Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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Every Leader Has an Impact on Their Team: Will Yours Be Positive or Negative?

Unfortunately, I continue to hear from way too many people about the negative impact their leaders have on them. Recently, a friend told me about their leader, who had told him over and over during the past year that he had “saved her”. He is an “A player” on the team, but at the time of his performance review, the leader’s actions didn’t match their words. That same leader hadn’t held the required “One on One” monthly meeting with that team member for 18 months, and the leader is also poor at resolving conflict on the team. No wonder that employee is now looking to move to a different leader.
Another person told me that they were concerned about the leader they were assigned to because their position was not deeply technical, and the word was that this leader only valued technical skills. When I checked with them recently about how things were going, they responded that the team hadn’t really seen much of the leader lately. They just figured that the leader was working on their own development and didn’t have time for the team.
Leaders will always have an impact on their team members, either a positive one, or a negative one. A good leader of course wants that impact to be a positive one. A bad leader will often cause a team member to become so dissatisfied that they will leave the team, and perhaps even the entire organization. Continue reading

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Are You a Leader or a Manager? 

Are you a leader or a manager? Is there a difference between the two? Some people are leaders, but have the title of manager. Many, if not most people, use the words leader and manager interchangeably, but there is a vast difference between the two. So, what are some of those differences? Here are four differences between managers and leaders that I would like to share with you:

  • Managers – whether they be in business, the church or a non-profit organization – maintain the status quo. Just as leaders are needed to move organizations forward, managers are needed for those areas of an organization that are not considered strategic, but still need to be maintained. In some of my assignments in an IT department in a large Fortune 50 organization, I worked with roles that were not considered strategic, but were certainly needed to “keep the wheels on”. Also, some of the responsibilities that I had (making sure everyone on my team accurately recorded their time each week, for example) certainly fell into the managing, rather than leading category. It is the same with a church. In some churches, “managers” (pastors, church leaders, etc.), just maintain what is in place, not working to move their churches forward to impact their communities in a greater way for the Gospel.
  • Leaders cast a compelling vision of a better future. While managers maintain systems and programs that are in place in their organizations, leaders look to a better future, moving their organizations forward. Leaders have vision and they cast compelling visions of a better future for their organizations. This means change, but it is change for the better, not change for the sake of change. Change for the better improves organizations. Change for the sake of change disrupts organizations.
  • Leaders influence followers to buy into their vision of the future. John Maxwell often says that “Leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less”. In other words, if you are not able to influence people to follow your you and your vision, you are not leading. Maxwell has said that people buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. As a result, leaders need to be people of character and competence.
  • Leaders inspire trust. Stephen M.R. Covey has said “The first job of any leader is to inspire trust. Trust is confidence born of two dimensions: character and competence. Character includes your integrity, motive, and intent with people. Competence includes your capabilities, skills, results, and track record. Both dimensions are vital.” It is not that people don’t need managers, but here I want to focus on the word “inspire”. Leaders inspire.

Your particular situation may find you doing more managing than leading. However, I contend that no matter what type of leadership or management position you are in, you can have the vision to improve your organization. And if your vision is compelling enough and you communicate it clearly, people will follow you, and you will be a leader.

There are many other differences between leaders and managers. What thoughts do you have about the difference between the two?

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Leadership Lessons from Nikki Haley’s Book “With All Due Respect: Defending America with Grit and Grace”

Nikki R. Haley served as United States Ambassador to the United Nations from 2017 to 2019. She had previously served as Governor of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017, and in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 2004 – 2010. With All Due Respect covers highlights from primarily her most recent positions, and includes a number of leadership lessons. Here are some of my favorite leadership quotes from the book:

  • I’ve always been underestimated. I’ve always responded by diving in, working harder than everyone else, and proving them wrong. I don’t let what other people think bother me. I just work.
  • (About President Trump): Our styles were very different, but we were both fundamentally disrupters of the status quo. And we were both action-oriented.
  • It’s one of the most important leadership lessons I’ve learned: Don’t talk for the sake of talking. When you say something, make it matter. If you agree with something, offer ways to make it happen. If you disagree, say so. But always have a plan to find a solution.

