Tag Archives: leadership

Leading With Purpose


“Leadership is about encouraging people.  It’s about stimulating them.  It’s about enabling them to achieve what they can achieve—and to do that with purpose.”  —Christine Lagarde

Blinded to See

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Ok, I know this isn’t a new concept, but a recent firefighter training exercise during one of my Fire 1&2 classes helped me realize how much I didn’t know about something I thought I knew.  I already knew, as I’m sure most of you know, that when one of our senses is taken away or limited, we rely on other senses to compensate, but what I didn’t realize was how much I rely on my sight and that I didn’t know my equipment as well as I thought I did.  Relying on or focusing on one thing more than others can cause us to miss things in so many areas of our lives, from knowing our equipment, having good leadership skills, to developing and maintaining healthy relationships.

So what was the training exercise?  In a nutshell, we had to simulate replacing our air cylinder under no visibility conditions by being blindfolded with all our gear on.  Although performing that task while being blindfolded can be challenging, what made it even more challenging was having to do it wearing thick fire gloves.  Not only was our sight removed, but our sense of touch was also hindered.

As I thought about the various ways the lesson could be applied, I was reminded of a TV show I’d seen a few times years ago called Dating in the Dark.  It was a reality show in which three men and three women entered a pitch black room, sat at a table, and tried to get to know each other quickly.  After the brief group meeting, each contestant could invite another contestant to have a one-on-one date, again in a completely dark room.  What was interesting was how each person reacted when they were finally allowed to see the one they’d chosen.  Some were ecstatic to find they had chosen an extremely attractive person, while others sometimes looked like they wanted to vomit when their date’s physical form was unveiled, even if they loved that person’s personality and other characteristics such as voice, laugh, or touch.  I know physical attraction can be a huge factor in having an intimate relationship, but it was sad to watch people being rejected because of the superficial focus.  That actually goes both ways; seeing only a person’s attractiveness can cause us to miss both great and ugly character qualities, or it can cause a person to feel like mere ‘arm candy’.

Just as knowing our equipment is important, good leaders know those they lead.  When leaders focus primarily on only one or two things, they miss the big picture, and their leadership and team suffer.  Good leaders are like good incident commanders, knowing the strengths and limitations of their crew, positioning themselves at a good vantage point to get a good overall view, having good communication skills, and being able to multi-task and delegate to get the job done efficiently.  Good leaders are able to lead, because they can see who and where they are leading.  Bad leaders think they see and know everything, but they are like the blind leading the blind.  Jesus called the religious leaders of His time “blind guides”, because they focused so much on trying to be right with God by following certain rules or having certain beliefs, and trying to be respected and praised by striving to be seen and praised for their good deeds and knowledge, that they missed the most important things… humility, mercy and love.

I don’t claim to see and know everything.  I know I have blind spots, too, but I’m learning and trying to see and understand things more clearly and am grateful for lessons and training exercises that help reveal my weaknesses.

Wisdom Wednesday: Put Your Heart Into Caring

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It has been a while since I have posted a Wisdom Wednesday, but now that my EMT classes are over, and because I have a good friend who encourages and motivates me, I decided to post one today.  Thank you, Randell!

Have you ever been caught by surprise and left wondering, “How did that just happen?!”

While looking over proverbs that I had noted months ago, Proverbs 27:23 jumped out at me— “Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds.” That’s only part of the entire proverb, but it stood out to me for a few personal reasons, and I realized how multi-faceted it is. It’s not just about flocks and herds, being a farmer, or finances; it’s about stewardship, leadership, and relationships. Good shepherds know their sheep, good leaders know their people, and good relationships are kept intact when we know and love each other in the way we each need to feel loved. If we neglect to “know the face of our flocks” or “put our heart into caring”, as the literal Hebrew implies, we may find ourselves caught by surprise when something or someone slips away.

