before I tackle them. I also ensure I employ on-the-job treatment for minor stress and follow up with a time of relaxation.

If you are experiencing stress now, it is important to be aware of it. Take time to discover why you are feeling stressed. Ask the Lord to show you those things that are natural stressors for you so that you can prepare for them effectively. If I have to do tasks that cause stress then I make sure I am relaxed before I tackle them. I also ensure I employ on-the-job treatment for minor stress and follow up with a time of relaxation.

There are times when stress is overwhelming because we do not do what we need to do. Following are some steps to overcome the “symptoms” of stress however; we need to recognise also the cause of stress. Minor stress symptoms can be dealt with in a few simple steps. Major stress symptoms, which lead to burn out, demand a more aggressive treatment, but it is in identifying the cause of stress that our best treatments are found: this is called prevention.

Treatment of Minor Symptoms
Dr. Dent, a leading stress expert in the UK, suggests the following procedure as an on-the-job treatment for minor symptoms of stress:

1. Let your breath go. (Don’t breath in first)
2. Take in a slow, gentle breath; hold it for a second.
3. Let it go with a leisurely sigh or relief.
4. Drop your shoulders at the same time and relax your hands.
5. Make sure your teeth are not clenched.
6. If you have to speak, speak more slowly and in a lower tone of voice.

Treatment for More Severe Symptoms
If stress symptoms remain, it is essential to take positive steps to avoid burn-out. A change or a break is often a good way to release stress and tension. Disconnection will bring about recovery. Obviously the severity of stress will dictate the degree of treatment required.

1. Leaving the office/work early, going for a walk or ride, reading poetry, the Psalms, or other relaxing literature, praying/meditating while listening to relaxing music, a short period of disconnection may be all that is necessary.

2. A few days off, a holiday with the family, going fishing for a while may relieve a more severe case of stress.

Some Preventative Measures
1. ATTITUDE – Perhaps the most obvious measure for coping with stress is that of attitude. If a person feels inadequate, threatened and overwhelmed by problems then his/her stress level will be high. If, however, he/she sees problems as challenges to be overcome, expecting to find a solution, then their stress level will be much lower.

Your attitude will depend largely upon your outlook. If it is work, are you committed to the vision, aims and goals of the company and your area of responsibility? At home, are you committed to marriage and family values?

To help your attitude it is a good exercise to list the value words that relate to your situation.

2. GOOD LIFESTYLE HABITS – There are physical conditions that can affect ones attitude such as being over-tired, or in poor health. When mixed with stressors they can cause stress problems. By ensuring adequate rest, exercise, and a healthy diet, this can be avoided. Body relaxation is a necessary aid to cope with stress. It is helpful to learn relaxation techniques to combat the problems that arise from tension. A balanced diet, exercise, regular holidays and hobbies that take ones mind off work, are essential.

3. SOUND MANAGEMENT SKILLS – Emilie Barnes states, “there is a recipe for beating stress! Its called organisation.” Setting realistic targets, delegating responsibility, referring when necessary, managing time wisely, anticipation of problems, correct filing and recording, help prevent stress.

4. EDUCATION – Learning and developing skills such as conflict management, communication and specific work related skills all help to keep people from feeling inadequate, and instils a confidence in their ability to deal with stressful situations.

5. PERSONAL NEEDS – Love, security, significance, and self worth, are basic needs. A sense of belonging meaning and purpose, feeling loved appreciated and recognised, come from our personal relationships. Sheila West states, “Our personal relationships are intricately woven into our career vision. But as they intertwine, we often don’t invest energy in confronting the issues that inevitably come up. The crossover… starts to have negative… effects…” Solid personal relationships must be seen as essential in avoiding stress.

Conclusion
Leaders experience great levels of stress. Paul points to his own leadership trials and indicates, “besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches” (2Cor 11:28). Kingdom leaders are chosen by God to carry pressure that others will never know. If we are not to be crushed by that pressure we need to grow in our knowledge of God with wisdom and understanding. IT is true that the Holy Spirit is our source of strength but it is equally true that we must stay “in step” with the Spirit (Gal 5:25). The greatest work of the Spirit in us is, I believe, a work of revelation. Firstly, revealing God in us and secondly revealing ourselves to ourselves so that we can grow. As we discover who we are we are called to act on that knowledge. Overcoming stress, or more specifically, standing when all else is falling, requires both spiritual and practical insight and application. (Might we say that the Spirit produces Kingdom practicalities for living?)

