Category Archives for "leadership"

Becoming An Intentional Leader

This morning, I read a great article from the Nov/Dec 2010 issue of Outreach Magazine titled Unintentional Leadership Investment by Brad Powell.

Powell provided three practical suggestions to leaders to make sure their leadership is intentional and effective.

1.  Don’t allow yourself or your leadership to exist on autopilot.

A leader needs to be alert to the mission and vision of the organization and should be constantly evaluating the effectiveness of the organization in meeting this mission.  Sometimes it can be easy to get into a coast mode – going through the motions – as one leads an organization that has a cyclical nature to it.  In my case, I have to do things repeatedly to make sure we close out our fiscal months, fiscal quarters, and fiscal years appropriately.  This is a good reminder to stay focused on the mission of the organization.

2.  Continually re-evaluate your leadership priorities.

What is consuming my time?  Is it important to achieving the mission of the organization?  Is it more or less important than other things that I could or should be doing?  A leader must constantly evaluate how their time is spent.  Am I making the most of every opportunity to be an effective leader?  For me, it has become important to make sure I’m not allowing my employees to shirk responsibility or to avoid making decisions that are appropriate to their level of responsibility.  It sometimes seems easier just to handle things myself, but I need to make sure I continue to empower my employees so that I can stay focused on some of the bigger picture things.

3.  Be willing to pull the plug on any investment you’re making that’s not advancing the organization’s mission.

This one is tough for me, because I’ve had the plug pulled on me, and it hurts – big time!  Does what we’re doing really make sense for achieving our mission?  This requires flexibility and confidence.  This also requires a clear focus on the mission of the organization (go back to step 1).  As a leader, this is an important step, but I think it’s also important to make sure that those impacted by the decision to pull the plug are effectively embraced and redirected towards things that help to advance the organization’s mission.  To pull the plug on someone and to fail to nurture and redirect someone towards the mission can be a leadership failure as well.

I know that Powell’s article was meant for church leadership, but I think it also applies to the business world and leadership of other types of organizations.  I appreciate these types of reminders and challenges.

Lead Me

Life can be real tough sometimes.  Sometimes, being a husband and a father isn’t easy.  I love my wife and my kids more than any words can say.  And I want to be the very best husband and father that I can be for them.  But to be honest, there are many times when I don’t do or say the right thing, and there are also times when I don’t have the strength to carry on.  Life has been pretty challenging recently.  I am so thankful for friends and family who have surrounded me and supported me and my family through these days – but even they cannot fully sustain me.  I’m learning again and again the importance of looking to God for His leadership and His strength when mine is waning.

This song by Sanctus Real speaks to my heart today.

Sanctus Real – “Lead Me”

I look around and see my wonderful life
Almost perfect from the outside
In picture frames I see my beautiful wife
Always smiling
But on the inside, I can hear her saying…

“Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can’t
Don’t leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, what about us?

Show me you’re willing to fight
That I’m still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone”

I see their faces, look in their innocent eyes
They’re just children from the outside
I’m working hard, I tell myself they’ll be fine
They’re independent
But on the inside, I can hear them saying…

“Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can’t
Don’t leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, but what about us?

Show me you’re willing to fight
That I’m still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone”

So Father, give me the strength
To be everything I’m called to be
Oh, Father, show me the way
To lead them
Won’t You lead me?

To lead them with strong hands
To stand up when they can’t
Don’t want to leave them hungry for love,
Chasing things that I could give up

I’ll show them I’m willing to fight
And give them the best of my life
So we can call this our home
Lead me, ’cause I can’t do this alone

Father, lead me, ’cause I can’t do this alone

Sustain me according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.  Psalm 119:116

Blog Spotlight – LeadingSmart – Tim Stevens – A Space for Margin

One of the many blogs I follow on a regular basis is by Tim Stevens who is the executive pastor at Granger Community Church.  Tim writes a lot about leadership.  I’ve really appreciated his wisdom as I’ve followed him over the past few years.

Last week, Tim wrote about the importance of making space for margins in our lives.  His post (below) really resonated with me.  Our family often seems to be running from one activity to the next.  We pack our calendars so full of stuff that we don’t leave time for rest, relaxation, and more importantly for God to intervene in the spaces that surround our lives.  Events at our home over the past couple of months have forced us to take a brave new look at how we organize our time.  Tim’s post couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time.



I’ve been thinking a lot about margin.

A margin is the portion of the page that you intentionally leave blank. You don’t write all the way from the left side of the page to the right side—no, you typically leave space all the way around, and we call those margins.

Yet in life, everything in our culture is telling us to ignore margins. Spend more money than you make and you will have no financial margin. Fill your schedule from early morning until late night—and you will have no time margin. Surround yourself with needy people and be constantly reactive to their expectations—and you will have no emotional margin.

Mark Batterson wrote, “You need margin to think. You need margin to play. You need margin tolaugh. You need margin to dream. You need margin to have impromptu conversations. You need margin to seize unanticipated opportunities.”

I want to live a life with margins.

When I live on less than I make, I have the financial margin so an unexpected expense won’t capsize me, and so I can respond in the moment to someone else’s real need.

When every moment of my life is scheduled, I don’t have the margin to stop and listen to someone who needs an ear; I don’t have the time to jump in and help a neighbor fix their sprinkler; or don’t have the flexibility to go to my kids sporting event that was scheduled at the last minute.

Margin makes you pleasant; no margin makes you grumpy.

Margin allows you to be generous; no margin makes you Scrooge-like.

Margin helps you listen; without margin, you come across like someone who doesn’t care.

Margin gives you the space to learn, grow and dream; without margin and you become stale and empty.

Margin increases the chance you will hear the still small voice of God when He speaks;  without margin and you might continue through life without the blessing of God.

Where are you feeling the lack of margin in your life? What should change?


And In This Corner…

Over the past couple of months, I have really been wrestling through what it means to be a leader – particularly as it relates to leading in a church related ministry. This has not at all been an easy journey for me. In fact, it has been down right painful much of the time. I have lost sleep. I have lost hope at times. I have lost confidence. I have lost trust. I’m not done wrestling yet – I’m sure of that, but I am learning some great things. Today, I was struck by a blog post by Chris Johnson that talks about the difference between good leadership and bad leadership. Here’s an excerpt from the post:

Good leadership vs. Bad Leadership:

1. Passionate about one’s job vs. It is just a job
2. Values one’s team vs. Has employees
3. Knows one’s team vs. Should not be personal at work
4. Takes time to develop their strengths vs. Focuses on their weakness
5. Gives people a chance to fail vs. Controls every decision
6. Takes time to reward good work vs. It is their job
7. Leads team to believe they are the heart and sole of the organization vs. Only the boss matters
8. Spends time learning how to be a better leader vs. Got it all figured out
9. Creates a fun working environment vs. All work no play
10. Secure vs. Insecure
11. Admits mistakes vs. Blames the employees or organization
12. Confrontational vs. Ignore problems hoping they will go away

Like I said, I thought this post was very appropriate to my current condition. I truly want to be a good leader – not in the eyes of man – but in the eyes of God. I want to make a difference. I want to feel like my efforts and actions are worthwhile.

I should also mention that one of the things that has encouraged me lately is the Word. Specifically, I have been returning to I and II Timothy. So far, I’ve been reminded that above all else – Christ has got to be my focus.

More to follow…
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