Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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50 Great Quotes on Leadership from John Wooden

Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization by John Wooden and Steve Jamison. McGraw-Hill Education. 321 pages. 2005.
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I’ve long respected John Wooden for the values he brought to leadership as one of the greatest coaches of all time. For example, over a twelve-year period at UCLA, Wooden won an incredible ten NCAA national basketball championships, including a record seven in a row.  I’ve rarely highlighted as many passages in a book as I did with this one.

The book is divided into three main sections:
Part 1: The Foundation for My Leadership. In this section he covers the 15 fundamental values that were the blocks for his Pyramid of Success. He writes that he believed that they are prerequisites for a leader and an organization whose goal is to perform at the highest level of which they are capable.

Part 2: Lessons in Leadership. This is the section that I most appreciated and where I highlighted a large number of leadership quotes. After each teaching by Wooden there would be a helpful “Suggestions to Lead By” and an “On Wooden” section by some of Wooden’s former players and coaches.

Part 3: Lessons from My Notebook. This section was my least favorite of the book, having the least application for general (non-basketball) leadership. What was most interesting to me was that this section included pages or excerpts of pages from notebooks he used through the years in his teaching—notes, observations, reminders, suggestions, and lists of relevant goals and how to achieve them.

As I mentioned, I highlighted a large number of passages as I read the book. I’ve eliminated many of them to get down to 50 of my favorite quotes from the book:

  • I believe that’s what leadership is all about: helping others to achieve their own greatness by helping the organization to succeed.
  • I believe leadership itself is largely learned.
  • Whatever coaching and leadership skills I possess were learned through listening, observation, study, and then trial and error along the way.
  • It’s the quality of your effort that counts most and offers the greatest and most long-lasting satisfaction.
  • The joy is in the journey of pushing yourself to the outward limits of your ability and teaching your organization to do the same.
  • Effort is the ultimate measure of your success.
  • I do not judge success based on championships; rather, I judge it on how close we came to realizing our potential.
  • Reputation is what others perceive you as being, and their opinion may be right or wrong. Character, however, is what you really are, and nobody truly knows that but you. But you are what matters most.
  • A strong leader accepts blame and gives the credit. A weak leader gives blame and accepts the credit.
  • Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to stay there.
  • Practice moderation and balance in all that you do.
  • The best leaders understand that to successfully compete at any level requires continuous learning and improvement.
  • The best leaders are lifelong learners; they take measures to create organizations that foster and inspire learning throughout.
  • The most effective leaders are those who realize it’s what you learn after you know it all that counts most.
  • Character—doing the right thing—is fundamental to successful leadership
  • For me, a good explanation of character is simple: respect for yourself, respect for others, respect for the game, whether it’s basketball, business, or anything else.
  • A leader with character attracts talent with the same.
  • Who you are inside—what you believe—is important, but what you do means more, much more. Actions trump words, and your values must be visible if they are to have an impact on those you lead or hope to attract as part of your team.
  • Character counts and values matter. And you, the leader, set the standard for both in your organization.
  • For me, leadership is a sacred trust.
  • I believe you must have love in your heart for the people under your leadership. I did.
  • For a good leader, the team is nothing less than extended family.
  • Team members wouldn’t be treated the same or alike; rather, each one would receive the treatment they earned and deserved.
  • I believe effective leaders are, first and foremost, good teachers.
  • Your own personal example is one of the most powerful leadership tools you possess. Put it to good use: Be what you want your team to become.
  • A leader who is through learning is through.
  • A leader who is ruled by emotions, whose temperament is mercurial, produces a team whose trademark is the roller coaster—ups and downs in performance; unpredictability and un-dependability in effort and concentration; one day good, the next day bad.
  • Sharing credit is a surefire way of improving the performance results for any organization.
  • Little things, done well, make big things happen for you and your organization.
  • A casual approach to executing the details of a job ensures that the job will be done poorly.
  • I fully understood that the success of my leadership was directly linked to using time wisely.
  • I came to the conclusion that when choosing between the carrot and the stick as a motivational tool, the well-chosen carrot was almost always more powerful and longer lasting than the stick.
  • Each member of your team has a potential for personal greatness; the leader’s job is to help them achieve it.
  • I believe that personal greatness is measured against one’s own potential, not against that of someone else on the team or elsewhere.
  • Personal greatness for any leader is measured by effectiveness in bringing out the greatness of those you lead.
  • Don’t worry about being better than someone else, but never cease trying to be the best you can become.
  • Are you holding your team back with misconceived notions and false limitations? Identify and then eliminate them. Seek solutions rather than excuses.
  • I believe one of the requirements of good leadership is the ability to listen—really listen—to those in your organization.
  • I believe that you must have people around you willing to ask questions and express opinions, people who seek improvement for the organization rather than merely gaining favor with the boss.
  • Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.
  • The most productive leaders are usually those who are consistently willing to listen and learn.
  • Success is more often attained by asking “how?” than by saying “no.”
  • Contentment with past accomplishments or acceptance of the status quo can derail an organization quickly.
  • Assume improvement is always possible and force yourself—and others—to find out how.
  • New ideas and perspective from those under your leadership are essential for achieving and maintaining a competitive edge.
  • If your word is nothing, you’re not much better.
  • A leader whose promise means something is trusted. Trust counts for everything in leadership.
  • Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out.
  • A good leader never stops learning. A great leader never stops teaching.
  • Past achievements for any leader or organization will occur again in the future only with equal, or greater, effort.
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What Does the Bible Say About Work?

