***Special thanks to Blythe Daniel of The Blythe Daniel Agency, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***
Tom Harper is president of the online church leadership community Church Central as well as Net World Alliance, a leading business-to-business media communications company. He lives with his wife and children in Louisville, Kentucky.
A king’s rage is like a lion’s roar;
but his favor is like dew on the grass.
All successful leaders are lion tamers. Over time they learn how to calm the roaring beasts, and in those rare instances when a pride attacks or a big cat goes berserk, they find a way to survive.
Have you ever found yourself suddenly surrounded by carnivorous critics, competitors, or coworkers materializing from the bushes? Perhaps a snide remark in a meeting or a biting e-mail ruined your day.
This book is a leadership manual on how to deal with the lions in your life, and how to successfully lead in this unpredictable world. When people don’t say what they mean and things aren’t what they seem, we have to rely on leadership principles that never change.
In these pages, you will discover sixty-six powerful leadership concepts from every book of the Bible. The ancient Scriptures speak of conflict management, motivation, planning, psychology, persuasion, passion, relationship-building, training, and sacrifice—a myriad of skills every leader needs in his or her toolbox.
These biblical leadership techniques have worked for thousands of years—but sadly, many leaders ignore them today. Maybe that’s because they’re not quick roads to power, fame, or wealth. Instead, they lead to a life well lived, to true success. And to less pain along the way.
If you master them, you will master your lions.
Lion imagery appears everywhere in the Bible. Even the Lord says of Himself, “He will roar like a lion. When He roars, His children will come trembling from the west” (Hos. 11:10). Jesus is called the lion of the tribe of Judah. He said, “Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34).
As leaders, we must become like lions ourselves—roaring when necessary, feared by our followers, yet calm and gentle in the heat of the day. And when our people fall into their own lions’ dens, we need to go in and get them out.
The Gems in This Book
Over the past few years, I’ve read each book of the Bible in search of fresh lessons for leaders. This has led me to some amazing discoveries.
For example, I thought the twelve books of the Minor Prophets primarily contained prophetic messages of doom. Little did I know they held secrets to motivating people, turning our careers around, business planning, fighting superior force, and customer research.
When I got to the Gospels, I didn’t think I’d find anything new there, either. I thought everything about Jesus’ leadership tactics had been written. But fresh insights emerged: Matthew demonstrated how to connect with my people the way Jesus did. Luke taught how to discover someone’s true character with three tests. In John, I found three tactics to raise my leadership profile among my peers and followers.
I’ve sought to discover the freshest, most pertinent leadership lesson in every book. When strung together, these sixty-six concepts reveal a meta-narrative about how to lead people. While human research and wisdom are fallible and change depending on time and culture, a plethora of modern research supports the Bible’s forty authors, who themselves were separated by centuries and cultures.
I don’t pretend to have found every divine leadership principle. Many didn’t make it into my manuscript, since the goal was to choose only one from each book. Doubtless some of them won’t be new to you and others will go against the advice of well-known authors. You’ll find many more if you do your own digging.
Perhaps the most significant revelation I found was echoed by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “All of my best thoughts were stolen by the ancients.”
The Conclusion of History
Throughout the millennia, non-Christian writers have offered valuable wisdom, like Sun Tzu in The Art of War, the famous sixth-century BC Chinese treatise on battlefield prowess. Many modern military institutions require their students to read it. Though it’s one of the oldest known books on military strategy, thousands of leaders have successfully applied it to the tech-accelerated marketplace of today.
The Bible, of course, is even more ancient. It has provided guidance and wisdom for countless leaders throughout history:1
Robert E. Lee—“In all my perplexities and distresses, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength.”
Theodore Roosevelt—“A thorough understanding of the Bible is better than a college education.”
Woodrow Wilson—“I am sorry for men who do not read the Bible every day. I wonder why they deprive themselves of the strength and pleasure.”
Abraham Lincoln—“I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man.”
Napoleon Bonaparte—“The Bible is no mere book, but it’s a living creature with a power that conquers all who oppose it.”
George Washington—“It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”
Andrew Jackson—“That Book is the rock on which our Republic rests.”
Sir Isaac Newton—“I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by men who were inspired. I study the Bible daily.”
