9 Things a Leader Must Do

These are my notes from reading Henry Cloud’s book called, “9 Things a Leader Must Do.” Get the book – it is brief, concise, full of illustrations and practical tips on becoming a more effective leader.

Why do some leaders get and accomplish what they want as a matter of routine, while others seem to regularly experience frustration and setbacks? Why do some leaders achieve their goals and reach new heights, while others barely “hang in there” and survive? Based on his groundbreaking psychological study of the ways that successful individuals think and behave, Dr. Henry Cloud presents a simple yet profound road map to help leaders, and those who want to become leaders, arrive at greater levels of personal growth and corporate influence than they previously thought were possible. The good news for all of us is that leadership success is not limited to vague notions of “charisma” nor traditional advantages like graduate degrees and connections, but much more to a pattern of thinking and moving forward that learns from mistakes and stays focused on goals. – Amazon Description

  1. Excavate Your Soul – Thing One: Déjà vu leaders explore their deep hearts and invest in their inner desires and drives.
    1. Leadership success is the process of digging up the treasures of the invisible soul in order to bring dreams, desires, and talents into the visible world.
    2. Those who take what they possess, invest it in life, and are diligent and faithful with it over time, grow and build something good. But those who allow fear to keep them from stepping out, not only fail to increase what they have, they actually lose it.
    3. Success and failure alike arise from what is going on inside, and the wise person is the one who pays attention.
    4. Healthy risk is calculated, integrated, and then executed with diligence and thoughtfulness.
  2. Yank the Diseased Tooth – Thing Two: Déjà vu leaders do not allow negative things to take up space in their lives.
    1. If they can’t fix the bad stuff, they get rid of it. Sometimes quickly and sometimes through a process, but if a tooth is infected, they yank it out. They get rid of negative energy.
    2. We need to clear out clutter, dead weight, things we keep around that don’t help us but take up space or drain resources.
    3. Get rid of the things you are not using.
    4. Avoidance is really not helping anything, because you still expend the energy and feel the hurt. If you had simply yanked the bad tooth when it started bothering you, you would be over the pain by now. Avoidance always prolongs pain.
    5. New things that actually have hope for the future cannot appear until you get rid of what was taking up the space that the new thing needs.
    6. The cringe factor: “My rule is this: Anytime I have to cringe or take a big gulp to agree to do anything substantial with anyone, whether to hire him, work with him, or anything significant, I don’t do it. Period.”
  3. Play the Whole Movie – Thing Three: Déjà vu leaders evaluate their decisions in the present based on how they will affect the future.
    1. I’ll be hanged if I’m going to let my daughter marry any man who doesn’t own a watch!”
      Déjà vu leaders evaluate almost everything they do in this way. They see every behavior and decision as links in a larger chain, steps in a direction that has a destination.
    2. So here’s the question: On that day three years from now, do you want to have a law degree, enabling you to do something you love? Or do you want to still hate your life?”
    3. “We’re having a week of what we call war games,” he replied. “We play out future bad scenarios and make sure we’re in a position to handle them.
  4. Put Superman out of a Job – Thing Four: Déjà vu leaders continually ask themselves, “What can I do to make this situation better?”
    1. Why doesn’t somebody else step up and do something to save the day? It’s like everybody else is powerless even to try to intervene. The people seem resigned to the fact that if Superman doesn’t show up, they’re all doomed. So nobody even tries.
    2. Even if someone else is at fault, they take initiative to address the problem and seek a solution. Whatever the answer may be, déjà vu leaders make a move.
  5. Embrace Your Inner Insect – Thing Five: Déjà vu leaders achieve big goals by taking small steps over time.
    1. The lessons from the ant farm – This entire feat was really no more complex than one step at a time, one grain of sand at a time. If an ant could do it, so could I.
    2. The biggest enemy of the small-steps-big-results principle is our craving for having it all. If the ant picks up a grain of sand, the city will be built. But if the ant looks at the grain and says, “That is not a city! What a waste of time!” there will be no city in the end.
    3. Wanting it all keeps you from having any.
  6. Earn a Black Belt in Hate – Thing Six: Déjà vu leaders develop the ability to hate the right things well.
    1. “I don’t mind problems, because business is about solving problems,” he began. “But, I hate surprises. This new information was not disclosed to me in the purchase process. If I had known earlier, it would not have mattered. It is just a problem to be solved.”
    2. What we hate says a lot about who we are, what we value, what we care about. And how we hate says much about how we will succeed in business and life.
    3. When we hate the evil around us, we move to get rid of it as an act of love.
    4. Déjà vu leaders hate in ways that solve problems as opposed to creating problems.
