Thursday, April 14, 2011


The centurion said, "Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, 'Go!' and he goes, and to another, 'Come!' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this!' and he does it."  Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, "Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel." (Matthew 8: 8-10)

...and his strength left him.  Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!”  He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had left him.  Judges 16:19-20

I find the above to be revealing passages as they relate to leadership.  The officer with the ailing servant understood that he could lead and command his troops not because he had some intrinsic power and authority, but because he was obedient to a higher authority.  If he were in rebellion against Rome, his soldiers and servants would be aiding and abetting the rebellion against the empire to obey the centurion.  The centurion noted that he perceived that Jesus was under a higher authority and as a result Jesus would have authority to "say the word and my servant will be healed."

When He heard the centurion's insight on His authority, Jesus remarked that He had not seen such faith in Israel!  The centurion expressed that faith by believing that Jesus could and would heal his servant, and by recognizing Jesus' power to heal came from Him being obedient to the authority of the Heavenly Father.

How does that fit here and now?  It would take quite a bit of space to exhaust all that it means, but here is an insight or two:  A Christian leader has no authority or power on his own -- we must be under the authority of God and His Word.  Disobedience results in shutting down the power of God in our lives and in our leadership.  A leader who refuses to follow God (in action and attitude) may not lose his office but will not have the spiritual power to effectively lead God's people.  

Samson's demise is an illustration of this principle in that he thought all was the same as in the past, but he did not know that the Holy Spirit's power in his life was absent.  What a tragic loss!  But it is an act of faith to walk obediently, faithfully, and humbly before God.  We must trust the Lord in all our dealings and in our leadership, depending upon His presence and His word, and relying not on our ingenuity but upon God's faithfulness.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' servant, saying, "Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel" (Joshua 1:1-2 NASB).

There are many books on leadership, and I hope to review some of them.  Such books are significant in expressing typical characteristics of leaders, and there is much to be learned from them. At the same time, I find in scripture principles of leadership that may not get the emphasis due them from secular authors.  In the above passage, God is speaking to Joshua and instructing him on where and how to lead the people of Israel.  But notice that he is called the servant of Moses, or Moses' assistant.  Joshua was a follower, and God chose him to lead upon the death of Moses.  In addition, notice that Moses is called the servant of God, yet Moses was a great leader.  If you remember Moses' early days when God called him to lead His people from Egypt, Moses was reluctant to step up, giving every excuse to avoid the leadership role.  Moses learned to lead as he learned to be a servant; and Joshua was qualified to lead because he was a willing follower.

A principle was summarized from the above scenario by the English minister, Alan Redpath, when he noted in his commentary on Joshua (Victorious Christian Living) that a person who is unwilling to follow is unqualified to lead.  I believe that accurately describes a first step in becoming a leader and of the perspective a leader must bring to the role of leadership.  

A leader, who does not need to always be in center stage and first place, leaves himself where he can be humble, pliable, and teachable, while not reducing him from being seen as a leader.  Actually it helps earn him the trust needed for others to follow.

Friday, April 1, 2011


 Decision Points by President  George W. Bush was published in 2010.  I received it as a Christmas gift and finished reading it a short time ago.  Though it is biographic in nature, it is not necessarily chronological. Instead, President Bush sets forth his life and presidency (January 2001-January 2009) in terms of major decisions he made.  By taking this approach, Mr. Bush is able to describe and evaluate those decisions. It is clear that he recognizes that the passing of time is essential for history to have the perspective to fully evaluate his tenure.  Many have and will give their critical analysis of the wise and foolish choices of those days, but in all fairness the evaluation is only partial without considering the view from the Oval Office.

In the early chapters, Bush describes his decision to commit his life to Christ, to marry Laura, and to quit drinking.  Clearly, those three decisions would impact his life and other decisions he would make.  He placed high value on those three.

As Bush made vocational choices, eventually the decision was made to enter politics and run for office resulting in successful races for the Texas governorship and for U. S. President. At that point he and his dad (Bush 41) became the second father and son to both serve as President -- the first being the second and sixth in our nation's early history (John Adams and John Quincy Adams).

The decision points Bush majors on are those that made plenty of news and are still doing so -- such as decisions to involve America in Afghanistan and Iraq.  He discusses the background to those decisions and clearly defends them while accepting blame for not adjusting more quickly to the changing situation on the battlefield.

An important decision point that got lost in the political environment of post-9/11 America stood out as prophetic and courageous to me: his stand on embryonic stem cell research.  On August 9, 2001, Bush announced his stem cell decision--to permit federal funds to be used for research on existing stem cell lines, and banning federal funding of new embryo lines.  He based that decision on the idea that to open new lines meant destroying human embryos--potential life.  The President drew much criticism for his stand, however a breakthrough in late 2007 exonerated his decision by demonstrating a scientific path to the research that did not include the moral and ethical dilemmas that had generated Bush's decision.  One well known critic of the stem cell stand concluded -- "The verdict is clear: Rarely has a president--so vilified for a moral stance--been so thoroughly vindicated."

There were certainly other dramatic events during Bush's time in office, but none more memorable than September 11, 2001.  Perhaps only the attack on Pearl Harbor equals it in contemporary times, and both Roosevelt in 1941 and Bush in 2001 were greatly affected by those events in the decisions they subsequently made.

Leadership involves making decisions.  The quality of those decisions demonstrate what kind of leader one has become.  Our decisions and choices often impact the future ones we may need to make.  It is essential that a person's value system be the major platform from which decisions are guided.  Whatever a person's opinion of George W. Bush"s presidency is, I believe that he made decisions based on the best advice and information  he felt he could trust, and on his sense of values.  His choices did not appear to be poll driven.

I enjoyed Decision Points and recommend it others whether they are fans of his or not.