Category Archives: Leadership

Helpful Vision Quote by Ken Blanchard & Phil Hodges

Recently I read this quote from Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges in their classic leadership book: “Lead Like Jesus”

A Vision, or view of the future, is an ongoing, evolving, hopeful look into the future that stirs the hearts and minds of people who know they will never see its end or limit.

As the writer of Proverbs so aptly states, “Where there is no vision the people perish…” Leaders must keep their eyes on the horizon and dream of days to come.

This quote challenges me because it reminds me that leadership is a journey rather than a destination. Leadership boils down to a relationship between the leader and his or her people.

The words that jump off the page to me are evolving, hopeful and stirs. I like the authors’ perspective. From experience I have learned that a long term vision will “evolve” and change overtime. Much like a battle plan must adapt the moment the troops hit the field of battle a good leader follows the “north star” of the vision while maneuevering around the trees and obstacles along the path.

The word “hopeful” captures the essence of a powerful moving vision. In my opinion a vision must generate hope or it will move no one. When a situation is hopeless people tend to give up and give in. A courageous visionary leader must instill hope as a foundation for positive change.

The final word “stirs” reminds me that leaders revolves around movement not ideas. You can have a great idea but if you do not stir the hearts and minds of your followers to action, your idea will make little difference. I believe Jesus’ use of stories and powerful images stirred the hearts of his followers. In addition, Jesus’example of courageous servant leadership set the tone for the future of the Kingdom of God. If your followers can sleep through your vision casting, you need to go back to the drawing board immediately. Stirring the hearts of people means much more than emotional appeals. It means dreaming dreams others can see themselves as a part of their fulfillment.

Leaders, ask yourself a hard question today. Where are you going and do the people who follow you really want to go there with you?

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Filed under El Paso Journal, FBC El Paso, Leadership

Petraeus Affair: Hard Lessons for Leaders

The public fall of General David Petraeus sent shock waves through the nation, especially the military community. Petraeus represent for all Americans what was good and right about “citizen soldiers” of the United States. From all accounts he talked the talk and walked the walk. Then suddenly his reputation came crashing down around his feet. A lifetime of service and sacrifice for a grateful nation tarnish by incredible poor judgment.

Just days ago, Newsweek ran an article praising the general for his leadership and example. His principles of humble leadership called the readers to a higher standard. His first and foremost principle of leadership stated:

“Lead by example from the front of the formation. Take your performance personally—if you are proud to be average, so too will be your troops.”

Can you imagine how much these words–though true to the core–must haunt General Petraeus as he wrestles with the aftermath of violating his own core beliefs. I fear all of us who live in the public light and on the stage know all too well the struggles of living up to the standards and virtues we lay on the shoulders of others. Years ago during my doctoral studies I participated in a seminar on “The Private Life of a Public Person.” We dug deep into the motivations and actions of those who live in the spotlight while President Clinton lived out the scandal and shame of his moral failures in the White House.

The writer of Proverbs centuries before noted in military terms the dangers of having a lack of self-control. He wrote:

“Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.” Proverbs 25:28 NIV

Discipline and self-control protect us from ourselves. The sinful nature stirs deep within the heart and only a fool would believe he or she cannot fall. The old Puritan John Owen warned: “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” For years this quote hung above a study desk as a constant reminder that my enemy within and without plays for keeps.

Pray for General Petraeus and his family. His fall need not be the final word on his life and career, nor does it negate all the good he has accomplished with his life, but his fall warns us all to guard our hearts with all vigilence lest we too fall.

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A Little White Lie–A Big Black Mark

Last week news about Yahoo’s CEO Scott Thompson rocked the tech world. Just a few months ago Yahoo, a struggling tech giant, gave the reins of their world-wide operation to Thompson, who had a long track record of success. However, last week one of the key investors in the company uncovered an “inadvertent error” on Thompson’s resume. Apparently Thompson has reported for years that he earned a computer science degree from Stonehill College near Boston, when in reality he had earned no such degree.

