Leadership and Encouragement – Part 5

For the last several weeks I have been blogging on the subject of Leadership and Encouragement.  Leaders are encouragers!

This topic is crucial to leaders, especially in this culture of unparalleled change and uncertainty.  People, specifically those who follow you as a leader, are looking for someone to reassure them and to encourage them.

Encouragement energizes people – those who follow you as a leader.

The last three weeks we have been focusing on self-encouragement.  As a leader your ability to encourage others is determined by your ability to FIRST encourage yourself.

Using David’s experience at Ziklag in 1 Samuel 30, we are looking at principles of self-encouragement.

An encouraged man among a multitude of discouraged men always stands out from the crowd.  That’s why David was the leader.  The leader will always be the one who can encourage  himself when everyone else is discouraged.  Had someone else encouraged himself instead of David, that man would have become the new leader.

When people are discouraged, they are vulnerable.  The ability to encourage yourself when everyone else is discouraged is an essential attribute of leadership!

The third principle and practice of encouraging yourself is: Self-encouragement results in making wise decisions – the leader seeks the Lord.

David encouraged himself, and then he was strengthened to take action and make decisions.  The Bible says, “The joy of the Lord is our strength” – that is true but, encouragement always precedes joy!

After David worshiped and was encouraged, then he began to seek the Lord about what he was to do next.  Worship always prepares you to hear and receive a word from  the Lord.

Encouragement enables us to act according to our faith and NOT our feelings!

There will always be Ziklag experiences in our leadership journey.  How we respond to these experiences determines our destiny and impacts the lives of those who follow us as leaders.  Because David knew how to encourage himself, he was able to lead his men into victory and recover everything the enemy had stolen.  After recovery came celebration.

When, not if, you encounter a Ziklag experience: weep for a while, encourage yourself, get a word from God, recover what you lost, then get ready to celebrate!

I appreciate you and believe in you.  Together we are building the Kingdom of God in Virginia.

Leadership and Encouragement – Part 4

In my last blog we began looking at “How a Leader Encourages Himself.”  This is crucial, because how we handle the discouraging moments of life can determine whether a leader finishes or falters in their ministry.

Here is the second principle of self-encouragement: Self-encouragement flows out of your relationship with God.  David found encouragement in the Lord.

From what we know about David it is easy to surmise that David took his harp, went to a solitary place and sang praise to the Lord.

David was known as a worshiper and a warrior!  David was a “worshipper” BEFORE he was a “warrior.”  His ability to lead men publicly in battle as a warrior flowed out of his history as a worshipper of God in private.

Ultimately it is who we are in private that determines what we do in public!

In solitude as a shepherd, David learned worship.  When every one else worried and wondered what to do – the worshipper – worshipped!  No doubt that David did not feel like worshipping, but he did anyway.

It may sound too simple or even hyper-spiritual but when you are discouraged as a leader get alone and worship.  It is a decision NOT a feeling!

Perspective has everything do with whether you are encouraged or discouraged.  In the presence of God your perspective is changed, and your focus is adjusted.

In times of uncertainty and upheaval God is our constant because God never changes.  Even on the worst day of our lives, God is still worthy of worship!

Worship is essential to the life of a leader.  Worshippers are encouragers – and encouragers are worshippers!  You cannot encourage yourself or others without being a worshipper.  If you are discouraged, worship!

Worship magnifies your perspective of God.  When you make God bigger you make your problems/troubles smaller. Worship creates an atmosphere for faith to be released.  Worship is the pathway to joy.  Worship prepares us to hear God.

The Second Principle: Self-encouragement flows out to your relationship with God.

The Second Practice: Get alone with God and worship.

Next week we will look at the final principle and practice that leads to self-encouragement.  I believe in you and appreciate you.

Together we  are building the Kingdom of God in Virginia.

Leadership and Encouragement – Part 3

Recently I purchased a book simply because of a quote on the front cover, “If you do not learn how to encourage yourself, you cannot fulfill your destiny.”

That quote is a valid principle of life and leadership.  Probably the clearest example of this principle is found in the life of David in 1 Samuel 30:1-8.

David and his men returned home to Ziklag after a military campaign to find that while they were away the Amalikites had burned the citystolen their finances, and taken their wives and children captive.

The scripture says in 1 Samuel 30, verse 4 that David and his men, “wept until they could not weep anymore.”  David was beyond discouraged and his men were so distraught that they contemplated stoning him.

