February 25, 2010

Three Questions

Integrity is essential to being a leader. The path to influence is paved with integrity. Integrity is what ultimately inspires people to give you influence in their life that goes beyond simply having a position of power over them. It has to be a priority for leaders. I love what Perry Noble says, "If we don't make integrity an issue, one day it will be an issue." Here are three questions to ask to see how you're doing?

Am I More Loyal To God Or Myself?
Integrity means being unified or whole. That means we cannot have divided loyalties. Unfortunately, the two biggest things that threaten a leader's loyalty to God are himself & the mission to which God has call him. God is bigger than your calling or vision. You must remain faithful to God even if it means your vision has to be slowed down or put on hold for a while.

Where Am I Pretending?
Hypocrisy is practically synonymous with a lack of integrity. A leader has to take a hard look in the mirror & ask, "Am I the same no matter who is around?" Better yet, why not ask the people you live with. Warning: you probably won't be very comfortable with their answers. Leaders who lack integrity due to their hypocrisy live in fear, but those who live consistent lives don't have the fear of being found out because there is nothing to find.

Which Desires Tend To Win Out?
John Maxwell reminds us that even the most solid, consistent leaders will have conflicting desires, but it is the leader's integrity that determines which desires will prevail. You might be able to lie to yourself about your loyalties or hypocrisy, but it's a little harder with concrete actions. Simply ask, "Who was served by that action or decision: me & my desires or God & His desires for my life?"

Like Perry says, we have to make integrity a priority in our lives. Otherwise, the lack of integrity in our lives will become an issue. Remember integrity is about being authentic, but authenticity isn't about perfection; it's about consistency.These questions are fool proof, but it's a good place to start.

How do you check yourself? What questions do you ask yourself? Who do you trust to give you a check-up every once in a while?

February 24, 2010

Forgotten God

Lately I've been reading a lot of stuff for seminary, but I have managed to do some reading on the side, particularly some stuff by A.W. Tozer. Right now the focus from Tozer has been on the Holy Spirit, & after some reflection, I have to agree with him that we have come to a place of neglecting the Holy Spirit, which is of course, God Himself. The crazy thing about that to me is that the Holy Spirit is the person who dwells in us upon our salvation, & He is the one who empowers believers & the church to do the work & will of God.

Sadly it's possible for us to "do the Christian life" & to "do church" all without the Holy Spirit. Tozer calls this "turning the crank". We organize a group, hire a pastor, develop some programs, & "turn the crank." That's all there is to it. All the while we neglect the Spirit of God & His role in our lives & ministries. I know there have been times in my own life & ministry where I simply turned the crank; I relied more on my talent & ingenuity than on the Holy Spirit. The scary thing is when you see results from your work, & you think that the Holy Spirit has been moving even though you've never once stopped to seek His guidance or power. As a result you keep doing what you do. This isn't just about the church; it's true in our personal journeys with Christ as well. We follow a prescribed program for Christian growth separate & apart from seeking the Holy Spirit's power & guidance for that growth. We have to understand that as Christians we are called to do impossible things, & we are trying to do them "without first being empowered by the God of the impossible."

How have simply "turned the crank" in your personal faith? How have you neglected the Holy Spirit in your place of ministry? What can we do to get back to a place where we are desperate for the guidance & empowering of the Holy Spirit?

February 18, 2010

Living & Leading In Crisis

It's hard to really define a crisis; it's sort of subjective. It may seem like a crisis to you or me, but to someone else who has faced much tougher situations, it may just be another day. However, it is safe to say that all of us will have to face circumstances that rise to the level of crisis by our own definition. Here are a couple of principles that I'm in the process of learning that are good to keep in mind.

