Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah

We can learn much about leadership by studying the lives of Bible characters. Previously in our series we have learned from Jesus and Joseph. Today, we’ll look at leadership lessons from Nehemiah.

Hand Me Another Brick, written by Charles Swindoll, was one of the books about Nehemiah I read as an early believer. Recently, I re-read Dave Kraft’s book Learning Leadership from Nehemiah, from which much of this article is indebted.

In chapter 1 of the book of Nehemiah, we are introduced to Nehemiah who was taken captive and was serving the king of Persia as his cupbearer. After hearing that the wall of Jerusalem had been broken down, and its gates had been destroyed by fire, we find him weeping, mourning, fasting and praying to the God of heaven for many days. He confessed the sin of his people and himself and asked God to bring him success in rebuilding the wall. Continue reading


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Leadership Lessons from the Life of Joseph

Joseph is one of my favorite characters in the Bible. Alistair Begg writes that his story is a tale of jealousy, deceit, slavery, misrepresentation, injustice, lust, rivalry, and forgiveness. It is also a wonderful example of how God worked in Joseph’s life through all of its ups and downs. Alistair Begg tells us that Joseph was a life-sized illustration of Romans 8:28.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

We are introduced to Joseph in Genesis 37:2 when he was only 17 years old. His father Jacob favored Joseph more than his other sons. Because of this, and poor judgement by Joseph in sharing a dream he had about his brothers bowing down to him, his brothers were jealous of him and hated him.  This resulted in them selling him into slavery (Genesis 37:28).

Begg tells us that there is no ideal place to serve God except the place in which He has set you down. Continue reading

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Jesus: The Ultimate Servant Leader

The greatest leadership model of all time was Jesus of Nazareth. I believe that the best way to lead is through servant leadership, which was demonstrated by Jesus. That’s how I’ve tried to lead in the business world, non-profit organizations and the church. Briefly, I can summarize leadership as:

  • Casting a compelling vision of a better future.
  • Getting people to believe in that vision enough to follow the leader
  • Developing and multiplying leaders.
  • Effectively executing on the vision.

In complete agreement with the Father and Holy Spirit, Jesus came to us with a purpose, which we read about in Luke 4:17-21:
And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.  And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Jesus’ purpose in coming to us was to:

  • Proclaim good news to the poor
  • Proclaim freedom for prisoners
  • Recover sight to the blind
  • Set the oppressed free
  • Proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor

Continue reading

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Leadership Lessons from a Mother of Triplets

We can learn leadership lessons every day from people in all vocations, including that of a mother. Russell Gehrlein, in his book Immanuel Labor—God’s Presence in Our Profession: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach to the Doctrine of Work writes that the Proverbs 31 woman was a role model not just for women, but for all workers. In her book Glory in the Ordinary: Why Your Work in the Home Matters to God, Courtney Reisigg writes that she has learned that God is glorified in the mundane (boring, dull or monotonous) work as much as He is in the magnificent.

I’ve recently been learning leadership lessons from our niece Jana, a mother of triplets who were born at just 28 weeks. When a family member saw the above photo of Jana holding the three boys, she called her Wonder Woman. Indeed. Here are 7 lessons that we can learn from Jana (aka Wonder Woman) as she cares for Max, Lincoln and Zeke:

Preparation – Long before the triplets were born, Jana was preparing by reading books and talking to other mothers of triplets. Leaders need to prepare before taking on a formal leadership position. They should secure mentors, leaders that they trust and respect, read books on leadership, attend learning events and try to get into positions in which they can demonstrate leadership, even if they don’t yet have the title.

Trust God – Jana and her husband Tony trusted God to provide them children, even though the odds were against them as time went on, and God was faithful to them. (Read about their “Baby Journey”). Then, they had to trust God that the babies would be able to get to 28 weeks before birth, and again God was faithful. Christian leaders too have to trust in God – to prepare them for leadership, to secure a leadership position and for daily guidance as they lead their teams.

Efficient and organized – Leaders have much on their plates and have to be efficient and well organized or they will quickly become overwhelmed. As a mother, Jana is extremely organized and efficient. Imagine caring for three newborn babies. I would be overwhelmed with one, so seeing how Jana cares for three continually amazes (and tires) me. At this point in time, the boys need to eat every three hours. To get ready for the feeding, she prepares their bottles and changes their diapers. After feeding them, it’s “playtime”, which is basically trying to keep them awake for another half hour or so. And that’s every three hours.

Building her team – Leaders need to build their teams, As Jim Collins stated in his classic book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t, they need to get the right people on the bus (their team), the wrong people off the bus and the right people in the right seats. As you can imagine, Jana can use all of the help she and Tony can get to help them care for the boys. She needed to build a team of people who could assist them, especially during the daytime when Tony is at work. And of course, as a mother, she has to build her team with people she can trust. She has done an excellent job building a good team of family and friends that she can depend on.

Training her team – Training your team is a key aspect of leadership. Do you really think that the customer service at Chick Fil-A would be so consistently excellent if the team members had not received good training? Jana has had to train her team members – some of whom had never changed a diaper (Ahem…my wife and I) – on how to prepare a bottle, how and when to feed the boys, “play time”, how to wash bottles, swaddling, etc. In addition, she has to provide updated instruction to her team members as things change (feeding schedule changes, medication, etc.).

