Tag Archives: history

Monday Morning Moment – Audacious Leadership – Lead Like Jesus

Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds, Flickr

Today’s workplace bends with the culture. Historical and current contexts are present in our work culture, whether or not we acknowledge it.  What if our culture has lost its interest in history…in experience… in the wisdom of the ages? What does that mean for those of us in the workplace, when cultural context isn’t seasoned by what we learn from the past? What does history teach us about leadership, about work, about each other?

When I think of audacious leaders, by definition, they can be two different sorts of folks:

  1. Courageous bold risk-takers, or
  2. Arrogant, impudent decision-makers

A negatively audacious leader demands followership. A positively audacious leader, in his own way, also demands followership. Still the most followable leader is the one who leads with both courage AND care.

Hopefully your experience of audacity in leadership is the most a positive one (as will be spelled out more below). Two things leaders always communicate, either positively or negatively, is that “work matters” and “people matter”. Context and history both matter, also, even though the trend in thinking is toward the ever-changing “latest and greatest”.

I am sounding really old here, but fortunately those who speak with much greater authority across the business world are starting to sound the same clarion call. Take Steve Farber and Paul Sohn.

What do they say about radical, audacious history-changing leadership?

In leadership coach Steve Farber‘s article What Is Extreme Leadership?, he talks about taking a “radical leap”. He asks the question: “What can I do, right now, regardless of what others around here are or are not doing, to change my piece of this world/company/organization for the better”?

The acronym is LEAP:

  1. L – Cultivate love.
  2. E – Generate energy.
  3. A – Inspire audacity.
  4. P – Provide proof.

Photo Credit: Extreme Leadership, Steve Farber

The Radical Leap – a Personal Lesson in Extreme Leadership – Steve Farber

I love Farber’s definition of extreme (audacious) leadership and I’ve had the great fortune of working with leaders like that.

Paul Sohn, also a leadership coach, write about a bold leadership model – one that incorporates the practices and wisdom of Jesus of Nazareth.

[Sidebar: It’s a shame that most think of Jesus as belonging to Christianity. I wonder, even, if only Christians read to this point of the piece. There is so much to learn and appreciate in the teachings of Jesus. Being put off by how we as clay-footed believers represent him at times is part of our dilemma today. Please don’t miss the wisdom and understanding his life offers to all of us.]

In Sohn’s article, 12 Leadership Lessons Every Leader Should Learn From Jesus, he lists out these lessons and gives context and commentary. Click on the link above to read more.

  1. To serve is to be great.
  2. There is a cure for worry.
  3. Love conquers all.
  4. Follow the Golden Rule.
  5. Ask for what you need.
  6. Judge not.
  7. Keep your word.
  8. Give in secret.
  9. Forgive others.
  10. Speak good words.
  11. Nothing is impossible if you have faith.
  12. Use it or lose it.                        – Paul Sohn from the teachings of Jesus

12 Leadership Lessons Everyone Should Learn from Jesus

On Sohn’s bio page, he showcases this quote:

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

“One will weave the canvas; another will fell a tree by the light of his ax. Yet another will forge nails, and there will be others who observe the stars to learn how to navigate. And yet all will be as one. Building a boat isn’t about weaving canvas, forging nails, or reading the sky. It’s about giving a shared taste for the sea, by the light of which you will see nothing contradictory but rather a community of love.”Antoine de Saint-Exupery

This is such a beautiful picture of audacious leadership in the most positive sense. We who work together to develop a product or deliver a service can create something better together. Not only is the product or service better suited for the customer, but we are changed in the process.Photo Credit: George Couros, Flickr

I do actually think it matters who the leader is, because our whole culture moves and shifts in response to who’s making decisions. However, we can determine (as leaders or as team players) to honor and elevate one another…as servant leader Jesus demonstrated in his life and teaching. We can build capacity, caring, and community, as Farber and Sohn prescribe, in how we lead and work.

We look back to what history has taught us; we consider the context of current culture; and we work forward to, hopefully, a better future. It’s only in giving up, that we fail. Be audacious in moving forward. It’s Monday…lots can happen.

