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On Chiefs, Indians … and Servants

5 Apr

I laughed at the grocery store the other day. A frustrated mom, pushing one child in a stroller, scolded her other child – a misbehaving little girl.GrumpyChild_Freedigital_cropped

“Knock it off, Angela,” the mom yelled.

The little girl folded her arms across her chest and pouted. Then, as her mom resumed shopping, little Angela walked to the front of the stroller and pointed her finger at her wide-eyed brother.

“Well, I’m the boss of YOU!” she said with a sharp nod of her head.

Clearly, this disgruntled child wanted to be in charge … of something or someone!

I once worked in a busy office. Everyone around me wanted to get ahead – to climb the ladder of success. The problem was, no one wanted to do the detail work. They avoided the menial “service tasks” that had to get done in every department. Their attitude was, “Let the other guy do it; I’m too busy.”

One day my boss fumed, so fed up with everyone’s attitudes.

“This office has too many chiefs,” he said, “and not enough Indians.”

We’d all heard that before, but coming from the boss, the words stung and we hung our heads.

He then gave every one of us extra “busy work,” as some called it … but in other people’s departments. He said it was to teach us to serve one another. It was a shock to those who were puffed up with their leadership. File clerks scrubbed toilets. Executives swept floors. It was a humbling, critical lesson.

This kind of attitude crops up on athletic teams too.

John Wooden once described players on a struggling team as more concerned with improving their own statistics than improving the overall success of the team. There isn’t anything wrong with strong individual leadership, but as Wooden acknowledged, successful teamwork requires people who know how to work together. Unselfish players – even if they have strong individual leadership skills – must understand the importance of service to the group in order to accomplish team goals.

Years ago, when I ministered on a revival team, our director noticed the same “I don’t have to do this; let someone else serve” responses. He went right to the heart of the problem in a pointed team meeting, saying,

Pride is the enemy of servanthood.”

Whether in an office setting, on a sports team or even in a ministry the greatest leaders are servant leaders.

Leadership pride is an age-old, human nature problem. Even Jesus had to address  it in His disciples.

Within minutes they were bickering over who of them would end up the greatest,” the scriptures say, “But Jesus intervened: ‘Kings like to throw their weight around and people in authority like to give themselves fancy titles. It’s not going to be that way with you. Let the senior among you become like the junior; let the leader act the part of the servant'” (Luke 22:24-26, The Message).

God called His Son, “My Servant” (Matthew 12:18a), and indeed, Jesus is our prime example of servant leadership – illustrating service by washing the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17). He has a right to demand service of His followers (Luke 22:27). There’s a difference between serving God by serving others, and trying to gather power for ourselves (see Romans WashingFeet16:17-18).

Christ’s service cost Him something (Philippians 2:5-8; Mark 10:45). True servant leadership always does, but those who follow Christ are willing to pay the price. Following Christ is a part of our service, and when we serve Him, the Father honors us (John 12:26).

It’s never a matter of Chiefs and Indians – who’s in charge and who’s not.

It’s a matter of serving others as we all serve the Lord God. It’s a matter of humble obedience; doing our duty as servants (Luke 17:7-10). It’s a matter of loving, sacrificial giving – the willingness to go the extra mile and serve with fervency (Galatians 5:13b; Matthew 5:40-41; Romans 12:11).

Is the Master calling you to a higher level of servicethe kind that requires bent knees?

Dawn

Graphic of little girl: adapted Image courtesy of Clare Bloomfield / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Towel and Basin graphic: source unknown

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Daddy, I Miss You

16 Jun

A clergyman walking down a country lane saw a young farmer struggling to load some hay back onto a cart after it had fallen off.

“You look hot,” the pastor said. “Why don’t you rest a moment and I’ll give you a hand.”

“No thanks,” the young man said. “My father wouldn’t like it.”

“Don’t be silly,” the pastor said. “Everyone is entitled to a break. Come on. Let’s take a break for a drink of water.”

“NO!” the farmer said. “My dad will be upset!

“Losing his patience, the clergyman said, “Your father must be a real slave driver. Tell me… where is he? I want to give him a piece of my mind!”

“Well,” Jack said, “he’s under the hay!”

