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CMF eZine


The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship.


Author: Rudy Swigart

Rudy is a retired Navy Mustang, Theology Student, Ministry Leader, Husband, Father and a grateful believer in Jesus Christ (not necessarily in that order)!  God’s calling for Rudy has always been in the areas of teaching, so the pursuit of education continues.  As a Master’s Degree student at Vanguard University of Southern California, God continues to cultivate Rudy’s passion for writing.  Click here to visit his personal blog.

 


Pray for the Troops

Pray for the Troops

Pray for the Troops

A Seven-Day Devotional

The life of a young man or woman is forever changed when they sign the dotted line contractually binding them to their enlistment or commission in the United States Armed Forces.  That decision can bring exhilaration, fear, excitement, anxiety and a host of many other emotions however, the emotions that surpass trepidations are ones of pride, loyalty, sacrifice, patriotism, honor, and courage, to name a few.  The moment when the individual steps into the uniform for the first time, and views and salutes the American flag, is forever a life changing and heart transformation event.

Whether their initial contract binds them to Active Duty service or as a Reservist, whether a military member is relatively new in their role, and in their career or whether they’re a seasoned veteran having spent many years serving and leading in service to their subordinates and our great nation, structural elements and foundational duties and sacrifices do not change.  The requirements and demands of the “job”, while dynamic, are consistent throughout one’s career.  In fact, the only constant is the dynamic change as the day’s duties unfold.  The “plan” is discussed during the morning hours and duties are assigned accordingly only to be sidetracked or overcome by other events.  “Semper Gumby” is a fun take on the Marine Corps motto “Semper Fidelis”, or Always Faithful.  “Semper Gumby” reminds military members to always be flexible, and that the focus of the mission can change at any second and they’re to adapt, improvise and overcome.  Though the schedule is often fluid, there exists concrete infrastructural attributes of chain of command, expectations, and tradition, and they are deeply rooted into the fabric of Unites States Service Members.  These concepts can be hard to wrap your arms around, if you’ve not had the opportunity to have “walked the walk.”

            How are we, as spouses, family members, patriots and supporters to pray for those in uniform?  Why is prayer an important daily attribute that can help to shape and care for those that volunteer to be deployed in harm’s way?  The Bible has many verses that provide guidance and comfort for how and why we’re to pray, here are two of them:

 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6 (ESV)

The above verse reminds us that we’re not to worry, that we’re to give everything to God in all circumstances and that our anxiety and worrying are fruitless. 

 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24 (ESV)

Jesus compels us to ask with a pure and expectant heart and to pray with an understanding that we’ll receive what we’re asking for in prayer.

            Our military is in a constant state of readiness, or preparing for “being ready” to deploy Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, or Coast Guard globally, to any place, and at any time.  Regardless of where they are in the deployment cycle, understand that every day, every exercise, every task is in direct support of the readiness and operational missions.  That is their role and that’s how they conduct their daily planning and activities. 

            The best way to pray for our troops, all troops, whether or not they’re in harm’s way, or are supporting the mission from home, is to do so with intentional deliberation in a sage and forthright manner.  For you, this might include a prayer room, or a quiet place where you go to pray, or simply during your morning commute as you turn down the radio and seek to spend some time with the Lord during your drive.  However you have developed your spiritual disciplines, I encourage you to spend a few minutes preparing your heart and then intentionally praying for those, and those who support those, who put on the uniform every day.  

            For specific areas of prayer, if not focusing your prayer for a single person or family, you may want to focus your prayer on an age or rank demographic (young, intermediate or seasoned service members), or on a particular unit or a branch of service in general.  Pray for their preparation and training, the success of their evolution or mission, and their safe passage to and from their areas of responsibility. 

            The following is a seven day devotional that can be utilized as a guide:

Day 1

Focus:  Preparation — Military Member

“Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.” Proverbs 24:27  ESV

In this day-and-age of fluid and dynamic work and home environments, we are increasingly aware that “the only constant is change.”  As a child growing up, your family members, parents/guardians, teachers and mentors around you have taught you some things along the way for how to be a responsible member of society when you step foot away from home for the first time.  For our military members, basic training is the conduit that shapes the person and prepares them for their military service.

Preparation teaches our military the elements of what it takes to become equipped in order to go forward and complete a mission.  Without proper preparation, the mission outcome could be detrimental.  Think about it: would you drive your car without the proper training and preparation?  If you did not receive any preparation, the truth is that you most likely could mechanically operate the vehicle, but to what success?

The apostle, Paul says: 

“Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”  Romans 13:11-14 (ESV)

Preparation is a key element to the success of any mission.  Whether or not our military members are in an operational environment, an operational support role, or engaged in the deployment cycle, they are always preparing.  They are preparing for the next task, the next mission, the next deployment.  Pray for them today.

Heavenly Father, God.  As our warriors prepare in this day, for whatever the next mission is for them, I pray that you keep watch over them.  Prepare their hearts, minds and hands for the ability to focus on protecting themselves and others, so that they may complete their mission safely and return home with honor.  In Jesus’ holy name I pray, amen.

Day 2

Focus:  Preparation — Spouse/Family

“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” Luke 14:28 (ESV)

We think about preparation being only for the military member as they prepare for their next mission, whether they’re engaged in a training cycle, or a physical fitness regiment, we know that they are continuously preparing for the next stages in fulfillment of their orders.  But we often forget, that the military member wouldn’t be successful in their preparation without the steadfast and unwavering support of their family.

Military spouses are the unsung heroes of our armed forces.  If there are children in the home, we know that their role, at times, are akin to single parenthood.  They’re responsible for holding down the fort at home, while their spouse is deployed.  Strangely enough, if things can go wrong, they do go wrong while the military spouse is deployed!  The water pipes burst or the car breaks down.  The child becomes ill and in need of special testing.  A tree falls on the roof of the home during a storm.  The family pet contracts a rare disease.  All of these things, which are normal family undertakings at some point in their lives, tend to occur all at once and just-in-time for the spouse to be deployed.

