Articles of Faith: Heaven’s View of Labor Day

Labor Day BBQ

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This post is part of our Sunday Series titled “Articles of Faith.”
We investigate leadership lessons from the Bible.
See the whole series here. Published only on Sundays.
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Hard to believe that it is September once again and that tomorrow we mark the unofficial end of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

Labor Day

Tomorrow, of course, is what we call Labor Day in the United States.  Ironically, on a day that celebrates work and labor, most of us enjoy a day off around BBQ grills and swimming pools.  Labor Day, however, is also a great reminder of what makes our world so great — the dedicated, selfless, hard work of millions of men and women day in and day out to their jobs.

Labor Day ReminderMost of these workers are readily engaged in their work and see it as meaningful and fulfilling.  However, many are not.  They are marginally engaged or perhaps disengaged altogether and simply seeking a paycheck.

So, what does Scripture teach us about the meaning of work and how we, as leaders, can help others to find meaning and fulfillment that will last beyond a lifetime?

First Things First

First, we must acknowledge that God expects and rewards the work of man’s hands.  Many of the wise sayings of King Solomon found in Proverbs speak of the honor of hard work or the profound consequences of the absence of work.

Proverbs 12:11 tells us this:

“He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.”

Proverb 13:4 reminds us that:

“The lazy man craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.”

So, we clearly establish that work is honorable before the Lord and He indeed rewards our faithfulness in our work.   Part of our task as leaders is to challenge those we lead to find an eternal value in their work and to understand that in working hard, we fulfill our God-given call on our lives and bring Him glory.

“. . . or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God”  I Corinthians 10:31

Next…

Secondly, we as leaders are charged with helping people to find their greatest fulfillment within the body, whether that be the body of Christ or the organization we lead.

Seats on the BusNearly ten years ago now, Jim Collins first published his bestseller, Good to Great.

In this groundbreaking work, he talks about not only getting the right people on the bus but also getting the right people on the right seat on the bus.  While the book itself was new and innovative, the concept of the right seat is certainly not new.

The apostle Paul addressed this centuries before in his letter to the Corinthian church.  In his lengthy discussion in chapter 12, he calls on the early church to recognize the unique place each member of the group held for the mission of the larger body.

He lays down the foundation for accomplishment, efficiency, and personal fulfillment.

Paul establishes that when each one does his or her own part, the organization (in this case, the church) will achieve exceedingly more than we ever could individually.

And Again…

Again, what is my role as a leader?  In this context, our role becomes guiding people to find the right seat for them that will fulfill their unique call to labor for God.  How do we best do this?  While not specifically Christian in value, here are some guiding principles to consider:

  • Passions
  • Fire
  • Energy
  • Skills
  • Personality
  • Gifts
  • Talents
  • Experiences
  • Values
  • Maturity

One other principle that jumps out of Paul’s writing in I Corinthians is the idea that we, as leaders, must show value to each position and person.

While we are probably most familiar with verses 27-30 of Chapter 12, we often overlook the principles found in the preceding verses.  There, Paul admonishes us to give GREATER honor to those positions we see as less important.  If we want to be maximum impact leaders, we demonstrate that by giving high honor, praise, and recognition to those who labor hard day after day with humility and faithfulness.

Finally

Finally, the buzz in today’s leadership circles is all about employee engagementGallup, Inc. is estimating that employee disengagement is costing the U.S. economy more than $300 billions in lost productivity.

While there are obviously many factors involved, I just wonder how much of this could be saved if we adopted the biblical model of work.

A model that calls for hard work based on an eternal value, the unique design of each employee, and the recognized value of each person within our organizations.

