Seven Fundamental Behaviors of Successful Leaders

If you are leading a company, a department, a team or a family you know that leadership is challenging.  The key in leadership is that you are growing learning and getting better.  If your not growing you are going backwards.

As a leader there are some key responsibilities and behaviors that are extremely important to long term success.  Here are seven fundamental behaviors that will set you up for success.

  1. Set and Achieve goals – People that take the time to map out an action plan do much better than those that don’t.  Writing down your most important objectives and then listing specific goals to meet that objective is a fundamental leadership behavior.  It’s not only setting goals but it’s also achieving them which means you must act on those goals.  That’s why it’s important to also set up deadlines and have accountability.  Set goals review them regularly and do a progress report every week on how you did last week.
  2. Continually Innovate and Improve – Another key behavior of successful leaders is that they are always exploring and thinking about how to improve on the current way of doing things.  This is a mindset of continuous improvement.  How can we be more efficient?  How can we streamline and improve systems?  Asking those how questions keeps your organization moving forward.  I like to say: what can we improve by 1% this week.  If this is part of your culture then you should be getting lots of ideas and feedback form your team.  Listen, discuss and let the best ideas rise to the top and then make those changes.
  3. Solve Problems and Make Decisions – Every unachieved goal is a problem waiting to be solved.  This is how things get done and keep moving forward.  You don’t want to be the bottle neck on your team.  That is why you can’t be the only one solving problems and making decisions.  Teaching and empowering your team is a key leadership behavior that can accelerate your companies growth and productivity.  Leaders are problem solvers not just problem identifiers.  Define the problem, identify possible solutions, get some feedback and then make a decision and assign it to someone with a deadline.
  4. Take Full Responsibility – A leader takes full responsibility for the their decisions and the success and failure of their team.  As the leader you are ultimately responsible for everything that happens in your company, department, team or family.  That can be scary but you can’t lead well if your afraid to take responsibility.  Facing your fears and owning mistakes brings credibility and trust to your leadership.
  5. Be a Good Example or Role Model for Others – This is all about character.  Do your actions and your words line up.  Are you doing the things you want your team to do?  Are you treating people the way you want to be treated?  Are you making the difficult decisions and having the difficult conversations?  Are you quick to admit a mistake?  As a leader people are always watching you.  No one is perfect so leading with integrity is not about being perfect it’s about being honest and vulnerable.  If you’re a mess then your team will be a mess.
  6. Persuade and Inspire – A key behavior of successful leaders is the ability to persuade people to buy in to your vision.  That takes a combination of good communication, being intentional and repetition.  When people trust you and you can clearly articulate the vision you can keep moving in the right direction.  Inspiration comes when people have bought into you as the leader and understand the vision and their part in achieving that vision.  This also takes self-confidence and believing in the vision and values you have and the message you are trying to communicate.
  7. Get Results and Don’t make Excuses – If you’re not getting results then you are probably not doing the right things or focused on the right things.  When the results are not there you don’t make excuses, you look at what is not working and make the adjustment.  You admit mistakes and take responsibility.

There is much more to leadership than just these seven things but these are some of the basics that will set you up for success.  Again, the key is that you are growing, learning and changing as a leader.

If your feeling stuck as a leader or organization send me an email and let’s set up a time to discuss next steps in getting unstuck.  Email – castutzman@gmail.com

 

 

How Bold Are You?

“Our difficulties and dangers will not be removed by closing our eyes to them.”  Winston Churchill

I recently watched the movie Darkest Hour the story about Winston Churchill.  It tells the story of the beginning of World War 2 and how Churchill rose to leadership and how he provided leadership at that critical time in history.

I also have recently read the story of Patrick Henry and his part in moving our country to become independent and free.

Both of those men had a character quality that helped them to lead in critical, difficult times.  It was boldness.  The definition of boldness is “Confidence and courage to do what is right regardless of the circumstances or others’ opinions.”

Winston Churchill was willing to take great risks and even fail because he believed he was doing what was right and best for his country.  Many people around him criticized and questioned most of his decisions, yet he continued to stay the course and boldly stand firm.  There were moments of questioning himself and dealing with fear directly.  However, he did not allow the fear to paralyze him, he talked to different people to get new perspectives when his inner circle began to crumble.

