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#298 Boaz: Serving by Giving Generously

April 14, 2021 

We have already observed that Boaz was a “man of standing.” His character shaped his leadership actions in the way he treated others well and in the way he treated the weak. His generous giving also reflected his character. Twice in the story Boaz gave generously to Ruth.  

14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.” When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over. (Ruth 2:14, NIV).  

15 He also said, “Bring me the shawl you are wearing and hold it out.” When she did so, he poured into it six measures of barley and placed the bundle on her. Then he went back to town. (Ruth 3:15).  

Boaz shared his meal with Ruth in the field and later gave her a generous gift of grain, as much as she could possibly carry! And Ruth was not the only person who benefited from his heart of generosity. There were others also who enjoyed the meal with Boaz and other women who were working in the field. Boaz was able to give generously because his heart was focused on serving. His generosity is an example to all serving leaders.  

Serving leaders give generously as they focus on others instead of themselves.  

As Boaz sat down to his meal, he could have simply thanked God that he had food. But he looked around and saw that Ruth had nothing to eat. So, he shared generously with her, giving his best, not the leftovers. His focus was not on his own needs but on the needs of others.  Many leaders focus on themselves as they lead. They think about their own goals, their own agenda and see others as a means to help them accomplish their ends. But serving leaders look at their role as an opportunity to serve those they lead. They focus on others before themselves. Their focus is outward not inward.  

Serving leaders give generously as they focus on giving instead of getting.  

Boaz owned the field and rightly expected a harvest. But his focus was on giving instead of getting. He saw the grain as something that would not only meet his needs but allow him to give to others like Ruth. He likely knew that givers also receive in return, but his motive was simply to give out of a generous heart. Many leaders are in roles of leadership for what they can get out of it. This may be financial rewards, prestige, a sense of control or a love of power. But serving leaders lead to give. They don’t measure success by what they get but rather by what they can give. Their focus is giving not getting.  

Serving leaders give generously as they focus on abundance instead of scarcity.  

Boaz did not look at his harvest and think that giving would bring loss to him. He did not think that sharing his lunch would make him go hungry. He had a mindset of abundance. He recognized that there is enough for all and that sharing brings blessing instead of scarcity. Little did he know at this point that he would gain a wife and a place in Israel’s history from his generosity. But Boaz had already learned that leaders who give also gain. Many leaders find it difficult to give because they see resources as scarce. They think that if they give, they won’t have enough for themselves. These leaders only give if they feel that they have more than enough. Leaders with this mentality seldom get enough to give! But serving leaders see a world of abundance. They find blessing in giving and experience the joy of receiving as well. Their giving inspires others to give, and the world begins to flourish in beautiful ways. Their focus is on abundance, not scarcity.  

For further reflection and discussion: 

  • Skim the four chapters of Ruth looking for other indications of how Boaz gave generously. What do you observe? In what way can you learn from his example?  
  • Am I in leadership because of what I want to get or because of what I want to give? In what way have my actions in the past week reflected this condition of my heart?  
  • When I measure success is it based on what I get from my leadership or on what I am able to give? What is a practical way I can use my role to give more generously? What things other than physical resources can I give?  
  • Is my focus primarily on abundance or scarcity? How does this impact my generosity? What can I do to increase my focus on abundance?  
  • What do I have to give? (Think of something tangible that you can give to someone. This may be an item you own, a gift of time, a financial contribution to someone in need, etc. Find something that you can do to give. Then reflect on what it does to your heart.)  

Until next time, yours on the journey, 

Jon Byler 

In the next issue, we’ll examine how Boaz served by keeping his word.  

#297 Boaz: Serving by Honoring the Weak

March 31, 2021

As we saw in the last issue Boaz showed his heart towards his workers, strangers and family by treating them well. But in his actions towards Ruth, his character is more fully revealed in the way he showed honor to her, a person with no standing in the society. The greatest test of leadership is not in how a leader treats their superiors or their peers but in how they treat those under them, especially those who are considered weak.  Ruth, by all external measures, was a weak person with very little hope in life. She was a foreigner, she was a widow, she was poor, and she was childless! But Boaz honors her and shows all serving leaders how to relate to the weak in their circles of influence.

