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Category Archives: Leadership

Strive for Exceptional

Book Review: Excellence Wins: A No-Nonsense Guide to Becoming the Best in a World of Compromise, by Horst Schulze with Dean Merrill

Horst Schulze knows what he is talking about when he describes how to build an exceptionally excellent brand. Schulze is the co-founder and former president of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the founder, chairman, and CEO of the Capella Hotel Group. He is a well-known and well-respected leader whose hotel chains exemplify innovation, excellence, service, and competitive advantage.

His book, Excellence Wins: A No-Nonsense Guide to Becoming the Best in a World of Compromise, not only reveals his core values, but also explains how to develop and implement them in any industry. The book is divided into three sections. Part one focuses on serving your customers. Part two aims at engaging your employees. Part three is on building true leadership.

Part One: Serving Your Customers describes how to identify and surface what your customer is really looking for. Once you know their true needs, you can move everyone to focus on customer service. The author also explains how to keep customers, and how to handle their complaints.

Part Two: Engaging Your Employees starts by recognizing that your employees should be treated with respect and dignity. The motto of the Ritz-Carlton hotels was “we are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” He explains the importance of helping your employees understand the vision and purpose of the organization and then training and reminding them of that purpose.

Part Three: Building True Leadership highlights how each person can grow in their own leadership skills. He explains why vision statements are important and the importance of measuring your goals and objectives.

Throughout the book, the author includes stories from his varied background. He begins with his childhood in Germany and ends with where he is today. He sprinkles biblical principles throughout the book and shares his own personal testimony in the epilogue.

While the book can be read quickly, it would be helpful to slow down and ponder each of the principles he shares. It provides encouragement that developing and producing excellence is possible in today’s world.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2019 in Books, Leadership

 
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Training leaders in Russia

 

Developing the core virtues of character

Book Review: Character Carved In Stone: The 12 Core Virtues of West Point That Build Leaders and Produce Success, by Pat Williams with Jim Denney

If you enjoy military history and if you appreciate books on the character qualities of leaders, then you need to read Pat Williams latest book, Character Carved In Stone: The 12 Core Virtues of West Point That Build Leaders and Produce Success. As the title suggests, the book expounds on the twelve virtues of character that the United States Military Academy seeks to instill in their cadets.

As the author explains in the introduction, there are twelve stone benches at Trophy Point overlooking the Hudson River on the campus of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Each bench is inscribed with a word representing a key leadership virtue: compassion, courage, dedication, determination, dignity, discipline, integrity, loyalty, perseverance, responsibility, service, and trust.

I believe these twelve virtues are crucial to leadership and success in this or any era. If you exemplify these twelve character traits, you will be a leader, because you will stand head and shoulders above most of your peers as a person worthy of being followed and emulated. If you exemplify these twelve qualities, you will be a success in any endeavor you put your mind to, because no one who is a role model of these qualities could ever be considered a failure. Wherever you lead, these twelve virtues will magnify your influence and propel you toward great service, great goals, great achievements, and great distinction.

To flesh out these twelve virtues, Williams profiles the men and women who have graduated from West Point, from the Civil War era to the War on Terror.

  • Ulysses S. Grant embodied compassion.
  • Alexander “Sandy” Ramsy Nininger Jr. demonstrated courage.
  • Buzz Aldrin, Ed White, Michael Collins, and Frank Borman—four astronauts from West Point—showed dedication.
  • Maggie Dixon, who coached the women’s basketball team for one year prior to her death exhibited determination, along with H. Norman Schwarzkopf.
  • John J. “Black Jack” Pershing embodied dignity.
  • Sylvanus Thayer, who helped reform West Point as its Superintendent, showed discipline.
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower was a man of integrity.
  • Matthew Bunker Ridgway demonstrated great loyalty.
  • Perseverance was demonstrated by the lives and deaths of a number of women and men.
  • Mike Krzyzewski and Douglas MacArthur showed what responsibility looks like.
  • David Moniac, the first Native American to graduate from the Academy, demonstrated service.
  • Omar Bradley exhibited the quality of trust.
  • The book closes with Peter Wang, who showed true heroism as a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) member when he was gunned down while saving the lives of fellow classmates during a school shoot in 2018.

