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W13D2 - Motivation

"When Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down
or pay him honor, he was enraged. Yet having learned
who Mordecai’s people were, he scorned the idea of
killing only Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way
to destroy all Mordecai’s people, the Jews, throughout
the whole kingdom of Xerxes" - Esther 3:5-6.

Haman squandered a wonderful leadership opportunity because he was blinded by hatred. He had unlimited access to the king, authority, power and wealth. Yet he was motivated by personal gain and revenge and those two motivators caused him to make poor decisions that eventually cost him and his family their lives. What's more, Haman used people toward his own ends and, when they could not benefit him or did not honor him, he looked to eliminate them. Leaders must confront their own heart and face what is motivating them to lead and succeed.

LEADERSHIP STEP: What motivates you to lead or become a leader? Take out a sheet of paper or go to your journal and write out what you expect to receive as leader and what you hope to give as leader. Be honest and transparent! Then examine the list to look for patterns or hidden motivators. Is the receive list longer than the give list? What does this list tell you about your motivation for leadership? What can you do to improve the balance on your list?

A Sad But Triumphant Orphan's Story

I seldom ask the background of any of the orphans we support in Kenya. I know Alice and trust her judgment when she takes someone into her orphanage. On this past trip, however, I asked about one of the young girls, whom I will not name in this update. Alice told me a sad but moving story of redemption in the midst of evil.

This little orphan is the ninth of 10 children. When Alice rescued her from her family's situation, Alice was able to take our orphan along with her younger sister. Shorlty after Alice took them three years ago, the baby sister died. An autopsy revealed that although she was only three years old, she had been raped and died of AIDs. Her older sister was not raped and does not have that fatal disease.

Just last year, Alice located the mother of our orphan, who was living as a prostitute in a village. Not only was she a prostitute, but she had involved her two older daughters in the practice, and one of the daughters had already had two abortions. The father, who is HIV positive and believed to be the one who raped the baby daughter, is an alcoholic who is living with a woman and her six children.

I hesitate to share this story for the simple reason that it tends to portray Kenyans in a bad light. As a pastor for 40 years, I can assure you that I have heard stories about sinful behavior similar to this one in every country I have visited, including the U.S., the country where I live. This orphan's story does not describe an exclusively African problem but rather a sin problem that plagues all of mankind in every country and culture.

Our little orphan is a brilliant student and soon we will send her off to boarding school, which will cost us some money. Yet education with God's help is the only avenue that can help this little girl not continue the sin cycle in her family. Her mother is doing what she has to do to live and exist but we are believing for better things for her daughter - and pray that the mother can find the saving and delivering power of Jesus.

Alice told me other stories that I won't write about or repeat here, for they only serve to sadden the reader. Yet we cannot ignore the urgent work that is being done by many wonderful believers in Kenya. They are on the frontlines and what happened with this little girl makes me think of Amos 4:11: "You were like a burning stick snatched from the fire." God did indeed snatch this little one from the fires of destruction and we want to see and help Him snatch even more. Will you help?

You can give toward our work in Kenya through my website using PayPal or by sending a tax-deductible Easter contribution to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Your contributions go directly to Kenya with no administrative fees or overhead taken out. God has provided for us, now let's provide for those who are less fortunate, even desperate for the help that only you and I can give. Thank you and God bless you for your generous support.

Week 13 Day 1 - Service

"A dispute also arose among them as to which of them
was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them,
'The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those
who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors.
But you are not to be like that . . . '" - Luke 22:24-26a.

Some leaders are dictatorial, but in a kind manner. Jesus specifically forbid the benevolent dictator style, not just for the church work but for leadership in general. The word 'benefactor' is of Latin origin, the combination of two words 'doer' and 'good.' Leaders who follow Jesus are not to lord it over other people even if they consider it in the best interests of others to do so. Why is this? It is because this power, even when used to help the weak, eventually goes to the leaders' heads and they can begin to believe they are actually better than others.

LEADERSHIP STEP: There is only one antidote for leadership power and that is practical service. Your step today is to assess your leadership style to determine if you are lording it over people, but rationalizing it by thinking you are doing it in others' best interests. Then read the attached article about servant leadership and work to incorporate its philosophy into your leadership style.

  Download Servant Leader Devotional

Rest Stop 12

"Some of the Pharisees said, 'This man
is not from God, for he does not keep the
Sabbath.' But others asked, 'How can a
sinner perform such signs?' So they were divided" - John 9:16.

If work was absolutely forbidden on the Sabbath, what was Jesus doing 'working' by performing miracles? The Pharisees were divided as to the interpretation of what Jesus was doing, because they had misinterpreted what Sabbath rest meant. Obviously Jesus knew best what the Sabbath meant, and He felt free to purpose His purpose of seeking and saving the lost on what the Jews considered their holy day. Paul followed Jesus' example and also did purpose work on the Sabbath day.

LEADERSHIP STEP: If Jesus and Paul did it, then you can do it too. What is the 'it'? It is working in your purpose to actually obtain rest and replenish energy and enthusiasm sapped by mundane weekly duties. What is your purpose? Is it to paint, draw, write, play sports or help the poor? Your assignment is to find rest day expression for your purpose today and every rest day from now on.

W12D6 - Organization

“Dominion and awe belong to God;
    he establishes order in the heights of heaven" - Job 25:2.

