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Leadership Philosophy

I am in the Jo'burg Airport, waiting for my night flight to Amsterdam. I have a quick turnaround there to fly out to Detroit and then I will be back in Pittsburgh at around 6 PM. I am glad to be going home.

I've been thinking about leadership style and philosophy a lot the last couple of weeks. Everyone has a leader philosophy, did you know that? It may even be "I will never lead anything." That statement will then direct and guide their decisions where leadership is concerned.

My philosophy is as follows:

I was born to lead. I must work hard, however, to be the best leader that I can possibly be. At the same time, I want to exercise a team approach to leadership that will seek out and value the input and worth of every individual. As a leader, I will share finances, success and credit with all those who contribute. I will also use my leadership power to serve others so that they can become all that God wants them to be.

I would like to think that this philosophy is consistent with what is known as servant-leadership. I don't think servant-leadership is one among many acceptable styles of leadership. I believe it is the only style that is consistent with the model that Jesus provided. I think authoritarian leadership, no matter how well meaning, is an affront to God and is a spirit of anti-Christ. By that, I mean that it is the exact opposite of Jesus' style and spirit; thus it is anti or against His style.

Were there times when Jesus was authoritative? Of course! He was and is God. So for anyone to use Jesus as the reason that they rule over others is absurd.

When I reflect on my own leadership philosophy philosophy, I go to 1 Peter 5:2-3

Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.

Here we see three important aspects of godly leadership:

1. It is willing. Leaders who are not willing are usually angry people. They don't want to lead and don't enjoy it when they do. So they take it out on the people who follow.

2. It must be free from greed. Paul said in Acts 20:33, "I have not coveted anyone's silver or gold or clothing." I am not against leaders having money, even a lot of it. They just have to be careful from where they get it. To get it from God's people is wrong.

3. It cannot be lorded. Jesus said, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves" (Luke 22:25-27).

Now you may be quick to think: "That's how church leadership should be, but that style won't work in the business world." I beg to differ. You can be a servant-leader anywhere. That doesn't mean you are weak or that you stand by while everyone does what they darn well please. On the contrary, servant-leaders exhort, encourage, teach, train, confront, discipline and even release workers and volunteers. They do all those things, however, in the other person's best interests as well as in the interest of the mission or organization they serve.

I heard Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and Built to Last, talk about level five leaders, who have great personal humility coupled with a strong will to achieve professionally. He said that all level-fives practice the principle of the window and mirror. They practice the window principle when things go right, and "look out the window" to see with whom they can share the credit. They practice the principle of the mirror when things go wrong, for it's then that they look in the mirror and take personal responsibility for the problems.

Authoritarian leaders reverse those principles, looking for those to blame when things go wrong and usually giving themselves the lion's share of credit when things go right.

I have stated previously that we have a crisis of leadership today, especially in the Church. Society's leaders weren't trained and developed in church. They may go to church or have grown up attending church, but they didn't learn their leadership style there. They learned it out in the marketplace. Why hasn't the Church produced leaders? Because the church leaders haven't modeled servant-leadership.

So what's the answer? It's almost too late to change a leadership style and philosophy once someone attains a leadership level. That's why a leadership philosophy is so important for everyone before they have power and position. After one has achieved a level of leadership and tasted the fruits of power, it is a rare case when that person begins to serve and give that power away to empower others.

I wrote an article a few years ago entitled Sinners in the Hands of An Angry Leader, a take off on Jonathan Edward's classic 18th century sermon, Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God. I am attaching it below, for it makes the case that anger is the hallmark of authoritarianism.

Right now, I think I am modeling servant-leadership in Zimbabwe. I have no office, title, staff or expectations of others. It is true that people serve me and I am grateful, but they do it, I trust, willingly and without coercion. I try to pay people for what they do, even if it's just a token. It is also true that others, namely Celebration Church and Pastor Tom, have opened the doors and allowed me to function in that world and with that philosophy. I am grateful to the Church and Tom. At the same time, I have no contract and can be relieved of my services at any point in time. I am only as good as my next visit, only as valuable as the value I can bring to the people in the organization. They owe me nothing for the past nor do I have any expectations.

