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W43D6 - Influence

"We did this, not because we do not have
the right to such help, but in order to offer
ourselves as a model for you to imitate" - 2 Thessalonians 3:9.

Paul worked to pay the expenses for all his ministry team, even thought he could have expected the places he was in to pick up the tab. He explained in this verse why he did that: so people would learn from his example that it is better to give than receive. While Paul was a prolific teacher and writer, he also taught through example, thus using every means available to influence and persuade others to follow his revelation of Christ and the Church. Leaders must be aware people are watching them and that they have a wonderful opportunity to model whatever behaviors they desire others to adopt and follow. To not model what they are asking others to be and do is inviting others to dismiss those leaders as insincere and irrelevant.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to take a look in the mirror and see what you look like, so to speak. Are you a walking billboard for the attitudes, behaviors and skills that you have determined are most important to you as a leader and to your organization? Do you take shortcuts because "I am the leader"? The best way to determine this is to conduct a 360-degree profile, for which you will need the services of an outsider who will drill down and see how others see you.

W43D5 - Wisdom

"So Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'I hereby
put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt'" - Genesis 41:41.

There are two Pharaohs prominently featured in the Bible. One was the 'bad' Pharaoh who oppressed Moses and his people. The other 'good' Pharaoh was the one mentioned in today's verse who recognized Joseph's plan to save Egypt as sound, and promoted Joseph to the number two position in all the land. Keep in mind that Pharaoh had just met Joseph when the latter came into Pharaoh's presence to interpret two dreams. This appointment required great courage and wisdom, for Pharaoh turned to a convicted felon who had distinguished himself in jail rather than any of the other Egyptian advisers. Leaders must use wisdom in hiring the right people and if they cannot recognize talent, then they need to have someone among their advisers who can.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to examine your hiring track record to see if you have wisdom where recognizing talent is concerned. Have the last few people you have hired become productive members of your team? Are you sure, or are you ignoring their dysfunction because you hired them? Are you hiring too quickly? Is there someone on your team who is more adept at recognizing talent? What is stopping you from relying on their insight instead of your own? Is it pride?

W43D4 - Knowledge

“Woe to you experts in the law, because you have
taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves
have not entered, and you have hindered those
who were entering" - Luke 11:52.

Jesus condemned the leaders of Israel because of their role in hindering people gaining knowledge of the truth. Not only did they hinder others from knowing, but they refused to find the knowledge for themselves. This indicates that leaders and followers should be on a learning journey together, forming what some writers have called a learning or teaching organization. Those organizations are always sharing information throughout every level, constantly studying what they have learned from past experiences so they can do a better and more effective job to accomplish their mission. In a learning organization, followers learn from leaders and leaders also learn from followers, since neither group has a lock on all the answers on how to do business.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to ensure that you are part of a learning or teaching organization. First, make sure your staff get meetings are times when everyone shares information and insight, not just the leaders. Second, do what you can to encourage everyone to get more training through outside workshops and seminars. Third, debrief all business activities to identify the good and not-so-good. Fourth, set aside in-house days for training and vision casting.

W43D3 - Self Awareness

"But Peter declared, 'Even if I have to
die with you, I will never disown you.' And
all the other disciples said the same" - Matthew 26:35.

Peter is often remembered as the disciple who proclaimed his loyalty, only to deny Jesus hours after his declaration. Yet this verse states all the disciples did the same thing. They assumed they were one place in terms of loyalty and commitment but were really in a very different place. Leaders must be aware that they are as susceptible to failure - bad decisions, fear, fickleness, betrayal, lying, exaggeration, misinterpretation and faulty memory of the facts - as anyone else in their organization. An accurate assessment of their dark side gives leaders a chance to face and overcome it. Denial only challenges God to devise a scenario where reality will be revealed, just like it was for Peter and his friends.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Leadership Step today is to face the fact that you, like everyone else, have a dark side, but you may need help to identify and see it. Armed with this realization, you may want to find a leadership coach, someone who can listen to, observe and evaluate your performance and give your honest feedback. You want to focus on your dark side so that is not functioning while you deny it exists, thus becoming a source of dysfunction in your world.

