Leadership Lessons I learned from Jesus

Effective Leadership Starts on the Inside – Before I can lead anyone else effectively I need to be able to lead myself. That means I need to know myself and who I am. Jesus talked about what is inside of us comes out of us. What is in the heart, will eventually come out. If we have darkness, hurts, and lies in our heart that will come out in our leadership and relationships. As a leader, it’s vital to know our wounds, and make sure we are allowing God to bring healing to those inner areas of our life. Understanding what our core fears are and what lies we might be believing is essential to becoming a healthy leader. This awareness brings the right perspective and helps us to be humble and allow God to do a transforming work inside of us.

Effective Leadership Builds a Culture of Trust – Without trust, no relationship can last. Without trust, no leader can last. Jesus spent the first three years of his ministry building trust with those closest to him. He did this by investing deeply into their lives. Jesus was vulnerable, caring and committed to those around him. Jesus was loving and truthful, he did not shy away from conflict, and was always teaching lessons and telling stories that built trust. Trust is built one brick at a time and is difficult to re-establish once it’s been broken. Trust is built one conversation at a time, it grows when we do what we say we will do. It builds when we admit our mistakes and own our failures. It multiplies when we extend trust to others, by allowing them to lead and then get out of the way.

Effective Leadership Comes from a Heart to Serve Others – Selfishness will eventually destroy most relationships, and will take out most leaders. Jesus came to serve and give himself to others. He was always focused on how he could add value to the people around him. The greatest leaders are the ones that find ways to serve the people they lead. Great leaders provide the right environments and resources that allow people to thrive, grow and make a difference. It takes a mix of humility and self-confidence to be a servant leader. That only comes from a place of understand who you are, and whose you are.

Effective Leadership has a Compelling Vision – Nothing can grow without a vision. No relationship, organization, or person can grow without a vision for where they want to go. Having a purpose in life, for the organization or even our families is vital for health and growth. Jesus had a very clear purpose, and his vision was clear. All his work, actions and plans came from that purpose and vision. A compelling vision tells people who they are, where they are going, and what will guide their journey. Vision gets us through the difficult times, and gives us the grit to do the hard things. A clear vision helps us make difficult decisions, and to establish the right priorities.

Effective Leadership Understands the Power of Generosity – People love to be around generous people. Jesus was one of the most generous people ever to live. He gave his time, energy, resources and his life to the world. Leaders that are generous with their time, resources, skills and abilities add tremendous value to the world around them. Generosity is contagious, and also brings a sense of joy and fulfillment. Finding ways to be generous is a game-changing leadership principle that can transform and organization, family or person. Start giving, it’s better than receiving, and it frees us from selfishness.

Effective Leadership Establishes Great Habits – Jesus was disciplined, and developed some key habits that became a part of his day to day leadership. He made time for things like solitude, prayer, knowledge and application of Scripture, accepting and responding to God’s unconditional love, maintaining accountability relationships. These spiritual habits or disciplines, shaped Jesus into the greatest leader of all time. His example shows us the right way to lead ourselves, build a culture of trust, serve others, cast a compelling vision, and be generous.

There are so many more great leadership and life principles we can learn from Jesus. That’s why I love growing in my relationship with Jesus. There is always more to learn and apply. If you want to be a better leader, spouse, neighbor, or friend start reading and learning about Jesus and Lead On!

Trust God to Lead You Out of Tough Circumstances

Trust God to Lead You Out of Tough Circumstances!

Some circumstances in your life – such as financial problems, marital difficulties or serious illness – might leave you feeling trapped. But no matter how hopeless your situation might seem, God can and will lead you out of it if you trust Him.

Remember that nothing is impossible for God. He even parted the waters of the Red Sea so the Israelites trapped between the sea and a crowd of hostile Egyptians could emerge victorious from tough circumstances.

Here are some principles to keep in mind when you feel trapped:

  • “Realize that God means for you to be where you are.” Either God led you into your current circumstances, or He allowed them to occur as the result of some choices you made. Remember that His goal is a good one – to build your faith. Also remember that He promises to always be right beside you, no matter what your circumstances.
  • “Be more concerned for God’s glory than for your relief.” When you’re overwhelmed, stop asking how you can get out of your situation. Instead, ask how God can be glorified in it. This will change your perspective so you can see the potential in the situation. Consider what you can do in the midst of your particular situation to bring glory to God, in ways such as thanking Him for ways He has answered your prayers in the past, and praising Him for His character. Understand that God’s plan for how He will deliver you from tough circumstances may be different from what you expect, but that He will do so in the best way.
  • “Acknowledge your enemy, but keep your eyes on the Lord.” Be aware that you will often have to contend with evil spiritual forces who would like to see you trapped forever, but that you can always overcome them by God’s power. Focus on God rather than worrying about evil. Choose to obey God in even the smallest decisions in your life, striving to be honest and faithful, rather than giving into deceitful temptations that will ultimately make things worse, not better.
  • “Pray!” Pray frequently and specifically about your circumstances, and expect God to answer your prayers.
  • “Stay calm and confident, and give God time to work.” Rather than wasting time and energy trying to solve a problem by yourself, be patient, and trust God to act in His timing. Know that He has a good reason for waiting whenever He chooses to do so.
  • “When unsure, just take the next logical step by faith.” Know that God often guides moment by moment, giving you just enough information to take only the next step forward. Then He often waits to see whether you will take that step before revealing more of what He wants you to do. So show God that you take His guidance seriously by acting on what you already know He wants you to do.
  • “Envision God’s enveloping presence.” Take comfort in the fact that God can transform your past, present, and future. He uses your past failures to help you grow, loves you in the present, and guides you wisely into the future. Visualize God with you right now, and remind yourself that He was with you yesterday and He’ll be with you tomorrow.
  • “Trust God to deliver in His own unique way.” Know that God will choose the best way to deliver you from your current circumstances. Expect Him to act powerfully, working as He often does through ordinary people and events, or even through a supernatural miracle.
  • “View your current crisis as a faith builder for the future.” Choose to believe that God will actually do what He has promised.  Ask God to use your current experiences to build a more mature faith in you, that will serve you well in the future.
  • “Don’t forget to praise Him.” Thank God for what He has already done for you, and demonstrate confidence that He will continue to act in love and wisdom.

