# 324 A Flourishing World: Relationships are honored

God created a lovely world that was flourishing, alive, and good in every regard. But then, for the first time, something in this world was described as “not good.”

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18, NIV).

What was “not good” in the world? Man was created with intrinsic value since he was made in the image of God. Adam was good. But it was “not good” for him to be alone. He was created for relationship with others. We often see this principle as the foundation of marriage since God created a woman to meet this need. But it also points to something much deeper in God’s design, our need for relationships. God was so intent on making sure that we recognize this ingredient for a flourishing world that He allowed a glimpse of what was not good, a person alone! Serving leaders reflect on God’s plan for honoring relationships as a part of His flourishing world.

Honoring relationships accelerates flourishing by acknowledging the intent.

God’s intent was for relationships with others to be a defining characteristic of being human. The first man and first woman were brought into relationship with each other as well as into relationship with God. He designed us to live, work, and walk together with others. Even the most introverted person needs others! It’s not a surprise that solitary confinement is considered one of the most severe punishments or even torture. We are not created to be alone! God’s intent was for each of us to find meaning, value, and purpose in relationship to others. In our families of origin, He designed relationships in which we form identity, a sense of belonging, and value. As we relate to others, we are able to build capacity for deep, authentic relationships that bring joy and meaning to what we do.

 Honoring relationships accelerates flourishing by anticipating the impact.

Sin brought so much pain and brokenness to relationships that many have concluded that it may be better to be alone. And some cultures value independence over interdependence. But serving leaders recognize that honoring relationships is a part of God’s design. They see their business, church, family, and community as places that God intends for people to thrive with strong, healthy relationships. They envision a world in which strong teams work together in harmony to accomplish great things.

Honoring relationships accelerates flourishing by accepting the implications.

Serving leaders acknowledge that there are many leadership implications to honoring relationships. First, they seek to enter into and maintain strong healthy personal relationships. They seek out authentic friendships and resist the temptation to isolate themselves from others. Then, they seek to lead those they serve into healthy relationships. They build teams and lead them through the process of discovering how to balance honesty and kindness.  They look for the person isolated outside the circle and seek to pull them in. They encourage the quiet people to speak out and find their voice. Serving leaders acknowledge that accomplishment of the vision will only happen when relationships are honored. So, they encourage time not just to accomplish tasks but also to build relationships. Serving leaders look for results, but they don’t overlook relationships. They create environments in which people flourish together in strong, healthy relationships.

Serving leaders create a flourishing world around them by honoring relationships.

For further reflection and discussion:

How has the intent of honoring relationships been distorted in your context? Reflect specifically about the thinking in this area in your culture, your family, and in the organization where you lead. What impact has this thinking had on you as a leader? In what ways do you need to adjust your thinking to align with God’s intent?

Reflect on what the impact would be if everyone in your organization would fully grasp and live out what it means to honor relationships. What is the current level of health in relationships on your team? Write at least three reflections.

What action steps will you take as a leader to honor relationships in your home, organization, or community? Choose which of these areas you will focus on and then list 2 or 3 specific steps you will take and dates for when you will take the actions.

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler In the next issue, we’ll examine another ingredient of a flourishing world: Growth is Expected

#323 A Flourishing World: Standards are Defined

April 27, 2022

God’s creation was awesome, a beautiful place filled with life and beauty. People were valued, diversity was affirmed, and work was purposeful. Animals, plants and humans flourished as they interacted freely. In this environment, God added some clear instructions.

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”  (Genesis 2:16-17, NIV) 

God created a world of freedom, but he also created boundaries. He set standards as an integral ingredient for a flourishing world. Serving leaders likewise define clear standards for those they lead.

Defined standards accelerate flourishing by acknowledging the intent.

Why did God restrict the freedom He gave to Adam? Was He trying to limit Adam’s enjoyment of good fruit? This question was at the heart of the enemies’ question which would soon bring the fall of mankind. God’s intent was not to restrict but to reveal boundaries. God wanted Adam to flourish by living within the standards God established. He knew that breaking the standard would bring death, the opposite of flourishing. Serving leaders define standards for the same reason; they want their world to flourish. Their intent is not to restrict freedom but to encourage flourishing.

 Defined standards accelerate flourishing by anticipating the impact.

Although our fallen nature resents being told what to do, we also know intuitively that our world flourishes with appropriate boundaries. We have speed limits and traffic rules for a good reason. We have laws against theft that are designed to protect us and our property. We understand that a 2-year-old child will not thrive unless they understand the meaning of “no!” Societies flourish when they uphold common understanding of what actions are acceptable and which ones are not. Yet our culture resists the concept of shared standards. It sounds great to say “Whatever works for you is okay” but the results are chaotic. The same is true in churches and businesses where the standards are not clearly defined. Serving leaders reflect on God’s design and seek to implement clearly defined standards in their own sphere of influence. They envision strong teams flourishing as everyone shares the same standards and is held accountable to those standards. Serving leaders recognize the internal desire that most have to meet the expectations that are set for them. So, they raise the expectations high and expect people to rise to the challenge.  

Defined standards accelerate flourishing by accepting the implications.

Serving leaders accept their responsibility to define standards for those they lead. This is often expressed in clearly defined values. Serving leaders work hard to identify the values that will define their organization and then clarify what those values look like in actual behaviors. They talk to the team about what the values mean and tell stories of those who are living out the values. They raise the bar by defining what the standards are and holding everyone, including themselves, accountable to them. Serving leaders do not overlook a violation of the standards. They take corrective action to bring change, preferably a change of behavior. Where there is an unwillingness to change behavior, the serving leader may release that person from the organization. They serve the organization by defining and upholding the standards. As they do so, people flourish!

