Deuteronomy 3:21-29 (Part 1) – Developing the Next Man Up Mentality

Posted: December 3, 2016 in 05-Deuteronomy, 99-Uncategorized
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Deuteronomy 3:21-29 (Part 1 of 2)

Moses Forbidden to Enter the Promised Land

If you are like me and you are a manager at your job, do you ever sometimes wish you could show your company how much you really mean to the company if you quit and took another job elsewhere? At Fujikura America, Inc. (FAI), I am the chief finance guy. In finance, it is often true that what you do goes unnoticed unless something blows up. I have to say to myself sometimes that the best compliment for a person is finance is that finance is not mentioned at all. That means the administrative/financial part of the business is operating as it should. Sometimes, I think, man, what would this company do without me? There is so much that I do on a daily basis that keeps the company running smoothly that nobody notices. What if I quit and took another job? What would happen? My ego tells me that FAI’s smooth operating finance function would fall apart, the company would fall apart without me. Then, as I say that, I dream of those first six months without and think of how many times that they would have to call me to figure stuff out. But, of course, they would eventually get up to speed but it would be gratifying to know that they would surely miss my many off-the-job-description duties that I perform to keep the company running smoothly and out of trouble. They would finally get it that it is my passion to see my company succeed and that I have had a “whatever it takes” attitude from day one on the job.


However, is that the way that I should be thinking? None of my staff is ready to take over my job. There is only one position that is built to train someone to take over my job. That position is that of my general ledger accountant. Do I see the person holding this position as able or even willing to take over my job. Therein lies the job of a leader. We must be able to replace ourselves in the organizations that we work for or, even, those we volunteer for. It is the essence of leadership to be able to replace yourself. It is like recruiting for college football teams and then getting those players ready to be the next man up. Teams like Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State that have been consistently successful over the past 7 or 8 years have the next man up mentality. Each of these programs gets the right talent for their systems and then trains them up. The names may change over the years but these teams continue to be successful regardless of the change in names of the players on the field. We must be that way in our organizations that we lead as well. Am I getting my general ledger accountant ready to take over, or will FAI have to suffer after I leave for months as they search for someone from the outside to come in and take my place.


Should I be right now assessing whether my general ledger accountant has the leadership capabilities and the smarts to take over after me. Can I make her into a leader? Can I develop her accounting skills? Can I get her to “get it” like I do? Can I move her from a task completion orientation to a big picture view of the company? Can I get her to see that she needs to understand how our entire company operates and not just our little corner of the store? What do I do if she simply is not the type of person that wants to be a leader or has the talent to be a leader. To be a leader you have to be willing to take on the reins of leadership and learn what you need to learn and you must be a person who has that certain charisma that causes others to follow. Will she? Can she? Those are questions to be answered. Do I have the right person in the right seat? And what do I do if I realize that she is not the right person?


When I think about it, I must come to the conclusion that I have not done a good enough job in replacing myself so far. It is often easier to just do something yourself than it is to teach someone what you know. I know that I hoard the more complex tasks of my job to (1) justify my position as the knowledge holder and (2) because it is just easier for me to do it because I know the nuances of our business (all the “what to do if ‘x’ happens” nuances) that come from 8 years on the job. But am I growing my people by hanging on to the knowledge and just doing these complex tasks myself. That is why at month-end I work more hours than anyone during the time in which we close the books and do our financial reporting. It is just easier for me to do the tough stuff than it is to allow, in my mind, someone to take it over and screw it up and then have to come in behind them to clean up their mess. Eight years ago, though, that was the way I learned. If I do not train my general ledger accountant to start taking over my tougher tasks, then, the department will indeed fall apart when I leave. What you want is, that even if they do have someone come in from the outside to take my place, that my people will be able to steer the ship until a new captain takes over. However, it would be best though if I trained up my general ledger accountant to take over. That would be the most seamless way. If I don’t do these things, the department will fall apart when I leave. That’s not how we want to leave our positions when we move on. We want the success to continue. We must leave our jobs, when we move on, better than we found them. The only way to do that is to develop the “next man up” mentality within our organizations. If we want to be the Alabamas, the Clemsons, the Ohio States of the world, we must develop those second and third string players so that we the first stringers graduate and leave the program that the program will continue to thrive when the second stringers become the starters. We must be able to replace ourselves with those underneath us by developing their talent so that they can maintain success or even take the organization to the next level. Am I developing that next man up mentality at FAI? Good question.


That idea of developing that next man up mentality was what I thought when I read today’s passage, Deuteronomy 3:21-29, this morning. Let’s read it together now:


21 At that time I commanded Joshua: “You have seen with your own eyes all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings. The Lord will do the same to all the kingdoms over there where you are going. 22 Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.”


23 At that time I pleaded with the Lord: 24 “Sovereign Lord, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? 25 Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.”


26 But because of you the Lord was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the Lord said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter. 27 Go up to the top of Pisgah and look west and north and south and east. Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan. 28 But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.” 29 So we stayed in the valley near Beth Peor.


From the middle of Genesis forward through Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and now in Deuteronomy, Moses has been the central figure of the people of Israel. He is to Israel what DeShaun Watson is the Clemson football team. If you follow college football, you know that over the past three seasons, Mr. Watson has taken Clemson football to a new level of consistent excellence. He is an amazingly talented quarterback. This season will be his last at Clemson as he graduates college in December and will likely be a first round draft choice in the NFL draft this spring. He has been the central figure of Clemson football for the past three seasons. He is an amazing talent and equally good as the solid leader of the team. He will be sorely missed. He is a once in a generation talent. Will Clemson be as good the next few seasons beginning with the 2017 season without him. Who knows? However, if the coaching staff is worth its salt, they have been developing the next man up so that Clemson will continue its rise to elite status among college football programs. Recruitment and development of players is the key to long-term success in college football so that “next man up” really does work.


Moses was the star quarterback of the Israelite team. He was the practical and spiritual leader of his team. However, throughout the wanderings in the desert for 40 years, and although he was the first string quarterback, he was tutoring and coaching up the next quarterback, Joshua. Joshua was learning from the current first string quarterback, Moses. It is now time for Moses to leave the team. He has used up his eligibility and a new quarterback must emerge. However, if Moses had not kept Joshua by his side these years, Joshua would not have been ready to be the next man up.


So, too, must I develop the people that work for me at FAI and in my part-time role at LifeSong Church. I must develop my general ledger accountant at FAI to be the next man, well..uh…, woman up. If I cannot hand the job off to her when I leave FAI (whenever that may be), then, I will be like a football team that had great success because of a specific group of recruits but then falls off the map after they leave. If I have not developed the finance & admin manager at LifeSong to be the director by the time (if ever) that I leave, then I will have done my church a disservice. Vacuums are created when we do not develop the next man up. Chaos ensues. We want to make leadership a pipeline of next women and men up.


Jesus developed this mentality among the disciples. The organization, Jesus’ church, survives to this day because he invested in the development of his direct reports. And they did the same for their next generation. And here you and I sit as Christ followers because of the next man up mentality of Jesus. He set the example for us in leadership. We must follow develop new baby Christians into mature Christians and we must develop mature Christians into new leaders who will ensure the success and survival of His church. We never stop recruiting. We never stop developing. We never stop the next man up mentality.


Amen and Amen.

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