Archives For discipleship

10 Marks of Wise Leaders

November 19, 2013 — 2 Comments

blue-brick-wall-shadowWe’ve all considered the question, ‘Are good leaders born or made?’ It can be argued to some extent that when it comes to leadership, ‘you either have it, or you don’t.’ However, I believe that most leaders, given some honest feedback, encouragement, and experience, can improve even in areas that are viewed as weaknesses.

Solid leadership requires good judgment. Solid Christian leadership demands personal discipleship and prayer as well. So many times I see and hear leaders complaining about the push-back and lack of support they get from those they are elected, appointed, or called to lead. And, to be fair, sometimes those followers are just grouchy or plain mean. More often, however, I think they are responding understandably to the seeming inadequacies, incompetence, and insincerity of those who seek to lead them.

All leaders hit walls from time to time. Christians are no exception. That is to say that they realize their own limitations and ineffectiveness. Unfortunately, those limitations are often realized, if not magnified, by others around them as well. As a minister and therapist, I am a huge proponent of family systems theory, which teaches that even one small problem in an individual can create chaos and confusion for every other member of the family. When you carry that principle over to a more concrete system — an amusement ride, for example — it’s easy to see how one loose screw or one weak link could jeopardize the security, integrity, and functionality of the entire operation.

Lucky for us all, we do not bear the burden of perfection. On the other end of the equation though, we must find within ourselves the grace to extend to those around us who are equally imperfect. Viewed in this way, I believe that challenges, even failures, can provide great opportunities for the kind of self-evaluation that can right wrongs, turn corners, and calm the turbulence of dysfunctional teams and organizations. We’ve seen such scenarios play out through the years in sports, politics, business, and church life — sometimes on TV and sometimes much closer to the action.

So what makes the difference between an exhausted and ineffective leader and an effective one? I think it all comes down to wisdom and a teachable spirit.

Consider these 10 attitudes and practices of wise leaders: Continue Reading…

be-grateful[Note: The following article is published in the fall/winter edition of Arkansas Christian Parent magazine.]

Several years ago, Michelle and I had the opportunity to visit New York City for an extended weekend getaway. I had long desired to experience the buzz of the Big Apple, with its honking taxis, street vendors, and glistening skyscrapers. For a Southern guy, the ‘city that never sleeps’ was a real change of scenery, a sharp contrast from the more sprawling and laid-back Dallas-Fort Worth area that had been home for several years.

Indeed, New York tickled the senses with its sights, sounds, and smells (not all of which were pleasant, by the way). However, I found one thing in strikingly short supply: hospitality. New Yorkers are a different breed, to be sure. It didn’t take long for my wife and I to notice that our smiles, nods, and pleasantries were almost always ignored. Was this a by-product of busyness, or merely an outward manifestation of a prevailing ‘each man for himself’ mentality?

Perhaps nowhere was the sense of unconcern for others more evident than at the subway stations. And woe to those who dared to try and walk against the mob of people who exited the station at each stop! Michelle and I commented to each other that the most frequently used greeting was not much of a greeting at all. As our shoulders brushed against a seemingly endless sea of people, person after person grimaced and snapped, “Excuse you.”

That’s right. One of the kindest and most common expressions — at least in the South — had been corrupted and turned into a belittling battle cry that seemed to say, “You don’t belong here. Get out of our way.” Continue Reading…