Do you have a leadership philosophy? Would you care to share it with my readers? if so, then feel free to include it on the site where this entry is posted. And feel free to let me know if I'm being too harsh, hard or judgmental. I know leadership isn't easy, but that should be no excuse for executing it poorly or in an ungodly manner.

Download article: Sinners in the Hands.doc


Zimbabwe has the most amazing blossoming trees.  They are not fruit trees and some of them are 30-feet tall!  And there are many trees in bloom every season of the year; it's not just during a certain season.  When I point these out to the locals, most express surprise, don't know what the tree is named and claim they don't even notice them any more.

October is the month for the Jacaranda to blossom and they are a magnificent purple.  I thought I would share a few pictures with you, but believe me, the real thing is even more spectacular.





I have had some challenges getting and staying online this week, but today I am connecting to the wireless service at a local cafe for the first time ever! I have tried the wireless at CeeCees since May, but today it worked. So I thought I would let you know I am alive and well.

The weather here is magnificent, sunny days and cool nights. I drove out to the Ivordale Child Shelter yesterday to visit the orphans and do a video shoot for our upcoming Celebration Choir tour. It's a nice drive out there, and it's always moving to be with those children. The rest of my time is spent these days in tour preparation, school work,, writing and preparations for the next Pacific Institute seminar we will be having here.

I return home this coming Wednesday and can't wait. These long trips are, well they're so long! I will write more when I can get a faster connection, hopefully sometime soon!

Back in the Swing

I am back in Harare after a wonderful trip to the Holy Land and yes, there is life after Israel. We have had power since I arrived last Sunday, which is a good thing. There was no bread over the weekend, from what I understand, but my hosts were able to find some yesterday. The restaurant I frequent got a shipment of sugar and flour yesterday as well, so they were busy baking and replenishing their depleted inventory.

I am busy this week helping to coordinate a tour to the States for the Celebration Choir from here in Harare. Right now, 41 people will be on the tour and I am, for lack of a better title, the tour coordinator. Right now, we will visit Kansas City and Great Bend, Kansas; Tulsa; Oklahoma City; and Dallas. A few more cities may be added. There are a lot of logistics to this kind of tour, so I am buried in details, as well as having to help craft the program.

The weather here is warm and sunny, although it rained for the first time in a while yesterday.

I promise to write some final thoughts on my Holy Land visit before the week is done.

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At The Airport

I am sitting in the business class lounge in the Tel Aviv airport, heading to Harare via Addis Ababa on Ethiopian Airlines. Today was a rest day, when most of us hung around the hotel, repacking our bags and getting ready for the trip back to Zimbabwe. Ido, our guide and my friend, served us until the end. He took some shopping, others to lunch and then met us all at the hotel with the bus. We went over to one of the few restaurants that was open on the Sabbath (the name of the restaurant was Nafoura, just inside the Jaffa Gate) for our farewell dinner tonight, which is a tradition when you are with a group.

We ate chicken and lamb and talked about what the tour meant to each one of us. Then we gave out awards and prizes, some serious and some not-so-serious. It is great fun. Then we honor the tour guide and bless him (or her) with a tip beyond what they are paid. Ido made our trip special for everyone and went out of his way on numerous occasions to insure that everyone had the visit of a lifetime. He and all the guides are exceptional ambassadors for their country and they are passionate about what they do. Thanks, Ido, for a job well done.

Security is tight as you would expect as you leave Israel. They made me open both of my suitcases, and wanted to see a bottle filled with sand that I had bought, along with some honey and olive oil. They carefully mark each bag and ask you many questions, and may re-ask them a few minutes later. I don't mind. They want safety and so do I, so we are on the same page.

We have a four-hour layover in Addis on our way back to Harare and I plan to sleep on both legs of the trip. We have already set our dates to return next year, September 1-14, and plan to do Israel and Egypt. It should be a great time. I enjoyed this year's trip as much as any I have done and I look forward to making next year's pilgrimage bigger and better than ever.