“It’s good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it’s good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure you haven’t lost the things that money can’t buy.” —George Lorimer

“For willful waste makes woeful want, and I may live to say, ‘Oh! How I wish I had the bread that once I threw away!’” —Unknown

“When you’re dying of thirst it’s too late to think about digging a well.” —Japanese Proverb

“He who would enjoy the fruit must not spoil the blossoms.” —Gaelic proverb

“When men say [“Oh, I’ve loaded my shotgun”], ‘cause I know when men say that, they’re trying to pretend they have taken their position of leadership. You don’t need to load your shotgun, you need to love your daughter. You need to know your daughter. You need to pray with your daughter. You need to invest in your daughter, ‘cause the main thing is not to blow his head off, but to keep her heart.” —Mark Driscoll, pastor in Honor Your Father and Mother

“Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds, for riches don’t last forever, and the crown might not be passed to the next generation.” —Proverbs 27:23, 24 NLT

“Effective leaders are engaged in the lives of the people they are leading and are constantly seeking to understand how they can create an environment in which people succeed.” —Nathan Mellor, president of Strata Leadership, LLC

“He who wants to travel far takes care of his beast.” —French proverb


If you liked this, you might also like… Wisdom Wednesday: Neglect Destroys

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Lift ‘Em Up!

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with special thanks to Chris Ward, Jeremie Dufresne, and my other brothers.

Wanna build a stronger, better team or crew? The subject came up when Bill, one of my firefighter brothers and I were talking about my experiences at a recent structure fire. He is very knowledgeable and has years of experience, but since I am a ‘probie’ with comparatively little knowledge or experience, and being the smallest member of the fire department, in some ways I am the weakest member. I expressed gratitude for the on-scene training I received from both my own department brothers, as well as from other departments who were also on-scene. Although Bill would not agree that I am the weakest member, he stated a key concept in building a stronger crew— lift up and strengthen the weakest member, and the whole team becomes better and stronger.

That reminds me of an illustration I used in a blog post a couple of years ago using a wooden bucket with broken and worn slats. The bucket can hold only as much water as the shortest slat, so if we work to fix and raise it up first, the bucket will hold more water. If we fix and build up a taller slat first, the bucket will still hold only as much water as the shortest one.

If lifting up and strengthening the weakest member makes the whole stronger, then it stands to reason that kicking the weakest member when she’s down would only serve to weaken the whole, right? Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” I am grateful for those who have lifted me up instead of kicking me down when I’ve messed up.

My friend, Scott, says something that is similar to a quote by Nate McConnell:

“The whole is the sum of its parts, so be a good part.”

Let’s show our strength by giving a hand and strengthening those who are weaker.


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Where Are You Taking Me?

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“God will take you where you haven’t chosen to go, in order to produce in you what you could not achieve on your own.” —Paul Tripp in his sermon “The Difference Between Amazement and Faith

Wisdom Wednesday: Receiving and Giving Criticism

"If you refuse to be made straight when you are green, you will not be made straight when you are dry."  —African proverb

“If you refuse to be made straight when you are green, you will not be made straight when you are dry.” —African proverb

Have you ever met someone who gets defensive and even angry when given any amount of criticism or suggestion, even if they asked for an opinion? Although unsolicited advice or negative criticisms are not always welcome, we do well to at least consider any feedback or counsel, especially if we ask for help.

“Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be broken beyond repair.” —Proverbs 29:1 NLT

“If you refuse to be made straight when you are green, you will not be made straight when you are dry.” —African proverb

“He that will not be counseled cannot be helped.” —Irish proverb

“Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.” —Proverbs 9:8

“He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.” —Proverbs 15:32

“Good medicine may taste bitter to the mouth; good advice may sound unpleasant to the ear.” —Japanese proverb

“Woe to him who heeds not the counsel of a good wife.” —Irish proverb

“You can tell a person’s level of maturity by the way they handle criticism and reproof.” —Chuck Swindoll

You can also tell a person’s level of maturity by the way they give criticism and respond when someone decides not to use the advice given.  It’s embarrassing to admit, but in my pride, I have gotten upset when someone asked for my counsel but didn’t use it.  I’m not perfect and realize I haven’t always given the best advice.

“The first degree of folly is to conceit oneself wise, the second to profess it, the third to despise counsel.” —Poor Richard aka Ben Franklin

Generally speaking, receiving criticism or advice is easier when it comes from someone respected and when we feel understood and loved. Sometimes criticism is constructive and mixed with praise, but sometimes it can be destructive if it is too harsh or not done with the right motive. I want to be someone who encourages and inspires others rather than someone who discourages and defeats.

“Sandwich every bit of criticism between two layers of praise.” —Mary Kay Ash

“In my wide association in life, meeting with many and great people in various parts of the world, I have yet to find the person, however great or exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than he would ever do under a spirit of criticism.” —Charles Schwab

“It is easier to criticize art than to create it.” —Spanish proverb


If you liked this, you might also like… Wisdom Wednesday: Seek Counsel or Wisdom Wednesday: Discipline and Raising Grownups

Wisdom Wednesday: Discipline and Raising Grownups

Photo credit:  Real Odyssey via freeimages with text added

Photo credit: Real Odyssey via freeimages with text added

Have you ever noticed that well-disciplined children seem happier? Proverbs 29:17 says, “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.”