Without doubt Yahoo did not hired Thompson because of his studies as an undergraduate. They sought out his expertise as a leader, manager, and business innovator. Yet his position in the company hangs in the balance because of a “little white lie.” He did graduate from Stonehill, but with an accounting degree not a degree in computer science.

Sadly Thompson is not alone in his creative resume writing. According to an estimated 34% of the clients falsified their resumes. Yahoo Hot Jobs revealed that according to a questionnaire of their participants 41% admitting lying on resumes. In these difficult economic times sadly many people have stooped to deception as the path to success.

In 2006, First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach had to force their pastor out due to lies and deceptions on his resume uncovered by the local newspaper. The investigation by the newspaper reveals not only lies about his background and education but criminal type abusing of church credit cards and bank accounts at previous assignments.

In the world of leadership and influence trust and integrity stand out as essential qualities. Solomon, who knew all too well the pressures of leadership wrote:

Kings take pleasure in honest lips;  they value the one who speaks what is right. (Proverbs 16.13 NIV)

In 2011,  Forbes magazine ran piece by Merrill Matthews on the lessons learned from the fall of John Edwards. Like the crumbling of an evil empire, Edwards imploded. He was his own worst enemy. One of the lessons Matthews pointed out struck home with me in a big way. Matthew’s wrote: “Politicians need honest employees and friends.” He went on to explain:

“The powerful need honest people around them—staff and friends—who are willing to say, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Like the classic story “The Emperor’s New Clothes” by Hans Christian Anderson, we all need people in our lives who will tell us the truth like the boy who informed the King he had no clothes on. Could it be that one of the first steps needed to rebuild our nation and its character will be simply “telling the truth.”

The next time you are tempted to tell a little white lie–stop yourself–count the cost–tell the truth.  The truth has a way of paying off in the end.


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Change of Command

“Not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock”–Peter (I Peter 5:3 NIV)

Fort Bliss–This week I had the distinct honor to be invited to the change of command ceremony of the Attack Company, 4th BN 17th Infantry. Captain Joe Gonzales took command of this company of young soldiers from the able steady hands of Captain Kip Remsburg.

This was my first experience of this kind of history transfer of power and authority. I must admit I was deeply moved by the moment. As I scanned the line of young men and women standing at attention as their commander relinquished his command to another officer.

This particular attack company is preparing to go to war. They are scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan as the “point of the spear” in the efforts to turn back the Taliban. As the colors of the company were passed into the hands of Captain Gonzales, I sensed the great weight of responsibility now resting on his shoulders. It will be his duty to lead these young men and women into battle knowing that he may not bring them all home alive.

Pray for Captain Gonzales and the many other leaders who find themselves in these trying assignments. As a strong Christian leader, Captain Gonzales looks to the Lord for his courage, strength and resolve. These men and women are honored to serve under a man who will lead with courage and will lead by example.

As a spiritual leader I was moved by the significance of the moment. It dawned on me that I too have been entrusted people–the Lord’s people purchased at great price. Peter wrote to the elders of yesterday and today challenging us to “not lord over those entrusted to us…” Every spiritual leader must remember that those under his or her watch have been “entrusted” to them. The people are not theirs to do with as they please. No, the people are the Lord’s people. We must give an account to him for how we love and lead his people.

Since God’s people have been “entrusted” to us, we must heed Peter’s advice–“lead by example.” Pastors are not called to bark orders, but to lead the way by laying down their lives as Jesus laid down His life. Sermons may inspire but examples move people to action.

Ever leader regardless of rank or calling would be wise to remember that those under their watch have been “entrusted” to them. So lead wisely. Lead with courage. Honor the One who “entrusted” them to your care in all you do.


Filed under FBC El Paso, Fort Bliss, Leadership

Change the Face of the World: 19 or 12

The ten-year remembrance of September 11, 2001 has come and gone. The attention of the nation once again was drawn to that dark fateful day when nineteen young terrorist set out to change the face of the world. Without doubt these sold-out young men accomplished their mission by projecting vividly the face of hatred and evil by the smoke pouring out of Manhattan after the collapse of the Twin Towers.

