I recently turned 49. I am approaching the half-century mark. On one hand, I cannot believe I have lived this long. On the other hand, I wonder what the years ahead hold.
My body often reminds me I am no longer 25. Yet, I still feel pretty good. Then, my father quickly reminds me of what the next 25 holds.
Recently, I heard a piece of advice Neal Pollard’s grandfather gave him, “an old man lives with what a young man does.”
I realize several lessons come from this nugget of wisdom, but consider the application in leadership. We are living today with the decisions of the past. We should also consider, the decisions of today will direct the course of our future.
The lack of spiritual leadership today will bring deterioration in the church. A strong spiritual leadership today will strengthen the direction of the church. We need strong spiritual leaders.
Either way, we can know with certainty, the future of the church depends on the direction of leadership today. The reason? “An old man lives with what a young man does.” Let us lead today with spiritual strength.
I remember the first time I ran 6 miles. I was afraid. What if I could not finish? How would I get back to the car? Home?
To make matters worse, I was running with a 65 year old gentleman (I was 32). We easily finished the run and I had the running bug. I have been running now for 17 years. You can do the math!
We started slowly and talked freely, but the pace increased. Approaching the last half-mile, the pace became more intense. I learned a valuable piece of advice, as he said, “always finish like a runner.”
Our culture tends to not think long-term. The concern is “here and now” rather than “hereafter.” We sprint to the proverbial finish line. Life, as well as leadership, is not a sprint, but a marathon. Prepare for the distance.
Read Hebrews 12:1; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; and 2 Timothy 4:7. The race is life and, more specifically, the Christian life. While leading, settle in for the distance and keep your eyes on the finish line. It’s not how you start, but how you finish that makes the difference.
I own a book by the late Francis Schaeffer entitled “How Should We Then Live?” Schaeffer’s book laid the foundation for a video/DVD series with the same title during the 1970’s. The depth behind Schaeffer’s historical construction challenges even the mind of today, 35 years later.
The bottom line behind the ascent and decline of civilization and culture throughout history all comes back to leadership. Several events in history have been instrumental in shaping our present culture, good and bad.
Did leadership shape culture?
Did culture shape leadership?
Does leadership arise out of the need within the culture at a particular time or in the face of circumstance?
It is interesting to study the leadership of former presidents. Over the past 100 years the definition of leadership has changed with each decade based upon the leadership of this country and the pressing circumstances.
How should we then lead today? The moral decline of our culture, the corruption of political arenas, the agenda within religious venues, the standard of ethical practice, and the voice of right, all challenge us to answer the question. How will we answer?
Infomercials are endless. We have seen so many that before we are told the price of the product we are saying “$19.95” or a multiplication of this amount.
“Get-rich-quick” schemes also flood the market. How much money has been scammed from individuals seeking an easy way to easy street?
Both marketing schemes boldly proclaim “your satisfaction is guaranteed.” Is it really guaranteed? These companies count on consumers not taking the time or money to return the product if they are dissatisfied.
Everyone desires a level of satisfaction. We want to know our purchase is worth more than we paid. When we look back on our life, we want to know our life made a difference. Why? It gives us a sense of satisfaction.
How do we find satisfaction? I like this. “You’ve got to get up every morning with determination if you’re going to go to bed with satisfaction.” Determination drives a leader. The goals, planning, work ethic, and achievement are all driven by determination. When determination is present – satisfaction is guaranteed.
I have never been one to own mechanical tools. Perhaps it is because I can not afford them, or maybe because I always seem to have friends with tools. I am thankful to have a good neighbor with every tool imaginable who does not seem to mind my habitual borrowing.
I learned a lesson a few years back regarding the practice of borrowing someone’s tools with application to leadership. When tools are borrowed, we should always return them promptly, put in their proper place, and in better condition (if possible) than when we borrowed them.
Leadership involves mentoring. Leaders should always be thinking about helping others and who will replace them. The work we accomplish in leadership should make it easier for the one(s) who follow us. We work to grow and perfect our craft. Our efforts will be in vain if they die with us.
Mentor someone. Prepare them to lead. Equip them to replace you. Concerning the work, leave it better for them than you found it.
The internet provides an avenue to an unlimited number of blog posts on leadership. There are many rabbit trails, yet some have valuable information.
Over the weekend I came across a website promoting leadership material written by Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric.
A few thoughts stood out…
1. Credibility: As a CEO of GE, he should have the credentials to write on leadership.
2. Creativity: i.e. “The 4 E’s of Leadership.” Energy, Energize, Execution, and Edge.
3. Links: Ultimately to sell something…not a plus.
4. Google ads: Frustrating!
Not to belabor the point, but less really is more.
Among the plethora of information, I appreciated the valuable nugget of the number one, direct and powerful rule in the Six Rules for Successful Leadership, “control your destiny, or someone else will.” Good food for thought.
I appreciate credibility and creativity. However, leaders often miss the importance of this thought in an effort to promote their own interests, or products. They miss it through the distractions surrounding their purpose and goal. If I am to lead others it will happen on the basis of the first two thoughts, never the last two.
Opportunities are often missed because we are not looking for them. But why are we not looking?
Too busy? Looking in a different direction? Uncertainty? Waiting for a better opportunity?
Not all opportunities are equal, but they are still opportunities. If nothing else, opportunities always provide a platform for learning.
Recently, I was asked if I would be willing to host an internet radio talk show regarding homiletics. Initially, I thought of all the reasons (EXCUSES) why it would not work for me.
A few minutes later, after clearing the ego away, I realized what a great opportunity. It is not a great opportunity because of me, or anything I will share. It is great because of what I will learn.
Homiletics runs a close second to my favorite subject, leadership. One of the key areas of leadership involves seizing opportunities, especially if it is an opportunity to learn.
When we are learning leaders, we are equipping ourselves for greater influence. Consider what opportunities may have been missed today. Seize the opportunity to learn.