Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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The Loneliness of Leadership

I attended a learning event where we were talking about how difficult the calling of a pastor is. Let’s face it, you don’t pursue that particular calling for the money. In most cases, a leader will earn much more in a general marketplace position than they will in the church. The hours are long. Pastors don’t have set “9 to 5” hours, they are always “on call”. In most cases, a pastor does not get the respect that a workplace leader would receive. And while a pastor will occasionally be told how a particular sermon blessed someone, it is often a difficult and lonely calling.

That got me to thinking that in general the call of leadership is a lonely calling. Now, there are certainly many, many joys of leadership. Some of the things that I really enjoy about leadership have been: Continue reading

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Why Do You Want to Be A Leader?

I mentored many individuals in my career who were aspiring to a leadership position in our organization. I would always ask them one question – “Why do you want to be a leader?” The answer to that question can tell you a lot.
I remember a friend who was asked that question by a senior leader. They hadn’t thought through their answer before being asked, and their answer was such that as a result, the leader would not support them for a leadership position moving forward. If you see leadership as a calling, you need to have your answer to the question “Why do you want to be a leader?” ready for whoever may ask you.
There are many reasons why people might want to secure a formal leadership position. (I say “formal” because I firmly believe that you can be a leader no matter what position you hold). Some pursue leadership for the title, position or status. Some pursue leadership for the salary or bonuses available. Some pursue leadership because they feel that they are entitled to it, based on length of service or prior individual contributions. I believe these are all poor reasons to pursue leadership.
I see leadership as a calling. I feel that leadership is one of the things that the Lord has gifted and prepared me for. My objectives in being a leader were to drive results for the organization and to develop people, both those on my teams and those I mentored. In other words, I aimed to make things better, both for the organization and for the people I was blessed to work with and mentor. I think that’s what servant leadership is all about.
Leadership experts John Maxwell and Ken Blanchard believe that the only way to create great relationships and results is through servant leadership. Maxwell states that servant leadership is all about putting other people first. Many leaders are not respected because they tend to put themselves first, not others. Blanchard has written that we have all seen the negative impact of self-serving leaders in every sector of our society. Maxwell offers a solution, indicating that the leader should be there for the people, not the people for the leader. Dave Ramsey states that if there’s one key to servant leadership, it’s pretty simple: put other people first. Cheryl Bachelder, the former CEO of Popeyes, writes that servant leadership simply means service above self.
Does this describe your current leader, or leaders that you have reported to in the past? Perhaps not. A better question may be “Does this describe the leader you want to be?” When someone asks you why you want to be a leader, why not indicate that you:

  1. Will make a difference.
  2. Drive strong results.
  3. Develop people.
  4. Put other people first.

How about you? If I were to ask you why you want to be a leader, how would you respond?

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Is Your Organization’s Culture Remarkable or Toxic?

My wife Tammy and I eat out a lot. You can learn many things about an organization’s culture by eating at one of their restaurants. You can learn whether the organization is remarkable or toxic.
For example, when I eat out, I notice the condition of the facility – is it in good repair and clean, especially the restrooms. I pay attention to the attitude, friendliness and service provided by those that seat us and serve us. Do they take pride in providing an outstanding customer experience for us, or do they act like they really don’t want to be there, and are just going through the motions? If we ask for something, do we get a response of “No problem”, or “No worries”, or do we hear “My pleasure”?
Remarkable organizational cultures are principle driven and are known for going above and beyond in the delivery of their products and services.  On the other hand, toxic cultures are known for poor service and poor performance. Continue reading

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The Kindle Edition of My Book is on Sale for $.99 TODAY through the 27th!

To celebrate spring, the Kindle version of my book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace, will be on sale for just $.99, beginning at 6:00 am on March 21 until midnight March 27.

In this book, I bring my unique perspective of having been a leader for nearly 38 years at a Fortune 50 organization, a seminary graduate and a leader in my church for more than 25 years, to the growing faith and work conversation. I make the case from the scriptures and many books that I’ve read, that God values our work and callings, as long as we are doing work that is pleasing to Him. I also hope to help you to determine your callings.

