Rest Stop 52

"Then the king returned to his palace and spent the
night without eating and without any entertainment
being brought to him. And he could not sleep" - Daniel 6:18.

The king had been duped into sentencing Daniel to spend a night in the lion's den. Consequently, he could not sleep because of worry, knowing he had made a bad decision that risked the life of his loyal servant. When leaders don't do right, they lose their ability to rest, for then they have to worry about the results of their poor or misguided decisions. Contrast this to what David said in Psalm 3:3: "I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me." Rest isn't dependent upon going to a nice vacation spot or spending time with family or friends. Real rest depends on integrity, honesty and righteousness. Without those characteristics, leaders may close their eyes and sleep but they will not be able to find true rest.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to keep track of your thoughts when you are supposed to be at rest. What are you thinking about? Are you playing out scenarios in your mind of what may happen because of what you have done, said or decided? When you should rest, is the Lord sustaining you or do you need sleep help, such as pills or alcohol? Do you have troubling dreams that disturb your rest? Is God empowering your rest times? If not, why not?

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.

W52D5 - Ethics

"Judah’s leaders are like those who move boundary stones. I will pour out my wrath on them like a flood of water" - Hosea 5:10.

Boundary stones marked out property rights, and the leaders of Judah were moving those boundaries to deprive people of what was rightfully theirs. The Lord was watching these practices and transactions and disapproved, threatening to pour out His wrath on those unethical thieves. Because leaders have power, they can amass powerful allies, privileges, and special treatment that will enrich them through benefits not available to others without power. When those privileges provide opportunities to take what belongs to others, the Lord gets involved to protect the rights of the poor and powerless. Simply put, leaders must be careful not to use their position for personal gain, especially unethical gains.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to focus on Jesus as your model for leadership. Did Jesus take advantage of others from His position of power? Of course He did not and you should not either. Start by evaluating what you have received simply because you are the leader. Do you need a reserved parking space? What about office space and staff devoted to serving you? Do you use your service staff for personal work and errands? More importantly, are you encroaching on the rights of the powerless to enrich yourself? What would Jesus do in your leadership position?

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 powerthe power of God's choice and presence as Gideon carried out the Lord's assignment. There is no question that any leadership position has positional powerwhat 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. The 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, 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 only to make money or achieve short-term success may cut corners or take shortcuts, but those paths 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 and where you can begin sowing in order to garner an abundant harvest.

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 deflected 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 diddefuse a potentially volatile confrontation. When confronted, leaders can't 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. Don't 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.

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 strategyor 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. In other words, they had a strategy for life that wasn't working. 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 didn't 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 or war, my fingers for battle" - Psalm 144:1.

David was a leader in Israel who began his career as a warrior, taking down the giant dGoliath. Then he led troops in battle, which brought him fame and King Saul's jealousy. Because of that, David led a band of misfits as Saul pursued him to kill him. Then David became king of the tribe of Judah, and eventually all Israel. David recognized it was God Himself who trained him first 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 define your area of expertise 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 you identify those area(s), 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 and don't wait until you get there to get ready. Get ready now, but remember to worship Him along the way.