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I hope you have enjoyed the 27 posts I have submitted since last October.  I encourage you to revisit the posts listed below.  I am concluding the posts until September 2015 when I will pick up where I left off.  I would enjoy hearing from you regarding the posts you enjoyed and why they caught your interest.  Until September I bid you farewell.


#1 - Being a Leader

#2 - Leadership

#3 - Finishing Well

#4 - Key Characteristics

#5 - Major Barriers

#6 - Enhancements

#7 - Budding Leaders

#8 - Concerns versus Influence

#9 - Hills to Die On

#10 - Boundary Events

#11 - SMART Goals

#12 - Time Management

#13 - Decision Filters

#14 - Clock or Compass

#15 - Mentoring Insights

#16 - Mentoring Dynamics

#17 - Mentoring Needs

#18 - Mentoring Types

#19 - Mentoring Guidelines

#20 - Mentoring Contract

#21 - Unrealized Potential

#22 - Wise Decisions

#23 - Reframing

#24 - Interview Technique

#25 - Too Much to Read

#26 - Too Little Time to Read

#27 - Reading What Is Important

Leadership and Formation #27: Reading What Is Important

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stick_figure_books_ladder_400_clr_9130.pngThus far we have covered four approaches for Reading on the Run, Continuum Reading Concepts:  scan reading, ransack reading, browse reading, and Pre-reading.  See the last two posts for details on these methods.

The last and more detailed reading methods include In-depth Reading and Studying a Book.

In-Depth Reading

According to J. Robert Clintion (and in his own words) you do an in-depth reading of a book when you have determined from scanning, ransacking, and browsing that it is worth pre-reading and actually reading in-depth.  An in-depth reading of a book is a detailed approach to the evaluation of a book which involves pre-reading followed by detailed reading of all parts of the text in order to affirm, deny or modify the pre-reading analysis and to produce six evaluation statements.

Reading a book is a serious detailed approach to the understanding of what the author is saying.  It is an approach which says the book deserves to be read in a detailed enough way so you are able to give evaluation statements about the book as a whole.  When you have read a book you have an overall grasp of the book and can discuss it motivationally with a potential reader.  You will be able to discuss six kinds of evaluation statements which are described below.  You will have, if appropriate…

  1. Shown where the author is uninformed in his/her writing, (i.e., examples from the book where the author draws conclusions without considering all the facts).
  2. Shown where the author is misinformed in his/her writing, (i.e., instances/examples from the book in which the author draws conclusions based on false information).
  3. Shown where the author is illogical in his/her writing (i.e., examples from the book in which the author uses faulty reasoning in arriving at conclusions).
  4. Shown where the author’s analysis or account is incomplete in terms of his/her statement of purpose in writing the book (i.e., an evaluation of the author’s accomplishment of purpose in writing he book.)
  5. Shown the author’s strengths in his/her writing, (i.e., reference to useful quotations, point out any strong arguments or explanations, and point out concepts which can be transferred to your own experience).
  6. Shown the relevance of the book to today’s needs, (i.e., application to various life-situations to which the book can be applied.  You can point out the kind of reader who will profit the most by the book).

Studying a Book

Studying a book requires the most detailed kind of reading.  Studying a book is a special in-depth approach to the reading of a book which involves pre-reading, reading, and background research on materials and ideas used in the book.  It involves the ability to do comparative evaluation and original research on materials and ideas used in the book.

Six Results

When you have studied a book you will…

  1. Have done the four pre-reading statements.
  2. Have arrived at appropriate evaluation statements from the six evaluation statements normally considered in detailed reading.
  3. Be able to discuss the book analytically with another reader.
  4. Be able to evaluate the other reader’s analysis for clarification, modification, etc.
  5. Have researched original materials quoted in the book for evaluating accuracy.
  6. Be able to compare the book with other books dealing with the same major subject so as to show similarities, differences, unique contributions, etc.

I hope the information on continuum reading concepts will inform your reading practices going forward.  I strongly recommend you acquire this handy guide by purchasing Reading on the Run: Continuum Reading Concepts by J. Robert Clinton, 1999, Barnabas Publishers.  There is much more detail including examples of each reading method as well as feedback on each method.  There is also information in this valuable resource for writing a book review using reading continuum concepts.


Leadership and Formation #26: Too Little Time to Read

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stick_figure_run_clock_400_clr_7435.pngIn the last post I introduced you reading on the run; continuum reading concepts.  Not every word of every book or article requires reading.  What you read and how much you read depends on the material being read.  As J. Robert Clinton declared, “One can read different books (articles) differently and obtain useful information without having to read every word of every book (article)….Continuum reading concepts teach one how to pick and choose which words, paragraphs, pages, chapters and sections are to be read, and how to read them for information without having to read every word.”

Six reading intensities were identified in the last post, the first two of which were explained in greater detail – scanning, ransacking (see the previous post for more detailed information on these first two levels), browsing, pre-reading, in-depth reading, and studying.  Let’s pick up where we left off again in the words of the original author.

Browse Reading

Browsing id dipping into certain portions of a book to study in detail some discussion of a topic in its contextual treatment.  Having scanned a book you may decide that you are relatively familiar with the material and want to explore in some detail a given topic of interest.  Detailed reading of an extended portion (or portions) of a book is what is meant by browsing.  Often you will discover browsing material when ransacking for a new idea (concept, strategy, process, principle, methodology, etc.)

Three Results

When browsing prepare evaluation type questions on a limited portion of the book you are reading organized around the concept, strategy, process, principle, methodology, etc. you are seeking to explore.  The following questions are helpful to browsing…

  • What did the author actually say on the subject of interest?  Resist initially to read into what the author is saying.
  • How well did the author say it (what definitions, examples, figures of speech, cogency of argument, substantiation) was employed?
  • What did the author leave unsaid?  What lingering questions remain in the mind of the reader that should have been addressed?
  • How does what is said by the author compare to what you have read or learned elsewhere? How does the material differ or contrast with what has been said elsewhere?
  • How useful is the information?  What new insights are gained?  What new perspective has been achieved?  How will what has been learned be operationalized?


Pre-reading a book is a special kind of survey of a book which involves drawing implications from various portions of the book as to the thematic and structural intent of the book.  Pre-reading a book indicates a serious intent to understand an entire book.  When you pre-read a book, you are seeking to find out the overall thematic content of the book and to see how the author is structuring the material to develop the thematic intent.

Structural intent refers to a recognition of how the author uses each portion of the book to contribute to the subject or major ideas of the book.

Thematic intent refers to a single statement that weaves together the main subject of the book and each major idea developed throughout the book.

You pre-read a book when in your scanning, ransacking, and browsing you determine that the book is well written and has developed an important topic in and organized manner.  In pre-reading a book, you will be doing your best to identify a single statement of what the author is saying without reading the entire book.  It is a special kind of survey which requires careful thinking and extrapolation based on a limited amount of information.

The skills to do this are developed only with practice.  After you have pre-read several books and then have followed with reading (the entire book) and discovered how well your pre-reading agrees or disagrees with your reading, you will develop skill and confidence in your ability to pre-read.

Four Results

When you have pre-read a book you will have tentative statements describing…

  • The kind of book being pre-read.
  • The author’s intent and methodology.
  • The author’s thesis which involves the major subject and supporting major ideas.
  • The intent of each major section (or minor where necessary) and how they contribute to the thesis statement.

The last two levels (in-depth reading and studying) will be covered in the next post.


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Leadership and Formation #25: Too Much To Read

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sitting_on_books_reading_custom_book_md_nwm.jpg“Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body (Ecclesiastes 12:12).”

Have you ever felt there is not enough time in the day to read what needs to be read?  Emails, postings, articles, studies, and books clamor for our attention.  How can a leader possibly expect to stay abreast of the hurricane of information relevant to one’s calling or profession?

“Leaders need to be able to process large amounts of reading materials since the leadership field is so broad and so much requires comparative skills.”  J. Robert Clinton

My mentor, J. Robert Clinton, introduced me to Continuum Reading Concepts – “useful to direct a reader to process vast amounts of information at some level of acquisition and lesser amounts at more in depth levels of acquisition and evaluation, with an ultimate view of identifying and using concepts in one’s own leadership.”

“Most people learn to read by reading every word on every page.  The Reading Continuum is based on the assumption that one does not have to read every word in order to benefit from the information.  One can read different books differently and obtain useful information without having to read every word of every book.”

Slide1.JPGThe continuum has at the right the most detailed level of reading – called Study.  At the left is the lightest kind of reading called Scan.  In between are various kinds of reading each increasing (in terms of depth, intensity, time invested, amount covered) as one moves to the right.  Each level to the right includes the various features involved in all reading levels to the left.  The ability to read various kinds of books differently is a valuable skill and almost necessity for anyone involved in leadership and leadership training.”

“The Reading Continuum is not related to speed reading skills. Speed reading programs teach one how to rapidly scan words.  A person can be a very fast or very slow reader and still use continuum reading concepts…these concepts teach one how to pick and choose which words, paragraphs, pages, chapters and sections to be read, and how to read them for information without having to read every word.”

Six levels of reading are proposed; scan, ransack, browse, pre-read, in depth reading, and study.  The remarks that follow come directly from Reading on the Run:  Continuum Reading Concepts by J. Robert Clinton (Barnabas Publishers, 1999).

Scan Reading

Scan Reading allows one to survey the potential value of reading a book without having committed to much time to it.  It is the initial approach to reading a book.

Scan reading is an overview approach to reading a book.  This involves a careful reading of the table of contents, introductory information, “dust cover” remarks, along with any information on the author which will allow at least a cursory understanding of what the book is about and how it is organized with a view toward determining what further level along the continuum the book should be read.

Scanning also includes “thumbing” through the book to note any conclusions, summary statements, charts, tables, possibility of useful quotes, illustrations, etc.

Some books can be scanned in as little as 15 minutes.  Some books may take as much as 2 hours.

Six Results

When you have scanned a book you will…

  1. Know who wrote the book.
  2. Have identified the author’s perspective.
  3. Know how the book is organized.
  4. Recognize what the author is trying to accomplish.
  5. Have identified further assessment reading possibilities (ransacking/browsing).
  6. Have made a decision concerning evaluative reading (whether to do: e.g. will do now, will do in future, will not do, decide after ransacking or browsing, which level to do (pre-read, in depth read, or study).

Ransack Reading

When you are relatively familiar with certain topics you may not need to read every chapter in a book but may choose to read very selectively.  That is, you may read given portions to see if they add any new ideas or ideas different than those you are already aware of.

Close Ransacking refers to reading while only looking for a pre-selected topic of interest…refers to rapid reading to compare or contrast what is said with some already known idea or ideas in mind.

Open Ransacking refers to reading while looking for new ideas…refers to rapid reading to see if there is some new idea or new slant on an idea concerning some specific area of interest.

Ransack Reading refers to the technique of looking through a book in order to see what it says concerning a specific topic of interest or combing through a book on relatively familiar material to see if it has any new ideas not known to you.

Six Results

When you have ransacked a book you will have…

  1. Noted a new idea on a pre-selected topic of interest to you.
  2. Noted a contrasting or differing idea on some pre-selected topic of interest to you.
  3. Determined that the book has nothing to add to your pre-selected topic of interest.
  4. Gained something worth noting which is of interest to you on any topic.
  5. Determined that nothing of interest to you can be gained from the book.
  6. Made a tentative decision concerning pre-read, in depth reading, or study (e.g. will do now, will do in future, not necessary to do, decide after ransacking or browsing).

More to follow…Browse, Pre-Read, In Depth Read, and Study.  Stay connected.

Leadership & Formation #24: Interview Techniques

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five_way_puzzle_people_400_clr_4877.pngWhile at General Electric many years ago I was identified as a HiPot (High Potential).  The practice at that time was to select HiPots and send them to GE’s Leadership Development School located in Crotonville on the Hudson for a week if intensive training.  Young managers were invited from GE’s 13 core businesses.  One hundred managers gathered and taught key leadership practices. 

One of the lessons was how to interview potential employees.  Questions were presented under four categories (AAII) and were used to assess candidates:  analytical skills, accomplishments, initiative, and innovativeness.  These questions have served me well over the years.  I have used them repeatedly to assess potential employees.  Not all the questions are asked.  The interviewer selects several under each category.

These questions can also be used to prepare for an interview when you are seeking a position.


Typically, these will be follow-up questions to determine how the candidate thinks through/solves problems.  The problems themselves are best surfaced via other lines of questioning.

  • How did you approach …?
  • Were you able to foresee any of the obstacles you encountered, and if so, what did you do in anticipation of them?
  • When dealing with . . . (situation) . . ., what kinds of information did you seek?  From what sources?  How did you organize it?
  • When planning an approach like . . . (situation) . . ., how do you separate the important from the trivial – how do you set priorities?  What kind of contingency plans do you develop (or how do you develop contingency plans)?
  • When faced with a problem like . . . (situation) . . ., what steps do you typically go through to develop an effective approach?
  • Tell me about (walk me through) your thinking process as you dealt with …


  • When you think about some things you’ve done well over the last (few years/year), what are you most pleased about?  Did that involve other people, or did you do it yourself?  Why do you think you were able to get those results?  What obstacles or problems did you overcome?
  • What was it about doing . . . that gave you particular satisfaction?  What was it that turned you on?
  • How do you compare your accomplishments with those of other people in the same area (class, work group)?
  • Could you describe some of the things you’ve done well during school – as a part of your regular academic program or extra-curricular work?  Were there some obstacles and how did you get around them?  Describe the work or projects that you feel show that you know how to get the job accomplished?
  • What have you learned about your strengths from working on . . .?
  • Did you get any clues about your development needs as a result of . . .?
  • Since we have only a limited amount of time to discuss your strengths, which strengths do you think stand out?
  • Why do you believe you’ve been able to be effective; what personal characteristics/skills/special knowledge has been of particular value?
  • How do you handle obstacles when they get in your way and can you give me some examples of how you did it?
  • For each of the important pieces of your work (of your assignment) would you highlight an activity or accomplishment that would demonstrate your ability to get a job done?
  • How would other people you have worked with describe your accomplishments; how would they describe your strengths and the reasons you have been effective?


Accomplishments that resulted from initiatives will generally be salient and will likely be mentioned.  Probes about how a project got started, etc. will help you get at some of this indirectly.

  • Would you describe a project or activity at school or work where you were responsible for getting the ball rolling?  What was the situation, what did you have to do, and how did people respond?
  • Give me some examples of where you have taken the initiative and what led you to do it?
  • What kind of information do you like to have before you start on a project?  What kinds of sources of such information do you find most valuable or useful?
  • Can you give me an example of a project or activity where you started off by yourself because there was no other interested person or because if you didn’t do it, no one else would?
  • What leadership characteristics do you have – would you describe them and give me some examples of how you have acted on them, or used them? How would others perceive you in this regard?

Initiative frequently is evidenced where someone has to deal with obstacles or make an extra effort to reach an objective. 

  • Why did you continue in the race of . . .?
  • Why did you think it was important to . . .?
  • What was so important about . . . ?


  • Tell me about some of your best ideas and what stimulated them?  How did you develop them and how did you implement them?
  • Tell me about something that you have taken special pleasure in developing, like a new way to do something, a change in a policy or procedure, or a better way to do anything?
  • What kinds of situations prompt you to look for new approaches or better ways of doing things?
  • Could you describe a situation at work or at school where you took a risk?  What prompted you to take the risk, and how did you evaluate it ahead of time?
  • Can you give me some examples of risks you have taken and why you took them? Describe the outcomes.
  • Under what conditions do you take risks in an organizations setting?  What was the biggest such risk you’ve taken in the past year or two, and what was the outcome?
  • What obstacles have you encountered when you tried to improve something or do something differently?  How did you deal with them?
  • When is it appropriate to look for better ways of doing things?
  • Are you more effective when you have a set of procedures to guide you or when you have to develop your own way of doing things?  Can you give me some examples of this?
  • When you started . . . (or, took over such and such) . . . what kinds of changes, if any, did you feel the need to make?  Why did you feel that way, and how did you go about making the changes?
  • At what point do you settle for a solution instead of continuing to look for a better way?
  • What kind of work environments encourage and/or discourage you from exploring new ideas or different way of doing things?

I hope you find these questions helpful as you hone your interviewing technique.

To be continued…

Leadership & Formation #23: Reframing

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door_decision_pc_400_clr_2583.png Every leader seeks to make sense of the world around them through a set of perceptual attitudes more commonly referred to as a worldview.  It is through that lens they view and interpret their surroundings, their relationships, and their perceptions of their observations.  One could say they see the world through a ‘frame.’

While attending Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, Institute for Educational Management, I was exposed to Reframing Organizations by Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal, now in its 5th edition.  This resource is an attempt to consolidate major schools of organizational thought into a comprehensive framework encompassing four perspectives called frames.  The authors suggest that like maps, frames are both windows on a territory and tools for navigation.

This article is longer than my other posts.  I encourage the reader to read it through to completion.  Doing so will result in the addition of a strategy to your leadership toolkit that will make you a more effective leader.


There are four frames:  structural, human resource, symbolic, and political.  Each leader has a default frame through which they process options, alternatives, possibilities, opportunities, choices, and prospects.  What follows is a brief description of each frame in the author’s own words followed by applications derived by my use of the framing structure,

STRUCTURAL – Factory (Architecture)

This frame is all about an organization as a factory.  This frame depicts a rational world and emphasizes organizational architecture, including goals, structure, technology, specialized roles, coordination, and formal relationships.  It is a rational model that simply looks at the facts to determine direction and action.  Such organizations value org charts, allocate responsibilities, create rules, policies, procedures, systems, and hierarchies to coordinate diverse activities into a unified effort.  When something isn’t working some form of reorganization or redesign is needed to remedy the mismatch. GE, GM

HUMAN RESOURCE – Families (Empowerment)

This frame focuses on interpersonal relationships and sees an organization as an extended family, made up of individuals with needs, feelings, prejudices, skills, and limitations.  The key challenge is to tailor the organization to individuals—finding ways for people to get the job done while feeling good about themselves and their work.  Finding the right fit for people, this perspective contends, can only benefit the organization because members of the organization are operating from their ‘sweet spot.’  Microsoft, Google

SYMBOLIC – Temples (Inspiration)

This frame emphasizes ethos, culture, symbols, and spirit as keys to organizational success.  The symbolic lens treats organizations as temples, tribes, or movements.  These ‘cultures’ are propelled by rituals, ceremonies, stories, heroes, and myths rather than rules, policies, and managerial authority.  These organizations are driven by well-established DNA consisting of mission, vision, and values.  Departure from this DNA is tantamount to betrayal.  Everything attempted or envisioned is seen through this DNA with each actor on the stage playing his or her part.  Starbucks, Apple

POLITICAL – Jungles (Advocacy or Political Savvy)

This frame sees organizations as arenas, contests, or jungles.  Parochial interests compete for power and scarce resources.  Conflict is rampant because of enduring differences in needs, perspectives, and lifestyles among contending individuals and groups.  Bargaining, negotiation, coercion, and compromise are a normal part of everyday life.  Coalitions form around specific interests and change as issues come and go.  Problems arise when power is concentrated in the wrong places or is so broadly dispersed that nothing gets done.  Solutions arise from political skill and acumen.  The Apprentice, Survivor

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Leadership & Formation #22: Wise Decisions

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figure_good_choice_400_clr_12897.pngAn ancient writer once said, “Who is like the wise man?  Who knows the explanation of things?  Wisdom brightens a man's face and changes its hard appearance…and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure. For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a man's misery weighs heavily upon him. “

How many ‘wise’ leaders do you know?  When I was executive pastor of a large church in southern California a prominent internationally renowned church leader visited our church.  I asked him what he thought was the biggest problem facing leaders for the foreseeable future. His answer came quickly and consisted of one word - DISCERNMENT!  