The People Skills of Jesus – William Beausay II

The Management Methods of Jesus – Bob Briner

Lead Like Jesus Revisited – Ken Blanchard, Phil Hodges, Phyllis Hendry

Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast – Paul Sohn

Wisdom for the Workplace – The Christian Working Woman – Mary Lowman

17 Powerful Workplace Scriptures – Work Matters – Whitney Gaines

What’s Your Wall? – Lessons on Leadership & the Marketplace Through Nehemiah

Blog - Nehemiah - thestorehousesweden.filesPhoto Credit: thestorehousesweden.files.wordpress.com

When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. I said, “I beseech You, O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against You; I and my father’s house have sinned.”Nehemiah 1:4-6

Nehemiah was a Jewish exile and a highly placed official of the Persian king Artaxerxes (445 B.C.). Word came to him through a brother that the exiles who had returned to Jerusalem were in a bad way. The walls of the city were destroyed, the gates were burned, and the people were disheartened and vulnerable to attack. That news was so devastating to Nehemiah he felt deeply compelled to action. So what did he do? He prayed…for months.

Out of that season of prayer, Nehemiah acted in a remarkable way – not as a single agent for change, but a man moved by the heart of God Himself. Read Nehemiah again. I did this morning, with the workplace in mind, and came away with what follows:

1) News (whether it’s sweeping changes at work, downsizing, cultural or technological shifts) does not defeat us or define us. God is always at work. We are in the midst of the working out and recording of history (“His Story”). Just as Nehemiah recorded a first-person account of the rebuilding of the wall (and a people), what will we record as we work through our current situation?

2) Walls are providential. What we see as barriers or obstacles to how we see work should be done may be the very vehicles through which God will show Himself most powerful…through those in the workplace, maybe most affected by the obstacles and most available to Him to show Himself through us.

3) Who is the enemy? Make sure it’s not you. Nehemiah, released from his duties to the king, led the people in rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem. During that work, there were the enemies of the project, the naysayers, and those who would see it done a very different way. We always think that sort of coworker is someone else. A check of your own heart to make sure it’s not you is wisdom.

4) Where is God in your situation? Who is God in your situation? You can be sure that God is in your situation because He loves you, He loves your work (even when it’s hard to imagine), and He is at work forging a future. Never lose sight of that. In fact, like Nehemiah, be fueled by that hope. God is completely able to do His will in any situation. There are no barriers, no enemies, or even no frailties on your part that alter the beautiful course of almighty God. Keep your eyes fixed on Him.

5) What is our station in the sovereignty of God? The biggest question of all: What will you do given your place in the out-working of the will of God in your situation? Nehemiah prayed…and prayed a lot…and kept praying. He acted bravely, wisely, and definitively. He humbly, as needed, and he acted boldly, as the situation demanded.

Nehemiah was a cupbearer to a Persian king, and he was a leader and builder of a broken wall…and a broken people. You can be, too.

So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations surrounding us saw it, they lost their confidence; for they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.               – Nehemiah 6:15-16

Nehemiah: A Leader and His Wall – Bible Study at workmatters.org

Broken Down Gates of Our Cities

Four Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah

Nehemiah: An Awesome Leader 1: A Leader Who Prayed and Prayed and Prayed

Nehemiah: An Awesome Leader 2: Building More Than a Wall

BLog - Nehemiah - walls of Jerusalem - bpnews.netPhoto Credit: bpnews.net


Tourist in My Own Town – First Visit to the State Capitol & the Church Beside – Richmond, Virginia

Blog - Virginia_State_Capitol_Building_2 - wikimedia org (2)Photo Credit: Wikimedia.org

I love history but am not a very serious student of it. Wanna be, but truth be told, not so much. Children’s picture books with real (not revisionist) history as text are about my speed. Seriously, I do appreciate context and seeing puzzle pieces of our stories fit together. What a gift to have someone else bring me along with their children on a history field trip, sort of. That was my yesterday.

A friend, new to Richmond, Virginia, invited me to join her for a trip to the State Capitol downtown. I agreed to drive since I knew my city so well. [Ha!] It was a hot humid day which made it perfect to be inside an air-conditioned government building.

We headed into Richmond via Monument Avenue.   A really gorgeous, tree-lined street with huge houses on each side. It’s called Monument Avenue because of all the monuments . Most are of Confederate generals atop their horses. I told my passengers that there’s some sort of code about the hewn statues – denoting, by the position of horse and rider, whether the generals survived the waror not. Well, it turns out that’s a myth.  Strike one for the city “insider”.

