W49D6 - Relationships

"These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow
their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and
flatter others for their own advantage" - Jude 16.

Flattery is the exercise of publicly talking about the characteristics and accomplishments of others, whether true or exaggerated, in order to gain favor with or to make a favorable impression on the one being flattered. Usually the one flattered has something the flatterer wants or needs, so the exercise is based on manipulation and deceit. The difference between flattery and paying a compliment is that the latter is sincere and truthful, and has no ulterior motive. Leaders must be aware that some want to flatter them to tap into their power for some personal reason; leaders must also be careful not to use flattery to get what they want. Sincerity and speaking truth are safeguards against the use of flattery to establish or maintain relationships.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to learn to recognize flattery in your life, whether you are using or receiving. The way to avoid using flattery is to make a conscious effort to encourage people for who they are and what they do in private or to make it a regular habit for all the people on your team. The way to avoid flattery being used on you is to thank people for their comments and then remind yourself that you are not as 'good' as they are making you out to be!

W44D6 - Relationships

"And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another" - 2 John 1:5.

Love is seldom discussed in leadership and management circles. Instead, topics like efficiency, vision, effectiveness, and other technical topics are taught, written about, and examined. Yet the Bible consistently teaches that love is God's priority where relationships are concerned. When love is present, people speak truth, serve others, make sacrifices, put other's interests ahead of their own, and perform thoughtful acts for kindness as evidence of their love for God. Leaders are not exempt from God's love commands, even though at times they must make tough decisions and have difficult conversations with people who will accuse them of not acting in love.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to evaluate your love motivation as a leader. Give yourself a score of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent) in the areas mentioned above: 1) speaking truth to others, especially hard truth; 2) serving others; 3) sacrificial investments of money, time, and energy into other people; 4) putting the interests of others ahead of your own; and 5) performing loving acts that go beyond job descriptions and business interests. Are you satisfied with your scores?

W39D6 - Relationships

"Then Moses brought Aaron and his sons forward and washed them with water" - Leviticus 8:6.

Moses was Israel's leader, but God directed him to install Aaron and his sons as priests over the worship practices of the community. Aaron's family business thus became ministry, and they served in that capacity for centuries while we have no idea what happened to Moses' sons. Leaders must keep in mind that the roles in their organization may go to family members, but only if those members have the experience, talents, or interests that benefit the company. Otherwise, nepotism can weaken an organization when the leaders insist that their family receive preferential treatment in hiring. What's more, Moses remained 'over' Aaron's family. When family is present, it's always a good idea to have an arbiter or a leader who can prevent and protect the family (and company) from interpersonal squabbles or preferential treatment.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to assess the relationships in your organization and how they may be affecting results or morale. Are there family members serving in your company? Are they qualified? Do they have special privileges or are they treated as any other employee or volunteer? Do some need reassigned so that other family members are not overseeing them, thus preventing favoritism? Are they promoted based on performance or last name?

W34D6 - Relationships

"You have increased the number of your merchants till they are more numerous than the stars in the sky, but like locusts they strip the land and then fly away" - Nahum 3:16.

In Nahum 3, the prophet Nahum spoke out against Nineveh for a variety of sins. In this particular verse, he confronted their bad business practice of partnerships that were designed to take and not give back. These partnerships seemed to be predatory and had only one objective in mind: maximize profits and then move on to new fields that they could once again strip bare. This offended the Lord, so much so that the prophet, God's mouthpiece, spoke out against the practice and condemned it. Leaders must determine the nature of and reason for their partnerships in business, but these partnerships (including those with employees) should benefit many and not just the self-centered interests of the company and shareholders.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to conduct a partnership assessment with your staff, suppliers, customers and other publics. Is the nature of these partnerships solely to take and serve self-interests, or do they exist to benefit the environment, the community, and the long-term interests of employees and their families? Is everyone better off due to these relationships, or do you need to adjust the purpose of some of them to reflect an attitude of servant leadership?

W29D6 - Relationships

"So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, 'May the Lord call David’s enemies to account'" - 1 Samuel 20:16.

Jonathan and David had a close relationship through which they served and encouraged one another. Jonathan knew he was the be David's right-hand man in the king's administration, and David valued Jonathan's friendship above any other relationship. Unfortunately, Jonathan's untimely death in battle prevented their friendship from maturing beyond what it was. There is a saying that it's lonely at the top, but leaders must not fall into the flawed thinking that they do what they do in isolation. Rather, they should acknowledge their need for many to help them do the work, and some to be close enough to serve as confidantes, comrades and friends. Unfortunately, David never replaced the role Jonathan played in his life for he was never able to replace him with someone as wise, loving, or loyal.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your leadership is not threatened but rather enhanced by a core of close followers who are also friends. Your Step today is to sit down and make a list of your closest associates in any of the work that you do, including family. Then take time to write a note or pay a personal visit to say thanks for their help and support. Then use this list to pray for those people regularly. If your list is short, then you have work to do to build a bigger network of relationships.

