Monday, May 25, 2009

Compassionate Leadership

Leadership is all the rage these days. Professors of leadership and management define, analyze, and propose models of leadership, and business sections of bookstores are filled with leadership/mentoring books. Political candidates routinely assert that they (alone) will provide leadership. Church authors have jumped on the bandwagon too, sifting history for role models of leadership and for lessons to cultivate more effective leadership. New members of Congress attend special seminars in effective leadership, as do new university presidents. It’s boom time for taking notes about leadership.

Yet two paradoxes immediately raise concern. First, one of the few realities that link the world’s leaders across the millennia is that they never studied leadership. Many of the truly profound people we now saddle with that label wouldn’t have recognized themselves as such — they were simply doing what they understood God, family, nation, or simply decency, demanded of them. The flip side of this paradox (that leaders don’t study leadership) is that the people who teach leadership are generally not, themselves, leaders.

The second and greater paradox is that leadership involves complex ethical dilemmas at every turn. Despite the ethical perils, we need good leadership and we crave great leaders. There is far too much abuse today by the hands of leaders who only know the tactics of fear and intimidation. If you question them, they equate your actions as questioning God (them). They leave behind a landscape of wounded laborers who will die with their hurts. As is so often the case in life, the best safeguards we have to preventing abuse is robust conversation — frequent, thoughtful, passionate, open, and inclusive.

About what do we need to converse?
  1. About the need for and the danger of leadership based on inspiration and charisma
  2. About the need for a compelling vision, and for forcing ourselves to notice our vision’s blind spots
  3. About the tension between affective leadership versus transformational leadership
  4. About the temptation to reduce leadership to management, or to consider leadership above management and ignore the details and the methods of implementing leadership vision
We need to consider the nature of group responses to leadership — the tyranny of the majority, and the nature of herd mentality. We need to look at structures to channel and contain leadership.

Finally, we need to think long and hard about the issue of character and compassion as a cornerstone qualification for true leadership. It is not so much running with the wolves, but intuiting and protecting the sheep that defines the ideal greatness of leadership.

What say you?

[Based on comments by Bradley Shavit Artson]

Bankhead Cemetery Memorial Day Service

Don Brock speaks at community Memorial Day service in Mentone, Alabama.
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Happy Memorial Day

When looking at the headstones at Arlington, I was stuck by the fact they do not tell you whether or not the people buried there were rich or poor. They make no distinction regarding their race or the circumstances resulting in their death. They simply stand, each of them, for one American. Each reminding us that we are descendants, whatever our differences, whatever our faith background, of a common creed – "unbeatable when united, one nation under God."

More Truisms?

  1. You can't put fire in your work unless there is fire in your heart.

  2. Two things cannot be imitated; God's sunset and man's sincerity.

  3. It is better to establish a solid precident than to follow a poor one.

  4. It is better to lose a good fight than to win a bad one. And --

  5. Always be content with what you have, but never with what you are.

[Dr. William Barrett Millard]

Bishop E.C. McKinley Gives Invocation at Tennessee House

Global Day of Prayer - May 31

On May 31, Pentecost Sunday, the whole world will be praying.

Currently, 219 nations have declared their intent to participate in the annual Global Day of Prayer. Isaiah 56:7 is the theme: "These I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations."

Around the world, believers will be gathered, irrespective of race, ... READ MORE.

Also click HERE.

Pastoral Evaluation Process

Chuck Olson writes: Over the past 20 years, I’ve developed this love-hate relationship with ministry evaluations (aka, performance reviews). On the one hand, I “hate” them because they annually intrude on my calendar pleading for time and attention. And on the other, I “love” them because I have come to realize that they are one of the most significant contributors to leadership development and ministry momentum. Throughout the years, I’ve attempted to become a student of the ministry evaluation process, desiring each year to platform an approach more robust than the one before, and in that endeavor have started my own personal ‘collection’ of things that I have learned. Take a look.

Check your motives. When I consider the big picture of ministry evaluation, as a supervisor, I ultimately have to return to the motive of my heart. It is everything. Like a ballast to a sailboat, if your sincere desire is for the development of your direct report, then you will find the balance that will maximize this important opportunity.

Think STEWARDSHIP. Often before I sit down with a person for a time of ministry evaluation, I will reflect on the responsibility of stewardship for which it calls. I go to a quiet place in my heart and consider how blessed I am to speak into the life and leadership of another person. I envision the time like a box of fine china marked “handle with care.”

