Reflective Leadership Part 6

The next area I want to talk about is Energizing; what things can we do to optimize our energy and what are the scriptural principles we need to apply? He knows our days and frame. As I noted in my overview I want to look at how we use the energy and ability He has given us and I also want to address practical strategies to manage our energy.

In managing our energy there are some obvious areas to reflect on; rest, nutrition and exercise. They are important but I think we need to also contextualize them and use reflection to consider what we need to do within our personal makeup, the way in which He has uniquely formed us (Ps. 139:15-16). For example, there is a lot of information available on nutrition, rest and exercise. If I apply reflection to my own life I can tell you that I generally eat healthy with some ‘junk food’ and at times too much food. I also know that I often don’t get enough sleep and exercise more than the average individual.

Awareness of these things help me to manage my physical and emotional energy. Yet, when I think about my average workday how do I manage my energy there? I have a rather demanding job. To offset extended sitting I have a sit/stand desk and spend the majority of my time at my desk standing up. However, I recognize that sometimes I need to sit to really concentrate and edit something. I also work in an office with a glass door and wall that I look out of, think ‘fishbowl,’ and recognize that I don’t concentrate well in that type of environment. For some projects I need to seek out a secluded space.

These are practical things and to lead my own life well or to lead others well I need to be skilled at managing my energy. That means knowing what gives me energy and what things drain my energy. My chart below provides some examples.

Things that energize Things that drain
Meaningful conversations Long meetings
Taking a break and going for a walk/getting fresh air Large crowds where I do not have a clear purpose
Getting to work early and preparing for my day before others arrive Moving from task to task or meeting to meeting with no time to refresh or reflect
Pausing and changing tasks to refocus (the old adage “A change is as good as a rest.’ Spending extended time on challenging task with no clear end in sight.

My list is illustrative rather than exhaustive. I also know that I tend to introversion rather than extroversion. I am drained by casual conversations in large groups while extroverts tend to be energized and stimulated by busy crowds. I love to teach but my motivation is not being at the front or being in control, rather I have a sense of excitement when I see that people are learning and benefitting.

So why share all of this since you may be different? I share it as an example to illustrate the need to reflect on the things we individually need to do to manage our own energy to serve His kingdom.

What are some examples in scripture? I think Paul and Peter were extroverts. We see in the gospels that Peter always spoke up, rebuked Jesus when He spoke of going to the cross, and boldly preached on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). He often acted without thinking things through. Paul was also a bold man of action, he immediately began to preach the truth he so strenuously fought against as soon as he was converted. Yet Paul was also one of the great thinkers and intellects of history, very different from Peter in that regard. Yet they both had to learn how to manage their energy to be effective in Jesus service. Paul for example said,

11  Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12  I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13 (NKJV)

Paul learned how to lean into Jesus. What did Jesus do?

35  Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. Mark 1:35 (NKJV) 31  And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. Mark 6:31 (NKJV) 18  And when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side. Matthew 8:18 (NKJV) 12  Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. 13  And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: Luke 6:12-13 (NKJV)

Jesus recognized the need to manage His own physical energy and the need for His followers to manage their energy so they could continue to minister to others and His own habits were twofold. He started His days early in prayer seeking direction from His Father and prayer for direction was a pattern in His earthly ministry. He also often got away from the crowds and there are many examples of that in the NT.

So what do we need to do? We first need to imitate Paul and learn to lean into Jesus. Next we need to reflect on our lives to determine what we need to do to best manage our own energy to serve His kingdom. Lastly, we need to heed the advice of James in our leadership of self and others.

5  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 (NKJV)

Reflective Leadership Part 5

In my last post I looked at some areas of leadership. I want to spend some time on each of them in a bit more detail. I had previously looked at the first area, Vision/Meaning. The next one I want to look at is Framing/Reframing.

