Leadership Is… God’s Plan for Me #298

My Mother liked to tell me about the day she helped me pray for God’s forgiveness when I was 4 years old. No, I don’t remember the words or circumstances but I trust my Mother and accepted her memory.

Grade school was especially difficult because I stuttered so badly I could hardly talk. I have a specific memory of an awful day and asking my Mom why Jesus wouldn’t help me talk clearly. She again showed me how to pray, asking God to forgive me, and heal my inability to talk clearly. Fascinating, I now make my living speaking in public.

In High School I struggled with the reality that I grew up in a relatively normal Christian home but I didn’t have a dramatic before and after salvation story. Most teen speakers in that day had great life changing stories describing the change after a conversion experience with Christ. I didn’t.

My mentor at the time was our Youth for Christ Director, Rev. Louis Peskett. He reminded me again and again that God had a plan and I was in it. Also, that God designed me uniquely for his purpose. I didn’t need a dramatic before and after story. I didn’t have the dramatics because that wasn’t in God’s plan for me. I just needed to ask God to forgive my sin and accept his gift of salvation.

“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)

I take prayer and my relationship with my Heavenly Father seriously. My career has included the extreme pressure and negative challenges of the corporate world. Then, the equally prayer filled thrilling, and unique challenges of ministry. I know that God lives in my heart and I’m thankful.

Leadership is … living God’s plan

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… God Calling a Youth Pastor #297

God called me into youth ministry, on a yellow school bus, when I was 14 years old.

When I was in grade 7 my dad organized a “family meeting.” Family meetings are never particularly good. Usually they are grand announcements of impending doom or disappointment.

In this particular case my dad announced that we would be moving to McLennan Alberta. Up until that point Red Deer was the only city I knew and I had really enjoyed growing up there.

McLennan is a small town of 400 people approximately 4 hours north of Edmonton. I affectionately refer to it as a “hole in the ground.” Every school day my brother, sister and I would get on a yellow school bus and travel from our home outside of McLennan, through McLennan into a village called Donnelly. (I’m not making this up these are real names.)

In Donnelly we would attend a school of almost 600 kids and, as far as I could tell, we were the only people who did not grow up there. It seemed like everyone was somehow related and none of us were cousins of anyone in the school.

Therefore, I got picked on.

A lot.

My only saving grace and solace was the acreage we lived on. It had amazing places we could visit and forested areas I could hide in. I would get lost in those forests for hours.

The other thing that kept me sane was a youth group in a town called High Prairie that my Dad would drive us to every Friday night. Finally, there were kids I knew who had the same values as we did and worshipped the same God. I am fairly certain that if it hadn’t been for that youth group in High Prairie I probably would have left the church and Christianity altogether.

So, after a particularly hard day at school, with bullying at its peak I found myself angry, really angry. I’m on the long ride home on that same yellow school bus that I’m on every day. I’ve got my head pressed forward into the seat in front of me and I’m fuming. I remember being frustrated with my situation and asking God questions like, “Why did we have to move here?” Just plain telling God, “I hate this place.” The thing I remember most clearly about this day is that I asked God, “Why are kids in small towns so mean?”

… and I heard his response.

It wasn’t audible it was in my head but it was clearly God.

He said, “there is no one who loves teenagers in small towns.”

I knew what he meant. He did not mean that parents or grandparents don’t love teenagers. He did not mean that teachers don’t love teenagers. God was telling me that there needed to be more youth pastors in small towns. From that moment I knew my calling, God was asking me to become a youth pastor. (Excerpted from Chet Kennedy, Broken Mortals)

Leadership is … listening and looking for God’s call.

Yours in Service,

Chet Kennedy

Son of: Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… Knowing and Following God’s Call #296

Do you have a Damascus Road experience? Paul did. Did God ask you to join Joshua and visit the Promised Land? Caleb responded. Did God challenge and train you to lead upwards of a million people through strife, complaining and a dry land experience in the Red Sea? Moses accepted the challenge. Your experience may not have been as dramatic as these. But, you have been called to a unique role.