    5. Transform it to the kind of hate that solves problems, protects things that you value, and stands against the things that you do not want in your life and work.
  7. Forget about Playing Fair – Thing Seven: Déjà vu leaders give back better than they are given.
    1. That means that if I make a mistake, I want you to help me, not get back at me.
    2. The fault with fairness is that all it takes for any relationship to go sour is for one person not to perform, and then the other one will do the same. There is an interlocking dependency: The other person must be good so I can be good.
    3. The other’s benefit is their utmost concern. That does not mean they have no interest in their own benefits. It simply means that in their treatment of others, their goal is to do well by them regardless of how they are treated. They don’t play fair; they play right.
  8. Quit Self-Exaggerating – Thing Eight: Déjà vu leaders do not strive to be or to appear more than they really are.
    1. A déjà vu leader is a human being like everyone else, avoiding the need to be more than that.
    2. People who learn from failure are motivated to do better. Self-confidence does not come from seeing oneself as strong, without flaws, or above making mistakes. Self-confidence and belief in yourself come from accepting flaws and mistakes and realizing that you can go forward and grow past them, that you can learn from them.
    3. Closely related to admitting our own mistakes is responding constructively when the news of our imperfections comes from others. The way of the déjà vu leader is to receive correction as a gift, not to be defensive.
    4. Successful leaders fail just like everyone else. But it’s the way they handle their failure and imperfections that sets them apart.
    5. Humility means giving up thinking that we know it all, giving up thinking we can do it all, giving up thinking we have to do it well all the time, giving up thinking that we are better than others when they do not do it well, giving up needing to be seen as right or good all the time, and giving up defensiveness. In all these cases, the way of the déjà vu leader is basically to be real.
  9. Ignore the Popularity Polls – Thing Nine: Déjà vu leaders do not make decisions based on the fear of other people’s reactions.
    1. Successful leaders are sensitive to the reactions of others, but when weighing whether or not a given course is right, whether or not someone else is going to like it is not a factor that carries any weight. Concern, yes; but weight, no. Déjà vu leaders decide to do what is right first and deal with the fallout second.
    2. One of the important distinctions that déjà vu leaders make in these situations is between hurting someone and harming him. Hurt is a normal part of life, harming is optional.
    3. Learn the old saying, I am not doing this to you. I am doing it for me. That is not inflicting harm at all, even if the person on the receiving end acts as if it is.
    4. The responses you get may be along the lines of, “After all I’ve done for you and the company, this is the thanks I get?” or “I’ve done nothing wrong; why am I getting the shaft on this deal?” Stay fixed on your heading to do the right thing and do not allow the guilt messages to blow you off course.
    5. If you let the anger of other people decide your course of action for you, then you have just trained them in how to get what they want out of you. You have set yourself up for the same experience again.
    6. I’m often asked by leaders, “How do you deal with controlling people?” My answer is that you convert them from being controlling to being frustrated. The only way people can be controlling is when we make them that way by doing what they want.
    7. Don’t try to avoid upsetting people; just make sure you are upsetting the right ones. If kind, loving, responsible, and honest people are upset with you, then you had better look at the choices you are making. But if controlling, hot and cold, irresponsible, or manipulative people are upset with you, then take courage—it might be a sign that you are doing the right thing and becoming a déjà vu leader!
    8. On that day I discovered four things that changed my life. They were the same four things that I have heard other people affirm countless times:
      1. God is there to help us if we ask Him.
      2. He not only helps us directly, He gives us others to help us.
      3. He designed life to work according to certain truths and principles.
      4. As we practice those truths and principles, good things are given.

The Bronze Serpent

The message form this past Sunday, while long and detailed, was a great passage to study. I would have gone in a different direction, but hey, he was our guest preacher. The passage came from Numbers 21:4-9.

The people grumbled again, after 38 years of wandering, which only proved that they were still not ready to enter the promised land. God provided for them but they did not appreciate it (they actually loathed God’s provision of manna, Numbers 21:5).

There is something else about this manna: Wiersbe writes, “According to John 6, the manna was much more than daily food for Israel: it was a type of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the “Bread of Life” (John 6:32–40). The manna came only to Israel, but Jesus came to be the Savior of the world. All the manna could do was sustain life, but Jesus Christ gives life. When the Jews despised the manna, they were actually rejecting the Son of God. Once more, God had tested His people, and they had failed the test (Deuteronomy 8:15–16).”

