Leadership Matters 

I recently heard a study revealing that even the most introverted person will impact roughly ten thousand people during their life. Therefore, the reality is, we are all leaders. For leaders are influencers and no matter what our roles, we are influencing and impacting others, whether we want to or not. So, the question is – what impact are we making? To help answer this question, it’s helpful to look at leadership at its core, which consistently encompasses at least three primary attributes to the betterment, or bereavement of others: 

Influence: There are winds so strong in some areas that the trees that grow there literally grow at a slant. This is a beautiful illustration to the power of influence as a force that can shift directions. Now, consider those who have had the greatest influence on you – those who have helped shape and guide you in life. Even though some influencers may have been negative, we can at least learn from them. However, the good ones are those we reflect fondly on, and we tend to carry their lessons with us. We can have influencers who are close by, or they may be leaders we have never meet, but benefited from none the less. This makes influence an extremely powerful component of leadership – for it isn’t limited to proximity. Therefore, may we always be diligent with the leadership shadow we choose to cast. For we will all influence via our actions, attitudes and articulations. Thus, may we always strive to make the most of our time, and never waste a single moment with a single person (Romans 14:13)

Impact: Think of impact like a rock striking to make ripples in a pond. For impact makes contact and changes its environment. It creates a movement where lives can literally be transformed for the good, or bad. Just think of the greatest leaders throughout time. Why are they considered great? It is because they gave their lives to a purpose that rallied others to a vision. The result was transformation. Never think this doesn’t involve you. For if each of us are leaders because of the influence we make, then think of the impact your life can make with a single person resulting in a ripple affect for generations (Proverbs 27:17). When we begin to see each life as various opportunities to add value to, our focus changes from what we can get to what we can give.  

Integrity: I love the word integrity because of the meaning it carries. It signifies unity, for it is derived from the mathematical term integer, which is a whole number. Therefore, do we possess wholeness in all we do, or are we dividers? For example, when we can collaborate, do we choose to compete instead? Or, when we have an opportunity to connect with someone, do we discover we seek to correct them instead? Ultimately, leadership begins and ends with integrity. For it is the foundation from which our influence and impact originate. As a result, leaders of integrity are the ones remembered, for they leave in their wake waves of unselfishness to be richly drawn upon for generations. Thankfully, this legacy can be true for each of us too, but we can not be divided in our devotions. For as it’s been correctly stated, selfishness is always the enemy of significance (Mark 3:25).

Application: “Lead Well To End Well” – Psalm 78:72

Leadership counts, but it takes work, and truly none of us ever arrive to leadership nirvana. For it is a constant process of learning, developing and perusing. Yet, this endless adventure reaps bountiful rewards for those who are intentional about getting better and leaving a legacy of value composed of intentional influence, impact and integrity

God Playing Favorites?

  Occasionally, someone will innocently ask me if I have a favorite child. Initially, I had a hard time understanding this question. For each of my children challenge me, bless me and fulfill me in various and different ways. Granted, sometimes, one is easier than the other to discipline, correct and/or instruct, but I honestly have no favorite. Which leads me to our title – Does God have favorites? Thankfully, the Bible clearly tells us that God does not have favorites and that His gospel is a blessing to all, not some (Acts 10:34). Naturally, there might be some God has an easier time accomplishing His desires in and through, but through Christ, we are all saved by grace, not by our works and/or deeds. This truth therefore benefits us all and springs forth blessings to us in various ways – without favoritism:

For Strength: We all have problems and difficulty. No one is immune, for we live in a fallen world. However, despite our challenges, God can use them to strengthen us, our faith and others (Luke 22:32). We may sometimes feel as though God plays favorites because others don’t appear to have the same level of difficulties. However, Christ tells us not to compare ourselves, or our situations to others. For all believers share in difficulties Christ either allows, or brings in order to generate the growth, strengthening and development He desires in order to accomplish His greatest good.

For Submission: It may be harder for some to learn the power of submission. This may be due to pride, former abuse and/or a lack of trust. However, when we learn to submit to God’s sovereignty in our life, we receive the power of divine perspective. Is there any area we still cling to and refuse to submit to God? Is it our money, family, jobs, positions and/or problems? No matter what it is, when we fully surrender to Christ, we receive His promises of a life filled with His abundance (John 21:22).