It may surprise you that the Bible has a lot to say about work, both God’s work and our work. Here are just a few passages for you to consider:

The “Creation Mandate”

  • And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)

God is a worker

  • 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. (Genesis 2:2-3)

Jesus is a worker

  • Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? (Mark 6:3)
  • I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. John 17:4

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Coram Deo and the Integration of Our Faith and Work

This blog has been named Coram Deo since it originally started as a monthly church newsletter way back in September, 1998. The phrase means so much to me that my license plate is CORMDEO!
I first became aware of the Latin term “Coram Deo”, sometimes associated with Martin Luther, years ago at the end of the daily teaching studies of Ligonier Ministries’ monthly magazine Tabletalk. R.C. Sproul, the founder of Ligonier Ministries, has written that the big idea of the Christian life and its essence is coram Deo.  He writes that the phrase literally refers to something that takes place in the presence of, or before the face of, God. To live coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God. He tells us that to live in the presence of God is to understand that whatever we are doing and wherever we are doing it, we are acting under the gaze of God. God is omnipresent. There is no place so remote that we can escape His penetrating gaze.
Dr. Sproul tells us that the Christian who compartmentalizes their life into two sections of the religious and the nonreligious has failed to grasp the big idea. The big idea is that all of life is religious or none of life is religious. He tells us that to divide life between the religious and the nonreligious is itself a sacrilege.
Sproul then addresses coram Deo and our callings and vocations, and this is what I want to bring your attention to. He states that if a person fulfills their vocation as a steelmaker, attorney, or homemaker coram Deo, then that person is acting every bit as religiously as a soul-winning evangelist who fulfills his vocation.
That makes sense, doesn’t it? As we carry out our vocations we do so coram Deo, in the presence of, and before the face of God. Knowing this has provided me a direct line of sight between my faith and my work.
What about you? Do you divide your life between the religious (church, spiritual disciplines, etc.) and the nonreligious (work, household chores, raising your children, etc.)?  Or, do you carry out your vocations and callings coram deo, in the presence of, and before the face of a holy God?


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John Newton and William Wilberforce: One of My Favorite Illustrations of Integrating Faith and Work


I always enjoy hearing and reading about people who demonstrate a good connection between their faith and their work. For example, I heard about this all of the time from the participants in the Friday morning book club I was part of in my organization.
One of my favorite illustrations about someone integrating their faith and work comes from the life of William Wilberforce. Many of you will know who William Wilberforce was, perhaps from the 2007 movie Amazing Grace, or from Eric Metaxas’ book of the same name. I also read about him in Jonathan Aikten’s book John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace, which is where this illustration comes from.  
John Newton was a one-time slave trader, and later pastor and writer of the much loved hymn “Amazing Grace”. As a pastor in London, Newton’s advice was sought by many influential figures, among them the young William Wilberforce. Wilberforce was a Member of Parliament and a new convert to Christianity. He was contemplating leaving politics – his vocation, for the ministry, to focus on “full-time Christian work”. But Newton encouraged him to stay in Parliament and “serve God where he was”.
Wilberforce took his advice, and spent the rest of his life working towards the abolition of slavery, which he achieved in 1833 when slavery was abolished in the British Empire.  Wilberforce may have had a profound impact as a pastor, for example, but by taking Newton’s advice, he changed history by integrating his faith and work.
What are some good examples of individuals integrating their faith and work that you could share?


