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November 2014
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W52D4 - Power

"The Lord turned to him and said, 'Go in the strength
you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am
I not sending you?'" - Judges 6:14.

Gideon lacked power, or so he thought, when the Lord commissioned him to go and defeat the Midianites. Yet he did indeed have power - the power of God's choice and God's presence as Gideon carried out the Lord's assignment. There is not question that any leadership position has a certain amount of positional power - what the boss says goes. And there is expert power, where leaders have greater experience or expertise, thus giving them power to direct other people's actions and roles. The power mentioned in today's verse stems from the leaders call to do something related to his or her God-given purpose. That source of that power is not authority or expertise, but the leader's partnership with God.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to meditate on the source of your leadership power. Do you sense a call from the Lord to do what you are doing, or is it more of a career choice? If it is the latter, then perhaps it's time to look for something more tied to your purpose? If it is the former, then are you maximizing the relationship and partnership with the Lord, focusing less on your abilities and 'power' and more on His? Are you looking for reasons to lead or excuses not to?

W52D3 - Motivation

“The day of the Lord is near for all nations.
As you have done, it will be done to you;
    your deeds will return upon your own head" - Obadiah 1:15.

The principle of reaping and sowing is applicable to all walks of life for both individuals and organizations. You cannot escape this universal principle, just like a farmer cannot plant wheat and expect corn. If an organization sows deception, then it will reap deception from its suppliers, publics and employees. If an entity sows good customer service, then it will reap a harvest of good public relations and positive word-of-mouth marketing. Leaders must help their organizations understand that the motivation to do the right things is not just a matter of ethics, but it is also vital for business or ministry success. Leaders who are motivated to make money or achieve short-term success may cut corners or take shortcuts, but those paths are always lead to a dead end.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to check your seed bag to see what you are sowing as a leader and as an organization. You may need to engage the services of a consultant or an objective person such as a new employee or people from your board of directors to do that. Let them examine and report honestly on what they find in every area of your business operation. Look to see where your business practices may be the source of poor business results.

W52D2 - People Skills

"Now the Ephraimites asked Gideon, 'Why have you treated us like
this? Why didn’t you call us when you went to fight Midian?' And they
challenged him vigorously. But he answered them, “What have I
accomplished compared to you? Aren’t the gleanings of Ephraim’s
grapes better than the full grape harvest of Abiezer? God gave Oreb
and Zeeb, the Midianite leaders, into your hands. What was I able to
do compared to you?' At this, their resentment against
him subsided" - Judges 8:1-3.

In today's passage, one of the tribes left out of the attack on Midian 'vigorously' challenged Gideon's decision to go to battle without them. In other words, they angrily got in Gideon's face. Yet Gideon did not take the attack personally and skillfully turned their anger by complimenting them on a past victory while minimizing his achievements. Leaders can expect to be vigorously challenged from time to time and must learn how to do what Gideon did - defuse a potentially volatile confrontation. When confronted, leaders cannot become competitive and try to win the argument, but must rather do what is necessary to keep their team on task as they all pursue the vision of the organization through the human dynamics that almost always threaten to derail the journey.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to learn to listen when confronted and not become defensive. Do not react but rather respond. The first thing to watch is your body language. Don't cross your arms or legs, but remain open to the confronters. Then don't raise your voice, but rather lower it from your usual level. Listen intently and ask questions to clarify. You may want to practice these steps in your mind so you will ready when the confronter comes.

WAPIS End of Year Thanks

It's been a great year for the work in Kenya. We were able to ship our first 20-foot-long container to Kenya with all kinds of needed equipment and resources, including books, educational supplies, shoes, musical instruments and a sound system. The sound system is a portable one, which gives Pastor Peter and his team WAPIS Assembly 2 the ability to set up and tear down quickly while in the villages and remote areas. I also connected Pastor Peter to a ministry that fights child trafficking called Born to Fly. Below he writes about conducting a WAPIS FunBorn to Fly seminar using the new audio equipment (along with some pictures):

Dear Dr. John,

As we come close to the end of this year, we give God all the glory for his love and mercy. In this week we have been having a young people camp discussing some of the books we have been reading in our book clubs, along with the anti-trafficking books of Dream Big with God and Born to Fly. We confess it was an encouraging moment seeing how young people's lives have been transformed. The equipment which was donated supported us in communication and entertainment. Thanks to all our supporters for making this year a life WAPIS Speakertransforming one for many deserving children. From WAPIS we wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Pastor Peter

I sent Peter $1,000 right before Christmas for our library facility rent and for Christmas celebrations for the village children (the pool party above). Right now the big need is school tuition, which is due in January. We need about $3700, and have about $1,200 right now. As I explained in previous postings, sending the children to school is not a luxury, it is a necessity in order for them to be properly educated. You can make your contribution to this important work through my website or by sending a tax-deductible check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Thank you for helping make all the help for the children a reality. Happy New Year!

Week 52 Day 1 - Strategy

"Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Give careful thought
to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little.
You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill.
You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put
them in a purse with holes in it'" - Haggai 1:5-6.

The prophet was giving the people the word from the Lord and the word summarized a failed and flawed life strategy - or their 'ways' as the Lord described them. They planted, ate, drank, dressed and earned wages, but all of it was never enough to fill or satisfy them. Leaders must not only direct the decision-making process, they must also help formulate a meaningful and successful strategy through which the decision may be safely and successfully implemented. In other words, leaders must be committed to "what' needs to be done, but be flexible and ready to abandon the 'how' the 'what' needs to be carried out and pulled off.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to honestly and ruthlessly evaluate the strategy you are currently using to implement your company's vision and decisions (and for your own personal life as well). Is your strategy working as you intended? Do you need to face reality and shift how you are doing things without tampering with what you need to do? Are you ignoring parts of your strategy that may be working because you did not intend them to work as they are?

