Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

Joshua 1:1-9

The Lord’s Charge to Joshua

I have been the leader of the finance group at my company for eight years now. Of course, there have been many challenges over those 8 years. Some small, some large. Something always new on the horizon to keep things interesting. Over those years, I have faced the challenges of getting the department ready to move from California to South Carolina (and hiring all new people). That was a major challenge. There was the challenge of moving the company off its long-time ERP system, eBack Office, to the ERP system that the rest of the US group of Fujikura companies were using, Oracle. That was a huge challenge. That challenge included another challenge within it concerning financial reporting methodology. That was a big challenge that included some missteps along the way. New challenges exist today – training a new temporary employee right now, for the first time in six years; a group of future projects in determining how to better automate our financial reports that involves less manual manipulation of data to get it in the format that we need in our particular business, off-loading some of my more routine tasks to my subordinates so that I can be more visionary and less tied down by details. And there will be challenges after that I am sure. Leadership is all about seeing challenges, preparing for them, and executing plans for them when they get here. Leadership is never static. It is always evolving and moving ahead.

 

These have been the great challenges after I took over as comptroller. However, none of them was a great as the challenge that initial challenge of taking over as the head finance guy at my company 8 years ago. It was the biggest challenge of my life as a leader to that point. Most of working career I had worked as a staffer or as a senior staffer in internal audit departments. I had been the sole internal auditor before – working alone in my function. I had been an internal audit department head before. However, in that case, I was providing leadership from afar with 4 field auditors spread out over the footprint of a finance company that operated in 17 mostly Southern or Southwestern states. This would be the first time that I would lead people that were right there in the same building with me. They say leadership is leadership no matter what. But leading people on-site vs. remotely is a whole different ballgame.

 

When I came on board at Fujikura America, Inc. (FAI) as comptroller eight years ago, that was the biggest challenge of all for many reasons. In that, I can identify with Joshua as he stood before the biggest challenge of his life to that point. He had been the guy under the guy for forty years (talk about patiently waiting your turn!). Now, this mass of people all around him day to day was his charge to lead. It was his first time as the leader of a nation. No big deal, huh! It was similar for me eight years ago. I had never led a finance department before. I had never led people that were going to be around me every day before. As a senior internal auditor at Fluor Corp, I had led project audits before but that was an audit by audit thing and not the same. This was the real deal. Leadership of people that you were working with day to day. Add on top of that, the department was in complete disarray. The company had tried to hire the cheapest leadership it could for the finance group for the past six years and had gone through three comptrollers in that time. Each one was over their head in the job and had failed miserably, all three of them. In that six years, the department’s financial reporting was less and less trustworthy and the employees in the department were all marching to their own drummer in the face of incompetent leadership. FAI’s financial data was not trustworthy and the incompetence of the comptrollers before me made FAI the laughing stock of the whole US group of Fujikura companies. Nobody at the US parent company headquarters could trust any reports or data that came out of FAI. When I came on board, I stepped into the biggest mess and biggest challenge of my working career. I had seen messed up financials before as an internal auditor. In those cases, I had written voluminous audit reports of all the things that were wrong that management had to fix and then moved on to the next audit. Now, it was up to me to identify what was wrong but also to fix it. It was a long, hard battle.

 

That first year on the job involved establishing firm leadership – an expectation of excellence. It involved reviewing everything that my people did and throwing work back to employees that was substandard. It was teaching about basic accounting. It was teaching about learning what your customers, internal though they may be, want and providing it to them in that manner. It was tough creating the discipline of excellence from a “throw anything at the wall and see what sticks” mentality that had existed. It involved extensive research for sometimes up to six years to figure out what was in our balance sheet accounts. When I got there, no balance sheet accounts had been reconciled in six years or more. It was like creating the history of the company from scratch. It was establishing procedures and writing policies and establishing standards. It was the toughest task of my working career. In those first few weeks after I took over, it was like “oh, crap! What have I gotten myself into.” I kind of had an idea that things were in disarray at FAI because I had worked for the corporate office of the US parent company for one year as a compliance auditor for the previous year. I knew FAI was screwed up but I really did not know how bad it was until I took over. The previous comptroller was no help as far as training me on my task ahead. She was a complete idiot when it came to accounting and leading a finance department. So, I was thrown in there to figure it all out on the fly. It was a great big ol’ hairy challenge.

