Leadership Is … Running Yet? #308

If you woke up one morning realizing you were a gazelle, your second thought would be, you had to run faster than the fastest lion, or you would be eaten. However, if you wake up realizing you were a lion, your second thought would be, you had to run faster than the slowest gazelle, or you would starve. It doesn’t matter whether you wake up thinking you are a gazelle or a lion, in our ministry or secular world, you have to be engaged and ready as soon as you wake up.

We each have a choice and each choice has consequences. Our world is changing so fast that those who choose to sit, watch and criticize will be left behind. Only those who pray, innovate and adapt within their God given calling will survive.

Note these quotes from leaders of yesterday. Even using the best of their education, ability and resources their future forecasts were unreliable.

In 1902, “I must confess that my imagination, in spite even of spurring, refuses to see any sort of submarine doing anything but suffocating its crew and floundering at sea.” (H. G. Wells) In 1969, “We have 10 years to clean up our act, otherwise blooey.” (U Thant Secretary General of the United Nations)

These world leaders, dynamic in their day, were not able to forecast accurately and prepare for the inevitable crisis or keep up and achieve their dreams. The challenge is, as individuals, mission organizations or church, we need to pray, focus and learn to share God’s love on a daily basis. You and I need to daily pray for God’s leading, then focus today and every day to share God’s love.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1 NASB)

Leadership is … looking ahead and running for God’s kingdom.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is … A Healthy Church #307

I’m often asked about the characteristics of a Healthy Church. My response lists several points, Biblical focus, evangelism, outreach, Pastor Appreciation, reaching our communities, team building, visitor services, to name a few. However, the most significant difference between a healthy and a challenged church is prayer. The clear distinguishing factor between healthy and challenged churches is the healthy church has and lives a clear, concise and Biblically based vision. The key characteristic of a healthy church is always prayer.

Prayer is key and critical. Personal prayer, family prayer, Board and Congregational prayer. Not prayer read from a book and not memorized.  Healthy churches have leaders who actively pray alone, in public and in church. The church atmosphere is looking to God. Leaders pray consistently for and with their people. People are willing to pray with leaders. Prayer that we really expect experience, anticipate and plan for God to respond.

“My house will be called a house of prayer”. (Matthew 21:13 NIV)

Healthy Sunday services have an atmosphere of prayerful expectation and connection with God. Before each service, leaders pray with ministry staff. They pray for the service, the ministry staff, volunteers and the individual health and healing of their church and community. At the closing of Sunday services the leaders are available to pray for and with their people.

Services include prayer for people in need and testimonies of answered prayer and celebration with your people. Guests feel welcome, encouraged and comfortable to join, listen and understand your prayer focus. The Pastor, leaders and those in attendance are committed to worship God and demonstrate his love and forgiveness to their community.

The community knows where the church is and it has a positive influence of prayer and God’s service.

“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16 NIV)

Leadership is … praying for God’s leading on a continual basis

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… Change #306

As a leader, you are responsible to guide your team through our changing world. You know the vision that you and your team have developed and own.  However, to accomplish your God directed vision you will need to make changes, motivate and encourage your followers.

Change is often perceived as a difficult challenge. The routine is comfortable and feels secure. A change impacts the working environment. The change to the balance may be uncomfortable until stabilized. Your role in orchestrating change is crucial to the degree of acceptance. During times of stress team members look to you, their leader for support, encouragement and security. You can reduce staff anxiety and increase staff comfort by following a few points.

Be honest in stating the reason for the changes. State why the change is required, how it will affect the individual staff and the organization as a whole.

Emphasize the benefits of the change. Staff are concerned about the organization, but are more concerned about their working environment, career plans and individual security.

Detail the positive and potential challenging aspects of the change. Staff will find the negatives if you don’t. By identifying all sides of the issue, you are being honest and this will increase staff’s level of confidence. Spend time with your staff.

Define a realistic plan for implementation. Here’s a good opportunity to win staff support by asking for their input in designing the plan. Staff are always more committed to a project they have had input into. Honestly ask for staff feedback and use it. We can all benefit from the advice and input from staff experience.

Finally, and possibly most important, look at your own track record. When you have a reputation for positive changes, staff will trust your work and will be positive. However, past failures will be projected into the future, feared, resented and derailed by staff.

Change is difficult. Be honest, represent all the issues well and your staff will learn to trust your judgment and leadership.

Leadership is … knowing that change can and should be positive.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… A Body Of Believers #305

Every church or mission is unique with its own culture. This culture is a mosaic of the vision, mission, values, habits, beliefs, traditions and rules held by the individuals involved. These components work together to develop the culture and define the spiritual health of your church. 

A servant led church would be a living, growing, learning organism that radiates Christ’s love. “If you don’t live it, you don’t believe it.” (Larry Spears, Theory of Servant-Leadership.)