Something that is not readily obvious is that what we see depends on how we look. Sound strange? Think about it. When pictures are framed the colour of the frame brings out certain aspects of the picture, as does matting. The frame and matting greatly influence what we see. That is why the framing of art is an ‘art.’ For us to see things differently we often have to ‘frame’ them differently or ‘reframe’ them entirely.

Think of James and John. Jesus nicknamed them the ‘Sons of Thunder.’ What was their problem? The way they viewed the world, more specifically the way they viewed other people. What made the problem worse was that while they thought they were promoting the kingdom of heaven they were actually moving in the opposite spirit to Jesus. They were opposing the very one they claimed to love and serve. Their actions, in opposition to Jesus ministry, flowed from how they viewed the world around them and His kingdom. They were sincere but were sincerely wrong.

17  James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James, to whom He gave the name Boanerges, that is, “Sons of Thunder”; Mark 3:17 (NKJV) 51  Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, 52  and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. 53  But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. 54  And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” 55  But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56  For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village. Luke 9:51-56 (NKJV)

What spirit are we operating in? Do we need to reframe areas of our lives so that we are actually moving in unity and harmony with the Holy Spirit? There is no question about whether we influence those around us, the only question is how we are influencing them.

The key to a right influence is found in two things in the scriptures. We need to submit to the Leadership of the Holy Spirit and have our minds renewed. I have heard songs and teaching on the need to be controlled by the Spirit. It is bad theology. He wants to lead and guide us but He chooses not to control us because He wants us to choose to follow Him. Being led along in handcuffs while struggling is not submission!

16  I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 (NKJV) 18  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Galatians 5:18 (NKJV)  

We need to actively cooperate with the Word and the Spirit to think like Jesus.

5  Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, Philippians 2:5 (NKJV) 17  This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, Ephesians 4:17 (NKJV) 23  and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, Ephesians 4:23 (NKJV)

Recently I went through some of this. I have been reading a book and disagreed with some of the theology of the author. Yet when I read it again and set aside my judgements and sat with the Holy Spirit I began to question the rightness of my perspective. I haven’t reached a final conclusion but am seeking to be led by Him in this area because I want to be like Jesus to others. I have had a lot of my perspectives changed as I have walked with Him over the years. This is the path to spiritual maturity.

I pray we will all be teachable and have His frame on the situations and people we encounter. Having the Holy Spirit lead us and transform our minds is simply wise reflective leadership of self and others.

Reflective Leadership Part 4

After one of my leadership posts a friend jokingly emailed and asked, “If you make us all leaders who will follow?” A good question, the answer is that good leaders started out as good followers, and unless, and until, we are willing to truly embrace submission to the leadership of others we will never be a truly effective leader in His kingdom. David is a great example. He was such a strong leader because he was first willing to submit and be a follower. The scriptures document David’s ‘mighty men’ (2 Samuel 23), all strong leaders in their own right who chose to follow and submit to David’s leadership because they were drawn to the anointing on his life. Yet this anointing was forged in the fire of submission to a fallen and ungodly king and prior to that being the neglected brother and son who his father never even considered as a potential leader and king (1 Sam. 16:1-13).

Prior to being a leader of others David first learned to lead his own life. In learning to lead our own lives there are some things that are helpful to embrace, they also apply to leading others but we need to first apply them to ourselves. I have already spoken about vision, our pursuit of meaning. It and the other areas that I will address more fully in the future are below. I will cover each of these areas in order over time.

Vision/Meaning – this is rooted in our purpose, His call upon our life and aligned with His gifts and calling.

29  For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Romans 11:29 (NKJV)

Framing/Reframing – this is rooted in self-awareness, reflection and adaptability. In walking out our calling what is our perspective? Does everything look hopeless or through interacting with the Holy Spirit are we able like Ezekiel to see a great army in a valley of dry bones? (Ezekiel 37) As the old saying goes, “Two men looked out through prison bars. One saw mud and one saw stars.”

