The Denver West Point Society hosted its first Leadership and Ethics Conference for high school juniors in Colorado. It was entitled “Living an Honorable Life.” General (ret) George Casey served as the keynote speaker. I had the privilege of hosting at my table six juniors—Amaya, Grace, Elias, Sandra, Caleb and Haley representing three different high schools and towns. We studied vignettes that featured moral/ethical dilemmas with the students working through ethical decision-making models to reach wise solutions.
Dr. Henry Cloud wrote a significant book entitled Necessary Endings. Cloud wrote, “When we fail to end things well, we are destined to repeat the mistakes that keep us from moving on.” He shares observations why pruning may be essential for an organization to move forward; why many leaders struggle to understand that endings are a natural season in life; the difference between pain with a purpose and pain for no good reason; hoping versus wishing; three kinds of people; creating urgency and motivation for change; how to handle resistance; and, many other excellent insights that best position leaders to succeed in the future.
Acts 10:1,2—There was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment. He was a devout man and feared God along with his whole household. He did many charitable deeds for the Jewish people and always prayed to God.
It should not surprise us that Cornelius was God’s choice to first bring the gospel to the Gentiles. When we study his profile, it is inspiring and gives us a clear picture of what right looks like and thus why he was favored in God’s eyes. Cornelius was:
John the Baptist was discouraged. The imprisoned forerunner to Jesus was unable to personally witness Jesus at work. He begin to have doubts as to if Jesus truly was the Messiah. So he sent his disciples to ask the Lord, “Are You the One who is come, or should we look for someone else?” It was an honest question from a godly prophet.
Luke 7:22--He replied to them, “Go and report to John the things you have seen and heard: The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those with skin diseases are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news.
The Ascent Church in Monument, Colorado is in the process of selecting new elders. Two of us, who are currently on the elder board, recently met with one of two prospective elders to gauge whether he would be a good addition to our team. The process will continue with several more meetings with our pastors and elders and, then if nominated, the congregation will vote to bring them on as elders. It is a solid method and it works well for our church.
1 Timothy 5:22—Don’t be too quick to appoint anyone as an elder, and don’t share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.
1 Timothy 1:3,5—As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, continue to remain at Ephesus so that you might command some to teach no other doctrine . . . Now the goal of this command is love from a pure heart, and from a good conscience, and from sincere faith. (Modern English Version)
The word, “command” in verses three and five is a military term which means “to give strict orders.”
1 Samuel 16:1—The LORD said to Samuel, “How long are you going to mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem because I have selected a king from his sons.”
Joshua 8:9,10—So Joshua sent them out, and they went to the ambush site and waited between Bethel and Ai, to the west of Ai. But he spent that night with the troops. Joshua started early the next morning and mobilized them. Then he and the elders of Israel led the troops up to Ai.
Picture spending forty years wandering through the desert until an entire generation of disbelieving parents has died. God miraculously parted the Jordan River and an expectant nation crossed into the land of Canaan on dry land. Thirteen times their army marched around the city of Jericho and the walls fell down! God gave them an easy win against a well-fortified city. Then, with an ever-rising confidence they attacked the inhabitants of Ai only to be swiftly defeated. Like quickly evaporating water, their sureness was shattered. How could they ever hope to conquer Canaan if they could not even vanquish a small village?
Theodore Roosevelt’s boat was stolen from his ranch in the Badlands. Thieves cut the rope and during an arctic storm took off down the Little Missouri River. The small craft was only worth thirty dollars, but Teddy, a deputy sheriff of Billings County, felt obligated by his own moral code to go after the three men (he knew who committed the crime). Six days later, under horrible conditions, Roosevelt and two volunteers set out in pursuit. Three days soon after, in frigid conditions on an icy river, Teddy caught Finnegan, Pfaffenbach and Burnsted.
Angst is probably a great word to describe the mood of hundreds of millions of people who wearily wonder who their next leader will be. After a political process that takes too long, an ugly trail of tawdry politics and professional dirt-slinging, most of the nation just wants this election to be over. Compounding the problem is the almost universal cry, “With over 323 million people, these are the bestcandidates to emerge?” It would seem the world’s third largest nation has a huge problem when it comes to electing a leader with integrity.
Those of us who meet the requirements for voting, and who carry out the responsibility to vote, will cast our ballot and hope for the best outcome possible. While we might not always like the choices available, or feel good about the state of our political system, we ought to always remember the following.