 

I sometimes wonder why God put me into that position. There are surely more people out there that are smarter. I have known this throughout my career. There are plenty and I mean plenty that are smarter than me when it comes to financial and auditing knowledge. So, why, this little old boy from Travelers Rest that is not the sharpest tool in the shed was able to make an ever upward career in accounting is a miracle from God anyway, much less being put in this challenging situation. I was really scared at first. The problems seemed so big and so many. I hardly knew where to start. It was a challenge that I did not know if I was ready for it or not. I think it was Martin Luther King, Jr. that once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” This was my time of challenge. This was my moment to step up with runners on second and third and either strike out to end the game in a loss or slam a home run into the left field bleachers to win the game. Was I up to the challenge in this pressure-packed moment? Was I going to harness my fears and take on the challenge or was I going to cower in the corner and continue the legacy of not-so-much at FAI’s finance department. It was going to take courage. It was going to involve establishing discipline among employees, defining responsibilities and establishing expectations of excellence, firing incompetent employees – all that fun stuff of leadership and the reasons so few choose to lead.

 

My experience shows you that we face challenges in whatever we do every day. We do not have to be leaders of major corporations, major organizations, large churches, large anything. Each of us no matter what job we have face challenges in our jobs of all kinds and at all levels. We all come across challenges that we may not think that we are ready for.

 

That’s the thing that came across my mind this morning as I read through the first passage in Joshua this morning. How must have Joshua really felt inside when it was his turn to lead and it was not like he was going to just maintain. He had a major, major challenge ahead. You are the leader now but hey Joshua just as you are beginning your leadership of the nation…ummm…go conquer the Promised Land. No big deal just conquering a vast expanse of land already occupied by entrenched people groups. No small task as you take over the nation. You can do it! Man, what a situation Joshua was walking into.

 

We are going to spend a couple of blogs on this first passage but for today we will focus on how Joshua must have felt when taking over after Moses as we read through Joshua 1:1-9 today:

 

1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.

 

7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

 

In this passage, we see that Joshua has succeeded Moses as Israel’s leader. What qualifications did he have? First, God appointed him to be the next leader (see Numbers 27:18-23). Second, he was one of only two adults who had witnessed the miracles of the plagues in Egypt. Third, he was Moses assistant for 40 years. Finally, only he and Caleb showed complete confidence that God would help them conquer the land.

 

That’s the thing here. God knew that Joshua was the right man for the job even if Joshua did not think so himself. God saw something in Joshua that was going to be useful to the kingdom. I know that in those early days as comptroller of FAI, I did not know if I was up to the task. However, as time progressed, I realized that God had put my career together as he did even some of the bad stuff that has happened to me in my career as preparation for this moment in time. All of it was preparation to do what I am doing now. This moment in time is where not only have I accomplished the initial task but it has allowed me to guide our team through rough waters after that. That initial challenge was great but once I got through it any challenge after that I know that I can get through it.

 

At the same time, these past years at the same time I have been at FAI has been a time of great maturation in Christ. That is no coincidence. I have become a leader in my church and all of that was because God felt I was ready for this challenge in my job 8 years ago. All of it works together. God knows stuff about me that I don’t know yet. He has great challenges ahead of me that I don’t know about yet. But if it were not for the confidence that He has given me and showing me that I can lead and I can conquer challenges that I will be ready, not because I am cocky but because I have grown to trust in the Lord – because He has shown me what depending on Him can do for me. He will lead you and me both to great feats that we did not think we could do before. He is preparing you and me right now for the next great challenge. Depend on Him. Through dependence on Him, we can be bold. We can be strong. We can be courageous.

 

We just have to depend on Him to get us through our challenges. Depend on Him to show you the way -whether it leading a nation, leading a company, leading a church, leading an organization, leading a department, leading your family.

 

Amen and Amen.

