Tag Archives: Leadership


March 21, 2017

Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 16:1-13

When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.’ But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’ Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, ‘Neither has the Lord chosen this one.’ Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, ‘Neither has the Lord chosen this one.’ Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, ‘The Lord has not chosen any of these.’ Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Are all your sons here?’ And he said, ‘There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.’ And Samuel said to Jesse, ‘Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.’ He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, ‘Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.’ Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from t1hat day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah. –1 Samuel 16:6-13

David was handsome as was Saul, perhaps not as tall. Also, both men’s stories are told with the knowledge of hindsight. David succeeded far beyond expectations so his childhood stories become the source of legend while Saul remains forever on the rubble pile of lost causes. Identifying the right person at the right time matters as does training and experience which David gained as Saul’s general. I learned how to supervise from some very good supervisors and how not to supervise from some poor ones. Although I have a degree in social work administration including classes well taught, I learned the good side of supervision first hand from working for and observing the manager of the restaurant in which I worked in high school and college.

Little is written about Saul’s relationship with God. David’s is well documented and very true to human experience. It runs the gamut from total ecstasy to total shame, turning a blind eye to some behavior, experiencing the freeing nature of forgiveness, and knowing the comfort of resting in the arms of God at life’s transitions.

There is nothing that is more important than our building and growing and nurturing our relationship with God. Nothing. Everything else we touch in the world when we are in sync with God is influenced by the love of God. We may not see these positive outcomes. Keeping account of our successes takes time away from more important duties. Now learning from our mistakes is a different matter altogether.

Prayer: God who is love, abide with us as we worked toward creating a world ruled by your love. Help us learn from both our successes and failures and help us enable one another to be our best. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the new Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Houses Divided

March 20, 2017

Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 16:1-13

The Lord said to Samuel, ‘How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.’ Samuel said, ‘How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.’ And the Lord said, ‘Take a heifer with you, and say, “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.” Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.’ Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, ‘Do you come peaceably?’ He said, ‘Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.’ And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. –1 Samuel 16:1-5

How does a group recover from leadership mistakes? 1 Samuel 9:1 seems to indicate that Saul’s credentials for being king were that he was tall and handsome. Granted that was written with hindsight, but it speaks to the panic running through the Hebrews regarding all their neighbors having kings when they did not. Find a king, any king, and all will be well. Of course, it was not. The paradigm shift being experienced in the Middle East at that time required far more skills than Saul possessed.

Good leaders rise to the top when people have a common vision worth pursuing. Jesus noted in Mark 3:25, if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. Abraham Lincoln took that scripture to heart when he strived to keep the United States together during the Civil War. Defining commonly held values is important. Turning those values into a vision and goals creates the framework for progress. Working together to make the vision a reality should follow.  Treating all sides with respect matters too.

A lot of innocent people were hurt as Saul blundered through being king. Eventually his own son was killed. A lot more were negatively impacted as David led the way to peace through bloody war.

Many reading this follow a risen Savior, Jesus Christ. His vision of creating a Kingdom of Love stretching to the ends of the earth is still very real. We need to get about the business of identifying the things we can and do agree on, and work with all are hearts to implement them, while letting the things that divide us lie fallow. When we fully love God, and love our neighbors as we love ourselves, we may be surprised by how easily those thorny issues that separate us now, melt away.

Prayer: Lord forgive us for getting so caught up in the world that we forget your purpose for us. Guide us to find the work you have already laid out for us and strengthen us to do it with all our love. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the new Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Leaning on God

March 14, 2017

Scripture Reading: Exodus 17:1-7

So Moses cried out to the Lord, ‘What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.’ Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’ –Exodus 17:4-7

My child welfare work began in a town of about 25,000 people and thus I knew most of the police force within a few months. Later I became the supervisor and my home telephone number appeared on their contact sheet as the first to call in an emergency. I was sound asleep one night when the phone next to my head jarred me awake about 1:00 am. The police had stopped a woman for a DUI who was going to jail and she had her four very young children with her. The caller said, “We have a serious situation here.” The first thing I said in my drowsy half-awake state was my hair looks awful. To this day, I have no idea why I said that. (I never lived it down) While I hope, I am presentable most of the time my looks have never been a primary concern ever and particularly not in an emergency. With a few choice words edited out, the police officer, with whom I had worked many times, said, “I do not care what your hair looks like you get yourself out of that bed and get down here.” I did.