My High School experience was not positive. I graduated, attended Bible College then University for my degree in clinical Psychology moving toward a career in Family Counselling. I envisioned my career dealing with individual, family conflict and addictions.

My family and friends consistently told me I’d have a career in administration. My response was ‘no way was I going to push a pencil for my career’. I wanted to do real work with real people. Hmm! Our Bible College President and mentor confided in me that he felt I would be heading to the secular world and ministry later. He encouraged me to read about Caleb. I’ve identified with Caleb ever since.

Throughout this awesome career it has been a privilege to follow God’s calling and plan. As the Western Coordinator with a National Organization of Evangelical churches I was leading and counselling Pastors and church leaders across Western Canada. In my current role I coach leaders in person and by phone having the privilege of touching faith based leaders worldwide. It is an awesome privilege to follow God’s plan.

“It is as great and as difficult a spiritual calling to run the factories and the mines, the banks and the department stores, the schools and government agencies for the kingdom of God as it is to pastor a church or serve as an evangelist.”  (Crane and Hamel, Executive Influence)

Throughout a fascinating career in the secular and ministry worlds it was obvious that God had a plan and we are thankful.

Leadership is … joining God’s call.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… Standing in the Gap #295

“Leaders are found everywhere. Demographics pay no role in whether or not someone is going to become an exemplary leader. Leadership is not a birthright. It’s not about position or title. It’s not about power or authority. It’s not about celebrity or wealth. It’s not about being a CEO, president, general, or prime minister. It’s not about being a superstar. And it’s most assuredly not about some charismatic gift. Leadership is not about who you are or where you came from. It’s about what you do.” (Kouzes, Posner, The Truth about Leadership)

Leadership is for today. The skills, abilities and character traits are readily available for those who choose and are willing to challenge the status quo and stand up to be counted.

Leaders are informed. They read, listen and learn. Their skill, knowledge and expertise increases as the topic moves closer to their area of specialty. When recruiting staff and volunteers, they look for competence in skill, character and personality. Leaders are motivated and excited about the future. They guide their people, followers and organizations towards a positive outcome. They realize talent is scarce and will encourage others to achieve success in their own lives. They strive for a balance where employee/volunteers receive a personal benefit by working with an organization and the organization receives a similar benefit by employing the individual.

The effective leader follows an ethical standard. Their personal values are consistent, supported and integrated within the organization they lead. They are strategic in their decisions. They evaluate risks depending on the outcome to their people and for the organization.

They serve on Boards to make a lasting contribution. They create job satisfaction.

God is looking for effective leaders. He wanted effective leaders in history, “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.” (Ezekiel 22:30 NIV). He is still looking for effective leaders today.

Leadership is, knowing your calling and standing in the gap with God.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… Influence #294

Leadership is an influence process, guiding others to follow a God directed Vision.

“Sometimes even the best manager is like the little boy with the big dog, waiting to see where the dog wants to go so that he can take him there.”

Lee Iacocca, Christianity Today

Effective leaders create positive change. Ineffective leaders work to maintain the former outdated direction and can’t change it.  The difference is the influence of a respected and trusted leader.

Many volunteer leaders strive for a position to become a leader. The challenge is, people don’t follow a position they only follow a leader they trust.

Volunteers in church can’t be forced or disciplined to be more Christ like. They can only be encouraged and influenced to model themselves after a Christ like leader.

Extraordinary leadership is found in leaders (who have searched to discover his or her authentic self) who influence others to accomplish great dreams through intentional relationships, spiritual awareness, wise counsel and relentless vision.

“The task of future leaders is not to make a little contribution to the solution of the pains and tribulations of their time, but to identify and announce the ways in which Jesus is leading God’s people out of slavery, through the desert to a new land of freedom.  Christian leaders have the arduous task of responding to personal struggles, family conflicts, national calamities, and international tensions (not to mention business crises) with an articulate faith in God’s real presence.”