Patrick Henry also showed great boldness as one of the first people to openly speak out against England and the oppression they were imposing on the colonies.  His steadfast boldness encouraged many others to also stand firm in the face of fear.

Here are some key lessons we can learn from Winston Churchill and Patrick Henry about boldness:

  1. Boldness helps you communicate your message more effectively – Appropriate boldness brings power to your message.  Sharing your message with confidence and passion gets peoples attention.  Bold people speak up when asked to give their opinion, because they have thought deeply about the issue at hand and are clear about what is right and best for the organization or country.  Even if they are not completely clear on how to gt there, they are willing to take risks to make progress and get the right things done.
  2. Boldness will improve your relationships – People that are not afraid to have the hard conversations in life have some of the healthiest relationships.  They keep short accounts and resolve issues.  Other people like being around people that are confident and value living and influencing over simply existing and staying in their comfort zones.  Appropriate boldness requires having composure and intentionally working on relationships before they get worse.
  3. Bold people are often criticized – If you are bold and passionate about something you will most likely get criticized and even ridiculed.  True boldness gets you through those low times of rejection and failure.  You are not a great leader if you have never been criticized, questioned and ridiculed.  Boldness keeps you pressing forward.
  4. Boldness takes a positive outlook on life – Bold people think positive and believe the best.  Nothing kills boldness faster than a pessimistic outlook or negative thinking.  If you focus on what could go wrong your boldness dwindles but when you focus on what can go right your boldness grows.
  5. God raises up and uses bold people – When you have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ you have access to incredible power.  God’s spirit lives in you and empowers you to be bold for Him.  The stronger your faith in God grows the bolder you become.  2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, and of love and of sound judgement.”

When a person is not bold they often miss opportunities to influence and make a difference.  Of course you can be bold for wrong reasons and sometimes people will be more of a bully than a bold person.  Character matters when it comes to being bold.  Sometimes the most bold thing you can do is not fight back but forgive and love.  Stand up for what is right and good and protect the weak and oppressed.  Be bold about things that make the world a better place and serve other people, that’s appropriate boldness.

Next Step:

Boldness is one of 48 principles that Lodestar Guidance teaches.  Each principle has a short video and a bulletin that walks you through the keys to improving that quality in your life.  It’s a great way to build a culture that is healthy and thriving.  If you would like more information about Lodestar or leadership development email me at castutzman@gmail.com

 

 

A Key Principle that Leads to Success

I recently met with a group of men in their workplace.  I’m part of a leadership development and culture building process with this organization.  The topic for the day was self-control.  A good definition of self-control is disciplining your thoughts, words, actions, and attitude.

The conversation we had was one of the best I’ve been a part of, because most of these guys struggle with self-control.  We talked about both work and home and when it came to self-control at home with their wives and children it got real interesting.

You see these guys are like you and me.  They have relationships at work and at home.  Both are important to them and both take work and effort.  However most of us struggle more at home than at work, because at work we could get fired if we get too out of control.  Of course when we are out of control at home for long enough it leads to getting fired as well.

Why is self-control so important?  There was a study done back in the early 70’s with children.  They put a kid in a room and gave them one marshmallow.  They told them that if they can wait until we return we will give you another marshmallow.  If you eat it before we come back that’s all you get.  They left the room for 15 minutes.  Only a minority of children ate the marshmallow right away, most at least tried to delay.  Of those who attempted to delay, one third deferred gratification long enough to get a second marshmallow.

They followed up with these children several times later in life.  The children that delayed gratification longer were described by parents 10 years later as significantly more competent, the children also scored higher on their SAT scores in high school.  They also went further in education beyond high school and even had a lower Body Mass Index (BMI).

So self-control is an important attribute for people to develop in order to do better in all areas of life.  Jan Mckingley Hilado said “Self-control is a key factor in achieving success.  We can’t control everything in life, but we can definitely control ourselves.”

