Podcast: Responsibility Starts At The Top

Listen to the audio-only version of this podcast by clicking on the player below, or scroll down to watch the video.

On this episode of “The Craig And Greg Show” we talk about: 

  • [0:55] What’s one of the biggest attributes that sets leaders apart from their peers? 
  • [1:56] Check out why Stephen Covey’s definition of responsibility is so important in our discussion
  • [3:02] Why do people like to play “the blame game”?
  • [4:18] Accountability must be a partner with healthy responsibility
  • [4:52] Greg learned the blame game early on with his younger sister
  • [5:57] I worked in an unhealthy organization where the senior leader never accepted personal responsibility
  • [8:04] How do leaders “own it” in a healthy way?
  • [9:22] Exemplary leaders demonstrate how to accept consequences in a healthy way
  • [10:34] Responsibility and coachability strengthen a team and unleash greater potential
  • [11:27] Blame is “so dang easy” and makes the blamer a laughingstock
  • [13:27] What things contribute to blaming?
  • [14:14] How Greg handled the compliments and complaints from his clients
  • [15:11] Blaming is a spreading cancer in your organization
  • [15:44] Being a control freak isn’t the same thing as taking responsibility
  • [17:01] There is a balance for leaders so they don’t “fall on their swords”
  • [18:49] Team sports give us a good analogy of what shared responsibility looks like
  • [21:07] What’s on the other side of responsibility and blame?
  • [21:47] Leaders can enhance the benefits of responsibility through self-reflection
  • [23:51] Greg has a memorable and disarming way of helping people accept responsibility
  • [24:27] Our coaching huddles can help you learn to enhance the benefits of responsibility in your personal leadership

Check out this episode and subscribe on YouTube so you can watch all of the upcoming episodes. You can also listen to our podcast on Spotify and Apple.

Responsibility And Accountability

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

God had a rather simple message for Ezekiel, “The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, speak to your people’” (Ezekiel 33:1–2). 

I find that pronoun “your“ intriguing because you would think that God would say, “My people.” They are indeed God’s people, but God had set Ezekiel apart as His watchman (vv. 7–20), so Ezekiel had to take personal responsibility for the people. They were to be treated and spoken to as though they were indeed his people. 

This idea of responsibility gets a little tricky for some leaders because, with the responsibility to their people, they usually feel they are accountable to their people as well. 

But in the next few verses, God makes it clear that Ezekiel must be accountable to God alone.

Responsible to his people. Accountable to his God. 

When we start feeling we are accountable to people, we can get distracted, discouraged, or derailed by their unpleasant responses. 

Notice that when Jesus spoke pleasing words to people, everyone spoke well of Him. But when He pointed out to them the words of God they were ignoring, they were ready to kill Him. 

People are fickle—they sing praises when they hear those words they like, and they are ready to attack the messenger when the words are upsetting. 

A mark of a godly leader is one who has a clear understanding of his responsibility and his accountability.

When you are God’s leader, He will entrust people to your care and He will entrust His message for those people to you. You are now responsible to deliver His message to your people. You are then accountable to God alone for delivering His message. Be responsible to people, accountable to God, and be careful not to mix the two. 

This is part 66 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

Trading Rights For Responsibilities

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

“When you become a leader, you lose the right to think about yourself.” —Gerald Brooks 

Sadly, I encounter far too many “leaders” (at least they are leaders in title only) who think being a leader means they have more rights. It might be the right to a better parking place, or to be first in line, or to ignore some of the rules that others have to follow. 

That certainly wasn’t the attitude of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9, a chapter which the NIV gives the heading ‘Paul Gives Up His Rights’:

Since we have planted spiritual seed among you, aren’t we entitled to a harvest of physical food and drink? If you support others who preach to you, shouldn’t we have an even greater right to be supported? But we have never used this right. We would rather put up with anything than be an obstacle to the Good News about Christ. (1 Corinthians 9:11-12 NLT) 

Paul said the natural thing was for those in leadership to feel entitled to certain rights, but the spiritual thing is to turn those rights into responsibilities toward the people around us. 

Spiritual leadership is not about gaining more rights, it’s about fulfilling God-given responsibilities. In fact, the higher you progress in a leadership role, the fewer rights you have. Godly servant leaders gladly trade rights for responsibilities. 

A mark of a godly leader is one who has stopped demanding his “rights.”

To trade our rights for responsibilities is a sacrifice. But I don’t mean a sacrifice that comes with a “Woe is me!” feeling. God will only ask us to sacrifice what is holding us back. God wants to use His leaders to minister to His people. He will not give us a larger position if we are only going to use that for our own benefit.

