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 they can. 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 (or at least adequate) writer and speaker and are you working to improve? Do you allow any personal bias to discredit and dismiss modern technology and its use? Would people say you are an effective communicator?

W51D2 - Decision Making

“When the princes in Israel take the lead, when the people willingly offer themselves—praise the Lord!" - Judges 5:2.

Leadership is a joint effort that involves both leaders and followers and assumes the two have built some kind of leadership. The sense in today's verse is that when both parties do what they need to do willingly and enthusiastically, it is almost a spiritual experiencethus the people 'praise the Lord.' What does it mean that leaders 'take the lead'? It means they act like leaders and make decisions that set the direction and tone of the organization for the followers and other connected parties like customers, members, and suppliers. The leaders in Jesus' day refused to take the lead because they were afraid of the people, arresting Jesus at night so the people would not know what was going on. Thus they made poor decisions that cost Israel and its people dearly. The people had no leaders to follow and consequently the Romans destroyed Israel, the main cause being poor leadership.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to scrutinize your attitude toward leadership. Are you eager to lead, not so you can dominate others, but rather to contribute what only you can offer? Are you fearful, thus restricting your decisions and input, or are you confident and straightforward in presenting your ideas and experience? Are you politicaltrying to shrewdly maneuver your alliancesor are you acting in the best interests of your company and those you lead? And what is your attitude toward leadership if you are a follower?

Week 51, Day 1 - Humility

"I am raising up the Babylonians that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwellings not their own. They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor" - Habakkuk 1:6-7.

Jesus is the model for leadership and all other leaders are measured according to His standard of behaviorand found lacking. In today's passage, the Lord Himself announced that the Babylonians were instruments He was using, even though they were feared and dreaded because they were a rebellious and prideful people. The Lord would eventually evaluate and judge them according to His own standards and they like all others were woefully inadequate as leaders. The lesson for us today is this: Just because the Lord chooses leaders does not mean He endorses their leadership decisions or philosophy. They will be judged by one standard of righteousness that is best explained, revealed, and described in the person, actions, and humble attitude of Jesus the Messiah.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to settle that Jesus is your role model for your leadership style. What were the characteristics of Jesus' leadership style from your point of view? Are those traits present in your own life and leadership? For additional help, you may wish to read Philippians 2, which beautifully sets forth Jesus' humble leadership behaviors and attitude. Then set some goals that will enable you to develop those same characteristics.

Rest Stop 50

"All their days their work is grief and pain;
even at night their minds do not rest. This too
is meaningless" - Ecclesiastes 3:23.

The wisdom writer of Ecclesiastes was on a mission to figure out what was meaningful in life, and he did not find much. He focused on work and did not discover much hope there, concluding that all work was mostly meaningless and futile. Furthermore, the writer observed that it was meaningless to fret and fume over work that was likewise meaningless, destined to change and passed on to successors (along with wealth) who may or may not treat it with respect. He did come to one consistent conclusion: it was a gift of God to enjoy work and that meant in part to step away from work's frustrations and enjoy some rest and recreation.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to reflect on your relationship with your work roles in life. Are you expecting too much from them? Do you spend a lot of time fretting over the outcomes, which in the grander scale of things will pass away without much notice? Do you enjoy the work, or do you have to achieve a certain level of recognition or accomplishment to find any joy or sense of purpose? Is your mind free from work's pull when you are away and resting?

W50D6 - Time Management

"Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd
gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even
able to eat" - Mark 3:20.

When Jesus went public, He was a busy man. He traveled, taught, discipled and trained his team, answered questions, dealt with opponents and critics, and healed all who came with a need. There were times when He tried to get away from it all, only to have the crowds eagerly pursue Him, so much so that He had to stay up all night to fit in His prayer times. Jesus was operating with a sense of urgency for He knew that ultimately He had to return to the Father so the disciples could continue the work. The point is that leaders are usually busy people because no one can quite match their experience, talents and gifts. Therefore leaders must learn to manage time by setting deadlines, delegation, priorities, saying no and accepting the fact that their time is often not their own.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to see if you have accepted the lifestyle that often goes with leadership. Have you made peace with the fact that your time is often not your own, but is needed and spoken for by many others? Do you handle your own calendar to make sure your highest priority tasks are being performed well? Do you resent or accept that there are things that only you can do and you must sacrifice your freedom for the needs of others?