To have healthy thriving relationships it’s important to have self-control in these 3 key areas:

  1. Words Our words are incredibly powerful and they can help our hurt.  Words cannot be taken back once spoken so having self-control with our words is vital to healthy relationships.  Don’t allow emotions to drive your words.  Wait until you have calmed down before making a decision or having the difficult conversation.  If you already said hurtful things, humble yourself and go ask for forgiveness.
  2. Thought Life – The things we think about tend to become the most import in our lives.  Our thoughts lead to actions and words so it matters what you think about and what you believe.  If you are believing things that are not true it can lead to negative hurtful words or actions.  If your focused on the wrong things it can lead to wrong actions and words.  Feed your mind things that are true, good and helpful.  Get wise counsel from others for a better perspective.
  3. Attitude – Every day you get to choose your attitude.  You can choose to smile, believe the best and be positive or you can frown, believe the worst and be negative.  Having self-control in our attitude is one of the hardest, but most important things we can do to have a healthy relationship with anyone.  If your attitude toward a person is negative it will adversely affect that relationship.

People that have good self-control with words, thoughts and attitude are much more likely to have healthy thriving relationships and also be more effective and productive at work and home.

My faith in Jesus Christ helps me to have better self-control.  It’s one of the results of my relationship with Jesus, I get help from Him in those moments I need self-control.  I get strength and power in those critical moments when conflict arises or life happens.

So where do you need to have more self-control?

 

Four Things Leaders Think About Every Day

Everyone that’s still breathing is thinking about something.  We think about what to eat, when to eat, what we should wear, what we will watch on TV tonight.  We think about what other people think about us, we think about and make judgements about other people.  We think about losing weight, starting to exercise or eating ice cream.

We all have this dialog going on in our heads.  We have conversations about all kinds of things going on in our lives.  That’s pretty normal, but leaders think about a lot of other things.  Leader’s don’t get stuck in the web of our day to thinking.  Leader’s think about what could be, what should be and how to get there.

So here are four things that most leaders are thinking about:

  1. Leaders think about the future.  Leaders are custodians of the future.  They are thinking about what’s next? What could be our next big challenge? What needs to change to get us there?  Why is this the direction we need to go?  How can we keep moving in that direction?  What steps do we need to take to get there?  They think beyond what is directly in front of them.  Leaders are always thinking about a better future.  Great leaders are optimistic about the future not pessimistic.
  2. Leaders think about their team.  If your a good leader you know you can’t do it alone.  Leaders are always thinking about the people on their team or in their organization.  They think about if they are in the right seat, they think about how to help them get better at what they are doing.  Leaders are constantly thinking about who can help them get to that preferred future.
  3. Leader’s think about goals.  Leaders set goals because they know it will keep them focused.  In order to set good goals you have to know where you want to go and the goals you set help get your there.  So leaders are thinking strategically about what behaviors, actions and initiatives will get us closer to that vision for a better future.  Great leaders not only think about goals but they write them down and require their team to do the same and then holds the team including themselves accountable to achieving those goals.
  4. Leaders think about learning and improving.   The best leaders know they have a lot more to learn and look for opportunities to learn from others.  That’s why most leaders are readers.  They devour books, listen to podcasts, read articles and posts from other leaders and organizations.  All that reading and listening helps the leader to stretch their thinking about the future and discover changes that need to be made in their personal lives and professional lives and in the life of their organization in order to move toward that preferred future.

Of course leaders think about a lot of other things but these four are near the top.  Leaders also set aside time to think.  Leaders that are so busy they can’t sit down and think deeply tend to be pulled to the urgent and can miss great opportunities and make bad decisions.  Schedule time into your calendar to think, read, listen and write.  That time will sharpen you and your organization.

7 Leadership Insights I Learned in Ministry

I’ve been in ministry full time for over 15 years and I’ve learned a lot and made a lot of mistakes.  The church I work at went from single site in a small town to a major relocation to a bigger facility to multi-site now with five locations.  I was involved with leading the relocation of two of the sites from a portable campus to a permanent site.  I’ve been a part of a lot of change and challenges over the years.  I’ve grown as a leader and I’ve struggled as a leader.  I believe there are some basic things that help a lot in ministry, do these basics well and you will lead well.

Here are seven things I’ve learned and believe about leadership.

