The more leadership books and articles I read, I become more aware of self-awareness. True, I am learning more about myself as I read, but I am also learning more about this concept of 'self-awareness'.
Apparently, leadership guru's like to talk about self-awareness. John Maxwell states, "If you want to change and grow, then you must know yourself and accept who you are before you can start building." -- John Maxwell. However, one Bible verse alone let's me know about who I am - "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it." Jeremiah 17:9. How then can we lead a people if we are deceitful, sick and full of sin?
Proverbs 1:7 is a great place to begin. To lead well, I argue that instead of leading from a foundation of self-awareness, leaders should begin by becoming a "Proverbs 1:7 Leader". Let's explore it together:
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction."
First, a Proverbs 1:7 Leader will lead from an understanding of who God is. The Majestic King of the Universe created all things for His glory, yet mankind sinned (Genesis 1-3). Because of mankind's sin, death entered into the world. Now, we have all sinned and deserve eternal punishment and eternal death. But God's plan was to send His perfect Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sin. Jesus was our substitute when He died. So now, when we place our faith in the work of Jesus, we can be saved from eternal death and punishment.
Once a Proverbs 1:7 Leader recognizes his or her own need for a Savior, he or she will 'fear' the Lord. Fear in this passage means to be in awe or reverence. The more a Proverbs 1:7 Leader knows and understands about God, the more he/she will grow as a leader.
Secondly, fools despise this type of knowledge. If someone is not in awe of God, then who would they be in awe of? Self, money, fame, and possessions. We have already noted above that the human heart is sick and and deceitful. So when someone is not in awe of God, they are in awe of their own sick heart and they place their trust in the deceitfulness of their own heart.
Since we are deceitful and sick, the Proverbs 1:7 Leader must follow someone before they can lead others. So in order to be a Proverbs 1:7 Leader, you must:
1. Be in awe of God.
2. Revere God.
3. Recognize your own sinfulness (self-awareness)
4. Rely on God's wisdom and strength as a leader.
Are you a Proverbs 1:7 Leader? What is the foundation of your leadership?
In May of 2016, I suffered a concussion from a simple bump on the head. Since that time, I have been dealing with Post Concussion Syndrome. Psychological issues, emotional changes, headaches, memory loss, an absence of visual memory, and more has caused some changes in my life that I had to learn to deal with over the past year. With all that my family and I have dealt with regarding PCS, one positive outcome has been my desire to read books.
Over the course of my life, I have never had a desire to read books. It's true, because of my undergraduate and graduate school work, I had to read numerous books during my days in school. However, aside from my assigned reading I have read ZERO books...until 2017. As I ponder this new routine and the 20+ Leadership Books I've read this year, a few things come mind about reading.
Focus - I've found that reading a book enables me to focus on one idea at a time, rather than jumping from one idea to the next. Multitasking and jumping from one idea to the next takes more brainpower than we truly realize. So focusing on one idea/concept has been a big part of the healing process for my instance of Post Concussion Syndrome. I also do not move on to another book until I finish the one I'm in the middle of reading. Not only does it keep me focused on one concept, but it also motivates me to finish and move on to the next book.
Memory - I understand many other people who suffer from PCS may have different experiences than what I faced, but my experience has greatly affected my memory. Granted I didn't have the world's best memory before my accident, but my short term memory and especially my visual memories have suffered since May 2016. While I don't remember much of what I read this year, I have learned to take notes and use postcards to capture thoughts I have about a page or chapter I finished. And I even use my phone at times to take a picture of a quote or certain page I wanted to remember. I now have a folder in the photo section of my phone for all of the John Maxwell pages I've enjoyed reading this year.
Rest - I am aware that for some people, reading a book and trying to focus while reading can be stressful on the brain. However, after my concussion, I find reading a book to be restful and relaxing for my brain. I have found that reading a chapter from a book before I go home at the end of the work day can be beneficial in helping the brain rest after a long day in the office. If you do find reading a book more stressful than relaxing, try reading until you find a book/genre you enjoy. Start with a small book as well. You can also download a book and listen to it while driving or running.
These are a few of the benefits I have found from reading this year. There are many other benefits I have found along the way in my new routine. But these have been more beneficial considering the change my body has gone through since May of 2016. What benefits do you receive from reading?
As a minister in a local church, I am often planning and implementing programs and events. Once one event or program is over, I need to at least be two to three programs ahead in my planning so that I can begin promoting for the next event coming up.
A couple of weeks ago, I put together a Program/Event Planning Guide for someone within the ministry I oversee. I've attached the document below. The outline of the guide is a 5 step check-list that anyone can use and begin planning for an event.
Step 1 - Prayer
Step 2 - Pre-planning
Step 3 - Planning (and a sample promotion plan)
Step 4 - Implementing
Step 5 - Evaluation
You are free to download the document below. May God bless you as you pray, plan and implement your event.
As 2017 comes to a close, many leaders are thinking of ways to 'finish strong'. One way I personally want to finish strong is by thanking those who serve alongside me in ministry. I certainly have a lot of improvement regarding appreciating the volunteers who serve faithfully each week, but here are three ways I seek to appreciate those who volunteer throughout the year.
Write a Handwritten Note
For many people, receiving a handwritten note is very meaningful. I usually keep the note 3-4 sentences in length, thanking the volunteer for something specific I've seen them do. I then ask my Administrative Assistant to place it in the mail to be delivered to their home address. I typically spend Monday mornings writing my thank you notes for the week. Handwritten notes take a little more time than sending an email or a text, but it is worth taking the extra time and effort.
Saying thank you in person
Each week, I try to find two-three additional volunteers that I can shake their hand, look them in the eye and say 'Thank you'. I don't mention anything specific or elaborate (unless I'm asked). I want them to know that I recognize them and that I'm not too busy to stop and appreciate the work they are doing. Since I am very task driven and not people focused, I have to be intentional about this each week.
Send an email or text message
Finally, toward the end of the week, I will send a few thank you emails to two-three different volunteers in my ministry area. I typically add this to my Google calendar to do every Thursday in the afternoon. Often when I send a message, the recipient will respond saying how much they appreciate the message. Sometimes a volunteer will respond with appreciation and a question they were meaning to ask. This opens up some communication between myself and the volunteer and lets them know I am available.
These are three simple ways that I show appreciation to those who volunteer in my ministry area. What are some ways you show appreciation to your volunteers?
I'm a big fan of Flipboard. Flipboard is a website that allows users to organize articles/stories from the internet into magazines so that all of my interests are found in one place. So I've created a leadership magazine and when I read an interesting leadership article, I flip the article to my magazine. Here are a few articles I've read and 'flipped' over the past few weeks:
You're Only Leading 75 Percent of the Time - This article talks about getting out of the office and interacting with the team you're leading.
6 Mistakes Leaders Make In Their First 90 Days - I enjoy Eric's insight on leadership and here's an article that talks about mistakes new leaders can avoid in their first 90 days.
10 Daily Habits of the Most Productive Leaders - I can always learn from others and in this article, we get a look into some of the habits of productive leaders.
How to Get Organized At Work - I read the book The One Thing this year and now realize the value of focusing on one task at a time rather than multitasking. This article is more about organization than leadership, but still has some useful tips that we can all use.
My Prepared Notes for The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast - Carey recently interviewed Dave Ferguson and his upcoming book Hero Maker: Five Essential Practices for Leaders to Multiply Leaders. Dave posted his prepared notes for the show and gives readers insight into how to prep for an interview and insight into his method of preparing leaders.
What are some leadership articles or books you've recently read?