Crane and Hamel, Executive Influence

Influence has nothing to do with position or organizational power. It has everything to do with the person. The factors that most powerfully impact your influence is your personal integrity, character and strategic excellence.

Healthy Leaders, influence our world one step at a time.

Leadership is … faith in God’s real presence.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… A Personal Relationship With God #293

The Christian Servant Leader has a personal relationship with God. Like the men and women of the Bible, “Enoch walked faithfully with God”. (Genesis 5:22 NIV) “Noah found favor is the eyes of the Lord”. (Genesis 6:8 NIV) The Lord spoke to Moses “Face to face, as a man speaks to a friend”. (Exodus 33:11 NIV) “I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart”. (Acts 13:22 NIV) “The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people”. (1 Samuel 13:14 NIV) We need to be like the disciples, they didn’t follow a position, they followed Christ, “They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way”. (Mark 10:32 NIV) The Christian Servant Leader has a personal relationship with Christ. “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life”. (1 John 5:11-12 NIV)

The Christian Servant Leader exudes love and care through the heart characteristics of faith, patience and a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father. These heart characteristics are modeled outwardly through caring, service, prayer and a continual love for God’s word. The very first step in developing a personal relationship with Christ is to accept his gift, “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life”. (John 3:16 NIV)

God is still looking for men and women after his own heart; individuals who have a personal relationship with Christ. People of faith, trust and love who are willing to give their lives in service.

A relationship, like a friendship, goes both ways. “Jesus cultivated extraordinary relationships with his followers. He invested deeply in others and personally attended to people and dedicated himself to meeting their needs…and encourage an atmosphere of openness, accountability and equity.” (Angie Mays, Courteous Rebel Jesus’ Model of Leadership)

As a Christian Servant Leader, do you cultivate extraordinary relationships with your followers? As you share your personal relationship with Christ, others will follow your lead.

Leadership is, people seeing Christ in you.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… Appreciating Your Pastor #292

You have a business. It has tremendous potential for success. Your product has the power to change our world. You have history on your side, experience is positive and the market potential is beyond imagination. Your business idea is relatively free for the asking and leads people to change their lives. You even have testimonies from individuals whose lives have been changed.

This business of yours is highly complex and diverse. You could compare it to the human body. When everything works together, it is healthy and finely tuned. You can accomplish great things and have the potential to work for a lifetime. However, there is a qualifier: this new venture of yours is totally dependent on a unique and highly complex component. You call it the brains of the organization. The organization, organism if you prefer, will grow, lead into neutral or shrink, based on this unique engineering. This marvelous piece of technology is so critical that if it breaks down, your business breaks down. Further, without this unique piece of equipment, your business dies. OK, you get the picture. As this piece of equipment thrives, so does your organization.

You value and appreciate this critical piece of machinery and know it needs to be properly maintained. It needs long term scrutiny, oiling and replacing of worn parts. You’ll want to ensure good quality subcomponents to keep your business operating successfully for years to come. Remember, your business grows, stays in neutral or dies depending on this marvelous piece of equipment. You have a couple of options to consider.

Enough illustration. I have your attention. In this fictional illustration, your Pastoral staff represent the highly technical and complex component that keeps your church alive. We need to do everything we can to ensure their effectiveness.

“Honor those leaders who work so hard for you who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along to your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 MSG)

Dear Pastors, we love and appreciate you.

Leadership is, caring for your Pastor

Yours in Service,
Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… Listening to Understand #291

Our most effective leaders are amazing listeners. These are the people who listen thoughtfully and carefully. They want to hear our words, our heart values and struggles. Good listening is more than being quiet while the other person talks. Great conversations are interactive. The best listeners ask questions to discover and share insight, aiming for a common understanding.

The best listeners ask questions that promote discovery and insight. Good listening is a cooperative and interactive conversation allowing feedback to flow smoothly in both directions. The best leaders encourage conversations instead of directing. Use what or how questions to get people to open up. Then, ask open-ended questions to help group members answer with more than a simple yes or no. Questions like, what did you learn from the verse or chapter of the book, will bring up more illustrative inquiry. As you listen and interact, watch for nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions, gestures, posture, and other subtle body language signals.  It is estimated that 80% of what we communicate comes from these non-verbal signals. We listen with our eyes as well as our ears.