Rest Stop 51

"I lie down and sleep;
    I wake again, because the Lord sustains me" - Psalm 3:5.

The context of this verse is that the Lord sustained King David even when his enemies were threatening him on every side. Part of that care was David's ability to lie down and sleep even when danger threatened to rob him not only of his rest but also of life itself. Most leaders will not face that kind of pressure, so if David could find a way to trust in the midst of his hassles, then all leaders should be able to rest as well. Yet the enemies most leaders face - job security, good decisions, a healthy economy, ongoing donor generosity, office politics, the fickleness of boards of directors and staff - are every bit as real as David's wartime enemies. Therefore, the decision to rest is just that - a decision, based on trust that the Lord is protecting and watching out for leadership's well being.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to assess your worry level that may be costing you rest and sleep. Give yourself a 1 (never) to 5 (always) in response to these statements: 1) I have trouble sleeping; 2) I cannot stop thinking about situations at work even when I'm away; 3) I'm pessimistic; 4) I can't stop thinking about a mistake I recently made; and 5) I think about what can go wrong at work. If you scored from 18-25, then you need to seek help to find rest from worry.

W51D6 - Team Building

"Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, gave this message
of the Lord to the people: 'I am with you,' declares the Lord.
So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,
governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jozadak,
the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people.
They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty,
their God" - Haggai 1:13-15.

There is an unseen, spiritual dynamic to teamwork that is described in today's passage. First, the prophet Haggai gave the people a vision: to rebuild the Temple. He described in previous verses what the current situation was costing them in lost crops and poverty. Then Haggai assured the people that they would succeed and that God was with them. Then God did His part by stirring the hearts of the people, who volunteered freely to do the work. This included all the 'department heads' and the people themselves. Leaders must learn to tap into the inner work life of followers, who if properly motivated will come together and do greater things as a team than they could ever accomplish as individuals.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to see if you are tapping into that unseen, spiritual aspect of your team's work. Have you provided a clear vision of the new reality for which you are all working? Have you secured the support of key influencers and leaders? Have you prayed for unity, energy and vision so that all the team are moving in the same direction and working toward the same end? Are you continuing to provide encouragement as the team moves forward?

W51D5 - Personal Development

"Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands
for war, my fingers for battle" - Psalm 144:1.

David was a leader in Israel who began his career as a warrior, taking down Goliath. Then he led troops in battle, which led to his fame and King Saul's jealousy. After that he led a band of misfits as Saul pursued David to kill him. Then David became king of the tribe of Judah, eventually all of Israel. David recognized it was God Himself who first trained him as a warrior in preparation to be king. That led David to praise the Lord his Rock. Leaders must develop themselves for whatever role God wants them to play, but they must recognize that God directs their development program. This realization should lead them to worship the Lord as the source of their development and ability to lead.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Today's Step is to determine what your area of expertise is as a leader. For David, it was for war; what is for you? Is it technical expertise? People skills? Finance? Cross-cultural work? Training? Communication? Once your identify those areas, then you must pray and ask God for His help and grace. Also ask Him to show you what you can do and where you can go to become the best 'you' that you can be. Don't leave your development to chance.

W51D4 - Spirituality

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no
grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and
the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep
in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice
in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior" - Habakkuk 3:17-18.

Every business, church, family, and organization will go through hard times from time to time. Life happens and when it does, it often brings with it the unexpected downturn, setback, loss, or failure. The role of leadership in those times is not to allow the down time to define the future by helping keep it in perspective, keeping hope alive and helping to address any proactive steps the entity can take to lessen or soften the hard time. In times of difficulty, leaders must be purveyors of hope, keeping the vision alive and reminding people of the good times past and the good times yet to come - and to keep their own eyes on the Lord who will sustain them.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to examine your spiritual resolve when tough times come. Do you panic or do you keep your hope and faith alive by reminding yourself that this is not permanent, that God is up to and after something? Do you keep an optimistic outlook when talking with others? Do you keep everyone involved informed of the current reality without hiding the facts? Do you pray more and with a listening ear? Do you seek the Lord for wisdom?

W51D3 - Communication

"In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the
word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the
heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout
his realm and also to put it in writing: 'This is what Cyrus king of
Persia says: '‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the
kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple
for him at Jerusalem in Judah'" - Ezra 1:1-3.

Cyrus was king of a sprawling kingdom when the Lord moved on his heart to rebuild the Temple site. The first thing Cyrus did was to communicate his plans throughout his kingdom. How did he do that? He first wrote his plans down and then used the social media and technology of his day to disseminate the information to as many people as possible. Leaders must be committed to broadcast their messages as widely as possible on a regular basis, which means they must be good writers who appreciate and utilize the communication media available to them. That also means that leaders must work to stay relevant not only in what they communicate but also in how they communicate it.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to conduct a personal communications audit. How much time do you spend communicating what is most important to you, along with your current insights and ideas? How do you communicate? Do you use the most recent social media? Are you a good writer and speaker or are you working to improve? Do you allow any personal bias to discredit modern technology and its use? Would people say you are an effective communicator?