I Jn 5:4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. (NIV)

Rev 21:7 He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (NIV)

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Overcoming Stress (Part III)

Let me begin by saying that stress, in and of itself, is not bad. However, when we experience too much stress problems arise. Let me illustrated using exercise as an example. We know that lifting weights can increase ones strength and fitness level. If a person lifts weights that are too heavy or tries to do too many repetitions it can have the opposite effect. Rather than strengthening or improving fitness, it can damage muscles and disable a person. Stress can strengthen and improve a person’s ability in life, however too much stress can have the opposite effect.

With this in mind let me say that an attitude, which believes all stress is bad, will negate any growth opportunities. In Romans, we are told, “all things work for good…” (8:29). God includes stress to help us grow. Stress can be renamed “trials and testing” allowing us to have a biblical response to stressful situations. God will not allow us to be over-stressed; usually too much stress is the result of our own actions or inaction.

As mentioned earlier, life is best lived within the context of seasons. When we experience a season of stress we are able to cope by following up with a season that is stress free.

What is stress?
Stress is a condition of the body brought about by actual or anticipated difficulties in life. It affects the body by setting off an alarm reaction. The result of this is an increase in adrenalin, which increases the heart rate and blood pressure. If the stressor is prolonged the body reaction peaks but leaves below normal responses for other stressors. This is why people under a great deal of job stress are often more likely to catch colds and flu. The outcome, if not checked, is that the body eventually loses its ability to adapt and enters the stage of exhaustion, which eventually leads to break-down.

What causes you stress?
When identifying stress it is important to realise that one person’s stress may be another person’s excitement. Different people have different stressors and it is helpful to discover what specifically causes you stress. This is essentially a journey of self-awareness.

For example, a dinner party to an introvert can be experienced quite differently by an extrovert.

I am an introvert. That means my energy comes from time alone where I can reflect from my inner world. Extraverts get their energy through interaction with people. A dinner party is an extravert’s joy and an introvert’s duty. Too many dinner parties for an introvert may be two in a week whereas an extravert may thrive on four in one week.

One particular week for me had been very busy with no time for me to reflect. By Friday I could feel the tension in my body. Lesley and I had agreed to go to dinner with a group that night but did not know which restaurant was chosen. When I was told it was to be in North Bridge, Perth’s busiest Friday night hot spot, my stomach went into a knot. I felt the stress level rising dramatically. Most extraverts would not even comprehend how I was feeling. To them crowds are not an issue. For me I hate, loath and detest crowded shopping centres etc. I have to be feeling very relaxed to tackle them.

An extrovert needs time alone but needs more time to interact with people. Extroverts who work in seclusion need to include people time and even “seasons” of gregarious living like family camps.

How do you behave under stress?
Associated with learning what causes you stress it is important to identify how you behave under stress. What are the behavioural signs and the mental signs? Behavioural signs are things like overeating; upset stomach; moody; being argumentative and snappy etc. Mental signs are things like negative though patterns etc. Harmful psychological games are played in the mind under stress.

What releases stress for you?
An equally important part of coping with stress is identifying what releases stress for you. Some find release in vigorous exercise; others lose themselves in a book or a movie, or by going to dinner with their spouse or a group of friends.

Can you prevent some stress?
When thinking prevention balance and seasons are important. As mentioned earlier, I do not like crowded places when I am stressed. If I am relaxed that is a different story. Ensuring personal time, exercise and balance of seasons reduces stress for me. What are your preferred leisure activities?

Another stressor for me is detail work. I am intuitive and prefer visioning, being creative and developing concepts and theories. Dealing with the detail of a project is something I can do but find it stressful. Within my leadership team I have people that find it stressful trying to be creative or visionary but give them the details to work on and they are happy. Can you delegate some stressful tasks to those more gifted to them?

To be continued…
In the next edition of “Thoughts on Leadership”

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Overcoming Stress (Part II)

Where the Rubber Meets the Road is where friction between the vehicle (you the leader) and the pathway (kingdom living) occurs. When we embark on the journey of kingdom service we will experience friction or what has come to be known as “stress”. And so it is at this point of friction that my thoughts on leadership are focused.

Time management as a stressor
Let me begin this section by declaring that we as leaders can find ourselves experiencing stress when we embraced “modern management tools” without measuring them against Kingdom living principles.

