Every leader has lids on his life. The issue is never whether you have lids. The issue is what you are going to do about them.
Lids that limited us:
Most of these have to do with character. If you are more concerned about keeping up appearances than cleaning up your character these lids can limit you.
Lids that did not limit us:
What lids exist in your life?
What character flaws do you have?
What is your attitude toward those lids?
Are you taking responsibility for lifting them?
Are you willing to allow someone else help you lift them
For the past 15 years I have been focused on growing myself and others in faith, character and leadership. Those three areas of my life are guiding lights for how I approach life. I have made a lot of mistakes over those years, yet I keep coming back to those three things.
As I reflect on leadership here are three things I believe we must be committed to in order to lead well. Whether you are a parent, spouse, employee, employer, student, teacher, athlete, coach, artist, musician, or just a friend, you are a leader. If you have influence with anyone else then you are a leader.
Leading is not easy, because in order to lead you need to have influence. In order to have influence you need to have a vision of where you want to go or the way you want things to be. If you want to increase your influence and leadership in this next year then these are some things you will need to do:
The best leaders do all of this with humility and persistence.
So what are you doing to get uncomfortable? What are you dissatisfied about? What do you need to disrupt in your life or the lives of those you lead? That is how Jesus leads us. When he wants us to grow he brings discomfort, dissatisfaction and disruption. Jesus is the greatest leader ever, so let’s follow his example. If you don’t believe me just read about him in the Bible. Lead On.
My first job was pumping gas, servicing cars and repairing tires at a local gas station. That’s were I learned how to make change without a cash register and how to fix a flat tire. My second job was at a local meat packing company. I was the clean up guy and had to dismantle and clean all the machines they used to process meat. That is where I learned how to have a system and follow a process in cleaning the plant. I also learned how to work alone and to not cut corners. I learned that people were counting on me to do my job so that they can do their job when they showed up in the morning.
My next job was at a local cheese manufacturing and retail business. I learned a lot working there, things like retail sales strategies, inventory control and customer service. I learned how to cut cheese samples and set up displays. I even got into some construction by helping to remodel an apartment for one of the children of the owner. During that time I got to interact with subcontractors and did work like drywall, floor tile, and general construction. I learned about working hard and doing it right the first time.
Soon after that I went to college and then started my career in banking. I started as an internal auditor for a Savings & Loan in Wooster Ohio. That was my first exposure to corporate America. I learned to pay attention to detail as I had to audit every area of the company and make sure everything added up. I also learned how to set goals and work on projects and be a team player. I learned how to manage my time and finish what I started. I also learned how to cut costs and work within a budget. I learned how to show respect to my boss and follow direction.
My next job was at a local community bank as a loan officer. I was in my early 20’s and this was my first job where I got to directly interact with customers. I learned a lot about finances, balance sheets, financial statements and tax returns. I learned about risk and how to manage that. I learned how to read people and their character. I learned about customer service and how to win over potential new customers. I learned how to serve customers and make them want to continue to do business with us. I was promoted quickly to a branch manager and did all kinds of lending. I continued to learn about management, customer service, lending, community service and economic development. I developed a passion for developing leadership skills in myself and others.
After 12 years in the banking industry I transitioned into the accounting world with a regional accounting firm. They created a new department for me to run which focused on enhancing profits and adding value to their clients. I did a lot of training in customer service, leadership, management and strategic planning. I learned how to interact with business owners and CEO’s. I learned how to win friends and influence people. I learned how to lead groups of business people and do public speaking and presentations. I got even more involved in community organizations and public relations. I learned about marketing and sales and what it takes to run a business.
Then I took all that I had had learned in all of those jobs and went to work at a local church. Those experiences have helped to shape me into the leader I am today. The things I learned in the workplace have helped me to lead the local church and continue to influence people and impact our community. Here are some of the things I believe are vital to leading with excellence no matter where you are:
Leadership is all about influence and we are either gaining or declining in our influence. There are a lot of things that are out of our control, but the way in which you work and lead is within your control. So no matter where you are working, what are you learning and how are you growing.
Last week I attended a Night of Worship at the Dover campus of NewPointe Community Church. I am a pastor at one of the other campuses, so it was nice for me to just be a regular guy attending and worshiping. I have to admit I went to see if I could get some ideas on how to make our worship event better the following week. As I got there and walked in I connected with a few people I know, but was pretty anonymous and slipped into a seat about a third of the way up. As the music started I sang, prayed and even raised my hands throughout the evening. I was also critiquing some of what was happening, making note of things I would do differently and things that I liked.
Then God did something unexpected. I don’t remember the exact time during the service or what song we were singing, but I heard God say “Don’t Eat!” I have to admit I was a little startled and confused. I asked God if that was from Him and if I heard him right. I heard it again “Don’t Eat!” That same morning in the church service I sat in on at my campus our senior pastor had mentioned the idea of Fasting as a spiritual discipline. I have fasted before with other people and by myself. I have given up TV, sports, coffee, food, meat and movies. Yet this time was different because God was telling me not to eat.