1) Refuse To React
It's our natural inclination, but it is not likely to be our best option. Uncertainty, turmoil, & crisis surround us, & we feel like we have to do something, & we have to do it now. Fight that instinct; reactions are usually born out of emotion & emotionally charged decisions can be dangerous. This is played out in scripture in Isaiah 36 & 37. King Hezekiah faces a national crisis. Jerusalem is surrounded by the Assyrian army. He sends his men to the city wall to discover just how bad things are, & they find out that if possible, things are worse than they thought. However, neither Hezekiah's men nor the people of the city reacted to the threats of the enemy.  The king had told them to remain silent, do nothing, simply report back. Rather than react to the crisis, do some recon; then respond wisely

2) Retreat To The Vision
Once Hezekiah understood the nature of the crisis, he did what great leaders do. He fell back on the vision that God had given. For the nation of Israel that vision was tied to their relationship with God. Through the nation, God would make Himself known to the world. Hezekiah sees this as a perfect opportunity for God to do just that. Therefore, he runs to God & sends his men to find Isaiah, God's prophet. They ask God to intervene on their behalf & to show Himself through this situation. When crisis comes, the last thing we should do is scrap the vision. The current strategy might need to be tossed, but the vision is what gives us direction & clarity in the midst of all the uncertainty. What is it that God has led you to do in your life or in your area of leadership? That's the thing you need to go back to. We don't have to have miraculous resolutions to crisis. In fact, the miracle was only possible because of Hezekiah's faithfulness to the nation's God-given vision. Following the vision led to the miracle that led to the resolution of the crisis.

How do you handle crises? What principles have you learned in dealing with crisis & uncertainty? Are you a reactor or a responder? There is a difference.

February 17, 2010

Live & Learn

We all know the old saying right? It tells us that some things just have to be learned by experience, but maybe we could turn that old cliche' around in order to be a little more practical. As a parents, leaders, & teachers one of the most frustrating things we face is when the people we're trying to invest in simply don't get it. It drives us crazy because we want to see some kind of forward motion, some kind of progress. Before we dump all the blame on those we're trying to teach, let's look at the old "live & learn" line & reapply it. Look at it this way.

"Live it & they will learn it, but if it's not lived, it won't be learned."

Maybe the reason why there's no growth, no change in those we're trying to lead is because there is no growth or change in us. That's the great disconnect, especially those of us called to lead & teach in the local church. We teach "life changing truth", but our lives fail to demonstrate that change. When Jesus taught His disciples, He didn't allow a sermon outline or lesson plan to limit His teaching. He taught with words & action. Words don't have the same kind of shelf life that actions do. So let your words complement your life, & chances are that you'll see more progress in those you lead.

Where is there a disconnect between your words & actions? In what context do you most need to redefine & reapply the "live & learn" concept?

February 10, 2010

Two Ways God Grows Leaders-Part 2

Early on in David's life, it's evident that he was growing in his faith & as a leader that God could use, & it all stems from his obedience. Whether he was tending his father's flocks, playing some tunes for the king, or delivering lunch to his brothers on the battlefield, David was obedient to serve God & others. However, David's radical obedience led to the other thing that sparked growth in the future king.

2. Opposition

David knew that God had appointed him to be king over Israel. The only problem was that Saul was still on the throne, & Saul felt threatened. Unfortunately, leaders who feel their position is threatened don't always create the healthiest environments. Saul set out to kill David, & David had to literally run for his life. He fell in with a group of men who would become some of his most loyal followers, but they weren't exactly the most honorable or noble bunch of guys. In fact, this band became more or less outlaws living out in the wilderness, hiding out in caves. Along the way, David grew as a leader & as a man of God. He had to learn how to lead a different group of guys. These weren't soldiers in the classic sense; they could abandon David at any time. However, they were loyal, faithful followers of the future king.

David's continued growth in the face of opposition is evident in two instances where David could have easily eliminated his opponent. In I Samuel 24 & I Samuel 26, David had two opportunities to kill Saul & end this life on the run. His men even saw these opportunities as God ordained opportunities, yet David's obedience to God trumped his desire to be rid of the opposition. David chose to honor God & the king. As a result, God honored David, & eventually took care of Saul without David having to raise his sword.

Obeidience to God will bring you into opposition with others. And that opposition has the potential to compromise your obedience. If your goal is to simply defeat the opposition, you will abandon obedience. However, if your goal is to navigate opposition in a way that is in line with the laws & principles of God, then you can stay on an obedient path, & in time, the opposition will fade.

Do you try to avoid oppostion? If you're being obedient to God, it's impossible. When you encounter opposition, what's your goal? Are you simply trying to win, or are you trying to leverage that opposition as an opportunity to grow as a disciple of Christ & as a leader of others?