I think that time management can produce such stress. Time management is about prioritising tasks and allotting time to those tasks of greatest importance. This might be useful for those to whom God has given a preference for resolute structure but God has bestowed a preference upon many other for less formal structures. They find the “method” or “management tool” called time management to be “stressful” because it restricts spontaneity and creative freedom.

In other words, for some time is for getting things done, while others see time as an opportunity to experience life. In the world of management, the former is right and the later is wrong. However, in God’s world time is for both accomplishing and experiencing.

People with a preference for experiencing life seldom keep to daily or weekly planners. People with a preference for accomplishment rather than demonstrating balance experience “drivenness” and can be controlled by that schedule. The first are stressed by feelings of guilt and failure to maintain a “structured” life-style and the later miss opportunities to value people.

Personal Management
Personal management is a process suited to both personality types. Biggs, the writer of the article says, “Before deciding how the hours of each day will be allotted (time management), you should decide where you want to spend your days over a lifetime (personal management). In other words, managing yourself is more important than managing your time.”

Self-management begins with identifying your life priorities and then endeavouring to establish and maintain a balanced life style. For me those life priorities are as follows:

1. God – including his will and his kingdom
2. Others – spouse, children, spiritual family, natural family
3. Self

This personal management priority list comes directly from scripture. Jesus encompasses ALL of God’s commandments and all the necessary Kingdom living guidelines in this one statement.

Matt 22:37-39  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (NIV)

Notice the personal life priorities? God, others and self. In Philippians 2:1-11 we have a more detailed explanation of how to do this with the divine example. Do not simply think of yourself but think of others. Jesus demonstrated this in his death burial and resurrection. Jesus loved the Father so much that he was willing to lay down his life for others.

Seasons versus hours and days
When we have identified our life priorities, we can begin to balance our lives more effectively. In Scripture we notice that time is usually allotted in “seasons” rather than hours or days (cf Gen 1:14; Ecc 3:1-11; Jer 8:7; Dan 2:21; 2Tim 4:2; Tit 1:3). The nature of “seasons” identifies times allocated for tasks rather than hours or minutes.

It is important to realise that balance comes in seasons. There are times when we are heavily focused on one aspect over another. We should not worry that we are out of balance because we have spent a week on one thing and “neglected” another. Seasons require different priorities. At harvest time, the farmer is completely obsessed with that task. Everything is about harvesting the produce before it spoils. The farmer is not going to take the family for a shopping trip or out to dinner during harvest. That will come when the harvesting is finished.

There are seasons in life that will seem unbalanced; do not become stressed out or worked up about it. Set the seasons in your heart and mind because then you can bring balance in season.

When I am involved with a special project, I may work long and hard to accomplish the task. I will not spend a lot of time with my family then. However, they know that once the project is completed I will give them quality time and quantity time before I embark on the next “adventure”. For us as a family balance comes in seasons not minutes or days.

What does all this mean? I do not try to fit all of my life priorities into one day or even one week. I will pray constantly in my mind during the day but I will have seasons of prayer and waiting on God. If I do not spend one hour praying every day, for me that’s OK because I have seasons of prayer. If I have a “high activity” week or month or even months, I will follow it with a “low activity” week in which I spend time with my family.

Personal management is identifying life-priorities and living according to the seasons of life that God has ordained.

To be continued…
In the next edition of “Thoughts on Leadership”

Overcoming Stress (Part I)

Where the Rubber Meets the Road is where friction between the vehicle (you the leader) and the pathway (kingdom living) occurs. When we embark on the journey of kingdom service we will experience friction or what has come to be known as “stress”. And so it is at this point of friction that my thoughts on leadership are focused.

2 Cor 11:26-28 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. (NIV)

Paul was a leader who understood the meaning of the word “stress”. Besides all of the physical stressors he face the cares of the churches were constantly with him. Yet he remained faithful to the call.

When I first entered kingdom service I thought that the call was all I needed. If you were called then you were “the man”. Little did I realise that the call was only the beginning. The enablement that followed included times of testing – very stressful. These testing times are designed to produce character (Rom 5:3,4) and it is important not to lose sight of that fact.

In his book, the making of a leader, Dr J. Robert Clinton points out that “though there may be fruitfulness in ministry, the major work is that which God is doing to and in the leader, not through him or her.” This is because a major principle of leadership is that “ministry flows out of being” and communion with God “is more important than success in ministry”.

