Appropriately Proactive

Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away… (1 Samuel 13:8).

The men of Israel saw what a tight spot they were in; and because they were hard pressed by the enemy, they tried to hide in caves, thickets, rocks, holes, and cisterns. Some of them crossed the Jordan River and escaped into the land of Gad and Gilead. 

Meanwhile, Saul stayed at Gilgal, and his men were trembling with fear. Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn’t come. Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away. So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself.

Saul stayed … Saul waited … and as a result, Saul sinned.

Saul ended up being inappropriately reactive, and thus committing a sin. His reaction to his men slipping away, hiding, and defecting was to act in a way that was inappropriate for anyone but the priest.

It’s been said that action has killed its thousands, and reaction has killed its tens of thousands. But if only Saul would have proactively sought God, or proactively formed a battle strategy, or proactively spoke an encouraging word to his men, or proactively moved out with his troops—anything(!) but just sit still—perhaps his legacy as king wouldn’t have been so short lived.

When leaders aren’t appropriately proactive, they risk becoming inappropriately reactive.

A mark of a godly leader is one who is appropriately proactive.

This is part 20 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts on this topic by clicking here.

11 Quotes From “Brothers, We Are Not Professionals”

John Piper has written a book that I think every pastor should read: Brothers, We Are Not Professionals. You can read my review of this book here. Below are just a few quotes that caught my attention.

“We pastors are being killed by the professionalizing of the pastoral ministry. The mentality of the professional is not the mentality of the prophet. … The professionalization of the ministry is a constant threat to the offense of the gospel.”

“I defined spiritual leadership as ‘knowing where God wants people to be and taking the initiative to get them there by God’s means in reliance on God’s power.’ …  So the goal of spiritual leadership is to muster people to join God in living for God’s glory.”

“The Son of Man has not come seeking employees. He has come to employ Himself for our good.”

“In this fallen world, the tide is always going out. That is, the affections of our people have for God Himself (as distinct from His gifts) are continually prone to shrink. Our job is to tilt the world, by the power of the Spirit and the Word, so that the tide rolls in again.”

“A pastor who feels competent in himself to produce eternal fruit knows neither God nor himself.”

“Salvation is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). Love is a gift of God (1 Thessalonians 3:12). Faith is a gift of God (1 Timothy 1:14). Wisdom is a gift of God (Ephesians 1:17). Joy is a gift of God (Romans 15:13). Yet as pastors we must labor to ‘save some’ (1 Corinthians 9:22). We must stir up the people to love (Hebrews 10:24). We must advance their faith (Philippians 1:25). We must impart wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:7). We must work for their joy (2 Corinthians 1:24). We are called to labor for that which is God’s alone to give. The essence of the Christian ministry is that its success is not within our reach.”

“Are not our people really yearning to be around a man who has been around God? Is it not the lingering aroma of prayer that gives a sense of eternity to all our work?”

“Few things frighten me more than the beginnings of barrenness that come from frenzied activity with little spiritual food and meditation.”

“The domestication of God is a curse on preaching in our day. We need to recover reality and the language of majesty and holiness and awe and glory.”

“He knows that the only way he can deliver God’s message to God’s people is by being rooted in it and by saturating his sermon with God’s own revelation in the Bible. The Bible-oriented preacher wants the congregation to know that his words, if they have any abiding worth, are in accord with God’s words. He wants this to be obvious to them. That is part of his humility and his authority. Therefore, he constantly tries to show the people that his ideas are coming from the Bible. He is hesitant to go too far toward points that are not demonstrable from the Bible.”

“Our salvation and the salvation of those who hear us week after week depend in large measure on our faithful attention to personal holiness and sound teaching” [see 1 Timothy 4:16]. … Oh, how earnest we should be in attending to ourselves and the soundness and helpfulness of our teaching!”

A Leader’s Appropriate Anger

…he became very angry (1 Samuel 11:6).

Sometimes we think of godly leaders as always being cool, calm, and collected. But to remain calm when the situation calls for a vigorous response is unbecoming of the title of “godly” leader, and may even be a sin.

