THE SERVANT: July 22, 2017

A Leader's Attitude of Gratitude

Our attitudes impact our lives more than we realize. It's true. Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it.

Dr. Victor Frankl, a bold, courageous Jew, became a prisoner during the Holocaust. Before being liberated, he endured years of indignity and abuse at the hands of the Nazis. His ordeal began by being marched into a Gestapo courtroom. He had lost his home and family, his freedom, his possessions, even his watch and wedding ring. His head was shaved, his clothing stripped from his body. Before the German high command he was falsely accused. He recalls that he lost everything, but one thing, the one thing no one could take from him—the power to choose his own attitude.

Gratitude is an attitude choice. Leaders can choose to be bitter or grateful for forgiveness; to wallow in hatred or thankful for hope; to be negative about the stress leadership often brings or appreciative for the opportunity to lead others.

Leaders with an attitude of gratitude are winsome, cheerful, optimistic, hopeful. The fruit of the Spirit describes well a grateful leader: loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled (Galatians 5: 22, 23). What employees, followers, students, spouses, children, volunteers would not want to know their leaders are grateful for them?

Leaders, what are you grateful for? Try these and remember ... gratitude is a choice

Be thankful to the Lord for His sovereign control over your circumstances, His holy character in spite of your sinfulness, His Word that gives you direction, His grace through His Son's death that redeemed you.

Be thankful for your leadership role, those who trusted you with that role, the people that follow you, trust you, work hard for you, respect you.

Be thankful for your leadership abilities, your expertise and experience, those who modeled leadership for you and encouraged you along the way.

Let me tell you about Mabel. Her face was a horror. If a new attendant could feed her, they could feed anyone. She was blind and almost deaf. One side of her face was being eaten by cancer. Mabel had a discolored and running sore that covered part of one cheek, dropped one eye, and distorted her jaw. She drooled constantly. She was 89, living in a state run convalescent hospital, and alone, for twenty-five years.

One day, a pastor made a visit and said, “Mabel, what do you think about when you lie here?” She said, “I think about my Jesus. I think about how good He's been to me. He's been so good to me in my life. I'm one of those kind that's mostly satisfied. Lots of folk think I'm old fashioned. But I don't care. I'd rather have Jesus, He's all the world to me, My life, my joy, my all. He is my strength from day to day, without Him I would fall.” (From John Ortberg's book, The Life You've Always Wanted)

That's gratitude—A CHOICE.

THE SERVANT: May 29, 2017

It seems that personal character gets little attention and work when it comes to leadership. When was the last time in a leader's training and education they took a course on:

· dealing with relentless temptation?

· losing well?

· handling a situation that derails the leader

· what to do when everything has been lost?

· what to do when people don't follow the leader? “If you say you're a leader and no one is following, you’re only taking a walk.”

Surely there's more to leadership than the skills, abilities, and techniques that supposedly bring prosperity and success.

An iceberg is a good picture of leadership. How much of the iceberg sits above the waterline? Only 10% is visible while 90% lies below the waterline—unseen, invisible. Let the part above represent leadership skills, the things leaders do; the part below represents leadership character, what a leader is. 90% of a leader’s effectiveness is determined by what’s below the waterline. Leadership character ultimately drives what leaders do, why they do it, and how they handle a negative reality.

Many leaders spend most of their time and energy developing the 10% above the water.

  • They earn BBA/MBA degrees from fine universities.
  • Spend hours attending leadership seminars and courses.
  • Seek professional consultation.
  • Work hard, make major decisions, and lead countless meetings.
  • Communicate and listen.

They do whatever it takes to make them “successful,” “great,” “prosperous.” However, how much time do they spend developing the 90% of their leadership character, who they really are as people? If little to no time is spent, are they not like a man who built a nice house---beautiful, big, comfortable, loaded with luxury. The house looked good, impressive, well-built, but it was foolishly constructed on beach sand. You've heard the story. When a hurricane hit, the house collapsed---like a valued, long-term client saying NO to a multi-million dollar proposal you must have, your business going bankrupt, key people who made your company successful leaving, your marriage ending, your family falling apart, your ministry dwindling. Then what?




INTEGRITY. Webster defines it as “wholeness; entireness.” You might say integrity is completeness, a well-balanced life. In many cases, our society has abandoned well-balanced living. People lie, cheat, and steal. They break their marriage vows. They live in hideous sins like gossip and prejudice, incest and idolatry, greed and laziness, cut ethical corners to gain power and wealth, and put blame on others to protect themselves. Deception and manipulation abound. Lack of integrity has become an art form.