Today there is a great deal of emphasis put on stress as more and more leaders succumb to the pressures of 21st century life and kingdom service. If we as leaders are going to remain faithful to the end as Paul did then it is helpful for us to have a good understanding of what causes us stress and how to “press on toward the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”.

Before giving some guidelines to avoiding the destructive nature of stress I want to identify what I consider to be of first importance. Stressful events and circumstances are useful to help us stretch and grow (Rom 5:3,4; Jms 1:2-4), to further the kingdom (Phil 1:12-14) and it is a guarantee of future reward (2Cor 4:17). If this is a true saying then such an environment is not to be avoided but to be endured and overcome. I think that succumbing to stress can at times be associated with wrong thinking and a negative attitude.

Those called to become kingdom ministers are not corporate executives but servants of Jesus Christ. The stress associated with a wrong “job description” is clear. In the business world success is measurable in terms of numbers and dollars and outcomes etc. In the kingdom of God success is measured in terms of obedience to Christ – a very subjective and not easily measured “outcome”.
An unhealthy hedonistic world-view – the philosophy that life should be “pleasurable” – is another harmful thought process. The pain of suffering is very clearly a principle of kingdom living and not to be pushed into an avoidance basket of “lack-of-faith” theology. Count it all joy when suffering comes, is James’s philosophy (see also 1Pt 4:12).

“I cannot keep going” is another oft heard cry. Yet Scripture assures us that we are able to cope and need to stand firm (Mat 24:9-13; Heb 10:32-39; 1Cor 10:13). A major theme of reward for overcoming is prevalent throughout Scripture – both Old and New Testaments.

In summary there are some major points to consider BEFORE we think about practical ways to overcome stress. Do we have the right view of kingdom service? Are we outcome focused or obedience focused? Do we have a healthy respect for the benefits of suffering that will inevitably come our way? And finally, do we believe that no matter what we encounter the “prize” is worth the pain and, having done all, are we determined to remain standing?

To be continued…
In the next edition of “Thoughts on Leadership”

Leaders and Vision

In the corporatist environment of western society there are many business-based leadership/management techniques being applied to the church. Senior ministers are being called CEO’s or Coaches who are meant to be leaders with vision.
In a society measuring success by bigness or net worth “The lure of success can be seductive, and the adoption of secular standards or methods to achieve it may seem a small but necessary price to pay .”
Leaders are often compelled to be visionary and to articulate their vision however; to understand what vision actually is can be difficult. Some writers/speakers give no clear definition while others offer conflicting views. Is “vision” a principle to be grasped and applied or is it simply a secular concept to be shunned?
The key verse when dealing with this subject says that people without vision will cast off restraint and live carelessly (Prov 29:18). Obviously vision is an important principle or concept. Responsible leadership is about effectively equipping people to live worthy of the call (1 Thes 2:11-12; Col 1:10). But what is vision in the context of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and how does one identify it and articulate it effectively?
According to Strongs Dictionary the Hebrew word for vision (translated vision in KJV & NAS revelation in NIV, NKJV prophecy in RSV and knowledge of God in TLB) is;
2377  chazown (khaw-zone’); from 2372; a sight (mentally), i.e. a dream, revelation, or oracle:
I like the idea of vision being prophecy or revelation of or about Jesus Christ. Even a cursory look at Scripture reveals that the object (or more accurately the subject) of vision is Jesus Christ (Rev 19:10). Rather than encouraging leaders to “have vision” it is, I think, more useful to help them identify what vision is.
As you will see I understand vision to be a picture or revelation of God’s eternal plan and insight into the particular way that we are called to participate in His plan. God has a vision that spans the generations. Each generation is led by the Spirit of Jesus to participation with Him in fulfilling that vision by working on an aspect of his plan within our generation.
The Hebrew nation understood that God is first and foremost the God of the generations. That is evident in His self-revelation as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob (Ex 3:16; Act 7:32). He gave Abraham a vision of a city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Heb 11:10). He and the following generations admitted they were aliens and strangers in the earth awaiting a country of their own (11:13-14). Each subsequent generation pursued the same vision knowing that they were kingdom builders with Christ (11:26). The generations, commended for their faith, participated with God in His eternal, multi-generational plan. Not one generation received what had been promised; for God had planned that none would receive the prize until we also have finished the race. Their lives of faith would not be complete apart from ours (Heb 11:39-40).
This multi-generational plan finds its fulfilment in Christ when all things in heaven and on earth are brought into subjection to the divine kingdom. When he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power; when the last enemy, death, has been destroyed; when his kingdom alone stands in supremacy then that kingdom will be presented by Christ to the Father (1Cor 15:24-28). Only then will our faith be complete; only then will the promise be fulfilled for us and for those who surround us now as a great cloud of witnesses (Heb 12:1); only then will we all receive the prize (Phil 3:12-14).
Visionary leadership is as simple as articulating God’s multi-generational plan (to choose from the nations of the earth a people called by His name cf Eph 3:9-11; 1Pt 2:9-10; Col 1:12; Rom 9:25) and the process by which those you lead can express their gifts (Eph 1:12) in participation with Christ (1Cor 3:9) as He accomplishes God’s vision on earth by the power of His Holy Spirit.
Two things that Jesus said that are pertinent to this discussion are:

1. I will build MY church (Mat 16:18),
2. The Kingdom of Heaven advances forcefully (Mat 11:12).
Leaders, as co-workers with Christ, are responsible to participate in God’s eternal plan to build the church in His advancing the kingdom. To be visionary is to see vision not as the accomplishment of a temporal task or goal but as participation in a multi-generational kingdom building strategy, knowing that the successful completion of the vision will be experienced and enjoyed together with all the saints at the end of the age.

Continue reading

Leaders and Vision

In the corporatist environment of western society there are many business-based leadership/management techniques being applied to the church. Senior ministers are being called CEO’s or Coaches who are meant to be leaders with vision.

In a society measuring success by bigness or net worth “The lure of success can be seductive, and the adoption of secular standards or methods to achieve it may seem a small but necessary price to pay .”

Leaders are often compelled to be visionary and to articulate their vision however; to understand what vision actually is can be difficult. Some writers/speakers give no clear definition while others offer conflicting views. Is “vision” a principle to be grasped and applied or is it simply a secular concept to be shunned?

The key verse when dealing with this subject says that people without vision will cast off restraint and live carelessly (Prov 29:18). Obviously vision is an important principle or concept. Responsible leadership is about effectively equipping people to live worthy of the call (1 Thes 2:11-12; Col 1:10). But what is vision in the context of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and how does one identify it and articulate it effectively?

According to Strongs Dictionary the Hebrew word for vision (translated vision in KJV & NAS revelation in NIV, NKJV prophecy in RSV and knowledge of God in TLB) is;

2377 chazown (khaw-zone’); from 2372; a sight (mentally), i.e. a dream, revelation, or oracle:

I like the idea of vision being prophecy or revelation of or about Jesus Christ. Even a cursory look at Scripture reveals that the object (or more accurately the subject) of vision is Jesus Christ (Rev 19:10). Rather than encouraging leaders to “have vision” it is, I think, more useful to help them identify what vision is.

As you will see I understand vision to be a picture or revelation of God’s eternal plan and insight into the particular way that we are called to participate in His plan. God has a vision that spans the generations. Each generation is led by the Spirit of Jesus to participation with Him in fulfilling that vision by working on an aspect of his plan within our generation.

The Hebrew nation understood that God is first and foremost the God of the generations. That is evident in His self-revelation as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob (Ex 3:16; Act 7:32). He gave Abraham a vision of a city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Heb 11:10). He and the following generations admitted they were aliens and strangers in the earth awaiting a country of their own (11:13-14). Each subsequent generation pursued the same vision knowing that they were kingdom builders with Christ (11:26). The generations, commended for their faith, participated with God in His eternal, multi-generational plan. Not one generation received what had been promised; for God had planned that none would receive the prize until we also have finished the race. Their lives of faith would not be complete apart from ours (Heb 11:39-40).

This multi-generational plan finds its fulfilment in Christ when all things in heaven and on earth are brought into subjection to the divine kingdom. When he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power; when the last enemy, death, has been destroyed; when his kingdom alone stands in supremacy then that kingdom will be presented by Christ to the Father (1Cor 15:24-28). Only then will our faith be complete; only then will the promise be fulfilled for us and for those who surround us now as a great cloud of witnesses (Heb 12:1); only then will we all receive the prize (Phil 3:12-14).