Deuteronomy 31:1-8 (Part 2 of 2)

Joshua Becomes Israel’s Leader

You see it a lot in professional sports. A guy who has stayed one year too long in the league. No longer are they able to perform at the high level they once did, but too proud to say that it’s time to hang it up. One of the famous examples of this phenomenon was Joe Namath. Back in the days before the merger of the American Football League and the National Football League, Joe was one of the first high profile college quarterbacks to accept a contract from the younger, upstart league (the AFL was formed in 1960 while the NFL dates back to the early 1920s). The NFL always got the best the college prospects but this time the New York Jets of the AFL offered Joe Namath a contract that the NFL owners would not be willing to match and Joe became a Jet. He was young, brash, and loud, but he could always back up his mouth with his play on the field. His leading of his New York Jets to victory over the vaunted Baltimore Colts in the 2nd Super Bowl (after the 1969 season) was a landmark moment in the rivalry between the two leagues that ultimately led to the merger of the two. In the years after that Super Bowl, Joe continued to have a couple of really good seasons after that but knee injury after knee injury began to slow him down.

 

He became at the end a shell of the great quarterback that he once was. Yet, he would not retire. He was eventually traded to the Los Angeles Rams and ended his career quietly and with little fanfare at the end of the 1977 season. There are many such examples in pro sports of hanging on too long and not leaving with dignity. Joe Montana was another great quarterback that spent all but one year of his NFL career with the San Francisco 49ers but because of pride refused to retire as a 49er when management thought it was time to hand the reins off to the younger (and equally talented) Steve Young. Montana robbed his fans in San Francisco and the NFL in general of that farewell tour for the man who was the face of the franchise for more than a decade. Instead, he still wanted the glory. Although he performed well in KC, he was injured for about half the time he was there. He finally retired after the 1994 season, but what a spectacle it would have been if he had retired as a 49er, going out at the height of his career three years earlier.

 

These are celebrity superstar football players that are in the news, but sometimes we see it right around us. In old traditional Baptist churches, you will see pastors who had been at a church for 30 or 40 years and it is obvious that they have outlived their prime and their greatest effectiveness as pastors. They are a shell of the pastor that they once were, but because of the honor of the powers-that-be at the church, they want to the let the pastor retire on his own terms rather than being forced out. In the Methodist Church where, because of the system that they use, pastors at best will stay at a church for a decade at the most, you will see pastors who refuse to retire and end up being transferred to backwater circuits where they are serving small little country churches when they once pastor large metropolitan churches. Knowing when to quit is important. Knowing when it is time to move on is important.

 

That’s what I thought this morning as I read about the commissioning of Joshua as the new leader of Israel. Man, could you imagine how Moses felt at this moment. Let’s read the passage together, Deuteronomy 31:1-8.

 

31 Then Moses went out and spoke these words to all Israel: 2 “I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you. The Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not cross the Jordan.’ 3 The Lord your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua also will cross over ahead of you, as the Lord said. 4 And the Lord will do to them what he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, whom he destroyed along with their land. 5 The Lord will deliver them to you, and you must do to them all that I have commanded you. 6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

 

7 Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. 8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

 

Man, could you imagine being in Moses’ position. He was the grand poobah of the people of Israel and had been for about 42-43 years. He had be the guy in charge that led his people out of Egypt through mighty confrontations with the Pharoah. He had managed the people as they became the people of God at Mt. Sinai. He had an intimate relationship with God himself. He had been in the presence of God more times than you could count. He had developed the system of government and dispute resolution of the Hebrew people. He had ran the nation of people and had put up with a lot of bellyaching and complaining over the years. But God tells him that He will not get to the Promised Land. God tells him that he will die before he gets there. He had done a lot of hard work, thankless work over the years. But he would not get the credit of being the guy who led them to that final destination. You would think He would be bitter, but he was able to address the nation and reaffirm the covenant that the people had with the Lord and to pass on the mantle of leadership to Joshua.

