Saturday, March 19, 2016

Leadership Lesson 101 - You Can't Manage TIME!

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once said to a friend, 'I don’t have enough time'. Well, the response was classic. He said that everyone has '24 hours in the day'. Everybody has the same amount of time. It's not about how much time you have, but how you prioritize your time that is important. You can’t manage time. The clock ticks over, every second of every day. You cannot manage that or control that.

We can manage our priorities around the time we have. That's priority management. God has blessed us with time. While God may preside outside of time, time has been given to us and we live within the confines of it. As leaders we have the free will to decide how we work, rest and play within ‘time’. It is our choice. What priorities are the most important? What work should I complete first? Which email is urgent? What personnel need my attention most?
Even as I write this I have to practice what I preach. I was sitting in two meetings recently, where each meeting not only informed me of particular organizational expectations, but each meeting came with a list of items that needed my attention. As I sat in the second meeting, sipping an instant coffee, with my mind wandering, I received a couple of emails. My phone buzzed. I quickly had a glance, and the email both had attachments with paperwork that was expected to be completed. How I now prioritize my work within the time I have is important.

Some quick tips on Time Management (Priority Management):
- Check your emails only 2-3 times a day
- Anything that can be completed in 60 seconds, complete it straight away
- Don’t worry about something longer than the time it takes to complete
- Delegate actions items that are not urgent nor overly important
- Stay focused on completing something when you start it
- Consider the MoSCoW leadership tool – What Must you do? What Should you do? What Could you do? What Would you do?

- A long term tip - Work your way out of a job. Train up people around you. In the long term you won't have to complete some tasks, because you have trained up someone else!
- Drink coffee (Ok, that's just my added tip for all aspects of leadership).

What does the Bible say?

2 Timothy 4:2-5 -
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction…..But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

What will I do now?

How will you prioritize work, rest and play within the time that God has given you?

* This is Day 22 of my series 100 Days of Leadership

Monday, March 14, 2016

Model the Way - The Leadership Challenge for all Leaders

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I have a friend who challenged me recently to continue my series on leadership. Here's Leadership Post number 21. Click here for more on the 100 days of leadership series. 

When I’m looking for an example of someone who showed selfless, compassionate support to people in need, I think about Mother Theresa. When I want to emulate perseverance in the midst of conflict, I look to military and political leaders who have pursued the advancement of their cause despite huge obstacles.

Good leaders 'model the way'. This is one of five practices of exemplary leadership as noted by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. Modelling the way is about firstly clarifying values and then aligning your behaviours and actions with those values. Your behaviours will highlight your values irrespective of whether you clarify them, but by spending a few moments to consider what you value, you can see whether your behaviours align with those values. If they don’t, then something needs to change!

From a faith perspective, I have been a part of a church that says that ‘Prayer is our number one value.’ Though, when only 2 people turn up to the prayer meeting, you know the value is merely an aspirational value. The behaviours that are being modelled are what characterizes what you value. The prayer meeting has since grown and what once was aspirational is becoming a core value.

Great leaders, ‘…create standards of excellence and then set an example for others to follow.’ ( Nelson Mandela chose forgiveness and reconciliation even when he was imprisoned for 27 years. I have witnessed Salvation Army leaders who have had someone say something negative to their face, and their response was one of compassion, understanding and respect.

I long to be a leader who models the behaviours of great leaders.

Recently my daughter said directly to me, ‘Can I have a drink of water?’
I replied, ‘Please, can I have a drink of water?’
Please, can I have a drink of water?’ She said a little indignantly. I wanted her to know that using your manners was important.
Five minutes later. I looked over to my wife, and said, ‘Can you pass over the sauce?’ My wife gave me a look. My brain couldn’t cope. I’ve seen this look before. What was I doing wrong? Why was I receiving this sour face? Like a typical man in a marriage, I think I have messed up, and I don’t even know how.
She put me out of my misery… ‘Please, can I have some sauce?’
‘Oh yeah. Please can I have some sauce?’

Leaders model the way.

What does the Bible say?

Philippians 4:9 – Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

What will I do now?
What are your standards of excellence? How can you better model the way to your areas of influence?

Friday, March 11, 2016

What the Church can learn from Donald Trump


Donald Trump has got the world talking. He's even got me blogging about him. He'd probably be happy with that.
He's the Republican front runner in the primaries leading up to the American Presidential Election. He's stirring up all sides of politics.
While Hillary Clinton battles it out with 74 year old left-wing candidate Bernie Sanders for the Democratic candidacy, the rest of us are scratching our heads. What if Donald Trump becomes the Republican candidate? Without making your head bleed, you could scratch further and contemplate what life would be like if Donald Trump became President. Is the United States of America ready for such a President?

I've been bemused by what I have been hearing. Granted, the snippets I hear from the media are mere sound bites in the overall presidential race. Though you could make it into a new t.v. show. Finally we have found a replacement for The Days of our Lives. The 2016 Presidential Election.

So this has got me thinking. I was always taught that you can learn from anyone. Furthermore, if you ever got to the point where you no longer were teachable, then you had to change and humble yourself. Donald Trump challenges this premise.

With this in mind, I ask the question: What can the church learn from Donald Trump?

Donald Trump would build a wall between Mexico and the U.S.A. Jesus would establish reconciliation. 

There's a fundamental difference between reconciling two parties and building a wall of division. I know Nehemiah built a wall (along with scores of helpers), but I am not sure that strengthens the argument for wall-building. See the ministry of Jesus was about reconciling the world to God, but also about breaking down religious and political structures that fundamentally hurt and excluded people. Jesus implored his disciples many times, that people will know that you are my disciples if you built walls; I mean if you showed love for one another. Donald Trump helps us remember the stark difference of the ministry of Jesus.