The book was written for those who want to know that God values what they do in their work and callings, as they do it to serve and glorify Him. The book is also written for those in the “pews” who struggle to see the connection between what they hear from the pulpit in Sunday morning worship with the rest of the week. The book can be read individually, or in a group setting as “Questions for Reflection and Discussion” are included at the end of each chapter.
Here are a few endorsements of the book:
Continue reading

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20 Quotes on Work and Leadership from The New Man: Becoming a Man After God’s Own Heart by Dan Doriani

I read Dan Doriani’s book The New Man: Becoming a Man After God’s Own Heart, and was blessed to have the opportunity to take two courses from Dr. Doriani at Covenant Seminary. In this book, he uses God’s person and work as the model for the book as he looks at man in marriage, fatherhood, work, leadership, friendship, etc. I wanted to share 20 quotes about work and leadership from the book that I found helpful:

A Man and His Work

  1. We cannot see the results of our work, but God can and he gives us roles that let us serve our neighbors.
  2. All honest work is dignified if we love our neighbors and strive to serve God in it.
  3. We must not think that “sacred” work—church work—pleases God more than “secular” work.
  4. The Lord is pleased with faithful work in every calling.
  5. Because God works and intended mankind to work, even before sin entered creation, we should have a guarded optimism toward labor.
  6. Work is not burdensome when you do what you love, for people you love.
  7. The noblest thing we can do is to serve the Lord faithfully in the place God assigns us.
  8. Before God, the highest position anyone can hold is the one to which God gifted and summoned him.
  9. Every job has its burdens, but we tolerate them if we spend most of our time using our chief gifts.
  10. There are good reasons to work hard: rare skills, love of the work itself, or love of the cause it serves. But all too often our overwork is sinful, driven by slavery to false gods.

A Man as Leader

  1. Jesus demonstrated that true leaders serve—and suffer.
  2. Like Jesus, leaders will be blamed for things they did not do wrong.
  3. Leaders suffer pointless envy and irrational hate.
  4. Leadership is hard. The work never ends.
  5. Good leaders are strongest in times of testing. They are ready to fight where the battle rages. They engage the issues of the hour. When crises arise, they lead the way when others get lost.
  6. Leaders prove themselves publicly by their exemplary character.
  7. When people know their leaders are willing to put them first, it becomes easier to follow.
  8. The best way to find new leaders is to locate people who are already leading quietly but effectively in a little noticed corner.
  9. Because Christians claim a higher standard, our leaders must have a good reputation.
  10. Gifts are important, but for the Christian leader there is no substitute for godliness and a willingness to work just where the work needs to be done.

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Whatever You Do, Do It to the Glory of God

I realize that we are all in different stages of life as far as our callings and vocations. Some of us are early in our career, some in the middle, while others are toward the end of their careers and some are retired. What I want to encourage you with today is that no matter what you do, or who you do it for, to do it all to the best of your ability for the glory of God. In 1 Corinthians 10:31, the Apostle Paul writes “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”. In Colossians 3:23, he writes “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Don’t miss this. He said “Whatever you do”. He doesn’t care if you are a CEO, sweep the floors at the airport, are a stay at home mom, a farmer, are retired or in a nursing home. In all of these situations it is “Whatever you do”.
I’ll use my mother in law as an example, because she’s one of my heroes. She suffered mightily with terrible pain for the forty-one years that I knew her. On top of that, she was widowed for the last 5 ½ years. But she regularly painted and created beautiful greeting cards for the encouragement of others. She also made dozens of blankets out of donated fabric to be used at a local pregnancy center.
Whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God. Continue reading

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6 Things Organizations Can Learn from Chick Fil-A

There is no organizational culture I respect more than that of Chick Fil-A. I have eaten at numerous Chick Fil-A restaurants across the country, gotten to know our local Operator, read about their culture from Ken Blanchard and Patrick Lencioni, and read books by Chick Fil-A insiders Mark Miller, Truett Cathy, Dee Ann Turner and Steve Robinson.

When you go into a Chick Fil-A quick service restaurant anywhere in the country you will not be greeted with replies of “No Problem” or “No Worries” from their employees. No, you will always be greeted with “It’s My Pleasure”. What a difference that is! It’s an organizational culture that drives this difference, and its why Chick Fil-A is always spoken of so highly by leadership experts.