The turning point in the whole story in verse 6b, “But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.”

I want to focus on what David did as a leader that day to “to encourage himself in the Lord his God.”  There are principles and practices in this story that can help us as leaders to learn how to encourage ourselves.

David had no one else, so David, “encouraged HIMSELF in the Lord His God.”  Here is the first principle: Self-encouragement begins with you.  I know that would seem to be a self-evident principle. While that may be true, it is not an often practiced principle.

As a leader, there are times when we are emotionally and physically depleted, circumstances are not encouraging, and those closest to us seem to turn against us.  (Thank God no one has actually wanted to stone us.)  It is in those occasions and how we decide to respond that determines our destiny!

David did NOT decide to NOT be discouraged he DID decide to WORSHIP!  I am not suggesting that self-encouragement is simply a positive attitude or a Pollyanna approach to life.  I am stating that David realized he had to get a different perspective on his situation.

David made a decision to do something about his situation.  That decision began with him.  Based on past experience he knew that when he got into the presence of God, his perspective changed.

Leaders lead, make decisions, based on what they know, NOT on how they feel!  David knew from past experience what he needed to do in his present situation.

The First Principle:  Self-encouragement begins with yourself.

The First Practice: Decide to do something; decide to act like a leader.

I believe in you!  Together we are building the Kingdom of God in Virginia.

Leadership and Encouragement – Part 2

Barnabas A Biblical Model/Example of An Encourager

Barnabas is perhaps the most famous encourager in the New Testament.  In fact he embodied encouragement so much that the apostles changed his name from Joseph to Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.”

From the life of Barnabas I want to give you five characteristics of an encourager:

1.  Encouragers are givers. In Acts 4:36-37,  Barnabas sells his land and gives money to the apostles.

  • Encouragers do something tangible to encourage others.

2.  Encouragers are supporters. In Acts 9:20-27,  people are questioning Paul’s conversion and Barnabas steps up and brings him to the Apostles.

  • Encouragers have the ability to look beyond someone’s past and accept them for who they are in Christ.

3.  Encouragers are helpers. In Acts 11:21-24 Barnabas helped the young converts get established in the faith.

  • Encouragers are NOT critical, but helpful to others.

4.  Encouragers look for partners. In Acts 11:24-25, when the Gentile church is really starting to grow, Barnabas leaves to find Paul.

  • Encouragers are more interested in meeting needs than getting credit.

5.  Encouragers are forgivers. In Acts 15:36, Paul and Barnabas split ways over whether to take John Mark with them on their next missionary journey.

  • Encouragers are forgiving people who give others a second chance.

Remember, people want to follow encouragers!

Who is the Barnabas in your life/ministry? Who are you a Barnabas to?

I believe in you and appreciate you.  Together we are building the Kingdom of God in Virginia.

Leaders and Encouragement – Part 1

Leaders are encouragers!

James Kounzes and Barry Posner, two of the most respected experts and authors on the subject of leadership say that, “Encouraging the Heart is one of  The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership.”

In their book Encouraging the Heart, Kouznes and Posner have identified “Seven Essentials to Encouraging.”  I am going to simplify and modify the 7 Essentials for the purpose of church/ministry application.

1.  Set clear standards – communicate very specifically to the church what God has put into your heart to do.  It’s encouraging to followers when the leader clearly communicates where he is leading.

2.  Expect the best – verbalize your belief in people – people tend to live up to our expectations.  It’s a prophetic declaration of their God given potential.

3.  Pay attention – as the leader constantly be looking for those who are being faithful to the vision/ministry.  It’s  attention for the purpose of acknowledgment.

4. Personalize recognition – acknowledge for the purpose of appreciating the individual.  Individual acknowledgment increases personal  involvement.

5.  Tell the story – as the leader tell how someone in the church/ministry is helping you to accomplish your vision/mission.  When you publicly communicate how someone’s partnership is making a difference, you add value to them.

6.  Celebrate together – publicly testify to how God is using the people in your church/ministry, this brings unity and shared joy.  Celebration also fuels momentum.

7.  Set the example – be an encourager, model what you want your church to become.  You can’t delegate encouragement!

Encouragement is essential to Kingdom accomplishment!

As the leader you should be the primary encourager.  Remember, what you sow you reap – as you encourage others, it encourages you.

I appreciate you and believe in you.  Together we are building the Kingdom of God in Virginia.