The spouse at home is left alone, having to deal with all of life’s struggles, seemingly alone.  If they have prepared properly, powers-of-attorney have been signed and executed, in addition to the myriad of other preparatory elements.

“By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” Hebrews 11:7 (ESV)

As we consider praying for the preparation of our military, whether for an individual, a particular unit, or a branch of service; I encourage you to also consider praying for the preparation of the unsung heroes, the military spouse.

Dear Lord, I pray that as you prepare the hands, hearts and minds of our military members for their mission, that you also prepare the household for the absence of the military member.  Lord be with the spouse, the children, and the supporting members of the family so that they are a strong and fortified unit of their own as they endure the hardships of their spouse being away on deployment, potentially in harm’s way.  Lord give the spouse the strength to endure the illness of children, household hardships or loneliness struggles during the time that their spouse is away.  Lord I pray that the spouse leans into you, during this time so that you may keep them and guide them towards a continued and rejoicing life in you.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Day 3

Focus:  Deployment — Military Member

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 (ESV)

The day is upon us.  The day that all of the planning and preparation have called for.  This is the day that we step onto the plane, or we cast off all lines to get the ship underway embarking on the beginning stages of the mission.  Be at ease, rely on the training, this is what we’ve been mentally and physically preparing to do.  Time to operate! 

As the beginning stages of the deployment are underway, the troops are anxious and excited.  Some may be sad while others are exhilarated and thrive in the high optempo environment.  Within these first few days of the deployment, as they transit to and arrive “on station”, God offers His kind and gentle support during this season.

 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)

The day-counter has begun that will remind us on a regular basis how many days there are until our service member returns home to us safely.  God willing.  As we at home settle into our new routine, with the absence of our spouse, or our son or daughter, or as we come alongside our friends that are enduring this time, we’re to lean into the body of Christ and trust in His will in all things, and to rest in that as we go about our daily activities.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (ESV)

Father, God: I pray for our troops as they transition to their overseas environment.  I take solace in the fact that you are with them, and that you are guiding the decisions of the leadership.  Lord I pray that they lean into and hear your still small voice of direction, and allow for your guidance in the strategic decision making and care for each other, as they trudge forward to do the “hard job”, the mission, that protects me and keeps my country’s traditions and foundational morals and values sound.  Protect them O Lord, and be with them always, until their return.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Day 4

Focus:  Deployment — Family/Home Support

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5 (ESV)

There are “trimesters” to military deployments, similar to how we track growth, and events on the calendar as with gestation and human pregnancy.  At the end of the third trimester, the process is finished and we’re left to enjoy the fruits of our labor.  With deployed family members, the “stages” of the deployment timeframe can be tracked according to the calendar, and there are emotions and events that correspond with each.

First trimester: feelings of exhilaration are abound as the day of your spouse leaving on deployment has finally arrived!  The next few months will be an adjustment to the new schedule, taking care of the children, ensuring they get to little league or dance practice.  Carve out time to meet with friends, perhaps take up a new healthy hobby.  This is a time for perseverance for the “home-base” of support.

Second trimester: The strong spouse, often becomes despondent and is filled with doubt and desperation during this time period.  They miss their spouse, there is no end in sight to the seemingly insurmountable number of days between now and when their spouse returns.  Hopelessness can set in.  Couple this with some tragic events such as a water leak, the car breaking down, or a problem with the insurance and the burden of carrying everything alone, can become daunting.

Third trimester: Over the hump!  On the downward slide!  Feelings of excitement and preparation, along with anxiety can accompany this period.  How will they behave when they see each other?  Will the spouse be angry at the new haircut or the new paint in the bedroom?  Nervousness, doubt, anxiousness, and excitement are all bundled into the days leading up to the homecoming.

Dear Father God, I pray that during each stage that you are the focus of the family.  That all cares be given unto you so that all burdens and worries can be cast aside and that families flourish during times of strife, and their faith in you continues to grow as a result of your abundant and everlasting love.  Be with them always, through each stage of the deployment as each stage brings forth its own sets of challenges.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Day 5

Focus:  Deployment — Troops Looking for the Home Stretch

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. ...” James 1:12-18 (ESV)

It is during the last phases of deployment that the complacency, anxiety, and perfunctory numbness can set in for the troops.  During this time, our troops are watching the calendar as well (or not) while engaging in what can be considered mundane tasks that are performed without feeling or consistency.  The mantra “remember your training” is waning and the unit is in the throes of a continued haze of intermingled work days.  “Time off” provides no respite as they’re still bound to the base, having to respond to emergencies, having to carry their weapons and perhaps run to the bunker if indirect fire is a threat to their area. 

Another day with a couple hundred of their closest friends, clogging the lines to chow, lugging their weapon around, trying to watch a movie or go to the gym on their “holiday routine” (holiday for others, routine for them).  The hypersensitivity and hyper-vigilant operations tempo are the new norm, and no amount of caffeine can stimulate the “rush” that they experienced during the first few months on station.  They now live and operate in a mode where loud weapons releases in the middle of the night are commonplace.  When the siren goes off, they may grab their gear on the way to the bunker, they may not, or they may not even get up to go to the bunker for another alarm at all.  What’s the point?  Depression can set in and this is a critical time and area of prayer for our troops that are deployed in harm’s way.

Dear Heavenly Father…we raise up our troops during this critical stage of their deployment.  We pray that they remain steadfast in their mission and that they rely on you and the fundamental tenements of their job.  I pray a hedge of protection against complacency, that they may remain alert and vigilant in their roles.  Protect them Oh Lord, as they fight not only the physical enemy, but the spiritual enemy including the enemy of self which inaugurates depression, lethargy and complacency.

Day 6

Focus:  Homecoming — Family and Service Member

“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:15 (ESV)

The countdown is over, the day is here!  Service members wake up (if they’ve slept at all) to a day filled with hope and wonderment, a day that they’ve been longing for ever since they left home: the day of homecoming.  Most of the time, this occurs with the accompaniment of a great fanfare.  There are bands, flowers, news crews, the clapping of hands, freshly dressed families that all await the arrival of their service member with nervous excitement!  That feeling of exhilaration upon first setting eyes on their loved ones as they step off the plane, or wave from the ship is an irreplaceable feeling of gratitude filled with patriotism and pride.