Charles Dickens—“The New Testament is the very best book that ever was or ever will be known in the world.”
Well-known marketplace leaders like S. Truett Cathy, founder and CEO of Chick-fil-A, and David Novak, CEO of Yum! and author of The Education of an Accidental CEO (Crown Business, 2007), build their lives and work on a biblical foundation. Author Zig Ziglar credits the Bible with making him who he is today. Ditto John Maxwell, the prolific leadership guru, author of more than thirty books, and former pastor. Jim Collins, author of Good to Great (HarperCollins), found that his so-called “level 5 leader” matched the description of Jesus Christ.
Whatever your vocation, whether you teach, manage, protect, heal, serve the elderly, volunteer, pilot a plane, clean, compete, coach, preach, or parent, it is my hope that the concepts throughout this book will hone your leadership skills and help you find true success in work and life.
And the next time you find yourself in a lion’s den, may the sharpest teeth be your own.
Spark Creativity One Brain at a Time—Genesis
“Creativity is to think more efficiently.”
—Pierre Reverdy, French poet
hen I was a kid, a man who worked with my dad called him the most creative businessman he’d ever known. But Dad could barely draw a stick man. Though he never professed or demonstrated what I considered creativity, he had a knack for artfully solving business and people problems.
Most people don’t think their abilities resemble creativity, either. But I’ve seen a financial executive present bland financial data in the form of a compelling story. I’ve watched in awe as a sales exec adjusted his language to lead a prospect from arms-folded resistance to acceptance.
What does creativity mean to you? Many people think artistry. Others think innovation. Still others go a level deeper. Alberto Alessi, CEO of the Alessi product design firm, said, “We consider our core activity to be mediating between, on one side, the best possible expressions of product design from all over the world and, on the other side, the final customer’s dreams.”2 Another example of creative innovation is NineSigma.com, which connects companies with inventors, entrepreneurs, researchers, and students through an online match-making service. These ad hoc teams create groundbreaking new products and solutions. Many organizations foster creative teamwork through collaborative instant messaging, chat windows, discussion boards, and project groups.
Though online cooperation might appear to be a new kind of brainstorming, it’s actually based on an ancient model of creativity. The concept is simple: the best creative thinking is done when individuals have a chance to think before they collaborate. Not everyone thinks well in groups. Especially introverts like me. We need time to cogitate and organize our thoughts before verbalizing them.
The original act of divine creativity in Genesis was executed by one mind (notwithstanding the Trinity). God didn’t wait to ask us what we wanted. His vision was clear. Later, humans had their chance to invent and originate, but not until the Lord had completed His foundational work.
Throughout the Bible, as you will see, God and His handpicked people model different aspects of leadership. In Genesis, He also models the perfect work and rest ethic. Why shouldn’t He be our model for creativity, too?
We can infer from God’s method of creativity that teams shouldn’t necessarily be exalted over individuals. For example, when most executives are faced with significant problems, they resort to group brainstorming sessions. The problem with these, say social researchers, is brainstorming in a group setting rarely enhances the quantity or quality of ideas. One reason is the fear of peer evaluation. Plus, listening to other ideas can cause us to forget our own. Sometimes people simply don’t have enough time to think of anything.
Another reason group creativity doesn’t work is “social loafing,” when some in the group go silent because they think their contributions aren’t valued, or because they can’t compete with the bolder group members. As a result, the quieter people’s ideas go unspoken. A simple solution is to collect everyone’s thoughts before the meeting, freeing them to think without distractions, anxiety, or time constraints. The leader collects the ideas and e-mails the anonymous list to the group. After refinement, the team meets in person to expand or combine the top-voted ideas.
When you need a creative solution, remember the Genesis model. First analyze the issue without group influence. You’ll then be able to lead your team through the creative process at maximum efficiency, with all the best ideas on the table. If you rally the troops too early for collaborative thinking, too many dysfunctional dynamics and distractions will neuter the creativity, especially with larger groups.
You as the leader are the genesis of creativity in your organization. By encouraging individual thought among your people, groupthink will never have a chance to birth mediocrity.
Leadership Principle #1 (Genesis)
Creative leaders coax the best thinking out of individuals before calling a brainstorming session to combine the minds.
“In the beginning God created the heavens
and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1)