 

What struck me this morning is how we finish is as important as how we start and how we are at the height of our skill. As leaders, we must know when to say when. We must be willing to accept that we are no longer performing at our top level. Also, we must know when it’s time to move on even if we are doing great right where we are. For example, with Moses, he was just what the people of Israel needed when they were a nomadic people who had only periodic skirmishes or battles with other people groups. However, what was called for when entering into the Promised Land was going to be a leader that was a great military leader for one thing and a great leader of a settled nation with boundaries and cities and towns, a standing army, actual buildings of the seat of government and so on. Knowing when its time to turn over the reins of leadership to someone who is better equipped for the new phase of your organization is the toughest thing to do especially when you are still in your prime. Sometimes, it is as important as knowing when to retire.

 

If you are a pastor who can handle the management of a smaller church of 200 or less but you are not equipped to handle a church’s growth past that barrier (where the pastor personally knows and interacts with each member of his flock), it may be best for you to move on to allow someone who is more gifted and talented at managing other pastors and more gifted at administration to take over. That type of pastor is more equipped to take the church to 500 and maybe to a 1000 or more.

 

For us personally, do you know when it’s time to move on? Do you know when it’s time to retire? Are you serving in a capacity at church but refuse to give up your position because of pride? Are you willing to say, this is what is best for the church – to allow someone to take my place who has the ability to move the ministry to the next phase of its life cycle. That is not to say that they are better at leading than you. It is simply recognizing that you may have been the groundbreaker and the builder but the next person is the one who builds on what you have done. This leader may have not been the one who could have founded the ministry. They did not have those talents to create something out of nothing like you, but they do have the skills for the next phase of ministry for your ministry.

 

It is important for us as leaders of the church to do what is best for the church and not necessarily what we want. Sometimes, we get God’s church and Our church confused. I once heard my senior pastor say that the church is the bride of Christ, not my bride. He said we as leaders of the church cannot forget that. We are simply hear to prepare the bride to meet Christ when He returns. We must know when to say when. We must know when it is time for us to allow others to lead and so that God can show us what is next for us in ministry. What if Moses had refused to leave Midian? He would have never experienced the greatest part of His ministry and His greatest moments of closeness to God. Here, though, at the precipice of the Promised Land, Moses was man enough to accept God’s will and pass on the leadership of the people to Joshua.

 

Finishing well is important, whether its retirement or moving on to the next thing that God has for us. Finishing well requires prayer. We must have an intimate prayer life so that pride does not get in the way of letting go to another leader. We must through the counsel of the Holy Spirit through prayer and through God’s Word to be able to hear that it is time to close out this chapter of our lives and move on. Knowing God’s will requires intimacy with him and the humility to understand when it’s time to say when! We need to prepare the way for the next leader. We must also be aware and open to what God has in store for us. What if Peter had refused to leave the fishing boats? What if he had not been open to the Holy Spirit’s influence on his life? Man, what he would have missed? What if Paul had refused to listen to what Jesus had to say in his vision on the Damascus Road? Where would the church be now? Where would the New Testament be (about one half its final canon)? What if we were so prideful in trying to hold on to what we have right now that we refuse to see the opportunity that God has for us next? What if it involves not moving from the church you are at now but changing roles at the church you are at now? We must listen for the Lord to tell us when to stay and when to go. We must do that through being obedient to His counsel through prayer and through God’s Word.

 

Let us learn to finish well. Let us learn to know when its time to stay and when its time to move on. Let us be open to what God has next for us. Let us be willing to hand the reins to another for the good of the bride of Christ. Let us be willing and open to do that so that God can show us what comes after Midian, what comes after the Damascus Road, what comes after the fishing boats, what comes next! Finish well!

 

Amen and Amen.

Numbers 32:1-42 (Part 1 of 2)

Some Tribe Settle East of the Jordan River

When in leadership at church, it is easy to get frustrated with people in your church, particularly in a medium-sized to large church. There is a certain amount of anonymity that comes with being a regular attendee of medium to large sized churches. You can lose yourself in the crowd and you don’t really have to do anything. It is easy to say “someone else will do it”. It is easy to say that I don’t have time. There is an old saying about churches and just about any organization – 20% of the people do 80% of the work. As a leader in the church, even the 20% can disappoint you at times. You plan meetings and only half the people that said they would show up actually do show up. You send out emails requiring a response and you get no responses. It just seems that church is just not that important to people. You can think that they just don’t see church as important as you do. You can think that people simply don’t care about eternal things and make things of this earth more important than the eternal. You can think that people see church as just one of many choices of what to do with their time. You can think that people just don’t get it like you do. You can think that they don’t get it that serving the Lord should be our top priority and not our fifth or sixth priority.