W43D2 - Motivation

"This is the city of revelry that lived in safety.
She said to herself,
    'I am the one! And there is none besides me.'
What a ruin she has become, a lair for wild beasts!
All who pass by her scoff
    and shake their fists" - Zephaniah 2:15.

The interesting thing about this verse is that the prophet was not talking in this verse about Judah or Israel, but rather about Assyria. The entire chapter is God's indictment against nations that were not serving Him and not part of the Jewish covenant community. Yet God was holding them all accountable for their irresponsibility, selfishness, pride and arrogance. The lesson should be clear for all leaders: God is watching what is done and He expects everyone to behave in a manner that is consistent with His ethics and moral code. When that doesn't happen, the good times eventually end and what was once so promising becomes a shell of its potential due to greed or self-centeredness.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to make sure that same things motivating Assyria above are not motivating you and your team. Bring in an outsider and ask them to sit, watch and listen to your operations for a week. Have them sit in on leadership and staff meetings, read your promotional materials and observe customer service. Then have them produce a report on what they saw. Then don't ignore their report if they find pride or selfishness in your work.

The Dr. John Stanko Library

As you know, we have established four libraries in Kenya, the largest in the town of Banana. Pastor Peter Kihungi is the overseer and we not only give books and supplies, but we pay the rent of $200 every month. Pastor Peter has talked to me about building our own library building in order to free the work there from the monthly fees and to insure it can carry on long-term.

Pastor Peter had informed me that he was going to donate some land and build a library named after yours truly and in this update, he explains that this is one step closer to reality! Here is what he wrote this past week:

Banana StonesDear Dr. John,

As the WAPIS team, we thank God for his faithfulness and his favor. This week we had the a chance to move a step forward toward our goal of constructing the proposed Dr. John Stanko Library. We are in the process of demolishing the old Banana Propertystructure in the plot that my father gave to me as an Inheritance and I decided to use it to empower the community. We have negotiated for a $15,000 loan with a local bank and we have used the car which was donated to me as collateral. Pray and stand with us so this dream may become a reality. In faith we have bought the first foundation stones as our firstfruits offering toward this project.

He is the reason for our living,

Pastor Peter

Banana CarPictured in this post is the property itself, the car being used as collateral and the foundation stones. I have hesitated to mention this project lest someone think I am trying to get "my" library built, and also not to take resources away from the orphans and widows to fund this project. Yet I applaud Pastor Peter for his faith and his desire to move this project forward. So now I am receiving funds earmarked for this library project. If you have a burden or desire to see this become a reality then I urge you to make your contribution through my website or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Please mark the donation 'library' and I will make sure it gets to Pastor Peter.

Won't you join Pastor Peter in making a firstfruits offering toward this project that is destined to become a model for other libraries throughout Kenya. Perhaps you want to make a contribution of $1,000 or more in memory of one of your loved ones. If you, I promise that one of the rooms in the library - the IT center, study rooms or book collections can bear the name of the person of your choosing. There will also be an art school and music school in the library compound, so those would also be available to bear a name that commemorates your gift. Whether you can do something small or large, I urge you to do something as we stand with Pastor Peter and the team who are committed to and moving forward with the vision to provide a learning center for their community.

We Are Making a Difference in Kenya

I sent Pastor Francis $500 this past week and he sent me a thank you and then this update, which shares the impact that your gifts and care make in Kenya. I will let Francis speak for himself rather than try to tell you myself:

Dr. J,

The children are doing well and very strong. The money you sent is really helping us in buying food so we are fine. I took Mercy to a local school to continue so that she doesn't stay back in the orphanage when the rest come to school, and she seems happy. This is a step of faith that I took to get her started and I trust God to just allow her to continue to a good school.

Every year between 10 and 17 children graduate from Upako to join high school and this means a success. For some of them to reach this point of their National final primary exam, they could have gone through a lot of hardship that might have seen them drop out of school without doing the exams. Thanks to you for you have made a mark in their lives. The money you have been donating has provided food, shelter, schools fees and the shoes. The clothes and books you have been sending  for them have kept them hopeful and the entire Upako group appreciates and needs you more in the day-to-day activities of the children programs.

