Be Careful Who You Tell

Old Testament Joseph had two dreams and immediately told his family, but they were not too happy to Confidanthear they would all be bowing down to him in the near future. Joseph's eagerness to share with those who would and could not understand God's choice of their brother and son as the family ruler cost him more than a decade of his life in Egypt as a slave and administrator before God brought the dreams to fruition.

Contrast Joseph with Mary, the mother of Jesus, who didn't have a dream but rather an angelic visitation followed by divine appointments with the shepherds and then Simeon and Anna in the Temple when she took Jesus there to be dedicated.

After Gabriel announced she was pregnant, Mary did not tell anyone as far as we know, except Elizabeth her cousin, who was also with child in her old age. Mary was wise enough to know not to share what God had revealed to her to anyone except a person who could understand, and that person was Elizabeth--who had her own experience with a miraculous conception. Joseph was not as wise and paid a price.

After her visit from the shepherds and to the Temple, we are told that "Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19), and "then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart" (Luke 2:51).

The point is this: Be careful with whom you share your purpose and ideas for creative expressions. Not everyone is going to understand or be able to nurture and support the dreams and God ideas you have. Don't share them with just anyone unless you are looking for someone to talk you out of what you think you have heard. Then it should not be too hard to find people who will tell you "you're crazy" and who will remind you of your limitations and past failures.

Who is in your circle of confidants? People who will stimulate and challenge you to be more than you are today, or those who have a vested interest in you staying right where you are? The choice is yours and it may make the difference between years of wandering and days of living the life God has assigned you to live.

Choose wisely.

Leadership is No Guarantee

"There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it." - Sir J. E. E. Dalberg.

It is dangerous for leaders to assume that just because they hold the title or office of leader, it somehow LeaderFollowerPic makes them smarter, wiser, or more talented than their followers. That is the essence of the warning in today's quote. When you begin to believe you are special and that holding a title gives you some unique insight or edge simply because you hold the title, you are in danger of becoming an ineffective leader.

The leaders in Jesus' day fell into this trap, and it caused them to miss the Lord because they thought they were smarter and wiser than everyone else. Look at these two examples of what I mean:

Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin’ …” (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet) (Mark 11:29-32).

In the case of John's ministry, the people knew that John was a prophet while the leaders did not - or knew but refused to acknowledge his leadership. In another instance,

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet (Matthew 21:45-46).

Once again, the people had better and more accurate spiritual insight than their leaders.

Unless a leader has regular and consistent inputs, and by that I mean education, a mentor's voice, or a leadership development program, that leader will eventually begin to rely on his or her title or position or authority. When that happens, the leader will cease to lead and begin to exercise control over his or her followers to maintain his or her leadership position - and that is true whether we are talking about a business or a church.

If you are a leader, what are you doing to continue to develop and grow as a leader? You cannot answer that you are leading, for that will give you experience but not necessarily develop you, unless you ruthlessly and regularly evaluate (and have others evaluate) your leadership style and decisions.

If you are a follower, do you dismiss what you sense and think because your leaders don't agree? As we saw in today's two examples, leadership is not correct just because they are the leaders. You should not surrender your wisdom or insight simply because your leaders disagree, for there is no guarantee they are any more accurate than you are.

The next time you insist you are correct simply because you are the leader or  you back down from a position only because your leaders disagree, remember that leadership is no guarantee of correctness or superiority.

Life Matter: On Duty

"He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep" - Psalm 121:3-4.

God is always on duty, so to speak, and He never has to take a break to refresh or rest. That means you can be off duty and entrust things to Him while you are. That is easier said than done, however, for you cannot see God at work, so the temptation is to stay on duty, so to speak, through worry, sleepless nights, playing the lottery, telling others your troubles, and many other forms of taking matters into your own hands. Both Jesus and Paul modeled what today's passage suggests when they were asleep while the boat they were in was being battered by storms: "Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, 'Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!' He replied, 'You of little faith, why are you so afraid?' Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm" (Matthew 8:24-26). Is your boat going through a storm? Are you frantically rowing to save it or are you calmly trusting the Master of the waves and wind to fulfill what He promised in Psalm 121? Have you learned to trust even when the circumstances around you are tumultuous?

Today's reading - Psalms 121-125

W52D6 - Coaching

"When they had brought these kings to Joshua, he
summoned all the men of Israel and said to the army
commanders who had come with him, 'Come here and
put your feet on the necks of these kings.' So they came
forward and placed their feet on their necks" - Joshua 10:24.

Joshua had just led the army in a defeat of five armies and their kings after the sun stood still to aid his campaign against them. The five kings fled but Joshua and his men captured them. Then Joshua had the commanders who fought with him come forward and put their feet on the necks of the captured kings to give those commanders a taste of what real battle against real enemies was supposed to feel like and how it was supposed to end. Effective leaders are always coaching and teaching others to prepare them for 'battle,' whatever the battle in their business represents. That means those leaders give interesting work assignments and opportunities that will allow their subordinates to grow and blossom.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to identify who your key leaders are to be part of your organization's leadership team. Then you should identify the strengths of each one, and then fashion an action plan for each one that will allow them to grow and develop. That should include interesting work assignments that will both stimulate and challenge them to develop and grow. That plan may include additional schooling, for which your company should help pay the cost.

W50D2 - Coaching

"Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking" - Ruth 3:2-3.