As I reflected on this dark day and its death toll over the past ten years, it was truly a game changer. The world will never really be the same. As our church remembered the events of ten years ago we prayed over a handful of young men who will be deployed this week to a field of battle. The march continues.

Jesus confronted injustice, hatred, and evil in a totally different way. He too changed the world and continues to change the world for good. He started with twelve men who were equally sold-out. Men willing to lay down their lives for what they believe. Men willing to love rather than hate. Men willing to build bridges of hope rather than walls of hostility.

I believe as a follower of Jesus it is more important to look forward rather than backwards. We need to learn from the past but not live there. Our gaze must be on the future–God’s future. I believe today God is looking for a generation of young men and women who are willing to sell-out to His vision of tomorrow. A world marching in step with the beat of the Kingdom of God rather than the kingdoms of this world.

We will not win this war on terror fighting fire with fire alone. I believe we must take Jesus’ commands and example seriously. I wonder what would happen if we implemented His strategic plan found in His “Sermon on the Mount”? I wonder how the face of the world would look different if we truly “loved our enemies and blessed those who cursed us.” I suspect many in the “real world” would argue Jesus was out of touch, but what if His ways are right?

Ten years ago nineteen young men set out to change the world and did. I wonder what would happen if as few as twelve of us who are followers of Jesus set out to change the world for good. Can you imagine what God could do in the next ten years if we willing to give our lives for His cause?

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Leadership Quote from Teddy Roosevelt–1910

Over one hundred years ago, Teddy Roosevelt speaking at the Sorbonne in Paris said:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

As I reflected on this great insight into life and leadership the imagery of the arena gripped me. The writer of Hebrews wrote:

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)

Clearly the arena calls those who seek to follow Jesus with abandonment. Leaders know all too well the sharp sting of criticism, and the wounds of faithful friends. Leaders stumble and fall–it comes with the territory. Leadership in the long run may have more to do with the ability to keep getting up rather than never making mistakes.

Fix your eyes on Jesus and seek to live a life “without regrets.”

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Standing Guard: Closer than a Brother

During the turbulent days of the 1960’s John Perkins moved with his family from the relative security of California to the civil rights war zone of Mendenhall, Mississippi. He believed God had called him to go “home” and minister in the name of Jesus. Shortly after his arrival he became a target of the blood thirsty Klu Klux Klan (KKK) because of his growing influence within the African-American community.

Perkins received threats that eventually escalated to a death threat with a deadline. If he did not get out of town, then the KKK promised to end his life and ministry. On the day set for his departure, Perkins called a meeting at his house for the men of the community.  At around seven o’ clock in the evening around one hundred men gathered in his yard. During the course of the meeting the men informed Perkins that they were tired of the “white folks” running off their leaders. He need not worry.  He was their leader and they were going to stand with him and protect him with their own lives.

The spokesman for the group said, “You go back inside with your family and go to bed. We will stand watch in your yard tonight, and every night this year to protect you.” Perkins confessed when he went back inside his house, he realized those men would die for him. They so longed for a leader they would literally lay down their lives for him. God used that dark definitive moment in his life to stir up within him the courage to stand up and be their leader. In a sense the followers made the leader–their courage inspired his courage. He knew he could not run away to safety when his followers stood willing to lay down their lives.

This story stirred my heart. It taught me the incredible interaction between the people and their leaders. In a real sense we need each other. Leaders inspire people to be more than they imagine they can be and likewise the love and sacrifice of people inspire leaders to give their all.

The writer of Proverbs made this observation:

24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24 NIV)

I wonder who I would be today if it were not for the people who have believed in me. Their love and confidence in me has lifted me up and encouraged me to grow and mature by giving more and more of myself to the task. Show me a great leader and I will show you a great people who believe in him or her.

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Filed under Civil Right, Devotion, Leadership