Profiles in Leadership—Paying Your Vows—April 30, 2017

Vol. 2, No. 18 – 2017Promises

I have made a vow to the Lord and I cannot take it back. Judges 11:35

When is the last time you made a vow? The greatest vow of my life is one I made to God regarding my life to Him. Another vow I made was 54 years ago as I stood with my lovely bride before God, the preacher, and all those attending the wedding. I have kept those vows, and they remain precious (as does my wife) for all those years. The keeping of vows is a sacred duty.

Leaders often make vows before the one(s) they are to be accountable. At times, a leader comes to a place where they do not want to keep a specific vow; it is inconvenient, hard, not the best time, there are few resources, or some other excuse that seems appropriate for their use.

Jephthah trained a hapless group of jobless, uneducated, and ill-fit men for 18 years, developing them to be following leaders and functioning warriors.

Jephthah would not make the list of select leaders today. He was an illegitimate son who was cast out of his home. He is not embittered; he develops into a God-fearing leader. Although he did not seek the eyes of others, there came a delegation from Gilead to enlist him to be their commander against the Ammonite warriors.

He gained a great victory, yet there was a situation. He had made a vow before God–his ultimate authority. The vow?

God, if you would but give me the ability to defeat this evil enemy, when I get back home, I will sacrifice the first person who comes to greet me—I will offer them back to You. Judges 11:30-40

Upon his return home, the first to greet him was his daughter. What do you do with someone, or something you love and discover you have included that person or thing in your vow? A leader keeps their vows, or they are not really a leader. Theologians debate the outcome of this vow as many use eisegeses rather than exegesis–many do not consider the laws of God. God is one who holds to His vows. Principles in God’s Word do not change; our making of a vow demands its fulfillment.

Leaders must take note:

  1. God honors the one who keeps their vows in a day when leaders breaking their vows is the norm
  2. God denounces complacency, while many of today’s leaders practice complacency
  3. God honors those whose lives reflect integrity, while many of today’s leaders forfeit integrity for their own convenience
  4. God honors truth, while many of today’s leaders make up their own truths
  5. God is the authority, while many of today’s leaders attempt to make themselves to be the authority

So when you talk to God and vow to Him that you will do something, do not delay in doing it, for God has no pleasure in fools. Keep your promise to Him. Ecclesiastes 5:4

Those That Serve are Responsible—April 23, 2017

Vol. 2, No. 17 – 2017time

We are each responsible for our own conduct. Galatians 6:5

I have experience in leadership and management—29 years in business, 15 years in ministry, 12 years in education, and 10 years in consulting. No, I did not do this separately; however, the experience is well-documented.

One of the things that has amazed me (and disappointed me) over the years is the significant number of managers and leaders who have the idea that the most important thing for them to do is to delegate (and to avoid having to pitch in and help).

There are to be no freeloaders among leaders, staff, and servants in our institutions, businesses, churches, and government. It seems, however, that many think it is their right to let Harry do it.

We are to help others with their overwhelming burdens and tasks, while we manage the load of responsibilities in our own backpack. I have a son that is the principal in a Christian school. One of the things he does is to take young people on hikes, canoeing, white water rafting, caving, and deep sea kayaking. It is not unusual for him to carry the burdens of the young people as they tire of carrying equipment for the trips (along with his own backpack). It really meets the expectations spoken of in the Scriptures.

While others should be able to carry their load, there are times when they cannot do so. A true leader steps in to help.

There are also times when one must step in to help when life throws a curveball. My father died from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. My wife and I lived in another state. When we recognized that we needed to be back home to care for mom’s needs, we sold our home, I changed my ministry position, and moved back to Ohio.

There were times I questioned my ability to fulfill the caregiver role and maintain my own family. I was reminded not only that God expects a son or daughter to fulfill the needs of a parent; but also, I was reminded that God is fully dependable and capable to step in to care for the needs I could not supply.

That is what servant-leaders do, true servant-leaders. Staffs serve leaders, often for years. It is only fair and respectful for servant leaders to fulfill their obligations to those needing aid among their staffs.

The question for you as you read this month’s blog is: “How are you doing with your backpack? Does it have room for others? Can you wear your backpack, and at the same time help relieve some burden another is carrying?

When you look to others in need, are they an interruption; or, is God alerting you to a purposed opportunity to fulfill His plan in their life?

Even one of the strongest leaders our country has ever known came to a place where he needed aid. His wife stepped in to help manage his burden. She was a following leader cast in the mold of her faithful leader-husband. Ronald Reagan was the leader-husband; Nancy Reagan was the following leader.

           I have begun the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life—Ronald Reagan

Each of us must take responsibility for doing their best, and then stretch for the most in consideration for others.

Profiles in Leadership—Bramble-king—April 16, 2017

Vol. 2, No. 16 – 2017brambles

Gideon had a concubine in Shechem, who presented him with a son named Abimelech. Judges 8:31-9:57

When the one who is in authority leaves, I will get my own way! Following leaders often fall into the trap of trying to do things their own way.

As soon as Gideon was buried, Abimelech, “the reckless,” went berserk for prestige and power. In a villainous coup d’état, he gets rid of all his competition. He wants to be in charge. 69 half-brothers are slaughtered.

People will do strange and horrible things in a lust for power and control.

As many leaders today, Abimelech is a self-appointed opportunist; he wants the power and prestige that goes with the position. It is not just that he only wants to be king, he wants his own way. He wants to control things. He wants things to be done in only one way—his way. Wow! How current! Think of the struggle between Democrat and Republican elites, world dictators, and Islamic terrorists.

Jotham, his half-brother, said Abimelech was a prickly shrub—a bramble-king. Brambles are branches or bushes, often thorny, and are only good for burning, or starting fires. Bramble people make poor leaders, they burn things. Germany had a bramble-leader.

Fuhrer Hitler’s communication with his audiences was uncanny. He established a rapport almost immediately and deepened and intensified it as he went on speaking, holding them completely in his spell. In such a state, they easily believed anything he said, even the most foolish nonsense. William L. Shier, 1934.

How many leaders are you aware of that lead with foolish nonsense?

Abimelech got what he wanted by smooth-talking others for support and money. With a financial power base, he brings thugs and cronies to work alongside of him, and executes any that step in his way.

Like Abimelech, many leaders today have a fear they may finish last (in fact, they are taught that outcomes will follow if they finish even below the top tier). Leaders of this kind do not seek counsel, they issue executive orders and let the chips fall where they may.

In reality, good leaders need not fear, or be ashamed to finish below the top tier. Many leaders discover they need to relinquish power, and learn to be a servant, in order to be successful. That is not the way corporate America, or institutional America, views leader function.

Another leader, Jesus Christ, turns an old nursery rhyme around.

        Finders weepers,
        Losers keepers

Abimelech got to the top his way, but the parade was already headed the other way; too often true in today’s world.

The way to get to the head of a parade is to go to the end of the line. William O’Malley

If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and servant of all. Mark 9:35

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