I'll write some final thoughts and reflections later on in the week. But for now, shalom and remember -- next year in Jerusalem!

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Return to Jerusalem

We left our hotel in Amman at 8:30 this morning and began our trip back to Jerusalem. First, we stopped at the brook of Jabbok, where Jacob prepared to meet his brother Esau as reported in Genesis 32. After his encounter with the Lord, Jacob renamed the place Peniel. Then we drove on to Jerash, a Greek/Roman city that has some of the best preserved ruins I have ever seen. They actually constructed some of the pillars with lead posts that kept them from collapsing during earthquakes, so a few of them weren't restored in any way. They are still standing in their original positions!

Jerash was one of the 10 cities of the Decapolis, a region beyond Israel to the east and north in Jesus' time, that was under Roman control. This is the second such city we visited, Bet Shean or Scythopolis being the other one. Jerash has no biblical significance, yet was quite interesting, but hot. I think the group is about "ruined" out.

After lunch at the site, we proceeded to the border crossing and made it across in record time, thirty minutes to be exact. After that, we still had a 90-minute ride back to Jerusalem. I am sitting in the lobby of the Jerusalem Renaissance Hotel, which is packed with people celebrating the Jewish New Year. I have never seen so many children running free through a hotel. Jewish parents are not known for their discipline, and if you correct them, they want to fight! Ask me how I know.

We have a few things to do tomorrow, but it is the Sabbath in Jerusalem when most everything is closed. We fly out Sunday morning at 1 AM and arrive back in Zimbabwe on Sunday at 12:30 PM.

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I could not connect at the Jerusalem Hotel where we were staying in Amman, Jordan, so I could not provide our daily report. I will have to send this when I return to Jerusalem.

Petra was an amazing experience. Built by the Nabataeans, descendants of Ismael, the city was carved into the rock of the mountains. What artwork! What beauty! The rock gives off a rose/pink color, and much of the other rock has colorful designs and variety that look like it has been painted, but it has not. I could continue to use words like beautiful, stunning, breathtaking, spectacular, but I won't do. Let me just say them once, but please realize they are implied in all that I report.

When we arrived, we were taken to the visitor center where we picked up our horses, which we rode for the first kilometer to the entrance of the cliffs. The horse guides all fight for our business, since we are to tip them upon our return. Some who had trouble walking could get a two-person carriage, which took them beyond the entrance all the way down to the treasury. More on that later.

Once we entered, the path descends and the rough, rose cliffs rise on either side in increasingly unusual formations. Our guide, Hani, would stop us along the way to explain something that would have been easy to miss -- a carving, a cave, or a decoration that time has eroded. After about a two kilometer walk, we came to the main attraction -- the treasury facade. This was made famous in the final scene from the movie Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail, where Harrison Ford rode out of that area on horseback. The facade was the elaborate tombstone of a king and is magnificent to behold. In digging for steps below that facade, they recently found two more facades, which leads one to ask how many more there are in this area.

You proceed on from there to view the environs and stop along the see the wares of local vendors who sell drinks, art, jewelry and other items. When we were another two kilometers past the treasury, some of us decided to go all the way to the top to see another facade that was used as a monastery centuries ago (the facades are fronts for mammoth cave-like tombs). We were told we could take a donkey up most of the way, which we did. So far, so good. The view was stunning, the ride was bizarre, and the walk to the top exhilarating.

After we spent some time at the top (the monastery was bigger than the treasury, but was not as ornate), we decided to ride the donkeys back down the trail. It would not have been so bad if it was a trail, but the trail was littered with steep steps for most of the way down. I thought several times I was going over the cliff. I confessed sins I never committed and made vows to God I can never keep, trying everything I knew to do to keep that donkey on the path! My guide kept saying, "Relax!" and I kept telling him, "You relax! You're walking and I'm about to die!"