Serving leaders honor the weak by seeing them as people.

13 “May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.” 14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.” When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over (Ruth 2:13-14 NIV). Boaz recognized that beneath the tattered dress there was a person of worth. He saw Ruth, not as a needy widow, but as a person created in the image of God! She was nervous but she put him at ease! They shared a meal together; he served her food instead of asking her to serve him. He treated her kindly. Serving leaders do not judge the value of a person by their status or ability. They look into the eyes of every person and see an image bearer of God. Serving leaders treat the weak as fellow human beings.

Serving leaders honor the weak by restoring their dignity.

  15 As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. 16 Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.” 17 So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah (Ruth 2:15-17).

Ruth needed help, she was poor and hungry! She and Naomi had no land and no way to harvest a crop. Many leaders would rush to meet the need with a generous gift. But Boaz doesn’t give the food to Ruth!  Instead, he provides a safe space for her to work for the grain. He makes it possible for her to do her part to earn the food. She was able to walk home in the evening with her head held higher. Boaz restored her dignity. Serving leaders are eager to help but they do it in ways that allow the recipient to recover their dignity.   

Serving leaders honor the weak by lifting people.   

 In all that Boaz did with Ruth, he was in a posture of lifting her up. Many leaders scorn the weak or push them down, demeaning them with labels of “lazy, incompetent, disfigured, worthless” etc. It is easy for leaders to crush the weak. But everything Boaz did with Ruth, including marriage in the end, was to lift her up. He treated her as a person, restored her dignity, and helped her to earn her daily bread. He avoided handouts but offered a hand up. His marriage to her showed his willingness to elevate Ruth to equal status with him in the society. He did not marry someone “beneath” his status, he lifted a beautiful person up to his level! Serving leaders are lifters of others. They especially find ways to lift the weak, providing opportunities for them to grow and develop. They serve the weak by seeing them as people, restoring their dignity and lifting them up.  

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Skim the four chapters of Ruth, especially chapter 2, looking for other indications of how Boaz honored the weak. What do you observe? In what way can you learn from his example?
  • What is my attitude towards those who are “weak’’? Do I treat them with less respect than my peers or superiors? Is there any person or group of people that I see with disdain? In what way is this an indication of my heart?
  • Who are the ‘weak’ in my organization or community? What can I do to see them as people? What can I do to help them recover their dignity? How can I lift them up? What is the difference between a “handout” and a “hand up”?
  • How am I tempted to “help” people in a way that decreases their sense of dignity? What can I change to provide help that builds people up?

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we will look at how Boaz served by giving generously.

#296 Boaz: Serving by Treating Others Well

March 17, 2021 

We already observed that Boaz was a man of standing. Who he was on the inside influenced all we can see on the outside. In the remaining issues of this series we will look more closely at five actions of serving that illustrate his heart and character. First, we’ll look closely at how Boaz treated others.  

We often judge a leader by his/her accomplishments. What did they do? What goals were reached? What actions were taken? These are valid questions, but Boaz calls serving leaders to use different standards for measurement. Let’s look more closely at how Boaz treated several groups of people and what serving leaders can learn from his example.  

Serving leaders treat their workers well. 

 Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The Lord be with you!” “The Lord bless you!” they answered (Ruth 2:4, NIV). These are the first words we hear from Boaz, words of greeting. His first words were of blessing and affirmation, showing his respect and relationship with them. He was the boss, the owner, the employer, the founder of the enterprise. But Boaz didn’t check their production level before he connected with their hearts. And their response showed that the respect was mutual. Many workers look away when the boss appears, fearing his reprimand or disapproval. Boaz teaches serving leaders that treating workers well is the best approach to relationships. Treating people well will also lead to better production! But serving leaders treat their workers well, not because of any anticipated results, but because it is the right thing to do!  

Serving leaders treat strangers well. 