At times, however, a member is returning home without the full complement of their unit.  This can be accompanied by mixed emotions as a bittersweet embrace with loved ones.  While thankful to be home safe, the service member might have anxiety and sadness due to lost comrades-in-arms, and return home with a heavy heart. 

What we can do for them, in those moments is be present, listen when required, offer two shoulders and two ears to allow for the outpouring of strife to occur.  This is the beginning of a process that can allow for healing and growth to begin.

Heavenly Father God, I pray that as our service members return home to their families, that they do so with a thankful heart.  That you’re able to pierce through the emotional strife and continue to love and care and guide the service members as they reintegrate with their families.  Though the experiences that they’ve endured, we rest in your grace as the One True God that provides an abundance of love and mercy to those that respond to your call.  Be with them Oh Lord, as they return home to the safe arms of their loved ones.  In Jesus’ holy name I pray, amen.

Day 7

Focus:  Family Unit Reintegration

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” Jeremiah 29:11-12

Reintegration occurs on many fronts.  For the spouse that’s been holding down the fort at home, to the child(ren) that’s been living with one parent for the past several months, to the military member that’s been living with a couple hundred of their closest friends for quite some time.  The excitement of being back home gives way to stressful circumstances as married couples learn how to “do life” together again.  This may include the service member becoming anxious as they’ve been operating in an unsafe environment and has learned to flourish on very little sleep and thrive on energy drinks.  After they’ve cleaned and organized the entire house and there’s nothing left to do, anxiety can set in.  They may feel useless as the “mission” is over and their participation is no longer meaningful.  When this occurs, they try to fill the adrenalin and anxiety hole with other things.  For some this is alcohol, which leads to relational problems.  For others this is anger which leads to relational problems.  As you can see, this is a volatile time for families as they discover that the elements of patience and grace are in great demand.

Pray that they intentionally lean into the Lord, in order to fill their gaps.  Pray for patience and understanding of the spouse and that they are involved with a loving and kind church family that can come alongside them during their time of reintegration into the home life.  Where it is safe for the Sergeant to become Daddy or Mommy again, and the smile and joy returns as the member is home, and present in the lives of his or her family.

Dear Lord, thank you so much for the safe return of the service members.  I pray that when their elation subsides, that they are intentional in leaning into You father God and that they can find solace and refuge in your arms.  I pray that their mission continues and that they find peace in that mission regardless of the role that they assume.  Whether it’s Daddy or Mommy, Mr. or Mrs. instead of Sergeant or Captain, I pray that they have taken the positive attributes of their experiences and can utilize them in constructive and meaningful ways as they go forward.  I pray this in the holy name of Jesus.  Amen.

Shalom.

7 Impactful Insights for Servant Leadership

7 Impactful Insights for Servant Leadership

7 Impactful insights for Servant Leadership in Business or at Home

As leaders, in a business environment or at home with your children, it’s important that your leadership toolbox is full and robust so that you can access the tools that you need in any given situation.  If you’re familiar with the concept of Situational Leadership, then you’ll understand practical application of the “when and how” to apply certain leadership tools.  If the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, then your protégés will potentially learn how to lead by responding to your continuous example of anger and rigidity.  While we can agree that there are situations when the hammer is required (as your child is chasing the ball towards the traffic-filled street, when a military regiment is required to move quickly, or when a potential safety mishap is to be averted), it is not the preferred tool to be employed in all situations.

            Where do we first begin to learn to lead?  Sometimes we learn without even knowing that we’re learning.  Our parents, guardians, and teachers were our first examples that we learned from and you can take the good attributes from them, and throw away the not-so-good attributes from them.  As a leader, I’m continuously evaluating myself for effectiveness and often reflect on what should be intuitive and ask myself simple questions for those that have others within their sphere of care such as parents, pastors, or business leaders.  If you call yourself a Christian, and if you have direct or indirect leadership of others, you have to consider the following questions: “How would Jesus lead in this situation?” What does the Servant Leader’s toolbox look like?

“A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” Luke 22:24-27 ESV

1.  Love

How important is it to have love in your toolbox?  It’s so important, that Jesus highlights this as the greatest over all of the commandments.

“And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.’” Matthew 22:37-40

But how are we to lead others from a position of love?  Love compels us to do things that are often out of the ordinary, or are beyond the capacities or expectations of our role.  In the business environment, this might pertain to a situation where a person needs to leave work, for one reason or another for what is only revealed as a pressing personal issue.  However, the deadline is rapidly approaching and that person is one of the only people that can answer the data call.  What do you do?  Do you decide that the needs of the business are greater than the needs of the employee, or do you let love lead and excuse the person knowing that the data call will be critically impacted?  As a parent, this is easier as we love our children as parents do but as a business leader, this might be an uncomfortable area for you as you learn to love your subordinates.  Keep love at the ready in your leadership toolbox and relationships will be deeply rooted in trust and respect, and work productivity can flourish as a result.

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 ESV

2.  Lead With (or from) Weakness

We want our subordinates or protégés to see us as confident and strong leaders, exuding qualities and traits from which they can emulate.  Any signs of weakness can reduce their respect for you, as they become disappointed as the chinks in your armor are revealed, right?  Wrong!  Studies have shown that in a work environment, subordinates are more likely to respond to a personable and human boss that can admit and take ownership of his or her mistakes publicly and with humility.  This fosters an environment of inclusion and productivity is directly impacted in a positive manner.[1]

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

[1] https://hbr.org/2014/05/the-best-leaders-are-humble-leaders

3.  Empathize

From the time that we are children, God has blessed us with a natural ability to care for one another, on an internal and often subconscious level.  We are all connected through this internal bond that can be associated with the “mother’s instinct” where “mama bear or papa bear” are revealed when their cubs are found to be in dangerous situations.  We place ourselves in the paws of our cubs, or the feet of others as we empathize with them in their given situation, whatever that may be.