I never knew donkeys were so sure-footed, and now I know why they are called a beast of burden. That poor donkey had to carry my 215 pounds up and down that mountain. I think he filed for disability when we were finished. All in all, however, it made a grueling trip much easier, although not without its harrowing moments. The donkeys brought us back to the treasury, where we walked the two kilmeters back to our waiting horse guides, who brought us back the final one kilometer and then proceeded to berate us for not tipping them enough.

After our Petra adventure, we boarded our buses, made a quick stop at Moses' spring, which is supposed to be where Moses spoke to the rock and water came out, bought some fresh figs to eat on the bus, and made the three-hour trip to Amman. We arrived and some of us went out for dinner last night to a great restaurant that served lamb in every way imaginable. Amman is a city of 2.5 million people so, given that there are four million plus in Jordan, our guide kept telling us that "Amman is Jordan and Jordan is Amman." When we drove into the city, we were greeted by Pizza Huts, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken and a host of other American food companies.

Yesterday was the first day that Muslims celebrated Ramadan, a holy season when they fast all day and then eat after dark. The streets were empty when we drove in, but full last night as people hit the streets to fill their tummies. All in all, Jordan was a great experience.

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We left Jerusalem yesterday at 7:30 AM on New Year's Day, or Rosh Hashana. Happy New Year 5768, which is when the world began according to the Jews!  We drove to the border crossing with Jordan where we spent more than three hours getting out of Israel and into Jordan.  We had a slight problem with our Israeli visa and took time to correct that on the way out rather than on the way back in.

We were greeted in Jordan by our bus with our guide Honni, which is Arabic for John.  With a great name like that, I'm sure he is good.  We left the airport and headed to the area of Mt. Nebo or Pisgah, where the Lord took Moses to look over the Promised Land before he died (see Deuteronomy 34:1-8).  It was quite hazy, but the view was still spectacular.

There were a number of churches on this site, but St. George's is the one that remains, under the auspices of the Franciscan Fathers.  There are some impressive mosaics in the church that are from the seventh century.  We also visited a mosaic factory, where modern mosaics are created for sale. There was some beautiful work there and we saw mosaic rugs, placemats, plates, pictures and other decorative pieces.

Then we began the four-hour drive to Petra, and arrived last night at 8:30.  It was a long day to say the least, but everyone did well.  We are staying at the Grand View Hotel, which overlooks the Petra valley.  It was dark when we arrived, but today we visit the site.  To walk the entire site is 10 kilometers (six miles), although some of it is on horseback  We have the option of renting horse-drawn carriages that will reduce our walking to thee k (about two miles).  I "volunteered" for a carriage.

There is no wireless Internet at the hotel, so I am using the hotel computer.  After Petra, we move back up to Amman, the capital city tonight and then back to Jerusalem tomorrow. I will write more when I can access my own computer. 

The Dead Sea

We left the hotel this morning and headed south of Jerusalem to the site of Masada, the famous fortress where all the inhabitants committed suicide in 73 AD rather than surrender to the Romans. They have built a beautiful new visitor center there, and the site is located at the top of a mountain 500 meters high. You get there by cable car, or you can walk up the snake path. I walked down the path one year, but have no interest in ever walking up.

When you get to the top, you always see Israeli military personnel there as part of their training. There is a saying, "Masada will never fall again," and the military takes that vow to indicate that they will fight to do whatever they must do to protect the national interests and freedom of Israel.

After Masada, we drove back to Qumran for lunch at the same kibbutz where we ate last Saturday. Then it was off to a private beach on the Dead Sea, where everyone took turns floating (you can't help but float) and smearing Dead Sea mud all over their bodies.

The Dead Sea is 33% salt and minerals, as compared to regular sea water that is 2% and the Salt Lake in the United States, which is 20%. Why is it so high? First, it's because of rapid evaporation. Second, the Jordan River flows into the Dead Sea but nothing flows out. It is a stagnant lake, thus it collects salts and minerals and never disburses them. That is how some Christians are, don't you think?