How does a leader ‘discern’ the right course of action, decide between two equally viable options, be objectively informed by divergent perspectives, suspend their own predispositions and biases to hear different voices, consult their inner convictions, before making a decision?  To a great degree, their intuition enlightened by insight, will help them make wise decisions.

In my way of thinking, three levels of insight of increasing complexity are possible and used by leaders to make decisions; the information level, the knowledge level, and the wisdom level.

Many of us are living at the information level which is simply the ordered understanding of raw data. We do not give enough time to reflection leading to comprehension. The tyranny of the urgent, the frenzied activity of our daily lives, and the constant bombardment of data (TV, faxes, newspapers, magazines, Internet, e-mail, radio, audio tapes, videos, podcasts, webinars, superficial conversations, etc.) rob us of an ordered analysis of our world. We operate off of sound bites instead of measured and thoughtful examination.

Many others are stuck at the knowledge level, satisfied with the acquisition and accumulation of information ordered in such a way as to produce an intellectual grasp of the essentials, enough to converse intelligently on the subject but little more. We acquire competencies analyzing data and applying rubrics to tease out nuggets that will hopefully propel us into a preferable outcome or attainment of a sought after goal.  The trouble with remaining at this level is that our mental comprehension doesn’t move on to applied wisdom.

We need to move to the wisdom level by prioritizing the acquisition and accumulation of knowledge into wisdom.  Wisdom is an internal quality developed over time, established by a congruent belief system, conditioned by a core value system, informed by an integrated worldview, and honed through experience.  Learned methods, processes, systems, and strategies are the tools we use but it is wisdom that provides discernment in their application.

For instance, the Internet offers access to information on almost every topic imaginable.  Any person can acquire information on a given topic, recast it in their own words, and present the information as if it were their own.  When we process that information, comprehend its significance, visualize its application, and apply that knowledge to events, situations, or circumstances we are operating at a knowledge level.  Weighing the significance of information, analyzing the specifics of a body of information, synthesizing it with other related information, evaluating the importance of the information, and making informed judgments regarding the utility of the information is operating at a wisdom level.

As an example, in Exodus 20 of the Bible we are exposed to information, the existence of 10 commandments.  We develop a knowledge about them when, through study and reflection we comprehend their meaning (i.e., the first 4 commandments address our relationship with God and the remaining 6 commandments address our relationship with others).  Knowledge becomes wisdom when we understand the commandment’s implications to us individually and we personally apply them to our lives as we process them through a belief system that has established our values.

In the popular movie, Jurassic Park, the proprietor of the park, John Hammond presides over a lunch with invited guests who have just witnessed the amazing existence of dinosaurs created in a lab and now roaming the grounds.  John is being criticized by Malcolm, a skeptic who questions the entire enterprise.

MALCOLM:  The problem with scientific power you've used is it didn't require any discipline to attain it.  You read what others had done and you took the next step.  You didn't earn the knowledge yourselves, so you don't take the responsibility for it.  You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you knew what you had, you patented it, packages it, slapped in on a plastic lunch box, and now you want to sell it.

HAMMOND:  You don't give us our due credit.  Our scientists have done things no one could ever do before.

MALCOLM:  Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should.  Science can create pesticides, but it can't tell us not to use them.  Science can make a nuclear reactor, but it can't tell us not to build it!

In summary then, information is the ordered understanding of raw data. Knowledge is meaning derived through study, reflection and comprehension. Wisdom is knowledge applied based on one’s core beliefs and values. There is a vast distance between having a knowledge about something and having a personal knowledge of something.  The bridge from one to the other is wisdom.

What level of insight do you employ?

How would your associates view you?

What informs and conditions your thought process?

How discerning are you?

What sources and resources do you use to make decisions?

What ethical system influences your decisions?


To be continued…

Leadership & Formation #21: Unrealized Potential

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stick_figure_popping_out_of_a_present_400_clr_13393.pngOne of the primary functions of a leader is to develop those under their charge.  Keen powers of observation are necessary to uncover the potential within another person.  Knowing someone’s potential and helping them realize their potential is one of the most rewarding experiences a leader can have.

When observing someone who reports to you or is within your sphere of relationships or influence a leader should pay attention to strengths, limitations, and weaknesses.  Intentional assessment of these areas will reveal a person’s potential.  The goal at this point is to encourage that person to explore their potential and come to a realization that they have a greater capacity and capability then they may realize.

A person’s strengths are comprised of an amalgamation of their spiritual gifts, natural abilities, acquired skills, personality temperament, core values, discovered axiomatic operating principles, experience, and worldview.  The configuration of these elements, the dominance of these factors, and the ways which they are applied to events, circumstances, and situations make each individual jut that; individually unique.

Although there exists a wide variety of instruments designed to reveal the many dimensions that make us human; observation of a person in a variety of settings will yield a relatively accurate picture of their God-ordained design, what they offer, and how they can make their greatest contribution to a team, a vision, an objective, or a goal.

Limitations are not weaknesses.  Limitations include one area that cannot be mediated and two that can.  A person may not have the aptitude demanded of the responsibility they have been given.  For instance, if they are put in charge of finances for a project and are required to manage a complex budget yet they have no aptitude for numbers or financial structures they may be doomed to failure.  The toe other areas include experience and training; both of which can be mediated by providing opportunities to gain experience or acquire the training necessary for success.  So, aptitude, experience and training and the lack thereof is not a weakness; it is a limitation.

A weakness may be a character flaw, a compromised work ethic, a poor attitude or the like.  These ‘weaknesses’ may also be mediated but will more than likely take time and patience before a person can conquer these inadequacies.  As a leader, manage, or supervisor, you may not have the time to do so especially when a short project deadline looms over the team.

Two factors repeatedly prevent someone from realizing their full potential – competence and confidence.  Because of legitimate limitations or weaknesses such as a lack of discipline, a person may experience varying degrees of performance that may adversely impact their competence and confidence thereby affecting the subsequent successful completion of assigned tasks.

So, developing your powers of observation can facilitate your ability to accurate assess someone’s strengths, limitations, and weaknesses.  What will become apparent is and understanding of the unrealized potential resident in an individual.  Strategies can then be formulated to help them engage their unrealized potential so that they can enjoy new opportunities to exercise their new found awareness.  They may be hesitant at first to explore their potential for fear of failure or simply because of unfamiliarity.  The leader may have to exert their influence as a sage on the stage or a guide by the side until the person is more comfortable in the exercise of their potential. 

A leader may have to adjust their leadership style to accommodate the ability (competence) and readiness (confidence). 

If the team member is unable and unwilling or insecure they may have to be directed and shown specifically how to accomplish the task, objective, or role.  In this case the leader simply describes the steps necessary to effectively and efficiently complete the task, objective or role.

If the team member is unable but willing or confident the leader might have to coach them through encouragement, empowerment, or exhortation.  The leader may still make the final decision but explains the rationale to the team member for learning purposes

If the team member is able but unwilling or insecure the leader may have to shift from a sage on the stage to a guide by the side where the team member is given the opportunity to make the decision with guidance and encouragement from the leader.

If the team member is able and willing or confident the leader should delegate responsibility to the member, observe their performance, and offer timely advice and suggestions as needed or requested.

The reader may recognize this adaptable leadership style as situational leadership.  One caution is needed at this point.  One’s potential has a boundary.  The worst thing a leader can do is to promote the notion that team members can dos anything they set their mind to doing if they are committed and disciplined.  That, frankly, is not true.  A team member can do what they have the capability and competence to do.  Forcing someone beyond their capability and competence will only break their spirit.

People should not be treated as tools or functionaries but valuable resources imbued by his or her Creator to contribute in significant ways to worthwhile endeavors.  Helping people realize their God-given potential can only help and organization to reach seemingly impossible dreams.

More on this subject will follow…


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Leadership & Formation #20: Mentoring Contract

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stick_figure_holding_letter_x_400_clr_7741.pngThis final post on mentoring addresses the specifics that must be thought through before a mentoring relationship is established.  These items should be considered regardless of whether you intend to mentor someone or be mentored by someone.  They help to frame the relationship in terms of expectations and accountability.  When you seek a mentor it would be helpful to think through these items to help define the rules of engagement.

Your prospective mentor may not go to this detail but you should.  If you mentor someone, you should come to conclusions on each of the ten issues that follow so that the parameters of a successful encounter are established in advance and in accordance with your preferences. 

You can also use the list that follows as talking points in your initial interview with a prospective mentoree or mentor.

Jointly agree on the purpose of the relationship.

(Present the objective(s) for the mentoring relationship.  Determine the type of mentor needed.  Identify the area(s) that need to be addressed.) 

Set the criteria for evaluation.

(What will a successful outcome look like?  How will you know the objective(s) have been accomplished?  Have the mentoree describe what they hope to accomplish.)

Determine the regularity of interaction.

(Should be a minimum of twice a month.  Could be more depending on the needs of the mentoree and the availability of the mentor.  Should begin as a 3-month trial.)

Determine accountability parameters.

(Honesty, vulnerability, accountability and whatever else is required by the mentor and agreed upon by the mentoree.  What accountability parameters will be applied?)

Set up communication mechanisms.

(Email, phone, face-to-face, Skype, etc. —whichever is the most convenient.  At least one face-to-face meeting is required per month in addition to second or additional meetings by phone and/or email.)

Clarify the level of confidentiality.

(What is shared on a personal level must remain confidential unless it is of a legal nature (i.e., abuse of any kind, a crime, etc.)

Set the life cycle of the relationship.

(Three months for a preliminary timeframe at the end of which each of you should evaluate the relationship.  If you are in agreement to continue set an end date not to exceed 6 additional months—a total of 9 months).

Evaluate the relationship from time to time.

(Recommend an evaluation every two to three months). 

Modify expectations to fit the real-life mentoring situation.

(If an issue or concern arises that needs more focused attention the mentor and mentoree should decide whether the parameters of mentoring need to be changed).

Bring the mentoring relationship to a close.

(Celebrate the completion of the journey.  Have the mentoree write about the experience and what was accomplished).

I hope this post and the posts on mentoring have been helpful to you in formulating your plans to be mentored and to mentor others.  Mentoring was obviously a subject or great interest to many of you.  Remember, those who finish well have had anywhere from 10 to 15 significant mentors in their life (intensive/intentional, occasional, and passive).

To be continued with a new subject area…


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Leadership & Formation #19: Mentoring Guidelines

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figure_walking_into_sunset_400_clr_14043.pngBefore you can find personal mentors, you must first determine your mentoring needs and their priority.  Two arenas must be considered when determining your personal mentoring needs.  

One has to do with your beingness – the ‘energy’ that will supply the fuel you will need to fulfill your developmental goals.  In other words, what activities will provide the resources needed to reach your objectives?  What resources will provide power and strength to attain your goals?  As said in an earlier post; competencies are the tools of effective leadership but character is the power of effective leadership.

The second area has to do with your doingness – your growth goals for your work and calling; your developmental goals that will provide the tools you need to succeed.  In other words, what competencies and skills are needed for you to succeed?  What barriers to your advancement must be addressed so that you can realize your dreams?

In summary, life development goals (beingness) and professional development goals (doingness) must be considered and prioritized before you can answer the following questions.  Answers to the questions that follow will determine the effectiveness and parameters in any mentoring relationship.

  • What do I look for in a mentor?
  • What must I be willing to contribute to the mentoring relationship?
  • How do I find a mentor?

Let’s begin…

What do I look for in a mentor?

2 Timothy 2:2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.

Look for mentors who will be…

  • Honest with you.
  • A model for you.
  • Deeply committed to you.
  • Open and transparent with you.
  • A teacher.
  • One who believes in your potential.
  • One who can help you plan and turn your dream into reality.
  • Successful in your eyes.
  • Open to learning from you as well as teaching you.
  • Willing to stay primarily on your agenda, not their own.
  • One who will hold you accountable.
  • One who will be available to you.

What must I be willing to contribute to the mentoring relationship?

Am I …

  • Easy to believe in?
  • Easy to like and spend time with naturally?
  • Easy to keep helping?
  • Responsive and teachable?
  • One who will respect my mentor?
  • Self-motivated?
  • Willing to be honest?
  • Willing to be vulnerable?
  • Willing to be held accountable?
  • Willing to be committed to being mentored?

How do I find a mentor?

  1. List your mentoring needs
  2. Prioritize your mentoring needs for the next 12 months.
  3. Identify the type of mentor you need.
  4. Pray and ask for God’s leading for a mentor.
  5. Brainstorm possible candidates within your sphere of relationships.
  6. Brainstorm possible candidates outside your sphere of relationships.
  7. Seek advice and input from leaders you respect.
  8. Contact potential mentors and schedule an initial meeting.
  9. Lay out your mentoring needs and why you chose them as a potential mentor.
  10. Identify your preferable outcomes in a mentoring relationship.
  11. Outline what you will contribute to the mentoring relationship.
  12. Suggest a 3-month trial with the possibility of termination or continuance.

To be continued…

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Leadership & Formation #18: Mentoring Types

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figure_line_standout_400_clr_14429.pngWhat type of mentor do I need?

One size does not fit all.  The mentor you need depends on the area of your life that needs a mentor.  Once you have determined your mentoring needs you are ready to seek out the type of mentor you need.  Sometimes you need a Sage-on-the Stage and at other times you need a Guide-by-the-Side.

God will provide a mentor in a specific area of need for you if you trust Him for one and you are willing to submit and accept responsibility.

Determining the type of mentor you need depends entirely of your need.  Perhaps the following questions will clarify the type of mentor you may need…


Intentional/Intensive Mentors provide formal mentoring often using prescribed material directed to establishing foundations of one sort or another.

Do you need to establish the basics of following Christ and the foundations of the faith?  If so, you need a DISCIPLER.

A Discipler is a more experienced follower of Christ who shares with a newer believer the commitment, understanding, and basic skills necessary to know and obey Jesus Christ as Lord.

Do you need someone to hold you accountable, help you with decisions, spiritual growth, or inner-life motivations?  If so, you need a SPIRITUAL GUIDE.

A Spiritual Guide is a godly, mature follower of Christ who shares knowledge, skill, and basic philosophy on what it means to increasingly realize Christlikeness in all areas of life.

Do you need someone to motivate and encourage you, to help you with spiritual disciplines that will give you the ability to operate at your designed capacity or to meet a task or challenge?  If so, you need a COACH.

The Coach’s central thrust is to provide motivation and impart skills and application to meet a task or challenge…a mentor who knows how to do something well and imparts those skills to a mentoree to learn them.


Occasional mentors provide non-formal mentoring based on a specific need for a period of time necessary to master that need.  Materials used will be specific for that need.

Do you need someone who can impartial provide perspective and timely advice for relationships and life’s circumstances.  If so, you need a COUNSELOR.

The central thrust of a Counselor is the impartation of wise counsel and wisdom on the mentoree’s view of self, others, circumstances and events, and vocation.

Do you need someone to impart knowledge and understanding on a given topic or range of issues?  If so, you need a TEACHER.

The central thrust of a Teacher-mentor is to impart knowledge and understanding of a particular subject.

Do you need someone to provide career guidance, organizational protection, access to key networks, resource support, or advocacy within an organization?  If so, you need a SPONSOR.

A Sponsor is a mentor who has credibility and positional or spiritual authority within and organization or network who will enable development of the mentoree and the mentoree’s influence within and organization or community.


Passive mentors provide informal mentoring through something written, something spoken, or something produced such as books, tapes, podcasts, etc.  The purpose of this mentoring is to inspire, encourage, and provide a catalyst for change.  More than likely, these mentors are not personally involved with the mentoree; their influence is experienced indirectly through recorded tapes (audio or visual), books they have written, or presentations they have made to larger audiences which you attend.  Some of these mentors may longer be living but their works live on by what they left.

Do you need someone who provides an example and model for godly living, expertise in a competency or skill, or principles and values that serves to empower others?  If so, you need a CONTEMPORARY or HISTORICAL MODEL worth emulating.

A Contemporary (living) or Historical (deceased) Model Is a person whose life or vocation is used as an example to indirectly impart skills, principles, values, and practices that empower another person.

Are you in need of the quiet voice of God in your life that offers a timely word for you at critical junctures in your life?  If so, be open to a DIVINE CONTACT form the Lord.

God sends us a Divine Contact at critical junctures in our life when immediate insight or a word from the Lord is needed or when a seed needs to be planted in our heart and mind that will serve some future purpose or design of God.

Hebrews 13:7-8 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

In summary, it is important to determine the category of mentor you need; intentional/intensive, occasional, or passive.  More specifically, determine the type of mentor that will be effective in helping you address you specific need.  Passive mentors will be acquired over time and may augment a face-to-face mentor you might engage. 

To be continued…


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Leadership & Formation #17: Mentoring Needs

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What’s on your bucket list?  What do you want to accomplish before you die? Here is my List…

  • Learn to use a kayak really well.
  • Fly fish in Montana.
  • Buy a cabin in northern Minnesota.
  • Tour Scotland’s highlands.
  • Retire in Ireland.
  • Take a course at Oxford University in England.
  • Take a month-long walking tour across northern England.
  • See my grandsons grow up to be men after God’s heart.
  • Live a legacy worth leaving in the lives of others.
  • Crash through the Gates of Heaven, utterly exhausted having left everything on the field of engagement.

figure_vaulting_over_bar_400_clr_14025.pngWhat does it mean to FINISH WELL?  My mentor, J. Robert Clinton describes the characteristics of finishing well…

Finishing Well:  refers to reaching the end of one's life, having been faithful to the calling God has placed upon that about Christ followers being more passionate about Christ and His mission as they fulfill their life purpose than they were at the beginning.  It also entails a life that experiences the depth of God's grace and is living out one's destiny and the making of one's unique and ultimate contribution in expanding God's Kingdom.  (J. Robert Clinton - Leadership Emergence Theory)

To take a journey, especially over unfamiliar terrain, we need a GUIDE; someone who is familiar with the landscape who can help us arrive at our desired objective.  Taking a journey alone over treacherous or difficult territory can be frustrating, anxiety producing, hazardous, and even dangerous if we don’t know what we’re doing.  More specifically, we need mentors to guide us.

Some of us long to be mentored because we feel the hole in our soul.  We know instinctively that if we keep doing the same thing in our lives the result will be the same thing. 

Some of us know exactly what our mentoring needs are.  Others of us haven’t got a clue – we just know we need help.  Still others of us have multiple mentoring needs but haven’t determined the highest priority. 

One of the jobs of the Holy Spirit is to counsel us, to provide direction, to teach us.  If you are unclear about the mentoring area seek His counsel through prayer.  You might pray something like this…

Mentally project yourself to a preferable future.  What does it look like?  Does it serve God’s redemptive purposes?  Is it God-honoring?  Does it align with God’s wiring of you?  Come back to the present and look for mentors that will help you reach your preferable future.

These QUESTIONS will help you determine your mentoring needs.

  • What are you doing now you need to KEEP doing (but do better)?
  • What are you doing now you need to CHANGE doing?
  • What are you doing now you need to STOP doing?
  • What are you not doing now you need to START doing?

Perhaps you need a mentor to help you become a better person, a better husband, a better father, a better friend, or a better employee. 

Perhaps you need a mentor to help you learn the basics of the faith and what it means to be a Christian.

Perhaps you need a mentor to help you with a sin pattern or a stronghold of the Enemy that continually defeats you.

Perhaps you need a mentor to help you master a particular competency or life skill.

Perhaps you need a mentor to help you realize your God-given potential.