 Some leaders are guilty. They don't tell the truth ALL THE TIME, don't always say what they mean and mean what they say, are negligent in the handling of money, their own and others. Too often leaders are not reliable, don't keep their promises, fail to return emails, texts or phone calls, lead double lives that if known would cause shame and disgrace in their family.

 I love what God says through the words of the Apostle Paul. “Therefore since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God. But by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:1-2) How about this? “For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; but just as we have been approved by God, so we speak, not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts.” (1 Thessalonians 2:3-4)

 Integrity has a beautiful and refreshing simplicity to it. It has no hidden motives, agendas, hypocrisy, or duplicity. It doesn’t play political games or engage in surface verbiage lacking substance. Integrity doesn’t manipulate others. It’s nothing but pure, simple. absolute honesty---WHOLENESS.

 So leaders. . . do you want a challenge? Start modeling the truth. . .the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God. Think truth. Believe truth. Speak truth. Face truth. Love truth. Seek truth. Walk truth. Talk truth. That last one is a good place to begin. Starting today, intentionally, deliberately, conscientiously “speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15) That's a great place to begin practicing gut-level integrity.

THE SERVANT: March 24, 2017

In the 70’s, Robert Greenleaf, an AT&T executive, made a startling statement in his book, SERVANT LEADERSHIP. He believed an organization existed for the person as much as the person existed for the organization. Greenleaf's statement walloped the autocratic, top down, corporate establishment, proposing that “the great leader is seen as servant first and that simple fact is the key to his greatness.”

Someone greater and wiser than Greenleaf said it first. As His death drew near, Jesus told His 12 disciples, “Whoever wants to become great among you, must be your servant; and whoever wants to be first must be a slave to all.” Then He defined His mission “. . . not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) That's pretty clear. Jesus came to serve and give, not to be served and get. He didn't come to be rich and famous or to attract attention by His popularity. Jesus didn't come to sit at head tables and be noticed; He preferred to wash feet and go unnoticed. Jesus did what servants do best: serve and give.


What a different approach to leadership influence. It's not influence by taking control, demanding obedience, commanding loyalty. That kind of influence doesn't change lives. Jesus calls His leaders to a better kind of leadership where people see a leader who doesn't look out for himself/herself only, but considers the well-being others. Because of the attractiveness of leaders who serve and give and love, people will respect and willingly follow. That's real influence!

 Henri Nouwen wrote

“A whole new type of leadership is asked for in the church of tomorrow; a leadership which is not modeled on the power games of the world, but on the servant leader, Jesus, Who came to give His life for the salvation of many.” (In the Name of Jesus)

THE SERVANT: February 23, 2017

LEADERSHIP IS RISKY, EVEN DANGEROUS. Just ask E.J.Smith. On April 10, 1912, Captain Smith sailed from London believing the newly christened Titanic was unsinkable. That evening he boasted to dinner guests that if the ship were sliced into 3 sections it would still float. He was wrong.

You know the story. The Captain ignored 6 iceberg warnings and ordered his crew “FULL SPEED AHEAD.” The policy manual stated “Moderate speed for maximum safety,” but Captain Smith trusted his past leadership effectiveness to make it through. Plus, he wanted to arrive ahead of schedule, then retire. He didn't.

Around 11:30 PM, an iceberg 100 feet tall scraped the Titanic's side, slicing open over 200 feet of the ship. Immediately the boat filled with water. Thomas Andrews, the Titanic's master builder, knew the boat was doomed. He was right.

On April 15, at 2:00 AM, the “unsinkable” ocean liner sank in the frigid Atlantic Ocean with 1517 passengers and its captain. Only 712 survived. THE SHIP WAS SOLID, STRONG; THE LEADERSHIP WASN'T.


LEADERSHIP is leading an organization, a church, a ministry, over the seas of life. Leaders are like captains. They set the direction, determine the speed, lead the crew, assume responsibility for others. Church leaders do the same. Some lead very well bringing the church, the ministry safely to its destination. Others lead poorly, or worse, not at all, seriously injuring themselves and their followers.

The greatest model for life and leadership is Jesus Christ. Whatever Jesus did, He did perfectly. Other leaders were good, some were outstanding in their time, but none were perfect. In Jesus, we have the finest example for life and leadership for all time, for all organizations, for all people, for all situations.