#305 Serving Leaders ask themselves: “What is in my hand?”

July 21, 2021

Leaders with a vision are always conscious of their need for resources to accomplish the vision. These resources may be finances, people, skills, or knowledge or other things. Leaders often begin the search for these resources outside themselves and begin to look around to meet the needs at hand. But serving leaders learn from the question God asked Moses, “What is that in your hand?”

2 Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” “A staff,” he replied. 3 The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.” Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. 4 Then the Lord said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. 5 “This,” said the Lord, “is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you” (Exodus 4:2–5, NIV).

This exchange between God and Moses holds many insights for serving leaders and they do well to ask themselves the question, “What is in my hand?”

Serving leaders ask “What is in my hand?“ to discover resources.

Moses had a staff in his hand. It was an ordinary object that Moses walked with every day, but he did not even notice what it was. He may have assumed that everyone had a similar staff. But God asked him to notice what he had.

Serving leaders learn to ask themselves what they have at hand when they face a challenge or have a need. What experience do I bring to this situation? What resources do I have? Who do I know that could help? All of these questions allow resources to be discovered that might have been unnoticed. God took what Moses offered and used it to perform miracles.  Before looking beyond themselves for resources, serving leaders take a new look at what they already have. And as they offer these ordinary resources to God they find that they have enough!

Serving leaders ask “What is in my hand?“ to develop competence.

When the staff turned into a snake, Moses’ immediate response was to run away. But God asked him to pick the snake up, something Moses never dreamed he would be able to do. God wanted him to develop a new level of confidence and conquer his fear. Serving leaders ask “What is in my hand?” to stretch themselves to take on new tasks or responsibilities that they felt unprepared to do.

Serving leaders ask “What is in my hand?“ to diminish dependance.

Moses did not feel adequate for the task he was called to do. He felt that he was just a shepherd in the dessert with little to offer. He could have imagined that he needed much more than what was in his hand to lead. He saw himself as a person in need of a handout instead of having something to hand out. This sense of dependency cripples many leaders. But serving leaders look inward first. Before they ask “What do I need from you?” they ask “What’s in my hand that I can offer you?”  

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Take 30 minutes to reflect on what is in your hand and write down your observations. What training, life experiences, financial resources, education, professional opportunities, etc. do you carry in your hand? What surprises you on your list that you did not previously see as a resource?
  • What current situation seems challenging to me in my leadership? Reflect on what you have learned from Moses to apply to your own challenge. Are there things I have in my hand that could be used creatively to meet this challenge? Are there things I have previously experienced that can help me navigate this situation? Are there ways that God is inviting me to face my fears and develop competence in new areas?
  • Do I tend to see myself as a person in need or a person who can help those in need? What impact does this have on my leadership?         

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at the same question serving leaders ask others, “What’s in Your Hand?”  

#304 Serving leaders ask those who follow: “Who are you becoming?”

July 7, 2021

Serving leaders ask themselves hard questions about who they are becoming. As they gain clarity and direction about their focus, they also serve those they lead by encouraging them to walk the same journey of discovery. They desire that Paul’s instructions are helpful not only for their own lives but also for those they serve. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV).

Serving leaders seek to call forth the best in those who follow. They desire the transformation indicated in this verse. And they are not afraid to ask probing questions that will guide others on their leadership journey. They recognize that asking questions rather than giving answers allows those they lead to grow and develop their own capacity to think and to reflect. So They serve by asking those who follow, “Who are you becoming?” Where helpful they are willing to offer their own observations but are willing to simply lay the question before the person and allow them to reflect. Serving leaders acknowledge that this question is a deep question for one’s soul and not a means of doing a performance assessment! As they gently ask this question of those who follow, they examine their motives to ensure that their only desire is genuine care for the other person and a desire to see them grow. They refuse to ask this question as an underhanded way to address visible problems. They serve in love by respecting the level of openness the person offers in response. As they invite others to ponder this question, they ask it with several purposes in their mind.

Serving leaders ask “Who are you becoming?“ to reveal direction.

Where appropriate serving leaders may invite those who follow to reflect on their own growth journey by asking, “Are you becoming the spouse/parent/community leader/worker you want to become? Are there ways I can help you move in the direction you want to go? Are there any roadblocks I can remove from your path?” Serving leaders recognize that those who follow them are changing and moving either consciously or unconsciously. They raise the question to bring awareness to their followers of the direction in which they are moving. The question recognizes the uniqueness of each individual and is less concerned about the position on the journey than the direction of the journey.

Serving leaders ask “Who are you becoming?“ to redirect focus.

Serving leaders know their own tendency to lose the correct focus, so they can gently ask those who follow, “Who is influencing you the most? Where do you go for ideas and inspiration? Is this taking you in the direction you want to go?” The question serves as a reminder to the follower that focus is critical in determining direction.

Serving leaders ask “Who are you becoming?“ to release transformation.

The goal of the serving leader is to equip, empower and release the persons who follow. They desire the best for their lives, not only in the role in which they serve the organization but in their entire lives. They serve those who follow by helping them become the people that they were designed to be. So, they ask, “Who are you becoming?” to encourage them to experience the power of transformation in their own lives.  

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Do I have enough love and concern for those I lead to ask them “Who are you becoming?” If not, what does this indicate about my heart and what do I need to change? If so, when will I begin to ask them this question?
  • Before I ask anyone the question “Who are you becoming?” do I have any hidden motives about why I will ask them this question? Is my desire to help them genuine and does it go beyond my concern for their work performance?
  • Am I willing to simply ask the question of others and not demand a response from them? Am I willing to offer my own observations only if requested by that person?               

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at a question serving leaders ask themselves:  “What is in my hand?”