Perhaps you need a mentor to open up new networks of relationships.

Perhaps you need a mentor to help you grow spiritually.

Perhaps you need a mentor to help you with life management.

What are your mentoring needs?

Who within your sphere of relationships could help you with those needs?

Do you need an INTENSIVE mentor who will help you establish key foundational building blocks?

Do you need an OCCASIONAL mentor who will help you deal with a particular need?

Who are your PASSIVE mentors who inspire and encourage you?

To be continued…


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Leadership & Formation #16: Mentoring Dynamics

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stick_figure_hardhat_tighten_bolt_400_clr_8563.pngAs mentioned in the previous post leaders who have finished well have had from 10 to 15 mentors in their life.  Of those that do other individuals helped them in timely situations along the way and significantly enhanced their development.

It may be helpful to discuss a few mentoring concepts and principles first.

Mentoring Definition

Mentoring is a relational process in which a mentor, who knows or has experienced something, transfers that something (resources for wisdom, information, experience, confidence, insight, relationships, status, etc.) to a mentoree, at an appropriate time and manner, so that it facilitates development or empowerment.

Succinct Definition:  Mentoring is a relational experience through which one person empowers another by sharing God-given resources.

The term ‘mentor’ has an interesting origin.  In the Illiad, Odysseus, better known as Ulysses by the Romans much later, contracts his ‘wise and trusted counselor’ as a tutor for his son, Telemachus before leaving on a long journey lasting 20 years.  This journey was precipitated by the kidnapping of Helen by Paris, the son of the King of Troy.  The name of his tutor was Mentor.  Mentor's name – with a lower-case "m" – has passed into our language as a shorthand term for wise and trusted counselor and teacher.

Mentoring Contributions  

To finish well we will need from time to time a guide-by-the-side or a sage-on-the-stage; someone to help us navigate our journey, help us avoid dangerous pitfalls, hold us accountable, or provide a resource such as…

  • Wisdom and discernment…
  • Life experience…
  • Timely advice…
  • Competencies and skills…
  • Life principles…
  • Important values and lessons…
  • Direction and guidance…
  • Support and encouragement…
  • Sponsorship and networking…
  • A kick in the seat of the pants!

Mentoring Categories

There are basically three categories of mentors:  Intensive Mentors; Occasional Mentors, and Passive Mentors.

Intensive Mentoring is generally a formal process often using a prescribed curriculum or resource to build essential foundations into the life of the mentoree.  The process is more regimented and has a clear objective that will ultimately provide a basic platform for operation.

Occasional mentoring is a non-formal process that tailors the mentoring relationship to address a specific need or needs.  Once the need is addressed the mentoring ceases.  The need could be mastery of a particular competency, a problem to resolve, a weakness to eliminate, a skill to acquire, a network to access, or a sponsorship to seek.

Passive mentoring is an informal process that is initiated by the mentoree looking for inspiration, knowledge or wisdom from contemporary or historical models.  The resources provided by these ‘models’ may consist of books to read, workshops to attend, seminars to participate in, websites to search, podcasts to watch, webinars to attend, or audio tapes to listen to.  The mentoree will have little to no face-to-face contact with a person.  The passive mentor may be in fact deceased.  But these mentors, contemporary or historical, address a fundamental concern or growth requirement.

Why consider being mentored or mentoring others? 

  • People are longing for their story to be heard and their life to be shaped.
  • It is one of the most effective ways to change lives.
  • It provides an avenue for passing on what we have learned.
  • It is one of the most effective ways to shape a person’s character.
  • It can be a significant means to facilitate leadership development.
  • It is essential to finishing well as a leader.

To be continued…

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Leadership & Formation #15: Mentoring Insights

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reading_to_child_400_clr_9043.pngMy mentor, J. Robert Clinton, author of Leadership Emergence Theory, conducted extensive research on how a leader is developed.  Using grounded theory methodology he and his team studied the lives of biblical, historical, and contemporary leaders.  3800 case studies have been amassed.  One of the key findings is that very few leaders finish well.   Those who have finished well have had 10 to 15 significant mentors in their lives.

Not too long ago I was interviewed on the subject of mentoring.  The interviewer knew I was committed to mentoring others.  He himself had benefitted from mentoring.  Three questions were asked of me.

What advice would you give to someone who is looking for a mentor?

  • Read Connecting by Stanley and Clinton. This resource provides excellent guidance in finding a mentor.
  • Identify the issue, area, or concern you hope a mentor will be able to address.
  • Determine what type of mentor you need (discipler, spiritual guide, coach, counselor, teacher, sponsor, or passive mentor - someone who can provide needed resources from a distance).
  • Determine what will comprise your view of a successful outcome. What objectives do you hope to reach?
  • Prepare a single page document outlining your mentoring need, the type of mentor you seek, what you will provide in the relationship (i.e., your commitment, what you will provide in the relationship, your teachability and willingness to take direction,
  • Look for someone who has demonstrated expertise in your area of need.
  • Meet with the potential mentor and pursue establishing a 3-month mentoring relations, at the end of which both of you can decide to continue or terminate the relationship.
  • Seek advice from trusted advisers regarding their mentor recommendations.
  • Be willing to engage the journey and leave the destination to God.

What red flags do you see that would lead you to say no to investing in someone?

  • Lack of clarity regarding their need for mentoring.
  • Unwillingness to be held accountable.
  • Too many verbal conditions or reservations.
  • Lack of follow through with an initial assignment meant to test their commitment.
  • Argumentative spirit, arrogance, defensiveness, or otherwise poor attitude.
  • Resistance to advice or counsel.
  • Victim mentality that sees no hope of victory.
  • Someone who wants association without responsibility.

Your recent book Setting Your Course is about helping people live focused lives. Why this book? Where are leaders missing it?

Many leaders live unfocused lives with little intentionality, reacting to circumstances, bouncing from one crisis to another, and living a life of mediocrity. Situational lifestyles are adopted to make one’s way forward – patterns of avoidance, reaction, transference, indecision, and obsession – all motion with little forward progress. Coming to clarity regarding your divinely ordained wiring will help a leader move from scattered engagement to laser beam focus. A calibrated compass tuned to the heart of God (beliefs, values, attitudes, and motives) will help a leader understand and navigate the unique terrain of their journey (biblical purpose - beingness, life purpose - doingness, committed passion - focus of engagement, role boundaries - supporting context, unique methodologies - your tool kit, and ultimate contribution - the aroma you will leave when God calls you home. Finding guides by the side will help a leader reach his or her destiny. The book provides a framework for developing a Focused Life Plan consisting of a compass – personal alignment plan, map – personal life mandate, and guide – personal mentoring strategy. The compass provides direction, the map provides the journey we are to take, and the guide provides assistance to reach our God-ordained destiny.

To be continued…

Leadership & Formation #14 – Clock or Compass

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Leadership & Formation #13: Decision Filters

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holding_on_to_principles_pc_400_clr_3543.pngA leader’s beliefs and values will affect their judgment and behavior regardless of protestations otherwise!

This is the season for hopeful politicians to showcase their wares in anticipation of being elected to office.  In the midst of the blather we are subjected to on news channels with growing frequency we hear a common pronouncement of the values they hold.   Much of the rhetoric seeks to create a bond with the voters by suggesting that the politician identifies with and shares common values with the masses who he or she hopes will elect them over other candidates.

Just because a person declares a value set similar to your own you cannot assume they are the same.  For instance, let’s say the candidate espouses a value for ‘family’.  Sounds good but what does the person really mean? Or let’s say a leader stresses the value of ‘integrity’.  We may think we know what is meant but we can’t be sure.  Just because the term used to express a value is the same, the expression and outcome may be entirely opposite to our expectations.  Why is that?

When a person says that they will suspend their personal beliefs or values to govern effectively they are portraying an impossible scenario.  No matter how hard one tries he or she cannot divorce themselves from their inner convictions and beliefs.  They can mask them, they can hide them, they can try to suspend them but they will not be able to remove their influence. What we truly believe (trust in, rely on, cling to) establishes our values (what we esteem).  Our beliefs and values are a fundamental part of our intellectual, emotional, and spiritual makeup and wiring.

So, simply declaring a value is not significant in and of itself.  Declaring what gives rise to and influences one’s values is significant.  We can envision the behavior produced by a declared value when we consider what gives life to that value for the one expressing it.

I have yet to hear a journalist press a politician to explain what they mean about a value they say they hold.  More significantly, I have yet to hear a reporter ask a variation of the following question?   

What informs, conditions, and establishes the values you say you hold?

In the spirit of full disclosure I have personally chosen Jesus Christ and the Bible to be my authority for faith and practice.  When I allow something else to creep in and unseat this authority the decisions I make and the behavior produced is inconsistent with what I say I believe.  Competing authorities will always be there.  I must decide what will rule my beliefs, values and behavior on a daily basis.

In its most simple form values are the hills you are prepared to die on, the principles you intend to live by, the filter through which decisions are processed and made.  Every decision we have made, are making, or will make is based on the values we hold, whether or not we can articulate them.

For many of us, our system of values is an unordered set of qualities often in conflict with one another. One day, we make a decision of merit; the next day, a bad decision with negative consequences. For still others, the consistency of the decisions they make may indicate a congruent system of values.

Like beliefs, values can be aspirations rather than observable realities in our lives. Men and women often ask me to mentor them. They know I am big on values, so they often begin their comments by stating their values. I listen intently and respectfully. I then ask them the following question: “What decision have you made or what action have you taken within the last three months that gives evidence of the values you say you hold?” Many of them cannot give me any examples. This is due to the fact that the values they say they hold may simply be an interest, preference, or affirmation but not an actionable commitment as yet.

The most important question to ask however, is what stands in the privileged vantage point of authority over your values?  Whatever stands in a position of authority over one’s value system will determine the quality and substance of the behavior it produces. 

For instance, a Christian can have a value for truth—and so can a humanist or atheist. What that value produces in one’s behaviors will more than likely be different from the others. A Christian’s underlying belief may be that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and if he holds to His teaching, he will know the truth, and the truth will set him free. His behavior has the focus of living by God’s truth, instead of the world’s truth. For the humanist, having a value for truth may be favorable for business or the esteem of respected colleagues. The practice of truth for the atheist may be to promote his or her beliefs as the only truth. So you see, what informs your values makes all the difference.

When values are loosely acquired without attention to any ordering structure or congruent belief system, the values can produce conflictive results—they may be inconsistent from one day to the next depending on the circumstance or the situation. 

Many authorities compete for influence over our values including tradition, heritage, experience, convention, culture, some ideology or philosophy, our faith, or some “-ism” such as postmodernism, Marxism, capitalism, socialism, humanism or a combination of some or all of them.

Some of us are unclear about our values.  Answers to the following questions might clarify your values.

  • What is it that I treasure so highly that I am irritated when other people don’t also treasure it?
  • What are the things I respect so deeply that I tend to be resentful of those who treat them with disrespect?
  • If I knew that I had six months to live, what would become the most important to me? What would become unimportant to me?
  • What core value(s) do I hope my children will adopt?

If it were possible to follow you around without being noticed for the next three months, I would be able to tell you what you truly valued. Your behavior over time would reveal your values. If I could talk to people close to you—a wife or a husband, a brother or a sister, a father or a mother, or a close friend—and I asked them what your values are, they could probably tell me. If I were to ask your work associates what you valued, they could probably tell me.

I often give an exercise to the people I mentor. I instruct them to meet with their spouse or loved one or someone who really knows them. They are to assure that person that there will be no argument with or consequences to his or her response when they ask this person the following question: “Based on your observations of my behaviors over time, what would you say are my values?”

Acting on one’s values over an extended period of time will embed them in your spiritual DNA.  When that happens they cease to be a value to be cultivated, they become a virtue that marks your character.  You operate from them without much thought because they are now an integral part of who you are.

What informs, conditions, mediates, and establishes your value set will determine the nature, quality, and substance of the behavior it produces. 


Are your values an aspiration or an operational commitment?

What informs and conditions the values you say you hold?

What provides consistency, coherence, and congruence to your value system?

What organizes and prioritizes your values?

What would your loved ones, work associates, friends (and enemies) say you value?

How do the values you say you hold inform what you do?


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Leadership & Formation 12: Time Management

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Do you live your life by the clock or the compass?  Is the frenzied activity of your life reactive or proactive?  Are you in control of your schedule or does your schedule control you?  The following ancient scriptures help to frame our discussion today.

“Be careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”  Ephesians 5:15-16 

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”  Psalm 90:12

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”  James 4:13-17

What problems are you having with personal time management?  What percentage of time is controllable and uncontrollable?  What’s your biggest time wasting activity?  As you think of your team members what are the biggest time wasters?  What do you wish you had more time to do?

Steven Covey popularized a matrix depicting four types of activity.  Quadrants I, III, and IV are REACTIVE activities while quadrant II is proactive.  Too much time spent in I, III and IV results in a fast moving, treadmill existence.   Spending sufficient time in II limits and controls the effects of the other quadrant activities.  Activities in this quadrant are PROACTIVE in nature. 

 Slide3.JPGIf we spend too much time in Quadrant I we are susceptible to stress, burnout, crisis management, and always putting out fires.  This quadrant includes our normal responsibilities, obligations, and duties.  It also includes crises of our own making such as situations where a decision was needed but put off.  Now we have many other decisions we have to make because we didn’t make the critical decision initially.


Too much time spent in Quadrant III results in short-term focus, crisis management, reactive leadership, little time or patience for goals and plans, feeling victimized, feeling out of control, and produces shallow or broken relationships.  This quadrant often contains other people’s crises that we assume or are triangulated in on because of their failure to complete assigned tasks we oversee.

Too much time spent in Quadrant IV results in total irresponsibility, being replaced or fired from jobs, and an unhealthy dependence on others or institutions for basics.  We escape to this quadrant when quadrants I and III become overwhelming.  Too much time in this quadrant makes us susceptible to unhealthy activities and dysfunctional behavior.

When sufficient time is spent in Quadrant II the results are quite different:  vision, perspective, centeredness, discipline, few crises, and control.   Covey states that “In a successful company 20-25% of time is spent on Quadrant I activities, just 15% of time on urgent but not important (Quadrant III) activities, and 65-80% of time on Quadrant II activities. Quadrant II activities - important but not urgent activities, are present wherever success is present.”  Spending appropriate time in this quadrant will control the unrealistic demands or negative influence of Quadrants I, III, and IV.

As indicated earlier, Quadrants I, III, and IV are reactive in that we are reacting to people, events, and circumstances.  Only Quadrant II is proactive.  But because it is important but not urgent we tend to put off these activities for another day, week, month or year.  Making Quadrant II a high priority will, in effect, control the ‘size’ and ‘influence’ of Quadrants I, III, and IV.

I strongly recommend that you conduct a personal audit of how you spend your waking moments each day.  Regardless of the type of calendar you use to keep track of your time I suggest you track the use of your time for at least a week.  I recommend the follow color scheme.

Slide8.JPGFor activities that fall in Quadrant I highlight them in GREY on your calendar.  For activities that fall in Quadrant III highlight them in YELLOW on your calendar.  For activities that fall in Quadrant IV highlight them in RED on your calendar.  Finally, for activities that fall in Quadrant II highlight them in GREEN on your calendar.  If you do want to highlight your activities in colors simply put the appropriate descriptor (QI, QII, QIII, or QIV) next to the activity.

At the end of the week, analyze how you spent your time.  You may be surprised with the results.  Remember, Quadrant II activities are intentional choices we make but are often neglected because of the tyranny of the urgent.  We desire to be proactive with our lives but instead, spend the majority of our time reacting to life or the demands of our responsibilities and obligations.  By devoting time in Quadrant II you will find that you are moving from a desperate attempt to maintain balance to one of centered living.


How much time are you spending (in a given week) in each quadrant

What percentage (%) of time is spent in each quadrant?

What activities are you engaged in waste time or are not healthy?

What changes must take place if you are to manage your time more effectively?

What kinds of activities will you prioritize for Quadrant II?

Leadership & Formation #11 – SMART Goals

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Posted by greg

Goals.jpgThe only time you are guaranteed a 100% success rate is when you aim at nothing – you are destined to reach it; nothing. Effective and efficient planning and implementation of key objectives be they annual, trimester or quarterly will help ensure that a leader makes meaningful progress and reaches their outcomes

In strategic or tactical planning we brainstorm a preferable future by seriously considering the implications of the following questions…

  • What are we doing now we need to KEEP doing, but do better?
  • What are we doing now we need to CHANGE doing if we are to succeed?
  • What are we doing now we need to STOP doing?
  • What are we not doing now we need to START doing?

Answering these thought provoking questions will help a leader and their team look at new possibilities, options, and alternative solutions to a specific problem, a new initiative, or a prescribed objective.

Generally, once an environmental analysis (external and Internal) is completed in a strategic planning exercise, VISION is formed about a new or better future as an organization.  This ‘vision’ is informed, conditioned, and established by agreed upon ASSUMPTIONS, BELIEFS, and operating VALUES.  OBJECTIVES are formulated and applicable STRATEGIES are identified to reach those objectives.  Each objective might include one or more strategies for reaching an objective.

The proverbial rubber meets the road in the implementation.  This is the “action” or “doing” steps for all areas that are used to support the overall strategy.  This phase addresses organizational relationships, lines of authority, reporting relationships and communication requirements necessary to effectively implement the strategic plan in general and the operational plans specifically.  This phase deals with the support mechanisms that need to be in place to provide adequate direction and resources for accomplishing the plans. 

An implementation plan may include the following elements for each strategy:  SMART goals, qualifying conditions, communications required, time lines (schedule), personnel needs, training plans, materials and resources, budget, and facility needs.

One of the most effective management tools used to plan and implement key objectives and strategies is the use of SMART goals, the focus of our discussion today.

Setting Goals

Establishing performance goals helps a leader, manager, supervisor, or project team move in a straight line toward accomplishing long-term objectives via key strategies. Team members need to have a part in determining the goals but in the final analysis they are the leader’s goals.

As I told you when I began these posts I would be operating from a Biblical worldview.  Even though the principles I discuss have application regardless of your faith persuasion. From a scriptural perspective, then, planning using SMART goals ‘redeems’ the time (Ephesians 5:15, 16; Colossians 4:50), helps us be stewards of God’s precious resources, and to focus our efforts according to His plan (Psalm 20:4; 33:11; Isaiah 32:8; Jeremiah 29:11).

Regardless of your context, one of the most effective management tools used to plan and implement key objectives and strategies is the use and application of SMART goals.  Goals are simply a means to that end. Goals are the steps, tactics, programs, recipes, tasks, course, or operations we intend to use to make and mark progress.

SMART Goal Guidelines

They are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-oriented and Time constrained. Thus, they are called SMART goals.  Before examples of SMART goals are presented let’s look more closely at what makes a good goal.

Is the goal SPECIFIC?  Most goals fail initially because they are not specific enough.  Is the goal clear enough that a team can ‘see’ it?  Or is it so open ended you’ll never know if you attained it at all? 

Is the goal MEASUREABLE?  Measurement can be either quantitative or qualitative.   Quantitative goals can be numerical or based on percentage of completion.  Qualitative goals may include the presence of observable but non-quantifiable traits.

Is the goal ATTAINABLE?  Overzealous, unrealistic goals outlined may not be attainable.  The onus for attainability rests with those who are tasked with attaining the goal.  Attainability is based on whether the expertise, experience, talent, competence of the team and the resources available to the team.

Is the goal RESULTS-ORIENTED?  What is the ‘purpose’ of the goal?  What is the stated ‘end’ that is to be attained?   How will you know if the goal is reached and that it indeed contributes to the objective sought?  What is the ‘aim’ of the goal?