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Romans 12:9-13

But how are we to lead with empathy?  We have deadlines to meet and requirements to uphold.  Adults are adults and professionals are expected to carry their own weight.  We’re not running daycare centers (well, maybe we are but you get the point).  Does empathy and compassion have any room in a production or military environment?  Should it?  Let’s “take-it-to-the-book” and see what our leadership examples have shown us:

“And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:42-45

As we serve others, we’re to do so from a position of empathy, where regardless of the business requirements, establishing and fostering the human element, as with a “family first” regimen, workers are more likely to support the infrastructure and provide quality workmanship and pride in delivered product as a result.

4.  Sympathize

Empathy and sympathy go hand-in-hand.  Jesus compels us to address each other’s needs and carry the burdens of others on a personal level.  Where we’re stumbling and find ourselves in a position of need, we’re required to help each other through whatever circumstances those may be. 

“But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?” John 3:17 ESV

But how are we to lead from a position of sympathy?  We can’t be expected to physically help out everybody in our shop through situations of need, can we?  Everybody arrives to work with their own sets of struggles that they’re working through, how can I help them all and still be a productive leader?

The answer may be simple, and may not require much time but for the body of the workforce, as leaders we have one crucial sympathetic tool in our toolbox, and that is the power of prayer!  Pray for your coworkers, your students, your flock, your soldiers, and your children.  With a sympathetic ear, hear their trials and pray for them individually and collectively.

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4

5.  Wisdom

The Bible tells us that if we’re to seek with our whole hearts, then we’ll find our answers there, within the text.  Wisdom and discernment not only assist us in making critical ethical and moral decisions, but if we rely on wisdom before we react, then our ability to lead others through every situation becomes more predictable, credible, and sustainable. 

“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.”  Proverbs 3:13-18 ESV

As somebody that serves their followership by leading with wisdom in their toolbox, we then create an environment of approachability and an open forum for creativity and ideas to flow freely through the workplace.  This methodology impacts a culture and the work culture that you create through your leadership traits then permeates through all functions and elements of the business, or church, or battleground, or household.

6.  Active Listening

Have you ever heard the expression about having two ears and one mouth for a reason?  Active listening can aid in your servant leadership attributes by allowing your responses to be in alignment with the needs of the persons or body that you’re serving.  Listening is a vitally important tool to have in our leadership toolbox as it’s one of the first things that we’re taught as children.  “Pay attention” or “listen to me” are words that I heard often in my early childhood and leadership development.  We want our protégés to hear, and practically apply our instructions in order to accomplish tasks.  And with that reasoning in mind, we’re to offer them the same benefit by actively listening to their needs, hearing and affirming their circumstances (empathy and/or sympathy), and enacting a course of action to assist in the resolution of their needs.

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;” James 1:19 ESV

7.  Offer Sage Advice

You know what they say about advice and opinions?  Everybody has an opinion and with regards to advice, you’ll want to consider the source.  As leaders, we are the source!  So for those to consider, listen to and follow your advice, you’ll want to establish credibility by lovingly offering sage advice to your employees, soldiers, protégés, or children.

The apostle Paul offers:  “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

To have the above tools for your toolbox and the knowledge of each is just one element to the entirety of your leadership strategy.  The other elements of your leadership strategy arrive during your “boots-on-ground” real world practical application of tool usage in your work, home, church, or military environments.  The ability to incorporate critical thinking skills and discern the tools to employ in dynamic and fluid environments will help to sharpen you as a leader, and benefit greatly those in your charge.  Until next time, think of ways where you can be of service to those that you lead.

Shalom.

Lead by Example

Lead by Example

Lead by Example

Why is leading by example so important?  6 Attributes to Consider While Walking in Leadership

Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:2-5

We hear it all the time: “Lead By Example” but do we ever take the time to conduct a self-check to ensure that we have an understanding of the breadth and depth of the application?  What makes leading by example so important to the hierarchal health of the organization?  In order to answer the questions, we’ll need to break down the approach through the lens of others.  Firstly, we need to consider the “whys” in order to understand why leading by example is important to our flock, our subordinates, our children and our followership.  Then we need to understand the application of the “whys” so that we can fill the gaps.

1.  Modeled Traits

How do our children first begin to learn?  From the time that we are babies, naturally we begin to behave in ways that we learn from our environment.  Some things are inherent and God-given.  Have you ever watched an infant stretch and yawn?  How do they know how to do that?  They just do, they didn’t have to model your behavior in order to learn how to do those things.  But what about other learned habits and traits, where do they first learn how to behave and how is their journey of personality and character development shaped?  It’s shaped through your behaviors and your habits.  When you get angry, they cry.  When you are happy and playful, they respond in kind (usually).  They learn how to treat others and how to make decisions by your example and your tutelage.  Plan accordingly and be aware of the weight of your role.  Jesus compels us to model His behavior, as this is pleasing to the Lord as evidenced through scripture:

“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?” 1 Timothy 3:1-7.

As parents of young children, we’re thrust into the office of overseer, whether we’re prepared for it or not and the child will flourish and naturally follow your example.

In leadership, whether explicit or implicit, all eyes are on you, constantly measuring whether or not you’re to be trusted, and whether or not you’re worthy of a followership.  Think about how you gauge a good leader.  What attributes do they possess that you respond to and want to follow?  How do you behave if your boss or church pastor is not practicing what they preach?  How do you view that leader and how does that effect your perception of the organization?  Your decisions and behaviors have a direct impact on the lives, perceptions, and character development of your followership.

While those are the “whys”, what do they imply (in our leadership behavior)?

2.  Responsibility

Where we’re responsible for the well-being of others, we have a greater level of responsibility, not only for the “care and feeding” of those within our sphere of influence, but for continuous improvement and professional (and often personal) development of those within our care.  Having and understanding our roles as leaders, having responsibility for others causes us to place the needs of others before our own. 