But what is it that makes Chick Fil-A unique among its competitors? And what can other organizations learn from them? After all, in 2017, the average Chick-fil-A freestanding restaurant had sales 70 percent higher than the average McDonald’s location and four times that of an average KFC location. And that’s while also being closed on Sundays.

Here are 6 things that I believe make the difference for Chick Fil-A: Continue reading

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The Key to a Successful Second Half

Each Friday morning, a few friends and I meet at our local Original Pancake House, where we greet our friends who serve so well there.  We have discussed Bob Buford’s book Half Time: Moving from Success to Significance; the second time I’ve gone through the book in less than a year. A leader in our organization recommended it for some of us when we were getting ready to transition out of the workplace as a result of changes in our organization.
Buford states that our second half (whether it begins while you are still working in your vocation, or when you retire), is about regaining control of your life. The key to a successful second half is not a change of jobs; it is a change of heart, a change in the way you view the world and order your life. I’ve noticed that some who have recently retired have no clear plan for their lives. After all, for perhaps 30+ years, they have had a vocational purpose. They knew where they would be each Monday through Friday, and knew what was expected of them. Now, they have new-found freedom in how to spend their time, but are unsure of what to actually do with that time. It can be a confusing and frustrating time.
Buford writes that leadership expert Peter Drucker once told him that retirees have not proved to be the fertile source of volunteer effort we once thought they would be. Rather than serving, some have tended to cut their engines off and lose their edge. Buford encourages us not to allow the second half of our lives to be characterized by decline, boredom, and increasing ineffectiveness for the kingdom.
Continue reading

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The Importance of a Focus on Customers

My wife Tammy and I eat out most of the time, as has been our practice throughout our marriage. As a result, we have a lot of opportunities to observe different levels of customer service.
I remember a time several years ago when we were having dinner at a major pizza chain that offered a buffet. The buffet was supposed to begin at 5:00 pm. But it was well after 5:00 pm and the restaurant staff was in no big hurry to get the buffet set up. We finally had to ask them about it, thinking we had gotten the night wrong. I realized later that the mostly high school age staff only saw this as a part-time job. They were going to just put in their time until 9:00 pm and then go home. There was no motivation to provide excellent service, or even acceptable service. They were going to be paid the same.
Have you run into situations like that? Often times the lack of attention in the area of customer service carries over into other areas of a restaurant, such as how well the facility is maintained, including the restrooms, or the appearance of the staff.  In such situations, asking the server for a drink refill almost makes you feel like you are bothering them, as they give you a dismissive “No problem”, or “No worries”. As you think back on such situations, you realize that your experience as a customer was probably less than desirable as there was little, or no, focus on you as the customer. Continue reading

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John Maxwell on Calling

The subject of our calling is one of great interest to me. I enjoy reading about calling and helping others to pursue their calling. I’ve read a few books about calling, the best of which have been by Jeff Goins (The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do), Bob Smart (Calling to Christ: Where’s My Place) and Os Guinness (The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life). In his book Leadershift: 11 Essential Changes Every Leader Must Embrace, John Maxwell includes a chapter on calling titled “Career to Calling: The Passion Shift”. This was my favorite chapter in an excellent book. I want to share 10 great quotes on Maxwell’s chapter on calling:

  1. A job is not your calling, no matter how much money it will allow you to make or how it allows you to serve people. A job is merely a vehicle with the potential to take you toward your calling.
  2. Your calling, when you find and embrace it, will result in the merging of your skills, talents, character traits, and experiences.
  3. Finding your calling is like finding your why—the reason you exist, your purpose for living.
  4. Your life will never be the same once you know what you’re called to do and are working to fulfill it every day.
  5. Your calling can give you a fruitful and fulfilling life, one that fills you with passion and motivates you to make a difference.
  6. No one has ever been called to do something he or she wasn’t suited for. Calling always matches who you are.
  7. A true calling is never about the person being called. It’s about helping others.
  8. Nothing in life is as rewarding as fulfilling your calling—nothing. Wealth, fame, achievement, recognition: all of them fall short.
  9. The goal in life is not to live on forever but to create something that does.
  10. Our calling is the gift we give the world while we are still alive. Our legacy is our gift to the world after we die.

Have you read any books on calling that you would recommend? Please share them. Thanks.