Visionary leadership is as simple as articulating God’s multi-generational plan (to choose from the nations of the earth a people called by His name cf Eph 3:9-11; 1Pt 2:9-10; Col 1:12; Rom 9:25) and the process by which those you lead can express their gifts (Eph 1:12) in participation with Christ (1Cor 3:9) as He accomplishes God’s vision on earth by the power of His Holy Spirit.

Two things that Jesus said that are pertinent to this discussion are:

  1. I will build MY church (Mat 16:18),
  2. The Kingdom of Heaven advances forcefully (Mat 11:12).

Leaders, as co-workers with Christ, are responsible to participate in God’s eternal plan to build the church in His advancing the kingdom. To be visionary is to see vision not as the accomplishment of a temporal task or goal but as participation in a multi-generational kingdom building strategy, knowing that the successful completion of the vision will be experienced and enjoyed together with all the saints at the end of the age.

Leadership or Popularity

In my article titled “Thoughts on Leadership”, I ended with the following statement:

Leadership is not a popularity ticket. It is a call to productive, creative achievement with men and women of like-mind.

Recently this has been the focus of my thoughts on leadership. That is, the difference between popularity and leadership.

In a democratic society voting is a fairly standard way of appointing “office-holders” whom we then look to for leadership. Unfortunately voting is no guarantee that leadership will emerge because voters’ opinions and criteria will always dictate how they vote.

Popularity may get a friend into a position but it does not necessarily get the right leader into the right position of authority to ensure productive and creative achievement with others. (I trust that when you vote – in any situation – it is for effective leadership not popular opinion or personal gain.)

An article from Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal by Andy Stanley gives the following illustration:

In the World War II thriller U-571… submarine Lieutenant Andy Tyler… is denied an opportunity to command his own sub. As it turns out, it was his commanding officer, Captain Dahlgren, who encouraged the navy not to promote him.

In a stirring exchange, Tyler challenges his superior officer’s decision. He assures the captain he is qualified. Not only is he able to perform every job on the sub, he goes on to insist that he would be willing to lay down his life for any of the men on the crew.

At that point, Captain Dahlgren… says, “I’m not questioning your bravery. Are you willing to lay their lives on the line?”

Tyler is stunned by the question. Before he can respond, Captain Dahlgren continues;

“You see, you hesitate. As a captain you can’t. You have to act. If you don’t you put the entire crew at risk. Now that’s the job. It’s not a science. You have to be able to make the hard decisions based on imperfect information, asking men to carry out orders that may result in their deaths. And if you’re wrong, you suffer the consequences. If you are not prepared to make those decisions, without pause, without reflection, then you’ve got no business being a submarine captain.”

As Tyler leaves Captain Dahlgren’s quarters, the look on his face says it all. Peering at leadership through that lens has caused him to doubt his readiness to lead.

There are a lot of lessons that can be learned from this. For me the standout exemplar lesson comes from Captain Dahlgren. He was prepared to be “unpopular” with his 2IC – and the men who considered Tyler their friend – rather than promote him to a position he was not ready for. This is leadership, to be willing to make decisions that may cause you to be unpopular.

The principal lesson of leadership that stands out is that one may be willing to serve others, but are you willing to let others serve regardless of the cost? Leadership is often about inspiring others to go where they would normally not go. To cause them work harder, longer and pay more than others. To inspire others to sacrificial service if need be. To command a loyalty that gives you the right to challenge others and the willingness to risk losing followers for the sake of the outcomes.

Jesus demonstrated this type of leadership with his disciples. In John 6:53-71 Jesus’ words offended his disciples. In verse 66 we read: “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” The popular position holder at this point would be inclined to smooth over the problem and try to find a compromise, but not Jesus. He turned to the twelve and said: “Do you want to leave to?” Jesus was not voted into his position by his followers; he was a man of purpose who called others to lay down their lives and join him in his great destiny.

Leadership is not about consensus nor friendship nor popularity; it is about making the right decisions at the right time and accepting the consequences regardless of popular opinion.

For me a good model of leadership versus popularity is found in Winston Churchill’s political life. Just prior to and at the start of the Second World War it was Neville Chamberlain who was the popular choice to lead the British parliament. His policy of appeasement with Hitler and Mussolini was popular at the time despite strong opposition from Churchill and the resignation of Eden, Chamberlain’s foreign secretary.

