#LentChallenge Holy Week

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Holy Week.

I feel a weight… an awareness… a conscious awakening to what awaits.

The church I’m now a part of participates in a number of Holy Week services… Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter of course.  Some of these are new to me.  They have not been a part of my past tradition and so I find myself engaged to understand.  To learn the history.  To extract the significance.

I find myself present in a different way.

Perhaps  it helps that my whole world is quite different this year with my recent move.  My husband is still back in Nashville selling our house and finishing our relocation, so I have a great deal of quiet time in a strange city with few friends yet.

My view of sacrifice… of loneliness… of quiet… is different these days.  I’m sure it’s still quite incomplete but nevertheless it’s shaping me… growing me… stretching me differently.

As we enter Holy Week I’m praying for a continued awakening in my soul to Christ’s sacrifice and to God’s redemption in my life.

What are you praying for this week?

Quit Playing Good Cop/Bad Cop

“Go ask your mother.”

“You’re father is not going to like that!”

“You’ll need the boss’ approval.”

“If the leader of that department is okay with it, I’m okay with it.”

We do this all the time.

We pass the buck.  We play good cop/bad cop.

Some of us are wired for mercy.

Some of us are wired for justice.

And because of that wiring we usually become either the good cop or the bad cop for those we lead.

But good cop/bad cop is a bad philosophy for leaders. 

When we perpetuate a good cop/bad cop scenario, we create heroes and villains.

The philosophy doesn’t emerge from dysfunction.  It emerges from that natural wiring and at first it even seems balanced.  We need mercy and justice.  We need grace and truth.  Since both exist there seems to be an equalibrium in the organization.  And for a time there might be the illusion of such, but in reality you’re enabling a dysfunction that will wear down the relational chemistry of your team.

The leader who plays the “good cop” role, while well-liked, will become less respected.  She can never be relied upon to speak truth.  The team eventually catches on and realizes that in her desire to be the “good cop” she’s never coaching you for improvement or constructively giving you feedback.  She leaves that to the “bad cop”.

The leader who plays the “bad cop” wears the organization down.  As the person who is always delivering the bad news, he is avoided.  People dodge when they see him coming.  They know that whatever he has to say, it’s not going to be good.

Good cop/bad cop leadership philosophy divides teams.  It perpetuates unhealthy alliances and ultimately severs relationships.

As leaders, we can not delegate the good or the bad.  We must embrace both as our leadership responsibility.  I must be equally willing to be merciful yet just.  I must be both truthful and gracious.  Every leader must embrace both sides.  That’s healthy leadership.

 

#LentChallenge for a “Case of the Mondays”

Before the alarm nudged me fully awake I was overwhelmed by Monday.  The weight of the week was already bearing down on me.  Today was just one of those Mondays.  The kind where you want to roll over and wake up to a different day.

So when today’s #LentChallenge reading was the book of Ephesians, it was pretty much perfect.  I love how encouraging Paul is in this book.  Most of Paul’s writing throughout the New Testament deals with cleaning up messes and providing clarity (the daily tasks of a great leader).  But in Ephesians he reminds us of what’s good.

If your Monday needs a dose of encouragement like mine did, here are a couple of passages to inspire you today:

I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people”.  Ephesians 1:16-18

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”  Ephesians 3:16-19

“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!”  Ephesians 3:20 The Message

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Happy Friday!

What God Makes of Our Mess

I’m doing some research about great leaders for my next book.  One of the resources that I read is a little book entitled Greatness by Steven F. Hayward.  It’s about the leadership lives of Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan.  It’s a fascinating read on the parallels of the leadership styles of these two men.

Whether you believe these two men were great leaders or not, consider this quote from the book:

“Alexander Hamilton wrote that the love of fame is the ruling passion of the noblest minds, and we can see in Churchill that the thirst for personal honor was the spur to perform great and noble deeds.”

“the love of fame is the ruling passion of the noblest minds”

“the thirst for personal honor was the spur to perform great and noble deeds”

I get these statements and they mess with me in a big way.

Seeking recognition, honor, notoriety feel as natural as breathing and yet as destructive as poison.

The assumption here is that people who are wired for great leadership potential are also cursed with a love of fame and a desire for personal honor.  Why else would one work so hard to accomplish so much?

It seems that God takes these selfish motivations to give us the gumption and the courage to push through criticism and fear to leap out on ledges where few others dare.

How do we reconcile that mess?