Is the goal TIME-CONSTRAINED?  What is the time period selected to attain the goal?  My experience suggests that a goal should not be any longer than 4 months.  Three month (quarterly) goals are preferred.  If a goal is longer than that timeframe it should be divided into smaller time increments.

Each strategy should have SMART goals associated with its implementation.

Objectives can be annual and represent key results expected.  To reach the objective one or more strategies (processes, methods, systems, techniques, procedures, etc.) may be implemented.  Each strategy may have one or more SMART goals associated with it.

For instance, to reach a particular Objective three Strategies will be implemented.  Each strategy will include two or more SMART goals designed to employ the strategy.

Although SMART goals can be written to encompass any time frame they usually cover three to four months.  These goals may also be written in terms of steps necessary to fully implement he strategy.

SMART goals can be represented by a time frame (i.e., week, month, quarter, trimester) or a succession of events built on one another leading to completion of the strategy.  Most SMART goals use a designated time frame even if it takes three or more goals to complete the task.  The task is broken up into defined increments of time.

With regard to a succession of events SMART goals may be written as follows.  Let’s assume you were given the strategy to provide qualified individual contributors to a program manager who is responsible for the design and manufacture of a system.  One Smart goal might be to evaluate your personnel resources.  A follow-on goal might be to provide training in the competencies needed by the program.  A third goal might be to implement a probationary period concluding with an evaluation of their effectiveness by the program manager.

As a leader, manager, or supervisor your job is to maintain the integrity of the SMART goal framework, not necessarily the specifics on how the details of the goal are determined- that should be the responsibility of the project team members if possible.

More simply stated, as leader, manager, or supervisor your responsibility is primarily to ensure the framework of the SMART goal is adhered to – specific, measureable, attainable, results-oriented, and time-constrained.

Is the goal specific enough?

Is the goal quantifiably or qualitatively measureable?

Is the goal attainable in terms of the capabilities and capacity of the team?

Is the goal results-oriented in that it adequately points to a recognizable outcome?  In other words, what is its stated purpose?

Is the goal time-constrained in that it progressively leads to the desired outcome whether it is laid out in time increments or progressive steps?


The examples that follow address a ministry context.  The reader will hopefully readily see how they can be adjusted for a non-ministry context if that is your operational setting.

Form a ministry team (specific) to help children process the trauma of their parents divorce (results-oriented) by the end of February 2015 (time-constrained) as evidenced by the selection of curriculum and the scheduling of course dates (measurable/non-quantifiable).

Increase the number of small groups (specific) by 25% (measurable/quantifiable) beginning in March 2015 (time-constrained) for the purpose of reaching those members and regular attenders who have not been involved in small groups and who need intimate fellowship and care (results-oriented).

Form a mentoring ministry for women (specific) to assist them in becoming followers of Jesus Christ by establishing a relationship with another woman who will help them grow spiritually (results-oriented) as evidenced by their commitment to Bible study, prayer, fellowship and witnessing (measurable/non-quantifiable). Training will be conducted in January 2016 for mentors and the program launched in March 2016 (time constrained).

Key Action Words for Goals: Assess, Plan, Design, Develop, Recruit, Fund, Train, Schedule, Promote, Establish, Produce, Communicate, Conduct, Review, Evaluate, Assess, Assign, Critique, select, etc.

SMART Goals can be developed for personal as well as professional purposes.  Wherever I have led others I have used SMART goals with success.  I hope this posting will help you become a more effective and efficient leader, manager, or supervisor.

To be continued…


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Criticism of 'Warrior' Terminology

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Posted by greg

Heart_of_a_Warrior_Coat_of_Arms_-_Copy.jpgFrom time to time I receive criticisms for using ‘warrior’ terminology in Heart of a Warrior Ministries.  I recently felt compelled to respond to a person’s concerns over my use of such terms.  I thought it might be helpful to present my rationale.

The New Testament is full of metaphors and allegories associated with military and warfare symbolism.  The Lord is referred to as a "warrior" by Moses in Exodus 15:1-3.  Jeremiah also suggests the same in Jeremiah 20:11.

"I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted.  The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea.  The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.  He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him. The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name."  NIV

Revelation 19:11-16 and Isaiah 42:13 certainly implies similar symbolism...

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron scepter." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Revelation 19:11-16

The LORD will march out like a mighty man, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal; with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies. Isaiah 42:13

The New Testament speaks about spiritual warfare, that we must put on the 'armor' of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).  Preliminary to the verses on putting on the armor of God is the admonition to be strong in the Lord...put on the full armor of God so we can make a stand...that we are in a struggle.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. NIV

Paul himself says he has 'fought the good fight (2 Timothy 4:7).'  Several places in the NT we are encouraged to 'fight the good fight (1 Timothy 1:18; 6:12).'

I am not advocating that men strap on a sword and press headlong into physical combat.  Instead, I use the metaphor of a "warrior' to call men to the battle for the sake of their loved ones, the unloved, the marginalized, the defenseless, the downtrodden.  I call men to take their assignment to be the spiritual leaders of their home.  I use the 'sword' as a symbol for engagement because too many men have abdicated their responsibilities to their families, friends, associates, and those who don't know Christ. 

I have often used the phrase, "a warrior after God's heart."  I have clearly defined what I mean by being a warrior after God's heart...

1.            A warrior after God’s heart is loyal to his Commander.

2.            A warrior after God’s heart is a citizen of God’s kingdom.

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Leadership & Formation #10 – Boundary Events

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Posted by greg

Slide3.JPGBoundary events are transitional periods in our life that move us from one phase of growth or development to the next.  Most leaders move from establishing foundations beginning in childhood TO preparation where the leader pursues formal training TO contribution where the leader exercises what they have learned in the laboratory we call work TO a place of multiplication where their experiences have matured and can be leveraged for greater effectiveness within their sphere of influence.


Boundary events are precipitated and initiated by a circumstance, situation, or occasion – not all of which are positive.  These events can be instigated by a crisis or transition such as a new opportunity, being fired, a health crisis, being laid off, completion of one’s education, mid-life crisis, promotion, spiritual experience, an epiphany, an awakening, an accumulation of related circumstances, gradual discontent, failure, success, a challenge, significant change, new life stage, or a major change of perspective.

Research has shown that boundary events can last anywhere from 2 or 3 months to as long as 6 years.  Regardless of the length of time or how they are brought into play boundary events consist of essentially three stages; entry, evaluation, and exit.

The ENTRY stage is a period of time where a leader reflects on what just happened to him or her.  They try to reconcile the events that led up to it in an attempt to understand and connect the dots.  This stage looks to the past and is often accompanied by grieving over the loss.  The leader may experience anger, disappointment, despair, and discouragement if the precipitating circumstances were unexpected or negative in nature.  It is important to remember that this self-analysis will rarely if at all yield all the answers.  Eventually, the leader comes to terms with the circumstances even though many questions about the particulars remain unclear.  The leader finally comes to a point where they realize, “It is what it is.”  If the circumstances leading to the boundary event are perceived as positive (i.e., a promotion, new opportunity, the completion of a journey, etc.) then the reflection of the past is simply a period of encouragement, appreciation, sense of accomplishment or achievement.

The EVALUATION stage actually consists of two periods of activity.  The focus of this stage is the present where they take an inward look and may even look upward for spiritual guidance. The first period involves self-evaluation.  The leader takes stock of what they have to offer.  They assess their capabilities and capacity for the next phase of their journey.  They may even seek further assessment through non-formal means such as a coach, taking various instruments, preparing a personal historical timeline, gathering observations of others, attending self-help and self-management workshops or seminars, and/or seeking professional guidance.  The objective is to gain clarity of their personal toolkit of gifts, talents, natural abilities, acquired competencies and skills, and lessons learned from their experiences.

Once the self-evaluation is complete and the leader has an accurate grasp of what they have to offer they may determine that there are some holes in their portfolio.  They may seek further education, undergo coaching to learn a new competency or skill, seek professional career guidance, or acquire a mentor who can help them fill out their unrealized potential in anticipation of their next big step.  This period might also include a personal audit where they determine their life purpose, committed passion, non-negotiables going forward, unique methodologies (their toolbox), and ultimate contribution or legacy they hope to leave.  This personal life mandate will serve as a filter through which they will process new opportunities to ensure that they are operating from their ‘sweet spot.’

The EXIT stage of the boundary event looks to the future.  The leader is ready to move on and embrace something new and different.  They are ready to put past circumstances behind them and engage a new aspect of their journey.  They come out of their hunkered down existence ready to tackle the world but with a new commitment, a new focus, a new perspective, a new attitude, a new sense of hope, a new beginning, a new future.  They will initiate action to find a new position, start a new business, or embrace a new vocation altogether.  They will actively pursue new opportunities in alignment with their wiring and new trajectory. In many cases the transition from evaluation to exit is not dramatic but incremental instead.  It may also be true that the leader does not know they have transitioned from the evaluation to the exit stage until after it has already happened.  Once they have exited and started afresh the boundary event is concluded.

Some leaders will experience multiple boundary events in their life – a movement to calling, a movement to beingness versus doingness, a movement to legacy or ultimate contribution.  Knowing what and how boundary events operate will help the leader deal with the range of emotions they will experience while going through it.  Such understanding will mediate confusion and help the leader understand what to expect and how to endure it. Boundary events serve to bring closure to recent experiences, deepen ones beliefs, values and convictions, expand one’s perspectives to see new things, and to make decisions which will launch one into a new phase of their life.

To be continued…


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Leadership & Formation #9: Hills to Die On

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Posted by greg

flag_at_summit_400_clr_4930.pngWestern culture has redefined tolerance as unconditional acceptance and affirmation.  Anything shy of total, unqualified acceptance and affirmation of the opinion, ideology, personal perspective, or lifestyle choices of another is labeled as intolerance. 

The true definition of tolerance, however, is withholding whatever power you have against what you find objectionable. This means that we withhold whatever influence we can bring to bear on an issue for a more prudent engagement, a higher priority, or an assessment that opposing the issue will cause more damage than good.  The power we are withholding may be the authority we have, the resources at our disposal, the network of influential contacts we can employ, the status we hold, the reputation we enjoy, or the knowledge we possess.

Every conflict, difference of opinion, or assault on our beliefs and values requires wisdom to determine whether or not to engage with whatever power we have available.  The ancient scriptures give us guidance when they remind us to be wise, to evaluate the circumstances, and to assess the possible outcomes of engagement.  We can choose not to make an issue of the matter for the sake of peace, grace or forbearance.

If we choose to engage we must always “clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”  For those of us in the faith we must “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

Every effective leader of character has determined, in advance, what hills to die on, what hills to bleed on, and what hills are not worth climbing.  Doing so provides a framework of knowing when to engage regardless of the circumstances, when to engage in consideration of the circumstances, and when to withhold engagement in spite of the circumstances.

Hills to Die On…

You cannot die on every hill.  Dying may not require your life but it may require something just as permanent or painful. Choosing to die on a hill may mean that you are willing to embrace the consequences even if it means you will lose the goodwill of others, marginalize your advancement prospects, or even lose your position, ranking, or job.  The hill I choose to die on may not require my life but it may require sacrificing popularity, acclaim, prestige, acceptance, or affirmation. It may require that I set aside my dreams and aspirations for a higher value. It may mean I may be marginalized or even ostracized.

What hills are worth dying on?  First, they should be few in number.  Second, they should ensure laws will not be violated.  Third, they should honor our faith.  Fourth, they should uphold our central beliefs and values.  In other words the matter is too important to ignore because it would mean that your character (or faith) is compromised.  Finally, they should protect the defenseless, unloved, and marginalized. 

These hills are not always a matter of public engagement.  They may be a private or personal commitment such as a commitment to live out certain beliefs and values having decided which ones are non-negotiable.  They may include putting the welfare and wellbeing of our family as our highest priority in that we will never compromise this commitment for any reason.  They may include a commitment to submit to some cause, people group, or belief system that will stand in authority over our lives informing and conditioning what we do.

What hills are you prepared to "die on?"

Hills to Bleed On…

You cannot bleed on every hill.  If you bleed on too many hills you will "die" prematurely.  I have known people who make an issue of every issue.  It isn't long before what they say is automatically discounted regardless of its importance.  If you make an issue of every issue no one will take seriously any issue you have made an issue.  "For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a man's misery weighs heavily upon him."

Hills to bleed on is a metaphor for issues and concerns for which we are willing to take a stand given the circumstances.  They are situational in nature and change in terms of how we will respond.  Environmental factors condition whether we choose to say something or do something.  Given the alignment and significance of the contributing factors we may choose to engage but not willing to “die” for the issue.  These issues are selected based on their importance, their affect and/or effect, and whether not engaging will give tacit approval to the outcome of the event or circumstance.

One day you may choose to engage the issue while at other times you may choose not to engage.  This does not mean you are hypocritical or a ‘weather vane’ moving in a direction of prevailing sentiment or political correctness. It simply means that you have measured the circumstance or event and have chosen that it is not a hill to bleed on.  At other times, the circumstance or event may be a hill to bleed on; that is, to risk your reputation, to negatively impact your relationships, or to lose respect or esteem. 

What hills will you bleed on if the circumstances warrant?

Hills Not Worth Climbing…

There are many hills not worth climbing.  They may be important but are they urgent?  I would suggest that there are far more hills not worth climbing than you may know.  This does not mean that the matter before you is not important or worth consideration.  It simply mean that you are not the one called to address it.  The circumstance is someone else’s hill to die on or bleed on.

The intrinsic ‘worth’ of the issue may be significant but you are not the one to deal with it.  You may hold certain convictions about it, may disagree or agree with it, may have something to contribute regarding it but have decided it is a hill you will not climb.  Reasons for this conclusion may be decisions you made regarding the hills to die on or bleed on beforehand.  This is not one of them.  Or the criteria for engagement, which you have decided beforehand, is not met.  Or engagement will do more damage than constructive help. 

If a situation arises where you are trying to decide what to do the following criteria might be considered.

  1. Is it a hill I have already decided to “die on?”
  2. Is it a hill I am prepared to “bleed on?”
  3. Is it a hill someone else should “die on” or “bleed on?”
  4. Is it a hill I have already decided not to climb?
  5. Is it majoring in minors?
  6. Will it sacrifice my integrity?

What hills are not worth climbing?

Each man and woman must decide for themselves what hills they will die on, what hills they will bleed on, and what hills are not worth climbing.  Over the course of your life they will change.

As for me I have decided what hills I will die on.

  • My Faith - The Gospel (Titus 2:11-14)
  • My Family - Responsibility (1 Timothy 5:8)
  • My Focus - Purpose (Ephesians 2:8-10)
  • My Fidelity - The Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The hills I will bleed on will be the hills God calls me to bleed on.  My hills will be different than your hills.  The hills I will bleed on will be His hills and not my hills.

The hills not worth climbing are everything else.  I have learned over time-I am in my 60's now-that I was dying on too many hills, the hills I was bleeding on were my hills and not His hills, and the hills not worth climbing were far more than I originally thought.

What hills will you die on?

What hills will you bleed on?

What hills are not worth climbing?

To be continued…

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Leadership & Formation #8 – Concern vs Influence

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Posted by greg

influence_2.jpgHow much time is wasted over matters out of our control?  How much time is spent agonizing over issues that we cannot change?  How much time is spent mulling over concerns outside our area of responsibility?  Extended worry over matters we cannot resolve leads down a path to unhealthy fear, misplaced anxiety, and paralyzing paranoia.  There is plenty of circumstances for which to be concerned.  The key question we need to ask ourselves is what can we do about them that will make a difference other than keep us up at night?

We operate essentially within two circles—the Circle of Concern and the Circle of Influence.

Within the Circle of Concern are issues we are ‘concerned’ about but have little to no control over the issues that fall within this sphere.  For instance, we might be concerned about political or economic issues in Washington, a judge’s ruling on an issue that touches us, a decision being made by someone regarding our circumstances, world poverty, global warming or any host of matters that cause us concern.  We may have a limited influence on these matters but for all practical purposes they are out of our reach to do anything about them.  In these cases, we have essentially one option—prayer.  Once we have prayed about these matters we must release them to the Lord and move on to those issues we can control.

Within the Circle of Influence are issues we have some degree of control over.  Our direct input or interaction will determine the outcome of these issues.  People, events, and circumstances can be changed by our direct involvement.  Our influence may be of a direct nature or indirect nature.  Our direct influence will address the specific issue directly.  Our indirect influence may be to interact with factors that may influence the situation indirectly (i.e., a note to a friend or authority may cause that friend or authority to respond to a set of circumstances over which they have some influence).

Each of us has a finite amount of energy at our disposal (emotional, spiritual, and physical).  The extent of that energy will differ for each person.  Our circle of influence can expand as we grow emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually—it can also diminish through bad decisions and/or sin in our life.

If we expend our limited energy on matters over which we have little influence or control, the energy remaining will be reduced.  When we turn our attention to issues within our sphere of influence we will find that the circle of influence has shrunk while our circle of concern has grown.  Spending our finite energy in this sphere will only increase our anxiety and stress because we can do little to change the outcome.

Focusing our finite energy primarily on issues within our circle of influence and praying about issues within our circle of concern (and releasing these issues to the Lord) will reduce the circle of concern to a more manageable size and therefore cause less anxiety and stress in our lives.  This is a far more constructive activity—focusing on what we can change and leaving to God those issues we cannot change to any significant degree.

There are three domains of influence; direct, indirect, and organizational (Leadership Emergence Theory, J. Robert Clinton, 1989).  The reach and impact you wield in these domains is defined by your character, experience, authority, responsibility, position, status, and the power base (positional or personal) you use to exert influence.

Direct Influence. This domain indicates a measure of people being influenced by the real presence of the leader, usually occurring in focused and structured situations where feedback between follower and leader is possible and necessary, and carries a high level of accountability to God for influence. This type of influence extends to those immediately under the authority and responsibility of the leader and is generally restricted to those ‘in front of’ or ‘face-to-face with’ or in close proximity to the leader.

Indirect Influence. This domain indicates a measure of people being influenced by non-time-bound miscellaneous influences a leader exerts through others, through media, or through writing, and for which feedback between the leader and those being influenced is difficult, if not impossible, and where accountability is primarily for the content of influential ideas.

When a leader matures and the intensity, passion, and focus of the leader crystallizes (moves from shot gun to laser beam) their direct influence grows linearly while their indirect influence grows exponentially. In other words, their extensiveness (quantity of people influenced), comprehensiveness (scope of areas of influence), and intensiveness (depth of influence) grows linearly in the direct domain while these same measures grow exponentially in the indirect domain. When a leader penetrates the life and heart of a follower more extensively, comprehensively and intensively, that follower and those with whom they interact are affected accordingly.  Exponential influence is attained.

Organizational Influence. This domain indicates a measure of people of people being influenced by a person in organizational leadership via direct, indirect, and organizational power.

Spheres of Influence…

Direct                                     Indirect                                  Organizational

Individuals                             Committee                            Supervisor

Small Groups                         Advisory Board                     Program Director

Project Team                        Executive Board                   Department Head

Ministries                              Writing                                   Organizational Head

Seminars                                Radio                                      Policy Formulator

Conferences                         Networking                           Board Member

Mentoring                             Supporting                            Sponsoring

Encouragement                    Blogging                                 Resourcing

Biblical Support: Parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30); giftedness and capacity (Romans 12:3-7); accountability for influence (Hebrews 13:17, Acts 20:13-38; 2 Corinthians 5:10); rewards for leadership (1 Peter 1:1-5).

Take a personal audit of the time you spend worrying about concerns you can do little to resolve.  Commit to redeeming that time to invest in matters you can positively influence.  Focus on your circle of influence and pray about your circle of concern. 

