Leadership | Part II

It’s Not Just a Group Hug

It’s tempting, sometimes, to process the Bible as something that promotes the kind of character that manifests itself only in the context of being “nice” or “moral.” Obviously, those are Christlike Characteristics, but when you apply what the Bible has to say about Leadership and Life in general, the end result is more than just “noble.” It’s the kind of success that everybody ultimately wants because there’s no downside to it. You’re not having to compromise in order to achieve your goals (Ps 37:4).

One example is the way in which we’re commanded to love one another (Jn 13:34-35).

This isn’t just a group hug or “going the extra mile.”

One of the “laws” advocated in Og Mandino’s book, “The Greatest Salesman on Earth” is that, “I will approach this day with love in my heart.”

Think about it:

I will greet this day with love in my heart.

And how will I act? I will love all manners of men for each has qualities to be admired even thought they be hidden. With love I will tear down the wall of suspicion and hate which they have built round their hearts and in its place will I build bridges so that my love may enter their souls.

I will love the ambitious for they can inspire me! I will love the failures for they can teach me. I will love the kings for they are but human; I will love the meek for they are divine. I will love the rich for they are yet holy; I will love the poor for they are so many. I will love the young for the faith they hold; I will love the old for the wisdom they share. I will love the beautiful for their eyes of sadness; I will love the ugly for their souls of peace.

I will greet this day with love in my heart. 

All Kinds of People

As a leader, you inevitably come in contact with all kinds of people. Your mission may be clear, but the way in which you go about delegating responsibilities and telling your subordinates what to do is an authentic art and is not always intuitive, especially whey you’re tasked with having to work with all manner of personality types.

In the Marine Corps, Leadership is extremely important, not only for the sake of impressive looking formations, but more importantly, for the successful completion of combat missions. Amongst the innumerable courses and manuals promoted within the Marines to help their commissioned and non-commissioned officers grow in their ability to lead is the acrostic JJ DID TIE BUCKLE – a short, easy to remember tool that underscores crucial leadership traits that are especially worthy of study and application.

Regardless of how important each Leadership Trait may be, if they’re deployed in the absence of love, the end result is potentially catastrophic.

That may sound a bit out of place, given the military dynamic, but remember the love that is emphasized in Scripture is Agape love. It is God’s unconditional and perpetually giving love in action. Thomas Aquinas defined it as “…to will the good of another.”1 When processed beyond the scope of lofty sounding theological concepts, it can be recognized as the truly powerful and strategic force that it is, in terms of the way it can be used to affect the best possible outcome in the best possible way (Eph 3:20-21).

USMC Leadership Traits

Consider the way it’s made manifest in the context of the Marine Corps Leadership Traits it teaches:

USMC Leadership Trait Biblical Description of Love
(1 Cor 13:4-8)
1 Justice no record of wrongs
2 Judgement always trusts
3 Dependability not easily angered
4 Initiative not self-seeking
5 Decisiveness is patient
6 Tact does not boast
7 Integrity does not delight in evil
8 Endurance always perseveres
9 Bearing it is not rude
10 Unselfishness it does not envy
11 Courage love never fails
12 Knowledge Rejoices with the truth
13 Loyalty always protects
14 Enthusiasm always hopes


1) Justice -> If you’re going to be just, you’ve got to be impartial which means you’re not going to keep a “record of wrongs.”

2) Judgement -> To make sound judgments in crisis situations, especially for the believer who’s intentionally including the Perspective of His King in crisis situations, you’ve got to trust what He’s telling you (Jas 1:5-7).

3) Dependability -> Being a hero one moment and being a jerk the next may be “understandable,” but it’s not acceptable in the Corps nor should it be in any scenario. Your disposition should be even, regardless of the circumstance or your mood. It’s then when you are truly dependable.

4) Initiative -> You do what needs to be done regardless of who’s looking.