5 Boaz asked the overseer of his harvesters, “Who does that young woman belong to?” 6 The overseer replied, “She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi.  8 So Boaz said to Ruth, “My daughter, listen to me. Don’t go and glean in another field and don’t go away from here. Stay here with the women who work for me. 9 Watch the field where the men are harvesting, and follow along after the women. I have told the men not to lay a hand on you. And whenever you are thirsty, go and get a drink from the water jars the men have filled.” (Ruth 2:5-6, 8-9). At this point in the story Ruth is a stranger to Boaz, a person he has never met. Some leaders would ignore the stranger. Others might make sure the stranger is removed from the property. But Boaz takes time to find out who she is and then promptly finds a way to serve her! He does not seek to bring her into his team to accomplish his goals; he finds a way to help her meet her goals. Serving leaders see strangers as new opportunities to serve!  

Serving leaders treat their family well. 

Near the end of the story of Ruth we get a glimpse of how Boaz interacted with his extended family. 1 Meanwhile Boaz went up to the town gate and sat down there just as the guardian-redeemer he had mentioned came along. Boaz said, “Come over here, my friend, and sit down.” So he went over and sat down (Ruth 4:1).  

In many ways, this relative was a competitor. As the guardian-redeemer he had first claim over the land of Naomi and the widow Ruth whom Boaz now wanted to marry. But Boaz calls him “my friend….” They have an amicable discussion which ends in Boaz being blessed to marry Ruth. Boaz serves his family well by avoiding a division of relationships. He balances his own interests with those of his family and everyone leaves on friendly terms. Serving leaders treat their families well honoring the relationships above their own interests.  

For further reflection and discussion: 

  • Skim the four chapters of Ruth looking for other indications of how Boaz treated people. What do you observe? In what way can you learn from his example?  
  • What happens in my leadership space when I arrive? Do people welcome my presence or look away? How can I focus on those I lead as people rather than objects to accomplish my vision?  
  • How do I tend to view strangers? Do I see them as distractions? As potential helpers for me? Or, do I see them as new opportunities to serve? What stranger have I met in the last week and what might God invite me to do to serve them?  
  • Read again the account of how Boaz, a single man, interacted with his extended family in Ruth 4:1-12. What more do you learn from his example?  Why might it have been hard for Boaz who was eager to get married to treat his potential rival respectfully? Who in my family do I struggle to serve? What can I do this week to honor them?  

Until next time, yours on the journey, 

Jon Byler 

In the next issue, we’ll examine how Boaz served by honoring the weak.  

#295 Boaz: Serving by Standing Well

March 3, 2021

The story of Boaz is nestled in the account of Ruth, the foreign daughter in law of Naomi. (If you’re not familiar with the story, take 10 minutes to read the book of Ruth.) Boaz appears in the story in chapter 2 after Naomi and Ruth, both widows, return to Israel from the country of Moab. His life speaks quietly and powerfully to all serving leaders and we’ll examine several areas in which his life is a model to us. The first comes as he is introduced to us for the first time.

1 Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side, a man of standing from the clan of Elimelek, whose name was Boaz (Ruth 2:1, NIV*).

Boaz is introduced here as a “man of standing.” Reflect on that for a moment. Standing is not a word we commonly use to describe someone. But it reflects strength, valor, and uprightness. It implies dignity and action. Boaz served by being a man of standing and serves as a model to all serving leaders.

Serving leaders stand by character development.

Boaz, was a man of character. He led with integrity, he was a man of his word and he honored others. All these reflect a person of unswerving character. We will see more of his character revealed as we continue to look at his life in this series. His character is even more remarkable when we consider the time in which he lived. In Ruth we have glimpses of the reality that not everyone in the area had character like Boaz. He lived during the time of the judges when “everyone did as they saw fit” (Judges 21:25). He is a man of standing because of his character. Boaz teaches serving leaders that leading begins on the inside. He demonstrates that leadership is more about who we are than what we do.

Serving leaders stand by consistent living.

Boaz is famous! We still tell his story today, thousands of years after his life. But Boaz had no idea that he would have this legacy! He was just doing what was right day after day. Leaders often look for ways to make a difference or to make an impact. Boaz teaches serving leaders that consistently living by godly values is the way to serve. Serving leaders do what is right, not to accomplish great things but simply because it is right. They stand day after day on their values and lead others with consistent living.