What concerns keep you up at night?

What can you do to influence these concerns?

What are your spheres of influence (direct, indirect, organizationally)?

How are you leveraging your organizational influence for great impact?

What issues can you directly impact that falls within your sphere of influence?

How much of your time is spent in the circles of concern and influence?

What matters will benefit from an investment of your time?

To be continued…

Leadership & Formation #7: Budding Leaders

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Posted by greg

leaders_3.jpgI repeatedly hear the refrain, “We don’t have enough leaders?”  Emerging, budding leaders aren’t obvious to others who do not have the eyes to see them.  In fact, the characteristics of leaders “in the rough” are most often experienced as annoying aggravations rather than counter-intuitive indicators.  If the prevailing leaders within an organization do not calibrate their perceptions they may never see the emerging leaders right in front of them.

If your identification ‘antenna’ is not properly calibrated you could miss the many leaders in your midst.  Characteristics of emerging leaders often drive experienced leaders nuts leading to premature dismissal of these nascent young leaders in the process of becoming yet not having arrived.  My experience suggests, however, that young leaders in the making possess observable behaviors indicating they are potential leaders.  They may need cultivation, training, mentoring, support, and sponsorship to develop into effective leaders.  Your investment in them will be well worth the effort.

Five Characteristics of Buddy Leaders 

 INSISTENT – They never give up.

They keep butting their head against the same wall or problem. You know the old saying, "What is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over again and expecting different results." To someone observing an emerging leader it sure looks like they are backtracking over the same problem again and again. Closer observation may show that they are actually hitting the wall at a slightly different angle each time, learning from each obstacle and adjusting their approach. The key is they don't give up and they learn with each failure. There is a difference between this type of emerging leader and a lesser one. The lesser one always approaches the obstacle the exact same way and has not learned any lessons. They are more apt to give up after a few tries.  So, budding leaders are tenacious; they don’t give up easily.  View this characteristic in a positive light.  Before jumping in observe their behavior to determine their approach to solving seemingly intractable problems.  You might just have a great leader in the making.

 INQUISITIVE – They are full of questions.

They never do exactly what you tell them to do. They keep asking more questions or even worse, suggesting ways it could be done better. They have more questions than you have answers. Man, that's irritating. Don't you just hate that? This is our typical response. Part of the role of leader, as leadership developer/mentor is to suggest a direction and then work with the emerging leader on the approaches. Yes, it’s irritating and time consuming but helps grow a leader. Often the mistake of the mature leader is to interpret the attitudes and questions as disrespect and a critical spirit, rather than using these opportunities to learn themselves about other ways to approach a problem.  You might find that their ideas are superior to your own.  Budding leaders are inquisitive.  Their questions may not be polished leading you to conclude they are being disrespectful or that they are challenging you.  Don’t look at it this way.  See their questions as exhibiting a desire to learn.

 IMPATIENT – They seek more responsibility before they may be ready.

They always want more responsibility before they are ready for it. As the mature leader you are always queasy about this. You want the person to advance as a leader but you also have some doubts because you are not sure they are ready. If they exhibit the potential to lead and have been faithful in smaller projects in the past then give them an opportunity to stretch.  If they fail, observe how they handle the failure. What have they learned from it?  Their development might require a guide by the side and not a sage on the stage.  Part of the development process is placing people in situations that are a true stretch. As leadership developers/mentors we don't want to put people in places where they will fail. But if failure is not an option, they will not learn as fast as they can.  Failure should be handled as a developmental iteration on the process to becoming a better leader. Seeking more responsibility even if they are not ready for it is a sure sign of a budding leader.  Don’t be impatient with their impatience.

 INCOGNITO – They are leaders by default.

People defer to them, even if they haven't been designated as the leader. They have been placed in a group or team to carry out a task. Someone else has been designated as leader, but as the project progresses, the group looks to this emerging leader for their opinion. This can be very hard on the designated leader, but the group doesn't seem to mind unless there is a strong clash between the two. These budding leaders aren’t always obvious in group settings.  They are often on the peripheral lurking just out of sight.  They are exposed when others in the group look to them for approval or response.  They may be reluctant leaders or not see themselves as leaders at all.  They may be mavericks or contrarians.  They may be quiet and reserved.  They are however seen by their peers clearly as leaders.  Investigate how a budding leader is perceived by their peers and friends.  Observe how they are engaged by others or deferred to by others.  Observe how their influence is exercised.  They may be rough and even difficult.  Yet, conscious development can make them effective leaders.

INNOVATIVE – They often go beyond what is asked of them.

Emerging leaders often do more than they are asked to do--sometimes to the point of overdoing it. Although this can be a sign to senior leader that time and energy was being wasted, it is also a sign that the emerging leader is ready for more responsibility. The emerging leader is looking not to impress, but rather to do the task or responsibility to their high standards. Sometimes those standards are higher than what we have in our minds if we were doing the project.  Observe how they adjust their leadership style to fit the situation.  Remember, their unique wiring may result in unique solutions.  Give them room to operate.  How do they adjust to a problem?  What techniques do they employ in solving a problem?  How do they engage others in resolving the situation?  Innovation is taking what is and making it better.  It is leveraging existing circumstances to produce a better outcome.  Race horse must be trained to run within the rails and not damage themselves in the process.  Gentle guidance of innovators can ensure they excel within legitimate boundaries.

Careful observation of potential budding leaders can yield a bumper crop of future effective leaders if you have the patience and understanding of the characteristics they exhibit.  You may have to provide a ‘safe place’ for their development and act as a buffer between them and others who may not appreciate their potential.  One of the greatest attributes of a senior experienced leader is their ability to develop talent.  Hopefully, the characteristics of budding leaders just described will help you to be that kind of leader.

Within your sphere of influence who exhibits these characteristics?

Who is insistent, inquisitive, impatient, innovative or incognito?

Who have others written off because they could not see the potential within that budding leader?

Who have you written off that deserves reconsideration?

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Leadership & Formation #6: Enhancements

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Posted by greg

enhancements_1.jpgThe only time you are guaranteed 100% accuracy is when you aim at nothing!  Given what we have learned in posts #4 (Characteristics) and # 5 (Barriers) what can we do to facilitate a journey to finish well?  What can we do to begin living a life worth leaving in the lives of others?  What can we do to ensure a pleasing aroma rather than a stench lingers long after we are gone?  What can we do to further God’s redemptive purposes in this world before we leave this earth? 

J. Robert Clinton and his team extracted five ‘enhancements’ from their research data gleaned from the lives of biblical, historical, and contemporary leaders (~ 3800 case studies using grounded theory methodology) that when applied will help a leader finish well.  We have to be intentional about exercising these enhancements.  It will take time and practice.  Although the principles he espouses are focused on leaders in ministry, they apply as well to organizational leadership.  I have practiced these principles for the better part of my leadership life and I can attest unreservedly of their effectiveness and utility.

Once again, in Dr. Clinton’s own words…

Enhancement 1. Perspective

We need to have a lifetime perspective on work.  Effective leaders view present efforts in terms of a lifetime perspective. We gain that perspective by studying lives of leaders as commanded in Hebrews 13:7-8. I have been doing intensive study of leaders’ lives over many years. Leadership Emergence Theory (LET) is the result of that research.   Its many concepts can help us understand more fully just how God does shape a leader over a lifetime.

Enhancement 2.  Renewal

Special moments of intimacy with God, challenges from God, new vision from God and affirmation from God both for personhood and work will occur repeatedly to a growing leader.  These destiny experiences will be needed, appreciated, and will make the difference in persevering in a job.   All leaders should expectantly look for these repeated times of renewal.  Some can be initiated by the leader.  But some come sovereignly from God.  We can seek them, of course, and be ready for them.

Most leaders who have been effective over a lifetime have needed and welcomed renewal experiences from time to time in their lives.  Some times are more crucial in terms of renewal than others.  Apparently in western society the mid-thirty's and early forty's and mid-fifties are crucial times in which renewal is frequently needed in a leader's life.  Frequently during these critical periods discipline slacks, there is a tendency to plateau and rely on one's past experience and skills, and a sense of confusion concerning achievement and new direction prevail.  Unusual renewal experiences with God can overcome these tendencies and redirect a leader.  An openness for them, a willingness to take steps to receive them, and a knowledge of their importance for a whole life can be vital factors in profiting from enhancement 2 for finishing well.  Sometimes these renewal experiences are divinely originated by God and we must be sensitive to his invitation.  At other times we must initiate the renewal efforts.

Enhancement 3. Disciplines

Leaders need discipline of all kinds.  Especially is this true of spiritual disciplines.  A strong surge toward spirituality now exists.  This movement combined with an increasingly felt need due to the large number of failures is propelling leaders to hunger for intimacy.  The spiritual disciplines are one mediating means for getting this intimacy.  Such authors as Eugene Peterson, Dallas Willard, and Richard Foster are experts in this field of spirituality.  Leaders without these leadership tools are prone to failure via sin as well as plateauing.

I concur with Paul's admonitions to discipline as a means of insuring perseverance in the ministry (and organizational leadership).  When Paul was around 50 years of age he wrote to the Corinthian church what appears to be both an exhortation to the Corinthians and an explanation of a major leadership value in his own life.  We need to keep in mind that he had been in ministry for about 21 years.  He was still advocating strong discipline.  I paraphrase it in my own words.

                I am serious about finishing well in my Christian ministry.  I discipline myself for fear that after challenging others into the Christian life I myself might become a casualty.  1Co 9:24-27

Lack of physical discipline is often an indicator of laxity in the spiritual life as well.  Toward the end of his life, Paul is probably between 65 and 70, he is still advocating discipline.  This time he writes to Timothy, who is probably between 30 and 35 years old.

                    ...Instead exercise your mind in godly things. 8 For physical exercise is advantageous somewhat but exercising in godliness has long term implications both for today and for that which will come. (1Ti 4:7b-8)

Leaders should from time to time assess their state of discipline.  I recommend in addition to standard word disciplines involving the devotional life and study of the Bible other disciplines such as solitude, silence, fasting, frugality, chastity, secrecy. 

Enhancement 4.  Learning Posture

The single most important antidote to plateauing is a well-developed learning posture.  Such a posture is also one of the major ways through which God gives vision.  It sounds simple enough but many leaders don't heed it.  Two Biblical leaders who certainly were learners all their lives and exemplified this principle were Daniel and Paul.  Note how Daniel observed this principle.  In Daniel 9 when he is quite old we find that he was still studying his Bible and still learning new things from it.  And he was alert to what God wanted to do through what he was learning.  Consequently, Daniel was able to intercede for his people and become a recipient of one of the great messianic revelations.  Paul's closing remarks to Timothy show he was still learning.  "And when you come don't forget the books Timothy!" (2Ti 4:13). 

There are many non-formal training events available such as workshops, seminars, and conferences covering a variety of learning skills.  Take advantage of them.  A good learning posture is insurance against plateauing and a helpful prod along the way to persevere in leadership.  An inflexible spirit with regards to learning is almost a sure precursor to finishing so-so or poorly.

Enhancement 5.  Mentoring

Comparative study of many leaders’ lives indicates the frequency with which other people were significant in challenging them into leadership and in giving timely advice and help so as to keep them there.   Leaders who are effective and finish well will have from 10 to 15 significant people who came alongside at one time or another to help them. 

The general notion of mentoring involves a relational empowerment process in which someone who knows something (the mentor) passes on something (wisdom, advice, information, emotional support, protection, linking to resources) to someone who needs it (the mentoree, protégé) at a sensitive time so that it impacts the person's development. 

The basic dynamics of mentoring include attraction, relationship, response, accountability and empowerment.  My observations on mentoring suggest that most likely, any leader will need a mentor at all times over a lifetime of leadership.  Mentoring is available if one looks for specific functions and people who can do them (rather than an ideal mentor who can do all).  God will provide a mentor in a specific area of need for you if you trust Him for one and you are willing to submit and accept responsibility.

Simply stated a final suggestion for enabling a good finish is find a mentor who will hold you accountable in your spiritual life and work and who can warn and advise so as to enable you to avoid pitfalls and to grow throughout your lifetime of organizational engagement.

To be continued…


Leadership & Formation #5: Major Barriers

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Posted by greg


Some time ago I approached my boss suggesting that my business card be changed.  Somewhat bemused he said it couldn’t get much longer. I said I wanted to shorten it to a title that reflects the primary role of a leader of others—barrier remover. Our job as leaders of others is to remove any impediment that restricts them from performing at their optimum best.  Our job is to help them flourish from the foundation of their wiring; to be all God intended them to be, and to realize their full potential.  In doing so, the organizations they serve will benefit.

 There are barriers however that are self-inflicted.  If these barriers are not addressed they will prevent a leader from finishing well.  To be sure, each barrier has gradations or degrees of dysfunctionality.  The degree to which a barrier impedes a leader will determine the degree to which one’s effectiveness is limited and thus their hope of finishing well.  J. Robert Clinton identified six barriers to finishing well.  Others could be added for sure but these six dominated the research.

Again in Clinton’s own words…

Comparative study of effective leaders who finished well has identified six barriers that hindered leaders from finishing well.  It only takes one of them to torpedo a leader. But frequently a leader who fails in one area will also fail in others. What are these barriers? We can learn from those who didn't finish well. We can be alerted to these barriers. We can avoid them in our own lives.  We need to look ahead in our lives and not walk right into these barriers.  We need to avoid being entrapped by them.  Proverbs 22:3 tells us that, “Sensible people will see trouble coming and avoid it, but an unthinking person will walk right into it and regret it later.”

Barrier 1.  Finances—Use and Abuse

Leaders, particularly those who have power positions and make important decisions concerning finances, tend to use practices which may encourage incorrect handling of finances and eventually wrong use.  A character trait of greed often is rooted deep and eventually will cause impropriety with regard to finances.  Numerous leaders have fallen due to some issue related to money.  Biblical Examples:  O.T.: Gideon's golden ephod. N.T.: Ananias and Sapphira.

Barrier 2.  Power—It’s Abuse

Leaders who are effective in ministry must use various power bases in order to accomplish their ministry.  With power so available and being used almost daily, there is a tendency to abuse it.  Leaders who rise to the top in a hierarchical system tend to assume privileges with their perceived status.  Frequently, these privileges include abuse of power.  And they usually have no counter balancing accountability.  Biblical Example:  Uzziah's usurping of priestly privilege.

Barrier 3.  Pride--Which Leads To Downfall

Pride (inappropriate and self-centered) can lead to a downfall of a leader.   As a leader there is a dynamic tension that must be maintained.  We must have a healthy respect for ourselves, and yet we must recognize that we have nothing that was not given us by God and He is the one who really enables ministry.  Biblical Example:  David's numbering.

Barrier 4.   Sex--Illicit Relationships

Illicit sexual relationships have been a major downfall both in the Bible and in western cultures.  Joseph's classic integrity check with respect to sexual sin is the ideal model that should be in leader’s minds. Biblical Example: David's sin with Bathsheba was a pivotal point from which his leadership never fully recovered.  It was all downhill from there on.

Barrier 5.  FAMILY--Critical Issues

Problems between spouses or between parents and children or between siblings can destroy a leader's ministry.  What is needed are Biblical values lived out with regard to husband-wife relationships, parent-children, and sibling relationships.  Of growing importance in our day is the social base profiles for singles in ministry and for married couples.  Biblical Example:  David's family.  Ammon and Tamar.  Absalom's revenge.

Barrier 6. Plateauing

Leaders who are competent tend to plateau.  Their very strength becomes a weakness.  They can continue to minister at a level without there being a reality or Spirit empowered renewing effect.  Most leaders will plateau several times in their lifetimes of development.  Some of the five enhancement factors for a good finish will counteract this tendency (perspective, learning posture, mentor, disciplines).  There again is a dynamic tension that must be maintained between leveling off for good reasons, (consolidating one's growth and/or reaching the level of potential for which God has made you) and plateauing because of sinfulness or loss of vision.  Biblical Example:  David in the latter part of his reign just before Absalom's revolt.

Forewarned is forearmed. There are many other reasons why leaders don’t finish well—usually all related to sin in some form. But at least the six categories are major ones that have trapped many leaders and taken them out of the race. Leaders who want to finish well, Take heed!

To Clinton’s list I would add a seventh barrier…

Barrier 7: Emotional and Psychological Wounding

Emotional and psychological wounding is all too frequent in people’s lives today.  Such wounding is often administered from the hand of someone we trust.  As terrible as it is, some leaders wear their victimization on their ‘sleeve’ for everyone to notice.  Nearly every conversation is punctuated with a rehearsal of the wounding.  Taken to extremes such behavior can prevent a leader from finishing well.  You may not get over it but you can get past it with God’s help.  Biblical Examples:  David’s children neglected by him; Jonah in Ninevah; Elijah in the cave

What contemporary examples can you identify for each barrier?

What barriers not addressed above would you add to the list?

Which barriers are impeding you from finishing well?

Who can help you overcome this barrier?

Who do you know who is struggling with one or more of these barriers?

What assistance can you offer to them?

Which barrier are you most susceptible or vulnerable?

What are you doing to remove the barrier?

It is never too late to begin living and leading in such a way as to finish well.

Stay tuned in for the Enhancements to Finishing Well.

To be continued…

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Leadership & Formation #4: Six Characteristics

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Posted by greg

 If finishing well is a preferred objective of your life what are the characteristics of people who finish well?  What can we learn from biblical, historical, and contemporary Christian leaders that will help us to be able to finish well?  When I am called home by the Lord I hope to cross the finish line utterly exhausted having given my all for kingdom purposes that matter, have set a model for my grandchildren to follow, having acquitted myself with honor so that I can lay my meager offering of dedicated service at His feet.  Like Paul, I want to be able to say…

“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing (2 Timothy 4:6-8).”

My mentor, Dr. J. Robert Clinton conducted exhaustive qualitative research to determine how God develops His leaders.  He first published his findings in the late 80’s and has since validated his original conclusions by studying the lives of over 3800 leaders.  In analyzing the data using grounded theory methodology four overarching observations came to light fraught with huge implications for leadership and how leadership is effectively developed…

  • Few leaders finish well.
  • Leadership is difficult.
  • God's enabling presence is the essential ingredient of successful leadership.
  • Spiritual leadership can make a difference.

In his own words Dr. Clinton presents his findings in support of his conclusions.

“Identifying the fact that few leaders finish well was a breakthrough warning for me. This led to further study. Why do few leaders finish well? What stops them? What helps them? What does it mean to finish well?  Comparative study of effective leaders who finished well has identified six characteristics. While there may be other characteristics that I have not seen, certainly these are important ones. Not all six always appear but at least several of them do in leaders who finish well. Frequently, effective leaders who finish well will have four or five of them seen in their lives. And some like Daniel in the O.T. and Paul in the N.T. demonstrate all of them.”

Characteristic 1:  They maintain a personal vibrant relationship with God right up to the end.

Example: Daniel is the classic O.T. leader who exemplifies this. In the N.T., Peter, Paul and John all demonstrate this. See their last writings—the tone, the touch with God, the revelation from God, their trust in enabling grace for their lives.

Characteristic 2:  They maintain a learning posture and can learn from various kinds of sources—life especially.  

Example: Daniel is the classic O.T. leader who exemplifies this.  See Daniel, chapter nine, for a late in life illustration of one who continues to study and learn from the Scriptures. Paul and Peter are the classic N.T. leaders with a learning posture (see 2 Peter 3:18 and 2 Timothy 4:13).

Characteristic 3:  They manifest Christ-likeness in character as evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit in their lives.