We missed our turn into the city on purpose to drive across the James River by way of the Belvidere (Robert E. Lee) Bridge. Richmond is a striking city with the James running through it. On the U-turn back toward the city, I pointed out the Virginia War Monument and then what I thought was the Capitol Building, right behind, on a grassy knoll that slopes right down to the River. Wrong! Strike two. [I still don’t know what that great white columned building  is. Anybody?]

Strike three for me was assuming there would be parking attached to the Capitol building. I circled and circled and circled. We finally called the Capitol information line and found that St. Paul’s Episcopal Church a couple of blocks away offers their parking lot for $5/hour. That’s a deal in downtown Richmond, if you can’t get a metered space.

The Virginia State Capitol was designed by Thomas Jefferson. It is magnificent. There are free guided tours or we could meander around on our own. The state legislators were not in session, but the halls themselves made us feel welcome.  As did the lovely lady at the information table in the rotunda.2015 - Phone Pics - Richmond, Family, Flowers, Virginia Capitol 284

I am not going to do a guided tour – you, like me, have your own level of interest in history. I have just captioned a few of the pictures I took. You should visit your state capitol. I came away with a much greater appreciation of the cost of liberty and the processes of state government.2015 - Phone Pics - Richmond, Family, Flowers, Virginia Capitol 250

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2015 - Phone Pics - Richmond, Family, Flowers, Virginia Capitol 247“Brothers” statue depicted the poignancy of reuniting after fighting on opposite sides of the Civil War.

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2015 - Phone Pics - Richmond, Family, Flowers, Virginia Capitol 279The stairwells and marble floors had the look of a grand hotel.

2015 - Phone Pics - Richmond, Family, Flowers, Virginia Capitol 260President George Washington – the only statue he posed for, they say; life-sized rendering. [Let me know if that’s a myth or not. The statue was definitely life-sized. That I could tell.]

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 After exiting the Capitol building, we made our way around the grounds to the Governor’s Mansion (which was open to the public).2015 - Phone Pics - Richmond, Family, Flowers, Virginia Capitol 307 2015 - Phone Pics - Richmond, Family, Flowers, Virginia Capitol 306

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The old meets the new in the Governor’s Mansion. Period antiques throughout the main floor and lacrosse sticks belonging to the Governor’s children at the front door.

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So many fascinating persons from our history displayed in portraits, statues, and busts. Many were of Confederate generals, US political figures, and foreign dignitaries. Then there were others of great and different import – civil rights champion Oliver W. Hill, Jr., and Pocahontas in pearls.

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We covered the Capitol Building, Governor’s Mansion, and grounds in 1 1/2 hours. That was fast. So if you’re visiting your state capitol, you might want to take more time. On our way back to the car, we stopped inside St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (on the advisement of our new friend in the Capitol rotunda.

St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Richmond, Va

Photo Credit: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

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The sanctuary of the church was massive with stunning stained glass windows. The sun was pouring in and it was like a gallery of art pieces depicting the life of Christ. While we walked the perimeter of the church, the organist was at the keyboard of the pipe organ housed in the balcony of the church. Maybe he was practicing. For us it was like a private concert.2015 - Phone Pics - Richmond, Family, Flowers, Virginia Capitol 3152015 - Phone Pics - Richmond, Family, Flowers, Virginia Capitol 323

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Our young newcomers who had stayed tuned in to our self-guided tour were done…as were their Mom and I. 2015 - Phone Pics - Richmond, Family, Flowers, Virginia Capitol 329

 Leaving downtown, we scooted around Virginia Commonwealth University to my favorite pizza joint there – Piccola Italy on Main.2015 - Phone Pics - Richmond, Family, Flowers, Virginia Capitol 3312015 - Phone Pics - Richmond, Family, Flowers, Virginia Capitol 336

Now, you can take a morning to see Virginia’s State Capitol…or your own. I only visited the U.S. Capitol once, and never visited my home state’s Capitol in Atlanta, Georgia. Hopefully you can avoid getting lost and hit a homerun your first time out. It was a win for us, in the end, for sure.