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

3.  Sacrifice

Placing the needs of others before our own will ultimately lead to times of self-sacrifice.  We have to give of ourselves for the betterment of others.  In the new-baby example, we sacrifice many things as new parents, primarily our sleep as we adjust to the new “baby-schedule”.  As leaders in the military, business, or church we sacrifice our time as we pour into our subordinates, protégés, or our flock.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11

4. Integrity

The definition of integrity is: “The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.”  You may have also heard the application of integrity as “doing the right thing, even when nobody is looking.”  Either definition gives you a moral and ethical framework and compass for which to gauge your decisions and your activities.  Acting with integrity is important in the eyes of your followership as it creates and nurtures trust within your relationship and can foster as a culture of trust within your organization.  Having integrity in your actions, and being trustworthy to your subordinates creates an open and healthy work environment for your people.

“My lips will not speak falsehood, and my tongue will not utter deceit. Far be it from me to say that you are right; till I die I will not put away my integrity from me. I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go; my heart does not reproach me for any of my days.” Job 27:4-6

5.  Consistency

Above all, we need to remain consistent.  Consistency provides a safe-haven within a messy and inconsistent world.  Where you’re consistent in your behaviors as a leader, your followership will benefit.  If you’ve displayed that you’re approachable, methodical, intentional, and deliberate then your followership will know where they stand with you, and can be made to feel comfortable to confide in you during times of indecision or workplace conflict.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

6.  Continuous Improvement

How do you measure up?  They say that a true scholar never stops learning. I’ll say the same of a true student of leadership, in that we never stop improving or adding tools to our leadership toolbox.  Whether you lead at home, as a parent, or you lead in your church ministry, your role at work, or just in general as the “leader” within your sphere of influence as somebody that people trust to make decisions; we never stagnate, we never stop improving ourselves as the landscape of leadership is an often fluid and dynamic environment.  The ways we lead in the military, don’t always transition to the ways we lead in our homes, or in our civilian work occupation, or in our church ministry leadership role.  Understanding situational leadership implies a well-rounded approach so in that, we need to stay relevant and up to date with the traditions of leadership so that we can continue to lead effectively in our roles.  What courses are you enrolled in for this year?  How are you improving in your role?

“About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,” Hebrews 5:11-12

Shalom.

Operation: Clear the Scatter

Operation: Clear the Scatter

Operation: Clear the Scatter, 4 Tips for Effective Organizational Leadership

Do you ever have those days where it seems that all you’ve done since you walked in the door is put out fires?  Whether at work or in your home life, there are those days where it seems that you don’t get the chance to catch up and breathe!  Have you ever had entire weeks like that?  Has it ever (or is it now) become the work environment that you live in as your Modis Operandi?  When faced with a few moments of quiet time (uh…what’s that?), are you able to climb out of the proverbial hole and get ahead of the tasks at hand?

Military leaders are groomed from an early age to “improvise, adapt, and overcome” as the dynamic and fluid environment that they perform and excel in regularly dictates.  But what about business leaders that are thrown into a fast paced and rigorous work environment without ever having been exposed to that kind of workflow?  How do they cope?  What do they do when burnout sets in (because it will)? 

Here are 4 tools that can help to ease the burden.  They might take some time to implement completely before you can see a change in your workload and your stress levels, and it takes daily intentional activities, but there is light is at the end of the tunnel!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  (Philippians 4:6 ESV)

1.  Prepare for Battle

How you begin your day is probably one of the most important social and psychological exercises that you may or may not give intentional credence towards.  So let’s back up a little bit.  Are you getting enough sleep?  I probably don’t have to remind you but studies show that we need at least eight hours of sleep per night in order to obtain and maintain a healthy balance.  In the next sections below, we’ll discuss some schedule management tools that will help you if you’re a “night owl” or just can’t seem to get to sleep before midnight.

When your alarm goes off in the morning, what do you do?  Do you hit snooze so many times that you oversleep?  If you do, you know that leaping out of bed, brushing your teeth (let’s hope) and throwing a half toasted bagel in your mouth as you scramble out the door is not the best way to start your day.  Beginning your day in “late mode” does not put you in the most beneficial frame of mind, and if you’re beginning your day that way, chaos can only ensue and the other drivers on the road will get to feel your wrath as you wrestle through traffic with a chaotic mindset.  Safe?  Probably not.

As challenging as it may be, give yourself plenty of time to get up, out of bed and into the shower so that you’re not having to rush out the door in the morning.  If you like to hit the snooze button, set your alarm for 10 minutes earlier than you have to get up.  That way you can still hit snooze and get up on time.  A better activity is to be able to sit down and eat your breakfast before you leave the house but let’s be real here…self-improvement and habit changing activities take baby steps!

If possible, spend some quiet time with God.  Daily devotionals only take about 5 – 10 minutes as you can read while you eat, ponder and sit in the message, and pray for a fruitful day.  Sitting with the Lord at the beginning of your day will help to set the stage of calmness as you then begin to assess your daily schedule.  If sitting quietly with the Lord and reading a daily devotional over breakfast is too challenging for you to implement at first, consider driving to work with the radio off, or with some Christian music and then pray while you drive (with your eyes open, please).  The Lord loves to engage with you at any time of the day, in any situation and you don’t need to be in a certain posture in order for the Lord to hear your prayer.  Just talk, He’s listening!

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.  (Colossians 4:2 ESV)

2.  Get Organized

If you’re one of those people that has a hard time cleaning your room, I know that the concept of organization can be scary and maybe causes you some anxiety.  You’ve managed to “make it work” your entire life so what’s the big deal if your desk/car/kitchen are a little messy, what does that have to do with your quality of work?  I call it “swimming through the muck”.  The “messy-ness” of your life, believe it or not, does have bleed-over into your organizational thinking and prioritization, and can have an impact on the overall workmanship of your products.  Not to worry, we’ll eat this elephant one bite at a time and believe it or not the tasks of organization are not very daunting.  You may even find that the process is relatively simple, easy to follow, and liberating.

