Don't you just love getting gifts? I love the excitement and anticipation of opening the package to reveal the contents inside. I remember one particular Christmas that my parents got me the coveted Fisher-Price 3-in-1 tournament table. That's right...pool, ping-pong, and "air" hockey all neatly packaged in one table. We wore that thing out! Tempers ran hot when someone lost to their little sister and put their foot through the wall...moving on.
As much as I love receiving gifts; I love giving gifts exponentially more. I get a surge of adrenaline leading up to the moment that someone opens a gift that I was able to give. It's exciting, and hopefully, they will love it. Giving gifts communicates attentiveness and a willingness to serve.
Leaders have the ability to give gifts everyday by the way they lead others. These seven gifts don't cost any money, but they will require some thought and attention to detail. With a little practice and awareness, we can begin to bless others on a regular basis. Here's my list of seven gifts leaders can give to others.
1 - Emotional Stability
The gift of emotional stability is the gift that is given over time. Through the best of times and the worst of times, the ability of the leader to show emotional stability will prove to be a valuable gift to everyone around them.
I first found out about the importance of this gift when I was at home. As the husband, and man of the house, it is my responsibility to set the tone for how interactions and conflicts are handled within the home. Each day is an opportunity to produce a healthy climate or toxic climate. I don't know about you, but I want my home to be a refuge and not another battlefield.
As a ministry leader, wouldn't you want the time that you spend in the office to be refreshing and restoring so that everyone is refueled for the next ministry initiative? We contribute to this positive environment when we bring emotional stability to the table. Emotional stability isn't always seen, but make no mistake...it is felt. It's palpable and when we are seen as stable; trust is built.
2 - A Clear Path
Leaders move people. As the ancient Afghan proverb states, "If you're leading, but nobody's following; you're just taking a walk." As a long time follower, I can tell you that it is a lot more enjoyable to follow when you know where you're going.
Jesus plainly called the men that would be his disciples to this simple mission: "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." (Matthew 4:19)
It is a gift when a leader can clearly define the direction and chart the course for others to follow.
3 - Responsibility + Authority
Okay, so, this looks like two; but it's really a package deal (like Mike-and-Ike candy). Great leaders know that when responsibility is linked to authority it is a real gift to be given. When someone on the team not only has a job to do, but is also armed with the authority to make decisions they can soar! When responsibility is given without authority to make any decisions; that's called "dumping"...not a gift. Furthermore, it's poor leadership and comes across tyrannical if those that we're leading feel that they have to come to us for every decision that is made.
If, as a leader, you honestly believe that you have talented, passionate people on your team, give them this gift and get out of the way!
4 - Accountability
Yeah, I know that I just said, "get out of the way", but hopefully we know that it doesn't mean a leader should be completely detached from the process. The gift of accountability comes with the inherent tension of giving helpful input, receiving accurate reporting, while not stealing back the authority to make decisions. Nobody likes to be micro-managed. However, healthy boundaries can be maintained and pitfalls can be avoided when the gift of accountability is appropriately given.
5 - Trust
Whenever there is a gap between performance and expectation it is up to the leader to decide what goes in that gap. In other words, how a leader responds when someone doesn't seem to be meeting expectations will go a long way in creating the culture of the team. Most of the time, it comes down to a choice of "trust" or "doubt".
Here's how this works, a co-worker shows up late to the meeting. The leader can decide to trust that the individual had a good reason for being late. On the flip-side, the leader can decide to cast doubt on the individual. Doubting their dedication. Doubting their respect. Doubting their work ethic. Casting doubt is toxic and it's contagious in the life of a team or organization. Trust is a gift, that is also contagious. It leaves room for possibility and explanation and restoration. Giving trust doesn't make a leader a doormat. Trust is given along with accountability and both produce a healthy culture.
6 - Gratitude
I'm convinced that we aren't truly aware of how powerful gratitude is until it's absent. Think about the last time you went out of your way to do something for someone else and they couldn't even muster a "thank you". Again, gratitude is a palpable, contagious asset to any effective culture.
Giving the gift of gratitude can be done simply through a hand-written note or a timely text message. It reminds others that you, their leader, notice the effort that they're putting into their work. One of the by-products of giving gratitude is the trust that others will in turn give to the leader.
7 - Support
Of course, we save the best gift for last. Leaders are leading at their best when they give the gift of support for those they are leading. When an outside agent presents a problem, we ,the leader, first takes the problem upon ourselves. This is the most important way support is given.