Example: Daniel is the classic O.T. leader who exemplifies godliness (see the summary references to him in Ezekiel 14:14, 20). In the NT, note the evidence of character transformation in Paul’s life (2 Timothy 2:24 and an illustration of it—the book of Philemon). These were men who over a lifetime moved from strong personalities with roughness in their leadership styles to strong personalities with gentleness in their leadership styles.

Characteristic 4:  Truth is lived out in their lives so that convictions and promises of God are seen to be real.

Example: Joshua’s statement about God’s promises never having failed him in his closing speech demonstrate this characteristic of someone believing God and staking his life on God’s truth (Joshua 23:14). See the many aside truth statements that Paul weaves into his two letters to Timothy. See his famous stirring convictions echoed in Acts 27:22-25.

Characteristic 5:  They leave behind one or more ultimate contributions.

Example:  In a study on legacies left behind by effective leaders who finished well I have identified the following categories…

  • Saint (a model life that others want to emulate),
  • Stylistic Practitioners (a ministry model that others want to emulate), mentors (extensive personal ministry; end product changed lives),
  • Public Rhetoricians (extensive public ministry; end product changed lives), pioneers (start new works for God; end product is new churches, new movements, new works for God),
  • Activists (those who correct wrongs, end product, changed institutions, societies, etc. which reflect justice, fairness, etc.),
  • Artists (those who introduce creative ways of doing things; end products—whatever is created— as well as a model for how to do things differently),
  • Founder (a special category of pioneer who starts a new Christian organization; end product, the organization),
  • Stabilizers (those who can work in churches, movements, and other organizations to improve them and keep them alive and consistent; end product the organization revitalized and efficient),
  • Researchers (those who find out why things happen the way they do in Christian endeavor; end product an, understanding of the dynamics of things that can help others in Christian work),
  • Writers (those who can capture ideas in writing in order to help others in Christian work; end product, the writing produced), and
  • Promoters (those who can motivate others and inspire them to use ideation, to join movements, etc.; end product people committing themselves to new ventures).

(Many other legacies are possible but these have been clearly identified.)

Characteristic 6:  They walk with a growing awareness of a sense of destiny and see some or all of it fulfilled.

Definition:  A sense of destiny is an inner conviction arising from an experience or a series of experiences in which there is a growing sense of awareness that God has His hand on a leader in a special way for special purposes.  Over a lifetime a leader is prepared by God for a destiny, receives guidance toward that destiny, and increasingly completes that destiny. No Biblical leader who accomplished much for God failed to have a sense of destiny, one that usually grew over his/her lifetime. 

Examples: Joseph’s dreams and his saving of the embryonic nation; Moses’ saving of the nation; Paul’s vision to take the Gospel to the Gentiles.

Conclusion:  “The classic example in the O.T. of a good finish is Daniel who manifests all six characteristics. The classic example in the N.T. other than Christ is Paul. There are gradations of finishing well.  Some finish well but not quite having all six or lesser intensity on one or the other major characteristics. This list of characteristics is probably not complete. But these are certainly evident in many leaders who have finished well.”

  • Which of these characteristics are true of you?
  • What will be your legacy?
  • What lasting contribution will you make?
  • If you keep going as you are what legacy will you leave?

Stay tuned in for the Barriers to Finishing Well.

To be continued…

Leadership & Formation #3: Finishing Well

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Posted by greg

What compels a person to strive for excellence?  What pushes a person to succeed?  What motivates a person to do their best?  Certainly, a number of motives might be in play – some laudable and others not so.  I believe that deep within every individual is a desire to finish well.  Using grounded theory, a qualitative research methodology, J. Robert Clinton and his team of researchers studied the lives of Christian leaders – biblical, historical, and contemporary leaders to ascertain how they finished the race.  Over 3800 case studies have underscored the findings.  One of the startling facts is that only 30% finished well.  According to Clinton, anecdotal evidence from today indicates that this ratio is probably generous. Probably less than 1 in 3 is finishing well today.

Four types of finishes were defined in Starting Well by Richard Clinton and Paul Leavenworth.  These finishes were used to analyze the case studies of biblical leaders where enough data was available to determine how they finished. 

Cut off Early: These leaders are taken out of leadership by assassination, killed in battle, prophetically denounced, or overthrown. Some of this activity was directly attributed to God. Some of these were positive and others were negative. (Abimelech, Samson, Absalom, Ahab, Josiah, John the Baptist, James)

Finished Poorly: These leaders were going downhill in the latter part of their ministry. This might be reflected in their personal relationship with God or in terms of their competency in ministry. (Gideon, Samson, Eli, Saul, Solomon)

Finished So?So: These leaders did fairly well but were limited in their ministries because of sin. They did not complete what God had for them or had some negative ramifications surrounding their lives and ministries even though they personally were walking with God. (David, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah)

Finished Well: These leaders were walking with God at the end of their lives. They contributed to God's purposes at a high level. They fulfilled what God had for them to do.  (Abraham, Job, Joseph, Joshua, Caleb, Samuel, Elijah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Jesus, John, Paul, Peter)

Clinton defines Finishing Well as referring to reaching the end of one's life, having been faithful to the calling God has placed upon that about Christ followers being more passionate about Christ and His mission as they fulfill their life purpose than they were at the beginning. It also entails a life that experiences the depth of God's grace and is living out one's destiny and the making of one's unique and ultimate contribution in expanding God's Kingdom.

How we ‘finish’ is all about legacy—the ‘aroma’ left in the lives of people who have come within our sphere of influence.  Have I fulfilled my divinely ordained purpose?  Have I made progress in leveraging my giftedness (spiritual gifts, natural abilities, and acquired skills) for eternal ends?  Will the substance of my life leave a positive impact that will endure after I am gone?  Although starting well is important, finishing well is crucial.

Within the soul of every human being God has placed a sense of the eternal that compels us to seek answers to the following questions having to do with purpose, progress, and permanence (Ecclesiastes 3:10-11).

  • Why am I here? PURPOSE
  • Am I making any headway? PROGRESS
  • Will what I do have any lasting significance? PERMANENCE

What is also true is that God has wired us for three reasons—a CAUSE to die for, a CHALLENGE to embrace, and loved ones to PROTECT just like Our Lord.  He had a cause to die for—the salvation of mankind.  He had a challenge to embrace—the crucifixion.  And He had loved ones to protect – humankind.

Finishing well takes into consideration all of these matters.  You are not an accident, a coincidence, a happenstance.  You were on the heart of God before you ever came to be (Psalm 139:1-18).  God indeed has plans for you and determined your purpose in advance of your birth (Ephesians 2:10).

So the big question is “How will you finish?”  Tangential to this main question are the following questions.

  • How will you be remembered? 
  • Who has been left better off because of you?
  • If you left this world today what type of finish would be true of you?

It is never too late to begin living a legacy worth leaving in the lives of others. 

  • What are you doing now to determine God’s purpose for your life?
  • What are you doing now to facilitate God’s giftedness in you?
  • What do you intend to do going forward to finish well?

Leadership & Formation #2

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Posted by greg

From my point of view Dr. J. Robert Clinton, professor emeritus of leadership for the School of World Mission of Fuller Theological Seminary, does the best job defining leadership and a leader from a biblical point of view.  He defines leadership as follows.

“Leadership is a dynamic process over an extended period of time in various situations in which a leader utilizing leadership resources and by specific leadership behaviors, influences the thoughts and activities of followers toward accomplishment of aims usually mutually beneficial for leaders, followers, and the macro context of which they are a part.”

It’s his definition of a leader, however, that captures the significance of being God’s leader for me.

“A leader is a person with a God-given capacity and a God-given responsibility to influence a specific group of God’s people toward His purposes for the group.”  Dr. J. Robert Clinton

Regardless of which definition you may prefer, one word is repeated frequently and is at the heart of leadership.  That word is INFLUENCE!

Let’s examine J. Robert Clinton’s definition as a leader more closely.

A leader, as defined from a study of Biblical leadership, is a person . . .

  • …with God-given capacity (denotes giftedness capacity in terms of spiritual gifts, natural talents, and acquired skills and suggests leadership character, as well as potential to be developed.)
  • …AND with God-given responsibility (denotes a downward sense of responsibility, a burden from God, to influence others for God; and, an upward sense of responsibility, accountability to God, for the people being influenced.)

…who is influencing

  • …a specific group of God’s people (those to whom the leader is given charge by God, those he/she is responsible for and may include direct and indirect influence over them).
  • …towards God’s purposes for the group.  (The prime function of leadership is the influencing of groups so as to accomplish God’s purposes involving the group.  This requires vision).  This external direction is what distinguishes a Christian leader from a secular leader.  Christian leaders must move followers toward recognition of, acceptance of and participation in bringing about that God-given vision.

A focus on leadership or a leader does not, in any way, diminish the role and function of a manager.  Comparing a leader and a manager has often been reduced to a simplified contrast – leaders lead people while managers manage things.  Managers also manage people.  The following comparison between leadership and management is more nuanced and accurate.


Sets Vision

Provides Motivation

Sets Standards


Personal Authority Required

Future Focus

Grows & Enhances



Implements Vision


Implements Standards

Organizes & Plans

Positional Authority Required

Present Focus

Arranges & Tells

What is even more profound is the fact that God chooses his followers to facilitate His redemptive purposes in the world.  He selects men and women to provide leadership and management to accomplish his agenda.

As stated earlier, the quality of leadership and management expressed is totally dependent on what authority informs, conditions, and establishes it – the world, the flesh, the devil and his minions, or God.  Sometimes great change benefitting others arises from despicable motives.  The results do not, however, justify the means used to produce them.  For instance, a company builds a factory in a depressed area providing desperately needed jobs.  The motive of the company, however, is to make as much money as possible regardless of the harm it is doing to the environment through careless disposal of manufacturing waste that is polluting the water supply. 

Motives matter.  God judges the motives of our heart.

Proverbs 16:2 All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.

1 Chronicles 28:9 "And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts.

1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.

James 4:3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

What informs the exercise of your leadership or management?

What authority do you rely on for guidance?

What motivates your leadership or management?

Who do you respect as a leader or manager?

What informs and motivates them?

To be continued…

Leadership & Formation #1

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Being in the ‘Winter’ of my leadership, I have come to many conclusions regarding the theory and exercise of leadership.  These conclusions have been reached through study, mentoring, exercise, and observation.  You may not agree with some of my conclusions.  I do not presume to know all there is to know on the subject.  I am compelled to humbly pass on to others what I have learned on my journey in the hope some of it will benefit you the reader. 

I encourage you to submit comments accordingly but ask that they be given respectfully and thoughtfully.  I will attempt to make frequent postings on the subject of leadership. I will be doing so from a Christian perspective.  Each weekly contribution will be posted in several locations…LinkedIn, Facebook, HOAW Blog (, and HOAW Website (

Leadership & Formation #1

We are all leaders by default.  You may not see yourself as a leader. You may be a reluctant leader.  You may be a person who has learned to be a leader.  Or you may be a natural leader.  There are times when you are a follower and other times a leader.  But make no mistake about it everyone leads at some time whether on the job or in the home, completing a project or volunteering one’s time.  Anytime you make or implement a decision that impacts others beside yourself you are leading.  On any given day you can find examples of good leadership or bad leadership. 

One scholar has noted leadership is the most observed and least understood phenomena on earth.  Attempts to define a leader or leadership represent multiple perspectives...

“There are only three kinds of people in the world - those that are immovable, those that are moveable, and those that move them.”

“Leadership is a relationship in which one person seeks to influence the behaviors, beliefs, attitudes, or values of another.  In the context of organizational management, leadership is a relationship of influence with the twin objectives of accomplishing a task and developing the people.”

“Leadership is the ability and the activity of influencing people and of shaping their behavior.”

“A leader is someone you will follow to a place you wouldn’t go by yourself.”

“A leader is a person who influences people to accomplish a purpose.”

In the course of my doctoral work I reviewed over 300 definitions of a leader and leadership.  One common theme repeated itself in many of the definitions I reviewed – that theme was ‘influence.’  In the New Testament, we are called to ‘influence’ others for kingdom purposes.  That being the case, we are all leaders by default.

The question then is…“How well do you lead when given an opportunity to do so?”  “What and/or who informs how you lead?”  “What stands in a privileged position of authority over your leadership?”  “What conditions and shapes the exercise of your leadership?” 

To be continued…

Phase III - The Guide

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We have recently added a new ministry to Heart of a Warrior...

Heart of a Warrior – Phase III: The Guide will explain the importance of mentoring, introduce you to successful mentoring concepts, give you guidelines on effective mentoring, help you select an appropriate mentor, and provide you with advice on mentoring others within your sphere of influence. At certain times in our lives we need intensive mentoring to construct solid foundations.

At other times we need occasional mentors to address struggles we face; crises we encounter, or help we need to overcome barriers. In some cases we need to know where to go to facilitate our development; what resources we need to make improvements; where we can turn to get the help we need to lead to spiritual maturity.

Research has indicated that people who finished well have had anywhere from 10 to 15 mentors in their lives. Phase III will help determine your mentoring needs. It will also help you become an effective mentor of others—to pass on to others what you have learned (2 Timothy 2:2).

There are only four legacies one can live and leave: no legacy whatsoever, a perishable legacy, a bad legacy, or a godly legacy. Living and leaving a godly legacy will help us finish well. Some people drift through life, gliding from one experience to the next, causing no major fuss and living undistinguished lives. Their legacy is leaving no legacy at all. Others leave a perishable legacy the memory of which fades with time. Monuments may still be standing but few people know why? Still others leave a bad legacy having given in to their dark side often supported by people who condone their behavior. What distinguishes such a person is their badness. Then we have people who leave a godly legacy in the lives of others, the gift that keeps giving growing more meaningful as time passes.


Mentoring is a relational process in which a mentor, who knows or has experienced something, transfers that something (resources for wisdom, information, experience, confidence, insight, relationships, status, etc.) to a mentoree, at an appropriate time and manner, so that it facilitates development or empowerment. More succinctly, mentoring is a relational experience through which one person empowers another by sharing God-given resources.

The Phase III journey will establish the importance of being mentored and mentoring others.  No one effectively navigates life without assistance and support from others more mature and seasoned.  Mentors help people learn the basics of walking with Christ (disciplers), help people learn how to mature in depth in their Christian life (spirituality mentors), help people learn to do things (coaches), help people by giving wise advice to help them through situations (counselors), and help people learn necessary ideas and get perspectives (teachers).

The mentoring experience can impart new…

  • Habits,
  • Desires,
  • Knowledge,
  • Values,
  • Competencies,
  • Skills,
  • Connections, and
  • Resources

So that unrealized potential is tapped, destructive practices are eliminated, God’s ordained destiny is realized, and one’s legacy is established.

Areas that may require mentoring could include…

  • Life stage issues,
  • Knowledge on specific subjects or topics,
  • Life or work experiences,
  • New competencies and skills,
  • Important values and lessons,
  • Personal evaluation and assessment,
  • Network introductions,
  • New methods, practices, or strategies,
  • Wisdom and discernment,
  • Life and ministry experience,
  • Timely advice,
  • Key principles or insights,
  • Organization influence
  • Sponsorship, and
  • Access to resources.

These participant will benefit as follows …

  • Introduction to the importance of mentoring and being mentored.
  • Description of intensive, occasional, and passive mentoring.
  • Explanation of the nine different types of mentors.
  • Learn the significance of the mentoring continuum.
  • Develop a mentoring constellation.
  • Understand the ten commandments of mentoring.
  • Explore mentoring resources.
  • Discover how to find a mentor.
  • Study how to be a mentor.
  • Create a mentoring contract.
  • Implement mentoring steps.

A time to change...

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Newly Published

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index.jpgA Rattling of Sabers has exceeded expectations and reached a sales plateau that resulted in republishing the book in 2012 by iUniverse.  The revised version is available at or iUniverse.  Check it out.

Ireland 2013

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It has been a long time since I posted.  For that I apologize.  I just returned from a month in Ireland where my wife and I celebrated our 44th anniversary.  We needed the time to decompress from a particularly difficult year and a half that required daily vigilance to protect my family.  I came to Ireland for the first time in 2007 by invitation of a friend, Erwin McManus, lead pastor of Mosaic in LA.  I arrived a week early for the sole purpose of touring this amazing country staying in castles at night.  As I traveled west I came upon the beauty and tranquility of Western Ireland.  In 2010 my wife and I stayed at Ballynahinch Castle for 10 days.  I knew I would be back.

The first half of July was spent in a condo in the sleepy fishing village of Roundstone.  Each day we would watch the tide comein and go out floating the fishing boats resting on the mud flats of the quay.  I have remarked on many ocassions suggesting that anxiety sucking magnets are embedded in the soil of Ireland and as you travel across the country all anxiety is pulled from your soul. 

The latter half of our stay was spent in a small cottage outside the village of Cong near Ashford Castle and the Cong Abbey ruins. Each morniing my wife and I would rise, have breakfast, and watch the colts run up and down a field next to the cottage.  I would then begin writing and aside from a lunch break continue writing until 4:00 PM each day.  Then we would walk down to the village and go to the one consisten wifi location - Pat Cohan's Pub.  By the ned of our stay I had completed the manuscript of my next book entitled "Setting Your Course:  Finding Focus for Your Journey."  I am a stream of thought type of writer that requires some degree of extended seclusion to focus on the task at hand.  By the end of our stay the manuscript was completed - 14 chapters, 12 appendices, 500 footnotes, and 422 pages. 

The book is written around a journey metaphor of a compass, a map, and a guide. 

The purpose of the book is to help the men and women set their course, provide focus for their life, engage God’s journey for them, and finish the journey well.  The book is divided into three parts preceded by a prologue and followed by an epilogue.  Many of the chapters provide thoughtful questions that will assist you in the preparation of executable plans.   You will be directed to appropriate additional resources and applicable appendices to help you.  Each part—the compass, the map, and the guide—provides directions on how to prepare a deliberate plan of action.  Forms for each of these plans are provided.  Once each of these plans is completed, you will have a Focused Life Plan to implement so that you will finish well. 

      The prologue presents a wide-awake dream depicting a scenario where the dreamer is led to a heavenly throne where they find out what is in store for them and their part in it.  The epilogue provides a summary and serves to put the entire journey together into a comprehensive whole – a focused life driven by a calibrated heart, defined by a unique and personal life trajectory, and aided by guidance and accountability from others who will help us realize our calling.

      Part 1 – The Compass – explains the importance of orienting our lives in accordance with established compass points.  Once we understand how to use the compass, how to plot our course, how to find our bearings, and how to determine the direction we are to take to fulfill our destiny, we are ready for the exciting journey that lies ahead.  Beliefs, values, attitudes, and motives will be examined under the microscope of God’s word.  Alignment procedures will be presented.  Corrective and preventative measures for finishing well will be outlined.  The field of transformational change is the heart.  Transformation of the heart leads to transformed behavior.  Directions on how to develop a Personal Alignment Plan will complete this section.  Part 1 is about God working in you so that He may work through you.

      Part 2 – The Map – defines the trajectory we are to engage based on how God has wired us.  This section will help a man or woman move from a scattered approach to living life to a laser beam like focus.  Beginning with an all-out commitment to Him, a focused life is a life dedicated to exclusively carrying out God’s unique purposes through it by identifying the focal issues, that is, biblical purpose, life purpose, committed passion, major role, unique methodology, and ultimate contribution which allows and increasing prioritization of life’s activities around the focal issues, and results in a satisfying life of being and doing.  Directions on how to develop a Personal Life Mandate will complete this section.    Part 2 is about God working His redemptive purposes in the world through you.