Planning – As a leader, I would plan for the following day late each afternoon. I would check my calendar and see what meetings were going to be held that I needed to prepare for, and what assignments were going to be due that day. Planning is critical to Jana’s leadership as well. She needs to know who is coming to assist her that day and at what time they are coming. She also considers if there is anything out of the ordinary that will take place that day, such as a doctor appointment, or if it is a day that she (a nurse) will be working.

Patience – A servant leader will demonstrate patience when things aren’t going according to plan. They will find out what the problem is, rather than “flying off the handle”. I’ve seen Jana show an incredible amount of patience when one of the boys doesn’t want to sleep, finish his bottle, or is just being fussy. And demonstrating patience is even harder when you get as little sleep as Jana does.  Along with patience, she loves to have fun with the boys and make them smile, which is a great trait in a leader.

These are 7 leadership lessons I’m learning from Jana. I’m sure that there will be more in the future. What leadership lessons have you learned from mothers?


Why the Church Should Be Developing Leaders for the General Marketplace and How to Do It

I’ve been a leader in the church, in a Fortune 50 organization and in industry learning and IT organizations. I was recently thinking back to how I learned to be a leader.
I got my undergraduate degree in Business Administration, but those classes and experiences really didn’t prepare me to be a leader. Before graduating from college, I was the manager of more than sixty part-time cleaners, and responsible for the cleaning in multiple buildings for a contract cleaning company. It was there that I first began to learn how to manage, but not lead, and there is a difference. In that job, I was responsible for hiring, firing, quality control, meeting with the customer, etc. I pretty much learned on the job. I didn’t read any books or take classes on how to do that. I look at managing as controlling and maintaining something that is already in place. Leading has to do with establishing and casting a vision, and influencing followers to come along with you.
When I joined a large insurance company as a management trainee, I went through an extensive training program, including leadership courses. Then, for the first time, I worked with Mel, who would become my career mentor and later a good and trusted friend. Mel, was a Christian believer who let his faith come through in his leadership. He instilled in me leadership philosophies that I still rely on to this day. But I never received any leadership training from the churches I attended; that would have helped me in my primary vocation. And you would think that would be a great place to learn leadership. Shouldn’t the local church be helping to develop leaders in all spheres (church, business, sports, non-profit, home, etc.)? The church should be instilling the character needed, as well as the competence needed for leaders.
Harry Reeder, author of 3D Leadership: Defining, Developing and Deploying Christian Leaders Who Can Change the World, writes: “Christ-centered, gospel-saturated and Spirit-filled churches need to embrace the opportunity to once again become “Christian leadership factories,” whereby the church defines Christian leadership, develops Christian leaders, and deploys them into the world.” He goes on to write “A church that defines leadership should not only develop Christian leaders for the church through gospel evangelism and discipleship but also develop Christian leaders from the church who are then deployed into the world to penetrate every sphere and institution of society.” I couldn’t agree more. But how do we do that? Continue reading

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Should We Always Do Our Very Best at Whatever We Do?

You’ve probably heard the saying “If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well”. Or how about “Anything worth doing is worth doing right the first time”.    That’s pretty much how I’ve approached whatever I do, trying to do my very best, for as long as I can remember. Not everyone approaches everything they do like that however. For example, my wife Tammy has never really seen the value in spending a lot of time making the bed each day, saying that we will just be messing it up again later tonight. And how about a task as mundane as folding the laundry? Doesn’t it seem like just as soon as you finish, and get everything put away, it gets unfolded, used and thrown in the hamper? Or how about taking out the trash? You take it out, put in a clean bag, and someone immediately puts something in there. Should you mop the kitchen floor until it’s spotless and shining, or just do an OK job, knowing it will have spills on it the next day?
I’ve always tried to give my very best effort in whatever I do, but my motivation for doing so wasn’t always clear. For example, I always have to go to the driving range to practice before I play a round of golf. Golf is not any fun for me if I play flat-out awful. That’s something my wife has never understood, saying “Can’t you just enjoy playing?” And I will not leave the house without trying to look my best (clothes, hair, etc.). But why? It may have been due to a lack of confidence, fear of looking bad or failing, perfectionism, or perhaps just my personality type. Continue reading

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4 Recommended Books on Calling

During a message I gave last year on living on mission for God, some in attendance indicated that they were not familiar with the subject of calling. That doesn’t surprise me. We don’t often hear terms such as calling and vocation used today. If we were to admit it, many of those we work with, and perhaps some of us, view work as a necessary evil. Most don’t look at their work as a vocation, a calling, or even a career. No, it’s just a job. They embrace Loverboy’s “Working for the Weekend” philosophy, celebrate reaching “Hump Day”, ask “Is it Friday yet?” and get the “Sunday Night Blues” as they think about going to work on Monday morning.

The dictionary has two definitions of calling that are relevant here:

  • A strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence.
  • The vocation or profession in which one customarily engages.

In The Call, the most helpful book I’ve read on our calling as believers, author Os Guinness tells us that our calling is deeper than our jobs, our career, and all of our benchmarks of success.  We should not let our jobs define us and give us our identities. However, we spend so much of our waking time doing our work, this can certainly happen. Think of when you meet someone. You ask them what they “do”. We can become what we do. Guinness tells us that calling reverses such thinking, and a sense of calling should precede a choice of job and career. The main way to discover our calling is along the line of what we are each created and gifted to be. So, instead of thinking that you are what you do, calling says to do what you are. Continue reading