Perhaps there is something that we could have done better or communicated more clearly to the team to avoid this problem. There's nothing wrong with apologizing and asking for an opportunity to make things right.
Rather than pass down a judgement or reprimand to others on the team, present the problem to them as it was presented to you. Ask for feedback and possible solutions. Building buy-in and not repeating mistakes is ultimately a win for the team. Giving the gift of support facilitates growth.
There you have it. My list of gifts that a leader can give to others. Which one did I leave out? Which one did you agree, or disagree, with?
Latch on to one of these gifts this week and begin to give generously!
It is 100% easier to do nothing than it is to do something. It's also easier to start something than it is to keep going. When you begin the race and the adrenaline is pumping it's a blast coming right out of the gate. But what happens when the crowd tapers off, some pain sets in, and fatigue is apparent. This is where true character is developed. So what can you do when you get to that place and you want to quit? Here's some thoughts to get a new jumpstart!
1 - Remember Why You Started.
Why did you choose this career path in the first place? Chances are it was to make a difference in yourself or in the world. Something this important isn't something that we just throw in the towel on a whim. So do yourself a favor and take yourself back to that place where it all began.
Granted, there are probably a lot of changes that have happened between then and now. Maybe a change does need to be made. Certainly there are situations that become irreparable. Remembering why you started down this path may help you see that you cannot achieve what you initially set out to do if you remain in your current position.
2 - Reinvest In The Process.
When I decided to begin running and training for a half-marathon my first step was to pay the registration fee. This was my initial investment. Next, I went out and bought some new running shoes...investment. I remember a friend asking me, "Are you really going to run a half-marathon?" I said, "Yeah...I'm invested at this point!"
My physical training process has had peaks and valleys, but I've found a renewed motivation when I decided to re-invest in the process.
What new tool can you get to ignite some excitement in the process? Admittedly, this is a short-term payoff, as new things fade quickly. However, by re-investing you are subconsciously reminding yourself that this process is important and you will do what it takes to keep going.
3 - Do The Next Right Thing.
This is one of the mantras for anyone who is trying to overcome an addiction. Failure to overcome can breed more failure. The mantra is a reminder that the next beginning is as close as your next choice. So, do the next right thing. When you feel like giving up, hit the zoom in button and look at the next couple of hours or the next couple of days.
Create some short-term goals to help you start moving again. Don't worry about the finish line, worry about the next line and get started again.
4 - Invite Fresh Eyes To Evaluate.
If you're experiencing the desire to quit because you keep finding yourself running into dead ends it could be time to get others involved. Hear this...there is nothing wrong with seeking someone out who can objectively help you evaluate things with fresh eyes.
The key word in this is objective. This shouldn't be someone who isn't just going to tell you want you want to hear. At the same time, this shouldn't be someone who is just going to beat you down.
Fresh eyes help us see things that we may have become oblivious to us. Fresh eyes encourage us to explore solutions and ways forward that we wouldn't have otherwise seen ourselves. The best people to help give you a fresh perspective are people who ask good questions, not necessarily those people who give good advice.
5 - Encourage Someone.
Encouragement is a powerful tool that even the weakest among us can wield.
I remember someone, I believe it was Doug Fields, telling me to create a "Don't Quit" file. In the file, place every card, or email, when someone encouraged you. Then when you get to a season when your tempted to give up...you have a file to access to encourage you.
Sometimes the simplest things are the most profound. I know that when I want to give up, the only thing that I wish someone would do for me is encourage me. So, be proactive in seeking someone to encourage. A little bit, goes a long way here. Write a short, handwritten note and let someone know how valuable they are to you.
The words "thank you" might be the most impactful words you will speak in your entire week.
That's it...that's what I got, and I hope that this encourages you not to give up.
What helps you to get started again when you want to give up?
We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul,
a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,
where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf,
having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
I was 19 years old, and it was at a camp in Pennsylvania where I had my first real crisis of faith. I didn’t feel like God was even there. I felt so far away from Him. Over the course of several hours, I began to talk with my friends about the questions that I was having about God, and the Bible, and thinking about walking away from all of it.
My soul was not properly anchored.
I love the picture in these verses of an anchor, in fact, the only other place this word for anchor is used is in Acts 27 when Paul is describing his travels at sea and the storms that he encountered. The word picture is accurate, when we think of a boat anchor. We all know that the function of an anchor is to keep the boat from being blown all over the place when the storm comes.
So the purpose of the “anchor of the soul” is to keep us from being taken all over the place when the storms of life come.
