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December 2013
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W4D6 - Relationships

"When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea
Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people
say the Son of Man is?'" - Matthew 16:13.

Jesus took his disciples off on a retreat to a remote area and there he asked them a question about His true identity. The answers ranged from the absurd to the recognition that He was the Messiah. The point is that the disciples were free enough in their relationship with Jesus to tell Him anything and not be rejected. And in the midst of the silly answers came true insight and revelation. Leaders must develop that kind of relationship with their peers, followers and their own oversight so that honest communication can benefit the team and the organization.

LEADERSHIP STEP: It's time to consider an off-site meeting with your family, staff or leadership team. Or perhaps you can set up a special outling, such as a sports event or concert. The goal is not only to have fun, but also to build trusting relationships that can engage in honest and open communication from which people and the organization can grow and flourish.

W4D5 - Collaboration

"Jonathan climbed up, using his hands and feet,
with his armor-bearer right behind him. The
Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer
followed and killed behind him" - 1 Samuel 14:13.

Jonathan had a bold plan to attack the Philistines, but he needed help from his assistant to carry it out. No matter how bold a leader's vision is, he or she needs others to help make the vision a reality. Thus leaders need to learn how to collaborate with others - to be open to their input, assistance and expertise. This may require that leaders adjust their original vision as others contribute their own perspective. This is one sure way for leaders to secure buy-in from others so that the work will truly be a team effort.

LEADERSHIP STEP: How well do you collaborate with others? First, make a list of all those who are part of a team that you lead. Then journal your thoughts as to how well you are involving others in your leadership vision. Next, go ask them point blank how involved they feel, and compare their evaluation with your own to see how accurate you were. Finally, make adjustments to bring together the two perspectives to insure you are maximizing your collaboration.

W4D4 - Ethics

"Like a muddied spring or a polluted well
    are the righteous who give way to the wicked" - Proverbs 25:26.

From time to time, the media focus on ethical lapse in business or government. Usually a leader has succumbed to temptation and perpetrated some scheme that cost taxpayers, employees or customers millions of dollars. At other times, followers suffer under the oppressive hand of a despotic government, cruel supervisor or dictatorial pastor. In every case, it is faulty ethics that causes the leader to go awry and the people to suffer loss or pain. Leaders must have an ethical code that is constantly maturing to meet the increasingly temptations that the Internet age presents.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Who or what is influencing your ethical concepts and approach to leadership? Yesterday's Step was to identify values you will follow in your leadership and life roles. Continue working on those values today, and then do a self-assessment of how faithfully you are applying those values. Talk is cheap where ethics are concerned; right action is what matters, so choose one area from your list and ask, "How am I doing?"

W4D3 - Values

"Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our
toil and hardship; we worked night and day in
order not to be a burden to anyone while we
preached the gospel of God to you" - 1 Thessalonians 2:9.

Paul worked a full-time job whenever he went into a new place to spread the gospel so as not to be a financial burden on his new converts, and so he would not be confused with teachers who traveled the Greek world teaching secular subjects for pay. He wanted people to know he was on a different mission than the other teachers. He did this because it was part of a personal values system that guided his daily decisions on ministry, finances, learning and work. All leaders also have a values system, and those values will make them productive servants, overbearing tyrants or a leader someplace between those two possibilities.

LEADERSHIP STEP: To insure that your values are taking you in the correct leadership direction toward service and team-building, your assignment today is to sketch out your values and put them in order of priority. You can start this today and then revisit and refine this list the next time values are discussed in this devotional. Below is a sample list of values and how to produce them to help get you started. Don't put this off! 

Download Updated Values

W4D2 - Persuasion

"Then Agrippa said to Paul, 'Do you think that
in such a short time you can persuade me to
be a Christian?' Paul replied, 'Short time or long—
I pray to God that not only you but all who are
listening to me today may become what I am,
except for these chains'" - Acts 26:28-29.

Paul was in chains, but he was making a strong case that almost persuaded Agrippa to become a believer. On occasions, leaders issue orders. It is much more effective, however, if people buy in to the idea, decision or concept. That requires that the leader paint a vivid picture of the need for or benefit of a new reality. To do that, the leader must have credibility, good communication skills, and understand the people with whom he or she is working. That requires work, which is why some leaders just fall back on a command-and-control style of leadership - it takes less time and the leader is sure to gain compliance, at least temporarily.

LEADERSHIP STEP: The Bible has much to say about the tongue, especially the book of Proverbs. Your step today is to do a quick study of the words 'lips' and 'speech' in Proverbs. You can use the online program BibleGateway to conduct this search. Just put those words in the 'search' box and then print out the results. Take this list with you this week and study what it has to say about effective influence and speech.

Hand Up, Not Hand Out

My goal is Kenya is not to produce a dependent people there who are waiting for their next handout or loan from the United States. We do not intend to donate money or resources where needed, but we also want to help the people there help themselves. We can do this by helping them establish businesses and other activities that will generate revenue off which they can feed the children and themselves.