“Instruction improves the innate powers of the mind, and good discipline strengthens the heart.” —Latin proverb

“Discipline alone will not produce maturity, but maturity will not occur without discipline.” —Pastor James Lake in a sermon entitled “Stewardship of Discipleship”

“I’m not raising children; I’m raising the grownups they’re going to be.” —Louis C.K., comedian in ‘I’m Not There to Make Them Happy’: Comedian Offers Incredibly Insightful Take on What Kids Really Need from Their Parents

Have you ever seen undisciplined, disrespectful children and their parents. It ain’t pretty, is it?

“Parents who are afraid to put their foot down usually have children who step on their toes.” —Chinese proverb

“Give your children too much freedom and you lose your own.” —Russian proverb

“Overindulgence makes a child mean.” —Spanish proverb

Another thing that can make a child mean, angry or discouraged is treatment that is unjust or too harsh.  Although the Bible teaches corporeal punishment, and I believe it is appropriate at times, some have used the proverbs to justify abuse. Abuse is never justified. One such verse is Proverbs 19:18, which in the King James version reads, “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.” Although it could be understood to mean parents shouldn’t let a child’s crying keep them from disciplining, some have interpreted it to believe they can keep beating their child despite the crying.  Young’s Literal Translation says, “Chastise thy son, for there is hope, And to put him to death lift not up thy soul.” Most other translations are similar and imply either that parents are to discipline their children and not contribute to their ruin or an early death, or to not desire the death of their children but to have hope that they can be disciplined.

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. —Ephesians 6:4

Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. —Colossians 3:21

“No man commands ably unless he has himself obeyed discipline.” —Latin proverb

Discipline is not punishment, although it may include it. Think about how you discipline yourself. Discipline is more about discipling, teaching and training. Sometimes we adults want to be mentors or disciple someone, but we forget or don’t even consider that our children are disciples and we are their teachers. Discipleship is more than going through a curriculum or teaching rules, regulations and religion. It is living and walking together through life.

“You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. —Deuteronomy 6:7

God doesn’t just teach you things for your benefit. He wants you to pass on what you’ve learned to the next generation. Revive Our Hearts e-devotional

I once read a book… I think it was Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Ted Tripp… in which the author revealed that during a power struggle over a toy, both the child who tries to take the toy and the one who refuses to share have a heart issue, so the toy is taken from both as part of a lesson and training regarding selfishness. Oftentimes, parents focus on the behavior of the child who tries to take the toy and then proceeds to teach him or her it is mean without also dealing with the selfishness of the other child who doesn’t want to share. There’s a balance, of course, but I thought it was insightful.

“For those of you who are trying to correct your children, if you’re focusing on the behavior instead of the attitude, that’s why you’re not getting anywhere. You change the attitude, and the behavior will take care of itself.” —Steve Cobb in his sermon “Beyond the Shadow to Reality” (March 2011)

“Childish people are ego-centric; often they don’t even realize that they approach everything and everyone as somehow being about themselves. Much of their displeasure or discontent results from the fact that others see life differently. Childlike people wonder about things, are alert, have questions, are ready to learn; they also know how to jump up and down with glee, and really enjoy things.”  —Moishe Rosen, Jews for Jesus founder


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Disclosure: Links to products are provided only as a resource. I do not make any money by providing them.

Wisdom Wednesday: Teamwork

Have you ever been a part of a winning team or even a championship team? Or have you ever been on a losing team or one that constantly struggled to succeed?  What makes the difference?  Sheer talent or great leadership?  My oldest son sent me the link to the video below. Even though its target audience is League of Legends online gamers, it contains some excellent principles, including financial, for any kind of team or family. It reminded me of when Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” (Matthew 12:25)

“TEAM = Together Everyone Achieves More” —Unknown

“Many ants together can carry a beetle.” —Spanish proverb

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” —Aristotle

Teams and families are made up of people with varying talents and strengths. Successful teams recognize and utilize those strengths and talents. Unsuccessful or struggling teams have members with poor attitudes who want to be the center of attention or are looking out for ‘number one’. 1 Corinthians 12 contains the principle of teamwork, using the analogy of our body, and how we all work together with each having a different part. Verse 21 says, “And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.” Even members who seem less significant play an integral role.  Communication, having a plan, and working together as a whole are key to a team’s success.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” —Michael Jordan, pro basketball player

Part of being a member of a team is actually participating and not spending most of the time warming the bench, or pew, or couch. We can either help our team move forward, cause our team to move backward, or remain stagnant by our passivity.

