The Good Shepherd

Some people call it micro-managing, some call it accountability while others will call it babysitting; but looking after our flock is an essential function of leadership. The real issue is how you do it; as a herder you can walk behind them as they walk along the path and keep the strays in line or you can walk in front leading the way knowing that you’ll still have them when you turn around as a Shepherd does. How do you lead? The Shepherd concept of leadership is also important to how your people respond to you. Sheepherders use dogs to chase around the edges to keep the herd moving forward; if you find yourself chasing around the edges after your people, check your leadership style.

You should be looking after your people but you shouldn’t have to chase them down. Maintaining accountability of assignments without chasing them down can be a real challenge. Using a good coaching model combined with a strong vision will help you lead from the front. The concept of rescuing them means that you will put yourself at some risk to help them. The best strategy for performing a “rescue” is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Spend time in the beginning to give them the training and tools needed to execute their jobs.

Ezekiel 34:12 “As a Shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all places where they were scattered…”

We are God’s sheep and it is great to have a Shepherd that cares about us as much as He does. He gave up His son for our salvation and ever lasting life. God is always present in our lives and will come to our rescue, even when we’ve put distance between us. God’s “rescue” does not mean that we will get what we wanted, it may mean that we get just enough because the real rescue happened on Easter Sunday. We need to do our best and prevent the need for a rescue in the first place. We should be spending time with God, praying, reading the word and spreading the good news.

The bible is a coaching tool that has eternal implications. Imagine Jesus as your supervisor, what kind of leadership would He provide? Jesus would be patient with us as made mistakes but He’d also hold us accountable as He did with the disciples. In the end, no matter how many mistakes we make, Jesus will rescue us (usually for ourselves) as the Shepherd does with His flock. On Easter, we were given the grace of God in the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. While you are focusing on being a good Shepherd in your vocation, focus also on being a good sheep (follower). Rejoice that your Father cares so deeply that He will risk a lot to rescue you from all of the places that you can scatter to.

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Seek the Lord

Isn’t life wonderful when things are going well? A promotion or raise at work helps lift our outlook on just about everything. Once something great happens, we often follow that up with the expression of our doubt, “we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop”. When things are going well, we become so proud of ourselves and the great things we’ve done. It is easy to forget where the good comes from when we are successful. When times are difficult, we often start looking for someone to blame. Don’t lose your bearings when things get harder, continue to seek the Lord. Maintain your attitude and Christ-like perspective, people will appreciate and respect you for it.

Rely on God to keep you grounded; He’s the one in control, not you. You will be tested when things get tough. How you treat others, your level of honesty and caring and if you stay committed to serving others will tell a lot about your character but remember, you will lack no good thing. Don’t change your character because the times change. In the workplace, when things are going bad, people seek leaders at all levels and a true leader is often found in the most stressful times. When things start to look bad, keep communicating. Coworkers will be unsure and afraid, help them stay focused on what is actually happening, not on what is perceived to be happening.

“Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing” Psalm 34:10

Do you seek the Lord in times of trouble? Keep the Lord as your focus and continue to seek to understand His word as you develop your relationship with God. This will help you continue to seek the Lord in all times – good and bad. Seek Him in everything you do. Start your work day with a simple prayer “Lord, please guide my decisions and actions today so that I may bring glory to you and to care for those around me”. Keeping God as the priority in your life will bring good things to you. The old expression “when one door closes another will open” describes this Psalm perfectly.

Just as you see things being bad, God will show you the good in the situation. If you are seeking the Lord in the good and the bad times, you will start to see the good things all around you. The thing to remember, and the hardest part, is that change in your life will be on His timeline and not yours. Remain patient and focused on the Lord, he will reveal His plans – have faith no matter how bad things seem to appear. Jesus faced the worst week of His life and yet remained faithful to His Father. No matter what you have happening in your life right now, it pales in comparison to what Jesus went through. His example teaches us that we should remain faithful and in the end we will be rewarded with eternal life. Happy Easter!

Crystal Clear

Providing direction to our team members is one of the most difficult aspects of being a leader. We’d like to believe that people would see a need, understand what has to be done to meet that need and then execute it without us ever having to say anything to them about it. Now that would be utopia! We have to provide clear direction to our team so that they can function within set boundaries but we also need to provide them enough freedom to make decisions within those boundaries without the need to “check in” with us.

Weekly team meetings can help bring everyone together and are a great place to review the boundaries. Each team member should share what they are working on and what they need help with so that other team members can assist them if necessary. Knowing that your team members need help can also provide you with insight as you look to distribute new workloads or find ways to help those that are struggling. If you have several team members struggling, the problem may be in the way you distribute work or in how you give direction. Take a few minutes to find the answers to the cause before you start pushing your team harder, the trouble spot could be you.

Psalm 19:8 – “The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”

The direction and commands we have received from God are pretty clear, yet we try to interpret them to meet our own needs. Many people argue that the Bible can be vague and has room for interpretation. This, of course, is the work of the devil in our minds. We were conceived in sin and carry that burden with us from birth. We are assured that salvation is found in the Life of Christ through the grace of God our Father.

There is an old expression that we are born twice but only die once. We are physically born on earth and then again born into the life of Christ through baptism but we will only die once from life on earth to enjoy eternal life with Christ and God our Father. The bible has provided us with these truths, over and over in radiant words and images – giving light to our eyes. We are able to see eternal life through that light. Following the commands may be difficult and we will fail at keeping them – original sin is to blame for that. Despite those failings, God has given us His grace and we can be assured of eternal life through Christ – that is crystal clear!

Work, Work, Work

Why does work have to be so hard? The key in this question is the work and another word for work is labor. The dictionary defines labor as hard physical work. I can’t speak to it with any level of experience but I’m sure if you ask any mother if labor was hard work, she can give you a unique perspective on “labor”. Sometimes what we do, day in and day out, isn’t what we’d like to be doing. It’s not that it’s too hard; it simply isn’t satisfying. When we lose our satisfaction with our job, we loose sight of our purpose and whom we’re serving.

At times, we struggle to remain positive, to work hard and meet the mission or vision that is before us; complacency takes over and the “I don’t care’s” start to fly. Everyone in the workplace, no matter their position or what they are faced with, must keep their focus on the mission or the work before them. Are you are a front line employee whose actions will have a direct impact on your customers or are you a support team leader that works to serve those impacting the customers? Complacency is the start of the breakdown in customer service and in some professions; it can become deadly. Think of the nurse who is treating you in the emergency room for a heart attack, do you want the one who doesn’t care? We all have a responsibility to keep complacency out of our workplace.

Colossians 3:23-24 “What ever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men… It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

In the times that we’re locked in a battle against complacency, we can be comforted in knowing that when we do our best work, with all of our heart, it is pleasing to God. God is with us all of time, even when we don’t feel like he’s there. When times get harder you should be focusing more on your relationship with God, not less.

Our human instinct is to focus everything on the work before us and let the rest of our life take the back seat for a while. Nothing can do more harm than putting God in the back seat! Bring God closer; he will help you through the struggles of work or overcoming complacency. You are serving Him, doing his work as a faithful disciple. God cares about the work that you do and how well you do it. When you are feeling down about work, imagine God smiling at you because He knows what is in your heart. Look to him to get you through, He’ll light the way.