February 9, 2010

Two Ways God Grows Leaders

I'm sure there are lists like this all over the place, but I think there are two general ways that God can really put your growth as a disciple & as a leader on steroids, without the nasty side effects.

1. Obedience

Nothing accelerates our growth spiritually like obedience. Jesus says that obedience is the way that we express our love for Him, & when you look at the life of David, you find that obedience was the springboard for God growing David & advancing him as a leader. Go check out the first few scenes from Scripture featuring David in I Samuel 16-17. In I Samuel 16 we find the prophet Samuel looking for the man God had chosen to be the next king of Israel. God leads him to the house of Jesse in Bethlehem. Samuel knows the future king is from this family, but the one God had chosen was the last person that any of us would have picked. In fact, David is practically an afterthought. Everyone assumes that one of David's big strong, good looking older brothers is God's chosen king, but no, God wasn't looking for another man, like Saul, that looked like a king. He was looking for a man who had the heart of a king. The thing that catapulted David to the forefront of the nation was his heart for God which was rooted in an obedient, faithful heart.

When you read the first episodes in David's story, you realize that he was obedient no matter how small the situation seemed. The reason David was even on the same battlefield with Goliath was because he obediently served his father & brothers by delivering a bunch of breads & cheeses. I wouldn't call that a glamorous assignment, yet his obedience put him in a place where he could be used like no one else in the nation. Though David was obviously imperfect, his life is characterized as one of obedience & David as a man with a heart after God.

What unsurrendered parts of your life might be holding you back from becoming the disciple of Christ & leader that you could be? If you want to know Christ more deeply & to be used more mightily, you must first be obedient, & obedient even in the little, seemingly insignificant stuff.

February 5, 2010

LQ-One Last Thought

As I finished up looking through this very familiar story from the life of Moses, I noticed one more thing that is so important to leadership. The Bible says that after Moses identified the right leaders to surround himself with, he "appointed" them to be in charge of different groups within the camp. Moses didn't just give his new leadership team to do lists; he gave them authority. It really would have done Moses no good at all if he didn't empower his team to actually do the work that was keeping him away from his primary role. These leaders didn't have to run to Moses about every case. They went to him when they recognized that the issue was bigger than they were equipped to handle. Otherwise, they took care of it & didn't worry Moses with it.

If you want your ministry or organization to grow, you have to let go of some of it. The only way you can have total control over your following is if you keep it very small. Most leaders want their movements to grow, but they sabotage it themselves by refusing to empower the leaders around them with the authority to lead certain parts of the movement. When you appoint someone else in your ministry, you're bestowing some of your authority to them in order to further the mission & vision of your organization. If you want your Leadership Quotient to grow, you have to be willing to appoint other leaders & to give them the authority to lead.

February 4, 2010


The final quality that Jethro mentions to Moses as necessary for leadership is character, & it flows out the depth of one's integrity. Even Jethro links the two as he says, "men of truth who hate dishonest gain." Character matters.

In the case of Moses, he needed to surround himself with leaders that he could trust totally. He had to know that these leaders wouldn't allow anything to compromise their integrity & character. And there's more going on here than just "dishonest gain" in the financial sense.

How often do team members have a chance to undermine the team leader for the sake of their own leadership, reputation, or advancement? It happens more often than you might think. How often does the associate pastor of a church have to make the choice to either affirm or deflect complaints about the senior pastor with whom he serves? How often does the assistant manager have to listen to the complaints of co-workers about the boss? It happens all the time. How that team member deals with the situation reveals his or her character. If he chooses to listen to the criticism & even join in the criticism, he's not only undermining the leadership above him, he's unwittingly undermining his own as well.

Dishonest gain can be more than simply taking a bribe. In leadership, it can be putting self ahead of the vision, taking credit for work that someone else did, or undermining other leaders in order to make oneself look or feel more important. It all reveals what our character really is. Character is built slowly by daily living a life of integrity, & we all know it can be destroyed quickly by a single act of dishonesty or selfish pride. Guard your heart, grow your integrity, & you'll grow your LQ.