In addition to the profiles, the author includes numerous suggestions and practical ideas as to how to build the character qualities into your life. The book is encouraging, uplifting, and challenging. Well worth adding to your leadership library.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2019 in Books, Character, Leadership, Quotes

 

Commissioning of Elders, Deacons, Deaconesses

On Sunday, February 3, First Central Bible Church of Chicopee, MA, commissioned our elders, deacons, and deaconesses for service in the coming year. Here is what we used for the dedication. Click on the link to download a copy of the pdf file.

ELDERS

Doug Dolbow, Jack Gilbert (new), Stan Kulig, Doug McVeigh, Pastor Mark Wheeler

The elders serve as shepherds and overseers of the church. They work together to feed, lead, guard, care, and model Christlike character for the flock.

Pastor Elders
Will you strive to meet the character qualities specified for elders in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1? We will.
Will you willingly shepherd the flock God has entrusted to your care? We will.
Will you teach biblical truth and sound doctrine? We will.
Will you help equip people for service? We will.
Will you lead the church as overseers, supervising and managing the church well, ensuring that all things are done with integrity? We will.
Will you guard the flock against false teachers? We will.
Will you pray for the sick? We will.
Will you serve as examples of Christlike character for the church? We will.
Will you serve together as a team, sharing responsibility for leadership and oversight? We will.
Will you work together to keep the church focused on achieving the purpose God has called us to? We will.
 
DEACONS

Dan Darcy, Dave Johnson (new), Joe Martin (new), John Steele, Pat Warner (new)

While the elders have a fixed job description, the deacons have a flexible one. They follow the direction of the elders and serve alongside the deaconesses wherever needed to help meet the practical needs of the church.  This allows the elders to focus on the ministries of teaching and prayer.

Pastor Deacons
Will you strive to meet the character qualities specified for deacons in 1 Timothy 3? We will.
Will you follow the direction of the elders and assist them wherever needed? We will.
Will you help the elders in caring for the practical needs of the congregation? We will.
Will you work with the deaconesses to help care for the needs of the congregation? We will.
Will you work with the deaconesses to manage the benevolence fund with integrity and compassion? We will.
DEACONESSES

Lynn Anderson, Deb Ciosek (new), Lois Darcy, Rose Eldridge, Lynn Johnson (new), Janet Laroche, Carol Sumler, Jackie Tisdale (new)

While the elders have a fixed job description, the deaconesses have a flexible one. They follow the direction of the elders and serve alongside the deacons wherever needed to help meet the practical needs of the church.  This allows the elders to focus on the ministries of teaching and prayer.

Pastor Deaconesses
Will you strive to meet the character qualities specified for deaconesses in 1 Timothy 3? We will.
Will you follow the direction of the elders and assist them wherever needed? We will.
Will you help the elders in caring for the practical needs of the congregation? We will.
Will you work with the deacons to help care for the needs of the congregation? We will.
Will you work with the deacons to manage the benevolence fund with integrity and compassion? We will.
 

CONGREGATION

The congregation is responsible to respect their leaders and submit to their authority. They are to honor those who serve well.

Pastor Congregation
Will you honor the deacons & deaconesses for their service and grant them good standing among you? We will.
Will you obey the elders and joyfully submit to their leadership? We will.
Will you treat the elders with honor and respect since they watch over your souls? We will.
Will you pray that God grants your elders, deacons, & deaconesses a sense of joy as they serve Christ? We will.

 

 

Gone “Phishing”

Joshua and the leaders of Israel were caught in a phishing scam long before Nigerians started the practice in the 1980’s. For those not familiar with the term, phishing is a cybercrime in which a target or targets are contacted by email, telephone or text message by someone posing as a legitimate institution to lure individuals into providing sensitive data such as personally identifiable information, banking and credit card details, and passwords.