I needed that LOL today because I’m a little melancholy. I probably shouldn’t write about anything sad in a LOL blog, but the bare truth is, I miss my Dad. Maybe some of you are going through the same thing.

Daddy is in heaven and I know he is safe with Jesus, but I long to throw my arms around his neck and hug him.

I wish I could tell him again how much he meant to my life.

~ He sacrificed much so I could go to Bible college.

~ He taught me right from wrong.

~ He always encouraged me to be a woman of wisdom and integrity.

~ He helped me understand what to look for in a husband:  stability and worthy character.

Though he was often away in the military, when he was home, he was our family’s rock. It simply hurts that he is not with us anymore ~ gone too soon. But I am comforted by sweet memories.

I’m not the only child who misses a dad, of course. I’m thinking of all the daughters and sons who have lost their fathers in recent days … to war … to cancer or a heart attack … to Alzheimer’s and a host of other terrible things.

I’m also thinking about the children whose dads are alive but aren’t around either physically or emotionally to meet their families’ needs ... and this video describes that pain.

My dad will always be my first hero. He protected me, provided for me, loved me, and gave me early opportunities to get to know about the Father in Heaven who has cared for me all the years since Daddy died.

My Heavenly Father now protects me (Psalm 32:7; 121:4-8), provides for me (Philippians 4:19-20) and loves me (1 John 4:19). He has comforted me all these years, and given me purpose and power for living. And someday, I’ll go to live in the Father’s house (John 14:2-3).

I pray that everyone who hurts on this Father’s Day will know and be encouraged by the love of the Father above. We still miss our dads, but it’s wonderful to know that we can rest secure in the Father’s loving arms.

Communication Skills for Leaders

11 Jun

Jethro visited the lumber yard and asked for some “four-by-twos.” Stack of Lumber

The clerk at the lumbar yard said, “You mean two-by-fours?”

Jethro said,  “Just a moment. I’ll check.” He went back to his car where his friends were sitting. They rolled down the windows and they had a short conversation. Jethro returned and answered, “Yes, I mean two-by-fours.”

Then the clerk asked him, “How long do you want them?”

Jethro said, “Just a minute. I’ll check.” He again conferred with his friends in the car for a couple of minutes, and returned to the merchant.

“A lo-o-o-o-o-ng time,” Jethro said. “We’re building a house.” *

Talk about miscommunication!

Poor communication can result in POOR RELATIONSHIPS. Bill and Pam Farrel, relationship specialists, write about communication in many of their books ~ especially communication in marriage. For example, in their book Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti (pages 35-37), they emphasize that Listening is not…

  • an attempt to understand the opposite sex,
  • an attempt to become each other’s counselor,
  • an attempt to fix your partner, or
  • a personality trait.

I (Dawn) highly recommend the Farrels books if you want to improve your relationships. They are a wealth of wise counsel. A list of their books is at love-wise.com.

Communication is also one of the Christian’s strongest tools in ministry (joined by compassion and commitment). Poor communication can result in POOR MINISTRY.

Kenneth Boa wrote about communication skills  in an article for Bible.org. Here are a few of his points about communication that affect leaders:

  • “A leader who cannot communicate will not lead well or long….. those who wish to be good leaders will develop [the] skill [of listening].” (Proverbs 18:13)
  • “Closely tied in with the skill of listening is the ability to express oneself in a nonabrasive and affirming manner.” (Proverbs 12:18)
  • “…wise leaders think before they speak; in so doing, they select words that nurture rather than destroy.” (Proverbs 15:1; James 1:19-20)
  • “Your degree of ability to communicate will either evoke trust or distrust in those you lead. It will instill either confidence or fear. It will determine to a large extent how eagerly your followers will follow you.”
  • “Effective communication involves more than just speaking and hearing. Real communication only takes place when both parties move beyond speaking and hearing to understanding.”
  • Proverbs 18:2 demonstrates that the one-sided communicator comes off looking foolish. But look now at verse 13:  ‘He who answers before listening ~ that is his folly and his shame.’ A leader must also hear before answering ~ that’s essential…. In order to be truly effective, that leader must also listen and respond with a mind that is open and searching for a fuller meaning. Then and only then can effective two-way communication begin to take place.” Continue reading
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