A.  Start with your computer.  Does your desktop look like the sea of lost files?  Is your desktop filled with different types of files that are used for different reasons?  Have you completely blocked out the desktop theme so you don’t even see the peaceful picture anymore?  If so, is the “search” functionality your favorite friend?  Believe it or not, there are ways to improve upon your file management system.

i.  Create folders!  Organize your files by subject, or function such as: Supplies, Finance, HR, Training, Draft Documents, etc.  In doing so, you’ll begin to learn how best to compartmentalize your mind so that when you need to find the latest files to work from, you won’t need to stress out or search, you’ll know right where to go!

ii.  Use your calendar!  This may seem to be common sense but segregate your day by what’s on your calendar, and work the items that are on your calendar for that timeslot only.  Now you might be saying…”that won’t work in my workplace”, but I’ll show you how it can when we discuss prioritization and Critical Chain Project Management.

iii.  Prioritize your tasks!  Put out the quick “fires” but then build time into your calendar to catch up on the items that you’ve been avoiding.  Use that time on your calendar for configuration management of your files, or to finalize documents, or to respond to emails.  Be intentional and be consistent and most importantly, do it!

a).  Critical Chain Project Management allows you to identify the highest priority items, and then segregate them, and where possible, work those items ONLY.  This means you might have to turn off your phone and set up your out-of-office reply.  Segregate yourself as you are on the “Critical Path” burning down tasks that are critical to the success of the delivery.  Others need to be aware of the Critical Chain and where they can help you to be segregated.  You might need to delegate many things and empower others in your organization to do some tasks that you normally would do, during the time that you’re segregated working on prioritized critical tasks.  I know this can be hard to do for us control freaks, but that’s an issue for another article.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV)

B.  Make lists!  You’d be surprised how a simple checklist can help you to manage the tasks at hand, especially when they seemingly become overwhelming.  Using your day planner, in conjunction with your calendar, or even just a piece of regular old paper, write out your tasks that you need to accomplish, as framed by the subject area of your calendar.  Don’t overdo it and keep your lists compartmentalized to the task that you’re working based on what you’ve placed on your calendar for that timeframe.  Once you complete the task, check it off of your list!

Making lists eases your mind because it takes the scatter out of your mind and puts it on the paper, which then becomes manageable and less daunting.  Why stay awake at night wondering what to do the next day with the multitude of overwhelming tasks running around your brain?  Take a couple of minutes to get the tasks out of your head, and onto the manageable paper.

3.  Turn Off Social Media

This should be a “no-brainer”.  If you’re that OCD person that can’t avoid the pressure to not address the blinking light on your phone, then put your phone in a drawer, or keep it out of sight as you focus on the critical path.  Turn off all alerts, visible and audible so that you’re not tempted by the never-ending persistence of the blinking light.  If there’s an emergency, your family can call your place of business on a separate line.  This must be an intentional and disciplined approach if you aspire to clear the scatter effectively.

 

 

4.  Be Still and Know

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!  (Psalm 37:7 ESV)

At the beginning of the day, and all throughout the day we have to breathe.  We can’t be effective leaders if we’re constantly running at a highly chaotic pace.  If you’re functioning in that mode continuously, it’s not healthy for you, or for your peers and subordinates as you create and place undue pressures on them.  Manage your workload accordingly, and you’ll make for a more harmonious leader that can help others to manage their workloads efficiently and effectively.

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!  (Psalm 46:10 ESV)

 In doing so, God wants you to slow down and be still, and know that He is God.  Your identity is not in the ability to meet the deadline.  Your identity is not in the salary that you make nor in the car that you drive.  Your identity is not found within the stripes on your sleeve or the device on your collar.  Your identity, first and foremost is as a loving child of the one true living God.  The almighty creator that first breathed life into you and continues to be the very breath that fills your lungs on a daily basis.  Be still in that, feel the overwhelming love and rest in the peace that is promised eternity, that which is found in Christ Jesus.

Shalom.

The Gap:  Where Do Leaders Fail?

The Gap: Where Do Leaders Fail?

The Gap:  Where Do Leaders Fail?  8 Tools to Leadership Success

Knowing the landscape of what becomes well rounded leadership is only half the battle.  In most cases, we fight ourselves and our cultural upbringing along the way.  As a result, there can be gaps, or chinks in our armor.  Our backgrounds and experiences can help or hinder in our abilities to lead others.  Have you ever completed a SWOT analysis 1 on yourself?  If you have, you know that the “W” is for Weaknesses.  While we’d like to assume that we make very little mistakes and take calculated and well thought out mitigated risks, the truth of the matter is that upwards of 40 percent of leaders fail 2 within the first 18 months and have a gap in their toolbox in at least one of the following areas.  What are your weaknesses?  How do you know?

[1]  SWOT Analysis:  acronym (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) is a simple but useful framework for analyzing your organization's strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and threats that you face. It helps you focus on your strengths, minimize threats, and take the greatest possible advantage of opportunities available to you. 
[2]  Staffing Talk: http://staffingtalk.com/40-percent-new-leaders-fail-within-first-18-months

1.  Organization — Understand Where You Fit!

Knowing the landscape of the organization is also a large part of your leadership effectiveness.   I call it “swimming through the muck.”   In a large corporation, knowing your organizational structure, especially if you’re a “small fish in a big pond,” is paramount to being effective in your role.  In some businesses, there are business areas, mission areas, business units, and then the “enterprise” corporate level Leadership Team.

 “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.”  (Proverbs 18:15  ESV)

Knowing where you fit, and understanding your customer base, and who you support in your role are of vital importance in your ability to be an effective leader.   In leadership, having the wisdom of placement, and knowing “who’s who in the zoo” assists in your abilities to lead others.  Proverbs 3:13-18 (ESV) says:

“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold.  She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her.  Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace....”