Serving leaders stand by changing others.

Boaz served as a man of “standing” and as a result his life would influence many others. Notice what people said to Naomi upon the birth of his son, Obed.

14 The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! (Ruth 4:14)

The life and character of Boaz impacted Ruth and her mother in law Naomi. But it also led to generations of famous leaders in Israel, first King David and ultimately Jesus! His character would be passed on to many generations. Boaz teaches serving leaders that when we stand well, we serve well. We make a difference when we stand!

For further reflection and discussion:

· Skim the four chapters of Ruth with “standing” in mind. Do you see other examples that demonstrate how Boaz was a man of standing?

· Would others call me a person of “standing”? Are there any gaps in my character that impact my ability to lead? What steps will I take to rectify these issues? In what areas do I need God to change my heart?

· Is my leadership focused more on end results or daily consistency?

· In what ways does my leadership reflect consistently doing what is right? Am I tempted to do what looks beneficial instead of what is right? What is God inviting me to change?

· Who is watching my life and leadership closely? How does my standing impact them? What difference will my standing make 100 years from now? How does that motivate me to serve by standing?

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

* Other translations use “mighty man of wealth”, “prominent man of noble character”, “a man of worth”, and “worthy man” to describe Boaz.

In the next issue, we’ll look at how Boaz served by treating others well.

Serving Leaders Take Sides

February 17, 2021, Issue #294

Leaders are often forced to navigate different sides on many divisive issues of our time. We live in a world that takes sides on political persuasions, social views, health issues, economic perspectives, and many more. The sides chosen by a leader deeply impact their own leadership and those who follow. When a leader chooses a wrong side, they may quickly be sidelined! How does a serving leader decide which side to take? Joshua had an encounter with a man that provides help for serving leaders choosing sides.  

13 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” 14 “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” 15 The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. (Joshua 5:13–15).

Joshua was leading God’s people into their first battle. It was a crucial time. Success at this point would greatly boost his reputation while a failure would be devastating. He wanted to make sure his side would win! When he meets the man with the sword, likely an angel, Joshua asks a natural question, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”  What does his encounter teach serving leaders?

Serving leaders acknowledge their own side.

Joshua saw the situation from his side. He wanted to know if this man was for him or against him. “Are you for us or for our enemies?” But in the encounter, he realizes that there is another side which he has not considered. Serving leaders acknowledge their own bias to think in terms of sides. They recognize they see the world with the question, “Do you support my vision or my competitors?” But from Joshua, serving leaders learn the need to stop and recognize that there are other sides!    

 Serving leaders accept God’s side.

Joshua must have been shocked with the man’s response, “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” This response completely changed the conversation and reframed the question. It was no longer, Joshua’s question changed from “Who is on my side?” to “Am I on the right side?” God calls serving leaders to change their vantage point, not right and wrong, but about who is in charge. God’s agenda is above ouragenda. His side is often not found in either side of our loud debates. Serving leaders do not compromise truth but they acknowledge that their own view is limited and may not be as close to God’s as they previously thought! Serving leaders don’t dismiss their vision, they just submit that vision to a higher purpose. They accept that their role is not to convince people to join their side, but to rally everyone to God’s side. Serving leaders recognize they can’t win the battle for sides until they get themselves on God’s side.

Serving leaders adjust to a new side.

Joshua fell facedown! He would go back to the same people and continue to lead them into battle at Jericho. But his perspective has changed. He recognizes that he is leading on God’s side, not asking God to be on his side. He would still command, but as one under authority. He would no longer call people to “his side”, instead he would invite all to join him on God’s side. Serving leaders adjust their leadership to acknowledge that God is not on their side; they are on God’s side. They humbly ask God for His direction on the divisive issues facing them and learn that the sides are not so much about ‘us’ and ‘them’ if they focus on Him!