Write it down. A ministry evaluation is a very deliberate and intentional process and, as such, requires the precision that comes from writing it down. The impact of an evaluation is markedly enhanced in a carefully-worded document. As a written document, it not only has “weight” in the moment, but even more so as the person reflects on it in the ensuing days.

Emphasize affirmation. Of the 5-6 categories in the ministry evaluation document that I have developed through the years, the first (and longest) one is AFFIRMATION. This section is a bulleted list of several areas of praise that I want to call out. For example, “Steve is a man who passionately pursues his walk with God” or “Judy is a pastor who is highly effective in developing leaders.”

Be honest. It is better NOT to do an evaluation than to do one that is less than honest. As a supervisor, and more importantly, as a leader, you owe it to your direct report to speak the truth in love. A ministry evaluation is the perfect opportunity to do so because it comes with a built-in expectation of candid feedback. Don’t miss the moment. Be ready. Teeing up a tough conversation in a ministry evaluation takes concerted effort, but is well w0rth the investment. When it comes to addressing a difficult topic, thinking through and, at times, scripting your words can make a huge difference. For example, “Jim, I’d like to talk about a topic that I believe is essential to your ongoing development as a leader. I trust you will hear my heart and my commitment to you as we discuss it together.”

Invite input. In chasing down a difficult topic, often it is helpful to launch the discussion by putting a question on the table. For example, “Susan, as I read through the comments submitted by some of your ‘third party’ evaluators, there is a consistent theme about your reluctance to accept the input of other people. What’s going on here? Why do you think they would share that comment?”

Prioritize SELF-evaluation. Perhaps the most valuable lesson I have learned in my years of doing ministry evaluation is the strategic place of self-evaluation. Every ministry evaluation process begins with the person assessing their own life and leadership using a set of reflective questions. At minimum, two things will happen. First, you will discover with new intensity both the joys and frustrations being faced by this person. And second, you will find that the vast majority of the challenging topics that need to be vetted are initiated by the person himself.

Establish benchmarks. One of the many values of a ministry evaluation is the “paper trail” that it creates — a formal and written track record of one’s performance. This historical record is particularly helpful (not to mention critical when it comes to meeting HR standards) when the need arises to substantiate that there is an ongoing pattern of sub-par performance and it is time to consider some remedial steps or a change in employment status.

Keep a tight focus. Every ministry evaluation process needs to have a clear statement of what the person needs to do to continue the (lifelong) process of development. Through the years, I have found that this should be limited to 1-2 items. At least one item, because EVERYONE is a ‘work in progress’ and needs to know what their next step is. And no more than two items so that there is the ability to bring strategic attention to the area most in need of development.

Stay current. When all is said and done, a ministry evaluation should contain no “surprises.” Surprises ultimately reveal that the supervisor has not sustained an ongoing dialogue about the direct report’s effectiveness. A ministry evaluation is the time to reintroduce important themes and to mutually establish the game plan for addressing them. Look for patterns. In evaluating people, a wise supervisor will probe for patterns, not the “one-offs.” It is important to identify the actions and attitudes that are CONSISTENTLY reflected in a person’s life and ministry.

Those are the ones worthy of deliberation.

I trust these thoughts are helpful to you. While ministry evaluations take a lot of time and attention, the ROI is inarguable. And most of all, when done right, it is a gift to those God has entrusted to your care.

If you would like a copy of the ministry evaluation forms that Chuck uses in his ministry, please contact him at

[from MMI Weblog by Todd Rhoades]


1. Maybe God wants us to meet a few wrong people before meeting the right one so that when we finally do meet the right person, we will know how to be grateful for that gift.

2. Love is when you take away the feeling, the passion, and the romance in a relationship and find out that you still care for that person.

3. When the door of happiness closes, another opens, but often times we look so long at the closed door that we don't see the one that has been opened for us.

4. The best kind of friend is the kind you can sit on a porch and swing with while never saying a word, and then walk away feeling like it was the best conversation you've ever had.

5. It's true that we don't know what we've got until we lose it, but it's also true that we don't know what we've been missing until it arrives.

6. There are things you'd love to hear that you would never hear from the person who you would like to hear them from, but don't be so deaf as not to hear it from the one who says it from their heart.

Are these true? What do you think?

[from Howtoencourage by Kay the Encourager]