Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Thoughts on Leadership

Leaders are visionaries, risk takers, and mentors serving optimistically with persistence and passion. Leaders think dimensionally are flexible and willing to continue learning. A leader is willing to change the status quo creating new opportunities yet not seeking change for change sake. A leader will remain focused and not be deterred while building relationships and giving to the community. Leaders must be committed to improvement even when substantial change is required.

An improving leadership team recognizes change keeps things fresh recognizing non leaders often don’t deal well with change. Turmoil is inevitable. Some are effective in thinking of ways to change but find the turmoil too uncomfortable or draining to follow thru. Skeptics and naysayers will always exist. Focus should not be given to the loud critics rather those willing to remain team players laying aside personal desires.

Effectiveness is critical in leadership. Some find it difficult to admit something is non-effective or nonproducing. However, if an idea fails or inadequately produces it should be discontinued without fear of hurting feelings. Often rather than eliminating something it is more comfortable to simply reduce the plan and add new plans. Maintaining ineffective activities are energy draining and hinder greater things being accomplished. Analyzing expenditures and balancing gain against cost is helpful, too. We are involved in this process and are amazed at the results. Recently, we decided to spend more money on web design, internet advertising, and banners moving away from costly ineffective yellow page advertising. Leaders must be willing to instill excitement and move forward.

Flexibility of a leader includes willingness to move within the framework of the structure. A leader must be willing to do what is best for reaching the goal of the team rather than being in control of every situation. Often age and time of involvement in a particular area diminishes a leader’s effectiveness. This does not mean the person should not remain a church leader rather it is time to serve in another capacity. Normally a student pastor is effective in his 20’s and 30’s yet in his 40’s the energy to maintain the expectations of a younger generation is more difficult. It doesn’t mean the person is no longer a leader rather it means it is time for a leadership shift. By making room for younger leaders the leadership team broadens. Often fear of being out of the loop or lack of involvement causes a person to want to remain in control of areas that should actually be released. Releasing control does not release leadership from the individual. Rather the leader should involve in other areas of the structure. Mario Andretti stated, “If you think you’re always in control, then you’re not going fast enough.” Change is exhilarating, but unsettling. Change produces rapid growth and is more satisfying than a slow methodical manner.

Finally, optimism makes risk taking more comfortable. Planning for success is fulfilling. Look for victories, even small ones. Victories lift spirits and gives faith for better days ahead. Regardless if a leader’s opti­mism is shaken he must still speak positively. Fearlessness or the appearance of is another asset in achieving change. Leadership is about discerning what should and should not be changed and accomplishing it!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Birds and Friendships

Amos 3:3 (Amp) Do two walk together except they make an appointment and have agreed?

A favorite saying when Mom was rearing each of her children was “Birds of a feather flock together”. She tried to instill in us the importance of selecting our friends knowing we would eventually become them. She knew that our reputation would become our friends by association. Basically, Mom’s quote was an effort to safe guard.

Recently Mom posted something similar on Facebook. It created quite a dialogue. Some felt Mom was rude, uncaring, or prejudiced against people who choose to not live a life of holiness. I grew frustrated because someone told Mom she wasn’t the sweet person she knew Mom to be. I endeavored to carefully explain Mom has lived this principle my entire life. The person felt it an unchristian approach. Mom does not refer to ‘flocking or friending’ in regards to outreach rather those who we share close friendly relationships. In fact this is a very scriptural principle based on Amos 3:3. Additionally, this is a very civic principle. If you are with persons vandalizing and the group is caught everyone is guilty. If you are with persons doing drugs all are guilty if an arrest is made.

I have many ‘friends’ who do not live the way I live nor believe the way I believe. But those who are my closest, best friends, bff, or how you may describe the person will have much in common. Recently, I was asked why is it when people leave a congregation they began to talk or befriend others who have left the congregation when previously they weren’t friends are didn’t talk. We have pastored for almost 20 years. Through the years there have been those who have left and I have noticed the conclusion drawn by my friend is often true. This has not only happened in regards to CUPC but in two other churches I’ve been strongly associated with. Additionally, I have seen it via Facebook from other churches. In this setting of forming friendships or groups the people are trying to connect to a part of their life. The common ground is the church they attended.

Ministers & wives are friends with other ministers & wives. Last week Trent and Calah drove to Beaumont to spend time with a young minister & wife. This week we had some ministry friends traveling thru Texas from Kansas enroute to Louisiana. They decided to stay the night in Conroe so we could spend a few hours together.

Recently I have decided to challenge our youth to do more. In so doing I began to think those who serve tend to be friends with others who serve and those who become discouraged hang with other discouraged teens.

Of late I have gone through a few difficult times. I am certain I have been an emotional strain on some dear friends who have kept me encouraged. However, our relationship will not last if I am always taking from my friends and not depositing something into the relationship. This challenges my thinking. If I realize I can weaken my friends then I must acknowledge friends can weaken me.

What kind of persons will I associate? Those who gossip, complain, cause disunity, and are judgmental or will I be with those who are faith filled, friendly, positive, and Christ like? Sometimes a close look at our friends reveals who we are. True friendships are not casual. Rather I believe our friendships are as Amos 3:3 suggests planned because we have made an appointment and agree otherwise the friendship would not exist.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Find Strength by Counting Blessings

Often schedules are cluttered, life is busy and problems are present. Most lead this type life on a consistent basis. During such times it is easy to fail to count our blessings. I do not want to become like the people the Psalmist wrote about in Psalm 106:21(NIV) "They forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things in Egypt." I do not want to forget His saving grace nor the great things He has accomplished in my life.

Today I want to be still and honestly reflect God’s goodness, blessings, and mercy. During busy times I find it necessary to list my daily plans and chores. This morning I have committed that in future cluttered and difficult days I will list a few of His ‘wonders’. This day I will notice the abundance of God in my life. Psalm 66:5 (Msg) “Take a good look at God's wonders—they'll take your breath away. He converted sea to dry land; travelers crossed the river on foot. Now isn't that cause for a song?” No, I haven’t crossed a river on foot but God has performed many other miracles for me. He always takes good care of me. Yes, it is cause for a song!

Psalm 71:15 (NIV) "My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure." If we talk about the good things of the Lord rather than dwelling on things we may face; joy, strength, and happiness will abound. Be strengthened in the Lord today!