So far we have established a chicken farm for one orphanage. We are in the process of starting a computer Upako Kidscenter for our library in Banana where they will charge the community for Internet access and computer time. Then we have helped widows set up a business where they will make jewelry and handbags, which we will help sell in the United States (to date, we have sold $2,000 worth of their goods!). Now I have received this request from Pastor Francis, who wants to set up a brick-making business (along with this picture or Mary going off to school and the children Francis works with at Upako):

Dr. John,

I thank God for his loving kindness and for this far he has come with us. We had talked about an income generating activity to help us sustain the orphans boarding cost and am kindly asking if it can be possible for you to get us off the ground. Otherwise we are grateful to you for the work you are doing in transforming our communities.

Pastor Francis

Mary with BooksI will be visiting Kenya in early March and will be visiting Upako and the children there. It would be wonderful if I could help Francis get this started, but I will need your help. Please give generously to this cause and I promise that every penny will go toward founding this business. I believe we will need about $2,000 to get it up and running. You can give through my website or by sending a tax-deductible check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Thank you for helping us not just give a hand out but rather a hand up for the people of Kenya

W4D1 - Power

"So even if I boast somewhat freely about
the authority the Lord gave us for building
you up rather than tearing you down, I will
not be ashamed of it" - 2 Corinthians 10:8.

Authority is another word for power, and there is no question that leaders have some measure of power. As a leader, you cannot be ambivalent about this power or try to avoid it. What you can do is learn how to use that power in the correct way, and that is to build up and empower other people around you. In other words, your job is to give your power away, and then watch the Lord replenish it with even more power - but only if you use it for the good of others and your organization. Dr. Henry Cloud states in his book that leaders are 'ridiculously in charge.' That means you have the authority to promote change, help people and launch initiatives - not build a personal kingdom.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Are you fearful or ashamed of your position, power and authority? Don't be! Are you using your power for all God intended? Attached below is my leadership philosophy. Read it and then write out your own personal mandate of how you will use the power of your position for the good of others and the organization. Once you have developed it in final, then live it, referring back to it regularly to evaluate how you are doing and revising it as needed.

Download My Ldrshp Philo

Rest Stop 3

"He went to Nazareth, where he had been
brought up, and on the Sabbath day he
went into the synagogue, as was his custom.
He stood up to read, . . ." - Luke 4:16.

Jesus had a custom, as did all Jews, of going to the synagogue on the Sabbath day. For them, it was a day, not just to hang around or do nothing, but a day to break from their regular routine to worship God and focus on Him. While they broke from their regular daily routine, they had another routine for the Sabbath day. This gave them a rhythm to their lives that enabled them to work hard and worship regularly. All that, added to their regular holidays and holy days provided some customs that were passed down from generation to generation.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Is there a rhythm to your life? Is every week different, or do you have a pattern that you don't always have to think about, but just flow with and into? Does that rhythm include worship and family time? Your step today is to commit to a church or, if you must work on Sunday, to find some acceptable worshipful alternative on your day off, and maintain that commitment to develop your own rest rhythm.

W3D6 - Influence

"Therefore, although in Christ I could be
bold and order you to do what you ought
to do, yet I prefer to appeal to you on
the basis of love" - Philemon 8.

There is no question that at times a leader must tell, even order, others to do something. Yet when possible, there is a better way, and it is described in today's verse. You can take the time and make the effort to influence others to do the correct thing. The problem for some leaders who are addicted to action is that influence can take time and it requires effort to fashion the most effective appeal possible. Yet people who have some say in the decision are must more likely to commit all their intellectual and creative capabilities when they do willingly.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Are you relying too much on your authority and ordering people under you to do this and that? Take a page from Paul's book and begin to find ways to influence people to decide for themselves to take the right course of action. Yet this requires that you know your team and learn what motivates them to action. Your step today is to schedule some team building time where you can learn more about what motivates and demotivates the people who report to you.

W3D5 - Wisdom

" . . . let the wise listen and add to their learning,
    and let the discerning get guidance" - Proverbs 1:5.

Yesterday we discussed knowledge and today we look at wisdom. Leaders must amass and develop wisdom, which is knowledge applied to life situations, usually situations that you have never faced before. Today's verse indicates one way to get wisdom and that is to 'listen.' To what do you listen? First of all, other people especially those who have done something similar to what you are attempting to do. Then, to your heart, for if you have cared for it, it will speak to you. Finally, and most importantly, you listen to the Lord, who will speak through His still small voice and His word. Do all those things and you will have all the wisdom you will need.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Have you ever gone to a party or meeting, been introduced to people and then immediately forget their names. Your step today is make an effort from this day forward to listen to, use and remember people's names. No excuses, but make an effort to do this. Why? Because it is a practical way to help you sharpen and develop your listening skills. Work on names and wisdom will not be far behind!