Donald Trump has ignited the discontent among American voters. He says what he thinks, and some conservatives value the fact that he speaks his mind irrespective of what that mind is speaking.

Let me help you understand what I'm saying. Some Americans respect Donald Trump for being a sharp shooter. For saying what he thinks. Though the fascinating thing is, some Americans care more that he is speaking his mind, than what he is actually saying! And what can the church learn from this?

I think people the world over want transparency within the church. We know some of the abuse and corruption of years gone by. We know some of the misuse of power and exclusion of the vulnerable in church denominations. People don't want leaders of churches to cover these things up. The public expects truth and openness about the failures. There is more respect when this happens. That's what Donald Trump shows us - leaders do garner credibility when they speak from the heart and with conviction.

Now, I disagree with much of what Donald Trump says. I also think it's na├»ve to simply admire Donald Trump for speaking passionately, when damage can be caused when what is passionately spoken about is disrespectful, demeaning and verging on immoral. Though I will say this: Donald Trump shows us the power of a leader that speaks with conviction; yet we cannot compromise ethics and compassion with mere conviction alone.

Donald Trump shows the church, that some Christians JUST DON'T GET IT.

How do I say this without being extradited to a foreign country? Now, you are welcome to respectfully disagree with me here. How can a Spirit-filled, compassionate follower of Jesus reconcile support of Donald Trump with their Christian faith? I am genuinely interested. Donald Trump has ridiculed others, he has contradicted himself more than any other candidate, he has wielded power to canvass votes (though one may argue that's the same with the Democrats), he has been racist, rude, divisive and the list goes on...

I think Donald Trump shows us, that some Christians have some very passionate political views, and will hold fast to them come hell or high-water. For some that even means compromising good ethics, morality, compassion and the teachings of Jesus.

Donald Trump shows the church that how you lead is important.

We could contrast the leadership of Donald Trump with Jesus. One may argue on why we would bother, but we can learn some things in the process. I could not imagine Trump, nor many of the leaders in the current political scene doing the following:

  • Choosing twelve leaders to help them, from a mixed bag of uneducated, simple workers and call them on a three year journey. Not only that, but after three years, give them the authority to run with the mission
  • Calling the establishment of the day to reform their practices in order to show greater compassion to a wider diversity of people
  • Call on people to live out moral values of love and compassion
  • Show leadership skills and lead people on a mission, without vying for position and power

Leadership shown by Jesus is categorically different to the Donald Trumps of this world. I know which one I want to replicate.

There are two things I was always told not to talk about: religion and politics. I have failed on both accounts today. Please forgive me.

You no doubt have some comments to make. Comment below.  

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Monday, March 7, 2016

What is God whispering to The Salvation Army?


What is God saying in these days to The Salvation Army? What is the Holy Spirit whispering to this movement in the early parts of 2016?

I think this is critical to consider. Like Moses once said, 'If your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here' (Exodus 33:15). We want to embrace all that God is saying to us and apply all that we discern is being revealed to us.

Let me stop there for a moment. As Salvationists, we become so pragmatic in our service to God, we can neglect listening to God. I make a general statement here, though I have seen it time and time again. We run around like Martha, trying to prepare a meal for Jesus, yet Mary was the one who had done what Jesus desired. She had sat at his feet, to learn from him and to hear from him.
So with that in mind, What is God saying?

If you permit me, I want to offer my thoughts as I have been praying. They're far from conclusive, and you might want to add your own thoughts in the comments section.

I hesitate to start with something from Revelation, because you probably think I'm about to predict the day and time of the return of Jesus. But have a read of this, that John wrote to the church in Ephesus:

I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (Revelation 2:2-5)

Pastor Jim Cymbala, a few years ago, gave this word to The Salvation Army:

'Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord; Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn.' (Isaiah 51:1)

I constantly think of a similar word; that God is calling us to fix our eyes on Jesus. Simple. Yet if we fail, we lose the entire foundation on which The Salvation Army was built.

We must look to Jesus. We cannot look to large, growing churches in affluent communities for tips on future methodology. We cannot merely look at our current practices, shine them up a little and expect different results. We must look to Jesus.

I consider my local context in recent days. Two of us praying every week for God to touch our community. Two people. Consistent prayer. Week in, week out. Would God every grow this little prayer meeting?! We believe God for breakthrough. In recent days there were six of us praying. Sunday morning we had thirteen people gathered around before the meeting to pray. God teach us to fix our eyes upon Jesus!

I sense that God is doing a new thing in our movement. Can you perceive it? And further to the preceding comments, the words in the gospel of John, chapter 15, ring true to many: You will bear fruit, fruit that will last. And that word about fruit, is related to remaining IN Jesus. Keeping our eyes fixed on him.

God is pleased that we now squabble less about meaningless, frivolous matters. The mission of God is being revealed to us in such a fresh way, that the concerns and desires of our heart is to partner with God in fulfilling that mission.

Though let me ask you this: If God is doing a new thing... then who are we to hold on to the old? That's a loaded question right there, but one that the Spirit of God would surely have us consider. In moving forward, what stays and what goes? It's critical to discern in coming months and years the right answer to such a question. If we get it right, then we fully pursue the purposes for which God raised us up. If we get it wrong, we may end up perpetuating practices and procedures that no longer work in our time.

So be reminded of this: God is doing a new thing, can you not perceive it?

* These are Pete Brookshaw's thoughts and ideas and do not necessarily represent the official position of The Salvation Army.

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