Monday, December 26, 2011

My 2011 Journey of Discovery

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Personally if I could sum up 2011 in a few words, I would choose words such as perseverance and growth along with the breaking of a drought which I will explain.

Perseverance is that character trait needed when the circumstances are not reaching the vision you had in mind. You need a dose of it when you are attempting to move people towards their God given destiny. You need it when you want to witness a movement that is Holy Spirit led and is ushering in the expansion of the Kingdom of God. You must have it when you feel like a failure and God still has a plan. You must embrace it when the Lord has spoken in your heart about entering the promised land, and you still find yourself in a place of slavery!

How my heart longs for greater perseverance. God is fulfilling his plan. Souls are being saved. Justice is becoming a reality. Our community is slowly reflecting a 'heaven on earth' kind of picture. Lord, I need perseverance - so one day I will step back and hear God say, 'Hey, well done mate, my good and faithful servant'.

As I contemplate on 2011 I think of 'growth' as a key, defining word for my ministry. When I say growth, I mean the sharpening of the theological tool kit, and the deepening of the understanding of leadership, and the greater capacity to effectively and effeciently complete the administrative expectations of The Salvation Army. I do hope in 2012 growth might once again sum up my personal journey with the Lord. The most important growth I look for, is the deepening of my relationship with Jesus, including being able to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying, and to preach what God would have me preach, and to find myself captured by the presence of God as I pray and reflect.

When I mention the breaking of a drought in 2011, I picture my local Salvation Army Corps (Palmerston Salvos) fully embracing the work of God, and engaging wholeheartedly in reaching their city with the love of Christ. A couple of months ago, I had a picture of a waterfall, and that our community of faith was diving deeper into the waters, instead of walking around in circles in a stagnant pool of water. The waterfall and subsequent river was a sign of blessing, favour, and God fulfilling his mission through us in our part of the world.

Lord I pray for those churches, para-church organisations, businesses and nonforprofits who find themselves stagnated, in a pool of murky water and who have lost their sense of purpose and vision. Reignite their passion and vision, and push them into a place of effectiveness and usefulness, in Jesus' name.

There you have it. 2011 - A year of perseverance, growth and the breaking of a spiritual drought! Bring on 2012!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Persecution in The Salvation Army during the 1880s

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The history of The Salvation Army contains many a story of persecution that occurred when Salvationists chose to serve Christ on the streets. They took the transformative message of Jesus Christ to the streets, and that's where the persecuted erupted. The United Kingdom in the late 1870s and 1880s were not too keen on listening to, and putting up with the preaching of these 'Salvationists', who would unashamedly preach the need for repentance and to be filled with the power of the Holy Ghost.

Colonel Henry Gariepy in his 2009 one volume history of The Salvation Army (Christianity in Action) writes, 'During one year, 1882, the number of Salvationists knocked down or otherwise assaulted in the United Kingdom was 669. More than one-third of them, 251, were women, and 23 were children. Eighty-six Salvationists, 15 of them women, were thrown into prison. All because they took part in religious meetings in their own buildings or in the open air.' (: 30).

Some Salvationist's were martyred for their faith, but that did not stop the passion and zeal of the early Salvationists. Even when hundreds were thrown in jail (over 600 in 1884 alone), the commitment to preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ on the streets prevailed. Colonel Gariepy says, 'Some shopkeepers kept eggs of vintage for sale at reduced prices for assailing Salvationists on the march' (: 29). This is a nice way of saying, shopkeepers kept a bunch of rotten eggs for sale, so people could 'egg' the Salvos when they marched on by! Along with the sharp rocks that were thrown, no wonder the Salvation Army bonnet was introduced!!

Bramwell Booth wrote that the fiercest opposition did not come from drunkards on the streets, but from the local churches. He writes about the churches, saying, 'We were fighting for freedom to proclaim the same Savior whom they honored. We were a menace to the "comfortable" worship of the day. Our people's zeal and joy put to shame the religion which consisted mostly in a listless rote. Ours was a practical faith. It appealed to the common mass. It offered a spiritual charter to the ecclesiastically disfranchised...' (Bramwell Booth, Echoes and Memories, 1925).

There is much more to say regarding the history of The Salvation Army, and its history of persecution. Stories come to mind of Frederick Booth Tucker being thrown in jail, in India, and the band of followers standing outside the jail cell, all singing praise to God. "You go to jail, I'll go to jail, we'll all go to jail..."

What an intriguing, fascinating and rich history The Salvation Army has. See Henry Gariepy's Christianity in Action (2009) for more... 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Leadership Insights from Jesus

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As a Christian, I find much of my leadership development comes from the Bible and predominantly from Jesus Christ himself. Now, this is not to say, that I fail to learn tips of leadership from other avenues, e.g. the business sector, philosophy, nonforprofits, etc, but I do say this: My capacity to lead, from my opinion, must derive itself from the inspired Word of God, and must reflect (within my 21st Century context), the principles and guidelines given from Jesus. From a purely historical perspective, you could say Jesus was the best leader the world has ever seen, especially if your mandate is to have as many followers as possible!

Some of the leadership teachings I have taken from Christ, and which empower me in the area of leadership are:
·         When Jesus challenges the disciples about their heated discussion on who is going to be the greatest, he points to a little child and mentions we should have faith like one of these. This is Jesus confronting the elephant in the living room with the disciples!
·         He also publically confronts Judas about his impending betrayal during the last supper. Most leaders would have kept quiet and swept it under the carpet.
·         Jesus makes a whip and cleans out the temple, so there would be a focus on prayer and not commercialism.
·         Jesus has a heart to heart with Peter following his resurrection, about the need for Peter to feed his sheep, and fulfil his mission in the world.
·         We see Jesus investing a greater amount of time in just three – Peter, James and John.
·         Jesus sets an example of having compassion on the large crowds, and he has faith to minister to them, practically and spiritually.
·         Jesus is an outstanding example of servant leadership (Jesus washing the disciple’s feet).
If we want powerful examples of leadership, then we only need to look to Jesus. We can obviously gleen tips and teachings from many, like Augustine, Martin Luther, Isaac Newton, Abraham Lincoln, Billy Graham, Jim Collins, Stephen Covey, Mother Theresa, Jack Welch, etc, though we find richness in the teachings of Jesus, that have inspired a movement that is still billions strong today! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How to Become an Intuitive Leader

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Edward de Bono in his classic Six Thinking Hats speaks of intuition. He says there are two types of intuition. The first type of intuition is the sense of a sudden insight. So something that you perceived in one way is all of sudden perceived in a different way. The second type of intuition intrigues me, as it relates to leadership, in the sense that great leaders have this type of intuition and average leaders do not. This powerful type of intuition is, 'the immediate apprehension or understanding of a situation' (Six Thinking Hats, page 57).

Intuitive leaders have the ability to look at a situation, and say, 'you know, we need to head in this direction'. De Bono says that this intuition is, 'the result of a complex judgement based on experience' (page 57). When you watch sport, you see some players who have intuition - take a game of rugby for instance. The player is running towards the line and is about to get slammed to the ground by the opposition, and intuition tells him, there's one of his players to the back left of him, ready to receive the ball. The player might see him in the corner of his eye, but his experience of the game tells him this player will be ready for the ball, as the ball is passed to him. This intuitive decision to pass the ball and not to go for 'the try' himself, is a rapid intuitive decision based on experience and judgement.

Why do some entrepreneurs buy into a new franchise, when everyone else says that they're crazy? Probably because they have some intuitive sense that the industry is going to turn around. Why does a leader employ a particular person, who others say are not suitable for the position? Probably because they understand from experience who will be the right person for the job. Television networks make decisions on intuition regularly. Sure, they look at the facts and they discuss the research, but in the end, some new television shows are introduced on the board room's intution. What research could suggest that 'So you think you can dance' would have been such a success? It was no doubt, a decision based on the intution of a few.