W24D6 - Relationships

"That day Herod and Pilate became friends—
before this they had been enemies" - Luke 23:12.

The nature of political relationships is that they come and go based on what the parties involved can do for one another. They use one another for personal and selfish ends to obtain desired results that will make the achiever look good. These are not the kind of relationships that godly leaders should pursue and nurture. The kind of relationships that matter are those based on love and service. Leaders who pursue those are following in Jesus' footsteps, who eschewed political involvements with the Pharisees and Romans in order to serve the people and to seek and save the lost.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Are you in business or ministry relationships because of what you can get or what you can give? Your Step today is to draw a circle and put people's names in it who are in your circle of influence - those you are to serve. Then map out a strategy for the next three months to enhance and deepen your work relationships with those people. That may include social events or regular one-on-one meetings - anything to enhance your ability to serve them.

W19D6 - Relationships

"The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel" - Proverbs 12:10.

The wisdom writer was describing farmers, who realize they must take good care of their work animals since they are the ones doing the heavy work that feeds their families. If that was true of farmers and their relationships with oxen and bulls, how much more should leaders take good care of those who make the leaders look smart by doing good work? Yet some leaders, even in the Church, feel it is below them to give special treatment to those in their employ (or their volunteers), feeling that somehow that makes them weak or will cause the workers to take advantage of them and their kindness. Yet, the concept of justice for workers is a recurring theme throughout the Bible, perhaps summarized best by these verses in James: "Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter" (James 5:4-5).

LEADERSHIP STEP: Do you know what each of your team members needs to receive 'special treatment?' For one, it may be time off; for another, special recognition; for another, a bonus. Today, take some time to find out what you can do to take care of the needs of your team members, remembering that each person is motivated or blessed by different actions and rewards. Once you find out what it is, then find a way to provide it for them regularly.

W14D6 - Relationships

"Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice" - Proverbs 27:9.

Effective leadership is even more so when good relationships between leaders and followers exist. The strength of those relationships are nurtured by trust that allows a free flow of communication, which clarifies vision, produces energy, and stimulates creativity. Trusting relationships also stimulate open and honest dialogue that comes from the heart as well as the head, and makes everyone in the relationships more effective at what they do—not just the leader. It is up to leaders to establish and maintain these life-giving relationships, realizing that a leader is often only as good as his or her followers.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your step today is to institute an 'ice breaker' or other exercise at the start of your next staff meeting to help build trust. Have each person at the meeting take five minutes to share where they grew up, where they were in the birth order of their family, and something about their childhood that everyone in the room probably doesn't know. If the group is large, do it over several meetings, or simply devote the entire staff meeting to completing the exercise.

W9D6 - Relationships

"David longed for water and said, 'Oh, that someone
would get me a drink of water from the well near the
gate of Bethlehem!' So the three mighty warriors
broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from
the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it
back to David" - 2 Samuel 23:15-16.

Even though these men were joined together for military purposes, they still had a close personal relationship. This is evidenced through several things. First, David was free enough to express something personal that he wanted. The men were close enough to hear it. The men wanted to please David so they risked their lives to go get David his hometown water and brought it back to him. These men obviously admired and loved David and were willing to work for him even at personal risk. This speaks highly of David's leadership.

LEADERSHIP STEP: You don't have to be close friends with your team, but you should be close enough to them to know something about their families, personal lives and professional aspirations. This takes time to establish and must be pursued with intentionality. Your step today is to schedule some time during your next meeting when everyone on your team shares something about themselves that the others may not know. The goal is to get to know one another personally.

W4D6 - Relationships

"When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of Man is?'" - Matthew 16:13.

Jesus took his disciples off on a retreat to a remote area and there He asked them a question about His true identity. The answers ranged from the absurd to the recognition that He was the Messiah. The point is that the disciples were free enough in their relationship with Jesus to tell Him anything and not be mocked or rejected. In the midst of the silly answers came true insight and revelation. Leaders must develop that kind of relationship with their peers, followers, and those over them so that honest communication can benefit the team and the organization. The goal is not for everyone to have a turn to share; the goal is to find the best insight or wisdom for the situation at hand, which may come from any member of the team—even the most unlikely one—but only if they feel free to share their heart and mind.

LEADERSHIP STEP: It's time to consider an off-site meeting with your family, staff or leadership team. Or perhaps you can set up a special outling, such as a sports event or concert. The goal is not only to have fun, but also to build trusting relationships that can engage in honest and open communication from which people and the organization can grow and flourish.