Consider the rights Jesus had because He was fully God. Yet He made the ultimate rights-for-responsibilities sacrifice by going to the Cross in our place. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). 

Leaders, I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you may be clinging to your rights, and how you can exchange those rights for responsibilities to the people God has placed under your care.

This is part 65 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? My Patreon supporters get behind-the-scenes access to exclusive materials. ◀︎◀︎

6 Quotes From “Voice Of A Prophet”

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.

A.W. Tozer pulls no punches in the way he confronts modern-day preachers (those he calls “sons of the prophets”). He challenges pastors to return to the Scriptures, hit their knees in prayer, and do some serious soul searching on where they may be falling short of the standard set by the biblical prophets. You can read my full book review of Voice Of A Prophet by clicking here. 

“It is not the messenger, it is the message that needs to be proclaimed. If you study the Old and New Testaments you will discover that no prophet can ever be a celebrity. The most significant thing about the prophet is the message he conveys, and that message had better by rooted in the heart of God.” 

“The responsibility of the prophet is not to come up with his own message, but to faithfully deliver the message—the warning—that is coming from God.” 

“The song of the prophet is, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ Any other song will never do for God’s man to be God’s voice to his generation.” 

“God takes so much delight in us that He will go to any length to bring us back to that delight.” 

“Jesus said that our problem is a spiritual danger, not a physical danger, and our visible enemies are rarely our real enemies. The man who comes at you with a gun is not your real enemy, though his intention may be to kill you. Your real enemy is that enemy within you that makes you vulnerable to him. Esau was Jacob’s enemy because of what Jacob had done to him, but Esau was not Jacob’s real enemy. Jacob was Jacob’s enemy. The crookedness in Jacob’s heart was against Jacob, and when God straightened that out, Esau was not his enemy anymore.” 

“Well do I know, Thou God of the prophets and the apostles, that as long as I honor Thee Thou will honor me. Help me therefore to take this solemn vow to honor Thee in all my future life and labors, whether by gain or by loss, by life or by death, and then to keep that vow unbroken while I live. … Save me from the error of judging a church by its size, its popularity or the amount of its yearly offering. Help me to remember that I am a prophet—not a promoter, not a religious manager, but a prophet. Let me never become a slave to crowds.” 

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An Awesome Privilege And Responsibility

…Joshua the high priest… (Zechariah 3:1). 

The way that God talks about Joshua the high priest is quite informative for anyone in a position of godly leadership. 

From this passage [Zechariah 3:1-10] we learn that God’s leaders are…

  • … standing in God’s presence 
  • … opposed by satan
  • … protected by God
  • … anointed, empowered, and inflamed by God
  • … cleansed by God
  • … admonished by God to live up to the highest standards of righteousness
  • … given rewards for their righteousness
  • … used by God to accomplish His plan

Being a leader is an awesome privilege and responsibility! This is not a position anyone should seek for themselves (James 3:1; Jeremiah 45:5). 

A mark of a godly leader is one who feels the weight of God’s calling. 

This is part 31 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

11 Quotes From “The Nehemiah Code”

All of us have opportunities where we need to rebuild something that has fallen apart. O.S. Hawkins uses the example of Nehemiah in the Bible to teach us highly applicable rebuilding principles. You can check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“One never rebuilds until he personally identifies with the need and weeps over the ruins. … Sadly, there are many who are simply not grieved or burdened about the walls in their lives that are broken and in need of rebuilding. It has been far too long since some of us have ‘sat down,’ much less ‘wept, and mourned for many days.’” 

“Those who play the blame game never get the task of rebuilding completed.” 

“True rebuilders identify with the fears and failures of those around them. They take personal responsibility for the situation—even if the problems didn’t begin with them.” 

“Opportunities most often come our way when we are knocking on the door and not simply waiting for an opportunity to knock.” 

“Nehemiah was able to convince the people to adopt his vision because he followed three vital rules in goal setting: they were conceivable, believable, and achievable.” 

“Note the repetition of the plural personal pronouns in his challenge: ‘we … us … we’ (Nehemiah 2:17). Nehemiah was smart enough to incorporate a lot of plural pronouns. He was subtly motivating his people to work with him and not for him.” 

“Nehemiah left us a stellar example to follow by laying out five important principles that are essential to the delegation process: set clear objectives with specific tasks, pick the right person for the right job, be an example yourself, hold others accountable, and be generous in giving genuine pats on the back.” 