So what is your point of view of those who labor under your authority? Do you honor and praise them and give them recognition when appropriate? Do you also hold them accountable to the larger goals and objectives? Are you the kind of boss that looks to keep your team running smoothly by putting the right people in the right places for the maximum benefit of the group? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Bookmark Articles of Faith: Heaven's View of Labor Day

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Steve Quinn is President of Vital Leadership Consulting
Consultant for leadership development, organizational development and career coaching
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | 678-520-6830

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Articles of Faith: Lessons From the Wilderness

—————————————————————————–
This post is part of our Sunday Series titled “Articles of Faith.”
We investigate leadership lessons from the Bible.
See the whole series
here. Published only on Sundays.
—————————————————————————–

Hey Leader…

  • How did you find yourself in the position of leadership that you are in today?
  • Was it something you strived long and hard to obtain?
  • Are you where are today because someone recognized your extraordinary talent in a technical skill?
  • Perhaps you were put on the leadership fast track at some point in your career?
  • Are you in leadership because of incredible people skills?

As for me, I can honestly say that I never aspired to be a “leader,” but I became one despite my efforts to avoid it.

By  nature, I am a worker bee, never desiring to be on top of any organization.  However, over the past fifteen years, I have been placed in various levels of leadership and have been commissioned to lead a group of highly talented people and teams.

Have I ever felt truly adequate to lead?  Absolutely not!!

Wait, that sounds familiar, like someone I remember from scriptures of old.  Sometimes, we need a burning bush experience to know that we are called to lead.

Moses was a ripe old octogenarian when he was called by God to lead the biggest challenge of his life, one for which he would forever be immortalized.  But, as you may recall, Moses was not particularly eager to take on this task.

Chapters 3 and 4 of the book of Exodus record for us a  man who saw the tasks and challenges ahead of him and tried his best to pass the buck.  God  had placed a divine call on Moses’ life to lead, but Moses did not feel up to the task.  Have you looked ahead and just felt inadequate?  I know I certainly have.  So, what does this story from Scripture have to teach us about leadership and our calling from God?

CALL TO LEADERSHIP IS UNDENIABLE

In Moses’ case, he met an undeniable call from God to lead.  Moses was going about his daily business, perfectly content as a lowly shepherd, when God appeared in the form of bush that was on fire but not being consumed.  He later heard the voice of God calling him to lead the people of Israel.

There are times in life when the call to leadership will interrupt our daily lives and will call us to something far greater than we ever envisioned.  In the case of Moses, the task of leading the Israelites out of bondage and slavery called for a great leader with incredible vision.  God, the Creator of mankind, had found just the man He needed for the task, and He abruptly interrupted his life.  God broke into the routine of Moses’ life and thwarted his plans for a higher calling of leadership.

All too often, it is easy to get comfortable in our routine and to miss the higher calling of leadership.

Leadership requires us to be open to change and open to hearing God’s call to greater responsibility.  If necessary, God will bring circumstances into our lives to cause us to stop and to hear Him clearly.  One thing is certain — God will make our call to leadership undeniable for the purpose of achieving His plans.

LEADERSHIP WILL COST

One of the more intriguing aspects of this story comes at the beginning of Chapter 4 when Moses asks how the people will know that he has been called to lead.  God responds by commanding Moses to throw his shepherd’s staff on the ground.

What I’ve often missed about this exchange is the significance of the staff.

For a shepherd, the staff represents identity as a shepherd, security since the staff was used to fend off predators, and position since the staff was also used to guide the sheep.  In essence, God was telling Moses to let go of his own identity, to throw off his sense of self-security, and to drop any preconceived notion of where the sheep should go.  Leadership, in this story, required Moses to set off in an unknown journey while trusting his Creator to be his guide, his security, and his identity.

What is God calling you to do that is going to cost you everything you hold dear?  What do you need to give up in order to be the leader that God is calling you to be?  Will you trust the call of God to lead and will you follow Him wherever He leads you to lead? I’d love to hear what has been tugging at you!

