Attributes of a Leader – #10

Initiative:  You Won’t Leave Home Without It

Success seems to be connected with action.  Successful people keep moving.  They make mistakes, but they don’t quit. 
– Conrad Hilton, Hotel Executive

In The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell states that leaders are responsible for initiating a connection with their followers.  But that’s not the only area where leaders must show initiative.  They must always look for opportunities and be ready to take action.  What qualities do leaders possess that enable them to make things happen? 

  •  They Know What They Want – No one can be both indecisive and effective.  If you are going to be an effective leader, you’ve got to know what you want.  That’s the only way you’ll recognize opportunity when it comes.
  • They Push Themselves to Act – There’s an old saying, “You can if you will.”  Initiators don’t wait for other people to motivate them.  They knew it is their responsibility to push themselves beyond their comfort zone.  And they make it a regular practice. 
  • They Take More Risks – When leaders know what they want and can push themselves to act, they still have one more hurdle.  That’s willingness to take risks.  Proactive people always take risks.  But one of the reasons good leaders are willing to take risks is that they recognize there is a price for not initiating too. 
  •  They Make More Mistakes – The good news for initiators is that they make things happen.  The bad news is that they make lots of mistakes.  Even though initiating leaders experience more failure, they don’t let it bother them.  The greater the potential, the greater the chance for failure.  If you want to achieve great things as a leader, you must be willing to initiate and put yourself on the line.


Are you an initiator?  Are you constantly on the lookout for opportunity, or do you wait for it to come to you?  Are you willing to take steps based on your best instincts?  Or do you endlessly analyze everything? When was the last time you initiated something significant in your life?  If you haven’t pushed yourself lately and gotten out of your comfort zone, you may need to jump-start your initiative.

Action Steps

To improve your initiative, do the following:

  • Change your mind-set – If you lack initiative, recognize that the problem comes from the inside, not from others.  Determine why you hesitate to take action.  Does risk scare you?  Are you discouraged by past failures?  Do you not see the potential that opportunity offers?  Find the source of your hesitation and address it.  You won’t be able to move forward on the outside until you can move forward on the inside.
  • Don’t wait for opportunity to knock – Opportunity doesn’t come to the door knocking.  You’ve got to go out and look for it.  Take stock of your assets, talents, and resources.  Doing that will give you and idea of your potential.  Now, spend every day for a week looking for opportunities.  Where do you see needs?  Who is looking for expertise you have?  What unreached group of people is practically dying for what you have to offer?  Opportunity is everywhere.
  • Take the next step – It’s one thing to see opportunity.  IT’s another to do something about it.  As someone once quipped, everyone has a great idea in the shower.  But only a few people step out, dry off, and do something about it. Pick the best opportunity you see, and take it as far as you can.  Don’t stop until you’ve done everything you can to make it happen.

Take Away

It will take a bold step from you today to reach your potential tomorrow.  What step are you willing to take?

But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.  Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.  The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.  (I Samuel 17:34-37)

Pride Goeth …

The other night I was watching a show on The Food Network.  The objective was to open a restaurant, from scratch, in 24 hours; name, menu, food, décor, the whole nine yards. 

Two teams of three were in the competition. One team consisted of a grandmother, mother and daughter, opening a traditional Italian restaurant.  The other team was two brothers and a sister, opening a contemporary Italian Bistro.  The three generation team was Old School Italian all the way, and the team with the siblings was sure that they were going to beat them.  One of the brothers on the team was exceptionally arrogant, constantly putting down the women and making bold claims on how great his restaurant and food was going to be. 

But when it was all said and done, the women won the contest, they beat out their egotistical competitor.  I couldn’t help but smile, it was so cute.  The little grandmother was so humble and sweet.  She kept saying, “I hope you like my food, if you don’t, I’ll do better next time.”  Apparently the judges liked her food.

Proverbs 16:18 says, Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

In Luke 22, one minute the over confident diciple, Master Peter is proclaiming his undying commitment to Jesus and the next thing you know, when the going gets tough,  three times that same night he denies even knowing him.  Yep … he took a tumble.

I remember this song from years ago: Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble, when you’re perfect in every way.  The song was written for fun, I’m sure, but unfortunately the concept is all too true in our world today.  The restaurant guy was a sad example.

James tells us: God opposes the proud  but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6)

I don’t want God to oppose me, I want to walk in His grace.

Father, help me to see my imperfections and to walk humbly along this journey with you.

