Leadership, Personal Development

Initiative: Earmark of a True Leader

2805771386_f86d9c9ef4_mOne earmark of a true leader is the display of initiative.  “Initiative” means taking the first step, not waiting for opportunities or people to come to you.  Initiative is recognizing and doing what needs to be done before you’re asked to do it.

By definition, leaders cannot wait for someone else to make the first move; if they do, they are really followers, not leaders.

To take initiative means we must:

1.  Risk.  We must take the risk that we might be wrong or might fail.

2.  Faith.  We must believe what we are doing is the right thing at the right time.

3.  Foresight.  We must be able to see ahead to the need for our decisive action and the positive results if we take the initiative.

Why do we fail to “take the initiative”?

It seems easier to run from a challenge rather than step out and take a risk.  When we initiate we commit ourselves to a direction.  We may feel uncertain about what the future holds.  What if we change our minds?  What if no one follows?  What if we fail in front of our followers?  We run from commitment and initiative for various reasons.

1.  We’re lazy.  This is a serious problem.  Sometimes we’re just too lazy to get up and do it.  We would rather do something else.  We haven’t disciplined ourselves to exercise self-control and command ourselves to do things even when we don’t want to or they seem too difficult.

2.  We procrastinate.  We put off  doing what we know we should do until later.  Often, later never comes. We forget, the opportunity passes us or someone else does it before us…or our supervisor rebukes us for not doing what needs to be done.

3.  We have no vision.  We fail to recognize the hand of God upon us for this moment.  We fail to see how God is orchestrating circumstances and our important part in what He wants to do.  We don’t see the Big Picture and our role in it.  Vision creates Action; Action creates Momentum; Momentum creates Forward Motion; Forward Motion creates Accomplishment.

4.  We’re afraid.  We’re afraid of failure.  We’re afraid of embarrassment.  We’re afraid of not having a clear plan.  Every great endeavor has an element of fear in it.  If we believe its the right thing to do and we’ve received confirmation from reliable people or circumstances we must move forward.

5.  We don’t want to lose our freedom.  If we commit to something it means it will rest on us.  It means we will probably have to adjust our priorities, finances, time and personal comfort. Some people aren’t willing to pay the price.

A positive example of taking initiative is a man in the Bible named Nehemiah.  In the book of the Bible bearing his name we see that he took initiative to pray for Jerusalem when it was a beaten down city of rubble.  He took the initiative to plan on how to rebuild the protective walls around the city, how much it would cost and talking to someone who had the resources to help him.  All of this involved a great risk to him and a personal sacrifice.  Nevertheless,  he took the initiative because he knew it was the right thing to do and the right time to do it.

Nehemiah didn’t know all the details of how it was going to turn out, but he knew enough to move him forward.

Keys to Taking Initiative

1.  Know that you’re the one.  If you don’t do it, it may not get done.  Someone may not be helped.  An important task my not get done if you don’t take the initiative.  God’s plan may be delayed or not come to pass if you don’t take the initiative.

2.  Know the situation.  You don’t have to know all the details of how it’s going to turn out, but you know enough to be pretty sure it needs to be done.

3.  Go through channels of authority.  If you are a mid-level supervisor you may have to get permission from those above you.  Be positive.  Be hopeful.  Have a plan.

4.  Make yourself do it.  Simply overcome the inertness of your laziness or fear or doubt and make the move.  Take the first step.

5.  Pray without ceasing.  Ask God to be with you, guide you, direct you, stop you, inform you every step along the way.

As for employees, be the kind of person who goes to your boss first and makes yourself available, rather than someone he has to remind or look for or follow up with.

Leadership, Personal Development

Jonah: How God Works With Reluctant Leaders

Jonah 3This blog is straight from the John Maxwell Leadership Bible.

Who among us hasn’t heard God tell us something to do but we really didn’t want to do it?  Sometimes it’s easy to convince ourselves that we know more than God about what needs to be done.

Jonah was a godly prophet, yet when God commanded him to preach repentance to the Ninevites, Jonah ran the opposite direction.  As he ran he went down – down to the seashore, down to the bottom of the ship, down to the water, down to the belly of the great fish.  Jonah learned what can happen to a man or woman who is called to lead but who shrinks from that role of leadership.