“When it comes to personal relationships, we all need someone to whom we are accountable. Someone who will remind us of God’s standards and give a gentle nudge—or shove—when we stray from those standards. Without such a friend, the result is often self-reliance, self-righteousness, self-sufficiency, and self-centeredness, rather than God-centeredness.” 

“The fatigue factor is often at the root of our own failures. We simply give out and become too tired to go on, so we are then tempted to give in and to give up. When fatigue sets in during the rebuilding process, it brings along with it a loss of perspective, and little things often become much bigger than they really are. …Fatigue pulled their focus from their goal and placed it upon the rubbish, which led to frustration.” 

“People have a way of rallying around a cause if they are convinced that God is in the midst of it. Which voice do the troops hear from your mouth? Is it the voice of Sanballat and ‘We won’t’? Is it the voice of Judah and ‘We can’t’? Or is it the voice of Nehemiah and ‘God will!’?” 

“At last, the goal was in sight. The finish line. ‘Mission Accomplished’ just ahead. But be warned: this is the most dangerous point in any rebuilding process. This is when the enemy comes along with one final attempt to divert us from our goal. …It is not so much how long our personal race may be, nor even how difficult the obstacles we face along the way, but it is how we finish that matters most.” 

Christian Citizenship = Stewardship

“For the Christian, citizenship is about stewardship. That’s especially true in a country where our most important governing document begins with ‘We the People.’ That means we have a lot of responsibility. …  

“God has ordained a government as one way that He shows grace to all people. Government should recognize the God-given duty of human beings and respect the roles and responsibilities of family and church. Government is to keep the peace through the rule of law and to use force to punish those who break it. The role of government is to maintain justice and peace in society so other institutions, especially the family in the church, can do what they are designed to do. …

“Christians should enter the public square with a biblically shaped perspective. To apply a Christian worldview to questions of public policy is not exercising self-interest. It is simply serving our neighbor by testifying to the way God has made the world.” —Jennifer A. Marshall 

For the Christian, citizenship is about stewarding the responsibilities God has given us to the countries in which we live. Those include things like:

  1. Showing proper respect to those in leadership positions (Romans 13:1-6)
  2. Submitting like we’re servants of the King of kings (1 Peter 2:13-17)
  3. Praying for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
  4. Voting for those people who uphold biblical principles

“All the opportunity for self-government through the rule of the people depends upon one single factor. That is the ballot box. . . . The people of our country are sovereign. If they do not vote they abdicate that sovereignty, and they may be entirely sure that if they relinquish it other forces will seize it, and if they fail to govern themselves some other power will rise up to govern them.” —President Calvin Coolidge

9 More Quotes From “Marching Off The Map”

Dr. Tim Elmore has given parents, teachers, coaches, and anyone else who works with students some excellent insights in his book Marching Off The Map. Here are a few more quotes from Dr. Elmore.

“The Latin root word for ‘educate’ is ‘ducere’ which means to ‘push out.’ … We should not put students in a passive mode as we teach. We must be inspirers of learning. We must help pull ambition out of them, not push information into them.”

“According to Dr. Michael Leahy, ‘Today’s typical high school student endures the same anxiety levels as a psychiatric patient did in the early 1950s.’ In any given year, about one in five will experience an anxiety attack. Why? Their world is overwhelming, cluttered with information coming at them at the rate of a thousand messages a day.”

“Thousands of Baby Boomers retire each day in America. They will leave leadership positions needing to be filled. Even if everyone in Generation X were a brilliant leader, there would not be enough of them to fill the vacancies left by the Boomers. The young adults among the Millennial Generation will be needed for leadership, ready or not.”

“Although our young adults are rich in potential—we don’t really expect them to perform responsible acts until a full decade later that we expected a century ago. I believe it’s detrimental both for our kids and our society. In many states, we give them the rights to adulthood at 18 or 21, like smoking, drinking or voting. We don’t, however, expect the responsibilities that accompanied those rights. It’s unhealthy. The rights and responsibilities should always go together.”

“Remember that children (in general) cannot comprehend an addictive behavior. Adults must lead them into healthy moderation, where they both understand and enjoy technology, but utilize it as a ‘servant.’ 

“Remember that children will choose ice cream over lima beans—and screens over the healthy alternatives for play. While there are some exceptions, adults must be the ones to lead them in their emotional development, and introduce behaviors and habits that produce maturity.

“Remember that children are drawn to entertainment, whether or not they learn something from it. … Adults must leverage what they’re magnetically drawn to and make it beneficial.”

