What came first – following or leading?

Do people follow you because they have to or because they are inspired by you? What kind of an example of a follower are you to the people you are leading? These can be very challenging questions for us as leaders because sometimes we really don’t know if we are inspiring or not. Your people will send you small signals about your leadership. A positive signal might be if people come to see you when you unexpectedly walk into a room. Even more importantly, do you go to them on “their turf” or must they always come and see you? As the leader, when you go to see them in their territory, it puts you on level ground with them, which should put them at ease. Do you give people room to do their work or explore alternative ways to get the job done? Fostering an atmosphere of innovation by allowing people time to explore and be creative will pay dividends in morale and may produce efficiencies or new products.

What kind of follower are you? Do you demand from those you lead something you won’t give as a follower yourself? What message does that send? We should always try to lead by setting a good example. Being a leader isn’t easy because it requires that we not only lead but that we follow too!

Matthew 4:19 – “Come, follow me,“ Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

Jesus provided us with great examples of leadership. He was a great follower – he fulfilled the prophets, followed the commandments and His Father’s will with perfection. We will never be perfect but we can use Jesus’ examples in our lives. When Jesus said “I will make you fishers of men” we know it is his way of saying: I will give you the tools, the strength, the time, the understanding, the guidance and an example to follow so that you, my disciples, will lead people to me. Despite His followers set backs, Jesus was always there to pick them up, help them understand and lead another day. How are you doing with this? Are you a fisher of men? The Lord has blessed you by putting you in a leadership position, remember what Jesus did, how he lead, and put that to good work.

So, you’re a writer?

I might be on to something here. So far I have been published in two text books and I am under contract for two more. Technical writing is fairly easy because it is, well, technical. I enjoy the process of creative writing and look forward to spending more time doing that. I just heard that I’ll have an article that I wrote printed in Fire Chief magazine this August. I wrote about the military’s ability to respond to natural and man made disasters. It will be cool to see my name in print for a magazine with tens of thousands of readers.

I also submitted my first short story for consideration in a collection of short stories in an Anthology. The West Valley Writers accepted my work and we will be publishing it this summer. It’s a little story that I started here about the hired killer John and his “girl friend” who is not what he thought she was. It will be available on Amazon and Nook but look for more on that.

My book is moving slowly but I do have some interest by the publisher of Guideposts. I hope to be ready for editing later this year.

My Wife is so lucky…

Sounds like a great follow up to Father’s Day about what an awesome husband and father I am. While I might think that, here’s the real story:

Last year we took a cruise with Royal Caribbean on the Freedom of the Seas to celebrate our 25th anniversary. We took the kids, as we always do, on this Eastern Caribbean adventure. My wife likes to play bingo and not only won one cash prize but she also won a cruise for two playing bingo. Since we took the kids on OUR anniversary cruise, we decided to go on this “free” cruise without them. We left Florida to head for Labadee Haiti, Falmouth Jamaica , Grand Cayman Island and Cozumel Mexico. We climbed Duns River Falls in Jamaica and took a Catamaran snorkeling trip in Grand Cayman. We had a great time relaxing, tasting wine, spending time together and seeing new places. Not only had I not been keeping up with the blog but I was away from home too. Day two of our adventure, my little bingo player won another cash prize. Four days later, she struck again and yes, she won “Win A Cruise Bingo” again ! So,  we’re going back on the same ship with the kids next May. To say I’m a luck man, is an understatement.

This catches you up on where I’ve been the past few months. Fortunately, I’ve kept my weekly devotionals coming.

What have you been up to?

I started this blog experience as a way of not only promoting/polishing my writing but as a tool to keep up with people about some of the interesting things that I get involved in. That was 6 months ago, where did the time go? To say I’ve been busier than a one armed paper hanger would be be an understatement. Since my trip to Washington I’ve been to McAlester, Oklahoma and the Western Carribean. I’ve written a number of articles for the International Fire Chiefs and worked on a safety audit of a local fire district. I’ve also taught several classes for newly promoted or aspiring Battalion Chiefs. The City council is always busy at this time of year as we worked on completing a budget for the up coming year, totaling $311 million.

Let’s talk about Oklahoma. About 19 of us from Army North and ATEC Consultants spent six days in McAlester OK training the men and women of the 370th and 329th Chemical Battalions from Florida and Texas respectively. The exercise was requested by the Battalion Commander to give his soldiers an opportunity to learn more about chemical detection and mass casualty decontamination. Our job was to give them a realistic experience and offer training suggestions. There are two components to a Chemical Battalion – Decontamination (Decon)  and Reconnaissance (Recon). The Decon group simulated that a chemical plant was damaged by a tornado with several hundred people becoming contaminated. The Recon group worked in the simulated effected plant and needed to find the cause for what was making several people sick. We really challenged the companies and gave them something to think about for the future. After we completed the exercise we had time to visit the OKC Bombing Memorial the afternoon before we left. The buildings are still damaged to remind us what happened that day.