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Servant Leadership: Leading Like Jesus, Part 1

I’m a huge proponent of servant leadership. It’s the way I try to lead, and I believe it is the best leadership model. I’ve read many good books on the topic, with the first, and best, being Lead Like Jesus: Lessons from the Greatest Leadership Role Model of All Time by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges. In this two-part series on servant leadership, I’ll first look at takeaways from that book, and in part two, I’ll look at what I’ve earned from a few other books on the subject.

    • The world is in desperate need of a different leadership role model. Many leaders act as if the sheep are there only for the benefit of the shepherd. The good news is that there is a better way. There is one perfect leadership role model you can trust, and His name is Jesus.
    • Self-promotion (pride) and self-protection (fear) are the reigning motivations that dominate the leadership landscape today. But Jesus is clear about how He wants us to lead: He asks us to make a difference in our world by being effective servant leaders. For followers of Jesus, servant leadership isn’t an option; it’s a mandate.

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5 Best Books I Recommend on Servant Leadership

I’m a strong proponent of servant leadership. I’ve previously shared four reasons why I aspire to be a servant leader. You can read that article here.
I’ve read many books about leadership over the years, and several about servant leadership in particular. Below are 5 books on servant leadership, plus a bonus chapter, that I recommend you read if you would like to find out more about the topic.
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My Review of ARCTIC

Arctic, rated PG-13

With theatres closed and no new films to watch, my wife and I have taken the opportunity to watch some recent films that we had missed. One of those was Arctic, a film that focuses on a single character and includes minimal dialogue. The film is directed by Joe Penna in his feature film directorial debut, and written by Penna and Ryan Morrison. The film was shot in Iceland and had a budget of approximately $2 million.
Overgård, played by Mads Mikkleson (Hannibal), is stranded in the Arctic tundra after his Antonov An-2 plane crashed there. We don’t know the circumstances of the crash, nor how long he has been there. Living in his plane, Overgård has settled into a systematic daily routine – fishing for his food, creating and recreating (as the fierce winds cover it over) a large S.O.S. in the snow, and cranking a radio system to send a signal that would alert would-be rescuers. He stays on task with these activities by an alarm on his watch. Continue reading

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THIS & THAT: A Weekly Roundup of Favorite Articles, Cartoon, & Quotes

  • Where is God in a Coronavirus World? Watch RZIM (Ravi Zacharias International Ministries) President Michael Ramsden and Professor John Lennox discuss Lennox’s new book, Where is God in a Coronavirus World? The event includes a Q&A.
  • Is God Sovereign Over Viruses? Gene Veith writes “The fallen world is a hard place to live. And yet, God’s sovereignty mitigates that world. Though the bad things that happen are in accord with His sovereign will, He continues to love His creation. The beauties, satisfactions, and pleasures of life are the deeper signs of God’s sovereignty.”
  • Where Can We Turn in Fearful Times? Leonardo De Chirico writes “In order to deal with fear without succumbing to it, we need to fear God and God alone.”
  • How Should Christians Respond to Times of Suffering? When crisis strikes, people often say, “I’ll never be the same after this.” The real danger would be that we’re left exactly the same after the dust has settled. From the Ligonier livestream event Made in the Image of God, Sinclair Ferguson examines how Christians should respond to the suffering of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Do We Really Want to Go Back to Normal? Trevin Wax writes “The question we should ask, then, is not when will we get back to normal but should we want to go back to normal? And the follow-up question: What should the new normal be?”  

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More interesting article links
  • Cartoon of the Week
  • Favorite Quotes of the Week