 

 

Read to Lead

Read at every wait;

Read at all hours;

Read within leisure;

Read in times of labor;

Read as one goes in;

Read as one goest out.

The task of the educated mind is simply put: read to lead.

~ Cicero

 HT: Huffington Post

 

What are you reading right now?

Careful Selection

“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.  When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles.”  Matthew 6:12-13

Choosing the twelve was a significant leadership decision.

These twelve would be the core group that Jesus would invest in the most.  His focus was on teaching and training them to establish the church after he was gone.

Jesus knew his time was short.  He had limited time to teach a group of leaders how to carry on his work on Earth.

While he went about his ministry, he also was strategically building into and investing in this group.

He modeled for us what it looks like to invest in others.  He displayed what it looks like to do the work we’re called to do while also developing others along the way.

None of us know when our season will end.  In our modern world, career change is common and we must constantly think about who we’re preparing to take over for us when we’re gone.

The first step in succession is careful selection.

The verse above says that Jesus spent the entire night before he selected the twelve praying.  It doesn’t say that choosing the twelve was his only topic of prayer but given that the first action he took after his night of prayer was gathering the disciples and naming the twelve, it’s a safe assumption that praying about who those twelve should be was likely a key part of his prayer time.

Prayerfully selecting our teams is essential.  Many of us in the haste and pace of our lives hurry to add staff members without counting the long term cost of that selection.

Building teams is a critical responsibility for every leader.

How much time, attention and prayer are you devoting to selecting your core team?

#LentChallenge – What’s Your Gift?

As I was reading Luke’s account of Jesus birth, I was struck again by the significance of God choosing Mary to birth the Messiah.  Why her?  What stood out about her?  How did she get God’s attention and favor for this tremendous gift?

I don’t know why God chose Mary.  I marvel at how honored I would feel to be chosen for that responsibility.  I anticipate all the emotions that she must have wrestled with.  I wonder what I would have done in her shoes.  How would I have stewarded this amazing gift?

But God has given me (and you) a gift too.  He has given me gifts, talents, experiences and opportunities that he hasn’t given to anyone else.  He has given me these to steward, to cherish, to develop and to release into the world for his good, for his glory.

What he’s asking me to do is the same thing he asked Mary to do, just a different gift.  He asked Mary to be faithful to steward the raising of Jesus.  We too have been asked to be faithful to raise up the gifts that God has given us.  Would Mary have ever dreamed of starving or neglecting Jesus?  Would she have kept him hidden?  Would she abandon him or abuse him?  Would she scorn him or ignore him?  I don’t think so.  Mary knew the tremendous value of this gift that was her’s to steward and she was faithful to that responsibility.

What are you doing with your gift?  Are you cherishing it and developing it or are you ignoring it and squandering it?

Whatever you’re gift, your responsibility is to be faithful.

Satisfying the Crowd

Our #LentChallenge reading is helping me to see stories from a new perspective, to see layers beneath the common narrative of the text.

This week in reading the book of Mark, there was one short sentence that grabbed my attention:

“Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate releases Barabbas to them.” Mark 15:15

This was a pivotal point in the crucifixion story.  Pilate was reluctant to have Jesus charged and sentenced to death.  He wasn’t convinced a crime had been committed.  He didn’t find sufficient evidence.

But Pilate was swayed by the crowd.  He was afraid of a riot.  He was navigating the politics of his culture and rather than do what was right, he took the path of least resistance.

Have you ever been guilty of “wanting to satisfy the crowd” in your leadership decisions?

Some of my greatest regrets as a leader are the times when I chose to do what was easy rather than do what was right.

In what areas of your leadership are you satisfying the crowd?

#LentChallenge – Week 2: I Want to Know Jesus

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This practice of reading through the gospels is so good.  With each red letter I’m seeking to know Jesus just a bit more.  What was his tone, his demeanor?  What did his eyes convey as he spoke?  What emotion did he evoke as he taught or corrected?

For as wonderful as the words are, I still long to know his heart, hear the passion he emoted through what he said.

I’m grateful for movies and mini series that have attempted to portray Jesus, but for all of their great work I still don’t feel like they’ve captured my Jesus.  There is always something missing.  And perhaps that’s appropriate because how could any of us in our humanness really capture the essence of Christ?

So as I continue to read during this #LentChallenge, I find myself wanting to know Jesus better.  I’m praying the words continue to give me a glimpse of his character, an expression of his heart and that in the seeking he’ll speak and I’ll grow to know him better.

How about you… what are you hoping to take away from our 40 days?