 

 

 

 

Bookended by two black granite walls, the reflecting pool makes for a nice memorial. One wall represents the time before the blast and the other is after the blast. The chairs are for those killed and the floors that they were on. It was very moving to say the least.

Enough for today, I’ll follow up with a short story about our trip to the Western Carribean.

 

Higher ways

Many times people in leadership roles can take the idea that their thoughts are better than anyone else’s simply because they are “the boss”. Just because someone has achieved a position of leadership, they are not automatically blessed with superior knowledge. Good leaders will solicit ideas and opinions from each member of their staff, taking advantage of the diversity that they offer. Not racial diversity but the diversity of education, experience, up bringing and how they all play a role in decisions and creativity. A true leader will become a funnel for ideas and sort through them to provide the best outcome. Keep in mind, there are times when a quick decision is needed and the leader is unable to solicit from the workforce. In these situations, the leader must use the knowledge and skills that put them in their position. After a quick decision, leaders should take time to explain what the conditions were and what decisions were made. It will be important to use the inclusion of others again to continue growing their faith in you.

Isaiah 55:9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts”.

This verse is not about us but how great God is and that we should always rely on His word and ways. We try to make our own choices and decisions without turning to the bible for help. God’s wisdom is found throughout the bible and the best way for us to learn and understand His way is through regular bible study. Commit time each day to reading the bible and studying the greatest of all leaders – Jesus Christ. The study of Jesus and His ways show us what God intended for us. Jesus demonstrated love and caring for us, even those that did not appreciate what or whom they had before them. Jesus took time to explain his actions through the use of parables. He wanted to make sure that he gave his followers an explanation of the word, one that they could repeat for others over and over. His ways are higher than ours and we should be thankful every day for that.

At what cost?

We all gained a leadership position but what was the cost? How did you get to your position? Perhaps it was achieving higher sales than anyone else or maybe you beat out your competition for promotion by getting that one extra bit of information that no one else could get. Maybe you had “extra” help from a member of the senior staff. We all know that sales can be a cut-throat business and that promotional processes can be competitive; but a new position can be achieved honestly and with integrity. How aggressive do you play to win? Do nice guys really finish last? If we all look into our pasts, chances are good that we will see times when it appears that or perhaps we actually did; forfeit our souls to get ahead. What is worth trading your soul for? The riches of the world are very appealing: new cars, bigger houses, a boat, jewelry and the like. These are the material things of this world that we are reminded about throughout the bible, not to pay attention to but to keep our focus on God.

Matthew 16:26 “What good will it be for a man if he gains the world yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”

We need to be leading and living according to God’s word, today. What can a man give in exchange for his soul? We may gain much in this life but if we do little with it, we will be very disappointed with our results. We are assured by John in the second part of verse 3:16 “for whoever believes in him will have eternal life”. We can rest assured that God will keep his promises to us. What obligation do you have to God? We should be willing to be faithful servants to our Lord and we can do that by putting our beliefs into action. Are you leading like a good Christian; with truth, ethics, nobility and God as your guiding force? It is always just one more for us, one more time and I’ll have the next promotion or one more time and I’ll get the best assignment, then I’ll repent. Today, if you’re still focused on the gains of this world, turn away from what you’re doing, turn away from what you did to get your position and lead as if your soul depends on it, it just might!

Imitation, the greatest form of flattery

We usually do not associate love and the workplace without thinking of something bad. We should bring Christ’s example of love into our work. Among other things, we know Jesus as compassionate, caring, understanding, patient and overflowing with love. As leaders, we need to be all of these as well. We need to show compassion for our co-workers and staff and we should care for them by looking out for their best interests. Sometimes that means having to deliver constructive criticism. It takes a lot of courage for someone to offer that type of criticism. It should also be delivered with compassion and care and if it is done correctly, it should be received as a gift because it is being delivered as a present – genuinely given with thoughtful consideration of the person receiving it. We need to show understanding and patience to our staff. Making mistakes is okay, remember they cause learning to take place but making the same mistake twice is the sign of a problem. Be patient as your staff is learning new systems, products or programs. Be slow to anger and disappointment, it shows that you care. All of these things combined show your love towards others, just as Christ loves us.

Ephesians 5:1,2 – “Be imitators of God… as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us…”

We are so blessed that God loves us. When God handed down the Law contained in the Ten Commandments, the Israelites were afraid because they had seen God’s wrath first hand. As they continued to live according to their own ways, God spoke to them through the prophets giving the promise of a Savior. God wanted to be close to His children but sin was preventing that. God sent His only Son to us, to take upon the cross all of our sins. Jesus suffered for us because of our sin, but He knew that the ultimate prize was reconciliation with God. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” The ultimate sign of love just for us – even if we didn’t deserve it. God knows what we need. We cannot live without sin as Christ did but we can live a life of love as Christ showed us to. Be an imitator and show others your love and when they ask you why or how you can do it, don’t hesitate to tell them where your strength comes from.