  1. Relationships are more important than Systems – Effective, well thought out systems are vital to an organizations health, but people are more important.  Every person that attends our church is important, and every person that does not attend our church is important.  Each person matters to God and so they must matter to us.  When going through explosive growth it’s easy to miss the relational part of ministry.  That is when you must work hard to meet with people and listen to them.  I have learned so much by simply meeting with people and listening to them.  listening to their story and sharing parts of yours is so important when building relationships.
  2. Communicate with your team often – Even when there is nothing new to report, it’s important to communicate with your team on a regular basis.  As a leader, I wake up every day thinking about what needs to happen to get us to where we are headed.  The volunteers I am leading have many other things to think about, like their own jobs and families.  The more I can communicate about what is going on, the better my relationship with the people I lead.  Open honest communication builds trust, it also motivates and encourages and allows people to ask clarifying questions.  When you don’t communicate you are communicating and that’s when people start loosing interest, or fill in the blanks themselves.
  3. Trust that God is working in ways you do not see – In ministry, things don’t always line up like you would like them to be.  As a leader, I am responsible for my own actions and to make plans and develop strategy.  It is also my responsibility to be flexible and to include God in everything.  The deeper my trust in God the stronger my faith grows.  If we figure everything out on our own, we don’t need God to show up.  When you take on a big vision, only God can make it happen, we need to trust and obey.
  4. Trust the leaders around you – I must choose to trust and not to be suspicious of the leaders above me and around me.  The more I choose to trust the more my heart remains in the right place.  When I start to fill in the blanks with my own ideas, I begin to head into a downward spiral.  When I believe the best about the people leading me, I can then lead with integrity and passion.  Trust builds a culture of emotional health and stability.  It’s also important that you are trustworthy and lead well in the area entrusted to you.  This becomes even more important and difficult as you add multiple sites.  You are not as close to the leaders as you used to be so trust becomes vital to moving things forward in a healthy way.
  5. Do more than rally the troops – You must do more than talk the talk, you need to walk the walk and make things happen.  That means doing what you say and equipping your volunteers to do what they are asked to do.  It means taking the time to develop people rather than just direct people.  When you build meaningful relationships with people they will follow you through the most difficult of times.  When you pay attention to the details and delegate to people that can get things done your influence goes up.  Don’t just try to pump people up, pour into them and love them.  The only way to do that is by allowing God to pour into you and to keep growing as a leader.
  6. You have to be real – People are looking for real leaders that admit their mistakes and take responsibility.  Be quick to admit mistakes and ask for forgiveness and extend the same to others.  Don’t put on the religious mask, where you try to make people think that everything is just perfect.  That is only possible if you are sure of your identity and comfortable with who you are.  I have learned that I need to be me and not someone I think people want.  The more I am the person God created me to be the more influence God gives me.
  7. Be as clear as possible – Clarity is one of the most difficult things to do as a leader.  It is easy to dance around the issues and not give direct answers.  Sometimes there are things that I just cannot share with people, so I need to be honest about that and let them know that I will share details when I can.  To be clear as a leader means taking time to think about what you are going to say.  It means you can’t just shoot from the hip, but take time to aim before delivering the message.  Being clear is a way of honoring people and letting them know you care.  Whether it’s in an email, in a meeting or face to face be honest about what is happening or what happened.  Share as much information as possible.  That will build trust and respect.

When things are changing all around me and the pace seems to be higher than what I can stand, it helps to step back and trust God and obey what he tells me.  When things are busy and hectic I need to make sure that I am praying and communicating with God.  I also need to be reading the Bible to build my intimacy with God and get wisdom and direction.  One thing that has helped me in this area and many others is having people in my life to ask me how I am doing in some of these areas.  Having accountability in my life has brought growth and freedom into my life.

Lead On!

Be Generous

F81ABBC8-9EB7-2769-67EBF258A0BD8E18It’s the most generous time of the year.  For many people Christmas time is a time to be generous with family, friends and even strangers.  It’s also the end of the year and people are thinking of year end giving.  I want to talk about generosity and what that really means.

As a follower of Jesus one of my desires is to be known as a generous person.  Jesus was very generous with his time, talent and treasure.  He taught many life-changing messages and stories about being generous.  He even gave his life for our sins.