Bookmark Articles of Faith: Lessons from the Wilderness

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Steve Quinn, President and Consultant with Vital Leadership Consulting, is searching for new clients/opportunities for leadership development, employee engagement, and training facilitation.
He can be reached at  vitalleadership@gmail.com

Image Sources: paintinghere.com, p21chong.files.wordpress.com

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Leadership on the Run

I consider myself to be an amateur runner, albeit you will never see an Olympic medal hanging around my neck.  Usain Bolt has nothing to worry about.  Running for me is about more than the torture it brings to my body.  It is about going where the road takes me, very often into unknown territory.

My running buddy and I rarely go to the same park or trail on consecutive runs.  We love to find a trail and just take off, usually without even checking the trail map to see where it goes.  I must confess that, on more than one occasion, this has turned out to be a less-than-brilliant idea.  We have gotten lost, gone farther than we anticipated, and been caught in hopeless circles. So many times, organizations and their leadership teams resemble my haphazard running strategy.

How many times have you seen organizations, both for-profit and nonprofit, running at full speed with all the vigor they can muster but have no idea where they are headed?

Running Blind

The problem with running without a map is that we cannot know when we have achieved our goal and when to celebrate the victory.  In his book, Seven Practices of Effective Ministry, pastor and author Andy Stanley reminds the reader that it is critical for any organization to take the time to celebrate the win.

But, how do we know if we have scored a run, made a goal, scored a touchdown, or  made a basket? How do we know if we have crossed the finish line at all, much less know if we made our personal best time? Strategic leadership begins with the end in mind.

Leadership requires vision beyond what you can see at the start.

Running with Vision

One of my favorite runs here in the Atlanta area is the US 10 K Classic, run every Labor Day.  Besides being quite hilly, it is 6.2 miles straight down one major road.  You start at Point A and run to the finish line at Point B.  Now, unless you have supernatural vision, you cannot see the finish from the start, so you just start running with the hopes that someone has gone before you and marked the finish line. But who is “that someone?” Who does every follower rely upon to make it to a known ending point?

That someone is the strategic leader with a vision.

You, as the leader that you are destined to be must go ahead of the group, lay out the path, see the finish line, and clearly mark the way for the rest of the team to follow.  Then, and only then, can individual team members recognize the end of their toils and labors and can celebrate the victory of a job well done.

Moving Targets

Personally, I’ve been in too many organizations where a finish line is established or a score is identified, only to have the target move in the middle of the process.  Imagine if, after a race has begun, the race organizer decided to move the finish line out another mile.

How unimaginable would  that be?

Yet, in business, that very thing happens almost daily.

  • Production quotas change
  • Job performance evaluations change
  • Job descriptions change
  • Company strategies change

No wonder so many people are burned out and frustrated.  If we want to see employee engagement soar, help your team to see the finish line through your vision, lead them to that line, and celebrate the win.

Final Thoughts

My running partner often reminds me of an informal slogan from the U.S. Marines.  When I start lagging behind, my partner will slow down with me.

He simply says, “No Marine left behind.”

We start the run together and we finish the run together.  Usually, this will be the incentive I need to press on and to pick up my pace.  Great leaders will set the pace but will adjust that pace as necessary to not leave anyone behind.

A team that runs together celebrates together.

Whether your leadership assignment looks like a one-mile fun run or a full marathon, set your mind on the finish line, rally your team to run alongside you, and run with everything you have in you.  And, oh, don’t forget to enjoy the journey along the way.

How are you doing at setting the vision, the journey, and the pace for your team. How are you handling the bumps, twists, turns, curves, detours, and changes that happen along the way? What are you doing to check your performance as you take others on a journey toward something greater than themselves? I would love to hear your thought!

Bookmark Leadership on the Run

——————–
Steve Quinn, President and Consultant with Vital Leadership Consulting, is searching for new clients/opportunities for leadership development, employee engagement, and training facilitation. 
He can be reached at  vitalleadership@gmail.com

Image Sources: sequenceweb.co.uk, affordablehousinginstitute.org

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