1 Chronicles 28:20—Then David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He won’t leave you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the LORD’s house is finished.
Consistently I am amazed at how many leaders have no succession plan. So many families and organizations have needlessly suffered because their leader didn’t take the steps to ensure the success of those who would follow in his or her footsteps.
Forty-four men wrote over a period of sixteen centuries sixty-six books that display coherent unity and progressive revelation from Genesis to Revelation. The Bible reveals God’s redemption plan for humanity. It offers the best leadership, marriage, child-raising, family-relations, financial, conduct, attitude, character, teamwork, physical, spiritual, emotional and wisdom-producing advice and instruction on the planet. Yet, I believe we would be shocked, if we knew how many Jesus-followers have never read through this supreme gift from God.
General Vladimir Sukhomlinov was the Russian Minister of War from 1909-1915. He was a cavalry officer and a war hero during Russia’s war with Turkey in the 1870s. Unfortunately, Sukhomlinov decided that he knew everything that there was to know about warfare. His decorations, record and position bolstered his self-importance despite the fact that Russia lost territory and huge numbers of dead and wounded to the Japanese from 1904-1905.
Psalm 101 is a terrific passage for leaders. King David essentially makes a vow of integrity and we get a clear view into what he saw as important as a leader.
First, David commits to worship. “I will sing of faithful love and justice; I will sing praise to You, LORD.” (vs. 1) As leaders when we put God first, we walk in the right direction. Worship sets the foundation for integrity. It is pretty hard to sin when we are in worship!
My team briefed me at 3:30 p.m. The key slide in their operational brief that I would have to in turn brief my boss at 5:00 p.m. was awful. The words that were to describe our progress were not clear and there were too many confusing acronyms. And what was supposed to be a clear map for the location of the disaster in our exercise, with scope of destruction from a notional bomb, was just a big brown blob. Each subordinate unit that briefed me had much better graphics depicting roads, cities and key information. But I couldn’t use their work because by the time all the units finished speaking there wasn’t enough time for the staff to swap content. Inside I was fuming. This was our first chance to make a strong impression on our higher headquarters and our one slide was unprofessional.
At Jerry Delmark’s memorial service during the time of sharing multiple people got up and testified that he was an authentic Christian. He walked his talk. He loved God. He was a hard worker. He made a difference in the lives of those around him. I know this to be true because Jerry had a tremendous impact on our oldest son Bryan. Yet while the tributes were fittingly positive, it was Jerry’s daughter, Jackie, who subtly took us to a harder place. Yes, she cherished his humor and loving parenting but quietly she wondered why he had to suffer so painfully in the final leg of his journey. Her question was not addressed to us but to God.
I had two speaking engagements on the same weekend that required me to wear my dress uniform with a bow tie for one event and a long tie for the other. The night before traveling, as I got into bed, I remembered I had only packed a long tie. I decided to get it first thing in the morning before Kathleen took me to the airport.
Exodus 18:21-23—But you should select from all the people able men, God-fearing, trustworthy, and hating bribes. Place them over the people as commanders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. They should judge the people at all times. Then they can bring you every important case but judge every minor case themselves. In this way you will lighten your load, and they will bear it with you. If you do this, and God so directs you, you will be able to endure, and also all these people will be able to go home satisfied.
Dr. Jerry White shares an insightful story in his book Rules To Live By. A young lieutenant forgot to wear his tie with his dress uniform on the day he had to brief a general. Not having enough time to return home, he buttoned up his raincoat and wore it into the meeting. When the general asked him why he was wearing his raincoat, the young man admitted he’d forgotten to wear his tie. So, the general told him to take off his raincoat and then he asked everyone present for the meeting to remove their neckties.
Jerry White, Rules to Live By, Colorado Springs: NavPress, ©2010, ps 112,113
While attending a conference with senior military leaders we were informed that the likelihood of Congress failing to pass a continuing resolution was highly improbable. Less than three days later the Senate and House failed to agree and we were surprised.
Most of my organization’s employees sit at home unable to go to work and are unsure when they will be able to resume their jobs. For one income folks and families on tight budgets, the forced layoff is angst-producing. One missed paycheck is fraught with second and third order effects. As frustration with our government continues to climb I am taken back to my teenage years living in a third world country ripe with corruption. Increasingly it feels like we are becoming third world. But I am not surprised.