For Sharing: No matter what we are going through, have gone through and/or have benefited from, there is great power in sharing these blessings with others. How do we do this? Through all our experiences God is developing our talents, treasures and testimonies and has given us time to invest them wisely. Our role in seeking and obeying God is how we can share all these unique treasures with others, but in order to do that most effectively, we must prioritize Christ first, others second and ourselves last (Mark 12:30-31).

Application: “Reflections of Christ” – 2 Corinthians 3:18
Granted, it may seem like others have it easier than we do. Yet, some seem to have it harder. So, is God playing favorites? Not at all. He gave us all His only begotten Son, and for those who believe in Him begin the great journey of discipleship. God will no doubt equip and use His children differently, but as the body of Christ goes to work in various ways, His favoring light reflects in all corners of the world’s darkness.

Invest For Success

  We all desire success for ourselves, our families, our businesses and quite frankly, anything we’re affiliated with. However, how do we go about accomplishing all this? Thankful, the answer is surprisingly simple and can be applied by practically anyone regardless of their background, credentials, difficulties and/or present opportunities. The greatest challenge is making the shift from how we define success.

For example, when I began my career at a large company, I was always striving to be number one and climb the ladder of success as fast as I could. However, despite any corporate success I may have had, all my striving was leaving me with only temporary satisfaction. It wasn’t until an older client shared with me how I had personally impacted her family’s life that I realized my experiences can actually make a difference for others and for future generations. This was my wake-up call and since then, even though I am as ambitious as I ever was, I now understand how my life success is greatly determined by sharing what I have seen, learned and done in order to help as many people as possible pursue their success. Zig Ziglar perhaps has one of greatest definitions describing this point of view: “You can have anything you want, when you help enough to people get what they want”.

Thankfully, this type of accomplishment can be achieved by reinvesting some of the God-given gifts we already have:

Talents: We all have talents. Yet, it’s how we invest and use our talents that makes all the difference. When we seek to hoard our skills and the talents of others, simply to advance our own agendas, then we are placing restrictions on their greater potential. For we can transform what we do when we realize the talents have, no matter what they are, can promote a greater good that begins a ripple affect of “paying it forward” by using them to help others (Jeremiah 29:7).

Treasures: Perhaps you feel as though you have zero treasures and you would like to begin collecting some. However, a powerful truth resides in the principal of sowing and reaping (Hosea 10:12). For example, in order for a farmer to cultivate a crop, they must first plant seed. They must also work to water, nurture and inspect their crops growth. Failure in any of these areas can be costly, while at the same time, investing in the resources of seed, fertilizer, water and inspection is also costly. Yet, investing in the future of their crop is worth the price in order to increase the likelihood of a worthy payoff. Likewise, are we willing to make the investment in others, our business and ourselves to ensure the highest potential for a quality return?

Testimonies: Our testimonies are unique to us and when we step out to share the outcomes of our various experiences, they can be used in spreading beneficial hope and encouragement to many (1 Thessalonians 5:11). However, if we never share our stories, or only do so to have bragging rights, this helps no one, but when we seek to share with others the lessons we’ve learned to better their lives, we are again “paying it forward”. In other words, helping others, is never wasteful – it is what true leadership is all about.

Application: “Race With Grace” – 2 Timothy 4:7
In summary, we all have talents, testimonies and treasures. Again, it’s how we decide to use them with the time we have left that makes the difference. Many desire greatness, but true greatness can’t solely be defined by material accolades. Instead, may we look to the impact and influence we have made in the lives of others. After all, isn’t that what a true legacy is all about? Success isn’t as the old adage describes, “he with the most toys wins,” rather , it rests with those who have made the most of what they have been given.

Chains To Change

  We’ve all seen enormous elephants at the circus, or other public venues, kept in place with a small chain tied to their leg. Doesn’t the elephant realize it can easily break the chain with barely a tug? Yet, it doesn’t even try for the same reason many us allow things to keep us chained far too long. For the elephant learned years earlier, when it was too small and weak to break the chain, that it was pointless to even try. As a result, even though it grew in strength and stature over time, the lessons from its past, continue to keep it bound.