The Gathering Storm (Joshua 9:1-2). No sooner had Israel erected the altars on Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim and pledged their allegiance to follow the law of God, the enemies of Israel threw down the gauntlet. In 2:9-11 and 5:1, it appeared that Israel had the aura of invincibility. But after her sin at Jericho and defeat at Ai, that perception is gone and her enemies plot their attack.

Baiting the Hook (9:3-15). Believing it better to be a live slave than a dead warrior, the people of Gibeon put on an elaborate charade to save their own skins. Politician Adlai Stevenson once said tongue in cheek, “A lie is an abomination unto the Lord—and a very present help in trouble.”

The Gibeonites put on a show worthy of an Oscar, Tony, Golden Globe, or Emmy. They gathered dry and cracked wineskins, moldy bread, torn clothes, and worn sandals in an attempt to convince the Israelites they had traveled a long distance to make their acquaintance. They offered just enough knowledge of God to make the performance believable.

The mistake Joshua and the leaders made was that they trusted their eyes, their ears, and their reason far too much. They apparently trusted God too little because they failed to even seek his opinion. Instead, they drew up a contract and adopted a peace treaty.

What’s the big deal? you might be saying. They want to join God’s side. Isn’t that a good thing? On the one hand, maybe. On the other hand, it was expressly forbidden by God to make a treaty with a neighbor (Deuteronomy 7:1-5). An Arab proverb issues a caution to never let a camel get its nose in the tent, because his body will soon follow. A peace treaty will lead to foreigners becoming neighbors and then in-laws and then they will introduce their religion and practices.

The failure of Joshua and the leaders was not the momentary lapse of an immature disciple. Instead, it was the forgetful disobedience of a mature saint.

Hooking the Catch (9:16-27). The ink was scarcely dry on the treaty when Israel discovered she had been duped. The Gibeonites were close neighbors, not foreign travelers. Needless to say, the congregation was upset and started murmuring, complaining, and second guessing their leaders. The Puritan Thomas Watson once said, “Our murmuring is the devil’s music.” Israel was playing his tune.

Although it was made under false pretenses, the leaders of Israel felt bound to honor the treaty. They knew they would face God’s judgment if they did not. However, they forced the Gibeonites into the role of servants, cutting wood and carrying water.

While servitude was not necessarily a good thing, it brought the Gibeonites into the life and worship of Israel. Their city was one that was given to the sons of Aaron (Joshua 21). King David would later store the Tabernacle at Gibeon (1 Chronicles 16:39; 21:29). Solomon would offer sacrifices at Gibeon when he became king of Israel.

Concluding Thoughts. Let me ask you to consider four questions as you think about this chapter. (1) What decisions are you facing today? Commit your decisions to God and ask for his direction. (2) Can God overcome your foolish errors and still accomplish his plan and purpose? Remember Romans 8:28, that God can cause all things to work together for good. (3) How do you respond when you make a mistake? Act with integrity. Take responsibility for your actions. Pray for God’s grace. (4) Can God turn your failures into victory? The lesson from our next study (Joshua 10) shows that God will use the treaty with Gibeon to give Israel a military advantage.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on November 18, 2018. It is part of a series of sermons on the book of Joshua. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

Prayerfully planning a church budget

At a recent elders’ meeting, our church administrator and the chair of our finance board joined the council to discuss how to prepare our 2019 budget. The finance chair said he was praying about four questions. He encouraged the elders and the congregation to join him in seeking God’s face regarding these issues.

Here are the questions if you would like to pray with us, or adapt them for your church’s use.

  • What do we believe will be our level of giving in 2019? How much do we think God will provide?
  • How should our budget be distributed? How much of the budget should go to staff, missions, ministries, maintenance, etc?
  • How aggressive should we be in next year’s budget? How do we find the appropriate balance between self-reliance and faith-stretching?
  • How can we best use the remaining funds in the parsonage proceeds account?
 

How did God prepare Joshua for Leadership?

If you were asked to design a leadership training course, what would the curriculum consist of? What lessons would you want your protégé to learn? What characteristics would you desire to develop in your students? What experiences would you involve them in? How would you prepare someone for the task of leadership?