“Wearing the same shirts doesn’t make you a team.” —Buchholz and Roth, guitarists

If a team is to reach its potential, each player must be willing to subordinate his personal goals to the good of the team.” — Bud Wilkinson, football coach

Coaches, bosses, church leaders, and heads of households are just as much a part of the team and generally hold the greater responsibility for its success. Although this post is not about leadership, every group of people when brought together for a common purpose looks to someone to lead, so it’s important to choose a good leader, if possible, who is also willing to subordinate his/her personal goals for the good of the team or family and doesn’t forget that it’s not all about him/her.  It’s about each other, the common goal, and the bigger picture.

“Effective leaders are engaged in the lives of the people they are leading and are constantly seeking to understand how they can create an environment in which people succeed.” –Nathan Mellor, president of Strata Leadership, LLC

“Help others get ahead. You will always stand taller with someone else on your shoulders.” –Bob Moawad

“It is amazing how much you can accomplish when it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.” —Harry S. Truman, 33rd U.S. president

“The whole is the sum of the parts, so be a good part.” –Nate McConnell

If you liked this, you might also like:  I Got Your Back!

Wisdom Wednesday: A Soft Answer

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Have you ever helped an angry person calm down or made someone angrier after raising your voice or saying something harsh or sarcastic?  Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.”  As the proverb indicates, it’s not just how soft and sweet we speak, but what and how we say it.

“Cold tea and cold rice are tolerable; cold looks and cold words aren’t.”  —Japanese proverb

“Only a small percentage of communication involves actual words: 7%, to be exact. In fact, 55% of communication is visual (body language, eye contact) and 38% is vocal (pitch, speed, volume, tone of voice).”  –Carmine Gallo, communication coach, in Body Language: A Key to Success in the Workplace

Keeping calm when someone else is angry can be very difficult, especially when voices begin to rise.  Even if we keep calm and answer gently, sometimes the other person can become angrier when they realize their angry outburst isn’t fazing us.  Having the right mindset beforehand can go a long way in not allowing emotions to take control and can help us think clearly without becoming defensive.  It might help to remember that what a person says and how they respond usually says more about them than it does about us.  Maybe they’re having a bad day, or maybe they’re trying to make up for the insecurity they feel inside in the same way a bully feels the need to push people around in order to have a sense of significance and power.  Keep calm and be a balm.

“Man does not live by words alone, despite the fact that sometimes he has to eat them.”  —Adlai Stevenson

“If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?”  —Buddha

“Don’t use time or words carelessly.  Neither can be retrieved.”  —Brian Dyson

“He who gives a right answer, kisses the lips.”  —Proverbs 24:26  NKJV

Isn’t a kiss much nicer than a punch in the face?

Wisdom Wednesday: Just Kidding!

Photo credit:  Vivek Chugh - www.sxc.hu/photo/953211

Photo credit: Vivek Chugh – http://www.sxc.hu/photo/953211

Have you ever said something to someone then said, “I’m just joking,” but you knew there was really some truth in what you’d said? Or do you know someone who pokes fun at people under the guise of joking when they really do mean what they say?

“Said in sport, meant in earnest.” —German proverb

Dick Clark, an American radio and television host said, “Humor is always based on a modicum of truth. Have you ever heard a joke about a father-in-law?”

“Out of a joke comes a truth.” —Japanese proverb

I love when people tease me as long as it’s kind and funny and not meant to belittle or hurt. Most jokes are funny because they have a certain amount of truth in them, but jokes cease to be funny when said to get a laugh at the expense of another or to shame and manipulate.

A young friend who loves to joke around chose Proverbs 26:18, 19 as a life verse to remind himself to be kind. It says that someone who lies to a friend and then says, “I was only joking,” is like a mad man shooting a lethal weapon.

A German proverb says, “Play not with a man till you hurt him, nor jest till you shame him.”

“Excess of wit may oftentimes beguile; jests are not always pardon’d by a smile.” —Poor Richard

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.” —Jim Rohn

“Be silly, be honest, be kind.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

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