The question then remains - how do you become an intuitive leader? I think the key idea regarding intuition is to make complex judgements based on experience and knowledge. Intuitive leadership will take time to develop. When I think of my own journey, my ability to make good decisions grows as I learn more about the organisation I am apart of and as I experience more within the realms of that organisation.
  • We will make better decisions employing people, when we understand people's personalities, how character affects their job, how important their industry knowledge is/or should be, etc.
  • We will make better financial decisions, when we understand the financial systems back-to-front, and understand from past experience what has worked and hasn't worked, and why.
In my albeit limited experience as a Salvation Army Officer, I am faced with the need to make leadership decisions based on intuition very regularly. As a minister of a Salvation Army Church, I am faced with questions like, 'Should we start a new congregation to reach the youth in our city?' 'How can we better serve the Indigenous people?' 'Should we spend that $10,000 on that minor development, or should be hold it in the bank until we can do that $300,000 extension?' As my experience grows, and as my knowledge base expands, my ability to make good, sound, intutive leadership decisions increases.

As a Christian, I would like to offer the comment, that the Holy Spirit can plant an idea in your mind, or give you guidance on a particular journey. The Holy Spirit is like, the ultimate intuitive leader, who knows which way to head,  what decision to make and when we should make it. With that in mind, I would like to suggest, that to become an intuitive leader you need to do the following:
  • Grow and learn from experience within your particular field
  • Develop a knowledge base for your particular field
  • Listen to the voice of God, who is the ultimate intuitive leader, who sent Jesus to earth, to show us life, leadership, morality and above all, salvation.
Some of this blog is attributed to Edward de Bono's Six Thinking Hats, 1985. How to become an intuitive leader is written by Pete Brookshaw. For more on becoming an intuitive leader, see my post on John C. Maxwell's Law of Intuition.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Two words that have literally floored me


My heart pounds right now, as I consider the words the Holy Spirit has implanted in my mind. They won't pass from me. The words seem to be ingrained there for this particular moment. These two words fly in the face of my future plans. They challenge my intended motives for conflict resolution. While I was ready to catch up with someone with all guns blazing, these two words have gripped me. They have floored me, really. It's a dint to my ego, let's be honest, but they're words God has planted into my mind. No other humanistic reasoning will I accept - these two words would not have popped into my mind other than a powerful deity at work... Well the two words...
Extravagant Love.

That's all, extravagant love. I had intended on throwing the law at someone. I had intended to give them a piece of my mind. I had intended to swat the fly with a sledge hammer. But those two words came into my mind, and I thank God.

See, God showed extravagant love when he sent his son, Jesus Christ to die for the sins of humanity. I had forgotten that. Here I am being woken up by God, and I hear the voice saying, 'Hey, extravagant love, not overpowering law, or humanistic condemnation... get it right. You're following me, remember?'
What a challenge I face right now. Will I bow before God, and humbly accept this word for my life and ministry? Or will I say, no way, and try to do things in my own strength, with my only plans and futile endeveours?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

How did the First Disciples of Jesus Die?


Ever wondered how the disciples died? Ever wondered what were the disciple's fate? Well, the next time you are feeling down, persecuted, and depressed, just remember what cost the disciples and other first century followers of Jesus Christ have paid for following him over the years. Let's have a look:
  • James the apostle, the brother of John, was beheaded (a.d. 44).
  • Philip the apostle was stoned and crucified (a.d. 54).
  • Matthew the apostle was beheaded in Ethiopia (a.d. 70).
  • James the apostle, the son of Alphaeus, stoned to death in Syria (a.d. 60).
  • Matthias, the apostle who replaced Judas as one of the 12 disciples, was stoned in Jerusalem (a.d. 70).
  • Andrew the apostle was crucified in Patras (a.d. 70).
  • Mark, the author of the gospel bearing his name, died by being dragged to death in Alexandria, Egypt (a.d. 64).
  • Peter the apostle was killed by crucifixion in Rome (a.d. 69).
  • Paul the apostle was most probably beheaded in Rome, the same day Peter was crucified (a.d. 69).
  • Judas, also known as Thaddeus the apostle, was killed by arrows/javelins in Armenia (a.d. 70).
  • Bartholomew, also known as Nathanael, the apostle, was skinned alive and crucified in Armenia (a.d. 70).
  • Thomas died by being, baked in an oven, and pierced with spears in India (a.d. 70).
  • Luke (author of the Gospel of Luke), was hanged to death in Greece (a.d. 93).
  • Simon the Zealot was sawed in half in the Middle East (a.d. 74).
  • James half-brother of Jesus, was thrown from a building, stoned, and beaten in Jerusalem (a.d. 62).
  • Timothy (Paul's mentoree) was stoned and beaten to death in Ephesus (a.d. 80).
(Cited in Dave Anderson's How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK)

Amazing, that a majority of the first followers of Jesus were killed, yet the message of Christ still spread rapidly across the countryside. They were sold out to the fact, that Jesus had died for sins, and had risen from the grave, and that this message of hope would transform lives. Ironically, a message of love, hope and peace, is confronted with death, violence and absolute cruelty.

Remember, following Jesus can come at a cost, (emotionally, physically, spiritually, etc), but we can take heart, that others have faithfully loved Jesus right to the end, and their message was still spread to the ends of the earth.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ezekiel's Heart of Stone to a Heart of Flesh

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I stood at the front of the altar call. A little nervous and feeling a little vulnerable. The year was 2001, and I was at a Young Adults Retreat with The Salvation Army. A man in his 30s came up to me, and began to pray for me. Most of the words I can't remember, but his said this sentence, which is still etched on my heart all these years later. He said, 'God wants to turn your heart of stone, into a heart of flesh...' I went away knowing God had spoken to me this day and had done something within me.

Some ten years later I find myself reflecting on these words, that find themselves buried in the book of Ezekiel. Maybe you have heard this expression, or maybe you have even prayed those words from Ezekiel. Let's have a look at a few verses of the biblical text:

Ezekiel 36:25-27:
Eze 36:25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.
Eze 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Eze 36:27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

When you think of the stone mentioned in Ezekiel 36:26 you might think of a person that is characterised by hard heartedness and stubbornness or someone who lacks emotion, or is 'hard' to get along with, or lacks compassion and so the list goes on. The contrasting picture in Eze 36:26 is of flesh, which conjures up images of compassion, respectful, loving, vulnerable, emotional (but stable), and of vitality and humanness.

You might be thinking now of all your all coworkers, distant relatives and friends who have what you perceive to be a heart of stone. Go on, I know that's what you're thinking!

The prayer that was can derive from these words of Ezekiel 36:26 is the following and we can pray this for others, but we must pray it for ourselves:

"Lord, help me to have a heart of flesh, not a heart of stone. Through your Spirit do a work in me, that replaces the cold, hard heartedness in me, and replace it with a heart that honours you. In Jesus' name".

Sunday, October 16, 2011

John C. Maxwell Quotes on Leadership


John C. Maxwell Quotes on Leadership:

  • 'People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care' - John C Maxwell
  • 'Change is inevitable, growth is optional' - John C Maxwell
  • 'Life is 10% what happens to me, 90% of how I react to it' - John C Maxwell
  • 'Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less' - John C Maxwell
Join Pete Brookshaw's Facebook Page & keep the discussion going.
Also have a look at the TOP 100 Leadership Tips here.
  • 'If we are growing, we are always going to be outside our comfort zone' - John C Maxwell
  • 'We cannot become what we need, by remaining what we are' - John C Maxwell
  • 'When the real leader speaks, people listen' - John C Maxwell
  • 'Trust is the foundation of leadership' - John C Maxwell
  • 'Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course' - John C Maxwell
  • 'Leadership develops daily, not in a day' - John C Maxwell
  • 'Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand' - John C Maxwell
  • 'Momentum is a leader's best friend' - John C Maxwell
  • 'Leaders understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment' - John C Maxwell
  • 'To add growth, lead followers - to multiply, lead leaders' - John C Maxwell
  • 'A leader's lasting value, is measured by succession' - John C Maxwell
  • 'The higher you want to climb, the more you need leadership. The greater the impact you want to make, the greater your influence need to be' - John C Maxwell
Join Pete Brookshaw's Facebook Page & keep the discussion going.