In my experience, the police are amazing with little kids. Children pick up their calm reassuring manner. They sense the safety in their presence.   A few minutes later when I arrived, I found four little cuties all dirty and inappropriately dressed, playing on the floor with some makeshift toys snacking on treats from a vending machine. I arranged for emergency foster care and enlisted the aid of another social worker as we took the children to their temporary home.

I like the phrase cooler heads will prevail. Moses had to fall back on his gift of patience dealing with the fear and panic the Israelites were experiencing. Walking into unknown territory even out of slavery is daunting. It takes great courage to lead in times like these. Moses succeeded by leaning on the everlasting arms of God*. As we face the challenges of our world we can take comfort from those same everlasting arms.

Prayer: God we long for the shelter of your wings as we deal with life situations that seem beyond our abilities to address. Give us the courage to face whatever confronts us with the support of your loving grace and power. Amen.

*From the hymn, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms by Elisha A. Hoffman.  See at http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/Leaning_on_the_Everlasting_Arms/

All scriptures are quoted from the new Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Who Do We Trust?

February 17, 2017

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23

 Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written,
‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’,
and again,
‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise,
   that they are futile.’
So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God. –1 Corinthians 3:18-23

Who do we trust? Several years ago, when I was obese, I participated in a mandatory ropes course with my fellow executives to develop our teamwork skills. One of the tasks was to pick up and pass each participant through a steel web of randomly sized holes each of which could only be used once. It also had to be accomplished without the person being transferred touching the ground until they were completely on the other side. I was not sure I could fit through any of the holes and I was not too thrilled with being picked up by several people and handed over to the receivers. My transfer occurred in the middle of the process along with those who would require more than one person on each side to complete the hand off. While I hated the process, and would never choose to do it again, it did teach a vital lesson. We live in a diverse world including people with varying needs. We live in a diverse world with people of varying skills and talents. Our task is to find wholeness for all by meshing needs with appropriate skills and talents. Every human has needs as well as the ability to help others.

To be a part of God’s team working to bring about God’s Kingdom, we the people must thoughtfully consider the best and most productive ways to meet the Common Good and find or become the leadership that can and will implement them. Such actions require us to work with peoples of other faiths and people of no faith at all. It may require us to identify the practical and pragmatic sense of what it means to love our neighbors as we love ourselves so that the people with whom we are building this nation can feel comfortable working with us without concern that we are forcing our faith on them. God, it seems, is pragmatic so are God’s ways. In searching for openings too explain our values we may find that some of them are not of God at all. Likewise, if we can explain our vision in God’s universal terms, we may help others see the virtue of God who we love.

Prayer: God help us put our trust in you to guide our actions. Enable us to grow closer to you so that we readily recognize you in everything we do. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the new Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Productive Participation

Samuel anointing David King of IsraelLiving in the Spirit
June 29, 2015

Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10

Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, ‘Look, we are your bone and flesh. For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The Lord said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.’ So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel.
–2 Samuel 5:1-3

Laurence J. Peter author of the book, The Peter Principle, is also the source of the quote, lead, follow, or get out of the way. I have found that to be good advice over the years, although I have sometimes found it hard to practice. In its purest form, it probably does go too far for often quality change comes at the edges or fringes of practice. I have always, however, believed there are as many ways to do something as there are people doing it and, therefore, if the only issue at hand is the practical stages of implementation then the advice has relevance. We all need to be mindful of this as leadership changes occur in our lives.

Our scripture today is remarkably free of the chirping of “we have never done it this way before” or the other side, everything Saul ever did was bad. Saul is given credit for what he did do and David is recognized as the leader for what will be done. Leadership changes are rarely that clean. My guess is that David set the tone for this description.

I have found it meaningful to listen to what I just called chirping because while it might not be pertinent to progress, it most likely is a measure of the feelings, fears, and dreams of the group’s membership. Those feelings, fears, and dreams are the stuff of positive or negative participation.

Change in leadership is a routine part of life in the Body of Christ. We as members of the Body need to take stock of our own feelings, fears, and dreams at such times and with God’s help turn them into productive participation.


Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen. –St. Francis of Assisi.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.