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • Those Whom God Uses to Heal. These days more than ever, those in the medical field are looked at as true heroes. Our friend Russell Gehrlein writes from a biblical and theological perspective to encourage those whom God uses to heal, as well as those who are on the receiving end of their valuable work.
  • The Motivation of a Leader. On this month’s Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast, Stanley visits with Patrick Lencioni about his new book The Motive and the motivation of a leader.
  • Vocation and the Epidemic. Gene Veith writes “Vocation is not just about how we make our living.  It’s about how God works through human beings to care for His creation.  It’s about loving and serving our neighbors in our multiple stations of life.”
  • Remembering the Working Poor in the Time of Coronavirus. Daniel Darling writes “Perhaps our national pain will be a catalyst for God’s people to remember that the gospel is the great leveler, the cross the place where you are not defined by what you do but by who you are in because of what Jesus did. Ironically, it may be this season of social distancing that will be used by God to bring us together.”
  • Plan for Something Greater Than Retirement. The last chapter of life is not retirement. No, something greater is to come. We need to start planning for something far beyond the reach of our 401(k) plans. It’s a suitable word from John Piper in this episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast, to upper-class Americans, and to prisoners serving life sentences at Angola, the largest maximum-security prison in the US.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Timothy Keller with Katherine Leary Alsdorf
  • Snippets from Os Guinness’ book “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life”

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Can an Introvert Be a Successful Leader?

In the organization where I worked as a leader for almost 38 years, it seemed that the vast majority of leaders were extroverts, and that particular personality type was most valued in a leader. The question we must ask is whether an introvert can be a successful leader.
First of all, we need to know what we mean when we say someone is an introvert. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of an introvert is “a reserved or shy person who enjoys spending time alone.” That definition doesn’t seem to scream “leader” to me. In comparison, an extrovert is defined as “a gregarious and unreserved person”.
Although I would occasionally have people challenge my assertion that I am an introvert, I had no doubt. For example, on family vacations, I would rather be by myself in a canoe, on a bike or reading a book, than I would be with the rest of the group playing a game.  My wife Tammy even reminds me when I was too shy as a teenager to order a pizza on the phone. Now that’s shy! Continue reading

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Jesus Rested on Saturday ~ a guest article by Tammy Pence

Throughout the course of church history, many people have taught that Jesus’ spirit descended into hell after His death on the cross.  Basing this idea on Ephesians 4:8–10 and 1 Peter 3:18–20, feel free to study it.  But rest assured that we are fully delivered from the anguish and torment of hell in Christ.  Hallelujah, what a Savior!
Back to our discussion… what if Jesus rested?  At that time Saturday, the 7th day, was the Sabbath.  Go back to Genesis 2:2-3, “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.  So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation.
When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.  John 19:30

So they took His body down
The man who said He was the resurrection and the life
Was lifeless on the ground now
The sky was red His blood along the blade of night

And as the Sabbath fell they shrouded Him in linen
They dressed Him like a wound
The rich man and the women
They laid Him in the tomb

Six days shall You labor, the seventh is the Lord’s
In six, He made the earth and all the heavens
But He rested on the seventh
God rested
He said that it was finished
And the seventh day, He blessed it
God rested

So they laid their hopes away
They buried all their dreams
About the Kingdom He proclaimed
And they sealed them in the grave
As a holy silence fell on all Jerusalem

And the Pharisees were restless
Pilate had no peace
Peter’s heart was reckless
Mary couldn’t sleep
But God rested

Six days shall you labor, the seventh is the Lord’s
In six, He made the earth and all the heavens
But He rested on the seventh
God rested
He worked till it was finished and the seventh day He blessed it
He said that it was good
And the seventh day, He blessed it
God rested

The sun went down, the Sabbath faded
The holy day was done and all Creation waited

“God Rested” by Andrew Peterson

Thoughts for further study, also called – “Things that make you go Hmmmm..”:

  1. “Sin against an infinite being demands an infinite punishment in hell. In a few hours, Jesus suffered and exhausted the infinite punishment that impenitent people cannot exhaust even after an eternity in hell. He could do this because, in His deity as the Son of God, He is an infinite being.” Ligonier Ministries
  2. And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.”Having said this, He breathed His last.  Luke 23:46

So… after being forsaken and receiving the wrath of God due for our sins, Jesus still trusted His Father.  He is our Father too.  You can trust Him!

  1. On every day of creation Scripture says, “And there was evening and there was morning…” He didn’t say that on the seventh day – maybe because it is an eternal rest?
  2. If you need a 3 minute sermon to light your fire because your wood’s wet (a.k.a. raise your religious affections), listen to ‘That’s My King’ by Dr. S.M. Lockridge.