The Israelite city of Jabesh-Gilead had been surrounded by the forces of King Nahash. His terms of surrender to these Israelites was unduly harsh: “I will gouge out the right eye of every one of you as a disgrace to all Israel! (v. 2).

When this message got to King Saul, “the Spirit of God came powerfully upon Saul, and he became very angry.” He sent messengers to all of Israel demanding all the able-bodied men to come out to join his army in counter-attacking King Nahash.

Notice that what prompted Saul’s anger was God’s Spirit coming upon him. Since Israel was about to be disgraced, Saul had to act! Also notice this: “And the Lord made the people afraid of Saul’s anger, and all of them came out together as one” (v. 7).

The opposite of love is not hate; the opposite of love is apathy. God expresses strong emotions without sinning. When the Spirit of God made Saul angry at the oppression and potential disgrace of His people, Saul acted. To not act—to shrug his shoulders in apathy and say, “That’s not my problem”—would have been a sin.

Sometimes Christians want to suppress a strong feeling of hate or anger. But when God hates something or is angry at something, we would do well to pay attention to that and feel and act as God would have us act. The Bible tells us not to sin in our anger, but it never tells us not to be angry. 

Anything that is keeping someone from God’s love or God’s presence should arouse our righteous anger to do righteous things.

A mark of a godly leader is one who knows the right things to hate.

This is part 19 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts on this topic by clicking here.

Adapting Or Adopting

“Our job is not merely to adopt what’s trending in our culture. Leaders don’t just fit in. Our goal is to adapt, not adopt. …

“The fact is when we merely ‘adopt’ what’s happening, we tend to drift. Cultures do this; schools do this, and families to do this well. Years ago, Lawrence Miller wrote about this topic in Barbarians to Bureaucrats. He observes that companies, organizations and schools ‘evolve’ over time, but actually the evolution usually becomes a ‘drift’ away from the very premise it was built upon.

“The process starts with the ‘prophets.’ They’re the people with a vision for something new. They’re idea people. But they’re usually threatening to the existing order and are often ignored, criticized, frustrated or otherwise rejected.

“Eventually, however, people recognize the need for change. That’s when the ‘barbarians’ step in. They’re the ones with the influence to knock heads together, and again the power to implement the changes the prophets suggested earlier. They are often people like Steve Jobs, Ted Turner, or Oprah Winfrey. They conquer territory that some assumed could never be conquered and foster change.

“Following the ‘barbarians’ come the ‘builders’ and the ‘explorers.’ These people take the empire the ‘barbarians’ conquered and begin to build bridges, chart courses and develop systems that enabled the empire to grow and prosper.

“Next, come the ‘administrators.’ This type of person almost always follows, because the ‘builders’ and ‘explorers’ get bored and need someone who enjoys managing a system. They add no new ideas or wealth, but simply keep things running smoothly.

“Eventually, the ‘administrators’ give way to the ‘bureaucrats.’ These folks not only add no new ideas, but they actually suppress innovation and focus their efforts on maintaining control of the empire. Change is too messy or expensive. To keep money flowing, ‘bureaucrats’ tend to concentrate on cost-cutting and re-organizing, milking what’s left of the old ideas. It’s important to note—one of the chief goals of the bureaucrat is to suppress the rise of any new order of prophets.

“The final phase of this downward spiral is the shift from ‘bureaucrats’ to ‘aristocrats.’ They’re the ones who’ve inherited the wealth of the previous generation and occupy themselves with consuming the last benefits from the old ideas. Fortunately, they don’t last very long in a competitive climate because they get bumped off by new ‘barbarians’ who promote the ideas of outside prophets from other places. In short, change will either happened to us, or because of us.

“Adapting means we shift. Adopting means we drift.” —Tim Elmore, in Marching Off The Map

If you haven’t already, check out my review of Tim Elmore’s book here. I have shared several other quotes from this amazing book, which are all compiled here.

11 Quotes From “The Heart Of A Leader”

As the title hints, Ken Blanchard makes the case that the heart of great leadership is a leader’s great heart. You can check out my full book review of The Heart Of A Leader by clicking here.