Ruth's mother-in-law Naomi gave Ruth the advice in today's passage when Naomi saw that Boaz was interested in Ruth, who was a widow. In a sense, Naomi was coaching Ruth in a life situation that Ruth had never seen or encountered before, and the results were spectacular. Boaz married Ruth and they became the grandparents to King David, so you could say that God was in that coaching opportunity. Leaders should use their wisdom, experience, and power, not only to benefit the organizations for which they work, but also for the people in and outside the company whom God brings them to mentor, guide, and develop. This may or may not be part of their formal job description, but it is part of their heavenly one as they embrace the fact that God has given them power to empower others.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to make a list of all those whom you believe God has directed you to coach and mentor, whether it's formally recognized and established as such or more informal. Then pray for those people every day this week, Keep your journal handy to jot down thoughts you have for their development. Then set a time next month with each one to talk about their plans and challenges, and how you can best serve them next year.

W45D2 - Coaching

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" - Luke 6:41.

Today's verse indicates that people who advise others must first do some work in their own life and heart to be effective and accurate in their prescriptive counsel. It's been said that a leader or mentor cannot take anyone to a place they have not gone themselves. That means coaches and mentors must pay the price and experience firsthand the necessary steps for personal growth, change, and professional development. When they do that, it gives them the understanding of what they are asking their followers to do and why it's important that they do it. Without paying that price, leaders can lay heaven burdens on followers without realizing the impact they are having, thus lacking in the empathy needed for effective leadership.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to determine what more you need to become an effective coach and mentor. There are many great books and programs on the market that will help you engage your own development as you attempt to lead others into theirs. Is it time to go back to school? Is it time to write your book or develop a seminar? Do you have a coach as you attempt to coach others? What more can you do to gain credibility and skill as you attempt to mentor others?

W40D2 - Coaching

"This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had.
Now, Belteshazzar, tell me what it means, for none
of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it for
me. But you can, because the spirit of the holy
gods is in you" - Daniel 4:18.

In Daniel 2, the king trusted none of his advisers and demanded that they tell him both his dream and the interpretation. In today's verse, the king trusted Daniel and told him the dream. Daniel had advised the king previously in what he needed to do and eventually the king trusted Daniel with his inner secrets. In a sense, Daniel was coaching the king for he was giving him input and perspectives for the king to consider when making life and kingdom decisions. Coaching leaders must first prove themselves trustworthy with follower's (or client's) secrets before they can establish themselves as coaches. Once they do that, followers or clients will trust them and open up more quickly and completely. Coaching leaders should expect this, but must be capable of handling those secrets with skill and wisdom.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to assess your effectiveness as a coaching leader. First, name all those with whom you have a formal or informal coaching relationship. Second, identify the goals that you both have established in your relationship. Third, are making progress toward those goals: Is your coachee opening up more and responding? What can you do to enhance the trust between you and your client(s)? How can you grow as a coach?

W35D2 - Coaching

"Then I will give you shepherds after
my own heart, who will lead you with
knowledge and understanding" - Jeremiah 3:15.

This verse points out several interesting things about leadership. First, God works through leaders. When the shepherds of Israel failed, God did not do away with leadership - He replaced the bad leaders with good ones. Second, good leaders are a gift from God for he 'gave' shepherds to Israel. Third, there are some leaders who have God's heart when they lead and others who don't. Fourth, God expects leaders to lead and not simply maintain or manage. And finally, leaders' most important tools are knowledge and understanding - of the people they lead, of the organization they lead and its mission, of the skill of leadeship and of the particular work the organization was established to do.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Today's Step is to meditate on the five points from this verse as they pertain to your relationships with those in your organization. It is assumed that a coach is going to help the organization win and the people to reach their full potential. Do you have the knowledge and understanding you need to coach the people and the organization forward? Are you truly leading, or are you playing it safe by maintaining things as they are and have been?

W30D2 - Coaching

"So the Lord said to Moses, 'Take Joshua son of Nun,
a man in whom is the spirit of leadership, and lay
your hand on him. Have him stand before Eleazar
the priest and the entire assembly and commission
him in their presence. Give him some of your authority
so the whole Israelite community will obey him. He is to
stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions
for him by inquiring of the Urim before the Lord. At his
command he and the entire community of the Israelites
will go out, and at his command they will come in'" Numbers 27:18-21.

Joshua had served Moses and been close to him as Moses led Israel out of Egypt and through the Wildnerness. Now it was time for Moses to help Israel make the transition to Joshua's leadership after Moses had ruled for 40 years. First, notice that Joshua had the spirit of leadership on him, so he was obviously God's choice to lead. Then Moses was to establish Joshua in front of the people so people could mentally and emotionally make the transition to a new leader. Finally, Joshua was to have access to the priest so he could make decisions with God's guidance and assistance. Leaders must pay attention to the issue of succession, making sure that their successor has everything he or she needs to do the job effectively and is known and accepted by the people.

LEADERSHIP STEP: No matter what position you have in your organization., you must realize that you will not have it forever and will have to turn it over to someone else someday - and you are not always aware of what day that will be! Your Step today is to make a decision to begin training one person (or a team of people) in what you do, or at least preparing a document outlining your job duties so that someone (or a team) can replace you when the time is right to do so.

W25D2 - Coaching

"And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them skilled workers and designers" - Exodus 35:34-35.

The Lord gave two men in this passage ability to do two things: produce excellent works of art with their hands and teach others to do the same. They were not only to do the work, but they were also to find and ready others to do creative work themselves. It is interesting that their coaching and teaching skills were gifts from God just like their creativity, so those two men had both a divine gift and a responsibility to impart what they knew to others. Leaders have the same mantle, for it isn't enough for them to lead. Leaders must also equip others to lead and prepare for the day when a successor takes over for them.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Today's Step is to plan for the day when you will be replaced. This may not happen for quite some time, but that isn't in your control, for it may happen sooner than you expected through promotion, resignation, an unforeseen setback, or even death. Identify three or four people whom you can coach and into whom you can pour your experience and knowledge. Don't hold back out of fear or overconfidence in the future; prepare your successor(s).