Posts Tagged ‘Leadership


Servant Leadership is what?

Photo Credit -“Servant leadership” is a term bandied around.  What do you picture when you hear it?  One genuflected and spineless or better stated genuflected because they are spineless?

Servant leadership in the home, marketplace or church is not wimpish and certainly is not devoid of authority.  What is absent is the drive for pomp and prestige, the willingness to scramble up the “ladder” on the heads, hearts and hands of others.  For sure servant leaders exercise authority, but they do so for the good of those they lead even if such leadership requires sacrifice on their part.

Jesus said this about leadershp:

25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mt 20:25-28 ESV)


the discipline of self-awareness – the dark side

My apologies if the title of this blog sounds a little Star-wars-ish.  Reggie McNeal closes out his discussion of this first of seven disciplines for spiritual leaders by asserting that “all leaders have a dark side, because every human being struggles with dysfunction to some degree” (p. 29).

There are leaders who are Compulsive.  They try to control everything, in part because they believe that every aspect of the organization they lead is a reflection upon them personally.  Outwardly they may appear “together” but their inward lives are in turmoil.

Narcissistic leaders often have grand plans yet suffer from low self-esteem.  Others’ achievements threaten them while their own successes are never enough to satisfy their drivenness.

A third type of dark-side leader is the one who is Paranoid.  They are suspicious of others, guarded in their relationships, often jealous of gifted people.  They might use unusually methods to stay informed in effort to maintain their leadership.

Codependent leaders easily find themselves consumed and controlled by the cares and needs of others.  Their schedules are out of control and personal boundaries are not well managed.  They are attracted to helping others as the means by which to meet their own inner needs.

The last category is Passive-Aggressive leaders.  They have the tendency of resisting the demands of others by procrastinating, being stubborn or being forgetful.  They may blame others for lack of support, but if they receive support they might complain of others interfering.

As I reflect on my own leadership I don’t think I fall fully into one camp (if I did I am not sure I would admit it!).  However, depending on the situation I can see a tendency to be a “control freak” or to think it should be “more about me” or to blur boundaries because helping others makes me feel good.

What about you?  Anyone dare to share?

Link to other postings about Practicing Greatness by Reggie McNeal.


Becoming a man of God Experiencing Divine Intervention part two (ch. 6)

“Prayer is one vehicle through which we participate in what God is doing and wants to do in our world…God has sovereignly willed to be influenced by the prayers of his people.”

In this chapter the author continues the topic of praying that God’s will be done and applies it to three more significant categories.

The first is prayer for one’s church. He cautions his readers that God is not usually in the business of maintaining the status quo. Praying for God’s will to be done in our church may lead to change and may lead us out of our present comfort zone. In particular, he encourages his readers to pray for empowerment and protection for leadership and spiritual renewal for the congregation.

Next Beltz applies this prayer principle to prayer for one’s nation. He shares that it is his practice to prayer for God’s influence and intervention in the lives of national leaders. He also prays that God would heal the nation and bring spiritual renewal. Specific national issues that God brings to his attention are also matters of prayer.

Praying for the world is the last significant category about which the author prays for God’s will to be done. Anticipating that his readers might easily become overwhelmed with the breadth of things that could be prayed about, he urges that one select a series of global issues and peoples upon which to focus prayer.

From my perspective Beltz is right on to anticipate the feeling of being overwhelmed by all the issues one could pray about. Focusing on those church, national and global issues that are top of mind is more likely to lead to growith in our prayer life then trying to cover all the bases we could possibly think of.

Click here for this week’s assignment.

Previous post in the series


Six reasons why we put off doing stuff

// and its sources were addressed by John Maxwell in a recent on-line article. He identified six reasons behind our tendency to avoid taking initiative. I have reworked them into the following summary:

  • Lack of enjoyment – we put off what we don’t like
  • Lack of competency – if we are no good at it, we move on
  • Lack of planning – if it’s not on our “radar”, we don’t do it
  • Lack of familiarity – if something is foreign to us, like new technology, we are slow to plug in
  • Lack of capacity – we avoid those confrontations and issues that drain us
  • Lack of return – if something is going to take a lot of effort and yield little, we pass

I can see all these at play in my life. To start with a simple example, I don’t formally plan to write a post to this blog…so it is easy to push that aside and focus on what is scheduled. Around the house if it is a “repair’ that is new to me, well I can easily think of a bunch of reasons not to tackle it. With parenting teenagers there are times when I don’t enter into a confrontation because I am not sure I have the emotional capacity to handle the issue well.