I love you Jesus!
In Your Name I pray,

God’s Blessings Upon You!


The Choices You Make Today …
Will Affect Your Tomorrow!

Living Stone for July

Selda Easterly  – July  2010 – Tree of Life Living Stone

Selda loves The Lord, and it shows in everything she does.  Selda stepped out of her comfort zone a year ago and took over nursery duty, making sure our little ones were well cared for each and every Sunday.  Selda also helps out with the Youth each and every Wednesday, leading them in a time of worship and mentoring and nurturing the teen girls.  Thank you Selda for stepping out and stepping into God’s call for your life!

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
   I Peter 2:4,5

Attributes of a Leader – #9

Generosity:  Your Candle Loses Nothing When It Lights Another

Giving is the highest level of living.
– John C. Maxwell

Nothing speaks to others more loudly or serves them better than generosity from a leader.  True generosity isn’t an occasional event.  It comes from the heart and permeates every aspect of a leader’s life, touching his time, money, talents, and possessions.  Effective leaders, the kind that people want to follow, don’t gather things just for themselves; they do it in order to give to others.  Cultivate the quality of generosity in your life.   Here’s how:

  •  Be Grateful for Whatever You Have – It’s hard for a person to be generous when he is not satisfied with what he has.  Generosity rises out of contentment, and that doesn’t come with acquiring more.  If you’re not content with little, you won’t be content with a lot.  And if you’re not generous with little, you won’t suddenly change if you become wealthy. 
  • Put People First – the measure of a leader is not the number of people who serve him, but the number of people he serves.  Generosity requires putting others first.  If you can do that, giving becomes much easier.
  • Don’t Allow the Desire for Possessions to Control You – More and more people are becoming enslaved to the desire to acquire.  If you want to be in charge of your heart, don’t allow possessions to take charge of you.
  • Regard Money as a Resource – Someone once said that when it comes to money, you can’t win.  If you focus on making it, you’re materialistic.  If you try to but don’t make any, you’re a loser.   If you make a lot and keep it, you’re a miser.  If you can make it and spend it, you’re a spendthrift.  If you don’t care about making any, you’re unambitious.  If you make a lot and still have it when you die, you’re a fool-for trying to take it with you.  The only way to really win with money is to hold it loosely – and be generous with it to accomplish things of value.
  • Develop the Habit of Giving – The only way to maintain an attitude of generosity is to make it your habit to give – your time, attention, money, and resources.  If you’re enslaved by greed, you cannot lead.


Are you a generous leader?  Do you continually look for ways to add value to others?  Are you giving money to something greater than yourself?  And to whom are you giving your time?  Are you pouring your life into others?  Are you helping those who cannot help you or give anything in return?  If you aren’t giving in the small areas of your life, you’re probably not as generous a leader as you could be.

Action Steps

To improve your generosity, do the following: 

  •  Give something away – Find out what kind of hold your possessions have on you.  Take something you truly value, think of someone you care about who could benefit from it, and give it to him.  If you can do it anonymously, even better.
  • Put your money to work – If you know someone with the vision to do something really great- something that will positively impact the lives of others – provide resources for him to accomplish it.  Put your money to work for something that will outlive you.
  • Find someone to mentor – Once you reach a certain level in your leadership, the most valuable thing you have to give is yourself.  Find someone to pour your life into.  Then give him time and resources to become a better leader.

Take Away

All that is not given is lost … what are you currently losing by holding on to it?

A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
   (Proverbs 11:25)

Attributes of a Leader – #8

Focus:  The Sharper It Is, the Sharper You Are

If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.
– Unknown

What does it take to have the focus required to be a truly effective leader?  The keys are priorities and concentration.  A leader who knows his priorities but lacks concentration knows what to do, but never gets it done.  If he has concentration but no priorities, he has excellence without progress.  But when he harnesses both, he has the potential to achieve great things.  When you are in leadership, you must not major in minor things.  Keeping your eyes on what is most important is key.  This guideline will help you focus your time and energy correctly:

  •  Focus 70 Percent on Strengths – Effective leaders who reach their potential spend more time focusing on what they do well than on what they do wrong.  To be successful, focus on your strengths and develop them.  That’s where you should pour your time, energy, and resources.
  • Focus 25 Percent on New Things – Growth equals change.  If you want to get better, you have to keep changing and improving.  That means stepping out into new areas.  If you dedicate time to new things related to areas of strength, then you’ll grow as a leader.  Don’t forget:  in leadership, if you’re through growing, you’re through.
  • Focus 5 Percent on Areas of Weakness – Nobody can entirely avoid working in areas of weakness.  The key is to minimize it as much as possible, and leaders can do it by delegating.  Take the tasks that interfere with your main objective and give them to others to accomplish, allowing you the time and freedom to focus on your main objective.