Chamberlain engineered the Munich Pact in September 1938, negotiating with Hitler to settle the question of Czechoslovakia. The agreement signed by Britain, France, Italy and Germany gave the Sudeten, a resource rich area of Czechoslovakia, (one-fifth of the country on the German speaking border) to Germany with other areas going to Hungary and Poland. Returning in triumph to Britain at Heston Airport on September 30th, Chamberlain told a cheering crowd “I believe it is peace in our time.” Copyright ©2001 Britannia.com, LLC (BRITANNIA.COM . . . AMERICA’S GATEWAY TO THE BRITISH ISLES SINCE)

Eventually popular opinion failed and Britain found herself in the midst of a war and the humiliating defeat of her troops in Norway.

The peace did not last long. Germany took the rest of Czechoslovakia in March of 1938 and Chamberlain was cornered into guaranteeing Poland against attack. When Germany invaded Poland Britain declared war. The handwriting was on the wall. Chamberlain’s own party rebelled against him, forcing his resignation after British forces suffered defeat in Norway. Copyright ©2001 Britannia.com, LLC (BRITANNIA.COM . . . AMERICA’S GATEWAY TO THE BRITISH ISLES SINCE)

At this time of national crisis a leader was needed – not a popular position holder – so Churchill was called upon to form a coalition government, which he did in May 1940, becoming its prime minister.

Churchill became the voice of Britain during the war, his emotional speeches inspiring the nation to endure hardship and sacrifice.

Churchill was never a popular politician but he was an excellent leader whom people called upon in a time of crisis. Churchill, like a true leader, believed that his entire life was training for that particular time. He had a sense of life-destiny and purpose.

I hope I have done justice to the concept of leaders versus popular people. Popularity is not bad it is simply not the stuff of leaders. Celebrities are example of popular people who have crowds wanting to see them but that do not necessarily make the ideal choice for leadership. (A line of reasoning that should be given more consideration in democratic societies.) The point is that leaders are not necessarily popular but they do lead and people do follow. If you are a developing leader don’t think popularity is what qualifies you for leadership.

In the words of General Colin Powell:

“Command is lonely”

Harry Truman was right. Whether you’re a CEO or the temporary head of a project team, the buck stops here. You can encourage participative management and bottom-up employee involvement, but ultimately the essence of leadership is the willingness to make the tough, unambiguous choices that will have an impact on the fate of the organisation. I’ve seen too many non-leaders flinch from this responsibility. Even as you create an informal, open, collaborative corporate culture, prepare to be lonely. (General Colin Powell)

Leadership or Popularity

In my article titled "Thoughts on Leadership", I ended with the following statement:

Leadership is not a popularity ticket. It is a call to productive, creative achievement with men and women of like-mind.

Recently this has been the focus of my thoughts on leadership. That is, the difference between popularity and leadership.

In a democratic society voting is a fairly standard way of appointing
“office-holders” whom we then look to for leadership. Unfortunately
voting is no guarantee that leadership will emerge because voters’
opinions and criteria will always dictate how they vote.

Popularity may get a friend into a position but it does not necessarily
get the right leader into the right position of authority to ensure
productive and creative achievement with others. (I trust that when you
vote – in any situation – it is for effective leadership not popular
opinion or personal gain.)

An article from Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal by Andy Stanley gives the following illustration:

In the World War II thriller U-571… submarine Lieutenant
Andy Tyler… is denied an opportunity to command his own sub. As it
turns out, it was his commanding officer, Captain Dahlgren, who
encouraged the navy not to promote him.

In a stirring exchange, Tyler challenges his superior officer’s
decision. He assures the captain he is qualified. Not only is he able
to perform every job on the sub, he goes on to insist that he would be
willing to lay down his life for any of the men on the crew.

At that point, Captain Dahlgren… says, “I’m not questioning your bravery. Are you willing to lay their lives on the line?”

Tyler is stunned by the question. Before he can respond, Captain Dahlgren continues;

“You see, you hesitate. As a captain you can’t. You have to act. If you
don’t you put the entire crew at risk. Now that’s the job. It’s not a
science. You have to be able to make the hard decisions based on
imperfect information, asking men to carry out orders that may result
in their deaths. And if you’re wrong, you suffer the consequences. If
you are not prepared to make those decisions, without pause, without
reflection, then you’ve got no business being a submarine captain.”

