A Vision, A Plan, Authority and Authenticity

The life of the Jewish King, David, gives plenty of examples for dynamic and effective leadership. As the book of I Samuel closes there is a recounting of the final days of King Saul’s life. He chooses to consult a medium to get direction for battle. Saul learns that he is headed to his death. In addition, he learns that his sons, those most likely to follow him to the throne, will also be killed. David in the meantime has fled to the camp of the enemy of Israel, the Philistines.

 

Leadership requires understanding and practice of four concepts: vision, planning, authority and authenticity. Looking at each of these concepts and how King David applied them reveals dynamics of effective leadership every good leader should practice. Each of the concepts is important; however, effective leadership refrains from overdependence on any single concept.

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A Ruler, Citizen, Husband and a Myth

This week I will attempt to tie together a conflict, the power of marriage and a dangerous myth that can prevent advancement. Let us begin with the lessons we need to learn before conflict ruins our response to others.

 

The story of David offers many examples men who desire to be real, true warriors should follow. In I Samuel 24 we see one of these examples when David, the shepherd turned warrior, spares Saul’s life, the LORD GOD’s appointed King of Israel. In this portion of the Bible, Saul is chasing David to kill him with three thousand men. Saul comes to a rugged area and seeks a place to relieve himself. David, unbeknownst to Saul, is hiding in the very cave that Saul chooses as his place of relief. David sneaks up on Saul and cuts a piece of his robe from Saul’s garment, in spite of the fact that David’s men encourage him to justly take the king’s life.

 

There are four challenges every man needs to learn from this story if they are going to be an effective warrior in life.

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Authentic, Responsible Relationships

This week I have had the opportunity to review and assess my capacity to develop and maintain authentic, responsible relationships. The story of David and Jonathan in I Samuel 18-19 reflects some of the strongest defining of authentic, responsible relationships. Using this as a frame, I was able to assess relationships in my life and whether they are providing me with strength to be authentic and responsible toward others. 
After re-familiarizing myself with the story of David and Jonathan’s friendship, I spent time looking at, and meditating on, the components of authentic, responsible relationships. The challenge was magnified as the speaker shared that men today do not have individuals who serve as truly authentic friends. Those who are willing to confront our behavior and poor decision making. In fact, research showed men in 1985 had three of these types of friends; however, research today shows that the number of true, authentic relationships is down to zero. What components of true, authentic relationships does the friendship between David and Jonathan identify? Here are five important components I considered.
(1) COMMON PURPOSE: Have you got individuals who you share life with that share a common purpose with you? Do you fight the same battles with this person? Would you say you are on the same side of issues life passes before you? Can you count on this person to have your back when things are not going well?
(2) COMMON SERVICE: Do you battle side-by-side with this individual against injustice, for the advancement of the less fortunate, to eliminate hurt, and to share your higher purpose? Is this individual part of your community of faith where you are strengthened because you are sharing life with this person? Do you get side-by-side and do hand-to-hand combat with common enemies? Do you have this individual’s “six” and does this person have yours, serving you both equally well?
(3) BEING VULNERABLE: Have you, or this individual, put down your weapons of protection to allow yourself to be seen and experienced without defenses? Have you stripped yourself of pretense and preconceived ideas allowing yourself to be opened and found out by another?
(4) COMMON COVENANT: Although a word not used commonly today, have you established your parameters and defining concepts with this individual(s)? Have you formalized your shared purpose, service, and vulnerability? Do others see the value that you place on friendship with this individual(s)?
(5) MUTUAL/BENEFICIAL SELF-RESPECT: Do you love yourself enough to share your life with another? Can you respect this person because you have worked through your own wounds and have healthy respect for yourself? Are you committed to building up others?
David and Jonathan set the model for healthy, authentic and responsible purpose-driven relationships. All of us should have a Jonathan/David and strive to be a David/Jonathan. As you look at your relationships, does the relationship of David and Jonathan reflect something that you have in your life? What can you do this week to improve your connections to others and ensure a few individuals strengthen your life experience?