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Three Organizations That Exemplify a Close Connection between Faith and Work


There are a few organizations that I respect because they exemplify a close connection between faith and work. Three in particular are:

Chick Fil-A. In her book It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and a Compelling Culture by Dee Ann Turner writes that Chick Fil-A is not in the chicken business, but the people business. Selling chicken is just a means for glorifying God.  See my review of Dee Ann’s book.
All Chick Fil-A stores are closed on Sunday. Chick Fil-A’s founder Truett Cathy, made the decision to close on Sundays in 1946 when he opened his first restaurant in Hapeville, Georgia. Having worked seven days a week in restaurants open 24 hours, Truett saw the importance of closing on Sundays so that he and his employees could set aside one day to rest and worship if they choose.
Cathy also stated “We should be about more than just selling chicken. We should be a part of our customers’ lives and the communities in which we serve.”
Chick Fil-A is known for their world-class service. I’ve read about their organization in books by Patrick Lencioni, Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller.

Hobby Lobby. Hobby Lobby got its start in 1970 when David and Barbara Green took out a $600 loan to begin making miniature picture frames out of their home. Today, with more than 750 stores, Hobby Lobby is the largest privately owned arts-and-crafts retailer in the world with approximately 32,000 employees and operating in forty-seven states.
One of their principles is “Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles”. Another is “Providing a return on the family’s investment, sharing the Lord’s blessings with our employees, and investing in our community.” All Hobby Lobby stores are closed on Sunday.

Barry-Wehmiller. Barry-Wehmiller is a global supplier of manufacturing technology and services based in St. Louis, Missouri. I first read about Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry-Wehmiller in Simon Sinek’s book Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t. Barry-Wehmiller measures success by the way they touch the lives of people.
Their website states the following about their organizational culture:
“Step inside any one of our 100 locations around the globe and you’ll feel it: a culture of care, compassion and human connection. Our commitment to our people-first culture runs deep and has inspired a leadership model that places a priority on improving the lives of the people who make our business possible. We call it Truly Human Leadership and it stems from a deep-rooted belief that this is the way we are called to work and live. By sharing the story of our successful cultural and leadership model initiatives we intend to raise the awareness of other leaders about the power of business to have a profound positive impact on the world.”
Check out Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family by Chapman and Raj Sisodia to learn more about this extraordinary organization.  Read my review of the book.

Are there any organizations that you respect because of how they connect faith and work?


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10 Quotes about Servant Leadership from John Maxwell

I recently read John Maxwell’s classic book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of  Leadership with a mentee, something I’ve done a number of times over the past ten years. We came across Chapter 5: The Law of Addition, which states that leaders add value to others. This is perhaps my favorite of the laws. I wanted to share these 10 quotes on servant leadership from the chapter:

  • I believe the bottom line in leadership isn’t how far we advance ourselves but how far we advance others. That is achieved by serving others and adding value to their lives.
  • If you are a leader, then trust me, you are having either a positive or a negative impact on the people you lead. How can you tell? There is one critical question: Are you making things better for the people who follow you?
  • Being an “adder” requires me to get out of my comfort zone every day and think about adding value to others. But that’s what it takes to be a leader whom others want to follow.
  • The best place for a leader isn’t always the top position. It isn’t the most prominent or powerful place. It’s the place where he or she can serve the best and add the most value to other people.
  • Great leadership means great service.
  • When you add value to people, you lift them up, help them advance, make them a part of something bigger than themselves, and assist them in becoming who they were made to be.
  • Effective leaders go beyond not harming others, and they intentionally help others. To do that, they must value people and demonstrate that they care in such a way that their followers know it.
  • Leaders who add value by serving believe in their people before their people believe in them and serve others before they are served.
  • Inexperienced leaders are quick to lead before knowing anything about the people they intend to lead. But mature leaders listen, learn, and then lead. They listen to their people’s stories. They find out about their hopes and dreams. They become acquainted with their aspirations. And they pay attention to their emotions. From those things, they learn about their people. They discover what is valuable to them. And then they lead based upon what they’ve learned.
  • I believe that God desires us not only to treat people with respect, but also to actively reach out to them and serve them.