One can only imagine the wretched conditions inside the creature God had prepared to temporarily house Jonah.  But was it any worse than the situations into which we put ourselves when we run from God?  Eventually the Lord will bring us to a place where we have little choice but to stop, listen and obey.

Buy why wait for such an unpleasant place?

Leaders or backslidden Christians may not understand why God wants them to do a certain thing, but He doesn’t ask us to depend on our own understanding or logic.  Rather, He calls us to walk in obedience to His instruction.  Don’t make it necessary for God to introduce you to the inside of a fish!  Obey Him when He tells you to do something!

Family, Leadership, Personal Development

Obadiah: Lessons in Humility

2298031231_3c86482a46_mThe source of power is God.  The purpose of power is to establish God’s will in the sphere of society over which one holds power.  When we abuse the power God gives us, the God of the Universe who allowed us to gain that power, will do what is necessary to set things right.

God delegates his power and authority to mankind.  There are four areas of society in which God delegates his authority:

1.  Family (parents)

2.  Employers (over employees)

3.  Government (presidents and prime ministers all the way down to the local government officials)

4.  Church (pastors and church leaders at all levels)

The problem with mankind at every level is we assume we obtain positions of authority and power because of our own cleverness or skill, but it is God who raises up and casts down leaders according to His sovereign plan.  The purpose is to establish His will, purposes and righteousness in every sphere of society.  When we leaders are self-centered, angry, abusive or prideful we abuse God’s purpose for giving us power or authority.  This is the problem we have in the Book of Obadiah.

Much of the following notes are from the John Maxwell Leadership Bible.

Obadiah, an obscure prophet in Israel, writing to the descendants of Esau (Edom) about 587 BC, addressed their issue of pride and abuse of power and influence.  Esau was Jacob’s twin brother.  He was an outdoorsman and a hunter whom God scolded after he succombed to lust for immediate gratification (Genesis 25:27-34; Hebrews 12:16).  Esau neglected his priorities and lost sight of God’s eternal purposes.  God endowed Esau with power, authority and skill to further God’s agenda in his sphere of influence, but Esau became self-centered, angry and arrogant, which became a Generational Curse upon his descendants, the Edomites.  The Edomites lived in the high, rocky cliffs and supposed their ingenuity and location made them invincible.  They hated their relatives the Israelites and rather than protecting Israel when invaders attacked they gloated, laughed and even joined in on the attack.  The prophet Obadiah wrote about this pride.

The prophet’s timeless lesson applies to leaders everywhere throughout history.  Pride and treachery lead to destruction, but humility and loyalty gain God’s blessings.

We learn from Obadiah that personal gain, honor, rivalry, competition and comparison are not a good motivation for leadership.  Those attitudes affected the descendants of Esau to the point that they lost perspective on the Eternal God who created them for His purposes.  They therefore sabotaged their own destiny.  How often does this happen to leaders in the four spheres of leadership today?

God hates pride.  Through Obadiah He promised to humble the Edomites for their arrogant attitudes and their self-centered world view.  They thought they had achieved the success they enjoyed by themselves.  Leaders must never buy into the thinking that “they did it all themselves.”  There is a Sovereign God working behind the scenes of our life positioning us as a parent, business person or employer, supervisor at our work, government  or church leader to accomplish His purposes within our sphere of influence.  The higher leaders go (believer and unbeliever) the more we must humble ourselves and declare what King Nebuchadnezzar learned – “The Most High rules in the kingdoms of men and gives it to whomever He wills, and sets over it the lowest of men.”  Daniel 4:1-3, 47.

Our success should not deceive us.  Leader blinded by pride should be pitied.  God will raise up situations to humble them. He will not allow arrogance to continue indefinitely.  Generally He gives a warning to leaders through a word from another leader, a failure, a broken relationship, a personal weakness or a plan that fails.  If the leader does not respond with humility God sets the wheels of justice in motion.  He will execute His justice by whatever means He chooses.

When leaders have the power to do good and extend God’s Kingdom within their sphere of influence and don’t use it, God holds them guilty.  James 4:7  Edom misused God’s power and authority and suffered the dire consequences.  Lord, help us learn.