For further reflection and discussion:

  • What situation am I currently facing in my leadership that is divisive or in which people take opposing sides? Consider that issue as you work through the following questions.
  • In what ways do I naturally see the different “sides” only from my side? What have I done in the past week that illustrates this? How could I get a more balanced view of the ‘other’ side?
  • In this situation, how do I assume that God is on my side? What difference does this make in how I lead? What if I asked God if He was on my side on this issue and He responded, “Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”?  How might that shape the way I respond? Do I fear that truth will be compromised or can I trust that God knows truth better than I?
  • What does it mean for my leadership for me to ‘fall on my face’ on this issue? When I get back up, how will my leadership be different?  

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we will begin looking at the life of Boaz.

#293 Jesus: Upend the Pyramid

Jesus:  Upend the Pyramid

Issue #293, February 3, 2021

In the last four issues we have looked at how Jesus demonstrated the actions of The Serving Leader ModelTM*. He clarified the vision, Run to Great Purpose.  He established the values for His disciples to Raise the Bar. He showed how to Build on Strengths as He sent them out two by two. In these, and many other ways, Jesus demonstrates a radically different way of leading which is captured in the final action, Upend the Pyramid.

1After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.

16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” 17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” 18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” 21 At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. (Luke 10:1, 16-21).

What can we learn from the example of Jesus about how serving leaders Upend the Pyramid?

Serving leaders grow their people.

Jesus could have done the work He gave the disciples. But He wanted them to grow and develop their own strengths as leaders. They had watched Him preach, teach and heal. Now, He wanted them to learn to do it on their own. He served them by helping them grow.

Some leaders look at their team only in terms of how they can accomplish the vision. Serving leaders keep their eye on the vision, but they consciously find ways to grow everyone on their team. They focus on the worker as much as the work.

Serving leaders delegate authority and responsibility.

 Jesus delegated authority and responsibility to the disciples. He said, “I have given you authority…” Jesus could have kept all His power and used it for Himself. But He deliberately gave away His authority and responsibility to His followers.

Serving leaders don’t seek to keep authority and responsibility, they consciously seek to pass it on to the team they are developing. They recognize that this not only helps their team to grow and develop but also prepares the team for the future.

Serving leaders prepare for future success.

Jesus wasn’t just sending His team out on a temporary assignment. He was deliberately and methodically preparing them to lead after He was gone. He had a plan that involved passing on the work to those who followed. And He was “full of joy” as He saw it happening!

Many leaders work hard to achieve their goals with little thought given to what will happen when they are gone. Serving leaders begin with their departure in mind and build teams that will continue to fulfill the great purpose far into the future.

Jesus shows leaders everywhere how to turn leadership practices upside down. And He demonstrates that Serving Leadership actually works–His team is still pursuing His great purpose 2000 years later!

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Read the entire passage of Jesus sending out the 72 disciples in Luke 10:1-24.  Reflect on what He was doing as a leader and how it demonstrates Upending the Pyramid.
  • What am I doing to grow my people? What more can I do that will help them develop their leadership capacity?
  • In what area can I delegate authority and responsibility to someone on my team? When will I do this? How will I communicate clearly to them? What support will I offer them?
  • How am I preparing my team to succeed after I am gone? Is my succession plan clear to me and others or do I need to develop it more fully? What do I need to do that will bring me the joy that Jesus experienced as He watched His disciples succeed?        

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll begin a new series. Your ideas are always welcomed for topics that would be of interest to you!

Copyright, Center for Serving Leadership 2020. 

*The Serving Leader ModelTM, was developed by Dr. John Stalh-Wert, author of “The Serving Leader.” See www.CenterForServingLeadership.com for more information.       

#292 Jesus: Build on Strength

January 20, 2021

In the last issue we looked how Jesus modeled the third action in The Serving Leader ModelTM*, Blaze the Trail. He helped His team succeed by defining success and removing obstacles from them. Jesus was also a master team builder. As He sent out the disciples, He deliberately maximized the strengths of each of them and models the next action, Build on Strength.  

1After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:1-4, 17-20).

With only a quick glance at this story, it seems like Jesus was simply accomplishing a task through others. But let’s look more closely at how He was building His team by focusing on individual strengths.

Serving leaders recognize the value of working as a team.