More John C. Maxwell quotes on leadership:
  • 'Personal organizational effectiveness is proportionate to the strength of leadership' - John C Maxwell
  • 'You can find smart, talented, successful people who are able to go only so far because of the limitations of their leadership' - John C Maxwell
  • 'The only thing a title can buy is a little time--either to increase your level of influence with others or to erase it' - John C Maxwell
  • 'Becoming a leader is a lot like investing successfully in the stock market. If your hope is to make a fortune in a day, you're not going to be successful' - John C Maxwell
  • 'As long as a person doesn't know what he doesn't know, he doesn't grow' - John C Maxwell
  • 'No matter how much you learn from the past, it will never tell you all you need to know for the present' - John C Maxwell
  • 'If the leader can't navigate the people through rough waters, he is liable to sink the ship' - John C Maxwell
  • 'It's difficult balancing optimism and realism, intuition and planning, faith and fact. But that's what it takes to be effective as a navigating leader' - John C Maxwell
  • 'Major barriers to successful planning are fear of change, ignorance, uncertainty about the future, and lack of imagination' - John C Maxwell
  • 'It's not the size of the project that determines its acceptance, support, and success. It's the size of the leader' - John C Maxwell
John C Maxwell quotes on leadership are attributed to the writings of John C Maxwell, predominantly from The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (1998).

Also have a look at the TOP 100 Leadership Tips here.

To continue the learning, check out this post: Stephen Covey's 4 Human Intelligences from July 2011. Click here.

Also: The differences/similarities between Leadership and Management

Join Pete Brookshaw's Facebook Page & keep the discussion going.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Daniel Goleman's Emotional Intelligence and Leadership

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In 1995, Daniel Goleman released a hard-hitting, inspiring snapshot of what he labels, 'Emotional Intelligence'. Improving your Emotional Intelligence (EQ), he said was just as important as improving your Intelligence Quotient (IQ).

We could all sit here and think of a person with an extraordinarily high IQ who has a very limited ability to emotionally connect with those around him. That's because, this person has a high IQ, but a low EQ. Goleman relays a story of a student named Jason (of Colorado Springs, Florida), who was an A+, highly intellectual student, who desired to enter Harvard University. When Pologruto (his Physics Teacher) gave him a 'B' on a quiz, Jason took a butcher knife to school, and stabbed Pologruto in the collar bone. Why would someone of such a high IQ, be able to do something so dumb? (p. 33 - Emotional Intelligence). The answer - he lacked emotional intellignce.

Our emotional intelligence is our ability to deal with our emotions, for example, how we respond to someone cutting us off in traffic, or our reaction to a close friend betraying us, or how we deal with our anger when our spouse grates against us. Other situations include, our emotional reaction to almost touching a hot stove, or the fear we have when we stand on the balcony 30 stories high. What about the emotions you feel, when you are driving along and a car brakes hard, and all of sudden your previous bad experience of that car accident from 1997 comes fresh to mind? This intelligence is powerful and someone being able to control their emotional responses will no doubt stand in good stead for empowering leadership and interpersonal relationships in the future.

Prior to Goleman's revolutionary teaching on emotional intelligence, IQ was believed to be the most important type of intelligence that existed. Interestingly Stephen Covey goes further in his book The 8th Habit, saying there are four intelligences that we need to focus on (Intelligence Quotient, Emotional Intelligence, Physical Intelligence and Spiritual Intelligence or IQ, EQ, PQ, SQ). Daniel Goleman speaks of a contemporary, Howard Gardner, who in his 1983 book Frames of Mind, wrote that there was not just one 'monolithic kind of intelligence that was crucial for life success' (p. 38), but he listed at least 7 varieties (e.g. verbal and mathematical-logical intelligence, spatial capacity, interpersonal intelligence, intrapersonal intelligence, etc.).

Consider the picture of the brain above. You will see an almond shaped part of the brain called the amygdala, and this part of the brain is related to our responses to emotional situations. When we are confronted with a situation that makes us tense, angry, nervous, or fearful, it is our amygdala that is creating those emotional urges/feelings we have. Emotionally intelligent leaders are able to deal with their response to emotionally laden circumstances better than people or leaders with low emotional intelligence.

Interestingly, the rational part of our brain, and where we make rational decisions, e.g. "I will eat breakfast because it helps kick start my metabolism", is made with the prefrontal cortex (pictured as the prefrontal lobe). Now, when we are thrown into an emotional situation, our brain will generally go to the amgdala 'before' the prefrontal cortex. Now let me explain what happens then... We find out, for example that an employee has stolen from you - the manager. Since the situation makes you quite emotional, the amgydala kicks in almost immediately, before the brain has had the chance to make a rational response to the situation. So as the manager, you might find yourself getting angry and blowing off some steam, and then realizing a moment later that you flew off the handle unexpectedly. The challenge for leaders, is to be emotionally intelligent, and take a deep breath before responding to emotional circumstances. This actually gives time for the brain to consider an appropriate response from the prefrontal cortex, (where the rational decisions are made). So, when someone says, 'Take a deep breath...' it is not just to shut you up, or a cliche, it is actually a physiological fact, that a deep breath, helps your brain to have that split second extra time to make the right and rational response.

Emotionally intelligent leaders take the deep breath. That don't let their initial feelings, hurt and pain be expressed in an unprofessional manner. They allow that extra moment to make a wise, rational response.
This is emotional intelligence and this is why Daniel Goleman rates it so highly amongst the intelligences, because it affects our ability to engage with others, and our ability to lead.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Abraham Lincoln - Failing Forward as a Leader

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Have a read of this quote. What an inspiring picture of a leader who had perseverance and tenacity:

" At the age of seven, a young boy and his family were forced out of their home. The boy had to work to support his family. At the age of nine, his mother passed away. When he grew up, the young man was keen to go to law school, but had no education.
At 22, he lost his job as a store clerk. At 23, he ran for state legislature and lost. The same year, he went into business. It failed, leaving him with a debt that took him 17 years to repay. At 27, he had a nervous breakdown.
Two years later, he tried for the post of speaker in his state legislature. He lost. At 31, he was defeated in his attempt to become an elector. By 35, he had been defeated twice while running for Congress. Finally, he did manage to secure a brief term in Congress, but at 39 he lost his re-election bid.
At 41, his four year old son died. At 42, he was rejected as a prospective land officer. At 45, he ran for the Sentate and lost. Two years later, he lost the vice presidential nomination. At 49, he ran for the Senate and lost again.
At 51, he was elected the President of the United States of America.
The man in question: Abraham Lincoln."   ~ Author Unknown.

What a picture of perseverance. What a picture of patience. I would find myself frustrated and broken, but for Abraham the ability to stand back up and make a difference, is admirable. Political agendas aside, you understand someone who had plenty of leadership knocks (what John C. Maxwell would call 'Failing Forward') but was able to persevere as a leader.

Let us aspire to have that heart for 'continuing on' when times are tough, and when all seems hopeless and useless. Maybe, we are simply developing into the leaders that God intends for us, and these setbacks are actually lifting us to another level.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Competencies of U.S. Military Leaders

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Following on from the previous blog on the U.S. Military's Leadership Philosophy, lets look at some of the competencies that are needed for effective U.S. Military soldiers.

Firstly, following on from the BE-KNOW-DO leadership mantra, there's this quote from General Edward C. Meyer (Chief of Staff, Army 1979-1983):
"Just as the diamond requires three properties for its formation - carbon, heat, and pressure - successful leaders require the interaction of three properties - character, knowledge, and application. Like carbon to the diamond, character is the basic quality of the leader... But as carbon alone does not create a diamond, neither can character alone create a leader. The diamond needs heat. Man needs knowledge, study and preparation... The third property, pressure - acting in conjuction with carbon and heat - forms the diamond. Similarly, one's character attended by knowledge, blooms through application to produce a leader."

Below is what is required of leaders within the U.S. Military.

Attributes of Leadership:
  • A leader of character
    • Army values
    • Empathy
    • Warrior Ethos
  • A leader with presence
    • Military bearing
    • Physically fit
    • Composed, confident
    • Resilient
  • A leader with intellectual capacity
    • Mental agility
    • Sound judgment
    • Innovation
    • Interpersonal tact
    • Domain knowledge
Competencies of Leadership:
  • Leadership
    • Leads others
    • Extends leadership beyond the chain of command
    • Leads by example
    • Communicates effectively
  • Develops others
    • Creates a positive environment
    • Prepares and develops self
    • Develops and invests in others
  • Achieves
    • Gets results!
Leaders from all organisations and walks of life can learn from these core competencies on leadership from the U.S. Army.

The U.S. Army's Leadership Philosophy

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The U.S. Military Philosophy on Leadership is:


Firstly, the values and attributes of a leader will affect positively or negatively on their capacity to lead. Who we are internally and the definining qualities we possess are the foundational aspects of leadership. The 'BE' part of the leadership philosophy relates to our own morality, and a soldier's integrity; it is the internal make-up of a leader.