The point of this passage, and the point that I want to share with all of you is to ask you, challenge you, beg you to anchor your life on the promises of God.
The writer of Hebrews uses Abraham as the example, we can see a few verses earlier in chapter 6. Because God asked Abraham to leave the security of his homeland and made some bold promises about blessing Him with many descendants.
God was asking Abraham to believe and follow, but God went the extra mile to ensure that He would come through for Abraham. God made an oath, or covenant, with Abraham. So, this covenant along with God’s unchanging character, is a double dose of faithfulness.
God keeps His promises.
God’s promises and hope that is placed in Christ serve as an anchor for our soul.
Let’s look at these verses again, because I love the picture that they paint for us:
“…a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,
where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf,
having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
Think about it this way...
"Jesus has put a lasso around our hope and driven it right smack dab in the middle of God’s presence in heaven."
The writer of Hebrews is using “Temple” language, when it says, “inner place behind the curtain”. This is where the presence of God dwelt here on earth. No one was allowed to enter this room accept the High Priest, once a year, to make a sacrifice on behalf of all the people. To make them right and acceptable to God
Do you see what this is saying? Jesus is our High Priest forever, He has made us right and acceptable to God. This hope serves as a sure and steadfast…you could even say unfailing anchor of the soul.
Can I ask you a question...
Do you trust God?
Do you trust Him with your future?
Do you trust Him with your financial situation?
Do you trust Him with your career path?
Do you trust Him with your future spouse?
Do you trust Him with your health?
Do you trust Him with your popularity?
Do you trust Him with your problems?
Think about it now, ahead of time, before the storms of life come. Choose to anchor your soul, your life to God and His promises and the hope found in Jesus Christ.
Some of you trust in God, and would say that the anchor of your soul is placed in Him…but if we’re honest, the anchor isn’t very deep. How can you tell if you’re anchor isn’t very deep? Take a look at how you respond when the storms of life come your way.
Does your mood change based on the attention that someone else gives you?
Does your mood change based on how much money you have in your account?
Does your mood change based on what the scale says?
Does your mood change based on your grades?
Does your mood change based on your opportunities?
Never forget that you are not alone. When the storms of life come, remember God’s promises. Remember the faith you have in Jesus; hold on to these as an anchor of your soul.
Continue to walk in God’s Word and drive that anchor down deep so that nothing will lead you astray.
Excerpt from a talk that I gave in May 2014. If you're looking for a speaker for an upcoming event, let's talk!
All the lights and cameras and millions of viewers were focused on the Seattle Seahawks who were in the perfect position to take home their second straight Super Bowl victory. They had the ball inside the 5 yard line. They had less than a minute on the clock, so they could score and leave virtually no time left for Tom Brady and the Patriots to comeback. They had the most fierce running back in the backfield. Surely he would plow through the defense and earn these last precious yards for the winning score.
The Seahawks had everything that they needed to win. Yet, today, as you probably heard...the Patriots are the Super Bowl champs.
Over the last decade I've talked with many people, who are waiting for something to happen before God could use them for His purposes.
When I get past this one nagging sin in my life, then I can help someone else out.
When my wife and I get our finances in order, then we'll look into being able to give to the church.
When my kids get older, then I'll be able to free up some time to lead that small group bible study.
When I get my spiritual life in order, then I'll be able to share my faith with someone else.
What if we have everything that we need already?
"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness
If we know God and believe in Him. If we believe that Jesus is our Lord and Savior.
His power equips us with everything for life and godliness.
This is not "I do" then "I can". This is "I have" so "Let's Go". You and I get to participate in a life of serving the God that has promised great things for us. This is also our escape from the corruption that is all around us by our evil desires. We already have everything we need to win.
Let's start today to embrace all that we already have...here's how:
1 - Know God.
There's no substitute for reading the Bible so that you can truly know the character of God. Through scripture, you will see that God's plan has always been to show love to His creation.
2 - Know God's Promises.
God's promises are a thread woven throughout Scripture. God's promises are made complete through the presence of Jesus Christ. Peter writes, in the passage above, that God has given us these promises so that we may participate in God's agenda for our lives. God's promises are the fuel for our service to the King.
3 - Escape Corruption.
This is not a sequential progression of things. Think of this like a piece of cake with three layers where you get them simultaneously. God's power is made perfect in our weaknesses. Victory is ours through Christ, let's continue to place continue to place the struggle in His hands.
...I still can't believe Seattle lost that game!?