Generosity is demonstrating the nature of God by wisely reinvesting the resources that He has entrusted to us.  There are several key traits that go into making someone generous.  Without these in our lives we cannot be truly generous.

  • Loving – It is not possible to have love without generosity, but it is possible to have generosity without love.  If you have the love of Christ in you, then generosity should flow out of you.  It should be a part of your nature to be generous and look for ways to give and serve others.  1 John 3:17 says “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need, but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?
  • Sowing – Generosity follows the law of the harvest.  The more generous we are in sowing, the greater will be our harvest in true riches. 2 Corinthians 9:6 says “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
  • Honoring – Honor means “to place value upon.”  We are instructed in Ephesians 6:12 to honor our parents.  We honor civil authorities by paying taxes and following laws.  When we give to the poor, we honor the Lord and He promises to repay.  Proverbs 19:17 says “He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.”  Generosity is not just giving, it is giving abundantly or joyfully.
  • Grace – It is through God’s grace that we are able to give and be generous, and that giving is an expression of the grace we have in Christ Jesus.
  • Stewardship – A steward is one who is entrusted with the assets of the master and is responsible to make wise investments with them.  A wise steward understands that the assets he has under his control do not belong to him and should be returned to the master with increase.  We are stewards of all the people, possessions, abilities and talents that God has blessed us with.

Generosity brings light into a dark world.  It makes people smile and feel good.  Generosity also draws us closer to God because it’s when we are most like Him.  Giving also reminds us that God owns it all and that He is the one that can give us more or take it all away.  Being generous also breaks the bondage of greed and overcomes the love of money.

Here are some simple steps to help you be more generous:

  • Dedicate everything to God – This includes all your money, time, possessions, strength, abilities, and relationships.  Truly acknowledge that God owns it all.  That takes a lot of pressure off of us.
  • Practice living simply – Try to simplify your life.  This could mean selling or giving away some of your stuff.  It might mean giving up some luxury items so that you can live at or below your income.  It may mean saying no to some things in order to say yes to being more generous.
  • Give as God directs – The goal of generosity is to demonstrate the love of God so that others will be drawn to Him.  Start being generous by doing random acts of kindness.  You can also start giving to your local church.  Consider giving a percentage of your income.  Start giving your time by volunteering at your church, in the community or at a non-profit.

So how generous are you?  Do you see God as the provider of all wealth?  Do you see yourself as a steward of God’s resources?  Do you honor God with a generous portion of all His increase in your life?  Are you living as frugally as you can so you have more to invest in God?

Generosity is the result of focusing on God’s riches rather than our resources.  CS Lewis said this “I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give.  I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.”

Ask God for opportunities to be generous and see what happens.

Ten Saving and Giving Tips

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Most people want to be generous and help those in need.  The reality is most people do not give much.  Most people also understand that’s it’s important to save money.  The reality is most people don’t save much money either.  So what’s the problem?  Part of it may be understanding the world better.  Also part of it is not having a plan.

Pastor Bob Coy of Calvary Chapel in Ft Lauderdale gave this example of putting the people of the world into perspective.  Let’s look at the world as made up of just 100 people:

  • 70 of them don’t know Jesus. 30 do.
  • 30 are white. 70 are some other color.
  • 51 are women, 49 are men.
  • 80 live in substandard housing, meaning they have no electricity, running water, inside plumbing or a roof over their head.
  • 50 are malnourished. Their food is not satisfying, not enough and doesn’t provide proper nutrition.
  • 70 can’t read.
  • 1 is dying as you read this-a little kid under the age of 10. He’s dying because he can’t get enough to eat.
  • 6 have a significant portion of the world’s wealth.
  • 6 live in the United States.
  • What if you’re the dad of the kid who’s dying of malnourishment?  Wouldn’t you be asking one of the 6 wealthy to share a little for your child? Unfortunately, the answer all too often is: there’s other things to do with our money, new things to buy.

Most Americans spend their money this way:

  • 24% on housing
  • 19% on health care
  • 22% on recreation and personal needs
  • 15% for food
  • 17% for transportation
  • Leaving 3% for other such as giving or saving

Most people want to make a difference but are either too far in debt to be generous or have good intentions but don’t plan in advance to be generous or even to save.