 

Serving the Lord should be the trump card to anything that is in our cards in our hands. We can think that people just don’t get it that serving the Lord should come before the kid’s unending sports activities. We can think that people just don’t get that serving the should come before our obsessions with our favorite college football team. We can think that people just don’t get that serving the Lord should come before weekend getaways, or NASCAR, or Pinterest, or shopping, or whatever it is that people seem to place as priorities than serving the Lord through our local church. We can become jaded as leaders by this constant struggle to just have enough people to have a meeting about an important upcoming event. It is all very easy to just throw your hands up in frustration and give up on people. It is easy to jump to conclusions about people’s motives when it comes to their relationship with the Lord and in their service to the Lord.

 

It is this idea of jumping to conclusions about people’s motives that I thought of this morning when I read through this chapter today (Numbers 32):

 

32 The Reubenites and Gadites, who had very large herds and flocks, saw that the lands of Jazer and Gilead were suitable for livestock. 2 So they came to Moses and Eleazar the priest and to the leaders of the community, and said, 3 “Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo and Beon— 4 the land the Lord subdued before the people of Israel—are suitable for livestock, and your servants have livestock. 5 If we have found favor in your eyes,” they said, “let this land be given to your servants as our possession. Do not make us cross the Jordan.”

 

6 Moses said to the Gadites and Reubenites, “Should your fellow Israelites go to war while you sit here? 7 Why do you discourage the Israelites from crossing over into the land the Lord has given them? 8 This is what your fathers did when I sent them from Kadesh Barnea to look over the land. 9 After they went up to the Valley of Eshkol and viewed the land, they discouraged the Israelites from entering the land the Lord had given them. 10 The Lord’s anger was aroused that day and he swore this oath: 11 ‘Because they have not followed me wholeheartedly, not one of those who were twenty years old or more when they came up out of Egypt will see the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob— 12 not one except Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they followed the Lord wholeheartedly.’ 13 The Lord’s anger burned against Israel and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until the whole generation of those who had done evil in his sight was gone.

 

14 “And here you are, a brood of sinners, standing in the place of your fathers and making the Lord even more angry with Israel. 15 If you turn away from following him, he will again leave all this people in the wilderness, and you will be the cause of their destruction.”

 

16 Then they came up to him and said, “We would like to build pens here for our livestock and cities for our women and children. 17 But we will arm ourselves for battle[a] and go ahead of the Israelites until we have brought them to their place. Meanwhile our women and children will live in fortified cities, for protection from the inhabitants of the land. 18 We will not return to our homes until each of the Israelites has received their inheritance. 19 We will not receive any inheritance with them on the other side of the Jordan, because our inheritance has come to us on the east side of the Jordan.”

 

20 Then Moses said to them, “If you will do this—if you will arm yourselves before the Lord for battle 21 and if all of you who are armed cross over the Jordan before the Lord until he has driven his enemies out before him— 22 then when the land is subdued before the Lord, you may return and be free from your obligation to the Lord and to Israel. And this land will be your possession before the Lord.

 

23 “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the Lord; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out. 24 Build cities for your women and children, and pens for your flocks, but do what you have promised.”

 

25 The Gadites and Reubenites said to Moses, “We your servants will do as our lord commands. 26 Our children and wives, our flocks and herds will remain here in the cities of Gilead. 27 But your servants, every man who is armed for battle, will cross over to fight before the Lord, just as our lord says.”

 

28 Then Moses gave orders about them to Eleazar the priest and Joshua son of Nun and to the family heads of the Israelite tribes. 29 He said to them, “If the Gadites and Reubenites, every man armed for battle, cross over the Jordan with you before the Lord, then when the land is subdued before you, you must give them the land of Gilead as their possession. 30 But if they do not cross over with you armed, they must accept their possession with you in Canaan.”

 

31 The Gadites and Reubenites answered, “Your servants will do what the Lord has said. 32 We will cross over before the Lord into Canaan armed, but the property we inherit will be on this side of the Jordan.”