As we begin a new series in the book of Joshua, that is the question we want to start with. The book opens with Joshua as the newly appointed Commander-in-Chief of the armies of Israel. He was standing on the eastern side of the Jordan River, facing the challenge of crossing the river and conquering the Promised Land. But how did he get to that point?

Joshua did not suddenly appear like a jack-in-the-box at the death of Moses. Joshua was probably 80 years old when God placed him in this position of leadership. Scripture divides his life into three periods: forty years as a slave in Egypt; forty years as a servant in the wilderness; and twenty-five years in subduing the Promised Land.

The time in the wilderness served as a forty-year internship under the instruction of Moses. It included at least seven different experiences when God taught him significant lessons. All of the lessons could be summed up in one phrase—spiritual leadership requires a heart that is fully devoted to following God.

Preparation in the Battle with Amalek at Rephidim (Exodus 17:8-16). When we are first introduced to Joshua, he is leading the army of Israel into battle against the Amalekites. While Joshua is fighting the battle, Moses is lifting up his staff to God. When Moses’ arms get tired, Aaron and Hur help support Moses. Joshua learns that all battles are spiritual ones and that victory comes by depending on God. Leaders work as though it all depends on them, but pray as though it all depends on God.

Preparation at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 24:9-18). Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy elders of Israel (of whom Joshua was one) are called to join God on Mt. Sinai. They enjoy a time of worship and a covenant meal in God’s presence. Leaving the seventy behind, Moses and Joshua go up further and spend six days with God in the cloud covered mountain. On the seventh day, Moses went on alone, leaving Joshua by himself on Sinai for forty more days. While the time alone tested Joshua’s patience and faithfulness, it also enriched his perspective of God’s character and majesty. Joshua learned that leaders need an enlarged vision of who God is.

Preparation in the Tabernacle (Exodus 33:7-11). As the servant of Moses, one of Joshua’s assignments was to be present in the Tabernacle while the pillar of cloud towered above the tent. True spiritual leadership demands a love for the quiet place. To lead well, we must desire God’s presence. We have to constantly fight the battle of doing versus devotion.

Preparation within the Camp (Numbers 11:24-29). Leaders are constantly told to promote themselves and to toot their own horn. Joshua apparently bought into that principle and was jealous for Moses when two men were prophesying in the camp. Moses helped Joshua learn that leaders allow others to share in the ministry. There is no limit to what a person can do if they don’t care who gets the credit.

Preparation in Spying out the Land (Numbers 13:1-14:45). Joshua was one of the twelve men commissioned by Moses to spy out the Promised Land. After forty days, the men brought back a good news, bad news report; a majority, minority report. The majority said it was a wonderful land filled with giants who would kill the Israelites. Joshua and Caleb said that God had already given the land into the hand of the Israelites. As Joshua learned that day, the majority is not always right. Leaders focus on the promises of God rather than the fears of the people. They need to stand for truth even if it means standing alone.

Preparation through his Commissioning (Numbers 27:12-23). Because of his outburst of anger and not honoring God, Moses was forbidden to enter the Promised Land. God held him accountable for his actions. Being a caring shepherd, Moses made sure Israel had a capable leader. So he commissioned Joshua to take his place. Joshua’s chief characteristic was not his military skills. It was the presence of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual leadership is ultimately a work of the Holy Spirit.

Preparation through the Death of Moses (Deuteronomy 34:1-12). While Moses was the greatest spiritual leader Israel ever had, he was expendable. God’s plan depends on no one for all time, but all to serve him at a certain time.

7 Principles of Spiritual Leadership

  • Hard work + prayer = victory
  • Develop a large vision of God
  • Spend time alone with God
  • Share the credit with others
  • Stand for truth; Stand alone
  • Depend on the Holy Spirit
  • No one is indispensable

Spiritual leadership requires a heart that is fully devoted to following God.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on September 16, 2018. It is the opening message in a series on the book of Joshua. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.