As Tyler leaves Captain Dahlgren’s quarters, the look on his face says
it all. Peering at leadership through that lens has caused him to doubt
his readiness to lead.

There are a lot of lessons that can be learned from this. For me the
standout exemplar lesson comes from Captain Dahlgren. He was prepared
to be “unpopular” with his 2IC – and the men who considered Tyler their
friend – rather than promote him to a position he was not ready for.
This is leadership, to be willing to make decisions that may cause you
to be unpopular.

The principal lesson of leadership that stands out is that one may be
willing to serve others, but are you willing to let others serve
regardless of the cost? Leadership is often about inspiring others to
go where they would normally not go. To cause them work harder, longer
and pay more than others. To inspire others to sacrificial service if
need be. To command a loyalty that gives you the right to challenge
others and the willingness to risk losing followers for the sake of the
outcomes.

Jesus demonstrated this type of leadership with his disciples. In John
6:53-71 Jesus’ words offended his disciples. In verse 66 we read: “From
this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed
him.” The popular position holder at this point would be inclined to
smooth over the problem and try to find a compromise, but not Jesus. He
turned to the twelve and said: “Do you want to leave to?” Jesus was not
voted into his position by his followers; he was a man of purpose who
called others to lay down their lives and join him in his great destiny.

Leadership is not about consensus nor friendship nor popularity; it is
about making the right decisions at the right time and accepting the
consequences regardless of popular opinion.

For me a good model of leadership versus popularity is found in Winston
Churchill’s political life. Just prior to and at the start of the
Second World War it was Neville Chamberlain who was the popular choice
to lead the British parliament. His policy of appeasement with Hitler
and Mussolini was popular at the time despite strong opposition from
Churchill and the resignation of Eden, Chamberlain’s foreign secretary.

Chamberlain engineered the Munich Pact in September 1938,
negotiating with Hitler to settle the question of Czechoslovakia. The
agreement signed by Britain, France, Italy and Germany gave the
Sudeten, a resource rich area of Czechoslovakia, (one-fifth of the
country on the German speaking border) to Germany with other areas
going to Hungary and Poland. Returning in triumph to Britain at Heston
Airport on September 30th, Chamberlain told a cheering crowd "I believe
it is peace in our time." Copyright ©2001 Britannia.com,
LLC   (BRITANNIA.COM . . . AMERICA’S GATEWAY TO THE BRITISH
ISLES SINCE)

Eventually popular opinion failed and Britain found herself in the
midst of a war and the humiliating defeat of her troops in Norway.

The peace did not last long. Germany took the rest of
Czechoslovakia in March of 1938 and Chamberlain was cornered into
guaranteeing Poland against attack. When Germany invaded Poland Britain
declared war. The handwriting was on the wall. Chamberlain’s own party
rebelled against him, forcing his resignation after British forces
suffered defeat in Norway.  Copyright ©2001 Britannia.com,
LLC   (BRITANNIA.COM . . . AMERICA’S GATEWAY TO THE BRITISH
ISLES SINCE)

At this time of national crisis a leader was needed – not a popular
position holder – so Churchill was called upon to form a coalition
government, which he did in May 1940, becoming its prime minister.

Churchill became the voice of Britain during the war, his
emotional speeches inspiring the nation to endure hardship and
sacrifice.

Churchill was never a popular politician but he was an excellent leader
whom people called upon in a time of crisis. Churchill, like a true
leader, believed that his entire life was training for that particular
time. He had a sense of life-destiny and purpose.

I hope I have done justice to the concept of leaders versus popular
people. Popularity is not bad it is simply not the stuff of leaders.
Celebrities are example of popular people who have crowds wanting to
see them but that do not necessarily make the ideal choice for
leadership. (A line of reasoning that should be given more
consideration in democratic societies.) The point is that leaders are
not necessarily popular but they do lead and people do follow. If you
are a developing leader don’t think popularity is what qualifies you
for leadership.

In the words of General Colin Powell:

“Command is lonely”

Harry Truman was right. Whether you’re a CEO or the
temporary head of a project team, the buck stops here. You can
encourage participative management and bottom-up employee involvement,
but ultimately the essence of leadership is the willingness to make the
tough, unambiguous choices that will have an impact on the fate of the
organisation. I’ve seen too many non-leaders flinch from this
responsibility. Even as you create an informal, open, collaborative
corporate culture, prepare to be lonely. (General Colin Powell)

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