Secondly, to 'KNOW' is to have the knowledge required to make wise leadership decisions in the heat of moment. It is about understanding organizational expectations, technical systems, the management of resources, HR issues, conflict resolution, strategic problem-solving and so on. To be a good leader in the U.S. Army, as this document suggests, is to firstly have deep moral integrity (to 'BE') and then to have the intellectual prowess to be a good leader.

Thirdly, to round out the leadership philosophy, a soldier must 'DO'. Naturally, simply 'being' and 'knowing' is never enough to achieve the mission at hand; you must 'DO'.

In Christian terms, I have been thinking about what I call DNA. A good leader has Depth, Nurture and Action expressed in their life. Let me explain briefly. A Christian leader has depth with their relationship with God, and they have depth in their relationships with one another. A Christian leader experiences the Nurture that comes from other Christians/believers, who encourage, challenge and inspire. They also receive nurture from God the Holy Spirit, who comes to empower them and 'counsel' them. A Christian leader finally, not only has depth with God, and nurture from other believers, but they go to action. They live out their faith convictions, in order that their realms of influence would be transformed for Jesus' sake. So, DEPTH, NURTURE, ACTION.

Thanks to the U.S. Military for their leadership philosophy that says, BE, KNOW, DO.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Leadership Tips on Creating Change and Innovation

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A good leader inspires people to achieve God given visions. Elmer Towns comments on visionary leadership and says, "Problems arise for leaders, however, because they are imperfect, and exercise imperfect communication to followers who have imperfect powers of observation; thus arriving at imperfect interpretation and imperfect understanding of the task at hand. When an imperfect relationship exists between leaders and followers, the less than perfect situation creates a barrier to change or innovation." (the Role of Innovation in Leadership - Elmer Towns).

At times leaders are misinterpreted, whether that be something that is communicated verbally, or just a misinterpretation of a leader's body language. These can create barriers to effective visionary leadership. Elmer Towns offers some basic presuppositions leaders should grasp when attempting change or innovation.

1. Change or innovation usually begins with the leader. A leader must first be willing to change. I think broadly of leaders being not only willing to change their organizational output, but be willing to change and grow personally (morality, integrity, etc.)

2. Followers must be prepared to change. I have heard of some that say a leader needs to be able to create urgency for change. Some even go so far as to say we should change things around all the time, just to stay in a state of changing. My philosophy is not to change for change sake, but to help people be aware that when change comes along it will be worthwhile!

3. A leader must know what to change. This requires wisdom and discernment and understanding of the group you are leading, what you are aiming to achieve and a decent grasp of the organization of which you are part. They say, "Methods are many, principles are few. Methods can change, but principles never do." It's really that discussion about orthodox belief and methodology. Within the Christian church for example, beliefs stay the same, but methods that are used to help people engage with those beliefs change.

4. A leader must communicate the value of the change/innovation. If the perceived value of the change is less than the perceived value of the way things are, then you have a change issue. All the best trying to inspire followers to change when they believe they are better off the way things are. A leader must communicate, communicate, communicate the great value of the changes. Promote the vision. Inspire the listeners. Let people know things will be better off after the new changes than right now.

5. Celebrate the wins along the way. Discuss the progress. Keep people informed. Through the upheaval of change and innovation there needs to be time to celebrate how far you've come. Celebrate the progress. Continue to show people as you reflect on your progress, that these changes are worth their salt!

God bless you as you strive to lead well, and to manage the change process and the inevitable transitions involved. I hope these leadership tips on the change process have been helpful!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Colossians 3:1-3 - Setting our Minds to Things Above

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Colossians 3:1-3 "So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden in Christ in God."

How easy is it to set our minds on "other things"? You know, the stress and pressures of everyday life, trying to do the best you can in life. I have some idea of the things that take our focus in life. I know what it's like to worry about how you can possibly pay that next power bill. I know what it's like to have more on your plate than what time allows. It is so easy to set our minds on our situations, and ponder things from a human, natural perspective.

The words of Colossians are a great reminder. Set your mind on things that are above - you know, think about God, get a heavenly perspective. Actually we are challenged here to not only have our mind focussed on God, but to seek things that are above! Live our lives for God. Focussed on God and living for God.

While the pressures of everyday life probably won't dissipate anytime soon, let's take on the words of Colossians 3:1-3 and set our lives to reflect God's purposes and will.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

First World Problem

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I was complaing the other day to my wife Jo, when I said, 'Ahh, I burnt my feet, running to buy my icecream from the delivery truck' Her answer was, in a straight and deep voice, 'First world problem.' I have been thinking about that lately.
* The Cafe isn't open yet - First world problem
* My car won't start - First world problem
* They don't have the clothes in my size - First world problem
* I had to wait ten minutes in line at the supermarket - First world problem
* They didn't have lite milk - First world problem

You get the picture. So many of our 'problems' are simply first world issues. Lets have a quick look at it from another angle
* I have no clean drinking water, at all - Third world problem
* I can't feed the family enough food - Third world problem
* I don't earn enough money to get out of this cycle of poverty - Third world (& First world relative poverty).

Thanks Jo - You help me put things in perspective!

How to WIN a FREE Leadership Book!

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It's simple. No catches. Just comment on any post up until and including November 30th, 2011 and you will have the chance to be randomly selected to WIN John C. Maxwell's The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork.

Actually. I'm feeling generous. If there's lots of comments, I will give away TWO of these books!

The more you comment, the more chance you will have of winning - It's that easy. Plus, it's a good leadership read...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Emotionally Strong People - Dealing with Conflict

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I'm beginning to think of the importance of our ability to deal with conflict and the growth of the local church. We focus on growing ministers who have sound doctrine, who understand their theology, and this is great. We spend time learning the ins and outs of the movement we are a part, and that is admirable. I wonder though, whether we are in need of growing leaders who are able to work through conflict. Too many ministers I see, shrug their shoulders, or sweep it under the carpet, or just dismiss the issues like, "That's just Jane..."

Emotionally intelligent people are able to be assertive, and have that difficult conversation. I am not saying I am good at this. No way. My whole educational career has been focusing on developing my IQ. Probably your educational past as well. You know, get better at Mathematics, improve your English, learn your History and so it goes on. The problem is, throughout our lives we have never intently developed our ability to manage our emotions and deal with conflict. What a challenge we have before us; to become not just 'Intelligent' people, but emotionally secure and strong people.

Help us God! 

How Great Thou Art - Carrie Underwood

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Powerful, Powerful, Powerful. Worth the watch!

Law Firms and Trusting God

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I was reading in a Law Magazine from the states, about a group that tried to sue the builders of part of the World Trade Centre for negligence. The judge dismissed the case. Negligence? I'm pretty sure Osama's men may have been the reason for the collapse of the building and not the negligence of a building firm. Talk about being 'sue' happy. Always trying to get money off others...

Talking about the pursuit of money, I think it's absolutely imperative that followers of Jesus seek first the growing of the Kingdom of God. Money is always secondary to that aim. Short of finances? Church not making ends meet? Bills taking over? If we seek first God's Kingdom and aim to please him first, then I believe God will provide for all our needs in Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Genesis 11:1-9 - The Tower of Babel and the Quest for Human Achievement

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Genesis 11:1-9 - The Tower of Babel and the Quest for Human Achievement - Pete's Bible Commentary

Gen 11:1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.
Gen 11:2 As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
Gen 11:3 They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar.
Gen 11:4 Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth."
Gen 11:5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower the people were building.
Gen 11:6 The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.
Gen 11:7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."
Gen 11:8 So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.
Gen 11:9 That is why it was called Babel--because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

Have a think of some of the human achievements over the centuries. We could think right back to the philosophical writings of Plato and Socrates, or maybe consider the impact of Constantine and the beginnings of the established church. Our mind might flicker to Newton discovering gravity, or the development of the printing press in the 1500s that revolutionised how we receive and share information. In more recent days, the quest for human achievement can be witnessed in the discovery of electricity, the Internet, ipads, and iphones and i-everything. We think of names like Edison, Bell, the Wright brothers, Einstein and others. Human achievement is around us every day. Most of it great, and beneficial to our life, other achievements are oppressive and detrimental to society at large.