 

33 Then Moses gave to the Gadites, the Reubenites and the half-tribe of Manasseh son of Joseph the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites and the kingdom of Og king of Bashan—the whole land with its cities and the territory around them.

 

34 The Gadites built up Dibon, Ataroth, Aroer, 35 Atroth Shophan, Jazer, Jogbehah, 36 Beth Nimrah and Beth Haran as fortified cities, and built pens for their flocks. 37 And the Reubenites rebuilt Heshbon, Elealeh and Kiriathaim, 38 as well as Nebo and Baal Meon (these names were changed) and Sibmah. They gave names to the cities they rebuilt.

 

39 The descendants of Makir son of Manasseh went to Gilead, captured it and drove out the Amorites who were there. 40 So Moses gave Gilead to the Makirites, the descendants of Manasseh, and they settled there. 41 Jair, a descendant of Manasseh, captured their settlements and called them Havvoth Jair.[b] 42 And Nobah captured Kenath and its surrounding settlements and called it Nobah after himself.

 

Here in this passage, we see that three tribes (Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Mannasseh) wanted to live east of the Jordan River on land that the Israelites had already been conquered. Moses immediately assumed that they had selfish motives and were trying to avoid helping the other tribes fight for their land across the Jordan River. Moses, however, jumped to the wrong conclusion. In dealing with people, we must find out all the facts before making up our minds. We shouldn’t automatically assume that their motives are wrong, even if their plans sound suspicious.

 

For me, the takeaway today is that we cannot automatically assume the worst about people when we are in leadership at church. We can’t assume that they just don’t care. We may well be right about those that attend our church that are not saved to begin with or about those who are spiritually immature. However, we cannot paint everyone with a broad brush. We may not know that someone is struggling in their marriage and serving the Lord is something they wanna do but marital problems prevent it. Maybe someone is having to take care of an ailing parent almost 24/7 now. Maybe, they have a sick child this week. Maybe, they had a friend who just needed to talk that night of the meeting. Maybe, they were sharing the gospel with someone and got lost in the moment of someone coming to know Jesus Christ as their Savior. Sure, often people have priorities issues when it comes to choosing between serving the Lord and serving themselves or their own interests. It is very true and that is a discipleship issue that the church struggles with constantly. But we cannot automatically assume that they just don’t get it. They may be serving the Lord and there was a conflict between that and a meeting. They may be serving the Lord by caring for their elderly parent and that prevents them for this season from being fully available for important church stuff. And people may be going through stuff themselves that is consuming them. A bad marriage can suck the life out of you. A diagnosis of cancer can suck the life out of you. Financial troubles can suck the life out of you. We cannot take a broad brush and throw these people in with those who just don’t care.

 

Well, then, how do we know the difference between indifference and people who legitimately do care but something just got in the way. The one word that I have been thinking about this whole time that I have been writing is – relationships. We must get to know the people we lead. We must get to know that team of people that are underneath us as our team. We must make contact with them outside of asking them to do something for us. We must have coffee with them. We must eat dinner with them. We must get to know them. Instead of being exasperated, make contact and find out why they did not show up or did not fulfill a responsibility. Get to know them outside of the function they perform for you. We must get to know the people on our teams so that we can know of what’s going on in their lives.

 

I know you might say, why is it always on the leader to do these things. Why can’t those who follow make an effort? That’s why leaders are so few and followers so many. As leaders, the work is harder, the hours longer, and the rewards often fewer in relationship to the effort put out. However, God placed you in leadership not by coincidence. He placed you in leadership because He saw something in you. We have talents that He gave us and He placed us in this phase of life to shepherd others. Yes, it’s frustrating to be a leader a lot of the time. But, maybe, just maybe during the time that you are leading, you disciple one person to go from indifference to all-in for Jesus Christ, then all the frustration is worth it. One soul taking flight in their relationship with Jesus Christ under your discipleship is the reward of eternal value – even if it takes 5 to 10 years of leadership frustrations. We are not leading to serve ourselves. We are not leading because it is easy. We are leading to grow disciples and growing disciples starts with relationships.

 

Amen and Amen.