W50D5 - Finances

"Besides, in my devotion to the temple of my God I now
give my personal treasures of gold and silver for the temple
of my God, over and above everything I have provided for this
holy temple" - 1 Chronicles 29:13.

David was a great leader, who is still honored as the national leader in Israel today, 3,000 years after his death! His leadership capabilities positioned him to garner great wealth, power and honor. David did not shun those benefits and he did not try to avoid the fact that God had assigned those things to him. He used all that to honor the Lord in most cases and to do great good. Leaders must not pretend to be insignificant or to shy away from opportunities to do good because others (or their own thinking) consider those attitudes to be more consistent with Christian or biblical behaviors. That means that God may choose wealth for some, and then expect them to be generous and carry out his wishes with those resources.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to examine just how surrendered you are to the Lord. You are probably content that God may want you to be a relative unknown in your walk. What. however, if God wants you to be a household name? What if He has assigned you fame or even some money? Are you willing to sacrifice your privacy and lifestyle to live a life that is more public, that is shared with many others beyond your family? How will you react to that cross?

W50D4 - Productivity

"Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father" - John 14:12.

Leaders of faith have as much right to claim and pursue the promises of God as anyone else, regardless of what field of endeavor they work, for the "the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it" (Psalm 24:1). Therefore, they should look not simply to maintain what they do, but expand, broadcast, publish, multiply, innovate, create, or change it for God's purpose and glory as He reveals it to, in, and through them. Today's verse promises that those who know the Lord, even in business, education, industry, ministry, or social work, will actually do greater things than Jesus did because it is God's will for them to do so in order to validate and extend the message and impact of God's kingdom.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to reflect on the greater things that Jesus would want you to do in your current position and leadership role. Once you stop fighting against or talking yourself out of those things, it will be time to face your fears and misgivings, and allow the truth to set you free so you can lead, grow and develop your department, team, company, or ministry. Then set goals for next year and beyond to help lead your people to do those greater things.

W50D3 - Attitude

"Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God" - Psalm 146:3-5.

No matter how great or successful leaders are, the nature of change along with their own limitation and mortality set boundaries for their effectiveness. Business and culture change while new opportunities arise that require that leaders move on or surrender roles to which they have become accustomed. Then there are times when leaders fall ill, are injured, and even encounter the ultimate transition when they pass into God's presence. Leaders should carry that attitude of urgency in finding and training their replacement in everything they do so that both the work of their business or ministry can continue seamlessly. They should also guard against the attitude that they own their position, beginning to think they will do it foreverwhen today may be their last day.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to create a sense of urgency in finding and training replacements for who you are and what you do. If you got sick tomorrow (God forbid) and could not work for three months, what would happen in your organization? Who would and could step into your role? If there is no one, then your Step today is to give this some thought and set in motion a contingency plan of what you would do if you had to be gone for three monthsor longer.

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.

Week 50, Day 1 - Emotional Intelligence

"In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, so the king asked me, 'Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart'" - Nehemiah 2:1-2.

Nehemiah was the king's personal servant and came into the king's presence burdened for Jerusalem and the condition of his people there. The king could have easily dismissed Nehemiah's countenance or missed it altogether. Instead, the king not only noticed how sad Nehemiah was but also asked the reason. The most powerful man in the kingdom was watching his people, 'read' where they were at, and then cared enough to inquire what was going on. This is a classic example of emotional intelligence, for the king was not just observant, but also empathetic enough to probe the matter to see if he could help. When Nehemiah shared his grief, the king helped set a plan in motion to relieve Nehemiah and rebuild Jerusalem.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to improve your ability to 'read' the people around you, especially those with whom you work. First of all, try to do less business via email or phone and have more face-to-face time so you can observe the people while you chat. Then pay attention to body languagewhen they cross their arms, wiggle in their chairs, or get a sad or excited look on their facesand then pursue what's going on with questions to see how you can help them.