God’s timing in our lives is always perfect. In July, I attended ELDI that I wrote about here. As a parting gift from the facilitators each participant received the book Relational Leadership by Walter C. Wright. I was able to read the book on my various plane rides during the my time in the States and would highly recommend it for anyone in leadership. From Washington I flew to Colorado and spent time with my aunt, then I flew to Indianapolis where I met up with my daughter Mariya. She was in Indy with a group from YWAM(Youth With a Mission). They were presenting a DTS(Discipleship Training School) at DEFENDER Direct. Dave Lindsey, the founder of the company spoke the weekend I was there about relationships and leadership. This is my attempt to follow the advice given in Wright’s book about writing a letter to your son or daughter to clarify your own thinking about leadership. So to my children and loved ones.(Please feel free to read even if we are not related.)
Dear Loved One,
My prayer for you is that you will know and accept the love that God showed when He sent his beloved son, Jesus, to die on the cross so that you and I could have forgiveness of sin and eternal life. I also pray that you will use the gifts, talents and abilities that God has given you to bring glory to him, whether in a position of leadership or not. There is no greater honor or responsibility as a Christian leader than to lead others to the savior. But a leader also has other roles to fulfill.
Leadership is about a relationship to influence. The Bible is filled with many examples, both good and bad. The best role model was Jesus, but I’m not going to talk about him. You can read about him and his style of leadership in any of the Gospels. I would like to go back to one verse in the Old Testament, Psalms 78:72. David was commended for his character/upright heart and his competence/skilled hands. A leader first needs to know his own heart. Lindsey used the example from airplanes, the flight attendants tell you in an emergency to put on your own oxygen mask before helping those near you. So before you try to influence others it is important to know yourself. It is also important to continue learning and to try new things. Sometimes what you try will be amazingly successful and sometimes you will hit a bump in the road or even a pothole. But then you need to pick yourself up and say; What did I learn from this experience? What can I do differently? Elbert Hubbard said, “There is no failure except in no longer trying.” As an educator and a leader I need to continue to learn and grow.
A good leader needs to be willing to leave their comfort zone. I’m very glad that in the last few years I have tried several new things: I took courses on integrating technology and now am elementary technology integration specialist. (No Jesse, it was not a “mid-life crisis.” I still need help with the hardware and regularly ask the tech guys for help, but I also enjoy helping others learn and use technology to show student learning.) Two years ago while in Thailand I was able to do the “Flight of the Gibbon” a zip line through the rainforest and ride on an elephant. This summer while at ELDI, we went to Mt. Baker and I went sledding on a cardboard box. Sledding isn’t something new, but it was something I hadn’t done in a long time and I can’t say I’ve ever gone on a cardboard box or in July!
“Businesses Don’t Grow, People Do!” is seen as soon as you walk in the front door of DEFENDER Direct. It is the responsibility of the leader to keep the vision of the organization before the members and to help people to focus on how they can fulfill the vision. Each person needs to set their own goals and the leader should be there to encourage and empower them. Lindsey spoke a lot about the importance of writing down your goals. “A goal worth committing to, is worth writing down.” Write it as if it is already accomplished. Ex. I will be healthier by October, by walking 20 miles or more a week and working out at the gym three times a week for 20 minutes. The more specific the better. Using post-its and placing the goal on the mirror will help you to focus on the goal. A leader should be empowering, encouraging and equipping the members of the organization to accomplish their goals. Another important idea that Lindsey shared was each morning begin the day by writing down 5 things you are grateful for and end the day writing down 5 things you accomplished. A thankful heart and focusing on your accomplishments will help to encourage and empower you.
Bruce Hekman writes about Schools as Communities of Grace. All communities should be “communities of grace” where people feel welcomed and accepted. But grace needs to be more than a warm, fuzzy feeling. Grace also needs to be loving, caring confrontation when necessary. Forgiveness of self and others is also part of grace. We can forgive because we have been forgiven, but we also need to forgive ourselves when we make a mistake and be willing to try again.
So, my prayer for you is:
- You will have a balanced life where God is in the center.
- You will continue to grow in “wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man”(Luke 2:52, NIV).
- You will leave your comfort zone.
- You will forgive others, including me, and yourself.
- You will have a thankful heart filled with joy.
- You will find joy and fulfillment in whatever position/job you hold, it doesn’t have to be in leadership.
Blessings to you and peace,
I love you,