“Remember, the best leaders are those who understand that their power flows through them, not from them.”

“Many well-intentioned leaders wait to praise their people until they do things exactly right, complete the project, or accomplish the goal. The problem here is that they could wait forever. You see, ‘exactly right’ behavior is made up of a whole series of approximately right behaviors. It makes more sense to praise progress.”

“An effective leader will make it a priority to help his or her people produce good results in two ways: making sure people know what their goals are and doing everything possible to support, encourage, and coach them to accomplish those goals.”

“If you don’t take time out to think, strategize, and prioritize, you will work a whole lot harder, without enjoying the benefits of a job smartly done.”

“Nice guys may appear to finish last, but usually they are running in a different race.” —Ken Blanchard and Norman Vincent Peale

“Being too hard on yourself is counterproductive. Don’t expect instant perfection. Though self-criticism is healthy, it should not be destructive. It’s unfair to be hard on yourself the first time you attempt something new. It is also unfair to expect others to meet such an unrealistic expectation. Keep in mind that it’s unnecessary to do everything exactly right the first time.”

“Here’s a great rule for doing business today: Think more about your people, and they will think more of themselves.”

“When you ask people about the best leader they ever had, one quality is always mentioned: they are good listeners. These leaders have learned to ‘sort by others.’ When someone says, ‘It’s a beautiful day,’ they respond by keeping the focus on the speaker. For example, they’ll respond, ‘It sounds like you’re pretty happy today.’ Poor listeners ‘sort by self.’ If you express a concern you have, they will express a concern they have.”

“Leading people is the opposite of trying to control them; it’s about gaining their trust through your integrity, developing their potential through your partnership, and motivating them through your affirmation.”

“Consistency does not mean behaving the same way all the time. It actually means behaving the same way under similar circumstances. … When you respond to your people in the same way under similar circumstances, you give them a valuable gift: the gift of predictability.”

“Remember that the primary biblical image of servant leadership is that of the shepherd. The flock is not there for the sake of the shepherd; the shepherd is there for the sake of the flock.”

The Heart Of A Leader (book review)

Kenneth Blanchard has delivered to us some game-changing books over his years of writing. He has challenged us to do business in a different way, he has coached us on how to take control of our lives, and he has equipped us to better invest in the lives of the people around us. But ultimately he tells us that leadership is an issue of the heart. The Heart Of A Leader is a collection of quotes and insights from Ken Blanchard which go right to the heart of a leader.

Time and time again Blanchard uses the phrase “an effective leader.” He is not primarily concerned with leaders being efficient, and he certainly doesn’t define leadership success by an organization’s financial wellbeing. In his mind, an effective leader engages his heart first to serve those whom he leads.

Throughout his career, Blanchard has partnered with some amazingly insightful co-authors to bring a fresh perspective on how leaders can lead best from the heart. Many of these co-authors are featured in The Heart Of A Leader, which will help you see new paradigms of leadership acumen.

If you’ve never read anything from Ken Blanchard before, this book is a good sampler that will help you choose a book to read in its entirety. If you are already a fan of Blanchard’s writings, this book will help you see the consistency of his work. In either case, you cannot go wrong in reading these helpful words!

A Leader’s Observations

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers… (Psalm 8:3).

David starts and ends this psalm with the same phrase: O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth! In the middle, David marvels at the diversity and beauty of God’s creation. David observes…

  • the blue skies
  • the wide-eyed wonder of children
  • the moon and stars
  • the marvel of man
  • the flocks and herds of the field
  • the birds in the air
  • the fish in the seas

David takes nothing for granted. He observes, he sees God, and then he worships God as Creator. David’s constant cycle is—observation and contemplation which leads to adoration.

A mark of a godly leader is one who is continually learning about his Creator.

Don’t ever stop observing; don’t ever stop learning. Become a lifelong learner, and let your contemplation lead you to adoration of our excellent Lord and Creator!

This is Part 18 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts on this topic by clicking here.

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