Genesis 11:1-9 is a story about human achievement. Or atleast, the quest, for human achievement. The tower of Babel was the people of their time, attempting to build a city, and a tower that was great, eye-catching, the talk of the town, the envy of all visitors. Genesis 11:4 picks up their motives, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves..." Have a look at the motive; the intention. Lets build a tower so that WE may make a NAME for OURSELVES. The motive for the establishment of the tower, later called the tower of Babel, was not primarily for community development, or to create a better way of life for its residents, or even to honour God. The building of the tower of Babel, was to make a name for themselves. What self-righteousness! Talk about the quest for self-aggrandizement!

Interestingly though, when you consider 21st Century living, and reflect on the tower of Babel story, you cannot help but think of the similarities. The tallest tower in the world is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai which rests in the sky at 828 metres tall (2717ft.), 227metres taller than its competitor, the Abraj Al-Bait Towers in Mecca. At quick glance, you get the strong feeling, that these kind of feats of human ingenuity are for the pats on the back and the free publicity and the congratulations that one would receive when building such a building. The quest for human achievement and the desire for making a name for oneself, has not left the human psyche, even after thousands of years. The inner desire to prove oneself, to make oneself known and to be popular amongst the masses is rife today more than ever. It is a classic case of a contemporary version of the tower of Babel.

When we look at Genesis 11:1-9, what was God's response to the builders of the tower? Did God say, 'Well done guys, lets call this tower, the tower of success, and lets all drink and have a party to celebrate'? No, God seemed to be frustrated and even angry, that the people would not seek after his plans and purposes, and would seek to make a name for themselves. God scattered the people. God confused their language. The name for the tower, became the tower of Babel; with the word Babel sounding like the Hebrew word for confusion. It was not called the tower of blessing, or the tower of success, or anything remotely worthy of popularity. It was rightly labelled the tower of confusion; the tower of Babel.

We should be challenged today by this story today (Gen 11:1-9). While the people of those days sought to make a name for themselves, God looked on them with disgust. Contrast this with the story of Nehemiah, where he reestablished the walls around Jerusalem, with the help of the Israelite people. God firstly laid on Nehemiah's heart the need for rebuilding the walls. This building project came out of a vision from God. The tower of Babel was birthed from the quest for human achievement and popularity. Nehemiah was empowered by God in the process. At times God strengthened the work of his hands (Neh 6:9). Following the rebuilding of the walls and gates of Jerusalem, the Bible says, 'they realized that his work had been done with the help of our God.' (Neh 6:16). Contrast this with the tower of Babel (Gen 11:1-9), and God is not present until he comes and disturbs the quest for human popularity and self-aggrandizement (Gen 11:7). God also seemed to bring unity amongst the Israelite people under the leadership of Nehemiah (see Neh 8:1-10). The Lord brought the opposite in the tower of Babel escapade. The Lord confused their language (Gen 11:7). The Lord scattered them across the ends of the earth (Gen 11:8).

Today, lets strive to be a Nehemiah, in the sense that if we seek to achieve something, let it be driven by a vision from God, blessed by God and resourced by God. Let our quest for human achievement only be seeking to make God's name great, and seeking to establish the works that he has purposed for us to establish.

This is part of Pete's Bible Commentary. Genesis 11:1-9 and the quest for human achievement.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Creating A Healthy Culture in an Organization - A Culture of Integrity

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One of most important leadership tip anyone could ever give in relation to creating healthy organizational culture, has to be the need for integrity. Now, this might seem simple enough, and we may well agree with the statement. It is when the rubber hits the road, that I wonder whether people really understand the importance of integrity.

Stories upon stories are heard of corrupt CEO's, abusive authoritarian leaders, a lack or morale because what the leader communicates does not match their actions, and the list goes on.

Most leadership books comment on the importance of depth of character, integrity and a sense of morality/conscience and the effect this has on those you are leading. John C. Maxwell devotes a chapter to integrity in Developing the Leader Within You (1993). He says:
  • Integrity builds trust
  • Integrity has high influence value
  • Integrity facilitates high standards
  • Integrity results in a solid reputation, not just image
  • Integrity means living it myself before leading others
  • Integrity helps a leader be credible, not just clever
  • Integrity is a hard-won achievement (p. 35-48).
Why does integrity amongst leaders help create a healthy organizational culture? Firstly, as already noted, trust is built. When the leader says something, you know they will be trustworthy, based on previous experiences. It is demoralizing to not be able to trust a leader, as this becomes an infectious disease within the organization! Secondly, integrity is paramount to this healthy organizational culture, because a leader exemplifies the 'do as I do, not just as I say' kind of rhetoric.

You may not be able to cause someone else to have integrity, but you can cause yourself to have it!

That's the end of this Leadership Training Module Two on Creating Healthy Organizations. Feel free to comment below, and I hope you enjoyed and were challeged by the content.

Creating A Healthy Culture in an Organization - Free Online Leadership Training Module Two

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Welcome to our free online leadership training module. This is module number two, and is about creating a healthy culture in an organization.

STOP! You find yourself here because organizational culture can at times be depressing and draining and you're looking for a solution. Well I will outline some leadership tips for you which, I believe, will be helpful and will equip you in improving the culture of your organization (or atleast assist you in understanding what parts of your organizational culture needs work). I write this, not as some hopeful blogger, that wishes to splat more useless information over the already overloaded internet. I write this as someone who serves God as an Officer in The Salvation Army (in the northern parts of Australia), and has managed employees, and empowered volunteers to reach for their best. I completed a Bachelor of Business, and have read a myraid of books related to empowering people and organizational culture, creating excellence and change management. That is not mentioned, to puff up, but rather to offer some context for the following blog and hopefully some credentials to allow you as the reader to read on, and embrace the few elements in this list.

Creating a healthy culture in an organization is vital, if an organization is going to be effective in the long term. We know stories of businesses that have crumbled because of a lack of integrity by the CEO, or a church that has closed because the senior pastor didn't know how to inspire a great culture within their church. How many morning tea times are full of gossip and frustrated employees who wish their business had a better culture? How many emails are sent daily complaining about the ins and outs of the workplace, all because leaders have not developed a great culture in their workplace? How many secret facebook messages do business people send to their friends, during work times, that relate to issues of culture?

Be encourages as you read through this free online leadership training module on "Creating a Healthy Culture in an Organization".

Click here for the first leadership tip for creating that healthy culture.


Creating A Healthy Culture in an Organization - A Culture of Big Vision

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Here's another leadership tip for creating a healthy culture in an organization. This one is a culture of BIG Vision.

Culture of a Big Vision - Without vision the people wander aimlessly says an old proverb. Without vision it is very easy to cruise through life, and to step back a year later and say, 'Have I actually gone anywhere?' 'Have I actually achieved anything that is purposeful?' While vision in itself is not enough to arrive at a place of effectiveness; vision helps inspire you, your team, your family, your co-workers, to reach for new heights.

If you aim at nothing you'll hit it every time. Vision is important to me, because if I aim at nothing, I'll reach it! Though, if I aim at cloud number seven, and only reach cloud number 3, I've still gone further than if I have aimed at nothing! So vision, personally, provides an injection of passion and direction, that when aligned with strategy can produce great results.

A big vision in an organization helps produce a healthy culture, primarily because employees, from the cleaners to HR professionals to managers stop talking about what brand of coffee they are drinking, and start talking about the possibilities of the organization in which they work. It lifts their eyes from the mediocrity of mundane day-to-day work, to consider adapting their work choices, in order that vision can be accomplished. For more on vision, read through the free online leadership training module on vision - click here.

  • Does your organization have a culture of big vision?
  • What do people talk about when they are grabbing their coffee? Is it about the organization's future and possibilities and potential? Is it a healthy discussion?
There are two more posts related to creating healthy organizational culture. And are probably the two most important! Click here for the next one.


Creating A Healthy Culture in an Organization - A Culture of Execution

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Another Leadership Tip for Creating A Healthy Culture in an Organization - A culture of execution
Culture of Execution - This is the mantra that says, 'If you say you're going to do it, then do it'. This builds trust amongst the people of an organization. It's about following through with agenda items, and implementing the ideas into concrete realities. Within a business, a culture of execution might look like the announcement of a new product range - an idea that could transform the business! A healthy culture of execution gets the job done! The idea doesn't just sit on the desk, or in the heart of the leader, it is communicated, thought through, researched and if appropriate, is actioned. A culture of execution inspires people to move from ideas and abstract concepts to implemented tangible practices.