Your church is a body of believers. This body of Servant Leaders, demonstrating God’s love through serving has the potential for impacting its surrounding community. Imagine the unprecedented impact a group of dedicated Christ following churches would have on our world. Small decisions influence larger decisions and transformed lives impact others, the wave of influence for Christ is beyond imagination in today’s world.

A Servant led church would have a dynamic, exciting and motivating vision based firmly on God’s Word plus the values and spiritual gifts of its people. The vision would focus each individual to a closer personal relationship with God. The vision would involve leading others to Christ and developing disciples. There would be Home Bible Studies and opportunities to meet for prayer during the week in addition to the weekend services. Each service would be designed to bring people into a closer relationship with their heavenly Father. This church would be committed to win their community for Christ.

George Barna surveyed people who didn’t attend church presently, asking if they decided to attend a church, what would influence their choice. “The most common response was they would seek a church that was committed to helping people outside the church who needed care and consideration”. (www.barna.com) I find this fascinating. People who don’t attend church see community service as a factor that would influence their choice of a church to attend. “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4 NKJV)

Serving in church should be equivalent to a gene or DNA within the human genogram. Imagine a loving, caring serving gene within the growing living organism of your church that grows and reproduces itself. The influence would be beyond imagination.

Leadership is … showing God’s love to your community.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… Really Listening #304

An effective leader is an equally effective communicator. As a speaker I want people to listen and hear. As a listener, I also want to hear and really understand what others are saying. An hour with one of my mentors is useless if I don’t listen, hear and learn. We need to listen more than we talk to be sure that others feel valued.

“A true natural servant automatically responds to any problem by listening first.” (Robert K. Greenleaf, The Servant as Leader)

Listening is more than just being present and quiet. It is focusing all your physical, emotional and psychological energies to the conversation. The individual reading, corresponding or sleeping in the back of a team meeting is only physically there. Their presence is not assisting, it is hindering the learning process. In communication, the art of being fully and completely involved is paramount. Your physical, emotional and physiological presence must be seen and felt.

“Let the wise listen and add to their learning.” (Proverbs 1:5 NIV)

When listening, be aware of the big picture, listen and watch for intent, tone of voice and the body language. The body language involves the eyes, feet, hands, general posture and emotional responses. Watch for consistency, do the emotions back up the words, or do the words tell a different story?

The actual words are important, but tend to communicate far less than the manner in which the words are used. Listen to the words, but listen within the context. Most people remember less than 30% of the words heard. The rest of the content becomes filler. By listening to all the variables you can communicate effectively.

The effective servant leader knows that listening is the best investment in team development.

Leadership is … listening and really hearing.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… An Ideal Leader #303

Ever wondered about the ideal leader? What skills, behaviours and attitudes would be lived daily? Would the ideal leader be a people person, a number cruncher a Christian servant leader or someone different?

During leadership seminars and personal interviews I’ve asked hundreds of employees and volunteers what skills or attributes they expect, appreciate and want most in a leader. The skills cited are not difficult, but in combination provide a dynamic quality, yet enjoyable working experience. Here are four characteristics to strive for.

The consistent response to my questions, backed by research, is that leaders must be honest. Good news or bad, followers want leaders to tell the word straight. The leader who is honest sets a standard for the organization. Staff will follow the example.

The ideal boss is consistent. The leadership style is predictable. No ups and downs of good and bad days. No favourites. Staff and volunteers can enjoy the work knowing the style of their leader.

The ideal leader works from defined set of values. These values guide decisions, goals, plans and working strategies. Every decision could be traced back to a basic value. These values depend on the individual, but benefit the organization both above and below the leader. The employees can assess their best fit with the leader, and the leader can assess a best fit within the organization.

The golden rule has been around for centuries, but is as current to today’s business and customer service as it was in Christ’s day. “Here is a simple rule of thumb for behaviour: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them!” (Luke 6:31 MSG) Think of it in today’s terms. The satisfied customer, follower, supporter always comes back. Every leader has followers. The associates, suppliers, front line staff and volunteers or customers want quality service. The ideal leader treats each of these with the same high quality respect, dedication and service. People will respond to quality service and come back for more.

The ideal leader, could be you? How do you rate on these points?

Leadership is … following Christ’s example of service.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… A Servant Led Church #302

Paul uses a practical construction analogy, “In him, the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord”. (Ephesians 2:21 NIV) You wouldn’t want to live and work within a building that is poorly constructed. The risks are obvious. Yet, many of us work in organizational environments that are ineffective.

The corporate world has been shaken with CEO’s and CFO’s who re-arrange budget and resources for their own benefit. “People value honesty and integrity in a leader more than anything else. Virtually every person they talked with placed integrity at the top of the leadership wish list.”  (James Kouzes and Barry Posner, quoted by Perkins in Awaken the Leader Within) The Servant led church integrates a service philosophy with integrity. Every member is encouraged to live a life of honesty, truthfulness and integrity. This is a church the world will notice.