      Part 3 – The Guide – stresses the importance of being mentored and mentoring others.  Those who have finished well have had multiple mentors in their lives; intensive, occasional, and passive mentors who guide them along their unique trajectory.  Living a legacy worth leaving in the lives of others is addressed.  Guidance on how to finish well is provided.  You be taught how to find a mentor to address your developmental needs.  You will also be given counsel on how to determine what type of mentor you are and how to mentor others.  Accountability guidelines are also addressed.  Directions on how to develop a Personal Mentoring Strategy will complete this section.    Part 3 is about God working in and through us with the support of others working with us.

Hopefully, by Christmas the book will be available.

Father's Day

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On this Father’s Day I am reminded of my own words in my recently published book – Papa’s Blessing. When fatherhood (or grandfatherhood for that matter) is considered we can choose what kind of influence we will have in our children (and grandchildren’s) lives. Being with the boys daily over the last several weeks has underscored the importance of being a strategic grandparent (parent) in their lives.

The strategic father is a father who is strategically engaged with their children. They realize the importance of being both a sage on the stage and a guide by the side. There are moments when lessons need to be taught. And there are times when guidance needs to be given. A sage on the stage makes pronouncements when needed based on their experiences in life. A guide by the side seizes a teachable moment brought on by a situation, circumstance or event. He provides guidance using the moment as a means to illustrate a value or principle that will help the child navigate their journey of life. The strategic father is observant of what is going on with their children. They are intentional about their parenting. They are proactively engaged. And they are situationally responsive and move from a director, to a coach, to a partner, and then to a mentor based on the readiness (willingness, confidence, and ability).

Playing a sport, teaching a course, completing a project—anything worth doing and doing well requires a strategy. A strategy is a plan, tactic, method, approach, scheme or stratagem designed to respond to a given situation, event, or a set of circumstances. The word is military in origin and refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. So, what does a strategic father look like; what characteristics does he possess; what qualities does he exude?

Five Qualities of Strategic Fatherhood (Grandfatherhood)

1. A strategic father is child-centered. (Train a child in the way s/he should go, and when s/he is old s/he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6 NIV)
2. A strategic father is protective. (If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:8 NIV)
3. A strategic father is engaged. (Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 NIV)
4. A strategic father is strategic. (Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV)
5. A strategic father is a model. (For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:8 NIV)

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Fate of my family...

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Today, beginning at 9:00 the fate of my loved ones will be decided. No matter the forces arrayed the Lord will prevail - we are called to live by faith, something the world cannot fully comprehend. Faith lived out is marked by obedience before freedom (John 8:31-32), commitment before understanding (John 7:16-17), and acceptance before realization (Hebrews 12:11). The world wants freedom before obedience, understanding before commitment, and realization before acceptance--just the opposite of how people of faith are to live. My faith is in the Lord, He can be trusted. Pleae pray with me today beginning at 9:00 AM.

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When all else fails...

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I am in a battle for the well being of my family. When you are used to fixing things it is hard to stand back and wait on God. Trusting Him to resolve a difficult situation when the outcome is in the hands of humans oppressed by the Enemy tests one's faith. But when circumstances seem hopeless from a human point of view those circumstances God's power and might shows. Lord God, lift this great burden, resolve this injustice, remove this oppression I pray. It is You whom I trust.

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What an amazing year...

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So much has happened this year--many men have received Christ and many have rededicated their lives to Christ all seeking to live a Godly life. 

      • Five Men's (Retreats) Advances
      • Graduation of a Phase I - Calibration of the Heart
      • Graduation of a Phase II - Focus of a Warrior
      • Launching of 3 Phase I groups.
      • Multiple speaking engagements.
      • Officiated at 2 HOAW weddings.
      • Launched a new HOAW Webpage.
      • Received generous donations from men whose lives have been impacted by HOAW.
      • Prayed and counseled with men throughout tthe year.
      • Formalized the strategic direction of HOAW for the future.
      • Published a new book--Papa's Blessings--in July.

And the story goes on.  God has moved in the lives of many men.  We celebrate the victories, pray for the struggles, and mourn the defeats.  Through it all God has been faithful.  He has made it abundantly clear that HOAW must continue.

We celebrate the birth of our Lord in this season.  Take time to acknowledge the significance of His life.  As the saying goes--He IS the reason for the season!

We would also ask that you prayerfully consider giving to the ministry of Heart of a Warrior.  We have made some changes to our webpage recently that enables you to give one time donations or set up an annual, monthly, or weekly contribution automatically.  Please visit our site

May God richly bless you this coming year and may your life be a blessing to others within your sphere of influence.


Just Published - Papa's Blessings

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Papas Blessing 2.JPGMy latest book has just been published and is now available at the following,, and iUniverse in hard cover, soft cover, and e-book for Kindle.

Like my first book, it was written while I was a visiting scholar at C.S. Lewis' home, the Kilns, in Headington, England.

Every human being longs for the affirmation, acceptance, and esteem of someone who matters to them. Sadly, most of us never hear the words we long to hear—words of appreciation, esteem, recognition, and value. In Papa’s Blessings, author Dr. Greg Bourgond focuses on the vital importance of bestowing blessings upon others. This practical and helpful guide provides a fresh take on applying an ancient practice to life in the modern world. Bourgond establishes the importance of blessing, identifies the eight essential components of a meaningful blessing, provides multiple examples of blessings, describes how to administer a blessing, explains the legacy of blessings, and includes a worksheet for developing and giving a blessing. He combines biblical references, illustrations, and personal and emotional stories to show it’s never too late or too early to give a blessing to those who long for one—beginning with your loved ones and continuing with those who come within your sphere of influence. The world can be a cold and unforgiving place, and Papa’s Blessings helps prepare our loved ones by giving them something that will sustain them on the difficult journey before them—a blessing.

If you are in the area there will be a book signing September 17th from 2:00 - 4:00 PM @ 391 Harriet Circle, Shoreview,Minnesota 55126.

Troubling Times...

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When I was young in the faith a godly man took me under his wing and taught me the fundamentals of my faith--the inspiration of Scripture, the atonement of Christ, the priesthood of believers, the sole efficacy of the finished work of Christ and the cross, the importance of Biblical truth, the resurrection of believers, the power of the Gospel to change the hearts of men and women, the responsibilities of fully devoted followers of Christ.

I see to today the compromise of the faith for self-centered goals--what's in it for me.  I see the culture of our day creeping into the Church with alarming affect  I see the 'inclusiveness' surplanting the "eclusiveness" of the Gospel.  Finding common ground with other faiths, even though they may deny the divinity of Christ or the Trinity as secondary to inclusiveness concerns me a great deal.

One need only look around them to see tolerance so pervasive today gaining ground over the uniqueness of the Gospel being the only means of restoration, renewal, and needed calibration resting solidly on repentance of a fallen world. 

Even today their are arguments a plenty suggesting multiple worldviews with the Christian faith.  Although it may be true that, from man's perspective, he/she may view the specific differently.  But from God's point of view the Biblical worldview is clear and unalterable.

Each of us has a set of perceptual attitudes that help shape our outlook on life.  If beliefs are the foundations for our behavior, and values are the filters through which we process life's decisions, then attitudes are the lens through which we observe life around us.  Our perceptions about life are shaped by our attitudes.  Our system of attitudes is also called our worldview.

The term worldview refers to any "ideology, philosophy, theology, movement, or religion that provides an overarching approach to understanding God, the world, and man's relations to God and the world."  Ronald H. Nash is his book entitled Worldviews In Conflict, defines a worldview as “a conceptual scheme by which we consciously or unconsciously place or fit everything we believe and by which we interpret and judge reality.”  He goes on to say, “achieving awareness of our worldview is one of the most important things we can do to enhance self-understanding.  Insight into the worldviews of others is essential to an understanding of what makes them tick.”  The implications for evangelism are obvious.

Our set of perceptual attitudes or worldview determines how we perceive and interpret our observations of the world around us!  Dan Taylor, in The Myth of Certainty, states that "every person has a way of making sense out of the world.  We have a compulsion for ordering and explaining our experiences.  We belong to communities of belief which help shape, whether we are conscious of it or not, our views of the world and our actions in it... Most people thoughtlessly adapt an inherited worldview, or one absorbed from their surroundings.  Even those who explicitly work one out often operate in daily life by a different, less conscious system than the one they carefully construct. With unanimity, the primary goal is correct behavior.  With unity, the primary goal is a right spirit.  "

How we interpret events, draw conclusions about what we read, evaluate what we observe, assess what we hear, process arguments, depends on the worldview we hold at the time.  As many have said, we need to reaffirm a biblical worldview that places Christ and His church above world trends -- economic, political, cultural, or religious.  Philosopher W. P. Alston, in his book Problems of Philosophy of Religion, offers a compelling reason why worldviews are important. He states, “It can be argued on the basis of facts concerning the nature of man and the conditions of human life that human beings have a deep-seated need to form some general picture of the total universe in which we live, in order to be able to relate their own fragmentary activities to the universe as a whole in a way meaningful to them.”  The Bible is clear about the issue – “God has placed (a sense of) eternity in the minds of men . . . Ecclesiastes 3:11).”  Our worldview seeks to bring order out of chaos and the seemingly random events of our existence.

The Biblical Worldview…in a nutshell

1.            The nature of ultimate reality – God exists and is active in our lives.

2.            The nature of human personhood – humans bear the image of God.

3.            The basic human dilemma – the image of God is marred by sin.

4.            The solution to the human dilemma – the person and work of Christ.

5.            Our human destiny – eternal life or eternal damnation.

To my dying day I will defend the Gospel which is inclusive in its invitation and exclusive in its requirements and responsibilities.  To my dying dau I will defend the Biblical worldview that requires us to see the world as God sees it not as we might want to fashion it to be.

A Rattling of Sabers - Feedback

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I recently received the following email from someone I have never met but who has been reading my book "A Rattling of Sabers:  Preparing Your Heart for Life's Battles."  I asked him if I could put his comments on my blog to which he gave his permission.

"I have been working my way through your book A Rattling of Sabers and have a very difficult time finding the word to describe how I feel about your work. Simply put, as I have shared with others, it is the single most comprehensive and authoritative work address the conditions of a man’s heart in relation to what God has called him to. You cannot read this book without examining yourself. Many times I have started reading a book by a respected author who has a very good premise or idea that draws you in to start with. Then it becomes stretch so thin that you can see right through it. Your work has taken me deeper than I thought even possible. I still have not finished reading the book but I know this is just the beginning. There is much that I want to share with you when the time is right.

One of the main reasons I am writing to you is the upcoming high school graduations. I was speaking with my wife and telling her that I could think of no better gift for a young man. I would like to order four more books. There will be more to come, I am recommending your book to every man I know and even a few women, ha."

Larry A. from Galva, Kansas

Editorial Feedback on "Papa's Blessings"

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The book, Papa's Blessings made it through its initial editorial review.  Feedback from the editors was very positive--in fact it was relayed to me that the responses endorsing the book were uncharacteristically complimentary.  They indicated that the book and its contents are very much needed today.

Alive and Kicking...

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Had a wonderful experience speaking to 100+ men at the Salvation Army Rehabilitation Center in Minneapolis MN.  God showed up and moved the hearts of many men.  I have been asked to come back.

I just received an invitation to be the keynote speaker at a Men's Retreat in Washington September 30th through October 2nd.  God continues to open doors.  I asked them to change the name from Men's Retreat to Men's Advance.  I believe God calls men to advance, not retreat.

God continues to open doors for Heart of a Warrior Ministries.  As many of you know I never planned to start a ministry--but God seemingly had other plans.  I will walk through any door He opens and serve where asked to serve.

My last book, "A Rattling of Sabers:  Preparing Your Heart for Life's Battles" continues to do well.  It was selected by Barnes and Noble to highlight on their webpage the month of January.  I continue to get emails from people who have purchased the book.  So far 6 people have written reviews of my book on

Many of the comments I have received go something like this--"I thought I was going to breeze through the book but found I had to stop repeatedly either because I was convicted or I was compelled to reflect on my life."  Last night at Lino Lakes Prison a man who had purchased the ebook version of the book said he had to purchase a hard copy because he felt the need to underline, highlight, or make margin notes.

Again, as some of you know I wrote the book primarily for three reasons.

  1. The hope that someone who doesn't know Christ would come to know Him as a result of reading the book.
  2. The hope that someone who does know Christ but their relationship with Him has stagnated would have their love for Him reignited.
  3. The hope that my grandchildren would find comfort in knowing what "Papa' felt was important in life and what I believed and valued.  So many of our loved ones don't know what means most to us.

The next book "Papa's Blessing" should be out by Father's Day.  I hope people will find it of value as they seek the bless those who mean the most to them.

Last night, I concluded 2 years working with men who first completed Phase I: Heart of a Warrior (calibrated their internal compass) and now have completed Phase II:  Focus of a Warrior (their unique roadmap).  They read aloud to the group their Personal Life Mandates consisting of their Biblical purpose, life purpose, committed passion, role characterisitics, unique methodologies, and ultimate contribution).  It was quite moving to hear them.  Heart of a Warrior has been at Lino Lakes Prison for four years now.  One team does Phase I led by Scott Strand and another team does Phase II led by me.

May God stimulate you to be all He has called you to be first with your loved ones and then with your church, community and work setting.  Remember, God is looking for FAT leaders--faithful, available, and teachable.  It is the only time you don't have to go on a diet.

Strenght and Honor!


Speaking Schedule

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    CY 2011 - 2012

    September 17-26, 2011
    4th Annual Leader’s Conference
    Sibui & Cluj, Romania  

    September 30 - Oct 2, 2011
    Men's Advance
    Lake Retreat Camp and Conference Center
    Ravensdale, Washington

    October 7-8, 2011
    Systems Theory
    Fort Myers Agape Christian Fellowship
    Fort Myers, Florida

    November 18-20, 2011
    Men's Retreat
    Covenant Pines Bible Camp
    McGregor, MN
    January 20-21, 2011
    Men's Retreat
    Grace Baptist Church
    Grantsburg, WI

    February 5-12-19-26, 2011
    Preaching – Papa’s Blessings
    The Bridge
    Somerset, WI

    January 10, 2011

Papa's Blessing

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Just back from the Kilns in Headington England, the home of C.S. Lewis.  I finished my next book tentatively titled "Papa's Blessing."  The book will address the importance of blessing those who mean the most to us.  It includes guidance on how to select values, draft a blessing (includes a detailed worksheet), and how to administer a blessing.  I hope to have it published by Father's Day.

Papa's Blessing

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FamilyI have just contracted with iUniverse to publish my next book titled "Papa's Blessing."  I wrote the book because so many people encouraged me to do so.  Everywhere I speak on the subject of blessing I receive tremendous response.  Every son, daughter, father, and mother longs to receive a blessing from someone that matters in their life.  The sad truth is that most of us never receive the blessing we seek.

The book will include many examples of blessings not the least of which will be blessings I have written and administered to all my grandchildren.

Many have asked how to write and give a blessing.  I have concluded that a meaningful blessing includes the following elements...some of which was derived and adapted from Gary Smalley and John Trent's book entitled "The Blessing."

Meaningful Touch

Spoken Word

Personal Assigned Values 

Expression of Esteem and Affirmation

Picture of a Unique and Distinct Future

Scriptural Focus and Support

Commitment to Bringing the Dream Alive

The book will include a Blessing Worksheet.  This helpful aid will collect the necessary information neeeded in crafting a meaningful blessing including candidate information, prayer response, personal observations, a pattern for a blessing, a blessing draft, and details of a ceremony to administer the blessing.

I hope to have the book ready for Father's Day in 2011.

My hope and prayer is that many will take the initiative to bless the ones they love.

I hope you will want to purchase the book and receive  a blessing from the Lord by blessing those who mean the most to you.

Kilns - 2010

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Kilns 2 Earlier this month I was extended an invitation to once again come to the Kilns in Headington England, the home of C.S. Lewis, as a Visiting Scholar to write my next book.

Papa's Blessing is about blessing.  Every person longs to receive a blessing from someone that matters in their life.  Whenever I speak on the subject of blessing I see the impact it has on the audience.  In all cases, I am repeatedly asked how to pick a value for a loved one, how to draft a blessing, and how to give a blessing. 

The book describes the process I went through selecting values for my grandchildren, developing a blessing contaning those values (for them and others), and bestowing the blessing. There are numerous examples and a comprehensive worksheet designed to help someone through the process.

I finished the manuscript in 8 days.  Stats:  ~120 pages, 31,200 words, 7 chapters, 2 apendices, a dedication page, preface, and introduction.

Chapter Titles:

Chapter 1 - The Importance of Blessing

Chapter 2 - The Source of Blessing (Strategic Fatherhood)

Chapter 3 - The Power of Blessing

Chapter 4 - The Essentials of Blessing

Chapter 5 - The Preparation of Blessing

Chapter 6 - The Realization of Blessing

Chapter 7 - The Legacy of Blessing

Appendix A – The Blessing Worksheet

Appendix B – Personal Bio of Dr. Greg Bourgond

As I near the end of my stay, I am once again feeling the blessing of God.  This is such an inspiring place to live and write.  As you may recall I was here in 2008 writing my first book, "A Rattling of Sabers."  If you haven't gotten your copy yet you can order it from or Barnes & Noble.

Click on this link:  A Rattling of Sabers:  Preparing Your Heart for Life's Battles

Oddly enough, I wrote the last 8 chapters of that book in 8 days as well.

Magdalen College 2 While I was here at the Kilns I attended a Carol Sing at Magdelan College Chapel on the campus of the college in Oxford.  Lewis taught here for a number of years.  It was on Addison's Walk in the college grounds that he and Tolkien would discuss spiritual matters that contributed to Lewis' conversion.  We were seated directly behind the altar.  It was stuning, inspiring, and uplifting.

I have a few days left and will spend some time in Oxford.

November 6-7, 2010 Christ Community Church - Rochester MN

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Posted by greg under Events

I will be speaking in the Saturday evening service (5:30 PM) and twice on Sunday morning (9:00 and 10:30 AM) on the subject of Strategic Fatherhood.

I will be speaking at the same church in the same time slots on November 20-21, 2010 on Legacy. 

If you are in the area come to...

Christ Community Church
4400 55th St. NW
Rochester, MN 55901
Phone: (507) 282-5569

Romania 2010

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As I continue to reflect on what God did in Romania I am humbled by the opportunity to serve these amazing leaders.  They do not have the resources we enjoy in the U.S. (resources we often take for granted).  They are eeking out an existence in very diffficult circumstances.  Coming together isn't easy either because they have come out of the communist era where they didn't know who to trust.

Yet, they are committed to the Lord, desire to serve Him faithfully, and try to live their faith in boldness and God-honoring ways.

I suggested that they consider bringing someone else to speak to them--I have been there for three years running.  They refused.  Why?  They said, "Because we trust you."  I feel the weight of that.  For that reason alone, I will be back in Romania, God willing, next year. 

Romania 2010

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Will be in Romania September 18 through the 26th for two Heart of a Warrior events in separate cities.  I will be speaking four times in each setting.  This is the third year we will be in Romania.  Please pray that God will do something special in the lives of the men who will attend.

New Webpage

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Heart of a Warrior Ministries announces a new webpage.  We are pleased with the launch of a new website for the ministry.  This site will be the primary location for all information related to Heart of a Warrior Ministries. 


