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Monthly Archives: February 2013

President’s Day Bonus

Here’s another great leadership lesson from George Washington. In the pantheon of great speeches by American presidents, George Washington’s farewell address stands out as one of the most stunning. It stands out because of one line in particular:

Though in reviewing the incidents of my administration I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors.

George Washington was a confident enough leader to admit that he wasn’t perfect. Washington modeled an all too rare leadership quality: humility.

Humility is a trait that the world does not honor or hold up as valuable, and yet it is one of the hallmarks of life as a Christian. As leaders, humility means we need to be willing to admit our mistakes, and also it also means we give credit to others who contribute to our success.

My challenge to you today is to lead with humility.

What does humility look like in your leadership context?

How have you seen humility modeled?

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Presidential Leadership Nuggets

Dear Momentum Leaders,

Today is President’s Day, also known as “the day we all wished we worked for a bank.” In the spirit of the holiday, I’ve got leadership lessons from Washington and Lincoln to share with you today.

I’ve been reading a biography of George Washington called Washington: A Life, by Ron Chernow. It is a fascinating biography, winner of the Pulitzer Prize (though I think they give prizes to anyone who writes a 900+ page book). Chernow talks a bit about Washington’s leadership abilities, and this quote stuck out to me:

“Thomas Jefferson, who was to serve with Washington and [Ben] Franklin in the Continental Congress, spotted their economical approach to power. ‘I never heard either of them speak ten minutes at a time, nor to any but the main point,’ he later said of the two statesmen. ‘They laid their shoulders to the great points, knowing that the little ones would follow of themselves.’”

Perhaps that is good wisdom for us, too. Keeping focused on the important pieces, and not getting bogged down in the less important.

For another president, details were critical if one was to make sense of the big picture. This article about Lincoln as a “geek” speaks to that point (note the end of the article in particular):

http://www.theintrovertedleaderblog.com/lincoln-the-introverted-leader.html

Where would yo place yourself on this spectrum? Are you a “big picture” person or are you a “detail geek?”

Have you surrounded yourself with someone who thinks differently?

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Perseverance

Last week, we looked at some qualifications for leadership. We looked in particular at an event in the life of Moses, Exodus 18.

I want to look at another leadership qualification that Moses models. It’s not the most glamorous or the most fun part of leadership, but it is a critical part.

Moses models perseverance. Now, no one who signs up for leadership signs up because they want to be challenged, attacked, and beat down by other people. But, often times that is what leadership looks like: being willing to make the difficult choices, being willing to stand for what is right when no one else will.

Moses models this trait well. Throughout his story in Exodus, Moses really doesn’t get much respect. He’s putting everything on the line for the Israelites. He goes before Pharaoh and announces the 10 plagues, at great risk to himself and his reputation. Later, he leads the people to the edge of the river, as God told him to, even though the people are grumbling and complaining the whole time.

Finally, he goes up on the mountain, to get very detailed instructions from God. He spends 40 days and nights there, again making sacrifices for the sake of the people. How do they repay him? By ignoring all that God has done and by creating a golden calf (Exodus 32).

What is interesting is how God uses these leadership challenges to grow Moses. I notice two changes in the life of Moses after all these struggles:

First, Moses continues to struggle. Things don’t automatically get easier for him. That’s a powerful leadership truth in and of itself.

Secondly, I notice that Moses’ heart is changed. It is not us much his heart towards the people that has changed, although that is part of it. It is his heart toward God. After Moses is burned by the people’s disobedience, he grows deeper in his relationship to God. The experiences that Moses has with God after the golden calf incident indicate that his leadership challenges have drawn him closer to God, not made him bitter.

What challenges are you facing in your leadership?

Are you allowing leadership challenges to draw you closer to God, or are you allowing stress and bitterness to grow?

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Qualifications for Leadership

In thinking about Biblical Leadership, I notice something significant. There are two key places in which qualifications for leadership are outlined. The first place is in Exodus 18. You might be familiar with the story. Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, comes to visit, and notices that Moses is overworked, and needs to delegate (that is a lesson in itself, but we’ll save that for another time).

Jethro advises Moses to identify some people to assume leadership roles. Jethro lists some qualifications that Moses should look for in potential people: “Select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens” (Ex. 18:21).

Later, in the New Testament, Paul is advising Timothy about how to choose leaders. He, too, like Jethro, tells Timothy some qualities to look for in potential leaders (1 Timothy 3).

The thing to notice about both of these passages is what the qualifications for leadership are. In both lists, the only concerns are the character of the leader, not their skills. When we ask, “is this person qualified for leadership?” we tend to focus on their skills or accomplishments, but the Bible seems to focus on their character instead.

As you look at the people you lead, are you more focused on their skill set, or their character?

Does this make you re-evaluate people for leadership?

What is the proper place for evaluating skills and accomplishments?

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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