Within a church, for example, a culture of execution is needed, because so many visions and dreams sit on the leader's desk, or even in the minds of the people. There needs to be encouragement to follow through and make it happen, with God's help, so the dream is not just some pie-in-the-sky concept.

Following through on tasks and commitments are important. Employees within organizations are disempowered if leader's don't attend the meetings they say they will, or if the leadership committee put forward another grandiose idea that everyone know will never happen. A culture of execution, lets people know, that people will do what they say. They will complete the assignments set for them, they will make the appropriate changes, because they believe in a culture of execution. This is a helpful leadership tip for creating a healthy culture in an organization! 
  • Do you follow through with the ideas, strategies, visions you communicate? 
  • Why do you think people are disempowered when there is a lack of a culture of execution? 
There's still more on creating healthy organizational culture. Click here for another leadership tip.


Creating A Healthy Culture in an Organization - A Culture of Planning

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Here are some leadership tips for creating a healthy culture in an organization.

Firstly, an organization needs to have a culture of planning. Ever heard, without a plan you plan to fail? Too many businesses go about everyday business without planning. Two questions need to be asked. Firstly where is our intended destination and secondly, how are we going to get there? The first question is a vision question, the second is a planning question.

You can't climb Mount Everest without a plan, nor should we cruise through our workdays without planning how we will achieve what we are hoping to achieve. While the implications of bad planning (or no planning) for the Everest Climber is death, for an organization bad or no planning might mean a loss of income, loss of personnel, etc. A culture of planning, is a culture of strategic thinking. It is about looking at the mission, vision and values of the organization, and saying, 'How are we going to achieve this?' 'What is our strategy?' 'What is our plan?' High performing organizations execute plans well, and adapt them as circumstances change. They create a culture within their organization of strategic thinking and planning.

The reason a lack of planning creates dysfunctional organizational culture, is because spontaneity reigns, and while this can at times be managed, quite often it simply means there is organizational choas and lack of direction. A culture of planning is needed.

"Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed" - Proverbs 16:3

Continue on with more on creating a healthy culture in an organization. Click here.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - A Summary Stephen R. Covey


Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a well know leadership book, that unpacks the theory behind personal leadership development. This will be a brief overview of the 1989 classic.

Habit 1 - Be proactive - Henry David Thoreau says, 'I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor'. While the quote is on the verge of putting self-improvement on too high a pedestal, the idea is grounded. If someone has had a traumatic life like the story of Victor Frankl, who was forced into the Nazi Germany death camps, they still can be proactive in choosing their response to the situation. This is what makes Victor Frankl so well known, because he understood the only thing he had control over in his life, was his mind, and so he chose how he would respond to the Nazis. 'He could decide within himself how all of this was going to affect him' (p. 69). Being proactive or what has been labelled 'proactivity' is about understanding that we have the freedom to choose to have self-awareness, imagination, a conscience and an independent will. Our behavior becomes a function of our decisions, not our conditions. We learn that to be highly effective people, we need to be proactive about our mental, emotional and moral lives.
Eleanor Roosevelt (p. 72) said, 'No one can hurt you without your consent'. Tough quote for those who have lived through years of abuse and pain, but the essence of being proactive, and being the controller of your repsonses is admirable, and a challenge for each of us (like when someone cuts you off while driving!).
Lastly, in relation to Habit 1, 'Be Proactive', we can choose whether we become acted upon, or whether we are the ones who act. You witness this within a company that is struggling with the current financial market. They either wait to be acted upon by the financial situation, or they choose to be proactive and act.

Habit 2 - Begin with the end in mind - Covey encourages people to think about the sacred moment of their funeral. What would people say in the eulogy? What would be the legacy that you would have left? Would people be saying the things that you hoped they would? When we float through life with no end in mind, we may find ourselves 10 years from now contemplating whether we have done all that we could have. By beginning with the end in mind, we may end up changing our decisions/priorities for today and we might run a different course tomorrow. In fact, next month, we might schedule that all important meeting we have been putting off, so that we can reach the end we have in mind. To quote Covey in the 7 Habits, 'By keeping that end clearly in mind, you can make certain that whatever you do on any particular day does not violate the criteria you have defined as supremely important, and that each day of your life contributes in a meaningful way to the vision you have of your life as a whole' (p. 98).

The way Stephen Covey believes you can bring greater purpose and direction in life is to write a personal mission statement. When writing this you may consider your impact upon family, friends, work, church, etc.
Join our discussion at Disciples in Training on Facebook.

Habit 3 - Put First Things First - So Habit 1 is about your ability to develop imagination, conscience, independent will and self-awareness. Habit 2 is about envisioning the potential we have, and considering what impact we want to have in life. Habit 3, is really the outworking of Habits 1 and 2. It is about putting into tangible existence our desires, and our personal mission. When we fully embrace being proactive, beginning with the end in mind, and then putting first things first, we begin to make adjustments to our daily schedule.

While administration may be important, for example, in your organisation, it is most likely a means to an end, and there is probably a greater cause you wish to fight for. Put first things first, and delegate or minimise your time in administration and do what brings a greater return and a greater personal fulfilment. Stephen Covey highlights the four quadrants of time management, which allow us to put what is most important and most urgent at the forefront. This is quadrant one. Lets have a brief look at the four quadrants of time management by Stephen Covey:
  •    Quadrant I: The Urgent and the Important Tasks.
  •    Quadrant II: The Not Urgent but Important Tasks.
  •    Quadrant III: The Urgent Tasks but Not Important Tasks.
  •    Quadrant IV: The Not Urgent and Not Important Tasks.
Interestingly, quite often we get bogged down in the urgent and important tasks, even if they are not life-changing tasks, and the challenge is the Quadrant II activities. The important tasks, e.g. the architecture of a new building, are tasks that are not urgent and thus they somehow find themselves on the bottom of the to-do list. It's the tyranny of the urgent. You must purposefully put time aside time for the Quadrant II activities, highlighter in this Time Management Matrix from Covey. Put aside an hour a day, and tackle some important tasks, that are not urgent, but are future oriented, that will make a great difference when completed in the future. As Habit 3 says, 'Put First things First.'

Habit 4 - Think Win/Win - This is the not the advice I received in my University class on business negotiation. A win-win situation was merely an option among the other options of win-lose, lose-lose and lose-win. Covey really drives this point home, that we can work hard in our public work to discover win-win situations. It takes time, and collaboration and lots of communication. Covey unpacks this more in The 8th Habit. He says the old paradigm is the win-lose scenario. But if organisations, families, churches, etc, can find a deeper level of communication and understanding of the other side's perspective, they can solve interpersonal conflict and negotiation with a win-win. Covey goes on to say, that a higher level of the win-win scenario is either Win/Win or No Deal. Covey writes, 'No Deal basically means that if we can't find a solution that would benefit us both, we agree to disagree agreeably - No Deal' (p. 213).

Habit 5 - Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood - It's a powerful concept. Reading Covey's story on page 30 brought this concept home for me. The story was about when Covey boarded a subway train in New York one Sunday morning. Initially he was sitting there peacefully until suddenly a father with his children entered the carriage. The children were very ratty and mischevious, and you could imagine the frustration of being interupted for a nice peaceful Sunday morning trip. I bet he couldn't help but think, 'Why is this Dad not looking after his kids?! My goodness, I could do a better job than that!' Finally Covey had had enough of the noisy, rowdy, disobedient children, and he said to the father, 'Sir, your children are really disturbing a lot of people. I wonder if you couldn't control them a little more?' What came next was a shock. The Dad began telling Covey that his wife had just died very recently in hospital, and that they were just trying to deal with their sudden loss. What a reality check for Covey! (p. 30-31). Quick to make a judgment call, and quick to voice out the problem; clearly without first seeking to understand what was happening. The assumptions we make in situations is rife, and we need to seek first to understand.

What a dynamic, challenging personal quest, to seek first to understand, then to be understood. You know the challenge, to stop and listen. I am challenged personally of the amount of times I am listening to someone, then I begin forming my reply sentences in my mind, while the other person is still talking, and I find myself tuning out to what the person is 'really' saying, and being far too quick to offer the remedy and the solution! Active listening is the communication tool that comes to mind. Not just, kind of listening, or half listening, but active listening. Active listening is attentive and focused and seeks to deeply understand the other person first. Covey highlights this as empathic listening.
More on Stephen Covey. A review of the 8th Habit. Click here.
Habit 6 - Synergize - In our fast-paced do it yourself kind of western world, the synergy idea is sometimes thrown out the window. 'I mean, I can do it better myself!' Synergy is powerful though, because it is really that the 'whole is greater than the sum of its parts' (p. 263). If 10 people are putting together websites to voice their opinions on the entertainment industry, for instance, they might achieve say a readership of 10,000 people each. Great. Each is happy with that. Imagine the 10 entertainment commentators got together and created a new brand and commentry site, that created synergy. Synergy would mean they would end up with far more than 100,000 total readers, but say 200,000.