Enter the fiery serpents, which bit people and they died (Numbers 21:6). So, what’s up with such a strange story?

God was teaching the people something about faith. It is fairly illogical to think that looking at a bronze image could heal anyone from a snakebite, but that is exactly what God told them to do. It took an act of faith in God’s plan for anyone to be healed, and the serpent on the pole was a reminder of their sin, which brought about their suffering.

Faith was also put into action because in such a large crowd, the whole camp of Israel, it likely took a huge amount of effort to position oneself to even SEE the serpent on the pole. I don’t imagine that it took a casual glance, but rather it took a lot of effort to be in the right position to see it.

While the people did get healed when they looked at the serpent, the serpent on the pole eventually became a problem. Who needs God when you can get healing with this magical serpent? The people kept it for many years and when the Israelites were in the Promised Land, the serpent became an object of worship that needed to be destroyed (2 Kings 18:4). The lesson here reminds us how easy it is for people to take the good things of God and twist them into something bad. Don’t be that guy who worships the creation rather than the creator.

This passage directly points toward John 3:14-15, where Jesus tells us that this bronze serpent was a foreshadowing of himself. It is actually an illustration of the vicarious death of Christ on the cross and the necessity of personal faith in him for salvation.

The serpent was a symbol of sin and judgment, and when it was lifted up and put on a pole (or tree), it became a symbol of a curse (Galatians 3:13). Paul is teaching the Galatian Christians that Jesus became a curse for us, even though he was a man without sin (the spotless Lamb of God). Paul clearly taught the Corinthians, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The observation that I have on this passage in Numbers 21:4-9 is that God did not remove the snakes, but provided a remedy; way of healing and life in the midst of the snakes. I imagine that the venom remained in their bodies but did not lead to death. Romans 6:23 tells us that “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We remain sinners but have received new life in Christ.

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No More Facilitators

I just read this from Josh Hunt and had to pass it along!

I wish I had a nickle for every time I have heard this: “We don’t really need teachers; we need facilitators.”

I disagree.

  • Jesus said to, “Teach all nations” (Matthew 28.19). He didn’t say to facilitate discussions of all nations.
  • In the introduction to the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-2) we read that Jesus began to teach them. We don’t ever read that He facilitated a discussion.
  • In Acts 2.42 we do not read that the early church devoted themselves to the apostles’ facilitation of discussion. We read they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching.
  • In 2 Timothy 2.2 Paul admonished Timothy to entrust the truth he had heard to reliable men so that they would be able to teach others. Teach—not facilitate discussions.

Perhaps it is time we defined our terms. Wikipedia defines a facilitator this way: A facilitator is someone who helps a group of people understand their common objectives and assists them to plan to achieve them without taking a particular position in the discussion.

I draw your attention to that last phrase: “without taking a particular position in the discussion.” I can’t imagine Jesus ever doing that.

Paul said, “Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others” (2 Corinthians 5:11). Persuade. It sounds like he took a particular position as well.

This is not to say that we should not use a question-and-answer approach. Jesus did. We have 100 recorded examples of Jesus using questions to teach. But, when he asked questions, He had an agenda. He was teaching through using questions, not facilitating a discussion about who knows what.

When I write Good Questions Have Groups Talking, I don’t do it so that teachers can facilitate discussions. I do it so that teachers can teach using questions. There is a world of difference. We don’t need facilitators of discussion; we need teachers who teach.

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To Be Like Jesus

Have you ever considered what it means to be like Jesus? Is that our goal in life?

Jesus’ statement in Matthew 10:25 implies that His disciples will be like Him. To His first-century followers, that included the prospect of persecution and martyrdom. But what else does it mean to “be like Jesus,” especially for Christians in today’s culture? I see eight portraits of Jesus in Matthew’s eyewitness account that give us some clues:

  1. To be like Jesus means to accept our roots (Matthew 1:1–17).
  2. To be like Jesus means to engage the world’s pain and struggle (Matthew 1:18–2:23).
  3. To be like Jesus means to commit ourselves to other believers, no matter how “weird” they appear to be (Matthew 3:1–17).
  4. To be like Jesus means to admit our vulnerability to temptation (Matthew 4:1–11).
  5. To be like Jesus means to openly proclaim the message of Christ (Matthew 4:12–25).
  6. To be like Jesus means to commit ourselves to changed thinking and behavior (Matthew 5:1–7:27).
  7. To be like Jesus means to serve others, especially those who are oppressed or without Christ (Matthew 8:1–9:38).
  8. To be like Jesus means to affirm others in leadership (Matthew 10:1–42).