Keep on praying and doing good for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is nearer than it was when we first believed. Without you, I cannot managed to feed, cloth and house 22 orphans who need the basics to grow. Without you I am not able to run the school with a population of over 150 vulnerable children from the Kawangware slums, so please stay on and help when we still have the opportunity to touch and change these young lives, God bless you all.

In service to humanity for the glory of God,

Pastor Francis Odhiambo

I have often wished I could do more for Pastor Francis. We do not try to help everyone we meet or see in Kenya, for there are many needs that are everywhere. Instead we build relationships to insure the funds are properly distributed and so we can see the results of our giving among those we know, love and trust. The money I receive I pass on to Kenya, even though I have my own needs in ministry since I resigned from my church position last January to devote more time to serving others, including those in Kenya.

I ask that you open your heart as the holiday season approaches to help our friends in Kenya. Your support makes the difference between success and failure - and failure means at-risk children will suffer if we don't help. Please give a tax-deductible gift today, either through my website using PayPal or by sending a check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. You may be able to give a large check or just a few dollars - it will all help and be put to good use. Give today and may the Lord bless you for your generous help toward those who cannot help themselves.

Week 43, Day 1 - Service

"When he had finished washing their feet, he put
on his clothes and returned to his place. 'Do you
understand what I have done for you?' he asked
them. 'You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so,
for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher,
have washed your feet, you also should wash one
another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should
do as I have done for you'" - John 13:12-15.

It was customary for a host to provide water to help traveling guests refresh and clean up from their dusty travels on foot. Yet no one wanted to assume the role as servant to the others at the Last Supper to provide this kind of demeaning. Jesus recognized that He had a 'superior' position to His disciples as Teacher and Lord, yet He did not use His position for personal gain. Instead, he gave them an example of how leaders should empty themselves of any rank or leadership perks and serve those who follow them, instructing them to replicate what he had done to one another as a rule, not an occasional exercise.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to assess how deeply a spirit of service has permeated your family or organization. Is there a spirit of cooperation between departments? How do you know there is (or is not)? Do the leaders have elite privileges like parking spaces and special meals, or is everyone treated the same? Is your customer service exemplary, going beyond the normal to the spectacular? What can you do to improve your culture of service?

Rest Stop 42

"On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night" - Psalm 63:6.

The idea of a Sabbath rest was not to go to the beach or do nothing. It was to turn one's attention to God during rest time and, in turn, the thoughts of God would bring refreshment and rest. The psalmist was not waiting for a specific day to think about God; he was thinking about God during his daily rest and not just his weekly rest. The psalmist was a great leader still honored in Israel, so it is important for modern leaders to follow his example and use every moment to remember what God has done and to focus on God Himself - His attributes, His goodness and His mercies.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Rest Stop today is to consider what you think about during your rest times. Is your mind focused on work, the business of life or your relationship with the Lord? To help you focus on the Lord, consider these practices: learning meditation skills, a Bible study group that will help keep you in the Word, some cognitive learning skills that will help you control your self talk and thinking, or regular family devotions to keep your mind in the Word.

W42D6 - Organization

"A large population is a king’s glory,
    but without subjects a prince is ruined" - Proverbs 14:28.

God has put the drive for 'more' in all of creation. All species look to increase and the same drive is in humans, not just to reproduce but to expand and grow their skills, enterprises, influence and love. While this growth can be used for and directed toward selfish gains, that does not mean that all increase must be avoided or is misguided. The key is not to avoid 'more' but to do it for the right reasons and that would be to glorify the God who put the desire for more in every person. Leaders must help direct the 'more' efforts in their organizations, keeping the motives righteous while honoring this God-given drive for 'more' found in all the earth.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to examine what your company, family or ministry thinks about 'more.' Do you avoid 'more' just because it upsets the status quo and puts too much pressure on you or your team? Do you want 'more' for the wrong reasons - to become the biggest or the best in order to win the 'more' competition? Are you fearful of more, thus spinning 'small' or 'less' as superior spiritually or ethically to 'more'? Are you averse to 'more' or 'more' friendly?