So here are some tips on how you can Save more and Give more:

  1. Save second and Give to God first.  When we give first, then save some we don’t spend money on those unimportant things that we don’t think about.  The fancy coffee, the extra soda, the fast food.
  2. Use an automatic transfer at your bank.  Transfer money out of your checking account into a savings account after every paycheck.  You can also set up automatic giving to your church either through your bank or through your church.
  3. Be consistent.  If you save money every other week for a year it adds up quickly, same goes for giving.  If you give consistently every week and not just when your in church you end up being more generous.
  4. You might want to have multiple savings accounts you transfer money into.  One should be an emergency account, another could be to purchase your next vehicle or other large item and another could be for a down payment on a house.
  5. You might even set up a saving account at a different bank to make it harder to get to and more out of mind.  When you don’t see the money in your checking account or in your wallet you won’t spend it.
  6. When you get a raise or a bonus put that money in savings, give some away or pay off debt.
  7. Pray about saving and giving.  Ask God to give you wisdom with your finances and guidance on how to spend what He has entrusted to you.
  8. When an opportunity to give comes along if you’ve been saving money you can pull from your savings and give and not have to take money out of your budget.
  9. Plan in advance where you want to give each year.  Give to your local church first.  I recommend 10% of your gross income as a target.  Then plan what other non-profits you have a  heart for and what you would like to give to them for the year.  Then plan to use money from savings or budget to give to things that come up that you would like to support like girl scouts, youth group, pizza fund raisers etc.
  10. When you payoff debt add that extra money to your savings and give some away.  Or if you are able to save some money on expenses increase your giving or your saving.

Being generous feels good and helps make the world a better place.  Saving is a healthy practice and helps you to be more generous.  Start today by choosing a couple of these tips and put them into practice.

 

A Key to Success

norway-travelnews-amundsenI’d like to share a story with you about two explorers:

Explorers Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott competed to be the first to lead their teamon an expedition to the South Pole in October 1911. The 1400 mile trip was challenging, and temperatures often reached 20 degrees below zero even during the summer. The terrain was uncertain and unforgiving. The modern communication we rely upon was non-existent. If things went badly, rescue was very unlikely. Amundsen led his explorers to safety and victory, but Scott’s expedition led to defeat. The difference in the leaders’ expeditions was wisdom.

Amundsen spent years rigorously preparing for the journey. He learned how to handle polar conditions, and he lived with Eskimos to learn how they survived, what they wore, and how they moved. He studied every possible scenario. Amundsen designed the entire journey to reduce the likelihood of chance events. He carried enough extra supplies to be able to miss every single supply depot and still go another 100 miles, but Scott risked running low on supplies. Amundsen stored three tons of supplies for five men; Scott had only one ton for 17 men. Amundsen brought four thermometers, but Scott brought only one. Amundsen used sled dogs, based on the wisdom of the Eskimos. Scott used unproven motor sledges and ponies. The sleds failed, and the ponies died. Amundsen was famous for his “20 Mile March” wisdom, having a set distance the team had to travel daily no matter the circumstances. Scott let the weather determine when his team moved. Amundsen trained his body and mind with rigorous discipline, but Scott’s preparation was limited. He made plans based on his own intuition and opinions, not on direct research of the environment he was entering.

On December 15, 1911, Amundsen and his team reached the South Pole. They planted the flag and went right back to work. They reached home base on January 25th, the exact day he planned. Eight months later, a British reconnaissance party found the frozen bodies of Scott and his last two teammates in a snow covered tent just eleven miles short of his supply station. The entire team had perished. Scott’s lack of wisdom led to defeat.

There was a pretty big difference between the two explorers right.  Amundsen was much better prepared for the journey than Scott.  Why was he more prepared?