Being Ready for Goliath-like Challenges

Been thinking about facing Goliath-like challenges as I enter this week (the story of David and Goliath is found primarily in I Samuel 17). Goliath was over 9 feet tall and used a spear that would have weighed nearly 30 pounds in battle. No one wanted to mess with him. In fact, the Philistine army depended on it. In a face-off with the recently established Jewish nation, there was no one who wanted to meet and battle with Goliath. He had effectively intimidated the whole Jewish army into inaction by his words.
Maybe you are facing a battle right now that has got you thinking you are overmatched and underprepared. Maybe your challenge taunts you and calls you out pointing to the obvious deficiencies standing between you and achievement of your goal. I had to realize my Goliath-like challenges are causing me to miss opportunities to advance because my vision is out of focus. Since I have a commitment to learn from my difficulties and mistakes, I have assumed an attitude that resembles making lemonade out of my lemons. I will present seven tools, or questions, designed to improve my response to challenges as I commit to move forward. 
(1) Am I aware when my Goliath-like challenges call out to me and taunt me to respond in human strength? Goliath, in I Samuel 17:8 and 9, taunted God’s people with, “Am I not the Philistine and you the servants of Saul?“Goliath laid the gauntlet down in human terms. What held back the Jewish army was that Saul and his soldiers were not focused on God’s view of the circumstances. They were seeing the challenge from a limited perspective and the result was dismay and great fear in the matter (v. 11).
(2) Am I responding by focusing on removal of the reproach against God? Or, is my response limited by my perceptions of others conditioned upon my belief that somehow God cannot take care of me? Am I able, and willing, to take a step back and let my response be guided by God’s work in my life? Admittedly, I am usually more focused on me. I do not see the forrest through the trees (as they say) when I am not grounded in my relationship with God.
(3) Am I allowing the misdirected views of others to distract and detract me? For instance, in the story of David and Goliath, Eliab, Jesse’s oldest son and David’s oldest brother, burned with anger when David stood up for God. Do I allow others to accuse me of insolent pride and selfish ambitions when I am living my life in my best attempt to honor the message of Christ?
(4) Am I prone to try to use tools not familiar to me to fight my battles, or will I trust the gifts that God has given me? David was given the armor of the king, but it proved useless. Fortunately David recognized this and did not take it into battle with him in facing the enemy. Do I remain confident in the familiar tools God uses to help me navigate life?
(5) Am I advancing into battle in the strength of “the name of the LORD of hostst”? David was sure the LORD GOD would prevail; because, He always had for David. Do I lose sight of what God has already done when going to meet Goliath-like challenges? I must retain the strength that is the result of God’s previous action in my life.
(6) Am I advancing in full confidence that the LORD GOD will prevail in this matter? Am I keeping my focus on the battle belonging to the LORD, or am I making it about me? Will others say of my effort, “the Lord gave the enemy into the hand of His servant“? I must decrease, that He may increase, as John the Baptist said (John 3:30).
(7) When the battle is over will honor come to God or have I set it up to be all about me? The honor of God was upon David when the day was over. He had defeated the Philistine, but really it was all about the defense of the honor of God. I must keep this clear and in the front of everything I do.
The story of David and Goliath is more than a good children’s story. Applications to life’s challenges can be found in combat, conflict, natural disasters, human carnage and many other difficulties faced in life. Taking the time to review each challenge based on these seven tools can help one find the most productive way to respond to life’s circumstances.We do not just survive. Victory goes to those who advance through difficulty receiving the lessons, and the scars, that circumstances create. May this week be an example of your strength to grow in all the challenges you face.

EXCEL-LENS: Attaining a distinguishable lifestyle today.

Striving for excellence requires a focus on details. In this multipart series, seven components of attaining excellence for a distinguishable lifestyle are discussed in detail. These components allow an individual to expand and model success for others to follow. This first installment of the series fwalkaboutrx-about-page-photoocused on an individual’s personal school of thought, or the generation of ideals established as guiding principles for orchestrating one’s lifestyle. In the current installment, the focus is piety, or establishing the quality of one’s true relationship with a Higher Power.

PIETY FOR THE 21st CENTURY

Attaining and practicing a commitment to a Higher Power is one definition of piety, the focus of today’s installment. History has not been kind to the term piety, or pious behavior. There are a myriad of examples where individuals and groups have taken piety to a destructive level of practice. We also must learn that letting the pendulum swing all the way in the other direction does not solve the issues surrounding piety and its practice. Strong recovery-based programs for overcoming addiction have advocated individuals strive to serve a Higher Power. If ideals are important to your lifestyle, then having some way to measure the strength of your ideals requires a tool of comparison. A Higher Power serves this purpose. Continue reading

EXCEL-LENS: Attaining a distinguishable lifestyle today

walkaboutrx-about-page-photo

Striving for excellence requires a focus on details. In this multipart series, seven components of attaining excellence for a distinguishable lifestyle will be discussed in detail. These components allow an individual to distinguish from and model success for others. This first installment focuses on one’s personal school of thought, or the generation of ideals that we establish as guiding principles for our lifestyle.

Everyone develops a school of thought, or ideals, where guiding principles lead our decisions and behaviors; even the absence of ideals is part of a person’s school of thought. Therefore, it is appropriate to conclude that everyone has ideals, sometimes referred to as principles, standards, beliefs, or values. There are three foundational premises regarding ideals. First, we all have some form of them. Although they guide and direct our thoughts, actions and decisions, it is clear that these belief systems also vary greatly from one individual to another, within groups and as part of one’s culture. Second, ideals guide and motivate individuals toward and away from particular behaviors. And, third, ideals are a source of direction for our life decisions.

IDEALS

Ideals are always a work in progress. Therefore, ideals can be understood as sort of a goal an individual pursues in the context of ethics and moral decisions. One’s orientation does not guarantee the success or failure of what we strive for; however, the presence, or absence, of ethical and moral goals affects outcomes. Ideals are held and applied by individuals and groups. Beware that positive results are not guaranteed when ideals engage individuals and groups to action or decision-making. Continue reading

Sketches of Honor: The Influence that Builds Character

IMG_0258Dr. Fish and Dr. Degelman

In this, the final installment of Sketches of Honor: The Influence that Builds Character, the focus is on individuals who changed my life by helping me during my college years to construct a lifestyle of integrity, fidelity and efficacy. This final discussion focuses on two specific individuals who uniquely shaped the person I have become.

Typically, college is the first time most students set aside the comfort and security of home to engage in an alternative environment and establish their independence; my experience was no different. As part of that process, I met Dr. Fish and Dr. Degelman after changing majors. Although mathematics was ok, I was restless about spending my entire life working with numbers and actuarial tables. I am sorry for anyone who makes a living in this arena (I deeply respect your work and expertise), but I was more interested in human interaction. As I entered my junior year, I decided to throw mathematics to the curb and venture into psychology. Continue reading