The focus of a conversation is not just covering the material. It is prayerfully focusing on God’s plan. Pray before, during and after an individual or group meeting.

“The single greatest attribute of an effective leader: (is) the ability to listen. Keep in mind that for most people, listening is about the hardest work they’ll ever do.”  (Brian Billick, Competitive Leadership: Twelve Principles for Success)

We are naturally biased to speak our minds. Ineffective leaders are poor listeners and treat conversations as chances to talk about themselves increasing their perceived status.  They spend more time planning their next response than listening to others.

God invites us to be quiet and listen. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10 NIV)

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”. (James 1:19 NIV)

Leadership is … listening and caring to build relationships

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… Getting It Right #290

Are you adrift with ineffective leadership? Many Christian leaders have adopted leadership styles without a Biblical standard. They don’t lead by serving. They may set goals, monitor performance, counsel, recruit, motivate and discipline. But, following the latest guru or fad of the month club doesn’t work.

“Much of the church is spiritually impotent-void of vital, personal and intimate walk with God. Having fallen into the cult of the comfortable, the church, for the most part, is no long a power to be reckoned with. It has largely lost the respect of the masses; it is often no longer a power to be reckoned with. It has largely lost the respect of the masses’ it is often the object of ridicule. Tragically, it has become the last place our nation would turn for help.” (Bill Bright, The coming Revival America’s Call to Fast, Pray and “Seek God’s Face”)

“Jesus shrugged it off. Every tree that wasn’t planted by my Father in heaven will be pulled up by its roots. Forget them. They are blind men leading blind men. When a blind man leads a blind man, they both end up in the ditch.” (Matthew 15:13-14 MSG)

“Good leaders can make a small difference; bad leaders can make a huge negative difference”. (Fortune Magazine)

We’ve all heard the phrase, “History repeats itself’. To state it another way, the future will be the same as the past, unless something changes. As Christian leaders, if we want to have any impact on our future, we need to change. I’m not recommending a change in theology, values, prayer or Bible study. I’m suggesting as Christian leaders, we need to follow Christ’s example and exude Servant Leadership. We need to follow the blueprint.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2 NIV)

Are your followers growing in their relationship to their Heavenly Father? If not, why not?

Leadership is, following a Biblical standard of Servant Leadership.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… Knowing Who You Serve #289

Servant Leadership is alive and healthy in many churches. These focused and value driven churches recognize and utilize the individual spiritual gifts of their people. The service they provide is a priority and foremost in their thinking. Their Vision, Values and procedures are infused with service. They live, breathe and duplicate themselves through loving and caring service. These churches are growing, winning their communities to Christ and making a difference in our world.

As Christian leaders we have an awesome calling. We are all uniquely gifted and dedicated providing a mosaic of skills to accomplish God’s purpose. Winning others to Christ, sharing God’s love at home, work and church, while sharing Biblical principles. Servant Leadership is always God honoring.

Character and values are critical to the Servant Leader. “No man can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24 NIV) Your Biblical application shows every day at work. Scripture will be integrated and each word covered in prayer.

As Christian Leaders we are at decision point. We cannot lead by tradition, and ‘the way we’ve always done it’. It isn’t working.

In our churches we need Biblically based Servant Leaders that lead effectively. Christ said, “Every kingdom (Church) divided against itself will be ruined”. (Matthew 12:25 NIV) “It is the Lord Christ you are serving”. (Colossians 3:24 NIV) “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people”. (Ephesians 6:7 NIV)

We are either in this world to win others to Christ or we are not. The most significant transformation is available to our leaders who take the initiative to learn, grow and begin the journey to be a Christian Servant leader.

Our world is waiting for us to make the change.

Leadership is learning to serve with a Christ like attitude.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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