When you think of it, heaven is an organized entity. There is rank among the angels, clarity of communication, assignments given, understood and carried out and punctuality (God is always on time). There is never confusion and everything is in its place and functioning properly. If God values order in heaven, He must also value it here on earth, for the Lord's prayer states, "Your will be done here as it is in heaven." Therefore leaders must spend some of their time and energy organizing their personal and professional world. When they do, they can count on God's help because He is the author of order.

LEADERSHIP STEP: On a scale of 1 to 10, evaluate how well your various 'worlds' are organized - work, family, ministry, school. etc. (10 is excellent, 1 is poor). Which one has the lowest score? Your Step today is to devote 30 minutes to thinking through the improvements you can make. Then make a to-list for next week of things you can do to improve (buy a planner, read a book, consult with an expert, clean off or out your desk, discard things you don't use).

W12D5 - Goals

"In the eleventh year in the month of Bul,
the eighth month, the temple was finished
in all its details according to its specifications.
He had spent seven years building it" - 1 Kings 6:38.

Solomon built the Temple of the Lord as his father David had directed him to do. When reading the verses before this one, one sees how detailed the plans for this Temple were. When leaders set out to do something significant or great, those things don't just happen. They require the use of goals, plans, faith, flexibility, teamwork and vision to make it all happen. What's more, this job wasn't finished in a day, but took seven years!  That's certainly a long-term goal but shows the time-tested value of goals and visions when leaders employ them in their work.

LEADERSHIP STEP: What are your long-term goals for your organization? Where will you be organizationally or personally in five years? Ten years? Your assignment today is to do some dreaming, alone or with your family or team, and write the vision down. Then spend 15 minutes setting some goals and developing plans to go with those dreams. Don't try to make it all 'perfect,' just let it flow for now. Later you can go back and fill in the gaps and tidy it up a bit.

W12D4 - Purpose

“This is what the Lord says to his anointed,
    to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of
to subdue nations before him
    and to strip kings of their armor,
to open doors before him
    so that gates will not be shut" - Isaiah 45:1.

The Lord refers to Cyrus as "his anointed" even though Cyrus was a pagan king. God had chosen him to lead and do God's will where other nations were concerned. God chooses leaders, not just in the church, but also in other domains of life, and is present to guide if they choose His help. He also holds them accountable to act righteously in their positions. While most would restrict 'anointing' to the church world, this verse makes it possible to have an 'anointed' banker, politician, military leader, school administrator, or any other position requiring a leadership role.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Where is your anointing? In other words, where do you serve and sense God is with you to help you, even if that role is outside the church? The answers to these questions should impact your prayer life, as you help direct God's involvement in your sphere of influence. Your step today is to develop a prayer strategy that includes every aspect of your anointing, which may include things like your personnel decisions, marketing plans and innovation.

W12D3 - People Skills

"One of the servants told Abigail, Nabal’s wife,
'David sent messengers from the wilderness
to give our master his greetings, but he hurled
insults at them'" - 1 Samuel 25:14.

The story of Nabal and Abigail is full of insight into people skills - Nabal with poor skills and Abigail and the servant with good skills. Nabal had lived under David's protection, but treated David's men rudely when they asked for assistance. The servant recognized that David's men were angry and probably going to take revenge, and Abigail understood how David would react to her husband's boorish ways. She set out to appease David's anger, thus saving the lives of many in her household with her wisdom and soothing words. Leaders need to be more like Abigail and the servant, and much less like Nabal.

LEADERSHIP SKILLS: This is the third time you have looked at this story in this devotional because it contains so much insight into managing and relating to people, showing the effects of good and not-so-good skills. Read this story today in 1 Samuel 25 and journal your thoughts and insights from this story, especially looking at what you can do to be more observant like the servant and conciliatory like Abigail.

W12D2 - Change

". . . who despises a vile person
    but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
    and does not change their mind . . . " - Psalm 15:4.

Leaders often lead change initiatives, which may involve changes in marketing, strategy, services, products or personnel. One thing leaders cannot and should not change is their commitments. In the midst of change, integrity, promises and commitments to customers and employees must be honored or else leaders forfeit one of their most precious and important leadership commodities, which is integrity. Today's verse stresses how important keeping one's word is to the Lord and one's relationship with Him.

LEADERSHIP STEP: As your organization navigates the seas of change, today you should consider the things you will never change, which are your commitments and values. How well do you keep your word? Do you say "I'll get back to you" and then don't? Take 15 minutes and reflect on your personal and corporate integrity, and see if there is any room for changing your follow through on commitments and vows.

Week 12 Day 1 - Strategy

"Plans fail for lack of counsel,
    but with many advisers they succeed" - Proverbs 15:22.

Leaders need an advisory team to help them navigate the complicated issues surrounding leadership decisions. This includes people to advise on finances, human resources, team building, strategy, legal issues and any other area that relates to the decisions to be made. What's more, leaders need personal advisors to help them develop and grow as in their leadership roles. Finally, leaders may also need some advisors where personal matters like family and personal finances are concerned.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Sit down and make a list of your personal advisors for business, ministry or personal matters. You can even include on this list authors, teachers or historical figures whom you have studied, listen to, read or learn from. Once you have the list, you must determine if it has sufficient people to get your job done well, and to help coach you to excellence. If not, then you need to decide whom to add to the list.