A Wise Woman

I’ve grown up with wise spiritual women in my life. Both of my grandmothers were faithful believers and prayed faithfully for their family. My mother Susie is also a strong wise woman that faithfully prays, serves and leads in her church. She prays for me and my two brothers and our families every day.

My wife Vikki is such an inspiration with the way she faithfully serves others. I see her serving our neighbors, our friends, in our church at multiple campuses, and of course serving me. She is dependable, reliable and gets things done.

I also had a strong woman that came into my life and helped me in ministry.  Wilma learned quickly, grew spiritually and became a leader and wise woman to many people.  She helped build a large team of mentors at our church, that’s still going strong today.  Many of the women she poured into are now leading ministries and other people.

During my five plus years at NewPointe Millersburg, while I was Campus Pastor, I had several women that consistently prayed for me, encouraged me and listened to me.  Linda, Elaine and Beth have been such a blessing to me and many others.  There are many other women that I’ve served with, worked with and been around that are wise spiritual leaders.  I’m so grateful for how God has placed these women into my life at just the right times.

The Bible is filled with many amazing women that we read about, like Mary,Sarah, Ruth, Esther & Abigail.  But I want to share a story about an unnamed wise woman that saved a city.  We don’t know her name but she was an amazing woman.

The story is found in 2 Samuel 20.  Let me set up the story for you.  This is during the time of King David.  Davids own son Absalom, had rebelled against him and they go to battle and his son is killed in battle.  David is devastated and mourning the loss of his son.  Another man sees an opportunity to rebel against the King.  His name is Sheba, and he stirs up a group of people that want to over throw King David.  King David finds out about this plan and he send his military leader Joab after Sheba, they chase him and his followers to a city called Abel.  We pick up the story in verse 15:

Joab and his troops came and surrounded Abel, so that no one could go in or come out. They made a dirt ramp up to the town wall and then started to use a battering ram to knock the wall down.

A wise woman shouted from the top of the wall, “Listen to me! Listen to me! I have to talk to Joab! Tell him to come here!” 17 When he came, the woman said, “Are you Joab?”

“Yes, I am,” he answered.

She said, “Please, listen to what I have to say.”

“All right,” he said. “I’ll listen.”

18 She said, “Long ago people used to say, ‘If you want good advice, go to the town of Abel to get it.’ The answers they got here were all that was needed to settle any problem. 19 We are Israelites, and we want peace! You can trust us. Why are you trying to destroy a town that’s like a mother in Israel? Why do you want to wipe out the Lord’s people?”

20 Joab answered, “No, no! I’m not trying to wipe you out or destroy your town! 21 That’s not it at all. There’s a man in your town from the hill country of Ephraim. His name is Sheba, and he is the leader of a rebellion against King David. Turn him over to me, and we will leave your town alone.”

The woman told Joab, “We will throw his head over the wall.”

22 She went to the people of the town and talked them into doing it. They cut off Sheba’s head and threw it to Joab.

Joab blew a signal on his trumpet, and the soldiers returned to their homes. Joab went back to David in Jerusalem.”

Here are my takeaways from this amazing story:

  • God uses wise women leaders to bring peace and solve problems.  It can be very helpful to have a woman’s perspective when trying to solve problems and make peace.
  • This wise woman was more concerned about the people around her than herself.  Wise women are selfless and have a heart for the people they serve. They willingly sacrifice of themselves and put themselves in danger in order to help those around them.
    • I have seen countless women loving, leading and serving their families , friends, extended family and still running businesses, households and church ministries.
  • This women had influence and was able to lead the entire community to make a hard decision.  Wise women can mobilize people to get things done, and make a difference.
  • She was decisive and moved quickly once she knew what had to be done.  A wise women does not procrastinate, she has too many things to get done.
  • This wise women did what she said she would do.  She was confident and knew what steps were needed to solve the problem.  She was a woman of solid character.
  • She was direct and to the point.  She went straight to the leader found out what the problem was and then put a plan together and made it happen quickly.  I love that!

So to all the women, this is a message of encouragement to be bold and lead.  Seek God with all your heart, get healthy spiritually & emotionally and see how God will use you to make a difference.  Lead right where you are, in your family, your workplace, your community, your city and your church.

To all the men, appreciate the gifts God has given to the women around you.  If you don’t have some strong, wise women in your life ask God to bring them around you.  They will make your family, ministry, organization and community a better place.  If you have wise women in your life be sure to thank them and appreciate them.

Lead On!

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