Jesus sent the disciples out two by two, not alone. Jesus could have sent them to 72 individual locations but He chose to build on strengths by creating 36 teams. He recognized that bringing two people together to accomplish the mission was not a waste of time and energy but a multiplication of strengths. The unique gifts and abilities of each person would be complemented by their partner. One of them might be able to quickly strike up a conversation with a stranger while the other was able to more clearly articulate their mission. One might be strong in relating to people and the other might be strong in logistics. Jesus deliberately chose teams that would maximize the strengths of those He called.  

Serving leaders value individual strengths that are complemented by working in synergy with others. Serving leaders recognize that they will never personally have all strengths, but they can build a team that is well balanced with different strengths. They recognize that teamwork will make the dream work.

Serving leaders align strengths with the responsibilities of the team.

As Jesus sent the disciples out two by two, He was very clear that they were responsible for His mission. They were to teach and heal. They were preparing the way for Jesus. He instructed them not to be distracted even with good things like greeting people along the way! He recognized that sending them out as teams with different strengths would more fully accomplish their great purpose. One might be distracted by greeting another person on the road but their teammate could bring their focus back to their mission. 

Serving leaders learn to know the strengths of their team. Then, they deliberately and methodically work to align their team with individual strengths so that the mission will be accomplished.

Serving leaders encourage continued growth and development of their team.

When the disciples returned after a successful mission they were filled with joy. Jesus was grateful for their accomplishments, but immediately begins to help them gain a better perspective. He lifts their eyes from current successes to their higher purpose. Jesus is investing in their continued growth. His focus is on preparing this group to take over after He left. He gave them one assignment to prepare them for greater responsibilities. Like Jesus, serving leaders think of the future and continue to invest in the growth and development of their team. Serving leaders are not threatened by the advancement of others, they encourage it! They recognize that there is no success without a successor. They equip their teams to build on the strengths of each person so that future achievements will be greater than present victories.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Read the entire passage of Jesus sending out the 72 disciples in Luke 10:1-24.  Reflect on what He was doing as a leader and how it demonstrates building on strength.      
  • What additional examples from the life of Jesus can you think of that show His ability to build on strengths?
  • In my leadership, do I tend to give individual assignments or team assignments? When I form teams, do I evaluate the strengths needed for the task and then assign people on that basis?
  • Have I recognized my own strengths and weaknesses and deliberately brought others around me to complement my areas of weakness? If not, why not and what steps can I take this week to change? If so, how has that impacted my leadership and how has it impacted those I lead?
  • Am I developing my team only to accomplish tasks or am I equipping them for success after my leadership is completed? How does the example of Jesus challenge my thinking about future success?  

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at how Jesus upended the pyramid as He sent His disciples.  

Copyright, Center for Serving Leadership 2020. 

*The Serving Leader ModelTM, was developed by Dr. John Stahl-Wert, author of “The Serving Leader.” See www.CenterForServingLeadership.com for more information.       

Jesus: Blaze the Trail

Issue #291, December 23, 2020

In the last issue we looked at the second action of the The Serving Leader ModelTM*, Raise the Bar, and examined how Jesus clarified values to His disciples. Jesus also clearly Blazed the Trail as He modeled for His disciples how their success would be measured.

“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ 16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” 17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” 18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:-11, 16-24).

Jesus clarified what success would look like on His team. He taught them to be successful and removed obstacles that would hinder their ultimate success. He Blazed the Trail for His followers and shows serving leaders how to do the same. 

Serving leaders clarify success with communication.

Jesus sent His team out with clear communication about the way success would be measured. Their mission was to proclaim the message He had given them. But their success would be tied to the great purpose or vision which He had shared with them, that workers would be raised up for the “harvest field.” He now tied their success to the accomplishment of that great purpose. He is clear that some would welcome their message and others would reject it. Their success was not tied to the responses. When they came back from their work and attributed success to the miracles accomplished, Jesus reminds them that their success is only tied to their names being written in heaven.

Serving leaders find a way to communicate clearly what success will look like on their team. It may be sales targets, transformed lives, new attendees or customers. Whatever the measurement, serving leaders communicate clearly what success looks like and what it is not! And they always tie success to their great purpose.