Do you have any good quotes about servant leadership to share?


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9 Ways You Can Help Those in Your Churches to Integrate Their Faith with Their Work ~ Part 2


Recently, I shared 4 suggestions for church leaders on how they can help those within their churches to see the value of their work and callings, whether it is in a paid or non-paid vocation.  Here are 5 additional suggestions:

  1. Get involved in the Made to Flourish organization, a pastor’s network for the common good. The mission of Made to Flourish is “To equip pastors with a more integral connection between Sunday faith and Monday work, in order to empower them to lead churches that produce human flourishing for the common good.” Made to Flourish helps pastors learn how to connect faith, work, and economics so they can disciple their people better to live for Christ in all areas of life and advance the common good.
  2. Attend Faith and Work Conferences or learning events and share with your church what you’ve learned. Recommended conferences are the Faith & Work conference sponsored by the Center for Faith and Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, Made to Flourish’s Common Good conference and the Faith @ Work Summit conference at the Center for Faith and Work at LeTourneau University.
  3. Teach your congregation about work and the Lord’s Day. The workplace has changed significantly since I joined it, primarily due to technology. There was no email, no smartphones and there were standard beginning and endings to the workday when I began my career at State Farm. They even had chimes to start and end the day and for lunch break. Now, workers are always connected. And many believers use Sunday to catch up on work that has built up from the previous week. What can we teach those under our care about work on the Lord’s Day? The Shorter Catechism states that the Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting from unnecessary labors. The concept of rest, in our always connected world, is a subject that I’ve been reading a lot about recently, and would also be a good one for us to teach about in our churches.  My pastor, Bob Smart, tells us that until we learn to deeply rest and separate ourselves from our work, we won’t work effectively.
  4. Regularly engage with your church members at work. Amy Sherman writes that “We must do a better job of inspiring our members about the role they can play in the mission of God and equipping them to live missionally through their vocation.” Tim Chester offers these helpful suggestions in his book Gospel-Centered Work: Becoming the Worker God Wants You to Be:
  • Visit people in their workplace to see where they work, meet their colleagues, and pray for them in context.
  • Send a regular email to workers in their workplace with a brief “thought for the day”.
  • Have a regular “window on the workplace” when you gather as a church, in which someone talks about their work and shares prayer needs.
  • Routinely include application to the workplace in sermons and Bible studies.
  1. Helpful suggestions from the new book Discipleship with Monday in Mind: How Churches Across the Country Are Helping Their People Connect Faith and Work from Made to Flourish. I recently read this new book and wanted to share a few takeaways from interviews the authors conducted with pastors about what they were doing in their churches to help their people connect their faith and work:
  • To communicate the sacredness of work, many churches have “Faith at Work” interviews during the worship service. One church has also incorporated a version of this in their children’s ministry. The aim is to get children thinking about faith and work at an early age.
  • Commission people to specific vocations in the same way you would pray for pastors or foreign missionaries. One church has commissioned those in finance, law, the arts, and the health industry, so far. Commissioning services have a powerful ability to affirm people in their work.
  • Instead of a traditional adult Sunday School, one church hosted a seminar series called Vocare. The purpose of the seminar was to explore the intersection between the gospel culture and vocation, thinking through how we live out our call as God’s people in the world in light of the challenges and opportunities of our cultural moment.
  • One church, in place of Vacation Bible School, started an “All of Life” camp. The church takes children who attend the camp to various workplaces where adults are working, and they talk about their work. The goal is to give these students a rich experience within that particular work context.
  • Some churches have started vocational affinity groups. The idea is to place Christians who serve in the same industry in a small group for mutual encouragement and instruction.
  • One church launched industry roundtables, which were organized around vocations. These were mid-size communities, organized around a particular industry. The purpose of the groups was to explore “theology, ethics, best practices, tensions, and networking.”

What others suggestions do you have for church leaders to help those within their churches to see the value of their work and callings?