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Give Up Everything?

This study is on the hard saying of Jesus about having to give up everything (Mark 10:17-31) Mark 10:21.

This is an amazing illustration of evangelism? Is this the Jesus method of evangelism?

  1. With what method are you most familiar?
  2. Which method appears to be most effective?
  3. What is the difference between sharing your story and sharing his story?

Imagine this evangelism encounter as a dream come true. The man point blank asks how to be saved!

  1. Jesus does not just hand him a tract and get him to pray the sinner’s prayer.
  2. Jesus does not correct the man’s theology, good works don’t save.
  3. This man had not come to Jesus to hear him say that keeping the commandments was the way to eternal life (Leviticus 18:5).

Why does Jesus tell him he can be saved by keeping the commandments?

  1. Jesus doesn’t mention belief or faith or grace, he says to keep the Law.
  2. Jesus seems to want to make it harder on the guy: he had not done enough.
  3. When was the last time you felt that there was always just one more thing that you need to do to be saved or please Jesus?
  4. In your theology, what is the relationship between what you believe and what you do?

Jesus said there was one more thing… but it was too hard for this guy to accept. (Read more about the Rich Young Ruler).

Why would the disciples be amazed at Jesus’ answer?

  1. The concept of God’s blessing: health, wealth, children, goats, all meant blessing.
  2. Those sick and poor, not so much.
  3. It would have made more sense for Jesus to say, “Blessed are the rich, blessed are the healthy, blessed are the comfortable.”
    • How do you define blessing? What about Jesus’ definition of blessing?
    • How does Christian persecution and martyrdom fit in to this definition?
    • How reliable is a world with a works/reward theology?

What must I DO to be saved? It is not about doing, it is about receiving. Trust in the finished work of Jesus on the cross.

Notice that Jesus loved him before he asked him to do anything (Mark 10:21).

  1. Do you sometimes feel that Jesus will only love you after you follow him?
  2. Do you feel he is judging your performance; he will love you more if you do better?
  3. When you are well connected to Jesus, how is the rest of your life affected?
  4. In what ways do you feel you must prove yourself to God? How does that reflect other relationships in your life? (do you have to continually prove yourself to your friends)?

Let’s check our identity.

  1. What three things do you generally tell others about yourself?
  2. How important is career development in your identity?
  3. How many of your friends really know you, not just facts about you?

The Point: who am I? What are the markers that define who I am?

  1. This is the question Jesus was trying to get this man to ask? Who am I?
  2. People identified him the same us we do… the rich, young, ruler, but is that who he really was?
  3. Jesus saw much more, his core. Selling all he had would have stripped him of his identity.
  4. Only by stripping these away could he identify himself the way Jesus did.
  5. This question can only be answered at the point of crisis. When something is attached to your core and is taken out (health, achievement, wealth, career, family, life)… Who are you when all these are threatened?

In a previous story (Mark 10:13) Jesus says that these nobodies had a quality that was kingdom-worthy, something that escaped the rich man and the prosperous members of society. This is what we know, NOBODIES…

  1. Don’t come to God and offer contributions.
  2. Don’t tell God who they are.
  3. Don’t have a claim to their lives.
  4. Don’t rely on trivial marks of identity.

Key truth:

  1. Paul tells us that giving all we have to the poor is of no use, if we don’t have love (1 Corinthians 13:3).
  2. Matthew 19:21, “if you wish to be complete…” Perhaps Jesus was testing the man’s devotion because Jesus did not ask all of his followers to do this.
  3. What could he have sold?
    • Sell your self-righteousness.
    • Sell your dreams of fame and fortune.
    • Sell your popularity.
    • Sell your efforts to secure a comfortable future for yourself.

Other passages to consider:

  1. Others left all and followed him (Luke 8:3) women who were not asked to make such a sacrifice.
  2. Zacchaeus apparently took his action on his own (Luke 19:8), the language means, giving is something he was already doing or that he would now start, either fits.
  3. Don’t lay up treasures for yourselves (Matthew 6:19-21), this is not to an individual but to his followers in general, we must have the right priorities.