Virginia Capitol Tourists’ Guide

A Self-Guided Tour of the Virginia State Capitol (pdf)

TripAdvisor – Virginia State Capitol Building

10 Buildings that Changed America

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Richmond, Virginia

Piccola Italy Pizza and Subs

The Story of Us – A Quick Bit about Marriage Through Its Difficult Seasons

2009 August 25th Wedding Anniversary in Paris 128

“Contempt is conceived with expectations. Respect is conceived with expressions of gratitude. We can choose which one we will obsess over—expectations, or thanksgivings.”   – Gary Thomas*

“I wouldn’t be surprised if many marriages end in divorce largely because one or both partners are running from their own revealed weaknesses as much as they are running from something they can’t tolerate in their spouse.”   – Gary Thomas*

The Story of Us (1999), a film, starring Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer, details a marriage gone flat. I wanted to see the film at the time but the R rating (for language and brief sexuality) deterred me. Just yesterday, I caught the last half-hour of it, and loved that bit. Not recommending the whole film necessarily (it got terrible reviews) but Michelle Pfeiffer’s monolog at the end is amazing.Blog - Story_of_us - Wikipedia, Universal Pics, Warner Bros Pictures

To set the scene (if you didn’t see the movie either), Willis and Pfeiffer (actors I love) are Ben and Kate in a 15-year marriage. It has unwoven terribly over time. While their two children are away at summer camp, they decide to separate. Toward the end of the film, they are both rethinking their decision. As they pick up their children together, the emotional tension of that reunion is so touching. The monolog, in that last scene, is a great declaration of why not to destroy “the story of us”.

Before you watch (or read**) that scene, let me just say this about marriage and divorce…

My family history is riddled with divorce, and I was afraid of marriage because of all my biological family issues. Divorce happens, and honestly, there are situations when we can’t see any other way out, or through. Still, marriage, as we all at least say if not always believe, is worth the fight.

There are so many reasons to work through the dry and difficult seasons of marriage. Gary L. Thomas is a great teacher on this subject and I recommend all of his books on marriage. They are practical and empathetic and full of hope.

One thing I value is history in relationships. When we went through our hard seasons in marriage, I held on to three things: 1) wanting to honor God in my marriage; 2) never wanting the consequences of divorce (had experienced those as a child growing up in divorce); and 3) not wanting to lose our life together (“the story of us”).

We, my husband and I, are in a different place now, and I can say to any in fragile relationships right now, “Wait for it!” “Work for it!” Of course, it takes two. Pfeiffer’s monolog would have had a whole other feel if Willis didn’t respond, in the film, the way he did. In married life, it does take two, but God, in His mercy and love, adds great power and grace to the one willing. Hold on to that.

So here’s just a part of Pfeiffer’s monolog (women, especially, might enjoy reading this out loud, if you’re in a private place – so full of earnestness and vulnerability – just sayin’):

“We’re an “us”. There’s a history and histories don’t happen overnight. In Mesopotamia or Ancient Troy or somewhere back there, there were cities built on top of other cities, but I don’t want to build another city. I like this city…That’s a dance you perfect over time. And it’s hard, it’s much harder than I thought it would be, but there’s more good than bad. And you don’t just give up. And it’s not for the sake of the children, but they’re great kids aren’t they? And we made them – I mean think about that – there were no people there and then there were people – two of them. And they grew…  Let’s face it, anybody is going to have traits that get on your nerves, why shouldn’t it be your annoying traits? I’m no day at the beach, but I do have a good sense of direction so at least I can find the beach, but that’s not a criticism of you, it’s just a strength of mine. And you’re a good friend and good friends are hard to find… I mean I guess what I’m trying to say is – I love you.”**

[I know this is just a movie and maybe not a great one – it just reminded me – the bit I saw, and the monolog – of possibilities and hope. For you who have been terribly hurt in marriages you saw no way to save, God knows…and wants to heal that place in your heart.]

*Gary L. Thomas Quotes at Goodreads

YouTube Video – The Story of Us – Ending – Michelle Pfeiffer’s Amazing Monolog

**One of the Best Monologs Ever

The Story of Us film

How The Story of Us Should Have Ended – just for fun – a variation but with the same conclusion

A Lifelong Love: How to Have Lasting Intimacy, Friendship, and Purpose in Your Marriage by Gary Thomas

A Lifelong Love Quotes

Gary Thomas Answers Your Marriage Questions

YouTube Video – The Story of Us – Taylor Swift – Great song – Disclaimer – NOT about marriage

Photo Credit: Wikipedia.com