You always float in the Sea because the water is so dense. You smear the mud over your body because it is such good skin treatment due to the high mineral content. After you wash it off, your skin feels like velvet. There are many spas around the Sea that treat skin disorders with the mud. In fact, while I was sitting by the Sea watching my friends, a man sat next to me who had terrible red rashes and boils all over his arms and legs. He told me he was there for two weeks of treatments. I didn't have the heart to ask him what he was suffering with.

I must say, I have eaten more ice cream on this trip than on any previous trip, and probably as much as I have eaten in the last two years! It is so hot, especially at the Dead Sea, that one can't pass it up as a means to cool down. The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth (1200 feet below sea level) and temperatures there can reach 120 F or 45 C. I don't know how hot it was today, but it was a scorcher!

Tomorrow we head out to Jordan and I'm not sure what kind of Internet connection I will have in Petra and then Amman. So if you don't hear from me for a few days, you'll know why. I will be back in Israel on Friday and fly out Saturday night back to Zimbabwe.

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Jerusalem, Day Two

We left early today to get to the Temple Mount, which isn't nearly the site it once was. Don't get me wrong; it is still special to walk on the site of the Second Temple, knowing that Jesus, Paul, Peter and almost all the men of the New Testament would have walked there. It's just that since the riots of a few years ago, no one is allowed into the El Aqsa Mosque or Dome of the Rock. Those two sites are great to visit, but our Muslim friends have banned any visitors for the time being. Of course, the Temple was the site of Mt. Moriah, where Abraham sacrificed Isaac as reported in Genesis 22.

After the Temple Mount, we walked into the Muslim Quarter of the Old City to St. Anne's church, a 12th century church dedicated to St. Anne, Mary's mother and Jesus' grandmother. The church has amazing acoustics and anything you say or do reverberates for 6.5 seconds. The guides always have us sing a song there so we can appreciate the audio dynamics. St. Anne's is right next to the pools of Bethesda, mentioned in John 5:1-14 where Jesus healed the invalid who had been sick for 38 years.

After that, we continued through the Muslim Quarter to the Ecce Homo site, where we go down to the level of the courtyard that was part of the Antonio Fortress where Jesus was tried by Pilate, flogged and sentenced to death. Then we came out of that and walked the Via Dolorosa, the road that Jesus walked while carrying His cross. That led us out the Damascus Gate and to the Garden Tomb, the only site maintained by evangelical Christians in Jerusalem. There we visited the garden tomb, similar to if not the actual tomb where Jesus was buried. It is customary to have communion there, which we did.

After that, we got on the bus and went over to eat at Ramot Rachel, a kibbutz that has great food and overlooks the southern environs of Jerusalem. From the overlook, you can see the shepherds' fields where the angels announced Jesus' birth to the shepherds and Bethlehem. We could not go into Bethlehem this trip due to recent political turmoil on the West Bank. Then it was back on the bus to return to the Old City to visit St. Peter Gallicantu, a site where a church is built over a house that could have belonged to Caiphas, the high priest. In this house, there is a dungeon where Jesus could have been held the night He was betrayed and taken to the high priest and council for questioning and sentencing. While in the dungeon, we read aloud Psalm 88, which takes on a powerful meaning when read in the context of that prison.

Our last stop for the day is Yad Vashem, the holocaust memorial and museum (yad means hand and vashem means name; together they communicate the sense of a memorial). This new, expanded version of the original requires more time than we can give it, and always emotionally moves and even troubles those who view its displays. it is hard to imagine the sheer madness of the years from 1939-1945 when six million Jews lost their lives as part of Hitler's insanity. The children's memorial is particularly moving, as the design incorporates five candles, 148 mirrors to create an awesome backdrop as the names of each of the 1.5 million children killed in the Holocaust is read aloud in three languages. It takes three years to complete the list of murdered children.

Last night, I didn't get to my favorite restaurant, Sami's, so I made a special effort to go tonight and took seven friends with me. It isn't a fancy place, but the food is great and the family style eating is a lot of fun. Tomorrow we go back down south to Masada and the Dead Sea. Our time in Israel is coming to an end, but we've had a great time.

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