Synergy is needed in organisations like churches for instance, so that resources are shared, finances are not unnecessarily wasted, etc. Organisations need synergy, so that departments aren't doubling up, with say, two payrolls systems, and each department enjoying their own IT section; instead they should be streamlining their processes and creating synergy. Synergy would happen in the Universities, for example, as professors and doctors share their intellect, and work together to create better course notes, and better faculties and ultimately better Universities. Synergy is about working together to achieve more as a whole than the sum of all the parts.

Habit 7 - Sharpen the Saw - Sharpening the saw is really all about what Stephen Covey's 8th Habit covers. We have four dimensions in life, our physical nature, our social/emotional nature, our mental nature and our spiritual nature. We are challenged to sharpen these four aspects of our lives. In the physical realm, we may sharpen this by having a daily walk or watching what we eat. We all know, that if we don't watch the physical side of our life, we will be unable to make any difference elsewhere. Socially/emotionally we may endeveour to lift our emotional intelligence (hat tip Daniel Goleman), that is, our ability to interact well with others, to work through conflict, etc. Thirdly, our mental nature might be enhanced by reading leadership literature or books in general, or by visualizing, thinking, planning, writing, etc. Lastly, our spiritual nature might be developed through an engagement in prayer and asking God to clarify our greater purpose in life. We sharpen the saw, so that we can be highly effective people. We sharpen the saw, so that we grow in life, and reach our full potential.

I hope you have enjoyed this summary of what is a great book - Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (1989).

The next article is Stephen Covey's 4 Human Intelligences, found in his book The 8th Habit. Click here.

New Leadership Training Module - VISION

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Hi Blog Readers.

I have just written a Leadership Training Module on VISION. It's short, and punchy. Maybe you would like to click through it and have a read, and make a comment.

To begin the Leadership Training Module One - Vision - Click here.


God bless!

Final Post on Leadership Module One - VISION

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Thanks for reading through this short Leadership Module on Vision. Remember, vision inspires and dreams motivate.

I would love the comment box below be a GUESTBOOK for those who have read this short Leadership Module on Vision.

Please comment below, with some thoughts, and your name. Maybe also, share your vision and your dreams for the future!

Thanks for reading through Leadership Module One - VISION.

Below is a really quick survey for you.

Welcome - Leadership Training Module One - VISION

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Welcome to Leadership Training Module One - VISION. The next few blogs will take you through some of the aspects of vision, and the need to keep vision at the forefront of our work. Vision inspires. Dreams can motivate. People catch on to potential, and they follow. Click through the VISION Training Module, and comment below any of the posts as you feel led.

Click here to begin Leadership Training Module One - VISION.

Poem on Vision - A Visionary's Heartache

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The Visionary's Heartache.

It’s the pain of an unrealised dream.
It’s reality, when reality isn’t what you envisaged it to be.
It’s the crying at night, when the vision is burning in your heart.
It’s the potential you sense, but the potential that is yet to be seen.
It’s the faith you have for the salvation of many, with the voice that says, ‘it may not happen’


What if the pain subsides and the dream begins to unfold?
What if reality begins to express itself in all that you envisioned it?
What if the crying at night is followed by an inexpressible joy?
What if the potential you sense, becomes more than potential?
What if the faith you have for the salvation of many is no longer a naive dream?

You finally step back and take your hands off the wheel and let God drive the success. A revelation hits you that it is not your dream anyway; it is the Lord’s. Any realisation of a Kingdom dream is then dependent, not upon you insomuch as upon the presence of the Holy Spirit and the grace of the Lord Jesus.

A visionary’s heartache may never subside, but what an exciting adventure to release the control of the wheel and lean upon God for the eventual fulfilment of that vision...

For the final post on Leadership Module One - Vision - Click here.

Vision that Stagnates

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'Decline is never the only answer' is an article from Leadership It mentions that nothing defeats the human spirit like stagnation. You know, that place you find yourself in, where nothing is moving, nothing is changing, nothing seems to be working, so you stop; you stagnate. (Find the article here).

What needs to change first, is growth of the spirit inside the leader doing the work. That's so true. If the leader has lost the vision, don't expect others to keep the vision very long. When the leader grows in their ability to persevere and be strong, and be passionate, then they will battle against stagnation and decline.

Leaders who have fallen into a pit of despair need to pick themselves up and keep moving.

Don't fall into the trap of denial - trying to justify to everyone that nothing is really wrong, that nothing really needs to change. Try not to fall into a place where you lack motivation. See the dream, and live it out. Let the vision and working towards its fulfilment be an absolute roller coaster, exciting journey! Don't be dismayed when fewer people are signing up.

Consider whether there is something in your leadership style or behaviour that needs to change. Consider whether there is a different approach to the fulfilment of the vision. Maybe you need to head south-west, instead of south-east, so to speak. Consider whether you have let circumstances dictate your feeling about your vision - maybe its time to reengergize people with the value of what the vision/dream will mean, what it will affect, how things will be different when it is fulfilled.

Don't let vision stagnate.
  • Is your vision at the forefront of your communication and thinking?
Continue on with Leadership Training Module One on VISION. The next blog is an Inspiring Poem on Vision

Obstacles to Fulfilling Vision

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Commissioner Joe Noland of The Salvation Army, said:

"Do not let your vision be hindered by your resources

Do not let your vision be hindered by your experience
Do not let your vision be hindered by your self-esteem"

When we attempt to fulfil the vision laid on our heart, we inevitable hit roadblocks at times. The question is not whether we will have obstacles in our quest to fulfil vision, but how we will overcome them. Some of the obstacles we might have to reaching our dreams/visions are:
  • Lack of personnel - lack of trained staff, committed volunteers, etc.
  • Lack of resources - finances, buildings, tools/equipment, personnel, etc.
  • Lack of insight - the lack of wisdom and understanding of how to strategically plan to fulfil the vision - i.e. the vision is out of your current capacity!
  • Lack of confidence - young leaders especially question themselves at times, to their current capacity to actually work towards the vision they have.
  • Lack of support/buy-in to the vision - If the vision doesn't touch the heart of the people, and doesn't inspire them, then you may have a tough time reaching the vision on your heart.
We can overcome most obstacles. We need time to sit in our lazy chair and consider the options. We need to plan and learn and discover. I am reminded of Thomas Edison who didn't discover the Light Bulb on his first go; not even on his 20th attempt. It took him hundreds of adaptations to finally fulfil his dream of inventing the light bulb! So, do not give up on your vision, especially if it is a God-honouring, kind of vision.
  • What are the obstacles you currently face to fulfilling the vision on your heart?
Continue on with Leadership Training Module One on VISION. The next blog is Vision that Stagnates.

Without Vision the People Wander Aimlessly

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The old proverb says that without vision the people perish; or as some say, without vision the people wander aimlessly.

I spent some time with our leadership team recently speaking about the vision of our church for next year, and the years to come. Why? Well, without a clear vision, it is so easy to wander aimlessly. It is so easy to merely work and work, and become busy 'doing' lots of things, and the question is whether you are achieving what you should be achieving. A vision keeps you on track. A mission statement highlights what your main purpose is, but a vision gives you an idea of the preferable future for your organisation.

A vision also motivates the troops. Without a dynamic vision, people will wander aimlessly not really understanding their purpose within your organisation. A vision helps people be on the same page, and to be striving for the same goals. A good vision will ignite passion in you to see change and transformation. A good vision will see people signing up to be a part of it.
  • What are you doing to inspire vision in the organisation that you are a part of?
  • Do you find there is a greater clarity and direction when you have a clear and purposeful vision?
Continue on with Leadership Module One on VISION. Click here for the next post on VISION - Vision Obstacles

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tithing - An Intriguing Aspect of Giving - Genesis 14:1-24 - Pete's Bible Commentary

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Could I think of a more controversial topic to discuss? Tithing. Firstly, the question is, why is tithing so controversial for so many people? For some, I sense that to tithe (or to give the first 10% of your income to God) comes to the heart of the Christian life; that is, will we put God first in our lives? When the rubber hits the road, we can talk about reading the Bible, lifting up prayers and helping those in need, and these are great expressions of the Christian life, though giving of our financial resources challenges what we do with what we have been given. What will I do with that $1000 for the fortnight? Will I let go of $100 of it, and tithe it to the local church?