February 3, 2010


Jethro's advice to Moses concerning the recruiting of new leaders revolutionized Moses leadership & allowed him to focus on his calling, not on the things that seemed to be urgent at that precise moment. After talent & wisdom, Jethro advises Moses to look for men who are "trustworthy" or "men of truth". I'm calling this integrity.

In order to determine another's integrity, you can't focus purely on talent. Talent easily lends itself to building an image, but integrity is bigger than that. John Maxwell says, "Image is what people think we are. Integrity is what we really are." A committment to integrity is so crucial today in a world where lapses in your integrity seemed to be magnified in the spotlight created by the 21st century world. Leaders have to be fanatical about integrity. It's what give you & your organization credibility with those inside & outside your group. Moses was going to be empowering people to make major decisions that would affect the lives of lots of people in the camp. He had to know that they would make wise & just decisions. He had to know that they were more committed to the truth, especially the truth of God's word, than to the admiration of others.

Integrity is difficult to gauge because it's so easy to disguise. All of us a masters of image management. However, when we lose control of that image & the truth comes out, everyone can see it, & everyone is affected by it. As leaders we must set the example for those we lead by becoming people who live lives characterized by integrity, no facades, no masks, & we must call those we lead to pursue that kind of life as well. As we consistently live out what we say we believe, we move closer & closer to the greatness that God has called His people to.

February 2, 2010


After Jethro said that Moses should be looking for "capable men," he encouraged Moses to seek out men who "fear God." What do we know about fearing God? First of all, let's just go ahead & get it out there that it's not about being scared of God. The Bible defines the fear of God as "the beginning of wisdom." Wisdom is the second key component to our Leadership Quotient.

Godly Leaders Cultivate Their Own Wisdom & Collect The Wisdom Of Others.

Whether you're looking for potential leaders for your team or if you're looking for an opportunity to be a part of another leader's team, wisdom is key. How do you cultivate your own wisdom? That's simple, go read Psalm 119. That entire psalm is a praise to God about the greatness of His word. In verses 97-105, we learn that amazing wisdom is within our grasp if we will meditate on & obey God's word. In fact, we can have wisdom that blows away our elders & teachers. I've written more about that HERE. So leaders need to be people who are cultivating their own wisdom by seeking out & obeying the wisdom of God. Leaders also collect the wisdom of others. The wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, had more to say about seeking godly, wise counsel than anyone. Maybe that's why he was the wisest man around. Leaders understand that they don't have all the answers. They recognize their limitations & seek out others who can speak wisdom into the situation. Wisdom is a priceless quality that we must look for in the leaders we surround ourselves with.

Talent is the starting point in leadership. You've got to be capable, but that's not enough. Andy Stanley writes, "Your talent & giftedness as a leader has the potential to take you farther than your character can sustain you." Cultivating & collecting wisdom is the beginning of growing your character so that it can sustain you as your talent propels you.

February 1, 2010


Last Friday I asked the question, "How important is talent?" As I looked at a familiar story from the life of Moses I realized that the things that Moses is supposed to look for in potential leaders aren't talent based. Talent plays a part, but perhaps a smaller part than we would assume. Here are the the four things Moses should look for. These are the things that make up our LQ, our Leadership Quotient.

1) Ability
2) Wisdom
3) Integrity
4) Character

Ability is the first thing that is listed when Jethro is advising Moses, but why? I think some of us think ability or talent is listed first because it is the most important thing. But what if talent listed first because it is the easiest thing to spot? I think that's what Jethro is telling Moses. It's as if he's saying, "Moses I've been hanging around your camp, & I've even noticed their are guys who are capable of doing these other jobs that are distracting you from your mission; open you eyes!"

When we're looking for potential leaders to serve with, why do we spend the majority of our time evaluating talent? Talent is important to leadership & ministry, but is there anything that might be more important? Talent is easy to spot, so don't waste your time & your organization's time by "evaluating" talent. As we'll see from the rest of Jethro's list, there are other things to consider when building a team, & they're actually bigger than talent. After all, talented people can usually be trained or taught to extend their talent into other aspects of their work, so we have to look at more than just talent.

Do you spend the lion's share of your time simply evaluating talent or do you dig deeper? Why do you think we're so preoccupied with talent? Is it because it's flashy, or is it because we're afraid to scratch underneath the surface to discover what's hiding underneath the talent?