2.  Be Concise

The ability to provide specific direction to your subordinates will prevent them from floundering and wasting time.   It also helps to keep up morale!   Studies have shown that subordinates are more productive, and effective in a mission driven environment however if that mission is unclear, then they’re left potentially aimless and working in other directions rather than those which are intended.  The “Commanders Intent” needs to be clear and concise.  In addition to a clear vision or mission statement, subordinates need to have an “action plan” that shows them how to support the mission or vision within their role.  The action plan, and what can be a workable list can also aid in evaluating individual performance against requirements.  Set your team up for success!

In your walk as a Christian, how do you know the direction that God has for you?  Have you studied His word and discerned your followership?  What role in your personal leadership development does God play?  Have you considered His word as you exemplify your own leadership role?

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  (Romans 12:2 ESV)

3.  Equip Your Team

As you’ve clearly communicated your intent, or the intent of the organization with regards to the vision and mission, have you set your subordinates up for success by equipping them with the tools, equipment, and accesses that they’ll require in order to perform effectively in their role?  What do they need in order to carry out the mission?  Will they require training, special certifications, gear or supplies to begin the mission?  Once equipped, have you thought about how they’re to be sustained in their work environment?  While Napoleon said, “An Army marches on its stomach,”  Jesus says:

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4 ESV)

4.  Be Ethical

This should go without saying but you’d be surprised (or maybe not) at the business decisions of corporate leaders, military leaders, and the like.  One of the biggest career killers in senior military leadership is in fraternization, or sexual harassment.  In the corporate world, the darkness is often brought to the light when the unethical train begins to run freely down the tracks.

Make a decision already!  But do it ethically.  There’s a time where you have to take your emotion out of the equation and consider ethical decision making reasoning approaches to weigh the potential outputs of your decision.  Are you running through the ethical decision making approaches, for the tough ethical dilemmas of teleological (costs vs. benefits), ontological (rules, rights, justice) and deontological (virtues) reasoning?  The Lord will guide in your ethical decision making.  Are you listening before you act?

 “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”  (Isaiah 30:21 ESV)

5.  Embrace the Culture Through Diversity, Equality, and Tolerance

One of the greatest benefits that we have as leaders, whether in a corporate business environment or out on the battlefield, is diversity of the labor pool!  Age, ethnicity, education, technical background, and the like can help to add value to a robust team of performers!  Be careful to check your cultural biases at the door for God does the greatest things with the most unlikely people.

“And David said to Saul, ‘Let no man's heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.’” (1 Samuel 17:32 ESV)

So put off your first impressions and give everybody a fair shake.  Assess, assign, monitor, trust, and reinforce and your teams will perform like pistons in a vehicle: powerful and moving in a manner that advances the mission.

6.  Empowerment

This brings us to empowerment.  Empowerment is one of the most beneficial tools that you can ever carry in your leadership toolbox.  Not only is it liberating for the subordinate, but it also encourages them to undertake acts of leadership implied or specified in their newly empowered role!  Empowerment gives your subordinates confidence to make decisions on their own, and to potentially lead others as they develop into young leaders themselves.  Giving a subordinate an element of autonomy greatly assists in their inherent development and maturity in the work force.  If you find that a subordinate is constantly questioning your decisions or leadership motives, perhaps making them a “trusted agent” by empowering them and including them in the solution decision making process is the answer.  Jesus says:

“Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.  Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”  (Luke 10:19-20 ESV)

7.  Empathy

Self-check: is the hammer the biggest and most utilized tool in your leadership toolbox?   If so, you may be missing out on some critical developmental opportunities not only for yourself, but for those that you mentor.  Leading with empathy doesn’t make you soft, it makes you approachable and human.  Have you ever had a boss or mentor that led by fear?  How effective were they and how effective were you in your capacity to complete assigned tasks?  Empathy will encourage your subordinates to be open and honest in a trusted environment without fear of repercussion and will improve and enhance workplace morale.  Having an empathetic boss, or being an empathetic leader reflects Christ in areas where perhaps those attributes are lacking.  Not only are you charged with the knowledge of the walk, but the enactment of the walk.  In one Biblical example, the Apostle Paul compels us to:

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”  (Romans 12:15 ESV)

8.  Identity

First and foremost we must never forget, that our identity does not lie within our vocational position.  While our working role is that of a corporate or military leader, our identity is not found there.  Our identity is not in the clothes that we wear, the watch on our wrist, the car that we drive, our golf swing, our experiences, our mistakes, our successes, or other places where we place our value.  Our identity is only to be found as a true and loving child of the one true living God.  From that, and only that standpoint, can we begin to shape our thoughts, our actions, and our decisions to go forth and embody the attributes of Christ and display for those with whom we come into contact.  As leaders, we are held to a higher regard, which encompasses greater responsibilities, to exude leadership and to lead by example.  As Christ believers and followers, we must consider and give credence to the Lord of Lords, the one who puts breath in our lungs each and every second of every moment of every day. 

Shalom.

5 Ways God Compels Us to Lead

5 Ways God Compels Us to Lead

Coming up through the ranks as a military leader there were, on many occasions, times that I was able to learn from my leaders, my peers, and my subordinates alike.  From each subset of the populous with whom I interacted on a daily basis, I began to formulate my own leadership styles at a very young age.  You see, I learned from all of my leaders, which you would think to be a good thing.  However, there were also occasions where I learned how not to lead.

Marine Drill InstrictorAs a young Sailor I learned a lot about myself.  As subordinate, I learned which traits and mannerisms of my leaders to which I best responded.  There were days that they had to be creative in order to appeal to my motivators in order to obtain the best levels of my work.  My best leaders knew what my motivators were, and managed accordingly.  There were also other leaders who didn’t seem to know or care what motivated me.  As a result my attitude, my morale and of course my quality of work waned.

SEAL TrainingIt was important to me that I was able to see a realistic path to ascend through the ranks.  I held in high regard the office of those appointed over me and endeavored to show the proper respect to those persons who held the office.  So with that, a natural tendency for me at that young age was to emulate the leader(s) that I felt had the best leadership attributes.  These attributes contributed to my daily habits as a sailor, and through my habits, my leadership character was formed.  Along the way, I learned the elements of those attributes and how to apply them in specific situations.