The Servant led church is a learning and growing organism. It is characterized by a collective unity and interdependence of each individual and team. The teams define their goals, are delegated a budget and resources, and are accountable to each other and the overall Vision. Leadership, decision making, planning and goal setting are shared, not held by the faithful few. The Servant led church knows its own strengths, weaknesses and the gifts of its people. It also knows the power of people working tougher effectively, “Two can accomplish more than twice as much as one.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9 TLB)

The Servant led church reduces the emphasis on the power hierarchy while encouraging team work and a service role for each leader. Each leader would interact within a team. The teams would be composed of divergent thinking people, different ages, different occupations, and ideally different cultures. Each would be committed to the Vision, working independently, yet supporting each other. Although the teams may appear leaderless, the leader is the Vision and the team works the mission as a group of equals.

Is your church a Servant led church?

Leadership is … serving individually and collectively. 

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… Demonstrated by Christ #301

Jesus showed his disciples the full extent of his love.

In Christ’s day walking was the mode of transportation. Think about it. Sandals, sand and dirt under the hot sun would be very uncomfortable. A long day of walking, talking and teaching would leave your feet sore, dirty, sweaty and probably smelly. According to the culture of the day, when guests came to visit, especially if a meal was involved, the host was expected to provide a servant or slave to wash your feet. The service was expected and appreciated by the guest. However, from the servant’s perspective, kneeling in silence and washing feet was considered to be the lowliest of the lowly tasks.

Christ the master, the teacher, knowing his crucifixion was eminent took the role of the servant. Christ also knew he would be denied by Peter and betrayed by Judas. Yet, as an act of service, “Having loved His own who were in the world, he loved them to the end”. (John 13:1 NIV) Christ challenged the tradition and culture of the day. Christ, the teacher, God’s beloved Son, took on the role of the servant and washed His disciples’ feet.

We have traditions in our culture as well. You’ve heard the phrase, ‘that’s not the way we do it around here’. In our day, at work or church we have habits and unwritten rules. For some it is the style of music, for others it is the arrangement of the furniture in the sanctuary. Others have a command and control leadership style borrowed from a failing secular model. Some feel a particular style of dress is required to worship in the church while others argue and debate whether a church should provide a service to a neighboring community.

These are traditions and habits. Christ challenged the traditions of the day by showing a caring and humble attitude demonstrating his love to His disciples.

Christ demonstrated His love for His followers, by washing their feet. I’m not recommending you follow suit. However, it only makes sense that the church leader, Pastor, or corporate CEO would use Christ’s example to challenge traditional habits to demonstrate his love for his people.

Leadership is … showing the people you lead, the full extent of your love for Christ.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… Leading From Your Heart #300

Heart values are significant to the Servant Leader. Christ reminds us, “The things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart”. (Matthew 15:18 NIV) The heart values of  Servant Leaders are not designed for self-gratification and the glory of men. “A true servant does what he does from the heart to be seen by the Lord, not by men.” (Servant Leadership and Eldership)

The Servant Leader leads, as Christ did, from the heart. Instead of thinking control and personal power, the Christian Servant Leader lives by Christ’s values. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 2:5 KJV) This requires a transformation of thought, belief and practice. The Servant leader is not concerned about self, personal glory or individual accomplishment. “The substance of servant hood. It is about people who are willing to submit to the Lordship of Christ no matter what the personal implications.” (McManus, An Unstoppable Force)

“Real Servant Leadership begins when you decide to learn from and follow the real Servant Leader, Jesus Christ.” (Wilkes, Jesus on Leadership, Discovering the secrets of servant leadership from the life of Christ) Our daily life, work and volunteer activities should demonstrate Christ in all we do.

Servant Eldership is about serving others by serving Christ. Pastors, leaders, employers and volunteers, do you have a heart value to serve the people in your community? Do you serve from your heart filled with Christ’s love? What can you do this week to serve our Lord, the vision of your place of work and the church you attend? You, with God’s help, can change your heart, your neighbors heart and that of your community.  Christ did!

Leadership is … changing hearts not minds.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… Knowing God Personally #299

I love leadership in all its components. However, all the techniques, skills and motivation aside, where I really live and base my thinking is this. I’m a Bible based, faith focused, born again believer. I take my Bible and my relationship with my Heavenly Father seriously. I’m a Christian. You can be as well because God loves you.

“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV)

We were designed with a plan.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:13-16 NIV)

We have all sinned. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 NIV)

Christ lived and died paying the price. He gave his life for you. “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners. Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 NIV) Christ said, “I have come that they may have life, and may have it to the full”. (John 10:10 NIV)

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV)

We need to receive Christ. “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12 NIV)

We receive Christ through Faith. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)

As we receive Christ we experience a new birth. Pray today for God to forgive your sin and come to live within your heart. He has gone to prepare a place for you.

Leadership is, accepting God’s call.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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