How would you rate yourself in the area of focus?  Have you been majoring in minor things?  Have you spent so much time shoring up your weaknesses that you’ve failed to build up your strengths?  Do the people with the least potential monopolize your time?  If so, you’ve probably lost focus.  To get back on track with your focus, do these things:

   1.  Work on yourself – You are your greatest asset or detriment.
   2. Work on your priorities – You will have to fight for them.
   3. Work in your strengths – You can reach your potential.
   4. Work with your contemporaries – You can’t be effective alone.

Action Steps

To improve your focus, do the following:

  • Shift to strengths – Make a list of three or four things you do well in your job.  What percentage of your time do you spend doing them?  What percentage of your resources is dedicated to these areas of strength?  Devise a plan to make changes, allowing you to dedicate 70 percent of your time to your strengths.  If you can’t, it may be time to reassess your job or career.
  • Staff your weaknesses – Identify three or four activities necessary for your job that you don’t do well. Determine how you can delegate the jobs to others. Will it require hiring staff?  Can you partner with a coworker to share responsibilities?  Develop a plan.
  •  Create an edge – Now that you’ve looked at priorities, think about concentration.  What would it take for you to go to the next level in your main area of strength?  What new tools do you need?  Rethink how you do things, and be willing to make sacrifices.  Time and money spent to take you to the next level are the best investment you can make.

Take Away

Experience animal trainers take a stool with them when they step into a cage with a lion.  Why a stool?  When the trainer holds the stool with the legs extended toward the lion’s face, the animal tries to focus on all four legs at once.  And that paralyzes him.  Divided focus always works against you.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  ( Hebrews 12:1, 2)

Attributes of a Leader – #7

Discernment:  Put an End to Unsolved Mysteries

Smart leaders believe only half of what they hear.  Discerning leaders know which half to believe.
– John C. Maxwell

Discernment can be described as the ability to find the root of the matter, and it relies on intuition as well as rational thought.  Effective leaders need discernment; discernment is an indispensable quality for any leader who desires to maximize effectiveness.  It helps to do several important things:

  • Discover the Root Issues – leaders cope with chaos and complexity every day.  It is difficult to gather enough information to get a complete picture, thus they must rely on discernment.  Discernment enables a leader to see a partial picture, fill in the missing pieces intuitively, and find the real heart of a matter.
  •  Enhance Your Problem Solving – If you can see the root issue of a problem, you can solve it.  The closer a leader is to his area of gifting, the stronger his intuition and ability to see root causes.  If you want to tap into your discernment potential, work in your areas of strength.
  • Evaluate Your Options for Maximum Impact – Discernment isn’t relying on intuition alone, nor is it relying only on intellect.  Discernment enables you to use both your gut and your head to find the best option for your people and your organization.
  • Multiply Your Opportunities – People who lack discernment are seldom in the right place at the right time. Although great leaders often appear to be lucky to some observers, I believe leaders create their own “luck” as the result of discernment, that willingness to use their experience and follow their instincts.


Are you a discerning leader?  When faced with complex issues, can you readily identify the heart of the matter?  Are you able to see root cause of difficult problems without having to get every bit of information?  Do you trust your intuition and rely on it as much as you do your intellect and experience?  If not, you need to cultivate it.  Value nontraditional thinking.  Embrace change, ambiguity, and uncertainty.  Broaden your horizons experientially.  Your intuition will only increase with use.

Action Steps

To improve your discernment, do the following:

  • Analyze past successes – Look at some problems you solved successfully in the past.  What was the root issue in each problem?  What enabled you to succeed?  If you can capture the heart of the matter in a few words, you can probably learn to do it with future issues.
  • Learn how others think – Which great leaders do you admire?  Pick some whose profession or gifting is similar to yours, and read their biographies.  By learning how other discerning leaders think, you can become more discerning.
  • Listen to your gut – Try to recall when your intuition “spoke” to you and was correct (you may or may not have listened to it at the time).  What do those experiences have in common?  Look for a pattern that may give you insight into your intuitive ability.

Take Away

One discernment-driven decision can change the entire course of your destiny.

My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an
ornament to grace your neck.   ( Proverbs 3:21,22)