Through my journey up through the ranks, I began to understand and assimilate into my leadership style, those characteristics that were displayed to me not only by men and women in uniform, but by our almighty God.  In fact, when I began to “take it to the book” (the Holy Bible) did I first begin to realize how I was created, for what I was created, and the character that God displayed befor me every step of the way.  God truly leads by example!

1.  Lead by Example

Colossians 3:17 says:  “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Jesus shows us many ways where He presents the theme of leading by example as being at the forefront of His actions!  If you haven’t heard it before, you should hear it now: as a leader, in any capacity, where you have the ability to teach and mentor protégés, they are watching and learning from your every move!  Make no mistake, like little children they are learning from your mannerisms, your speech, your ethics and your values and at each step, they are internally assessing your ability to lead them, in any capacity.  We do it all the time.  How many Pastors have you “sized up” when investigating a new home church?

Paul writes to Timothy: “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”  1 Timothy 4:12 ESV

The Gospel of John says that we’re to be an example in service to each other.

“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”   John 13:12-15 ESV

2.  Be a Servant Leader

“But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  It shall not be so among you.  But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Matthew 20:25-28 ESV

Chief among the attributes of servant leadership, Jesus compels us to put down our pride, and serve each other with grace and empathy.  We have to remember that not only are we in the business of completing well-orchestrated (most of the time) strategic missions, that we’re also in the business of shaping and molding people.  Jesus compels us to serve our brothers and sisters and that through that service, we are providing those within our charge with the best attributes of leadership possible, both morally and ethically.

3.  Lead with Wisdom

Wisdom and discernment come with time, age and experience.  As a young leader, don’t be afraid to plant your flagpole and make a decision.  Subordinates and protégés don’t always benefit from indecision.  However, be deliberate in your decision making methodology, otherwise the ripple effects of your decisions can be impactful in other potentially unforeseen areas.  Take as many factors into consideration as possible before leading the charge in any one direction.  The benefits of your deliberate decision making process will be many.

Proverbs 8:1-36 ESV states, “Does not wisdom call?  Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud:  “To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man. O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense.”

4.  Have Trust

Have trust in those around you, as the camaraderie and bonds that you have formed through your traditions and training will be displayed during the most stressful of times.  In leading young service members individually or collectively, there must be trust among those you empower, to be able to carry out the orders with precision, as they have been trained to do.  Trust in each other, and trust in the Lord.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.  Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.  Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce”  Proverbs 3:5-10 ESV

As Paul again writes to Timothy:

“The saying is trustworthy:  If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.  He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?”  1 Timothy 3:1-7 ESV

5.  Lead with Love

As leaders, whether we’re leading in a military capacity, or as teachers of education, or trainers for our business or our church, or as stay at home parents; the greatest of attributes that we could ever adorn in leadership or other capacities is on distinct display by our Lord and Savior.  Of the many attributes that Jesus teaches us for how to behave and what is most consistent with the expectations that God has for us on this earth, he sums up with two very specific commandments.  They are found within the Gospels, and Matthew tells us this is how the conversation occurred:

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40 ESV

The apostle Paul also gives us, in his letter to the Romans:

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.  Love one another with brotherly affection.  Outdo one another in showing honor.  Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”  Romans 12:9-13 ESV

Lamentation

In early 2009 I was in training with the Navy and in charge of a team of over a hundred Sailors.  Our mission was to conduct detainee operations in a Theater Internment Facility.  This particular mission is highly scrutinized and regulated due to previous transgressions in professionalism and displayed in the media.  The atrocities of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay detainee facilities are images that will reside in my memory for many years to come.

With the unit getting ready to conduct the detainee operations mission for the last time as we would be involved with training Iraqi Corrections Officers to take over the responsibilities, I had many trepidations.  This was my first time conducting this type of work in this type of harsh environment.  I relied on the Lord to carry us through the challenging nature of our assignment.

Lamentation

Lord, my God
Almighty Lord
Savior and healer
You reign
Entirely over the world.
Undaunted
Unwavering
Caring
Loving
All Holy is
Your name.
I take refuge in you.

I implore you!
Oh, Lord
Provide me with strength
Courage
Honor
To embody steadfast
Presence and leadership
To lead your children
Into battle
And harm’s way.

I am just one man
With heavy shoulders
Burdening the lives of many
And responsible for their safety.
Save and deliver me!
Allow me the presence of mind
And of situation.

Provide me with resources
The wherewithal
The training
Tactics
Strength
Courage
Honor
And commitment.

Shield me from my enemies
Who are trained to harm me.

Don’t let me waiver
In strength
Decisions
And leadership.
Do not let me
Compromise integrity
So that those in my charge
Benefit from unity
And solidarity
Of nature.

Hear my plea oh Lord!
I implore you!
Receive my cry!
Shroud me in your glory
Provide promise
And perseverance.

I rely on your grace
Every day
Every hour
Every minute
Every second
In foreign
And domestic lands
So that no harm
Shall fall on me
Or my men.

Let us conduct ourselves
Professionally and ethically
Train our counterparts
To the best of our abilities
Complete the mission
Turn over responsibilities
Return with honor.

I humbly implore you.
Shine your grace
On my mission.
Provide peace
And solace
To a troubled nation
And provide structure
Strength
Prosperity
And persevreence
To their efforts.

Provide for
Our safe return
Our safe passage
Weary and forlorn
To our families
With a sense
Of steadfast accomplishment.

In your hands
I place my mission
I relinquish our future
To carry out
Your wishes.
I am encouraged
By your love
And goodness!
I am emboldened
By your glory!
Ready and willing
To carry out your mission
For me and my men!
I bask in your grace
And thank you
For your love
As all things
Are your Creation.
We move
In your glory.


Christian Military Fellowship

An Indigenous Ministry • Discipleship • Prayer • Community • Support
Encouraging Men and Women in the United States Armed Forces, and their families, to love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

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  • Address:
    PO Box 1207, Englewood, CO 80150-1207

  • Phone: (800) 798-7875

  • Email: admin@cmfhq.org

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