5) Decisiveness -> Tactical Patience is a term used to describe the ability to allow a situation to develop in order to make sound decisions as opposed to those that are reactionary and impulsive.2

6) Tact -> However you may be justified in insisting on a particular behavior on the part of an individual by virtue of your rank / position, you always want to wield that authority in a way that’s humble and approachable.

7) Integrity -> Honesty is not something you should pursue begrudgingly. Rather, it is something you should enjoy, value and embrace.

8) Endurance -> It always perseveres. Suck. It. Up.

9) Bearing -> You bear the name of your King, your ancestors, your nation as well as your employer. Act like it.

10) Unselfishness -> You should never be so preoccupied with yourself that you can’t authentically celebrate the accomplishments of others.

11) Courage -> God’s Love will always inspire you to do things you would never consider doing on your own.

12) Knowledge -> You have to know the truth in order to rejoice when it wins the day. Be knowledgeable.

13) Loyalty -> God’s Love will drive you to protect others above yourself.

14) Enthusiasm -> Being motivated and enthusiastic requires a “hope” for something better based on a Truth that never fails. You have that in God’s Love.

The sooner you leave behind any notion of God’s Love being some distant, albeit noble, dynamic that has no real practical application, the better.

Let’s go make a difference!


  1. Wikiquote, “Thomas Aquinas”,, accessed September 2, 2018
  2. “Mountain Tactical Institute”, “Show Tactical Patience – Worst Leader Essays”,, accessed September 2, 2018

Leadership Part I

Anytime you’re responsible for something that involves other people, you are, by default, in a position of Leadership.

As a Parent, a CEO, a Teacher, a Coach, a Minister – you are a Leader and with that position comes an amazing opportunity to not just accomplish whatever needs to be done, but to also influence those who are in your charge in a way that makes them feel better about themselves.

That’s the difference between Managing and Leading.

With Managing, you’re just moving things around. But when you Lead, not only are you getting the job done – whatever that job may be – but you’re creating an environment where the people who are actually doing the work are not just present, they’re engaged. They don’t want to simply execute, they want to perform.

And if you’re doing it right, the energy and the passion with which your subordinates do their job inevitably spills over to other areas of their life and they don’t just improve in the context of those things they’re responsible for, but they become better people.

You can hover over any of the Scriptural references and be able to read the verse in the context of a popup that will appear. You can also read the Scriptures that are referenced by clicking on the arrow to the right of every one of the “Solid Truths…” headings.

That’s why great Leaders are often so admired and appreciated. It’s not just what they do, it’s who they are and the Light they shine doesn’t just provide direction, but it also provides inspiration and you want to follow their example.

But how do you get it done?

How do you become a great Leader?

Some just seem to be born with the ability to organize resources and motivate their people, but like anything else, regardless of your personality or how your brain is wired, you can watch great Leaders in action and identify certain techniques and characteristics that when properly deployed make a big difference.

Bear in mind that there’s an enormous amount of studies and instructional material that have been developed, most of which is excellent. The Marine Corps has a whole curriculum that focuses exclusively on the art of power and how to lead.

For the sake of this discussion, we’ll reference some of what comes from the USMC as well as several other professional entities, but we’re going to look at just three things that translate to an approachable and effective way to ensure that you’re not just managing, but you’re truly leading.

And part of what makes these three things so effective is that they’re coming from Scripture so you can rest assured these aren’t just “good ideas,” but they’re solid Truths.

Lead by Example

Hypocricy is a deal breaker. As a Teacher you shouldn’t expect your students to do their homework if you’re never prepared for class yourself. As a Fitness Professional, you can’t hope to make an impact in the way you tell your clients how to lose weight if you’re not in shape yourself (Matt 7:3-4).

Don’t ever ask someone to do something you’re unwilling to do yourself. Don’t insist on a standard that you don’t try to live up to (1 Pet 2:12,15).

Be ready to teach what needs to be done and model the kind of behavior you want to see in others so they can see, not only how to do it, but why it makes a difference (1 Cor 4:16; 2 Thess 3:6-10).

