(This post goes along with Leadership Level 1 - Personal Success.)

Ever feel like your life revolves around the gauges in your world? Think about this. Your cell phone's battery gauge tells you how much more talk and text time you have. If you drive a car, then your gas tank gauge tells you how soon you need to fill up. Seems like I'm always checking to see if my battery has enough juice or if my car has enough gas for the day. These gauges are helpful, especially since they glow and are easy to see. But some gauges aren’t as easy to notice, and sometimes it takes more effort to see their readings, especially in our own busy lives of leading others.

Part of successful leadership is knowing how to lead yourself well. And leading yourself well means taking time to look after your own personal needs so that you don’t burn out. The great thing about my cell phone and my car is that when the gauges show “empty” everything stops. Now, I know what you’re thinking, and I agree that a dead phone and a dead car can ruin your day. But because we know the outcome of ignoring these gauges, we are usually proactive enough to avoid those bad results.

So here’s my question for you today: are you ignoring your own personal gauges and pushing yourself past “empty”? Sadly, this is so easy for all of us to do as leaders. It’s so easy to get lost in the world of servant leadership, since it can be so rewarding at times. In fact, some of us can even become addicted to the good feelings of serving others and helping meet their needs. But it’s because others need us that makes it so vital to find a way to stop every now and then to rest, reevaluate and be refreshed. Whether it’s exercise, a nap, reading an inspiring book or doing something completely unrelated to your job and calling, we all need for you to take time apart, so that you can finish your life’s race strong. There are enough sad stories and statistics out there. Neither you nor I need to be added to those tragic lists. Decide today to make the most of your life and leadership by not ignoring those crucial gauges. God put those in us because, as much as he cares about our leadership, he cares even more about us.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
–Hebrews 12:1 (ESV)

A New Resource - Navigating The Early Seasons

A new resource for new leaders: Navigating The Early Seasons, an audio workshop.

The Patio Epiphany

(This post goes along with Leadership Level 1 - Personal Success.)

What's an epiphany? It's a moment of revelation or clarity. Some call it an "Aha!" moment while others say it's a very personal and spiritual moment. However you define an epiphany, I had one, and it was on my patio. That Winter day was very cold. I had just gotten home from work and our two empty trash cans were sitting by the street. As I stepped inside the house to drop off my bag, I took off the nice coat I was wearing and left it inside, so I wouldn't risk getting it dirty. Stepping back outside with no coat on, I could now really feel the cold breeze, and it was almost painful. As I hurried from the front yard to the back, I was almost running to get those cans onto the patio. It was on the second trip that the moment happened.

You see, as I had moved the first can to the patio, I had gone around the large, freestanding hammock that was sitting there at the corner of the patio. This meant several more steps in each direction, which meant me being out in the cold wind even longer. But after putting the second can in place, I realized how ridiculous I had been acting. There had been no need to go around the hammock, because I had brought the hanging part of it indoors a few weeks earlier. All that was left was the large, empty metal frame of the hammock. I had been stepping around that thing when I could've been just stepping through it!

And that's when it hit me. How often do we as leaders continue to step around something that isn't even there anymore? How often are we still walking out patterns in our leadership that now don't fit the terrain? Are you in a new season, but you're finding yourself still stepping around something that's no longer there? It's ok to find ourselves in patterns that were more relevant in seasons past. But here's the hard part: Are you willing to part with some old paths and some old ways if it means being more effective for God in the here and now? I'm not talking about getting away from biblical wisdom or timeless truths. I'm talking about personal habits and attitudes, because those can and do change for the better. I encourage you today to allow God to show you some new things for this new season. And whatever you do, don't allow outdated obstacles to hold you back from the wonderful new thing God is doing right now in your life and in your leadership.

Watch for the new thing I am going to do. It is happening already—you can see it now! I will make a road through the wilderness and give you streams of water there.
–Isaiah 43:19 (GNT)

Lasting Leadership

A good reminder for those of us who want our leadership to last:

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
–Galatians 6:9 (ESV)

Focus on the “In Crowd”

(This post goes along with Leadership Level 3 - Team Leadership.)

     Despite all the great potential God has put inside of you, it’s not realistic to expect that everyone will accept you or your leadership. Sometimes this is due to your age or maybe the age of those around you. Or sometimes the issue could be cultural. At other times it could be that some folks are unhappy that the person you replaced left the scene and moved on in the first place. And for some, maybe you remind them of some irrelevant and negative person in their past. Is any of this stuff fair to you, the leader, and your sincere desire to lead people well? No, it’s not fair at all, but it can be reality sometimes.

     Don’t get discouraged in all this, because no matter how great the leader, there will always be those who won’t follow or get onboard. Reality dictates that there will always be a crowd that won't follow your leadership. Some will never get onboard with you, no matter hard you try with them, or no matter how much success you have, and that's ok. Not everyone is supposed to follow you. Other leaders may have to make those connections.

     But there’s good news! God always finds a way to send people who really do want to follow you. We could call this group your “in crowd” because they’re on your side! Some will get onboard with you immediately. Some will get onboard later after seeing some success in your leadership. Regardless, these people will let you lead them, and that’s a great season for a leader to be in. The key is to focus on these people because those are the ones who need and want what you have to offer. I encourage you today to spend your time and energy on those who let you lead. Don’t lose sleep over those who may never come around anyway. Allow God to help you give the right kind of leadership to those who are willing to follow, and then let the good things happen naturally.

Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
–1 Corinthians 11:1 (ESV)