Rattling.gifDon't forger that my new book has just been published and can be ordered at, Barnes & Noble, and iUniverse.  For more information check out the following website

NEW BOOK by Dr. Greg Bourgond

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Rattling.gifIn A Rattling of Sabers: Preparing Your Heart for Life’s Battles, Dr. Greg Bourgond leads men on a spiritual journey that will help them embrace a renewed relationship with Christ and a life filled with authenticity, integrity, courage, and honor under the authority of God. Dr. Bourgond, founder of Heart of a Warrior Ministries, has dedicated nearly four decades to ministering to men through discipleship, mentoring, teaching, and leadership development. While guiding men on a journey to wholeness by helping them tune their own hearts to the heart of God, Dr. Bourgond shares life illustrations and fresh theological insights that will teach men to become aware of their unique wiring and God's purposes for their lives. Dr. Bourgond identifies situational lifestyles that men adopt to navigate the pathways of our lives, addresses the real battlefield for change and transformation that will help men reach the objectives of God’s preferred lifestyle, and provides guidance on how to correct corrupted behavior and proactively live a godly life. A Rattling of Sabers offers a unique and inspirational map that allows men to bring glory and honor to God and be encouraged to actively live the life that God has chosen for each of them.

Purchase now at...




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Rattling.gifIn A Rattling of Sabers: Preparing Your Heart for Life’s Battles, a Christian minister leads men on a spiritual journey that will help them embrace a renewed relationship with Christ and a life filled with authenticity, integrity, courage, and honor under the authority of God. Dr. Bourgond, founder of Heart of a Warrior Ministries, has dedicated nearly four decades to ministering to men through discipleship, mentoring, teaching, and leadership development. While guiding men on a journey to wholeness by helping them tune their own hearts to the heart of God, Dr. Bourgond shares life illustrations and fresh theological insights that will teach men to become aware of their unique wiring and God's purposes for their lives. Dr. Bourgond identifies situational lifestyles that men adopt to navigate the pathways of our lives, addresses the real battlefield for change and transformation that will help men reach the objectives of God’s preferred lifestyle, and provides guidance on how to correct corrupted behavior and proactively live a godly life. A Rattling of Sabers offers a unique and inspirational map that allows men to bring glory and honor to God and be encouraged to actively live the life that God has chosen for each of them.

Purchase now at...



Just Published - A Rattling of Sabers by Dr. Greg Bourgond

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Now availble at Amazon and Barnes&Noble...

This book will help us become men of honor and integrity by aligning our hearts with God's heart. Our behavior, good or bad, is reflective of what's in our hearts. Let's let the scalpel of God's word perform surgery on our hearts so that our lives bring glory instead of shame to the Father.  The objective of this book is to help you become a man after God’s heart.  We encourage you to engage in a life-transforming journey that will teach you how to live differently—to live victoriously, to live lives of integrity and honor under God’s authority.  The book is divided into three parts.  Part one contains three chapters. Part two includes six chapters.  The final part closes with two chapters.  Although helpful suggestions and applications are provided throughout the book the last two chapters focus entirely on application.  They answer the question, “What do we do now that we know.   

Part 1:  Preparing for Battle

Part 1 begins the journey by addressing what a man after God’s heart looks like.  In chapter 1 twelve essential characteristics are described and explained.  Chapter 2 identifies situational lifestyles we adopt to navigate the pathways of our lives are described.  These lifestyles promise victory but only result in dysfunctional approaches to life’s problems.  In opposition to these defective patterns, chapter 3 lays out God’s preferred lifestyle, the one that indeed delivers what it promises, a victorious life, if we have the courage to train to reach it.  This chapter sets the stage for all that follows in the next two parts.  It sets the objective.  The remaining chapters are designed to help the reader reach this objective.  All the remaining chapters point to this objective.

Part 2:  Surveying the Battlefield

Part 2, the largest section of the book, addresses the real battlefield for change and transformation that will help us reach our objective of God’s preferred lifestyle. Counter to what we have come to believe, sanctified behavior modification is not the route to lasting transformational change leading to spiritual maturity and abundant living promised in the Bible.  Chapter 4 opens with a critique of five deadly lies that if believed will lead to insignificance and mediocrity.  The chapter continues with an overview of the real battlefield where the struggle for victory is fought.  

Each chapter from this point on will include a Battle Plan at the end of the chapter.  This will give the reader an opportunity to engage the material covered from a personal point of view.  These sections will help the reader grasp the impact of the material in their personal life.  Certainly, the book can be read and hopefully enjoyed without interacting with the battle plans at the end of the chapters.  I believe, however, you will get much more out of the book by completing the battle plans along the way.  

Chapter 5 will briefly look at the map of the battlefield that must be defended and guarded if we are to live godly and honorable lives while we wait for the blessed appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.   This part also describes the topography of the battlefield in detail.  Four terrains will be addressed.  Chapter 6 addresses central beliefs, chapter 7 core values, chapter 8 worldview, and chapter 9 motives.  Each terrain builds on the one previous.  Together they comprise the complete landscape where the battle is fought, where the battle is won or lost.  

This part will illustrate the relationship between each of the battle terrains and their importance in determining victory or defeat.  Each terrain affects the others but one terrain, central beliefs, can positively or adversely affect or infect the others.  Just like operating software, this very important high ground on the battlefield determines how all application software functions.

Part 3:  Winning the Battle

Our final part answers the question, “So what?”  This part brings all that preceded it together into a functioning whole.  Chapter 10 puts all that has preceded this chapter in perspective.  This chapter will help you see the whole after having reviewed the parts.  Hopefully, it will bring it all together in one system so you can see how the individual parts interact with one another.  An example will be provided to that end.

Chapter 11 provides guidance on how to correct corrupted behavior.  This chapter will specific concrete steps you can take to remove and replace sinful behavior and the corruption in the heart that led to that behavior.  Specific corrective measures will be described.  Chapter 12 offers guidance for proactively living godly lives.  Once again, specific concrete steps will be presented, the completion of which help you life a productive and godly life.  Guidance in chapter 11 is corrective of destructive sinful behavior that brings shame and dishonor on us and God.  Guidance in chapter 12 is preventative in nature and will present help to live intentionally as men after God’s heart before problems arise that requires corrective measures.  

Put differently, the book is designed to help us become effective crime scene investigators.  How does one become a CSI?  What gives a CSI the edge to see things on a crime site that are there but overlooked by a casual observer?  What gives a CSI the capability to put evidence together to determine what actually happened at the crime site?  We may have some inherent qualities that lend themselves to becoming effective CSI’s.  But such intuitive knowledge is no replacement for solid training in disciplines needed to properly identify and interpret crime scenes.  Each CSI must be trained in a variety of skills to be effective in the field.  And then, to remain sharp, they must visit crime sites regularly.

This book will help you become good crime scene investigators of your own life primarily and others secondarily.  Hopefully, you will be given the best tools to determine what happened on your crime site and what accurate conclusions can be drawn to prevent it from happening again.

The end of the book is just the beginning.  Once you understand the dynamics of spiritual formation and spiritual transformation and begin to apply what you have learned under the authority of God, in response to the finished work of cross by Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, you will begin to live a legacy worth leaving in the lives of others.  You will finish the race well.

Let’s begin the journey.

Greg Speaking Schedule

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  • Men's Advance
  • September 18-27, 2010
  • Fagaras, Romania

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Lessons Learned from Ecclesiastes...

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Posted by SuperNOW


1.     Life apart from God is meaningless.

2.     Life is seasonal and cyclical.

3.     Wisdom has its limits.

4.     Activity without purpose is meaningless.

5.     A good name is better than fine perfume (7:1)

6.     It is better to heed a wise man's rebuke than to listen to the song of fools (7:5)

7.     Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools (7:9)

8.     There is a proper time and procedure for every matter (8:6)

Chapter 8:1-6 

(v1)  Who is like the wise man?  Who knows the explanation of things?  Wisdom brightens a man's face and changes its hard appearance.

9.     Godly wisdom can anticipate what's ahead.  Little surprises a man of wisdom or catches him unaware.

(v2)  Obey the king's command, I say, because you took an oath before God. (v3) Do not be in a hurry to leave the king's presence.

10.  Once you decide to leave you will no longer have the opportunity to change the outcome--you will have to start over somewhere else to establish credibility before you will have an opportunity to bring change.

(v4) Since a king's word is supreme, who can say to him, "What are you doing?"   (v5) Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm, and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure. (v6) For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a man's misery weighs heavily upon him.

11.  Do not stand up for a bad cause, for he will do whatever he pleases. A good cause becomes a bad cause simply because you bring it up at the wrong time.

12.  There is a proper time and procedure for every matter.  You have to know what hills you will die on, what hills you will bleed on, and what hills are not worth climbing--die on a few hills, bleed on a few hills; everything else is not worth your engagement.

13.  Swift justice is prudent (8:11)

14.  It goes better for God-fearing men, who are reverent before God (8:12)

15.  Under the sun, meaning and understanding are futile (8:17)

16.  Wisdom is better than strength (9:16)

17.  A little folly outweighs wisdom and honor (10:1)

18.  The fool multiplies words (10:14)

19.  Words uttered will go beyond the boundaries you set (10:20)

20.  There are consequences for every action (11:9)

21.  Remember God in your youth before old age dulls you initiative (12:1-7)

22.  Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body (12:12)

23.  Our duty is to fear God and keep His commandments (12:13)

24.  Every deed, every hidden thing will be judged (12:14)

Lessons from Ecclesiastes #1

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Last Sunday, Father's Day, I met with ten men around a fire pit in my backyard.  Attending were a couple of my board members, current members of Phase II:  Focus of a Warrior, alumni from previous groups and two sons of men associated with Heart of a Warrior.  These occasional gatherings are meant for fellowship and 'deep' teaching.

We reviewed why each man came to HOAW after which I taught lessons from the Book of Ecclesiastes, one of my favorite books of the Bible.  Many find the book perplexing or depressing.  I do not.  Once you understand the primary key that unlocks the book it comes alive possessing many lessons for followers of Christ and leaders.

Solomon, the third king of Israel succeeded his father David. Solomon reflects on his life and evaluates the results of his activities finding some of value but most meaningless when life is lived on a horizontal plain apart from a vertical relationship with God--when life is engaged for the specific purpose of self-actualization.

There are a couple of phrases that are only found in Ecclesiastes and nowhere else in the Bible--under the sun and a chasing after the windUnder the sun , the primary key that unlocks the book, is found 29 times in the book.  This phrase implies "life lived by purely earthly and human values without recourse to a supernatural level of reality" is meaningless.  Anytime the phrase appears the author is commenting from the perspective of someone living their life on the horizontal plain apart from a vertical relationship with God. 

No matter what lofty achievements we obtain, what structures we build, what vineyards we plant, what companies we run, what successes we enjoy, what notoriety we are recognized for, what philanthropy we engage in, what books we write, what oratory we speak, what money we earn, what position or status we hold--all of it, according to the author, is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.  

One scholar summarizes the value of the book this way--"The Book of Ecclesiastes has a powerful message for our selfish, materialistic age.  It teaches that great accomplishments and earthly possessions alone do not bring lasting happiness.  True satisfaction comes from serving God and following His will for our lives."

Solomon concludes his analysis by identifying the single most important thing that matters.

The end of the matter, all has been heard.  Fear God, and keep His commandments; for this is the whole duty of man (Eccl 12:13 RSV).

Forgiveness and Repentance

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Recent events have compelled me to revisit the issues of forgiveness and repentance. 

We are called to forgive those who have harmed us.  Yet, forgiveness does not mean we have to invite the offender back into our lives especially if their past behavior suggests a pattern of abuse that could wound others again.  For instance, if someone caused great harm (emotionally, physically, or spiritually) to you or your loved ones you are not under any obligation to invite the possibility of a recurrence.

So, what then is meant by forgiveness?  A close friend of mine once gave me a good definition for forgiveness.  He said forgiveness is "choosing not to seek revenge."  Seeking revenge can take many forms--retaliation, reprisal, or retribution or other forms of 'getting back.'

This does not mean that you open yourself up to ongoing abuse from an abuser.  For instance, assume for a moment a financial planner squandered your retirement by spending your money on himself instead of making sound investments on your behalf.  You might forgive them but forgiveness does not mean you would invite them to handle your finances again.

When a brother who has wronged you asks for forgiveness and repents of their wrongdoing what then? 

First of all repentance is an expression of godly sorrow--it is a turning away from the sin (and actions) that gave rise to the need for repentance in the first place.  Restitution is required when warranted by the circumstances of the offense.  In Matthew 3:8 Jesus recounts an encounter John the Baptist had with the Pharisees and Sadducees.  He told them to "produce fruit in keeping with repentance."

The lack of fruit (restitution for instance) may be indicative of a counterfeit repentance.  It is very easy to ask someone's forgiveness and to express repentance yet not produce "fruit" in keeping with the repentance expressed.

You can choose to forgive (not seek revenge in word or deed) regardless of "fruit" in keeping with repentance but you do not have to invite the perpetrator back into your life.  The honesty of one's repentance for harm they have caused is validated when they provide restitution for the wrong they have committed.  You have a right to be a bit suspicious when the "fruit" is missing.

Pursue the Virtue of Contentment

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A good friend of mine just sent me a short piece written by Max Lucado.  It is particularly applicable to me.  As I have been carefully weighing options for my future now that I am no longer at Bethel I want to find a role that matches my wiring.  As I said in a recent interview, "I am not looking for the next step, I am looking for the last step.  I want to make a difference for the kingdom of God.  Anyway, hope Max's sentiments are helpful to you...

Pursue the Virtue of Contentment

by Max Lucado

A businessman bought popcorn from an old street vendor each day after lunch. He once arrived to find the peddler closing up his stand at noon. “Is something wrong?” he asked.

A smile wrinkled the seller’s leathery face. “By no means. All is well.”

“Then why are you closing your popcorn stand?”

“So I can go to my house, sit on my porch, and sip tea with my wife.”

The man of commerce objected. “But the day is still young. You can still sell.”

“No need to,” the stand owner replied. “I’ve made enough money for today.”

“Enough? Absurd. You should keep working.”

The spry old man stopped and stared at his well-dressed visitor. “And why should I keep working?”

“To sell more popcorn.”

“And why sell more popcorn?”

“Because the more popcorn you sell, the more money you make. The more money you make, the richer you are. The richer you are, the more popcorn stands you can buy. The more popcorn stands you buy, the more peddlers sell your product, and the richer you become. And when you have enough, you can stop working, sell your popcorn stands, stay home, and sit on the porch with your wife and drink tea.”

The popcorn man smiled. “I can do that today. I guess I have enough.”

Wise was the one who wrote, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income” (Eccles. 5:10 NIV).

Don’t heed greed.

Greed makes a poor job counselor.

Greed has a growling stomach. Feed it, and you risk more than budget-busting debt. You risk losing purpose. Greed can seduce you out of your sweet spot.

Before you change your job title, examine your perspective toward life. Success is not defined by position or pay scale but by this: doing the most what you do the best.

Parents, give that counsel to your kids. Tell them to do what they love to do so well that someone pays them to do it.

Spouses, urge your mate to choose satisfaction over salary. Better to be married to a happy person who has a thin wallet than a miserable person with a thick one. Besides, “a pretentious, showy life is an empty life; a plain and simple life is a full life” (Prov. 13:7 MSG).

Pursue the virtue of contentment. “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6 NIV). When choosing or changing jobs, be careful. Consult your design. Consult your Designer. But never consult your greed


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Life is full of changes.  I am no longer an employee of Bethel University.  I have served the school for 15 years.  It has been a good run - now I am ready to move on.  As I have prayed and contemplated where i might serve God's redemptive purposes I have concluded I need to be back on the front lines of ministry.

I don't know if it will be a church or ministry organization.  Maybe you would covenant with me to pray for God's leading and opportunities. 

I would like to hear from you.

Finally -- we have lift off.

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I just received 156 copies of a set of DVDs for Phase I:  Heart Calibration.  In the past we have relied upon audio conferencing to train leaders of Heart of a Warrior groups.  Now, we have a set of 4 DVDs that will accompany the Heart of a Warrior Manual for leaders. 

The first DVD introduces Heart of a Warrior to potential members and describes the focus, purpose and covenant.  The second DVD covers lessons 1-4 of the manual and provides a 10-15 minute introduction for each of the lessons.  The third DVD covers lessons 5-8.  The final DVD covers the remaining lessons 9-12.  These videos will be played and viewed by the entire group at the beginning of each lesson.

Every leader will want a set of these DVDs.  For instance, a leader will want a package containing  a set of DVDs and a manual.  When a leader orders a package consisting of a DVD set and a manual they will also be sent (by email) a package of supplemental materials in PDF that are called for at specific points in the journey.  Each member of the group will be required to have a manual.

Contact me directly if you would like to purchase a package containing the DVDs, manual, and supplemental materials.  Send an email to me at GWBourgond@aol.comThe entire package is being offered for $99 for the next 6 months.

Video Clip

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Belfast Ireland 

A Warrior After God's Heart (Video)

The Mandate - November 2007.

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Ireland 2010

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My bride and I are currently in Western Ireland at Ballynahinch Castle celebrating our 41st anniversary.  The beauty of this place is mesmerizing.  I swear there are anxiety-sucking magnets everywhere.  It has been the most relaxing environment I have been to.  I found this recluse in 2007 when I was invited to Ireland by Erwin McManus to speak to men gathered in Belfast.  I came a week early to tour Ireland and stayed in castles each evening before joining up with two men from Heart of a Warrior and traveling north.

We have visited Clifden, Roundstone, Westport, and Cong  (where the movie Quiet Man with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara was filmed).  We toured Ashford Castle but found that the estate of Ballynahinch is  our favorite place--fires in every room, meals to die for, and grounds to explore.  Please take the time to look at the pictures we have included in two albums entitled "Ireland - 2010" found to the right of this blog.

God has given us a welcome retreat we sorely needed.  If you want to get an idea of what the castle is like check out the following URl (Ballynahinch Castle).

By the way, my book entitled "A Rattling of Sabers:  Preparing Your Heart for Life's Battles" should be coming out in April.

It has been so enjoyable watching salmon jump in the river and taking long walks together.

Check out the photo albums to the right.

Focused Living

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Posted by SuperNOW under Blog

I have been working through Focus of a Warrior with 4 men in prison and 7 men in my home. In light of the economy many of us do not have the luxury of leaving our current jobs to find one that is more in alignment with our unique wiring. Some of us are glad to have a job and cannot afford to leave it to find another job more in alignment with our life purpose, committed passion, unique methodologies, and ultimate contribution.

Therefore, I would suggest to you that if your current job does not offer an opportunity to be changed to more adequately align with your wiring then you need to find other avenues or venues in which to express your calling and your wiring. Obviously, clarity about your calling and wiring is necessary to determine more efficiently and effectively where and in what ways you need to focus a dimension of your calling and wiring.

I was at a dinner some time ago with Leonard Sweet, author of Quantum Spirituality and other challenging works and a unique personality in his own right. He made a profound statement to me. He said, "If you are attempting to exercise the totality of who your are in one venue (for instance--your job) you are headed for abject misery." The implication of his statement is that your job will have highs and lows and your response will also be high or low. Your identity is not determined by your profession alone. He went on to say, "To dampen the ups and downs of your job you must seek out other venues that will give you an opportunity to express another dimension of your calling and wiring--the totality of which expresses all of who God has called you to be and do."

For instance, my job at Bethel does not encompass all of who I am and all I am called to do. My Heart of a Warrior Ministry, writing projects, consultations, teaching, etc. collectively allows me to express the entirety of who I am and what I am called to do. Knowing the specifics of this relys, of course, on my clarity of of my wiring and God's designed purposes for my life.

So what's the point--simply this. Come to clarity about your calling and wiring and then seek out venues in which to express each aspect of your calling. Do not look to one venue to express all of who you are. And do not select opportunity options that provide redundant avenues. Find venues that give you the freedom to express one dimension of your calling and wiring--the totality of which represents your calling and wiring in its entirety.

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