Serving leaders coach for success by teaching.

Jesus didn’t simply clarify what success would look like, He provided practical teaching for His team that helped them be successful. He instructed them about the message they were to share and gave them specific instructions. He wanted them to succeed and coached them.

Serving leaders provide the training and coaching that is needed for their team to reach success. They serve others by teaching which sets their team up for success.

Serving leaders compound success by removing obstacles. 

Jesus knew there would be problems on the road to success. So, He removed the obstacle of rejection by telling the disciples to expect it! He removed the obstacle of pride when they returned full of joy with what they had done. He reminded them that their success was not measured in the outcomes but in their relationship to Him.

Serving leaders anticipate problems on their team and remove them. They find ways to help deal with unexpected obstacles so their team can succeed.  

Serving leaders recognize that their success comes when those they lead succeed. So they focus on clarifying how success is measured and train and coach for success. And they remove obstacles along the way. They blaze the trail!

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Read the entire passage of Jesus sending out the 72 disciples in Luke 10:1-24.  Reflect on what He was doing as a leader and how it demonstrates Blazing the Trail by clarifying success, teaching for success and removing obstacles to success.      
  • Does my team understand clearly what success looks like? Have I communicated clearly how success is defined by our great purpose? Does my team know what standards do not measure success?
  • What have I done to coach my team for success? Are there specific areas on which I need to plan more training for them? When will I do this?
  • What obstacles to success does my team face? What have I done to remove these obstacles? Are there systems or regulations that are wasting time and energy on my team? What can I do to remove these?

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll examine how Jesus built on strength as He sent His disciples.

Copyright, Center for Serving Leadership 2020. 

*The Serving Leader ModelTM, was developed by Dr. John Stalh-Wert, author of “The Serving Leader.” See www.CenterForServingLeadership.com for more information.       

Jesus: Raise the Bar

Issue #290, December 9, 2020

In the last issue we looked at the first action of the The Serving Leader ModelTM*,Run to Great Purpose, which determines our vision or why we lead.  In addition, effective leaders raise the bar for those who follow by identifying the values that guide their work. They call everyone to behave in ways that align with those values. Jesus did the same with His disciples when He sent them out.

Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. (Luke 10:3-24).

Here Jesus models the second action, Raise the Bar, by identifying the values He wanted to instill in His disciples. Serving leaders learn from His example how values shape their leadership. 

Values shape the methods of our work.

Jesus gave detailed instructions about how the disciples were to go. “Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road….Do not move around from house to house.” He called them to keep things simple, to focus clearly on the task, and to remain consistent. As He provided these instructions, He was sharing with them the values that were important to Him. If He would have used a bulletin board to post the values of His team it might have said, “We value simplicity, focus, and consistency.”

The vision or great purpose determines why we lead while values define how we lead. Serving leaders identify and define the core values for their teams. They may include the team as a part of this process, but they don’t delegate the responsibility to clarify what values are most critical.

Values shape the message of our work.

Jesus was clear about the message He wanted His disciples to carry to the villages they would visit. He called them to proclaim the message, “The kingdom of God has come near you.” This was the message that would help accomplish the great purpose. Jesus wanted His followers to share a message that reflected their values. This alignment allowed the disciples to authentically carry the message they were tasked to convey.

Serving leaders work hard to make sure that the message they value is communicated clearly and frequently throughout the organization. They check often to make sure that the message, values and great purpose are closely aligned.  

Values shape the models for our work. Jesus provides illustrations of two types of persons who would receive His disciples–one welcomed them, and one rejected them. Why did Jesus provide these models? He wanted to reinforce His values in the stories He told and the models He provided. He wanted His disciples to understand how their values would be lived out in the real world and what it could cost them to be faithful to their values.

Serving leaders carefully choose their models. They share stories and recognize behaviors on their team that reflect their values. Where they find gaps, they correct and coach to bring alignment with the values. They raise the bar by clarifying and implementing values.   

For further reflection and discussion:

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at how Jesus blazed the trail as He sent His disciples.  

Copyright, Center for Serving Leadership 2020. 

