Sunday, January 24, 2016

Leadership Is A Relationship

One of my professors at seminary used to say that he loved the students at our school, because they would all “charge hell with a water gun”. He meant it as a complement.  I had many classmates who were passionate and eager to make a difference in the world. They were willing to go wherever and do whatever to make lives better. There were others, however, who were simply eager to be in charge.

Many people want to lead, but struggle once they are in a position of leadership. A article found that nearly 40% of the highest paid CEO’s in America had faced action due to poor performance in the past 20 years.1 These leaders were the best and the brightest, and were paid incredible money to bring success to their companies. This trend doesn’t exist only in the highest profile jobs. Leadership breakdowns happen everywhere. While there are a lot of different reasons that  leaders  fail, one that seems to show up again and again is when leaders fail to recognize the relational component of leadership. Leadership is a relationship, and when it’s not treated as one, it’s doomed to fail.  Here are a couple of relational truths that will make you a better leader:

Leadership Means Leading People

There are a ton of great leadership theories. Many great leaders have written books about how they turned around their companies or improved their churches or schools. While these stories are powerful, they can not be blindly applied to every situation. Leadership means leading people. You must meet your people where they are, and to do that you have to take the time to get to know them. What works in one context or setting may not work in another. Knowing how to relate with those you work with will help you understand how to lead them.

Have Honest Expectations

No one’s perfect. You are not and neither are the people you lead. There’s nothing wrong with casting an incredible vision for your company or church, one that seems almost impossible. It’s something else entirely to demand the impossible from your staff or employees. Unrealistic expectations erode confidence and will eventually cause those who work for you to quit or rebel. Be ambitious but honest in your expectations.

Always Leave Your Door Open

A work place is only relational if communication can flow both ways. If you only talk to (or at) your employees, they will soon believe that you don’t care about them and only see them as a means to an end. Be open for feedback. Take time to hear people out. Listening to critiques or the other side of the argument doesn’t make you weak. After you have heard someone out, you may choose to continue on with your opinion, but occasionally you may gain insight that you didn’t have before, allowing you to change direction and be more effective.

Leadership is a relationship, and if you fail to recognize that, your leadership will likely fail as well. Respect and take care of the people who follow you, not only will you win as a leader, but you will be winning in life. 


Friday, January 22, 2016

Why The Bible Is More Like A Relationship Than A Google Search

The Bible is unlike any other book in the history of mankind. Over 20 million Bibles are sold each year in the U.S. alone. The Bible is not allowed to be on bestseller lists, because it would top the lists week in and week out. While no book has been more quoted than the Bible, it’s also true that no book has been more misquoted either. Incredible damage has been done by people who have misused the Bible, seeking to use it to control or manipulate others. So, how is an incredible book that is central to the faith of millions so often used in ways that hurt rather than help? How can we become more reliable in our use of the Bible?

We become more reliable in our treatment of the Bible when we treat it less like a Google search and more like a relationship. There are basic rules of engagement that keep relationships healthy. Many of those same rules will help us be more healthy in our use of the Bible. Here are a couple examples:

We Must Allow The Bible To Be What It Is, Not What We Hope It Would Be

Many people try to twist the Bible to be something it isn’t. We try to make it play by the rules of a science textbook (which it never claims to be). We try to use it as a justification for military action (again not it’s purpose). We even try to use it as a way to guilt others into good behavior. The Bible speaks to a great many things, but it’s purpose is simple and clear. It is a tool that allows us to more fully know God and as a consequence of that to more fully understand ourselves. In our relationships we must allow people to be who they are, rather than trying to force them to be someone they are not. The same is true with our approach to the Bible. We must allow the Bible to say what it says and to remain silent where it remains silent. It’s dangerous to project our thoughts, histories, and biases onto others. We cannot assume that others see the world in the same way that we do. Others may feel things and see things very differently than we do. Understanding that is the first step to deep relationship. The same is true of the Bible. We must understand that the Bible may not simply affirm everything I already believe. Accepting that the Bible may have something to tell me that makes me uncomfortable is an important first step to treating it wisely.

More Time = Greater Depth

Relationships don’t start strong and fully mature. It takes time to get to know someone. It takes time to trust them fully. There are no shortcuts. The same is true of the Bible. The more time we spend with it the more we understand and the more it changes how we see life. Simply having the Bible as a resource book on the shelf, to be grabbed when things become difficult will not do. The time we spend reading the Bible and thinking over what we have read is what develops strength and wisdom for life’s most challenging moments. If you take a second to think of your very closest friends, you will likely find them to be the people that you have invested the most time in. For the Bible to become a trusted friend, we must give it time as well.

Your relationship with the Bible can change your life in many wonderful ways. Remember what makes relationships healthy, and you'll find your time with the Bible to be more enjoyable and beneficial. 

Statistics from the opening paragraph found at