Likewise, what experiences from our past keep us bound to bad habits and restrictive mindsets? In my career, I have found a prime example of this type of restrictive mindset, regardless of income levels, resides in the area of financial stewardship. Unfortunately, this remains a prominent stronghold many struggle with, but there is hope. For as we examine the habits that keep us chained, we soon discover the attributes essential to breaking them are already in our possession:

Our Past: Unfortunately, many of us never learned sound stewardship principals from friends and/or family – especially in regards to money. So, we end up with habits that cause us to struggle against positive progress (Isaiah 43:18). For some, the struggle may be taking on too much debt; for others, they may unknowingly leave their families and businesses unprotected and vulnerable; and for others, they may fail to plan for future emergencies and needs, such as retirement – and the list goes on and on. Therefore, building our financial confidence and stability can be accomplished by improving our financial IQs. Thankfully, this can be done, but only when we proactively seek counsel from reliable sources – and the Bible is the primary source. In addition, there are various Christian ministries specifically organized to serve this broad area of need.  

Our Pride: It’s not until we admit we have a potential problem, place our pride aside and apply new habits can we begin making progress (Proverbs 11:2). This, pride keeps many chained, because it prevents us from acknowledging our flaws, seeking advice and making changes. This is because often times sacrifice and discipline is required, and for many, this can be difficult. For we don’t want to control expenses, budget, save and postpone immediate desires. However, the payoff to putting pride aside often proves to be one of the most powerful things we can do in establishing stronger stewardship practices and financial IQs.

Our Prejudice: One source defines prejudice as a prejudgment, or the forming of an opinion before becoming aware of the relevant facts about a case. Therefore, we can have financial prejudice when we falsely assume there is no hope for our situation, or that we have plenty of time to address issues. The truth is, it’s never too late, or too early for anyone to get started breaking the barriers to a more secure and biblically obedient future (Matthew 19:26).

Application: “Avoiding The Pitfalls To Pride and Prejudice” – Isaiah 43:19
Are we still chained to restrictive mindsets and behaviors? Thankfully, these chains can be broken and have been broken by many. It takes work, sacrifice, discipline and planning, but it can be done. We may have never seen healthy financial habits, or even authentic Christian lifestyles, but we don’t have to repeat the negative cycles. When we seek Christ, He not only restores what the “locusts” have devoured, but restores our life so that we can begin making Godly choices and decisions with not just money, but with our lives and for His glory.

Drop Off

When we mail a letter, most of us won’t fret and panic over whether it will reach it’s location. We trust the mail system to do its part and get the letter to its desired destination. However, when it comes to trusting God with our prayers, we tend to trust the mail system to do its part more than we trust God to do His. For example, God doesn’t promise to say yes to every prayer, but He does answer them, in His way, His timing and according to His plans. Therefore, once we learn to trust God, like dropping a letter in the mail, many of our self-inflicted anxieties begin to fade away:

Work: Most of us work. Therefore, this area of our life carries a lot of weight. As a result, much of our time, energy and focus goes to work and begins at an early age, when we’re dreaming of what we “want to be”. Yet, how many of us actually invested the time to pray to God about what type of work He would like for us to pursue? Perhaps we landed in what we do by accident. Perhaps it was planned for us, or perhaps we are doing exactly what we always wanted to do. No matter how we ended up where we are, God can use us exactly where we are when we seek Him, trust Him and allow Him to work through us at our careers, homes, churches and communities (Matthew 5:16).

Worries: We can all tend to worry at times, even though God clearly instructs us not to. For many of us, we feel like we’re not doing anything, if we’re not worrying. However, once we release our worries to God and trust Him to care and resolve them, we begin to receive His unexplainable peace in those times of our greatest uncertainty and concern (Matthew 6:34).

Relationships: If we have people in our lives, we most likely have some problems. Why? Because the problem with people is we all have problems. However, our relationships are another key area we can drop off with God. When we know His Word, apply His Word and desire His Word in our lives, He instructs us on how to deal with difficulties among friends, family and even our foes (Romans 14:19).

Application: “You’ve Got Mail” – Philippians 4:6
No matter what our needs, desires, worries and goals are, when we present them to God and trust Him with their outcomes, we can trust His answers will be delivered. We may not like the time table, answer, or silence, but we can rejoice knowing we have a Father in heaven looking out for our best interests in love and that with God, we never have to live out our lives void of inner hope, joy and peace, despite our work, worries and relationships.