Solid Truths…

Don’t Just Tell It, Sell It

Whatever it is that needs to be done can be presented in one of two ways:

  • You can present it as an Obligation
  • You can offer it as an Invitation

The thing that distinguishes the difference between an Obligation and an Invitation is the extent to which you as a Leader explain why it is that your subordinates would want to do what needs to be done.

Why is it important? Why are you uniquely qualified to get it done? How does it benefit you? Why will others appreciate the sacrifice of time and effort that will be required?

Explain what needs to be done in a way where your listener is made to feel like the hero in their own story (Josh 1:8; Jn 10:10; Rom 12:1-2; Phil 2:13).

Solid Truths…

Make Them Feel Good About Themselves

There’s a difference between flattering somone and genuinely complimenting them.

When you say something positive, yet trite, it’s easy to dismiss it as pointless and even manipulative.

On the other hand, when you say something that makes a person feel valued, you’re breathing life into them (Eph 2:10; 1 Thess 5:11). People like being around those that make them feel good about themselves (Matt 5:14-16). The world can be a very critical and negative space. Most people are very familiar with those areas in their life that need improvement and rarely do they operate in an environment that doesn’t seemingly exaggerate those areas to the exclusion of everything else.

Reminding those you lead of their strengths and their capacity to do great things can feel like the sun breaking through the clouds in the mind of those who tend to focus more on what needs to change than that which constitutes something to be proud of.

And that’s everybody!

You’ll never run into someone who doesn’t appreciate a good compliment!

And again, it’s not just being complimentary. John Maxwell summarizes Leadership as being influential, and you maximize your capacity to influence people by adding value to them.

Give your people a reason to feel good about who they are and what they do (Eph 2:10).

Solid Truths…

Click here to read “Leadership Part II…”

The Guy in the Middle

fire_hammer_compassSaul Alinsky once said, “Never let a crisis go to waste.”

What he’s referring to is illustrated in the graphic on the right.

What you have is a legitimate problem that needs to be solved – a crisis that needs to be addressed. Among those who are being looked to for an answer you have three types of authorities that are motivated by three very different criteria.

Now, tt might be somewhat surprising that on the left you have a hammer and the caption, “Destruction.” Granted, there are volatile types in this category, as far as demonstrations and looting. But it’s also the well meaning individual who insists on “doing” without “thinking” that often makes a bad situation even worse.


On the right, you’ve got “Direction.” It’s there where you have a balanced approach that acknowledges risk without ignoring the remedy. It’s usually a hard call to make in that not every “i” is dotted, nor is every “t” crossed. There will be critics, there’s a chance that it will fail, but it nevertheless resonates as a decision that can be defended with a substantial amount of reason. And the one thing that will always be the case with this particular approach is that it comes from a leader as opposed to a manager. And that leader will often be known for appealing to a Higher Power for the wisdom they require (see Jas 1:5).


The guy in the middle, however, is the one you want to watch out for. This is the one that Alinski wanted to encourage with his aforementioned comment.

They are calculated. They’re not interested in a solution as much as they’re focused on exploiting the willingness of a group of people to accept an idea due to the anxiety and the confusion that characterizes a particular situation. The “idea” is intentionally communicated using words that stress compassion for the hurting and justice for the discarded. But embedded within their platform is a collection of tactics and compromises designed to advance a sinister agenda. So, what might appear to be a solution to a problem is actually an opportunity to establish some realities that would not otherwise be accepted.


Some of the word’s most heinous tyrants were able to achieve their goals by being the “guy in the middle.” They presented themselves as a visionary that was capable of solving the problem at hand, but with that solution came a new establishment that would be recognized as evil only after the fact.

Adolf Hitler, Vladamir Lenin, Mao Zedong

Granted, not everyone who chooses to manipulate a problem for their own selfish gain is a tyrant, but it is nevertheless an approach based on a lie and anyone who opts for this approach is hiding something and for that reason cannot be trusted let alone empowered.

The Guy in the Middle.

Know who he is and know that regardless of how he sounds, he’s always got something else in mind.