So I didn’t eat any food for the next three days. Each day I talked to God and when I asked if I could eat I heard “not yet”. During those three days, I was hungry and even felt some hunger pains. Yet each time I thought about being hungry I immediately connected with God and talked to Him. I felt such an inner peace and strength that seemed to get stronger each day. This three day fast reminded me how much I take food for granted. I don’t have to wonder where or when my next meal will come from. I can eat anytime I want and eat anything I want. Yet I am not all that grateful for what I have.
It’s the same way spiritually. God is with us all the time, we can talk to him anytime and ask for anything. Yet too often we take that for granted and only turn to him when things go wrong or we need something. Those three days of eating reminded me that I need God 24/7. That when I am connected to him the temptations are less powerful, the way I respond to things is much better and I make better decisions.
Psalm 63:1 says “God you are my God. I search for you. I thirst for you like someone in a dry, empty land where there is no water.” When I read that I had to admit that I do not pursue God like I would pursue water if I had none. Am I really hungry for God, desperate to know him more and more?
Jesus said this in Mathew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
When push comes to shove, what is most important to me? What takes priority?
God doesn’t need people to evangelize the earth, do missions projects or give away millions of dollars. He looks for people who will worship him in spirit and truth. Not just on Sunday mornings or whenever our day of rest is. God wants people who will worship him in the way they live. God made us to worship and every day we worship something.
When I hunger and thirst for God and seek him with all my heart, I get a glimpse of how much he loves me. As I grow, I understand a little bit better the depth of that love. God’s love for me never changes, yet as I change and grow, I get a clearer perspective of God, the world around me and the people in it.
That all came as a result of hearing two words from God and then obeying him. What would happen if we would listen to God all the time and really trust him with everything? What would happen if we did what he told us to do? What if we would follow his commands and live our lives fully surrendered to him?
On Thursday morning I woke up and knew I could eat again. The granola with Almond milk tasted better than ever before. I was grateful for the food I had in the house and once again my mind turned to God and his provision and care for me. I had a good day with my wife and got some time to rest and relax.
Then on Saturday something happened that I almost missed. It’s easy to just write things off as weird or a coincidence. I was bored and was flipping through the television, looking to escape into a movie or something entertaining before the Buckeyes came on that evening. We all know that there are lots of unwholesome things on television and I can get drawn into movies or shows that have too much sex, violence and bad language in them them. As I was searching, the smoke detector in the room beside be would beep from time to time. I thought that was odd, but dismissed it because I figured it just needed new batteries. I ended up watching a movie that was not the best choice.
I told my wife afterward about the smoke detector and as I was telling her I realized the smoke detector is hard wired and does not use batteries. It has not beeped since then. Then it hit me, was God warning me, trying to get my attention and help me avoid temptations. Then this verse came to my mind in 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
I wish I had that power I felt when I was fasting all the time. If only I had paid closer attention to that warning, I could have fed my mind with something much better. I don’t always turn to God even when he is right in front of me. I guess that is the human side of us, yet God’s love never changes and he sees me as his beloved son even when I miss the way he gives me to escape temptations.
I am excited about what God is doing in me and who he wants me to become. The more I seek him and hunger after him the more he can use me to impact and influence other people. The more I listen and pay attention and then obey what he is telling me the more fruitful my life will become. We are all in process and when we allow God to drive and we trust him amazing things can happen.
We all have people in our lives that are hard to get along with. It may be someone you work with, live beside or even live with. While we cannot change the other person or force them to treat you differently, you can change the way that you respond to them. You see, many times it’s the way we respond to bad behavior that drives even more bad behavior. This is hard to do because we all have emotions and sometimes those emotions can take over and take us down a path that causes more damage.
When we work on ourselves, we can change our attitude, our words and our non-verbal communication. Here is a simple communication rule that may help you make progress in those difficult relationships:
People who are hard to get along with allow their anger, frustration, insecurity and disappointment to drown out most everything good around them. The good news is that they don’t act that way all the time, even though it may seem that way. Eventually they’ll leave the safety of their negative emotions-even it’s only for a moment. They’ll do or say something nice, show concern, or offer to help with something. It is in those moments that you need to recognize their best. Let them know the good you see in them. Show them how much you care and how much they mean to you. When you look for and focus on the good in people, you help them to see what is possible in their lives. You give energy to what is right about them. Your love and attention creates an environment where they can choose to change and respond differently themselves.
It’s in those critical moments when they do something right that we can choose to be positive and re-enforce good behavior or be negative ourselves and destroy any glimmer of hope. Every person has some good in them, even though it may be buried deep inside them.