We are often asked, “What do you do?” Our response is often something like, “I work at the ABC Widget Company.” This response says volumes about how we see work in our modern milieu. This is an eleventh shift in thinking we must understand.
We all want to be faithful to our Lord’s command to see the gospel permeate and change the world. As Christians, we see countless ways things are not as they should be—people alienated from God, one another, God’s good creation, and even themselves. As a result, they live and lead from non-Christian beliefs and values, which results in shattered lives, fractured families, human trafficking, oppressive regimes, and many other forms of alienation from God and one another.
Any average American who has paid some attention to national news reports of the last twenty or thirty years could probably name a least a few—too many—Christian organizations that have failed. Those of us who work in the sphere of Christian ministries can name many more. As a result, there is keen interest among boards, CEOs, and management of evangelical non-profits in better ways to govern organizations.
Management consultant and author, the late Peter Drucker, observed in his 1974 book, Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices that all boards share one thing in common—they are all dysfunctional. I disagree. There is one factor that makes some boards healthy and productive, and others not. I have come to this conclusion over the past few years as I’ve learned more about how healthy boards function.
Last Tuesday I lost one of my heroes. Christian speaker, author, and editor Jim Sire passed “from the land of the dying into the land of the living” to a great reward at age 84. He not only had a massive influence on me and countless others through his many books (such as The Universe Next Door, which is one of four books I suggest each parent read with their children before college), he was also a friend and mentor to me and so many others. We can learn at least three lessons from Jim’s life.
CEO Uzziah got it almost all right. He built a great company (country). He was well respected in his country and by the nations around him because he lived by the first three leadership best practices. He also apparently followed this fourth best practice for some time. However, he forgot this fourth principle after he was seasoned, and it cost him his position as a leader and more. What happened? And as we are successful how can we avoid this same fate?
CEO Uzziah is blessed by God and becomes an exceptional leader. But this is not only because he followed the first two leadership principles. He also understood and applied a third principle—trusting God is not enough. We must also work to be excellent at what we do. This is the secret of the “both/and” and makes all work a spiritual endeavor. Only understanding this can energize a leader to lead well for the long haul.
Uzziah became CEO at a very early age (at 16—II Chronicles 26:1)! He didn’t know much about running a country, and he probably was well aware of his ignorance! He needed others with wisdom, experience and “deeds done” to help him understand reality, see what he needed to see and do what he needed to do. A key factor to his success was that Uzziah learned from two mentors. This is another essential best practice for leaders.
I recently spoke on leadership from II Chronicles 26:1-21. King (CEO) Uzziah was an exceptional leader, due to four best practices he adopted. He also failed spectacularly because he forgot the fourth of these later in his career. All of us in leadership should know and apply these best practices to flourish both personally and professionally.
Does the world need North Americans to continue sending missionaries worldwide to finish the task of seeing all people hear the gospel? Or have we done our part, and now it is time for those in other nations to finish the task in their homelands? A recent article taking the first position was criticized in a response in another journal here, highlighting the two opposing views. I just finished a book that charts a helpful “middle course” between the two.