  1. He spent years preparing himself and his team – Always remember that to take on something important, something big we have to prepare for it. We have to practice and work on our skills.  So whatever we want to do in life start preparing now.  We are always preparing for something, when we stop growing and preparing we often miss opportunities or make critical mistakes and failures.
  2. He also learned as much as he could about the South Pole – This is a reminder for all of us to always keep learning and growing. The most successful people in life are the ones that are life-long learners.  So just because you are out of school doesn’t mean you stop learning.  Keep reading books, keep studying things you are interested in.  Keep stretching yourself.  There is always something new to learn.
  3. He planned for chance events – He knew that there were lots of things out of his control, like the weather. He had to be flexible when things went wrong.  No matter how much you plan there are always things that can go wrong.  Life has lots of ups and downs, so we need to prepare for those things by making wise decisions and having some backup plans.  Amundson packed extra supplies and took more than he needed in case things did not go as planned.  In life things often do not go as planned, so prepare to be flexible.
  4. He talked to people that knew more than he did, the Eskimos – We can also learn a lot from other people that have gone before us that are older or more experienced than us. Ask questions and learn from people that have been doing the things we want to do.  Where I work at a church we go to other churches that are bigger than us, more experienced than us and ask them questions and try to learn what is working for them.
  5. He had a system and was disciplined – he planned to go 20 miles every day no matter what. He learned what worked then he stuck with it and followed the plan.  Self-discipline is important because we often have to do things we don’t enjoy.  To accomplish good things in life we need to work hard, stay focused and stick with it.
  6. Amundson used wisdom to succeed – Wisdom is accurately applying knowledge and clear judgement to life situations

The Bible has a lot to say about wisdom.  King Solomon – wrote most of the book of Proverbs.  That’s a great place to start in seeking wisdom.  If you haven’t read Proverbs start today.  Make is a practice to read through the 31 chapters of Proverbs a couple of times a year.

 

Five Key Spiritual Habits

habits

We are all busy, there are many things competing for our time and energy.  Leadership can be defined as having influence in someone elses life.  If you have faith in Jesus Christ you are also a spiritual leader, because now you are an ambassador for God.  The influence we have with people, whether it’s at work, home, school or church is often a reflection on what daily habits we have.

Jesus gave us a great example of things we can do to stay focused on the right things and keep the right perspective on life.  It’s easy to drift and be consumed by the day to day activities of life unless we develop these essential habits.  So here are five things we can observe in the life of Jesus that can contribute to our development of faith, character and leadership.

  • Solitude – This is a challenging behavior because it’s countercultural.  It is a rare and often unsettling feeling to stop doing and just be.  Solitude is being completely alone with God away from all human contact for extended periods of time. It is in these times of solitude that we can seek to refill our spiritual fuel tank, hear from God, think clearly and honestly.  It helps us make better decisions, work through grief and pain and strengthen our spirit and resolve.
    • Jesus spent 40 days alone in the desert.
    • Before he chose the 12 disciples he spent the entire night alone praying and thinking.
    • When a close friend John the Baptist was killed he went off in a boat by himself.
    • After a great ministry event of feeding the five thousand he went up into the hills by himself.
  • Prayer – How’s your prayer life?  Prayer is essential for our spiritual and emotional well-being. Regular connection with God through prayer is what sustained Jesus while he was here on earth.  For us as leaders it’s vital to be able to talk with God about anything and everything.  Prayer is the way in which we plug into God’s power, receive God’s comfort and encouragement, vent our frustrations and pain and intercede for other people.  Prayer helps prepare us for the day by focusing on God first.  Praying with people and for people is a powerful leadership principle.  Praying for your spouse, family, friends, co-workers, employees, small group, boss and other leaders is an effective way to lead and love people.  When prayer becomes a habit it becomes part of our DNA and normal way of life.
  • Bible – It’s the greatest resource known to mankind.  It’s more than a how-to manual for life, it’s an intimate love letter written to you from your Heavenly Father.  I’m currently reading through the New Testament in 60 days.  I’m on day 51 and I love it and look forward to it.  There are five practical ways you can cultivate this habit of getting into God’s Word.
    • Hearing God’s Word – That is why it’s important to go to church, to hear God’s Word and messages about how to listen and obey and put it into practice.  You can also listen to the Bible through great Bible Apps like YouVersion.  Have your spouse or friend read the Bible out loud to you, not only will you get into God’s Word it will build that relationship with your spouse or friend.
    • Reading God’s Word – There are so many great translations of the Bible that it’s much easier to read the Bible today.  I use my Bible App on my phone a lot.  There are great reading plans for all parts of the Bible.  Don’t take on too much but be consistent.  Reading the Bible daily or most days will help you lead better, even if you don’t understand everything at first.  Great leaders read a lot and the Bible should be at the top of the list.
    • Study God’s Word – This is more than just reading, this is examining and looking into the meaning and application of God’s Word.  This is great to do with other people in a small group, but we also need times when we dig in on our own.  Using a study Bible is helpful because there are study notes that explain what the Scriptures are saying.
    • Memorize God’s Word – When was the last time you memorized something?  A great way to go deeper in God’s Word is to memorize it.  Every year I lead a group of men and one of the things we do is memorize Scripture together.  Jesus used Scripture to fight against the devil and we can do the same.  When you memorize it you can recall it later when you need courage for the fight.
    • Meditate on God’s Word – Memorizing Scripture puts it into your head, while meditating puts it into your heart.  It’s focusing on a verse or several verses over a period of time.  Writing it down, reading it out loud, emphasizing different words, personalizing it by putting your name in the verse, praying the verse to God.  It’s praying while your focus on that Scripture and asking God to reveal what he wants you to know or do.
  • Trusting God – Jesus completely trusted God with absolutely everything.  In our culture we tend to only rely on or trust ourselves.  Trusting others and God is a struggle for most people.  Pride & fear fuel this lack of trust in our lives.  Many people have also been hurt or let down by important people in their lives so it’s hard to trust again.  Only in our relationship with God can we trust for complete unconditional love.  Because of God’s incredible, never changing love for us He is trustworthy.  When we understand who God is and how much He loves us it changes our perspective on life, ourselves and the world around us.
  • Intimate Community – Jesus had the 12 men that he spent significant time with.  But he also had 3 men that he was even closer and more intimate with.  It was his inner circle, the ones he did life with and passed on the leadership of the church to.  It’s vital for leaders to have soul-filling relationships with people where you can give and receive.  A safe place to share your heart, your struggles and your victories.  We need to be around people that know us well enough to tell us the truth, challenge us, question us and love us.