I believe as men we need to be taking initiative in our homes, in our families and in our marriages. I don’t mean rushing into situations with no head or heart. Being servant leaders to those we love does not mean initiating half-witted, cold-hearted dictums. Yet at the other end, the next time I find myself shrinking back, dithering and dawdling I need to probe what is behind my procrastination and let that prompt my prayers and my next steps.


4 challenges from an ancient foster dad

I spent some time this past week reading about Mordecai. He shows up in the Book of Esther; she is a young Jewish beauty living in exile, he is both her cousin and her guardian. Mordecai intrigues me. Just wait a minute. Let me shoot straighter than that, the guy challenges me. Let me mention a few things.

First, his heart is soft. He takes in his orphaned cousin and cares for her like one of his own (Esther 2:7). When Esther is chosen for the king’s harem, Mordecai checks every day to see how she is doing (Esther 2:11).

Second, his convictions were not negotiable. When the king ordered that homage be expressed to prince Haman, Mordecai chose not join the other servants in bowing down to the prince (Esther 4:1-5). His commitment to God would not permit him to so honour another.

Third, his faith in God was unshakeable. Because of Mordecai’s failure to pay homage, Haman was plotting not only his destruction, but the annihilation of the Jewish people. Mordecai urged Esther to exploit her royal position to intercede for her people, but if she proved unwilling, Mordecai was confident that God would deliver the Jewish nation some other way (Esther 4:14).

Fourth, he exercised power with compassion. Mordecai was eventually advanced to second in rank in the land. Although his power was great it did not corrupt him; he remained committed to the welfare of his people (Esther 10:3).


Recognizing the shadows in the lessons we caught


My wonky ankle is aching again, so I have switched from running to riding a stationary bike. Not my favourite. It just doesn’t seem right to work up a big sweat by going no where (hmm that gives me an idea for another post…later J).

For my futile journey of all pedal and no progress I invited Reggie McNeal to be my ear buddy. Via podcast he filled my head with new notions regarding the essential disciplines of leadership (see his 2006 book Practicing Greatness). Reggie asked one question that stuck with me: “What is one thing that your dad taught you that he didn’t intend to?” Reggie isn’t talking about positive things here, he is talking about things we have learned from our dad (or from our mom) that have a dark side. Coming to grips with the lessons we learned in our home of origin, especially the unintentional and potentially detrimental ones, is part of growing in self awareness, a key discipline for leaders, so Reggie would argue.

In my home, I caught the lesson that “one does not make a scene”. In other words, one does not draw attention to themselves or to the situation. Conflict is to be avoided. The public stage, regardless of how small, is best left to others. In the last few years, I am beginning to realize the mantra, “one does not make a scene” can lead to some negative outcomes. There are times when avoiding conflict is not the right course. There have been times that trying to lead from the “wings” has been sorely ineffective.

Your turn if you would like. What lesson did you catch growing up that you are beginning to see is potentially detrimental?


How incompetent are you at work?

Are you an incompetent manager? Margaret Heffernan at identified 10 habits that she suggests are pointers towards managerial incompetence.

I have recast those 10 into the following two categories:

  1. You are not honest about your own fears and limitations.
    1. You put off decisions for fear you might make the wrong one.
    2. You hide behind consultants.
    3. You hire people who will not out shine you.
    4. You work long hours to look good.
    5. You focus on procedures because you’re not sure how to advance the process.
    6. You become consumed with little tasks because you can’t handle the key ones.
  2. You are not trustworthy in relationships.
    1. You keep secrets from your staff unnecessarily.
    2. You are unable to correct staff honestly and directly.
    3. You have burned your bridges…no former employees want to join your team.
    4. You fail to honour deadlines, robbing the team of a sense of accomplishment.

How do you measure up?

The bottom line here is more than what you might think. Our honesty and trustworthiness with our “little” piece of the marketplace is an indicator of our preparedness to be faithful in the “much” of God’s kingdom.

One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much – Jesus (Lk 16:10)


This blog is a place to wrestle with loving, leading and labouring according to the Jesus Way.


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