9  Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” ‘ ” 10  So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. Ezekiel 37:9-10 (NKJV)

Energizing – do we understand how to use the energy and ability He has given us? What things give us energy and what drains us? For example strong extroverts like to be around people and are energized by them. I like people and being with them but after awhile I feel compelled to get away to recharge. I don’t do well at large parties or gatherings unless I have clear purpose and connections with others there.

What practical strategies do we have in terms of our own energy? What do the scriptures teach us? Are we being wise stewards of what He has given? (1 Cor. 4:2) Managing our energy requires wisdom around how to use our energy and developing or maintaining sustaining practices so that we intentionally are able to manage and restore/renew our energy.

2  Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:2 (NKJV)

Connecting – what are the key relationships we have? Who believes in and supports our vision? For example David and Jonathan or Paul and Barnabas. When Paul (then still called Saul of Tarsus) was a new convert and the church had difficulty trusting and believing in their former persecutor, Barnabas reached out to Saul and developed a friendship and ministry partnership.

25  Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. 26  And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. Acts 11:25-26 (NKJV)

Engaging – what is released through our presence when we are with others? What do they encounter in us? In the passage below Jesus was sending out His followers to minister and told them that how to release peace, a practical blessing to someone’s home. He would have said ‘shalom,’ which implies much more than our concept of peace. Yet inherent in the passage was that Jesus expected those He was sending our to be spiritually sensitive to what they were carrying in the spiritual realm. That awareness should extend to us. How do are we cooperating with His my anointing to further His Kingdom?

5  But whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6  And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. Luke 10:4-6 (NKJV)

These are the things we can apply to lead our lives and the lives of those around us. Enjoy the journey.

Reflective Leadership Part 3

So far I have talked about the need for self-leadership and vision and introduced the idea that good leadership requires Character, Awareness and Wisdom. Prior to building in some other concepts I want to build in more of the reflective part because it is a skill to continuously apply in leading ourselves and others. There is the old expression, ‘If you don’t know where you are going any road will get you there.’ What I have often added to this over the years is the corollary, ‘And you will never know when you have arrived.’ Clearly if we do not know where we are going it is rather difficult to measure either progress or success.

Given that most of us will not have an experience like David, the most well established prophet in the nation coming and anointing us with oil and declaring our destiny, (see 1 Sam. 16) how do we determine our destination? I believe we need to sit with the Holy Spirit and apply reflection. For example, I try to begin each day by getting quiet and focusing on His presence in and around me. As we get quiet and focused with Him what is our heart drawn to? What memories of past and present longings and desires come up? He already knows our thoughts and hearts. What is He showing us about them? These are the areas where we need to direct our attention. After all, He is the one in, 3  in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:3 (NKJV).

As an example of a vision for our lives, I have a desire and gifting in the area of teaching. I was aware of this calling within me before I was walking with Jesus. When I began sitting with Him it only deepened as I began to know Him and mature in Him. It is now so built into me that I have to be careful not to teach. When I exercise I have to resist the desire to ‘help’ others when I see them doing something I view as incorrect. I constantly see opportunities to ‘teach’ others. At the same time this vision in me grew through spending time with Jesus, focusing on it and being diligent to develop it. I applied some things Paul said and there is a firm conviction in my life around this area of calling.

14  Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. 15  Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 1 Timothy 4:14-15 (NKJV)

15  Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV)

Another aspect of vison and calling is that we need to look to the scriptures. There are specific things He will speak to our heart to direct us but there are things we are all called to walk, things that should be part of our vision. For example, every believer should have a vision to walk in holiness and purity.

8  Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Matthew 5:8 (NKJV)

33  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33 (NKJV)

20  But you have not so learned Christ, 21  if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22  that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23  and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24  and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:20-24 (NKJV)

Individually this should be part of our vision and corporately we should be exhorting one another to walk in this manner while leading by example. So I pray that we will both pursue His specific direction for our lives through time with Him and embrace His word and apply it to our lives as we deepen our leadership.