Now, we are going to explore some biblical texts related to tithing. This post does not seek to be a complete intellectual expose of everything tithing, but rather I would like to offer an intriguing aspect of giving.

Before I look at this intriguing aspect of giving, lets consider Moses and his trip up Mount Sinai. On this mountaintop God (YHWH) released a blue print to him that would become the codes for living for the Israelite people. What was offered to Moses, for the Israelite community was the 'Law'. The word law conjures up primarily negative images in our contemporary minds, but back then, many of the laws offered were related to health and wellbeing, and were offered to the people of Israel thousands of years before they had the luxuries of 'surfing the Internet' to find a solution to their leprosy!

Within these laws, God taught his people to tithe. He asked for people to tithe, and he desired people to tithe to him. A tithe was the giving of the first ten per cent of their produce that they received off the land. Actually at times, God required people to ‘tithe’ or sacrifice a tenth of their livestock, not just their grain. That’s a lot of steak sandwiches right there!

What does the Old Testament texts say about tithing?

Leviticus 27:30 - 30 "'A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.

Deuteronomy 12:5-7 - 5 But you are to seek the place the LORD your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go; 6 there bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and donations, what you have vowed to give and your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. 7 There, in the presence of the LORD your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the LORD your God has blessed you.

So giving of a tithe and above that, offerings, was a celebration of the fact that God had blessed you. What a concept! Giving a tithe to the priesthood, was not a legalistic thing (atleast that was not what God was wanting), but rather so that people would firstly, put God number one, and secondly use this giving as an opportunity to be thankful for all the blessings God has given.

BUT this is NOT what has been intriguing me. I mean, I know about tithing, and giving ten percent. I know that it is a way to celebrate and put God first in our lives. I know that. I also believe that tithing is a concept/law that passes on to the New Testament believer. Though I am not going to enter into that debate. I think it is somewhat irrelevant, because generous giving in the New Testament seems to be above and beyond 10% anyway! The picture of the NT Scriptures is that tithing was seemingly the bare minimum for a mature follower in Christ. I mean, I have never sold a house and laid the money at anyone's feet before! (Acts 4:34-35).  

BUT this is NOT what has been intriguing me about tithing.

Stop and have a read of the following story in Genesis 14:11-20:
Genesis 14:11-20 11 The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. 12 They also carried off Abram's nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom. 13 One who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite, a brother of Eshcol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people. 17 After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley). 18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. 20 And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand." Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

Did you read the passage? Let me unpack it for you. Abram (soon to be named Abraham), finds out his nephew Lot had been captured, along with his possessions. Abram rallied a few hundred of his trained men to attack the kings who had captured Lot, and obtained back Lot's rightful possessions. What happens next intrigues me. Melchizedek, who was a priest of 'God Most High' blesses Abram, and mentions that God was the one who blessed him in battle that day. It was the Creator of heaven and earth who delivered the enemies into Abram's hands. What was Abram's response? "Thanks Melchizedek, we should do coffee some time..." No, his response was that he gave the priest a tenth of everything. Imagine how much livestock this would have been? There would have been enough sheep to make New Zealand proud. What an amazing response by Abram. Melchizedek, the priest, makes Abram aware of the fact that God had blessed him in battle, and Abram's response was to give back to God.

What intrigues me the most about this tithe is this... Abram tithed before it became law. We know that Moses had not gone up the Mountain yet. Moses had not passed on the law to the people of Israel. In fact, Moses wasn't even born yet! Abram did not have the law in front of him that read, 'You shall give a tenth of your livestock to God'. This is the point - When Abram became aware that God was blessing him, he gave back to him to show his appreciation. This was Abram's automatic response; one of generosity. God blessed me, therefore I will bless God.

This is the point of tithing. It is not a law, per se. It is not a religious duty. It is an act of thankfulness. It is an act of giving that expresses gratitude to God, for being created, for the blessing in life, for having anything of value in the first place! Let us learn from the intriguing story of Abram, when he realised God had blessed him, so he gave God a tenth of his possessions.

I can learn something about generosity from this story in Genesis 14:1-24.
This glance at Genesis 14:1-24, Leviticus 27:30 and Deuteronomy 12:5-7 on tithing/giving, is part of a growing collection from Pete's Bible Commentary.
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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Law No. 10 - The Law of Connection - John C. Maxwell's 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

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The Law of Connection says, 'Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand'.

John Maxwell is on to something here! I listened to a Christian evangelist preaching up a storm recently, and he knew something of the law of connection. He was preaching to a group of teenagers, most of who had never heard him preach, other than maybe looking at YouTube prior to the event. Did he just simply dive into his message? Did he just walk up to the stage, offload his theological persuasions, hoping someone might respond? He did quite the opposite. He began by playing his saxophone, to some background music, and got the crowd involved in singing some well known radio tunes. Why? Was it because he lacked enough content for a full sermon? No. He was building a connection with the listening audience. Then when he came to the crux of his message, he had people willing to respond. His name is Reggie Dabbs - YouTube him if you dare.

You may not be in the Christian ministry context, but the principle is the same. That's why Dale Carnegie (How to Win Friends and Influence People), highlights the point that if you walk into an unknown person's office, and you are seeking something from them, e.g. to sign over their money, you need to build a connection with them. He says that to make this connection you should quickly scan the room, and find something that you can talk about that connects with the person. I remember for instance walking into the office of a School Principal's office. I had never built a connection with this Principal before. As I entered the office, I scanned the room and saw a Certificate for being trained in Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People literature. I immediately leveraged off this to build a connection. I asked, 'How long have you been training people on the 7 Habits? It's a good book hey?' Very quickly I had built a connection. He began talking with excitement about The 7 Habits, and how he uses it to empower people to be better leaders.

While developing the connection with people is again, not rocket science, but John Maxwell is on the right track, and so many people miss it. They enter an important meeting with an executive and they talk more about themselves than anything else, and no connection is built. Or what about when you have two people on two different occassions speak on pretty much the same topic, and one of the communicators has connected with you so much more effectively? There are many factors involved in this connection, and some of them are:
  • Your respect for the communicator. The higher the respect, the greater the connection.
  • Their ability to emotionally connect with you, the listener. The greater the emotional connection, the greater the connection, e.g. they may share a story about being a foster child when they grew up, and if you were a foster child, you probably will feel an emotional connection.
  • The personality of the communicator and listener. Sometimes different personalities can either inspire us, or grate against us. An example being, that an organised, methodological kind of personality, may communicate about time management, and struggle to build a connection with a spontaneous, laissez- faire personality type. A communicator/leader who can build a connection with others across differing personality types is a seasoned professional!! 
  • Similiar likes and hobbies is an easy way that connections are built with others. You can hone in on the similarities and an emotional connection is established. We see this around the BBQ, when guys are talking about football, or cars, and a connection is built. 
Establishing a connection with another person is vital in leadership. A CEO who fails to emotionally connect or inspire his management team is on a road to failure. A Pastor who struggles to connect with their congregation, will constantly struggle to have support and 'buy-in' for their God-given dreams. A leadership trainer, who gather 15 people together for a session on 'Management styles in the 21st Century' for example, needs to build a connection with the listeners. The 15 will learn more if they emotionally connect with the trainer! That's a fact, and we all know it!!

So, how well do you connect with the different audiences/groups/meetings you take part in throughout your day? There are different techniques that can be used to connect with different size groups as well, and those of us who are leaders in these differing groups, must employ each of them to connect well in each context. Briefly, communicating to a large group, you might share a personal story that many can relate to. In a mid-size group, you might spend a moment thanking the people in the room that have helped to make the business/organisation what it is today. In a one-on-one meeting, you might, as mentioned, focus on the hobbies and passion of the one you are speaking with.

The Law of Connection from John Maxwell, puts some framework around what is intuitive to great leaders. You must connect with others before you can expect them to follow.
Acknowledgement goes to John C. Maxwell's 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, from which he writes Law No. 10 - The Law of Connection.
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