I hope these are habits that become a normal part of your life.  I encourage you to take small steps toward applying these habits into your daily, weekly and monthly routines.  If you do it will transform your leadership and your relationships.

 

COMMITMENT

Some Thoughts on Commitment

We are all committed to something or someone. For those of you who are married I hope you are committed to one another. Some are committed to their careers, their families, their religion, their politics. Some are also committed to Jesus Christ.

All of us are at different levels or degrees of commitment in each of these areas. You could also call this maturity.

Some examples of people that were committed:

  • Christopher Columbus – Was told his mission or dream was “Quite impossible”, then discovered America
  • Orrville and Wilbur Wright – Were told it is impossible to fly, then found a way to fly
  • Thomas Edison – Took nearly 1,000 experiments to develop filament for Light Bulb
  • Abraham Lincoln – Failed in 12 out of 15 elections in his life
  • John Wesley – He averaged 5,000 miles a year mostly on horseback and 15 sermons a week
  • Lebron James – Was told you can’t win a championship in Cleveland, then did it
  • Billy Graham – Was committed to Sharing the Good News about Jesus Christ and thousands of people did

What are you committed to?  Is it something that will last beyond you?  Is it going to make the world a better place?  Is it something you want to be remembered for?

I believe that we are all spiritual beings and that our spirit will live forever, long after our bodies die.  We spend forever somewhere either in the presence of God or separated from him forever.  Because of that belief, I am committed to helping people grow in Faith, Character and Leadership.  Faith in Jesus Christ, developing the character of Christ and leading like Christ.  That is what will change the world and bring hope to the hopeless.  That is what will change a person, a family, a workplace, an organization, a city, a state, a country and the world.

Here are some guiding principles when it comes to commitment:

  1. Lasting commitment is making a decision before the solution is found, knowing the principle is right.
  2. Commitment is the motivator that keeps me moving toward my goal.
  3. Commitment lets other people know where I stand
  4. Commitment gets me started while others stand, and keeps me going while others quit.

SO WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT DIFFERENCE MAKERS ARE COMMITTED TO?

WHAT ARE YOU COMMITTED TO?