“Wise leaders utilize vision that can see both backward and forward. They look back and learn from the past. They glean from past mistakes in order to avoid repeating them. Additionally, they seek what was helpful and timeless so they can carry those elements forward. They swing backward so they can swing forward well.”

“A culture that offers the young information and autonomy without requiring equal parts accountability and responsibility produces ‘unready’ adults.”

“Students are incentivized if they know why a topic is relevant before they learn. Students bond with an experience more than a lecture. Students comprehend information when it’s connected to a narrative. Students remember data when an image is utilized in their learning.”

“Effective teachers don’t say as much as possible. They actually say as little as needed—allowing students to get on with their learning.”

You can also check out my review of Marching Off The Map by clicking here. The first set of quotes (and an infographic) I shared from the book are here, and a set of quotes that Dr. Elmore shared in his book are here.

9 More Quotes From “Marching Off The Map”

Tim Elmore’s insights on the youth culture are amazing. To synthesize such great insights he obviously needs to read lots and lots of research. In all of his books, Dr. Elmore freely shares the cream-of-the-crop quotes he’s uncovered in his research. Here are a few of those quotes which I appreciated.

“In the modern world we have invented ways of speeding up invention, and people’s lives change so fast that a person is born into one kind of world, grows up in another, and by the time his children are growing up, lives in still a different world.” —Margaret Mead

“We are morphing so fast that our ability to invent new things outpaces the rate we can civilize them.” —Kevin Kelly

“I beseech you to treasure up in your hearts these my parting words: Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” —Horace Mann

“The greatest gifts we can give our children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” —Denis Waitley

“Strangely, the world seems to be growing both more charitable and more selfish at the same time. I have a lot of faith that our children’s generation has the potential to rise to the unimaginable challenges that lie ahead. But at this fascinating crossroads in human history there’s also a sense that a traditional worldview and ethic will come under increasing assault in the western world.” —Chris Arias 

“[Generation Z] are the most connected, educated and sophisticated generation in history. They don’t just represent the future, they are creating it.” —Mark McCrindle

“In every society since the start of history, whenever you broke down any population this way, you’d always get a pyramid. But from 1960-2060, our pyramid will turn into a rectangle. We’ll have almost as many Americans over age 85 as under age 5. This is the result of longer lifespans and lower birthrates. It’s uncharted territory, not just for us, but for all of humanity. And while it’s certainly good news over the long haul for the sustainability of the earth resources, it will create political and economic stress in the short-term, as smaller cohorts of working age adults will be hard-pressed to finance the retirements of larger cohorts of older ones.” —Paul Taylor, Pew Research Center

“We are now at a point where we must educate our children in what no one knew yesterday, and prepare our schools for what no one knows yet.” —Margaret Mead

“The military tells us we must offer diversity training, but it seems to me what our sailors most need is unity training. How can we mesh our differences into a single unit and get results?” —Navy Captain Michael Abrashoff

Check out my review of Marching Off The Map by clicking here. And read some of Tim Elmore’s quotes which I shared here. I will be sharing more quotes from this book soon, so stay tuned!

Godly Leaders Must Do Hard Things

“Arise, for this matter is your responsibility. We also are with you. Be of good courage, and do it” (Ezra 10:4).

Leaders have to do hard things. The responsibility is theirs, and the team is imploring their leader to take the responsibility to lead!

Ezra had to deal with a difficult issue. The issue was intermarriage between the Israelites and pagan nations. To complicate matters, Ezra discovered that “the hand of the leaders and rulers had been foremost in this trespass” (Ezra 9:2). I would guess these leaders had committed the sin of commission (intermarrying themselves or allowing their children to do so), and of omission (not speaking out against trespassers).

But those “who trembled at the words of the God of Israel” were greatly grieved at this national sin (v. 4).

Ezra’s first response was a good one: he fasted and prayed, confessing the sins of the people and identifying himself with them (notice the use of “we” in his prayer). Ezra knew there was a window of opportunity for revival that was about to close, so he must act quickly (vv. 5-15).

Prayer is a great start, but after prayer there must be action: “Arise … and do it”!

I am sure looking transgressors in the eye—especially those who were leading men and women in the community—and calling out their sin wasn’t an easy thing nor a pleasant thing for Ezra to do, but it had to be done.

A mark of a godly leader is one who does the hard good things that must be done.

Ezra doing the hard good thing opened the door for God’s blessing to fall on the people. This is still true for godly leaders today.

My prayer—Lord, strengthen me to “arise and do it” when the hard good things must be done.

This is Part 2 in my series on godly leadership. To read my other posts, please click here.

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