*The Serving Leader ModelTM, was developed by Dr. John Stalh-Wert, author of “The Serving Leader.” See www.CenterForServingLeadership.com for more information.       

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Effective leaders raise the bar for those who follow by identifying the values that guide their work. They call everyone to behave in ways that align with those values.

The vision or great purpose determines why we lead while values define how we lead. Serving leaders identify and define the core values for their teams.

Serving leaders don’t delegate the responsibility to clarify what values are most critical.

Serving leaders work hard to make sure that the message they value is communicated clearly and frequently throughout the organization. They check often to make sure that the message, values and great purpose are closely aligned.  

Serving leaders carefully choose their models. They share stories and recognize behaviors on their team that reflect their values.

Where serving leaders find gaps between values and practice, they correct and coach to bring alignment with the values. They raise the bar by clarifying and implementing values.   

Jesus: Run to Great Purpose

Issue #289, November 25, 2020

Jesus taught and demonstrated leadership that was radically different in His time and which continues to challenge and shape millions of leaders 2000 years later. The leadership of Jesus is our model for serving leadership. In this series we will examine how Jesus demonstrated five deliberate actions as He sent out 72 of His disciples in Luke 10:1-24.  Serving leaders learn from Him and practice the same five actions which form the foundation of The Serving Leader ModelTM* The first action Jesus demonstrates is Run to Great Purpose.  

 1After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. (Luke 10:1-24).

Jesus wanted to send out these seventy-two workers and had a clear plan. But before He sent them out, He clarified the vision or what we call the great purpose. Serving leaders learn the power of great purpose from His example.

The great purpose clarifies direction. 

Jesus instructed these disciples to go to the towns and places that He would soon visit. His words provided direction to them. They not only knew where they were to go; they also knew  where they should not go! A great purpose clarifies direction.

Some leaders ask people to do tasks but do not link those tasks to a great purpose. Serving leaders share the great purpose to help keep followers focused on the direction they are going. They evaluate all activities by how they move the organization towards the great purpose.

The great purpose confirms meaning.

Jesus requested these disciples to go ahead of Him to these towns. But their visit was preparation for the “harvest” that would come. Jesus carefully communicated with them that what they were doing was a part of something much larger and more significant. He provided meaning to their work. Many leaders assume that followers need only a paycheck or a title to keep working. But Jesus reminds all serving leaders that people want to know that their work has meaning and purpose beyond themselves. Serving leaders help people  to see how their actions lead to achieving the great purpose.

The great purpose creates commitment.

Jesus not only opened  their eyes to the ultimate meaning of the work He was asking them to do but He also called them to think beyond the task for that day. He invited them to pray for more workers! A great purpose inspires commitment from others. As they accept the vision as their own, they begin to own the purpose and call others to join in what they are doing. They join the leader as co-owners of the vision. At this point they are fully committed to the great purpose and are more than willing to do all that is needed to accomplish the task.

Serving leaders lead well as they follow Jesus’ example. They clarify the great purpose of their organization and keep this vision high at all times for the people they serve. They tie every action and effort to the great purpose and in doing so add meaning and purpose to everyone. They work hard to make sure every person in the organization, from the highest to the lowest, understand that they are a part of a team that is making a difference. That’s a team we all want to be on and that’s how Jesus led His team!

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Read the entire passage of Jesus sending out the 72 disciples in Luke 10:1-24.  Reflect on what He was doing as a leader and how it demonstrates this action, Run to Great Purpose.
  • In the organization I am a part of, what is our great purpose? Does it clarify the direction we are moving? Does it help everyone to find meaning and purpose in their roles? Does it inspire commitment from everyone in the organization? If not, what do I need to do to clarify our great purpose and when will I do it?
  • Do I regularly communicate with those I lead about how their work contributes to the great purpose?
  • Do I publicly acknowledge the contribution of those whose role may seem small or unrelated to the vision? 

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll examine how Jesus raised the bar as He sent His disciples.  

Copyright, Center for Serving Leadership 2020. 

 *The Serving Leader ModelTM, was developed by Dr. John Stalh-Wert, author of “The Serving Leader.” See www.CenterForServingLeadership.com for more information.