For further reflection and discussion:

How has the intent of defined standards been distorted in your context? Reflect specifically about the thinking in this area in your culture, your family, and in the organization where you lead. What impact has this thinking had on you as a leader? In what ways do you need to adjust your thinking to align with God’s intent?

Reflect on what the impact would be if everyone in your organization would fully grasp and live out what it means to live by the defined values or standards. Write at least three reflections.

What action steps will you take as a leader to define values or standards in your home, organization or community? What will you do to communicate these values to everyone? What stories will you tell that illustrate the values being lived out? List 2 or 3 specific steps you will take and dates for when you will take the actions.

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at another ingredient of a flourishing world: Relationships are Honored

#322 A Flourishing World: Work is purposeful

April 13, 2022

God created a flourishing world abounding with life and beauty. He created abundant plants and all kinds of animals and then added humans made in His own image. God assigned specific roles to the man and woman.

 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”  15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. (Genesis 1:28, 2:15, NIV)

God assigned Adam and Eve work that was purposeful. He told them to “fill the earth,” to “subdue” and “rule over” the creation, to “work it” and “take care of it.” God designed work with meaning and purpose as an ingredient for a flourishing world. The fall recorded in Genesis 3 distorted this design and added sweat and struggle to Adam’s work. Serving leaders work to restore God’s original design in the places they lead by helping those they lead find purpose in their work.

Purposeful work accelerates flourishing by acknowledging the intent.

God’s intent was for Adam and Eve to develop and shape the world He had created. They were to bring forth food from the earth. But they were also to imagine and dream of ways that the creation could be shaped to bring forth more beauty and productivity. God gave man the responsibility to investigate, invent, plan and develop the world. There was gold and minerals in the earth that needed to be discovered and shaped into useful products. And they were to do all this as God’s representatives. Their work was an extension of His work!

Serving leaders recognize that God put a desire for meaningful work deep in the DNA of every person. No one enjoys work simply to pay bills and survive. Every business idea, every invention, every discovery made by man is intended to add value to God’s world and to help people flourish. And because of this, the work of each individual should be filled with purpose.

 Purposeful work accelerates flourishing by anticipating the impact.

Many people see work as a necessary evil or just a means to make money but God’s design was far higher than this. People are not just money-making machines. They are created to contribute their gifts and passions to help create a world that flourishes.

Serving leaders imagine companies, communities and homes in which every person contributes their part to a meaningful whole. They imagine a workplace where people bring their whole selves to the task at hand, where people contribute ideas for improvements and where their opinions matter. They envision a company where even the person doing the lowest job understands that their work is making a difference in the world. In this flourishing world creativity is released, imaginations are inspired, and great value is added to the world.  

Purposeful work accelerates flourishing by accepting the implications.

Serving leaders acknowledge that purposeful work is not the norm. They realize that they will need to work hard to make their world flourish. They begin by clearly defining the great purpose for which their organization exists. They shift the focus from the production of a product or service to the change they will bring to the world. Then, they work hard to communicate this purpose to everyone in the organization until each person understands how their work contributes to the purpose. They share stories of the impact the business or organization is making in the world. Serving leaders create a flourishing world around them by filling work with purpose.

For further reflection and discussion:

How has the intent of purposeful work been distorted in your context? Reflect specifically about the thinking in this area in your culture, your family, and in the organization where you lead. What impact has this thinking had on you as a leader? In what ways do you need to adjust your thinking to align with God’s intent?

Reflect on what the impact would be if everyone in your organization would fully grasp and live out what it means for work to be purposeful. Write at least three reflections.

Think about the organization you lead. What is its purpose? Do you have a clearly defined statement of why you exist? Do the people you lead understand why their work matters in the world? Do you talk as much about the purpose as you talk about finances?

What action steps will you take as a leader to bring purpose to the work in your home, organization or community? Choose which of these areas you will focus on and then list 2 or 3 specific steps you will take and dates for when you will take the actions.

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll examine another ingredient of a flourishing world: Standards are Defined

#321 A Flourishing World: Diversity is Affirmed

April 6, 2022

A second ingredient in a world that flourishes is that diversity is affirmed. God created a world that was beautiful and flourishing…and diverse!

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27, NIV)

From the beginning God created all people in His image giving them immense worth. All were created in God’s image; but not all were created identical. “Male and female he created them.”  God’s creation was built with diversity and in His design flourishing happens when this diversity is affirmed.  

Affirming diversity accelerates flourishing by acknowledging the intent.

God created them “male and female.” What was His intent? Why didn’t God simply duplicate the man? Why did He instead create a different person and at the same time, a distinct gender? Take a moment to imagine a world filled with only men. Now imagine a world with only women. What would these worlds be like? It doesn’t take an advanced degree to realize that either option would not lead to flourishing! God built differences into His design to help us realize that we are not complete as individuals. The unique value of each individual could not be fully expressed if every person were the same. Diversity is needed. God built diversity into His universe so that we recognize our need for others. This is part of the reason that all humans long for community and relationships with others. When we enter into relationships with others we more fully reflect God’s image and our diversity produces a flourishing world. Serving leaders affirm God’s design for diversity and acknowledge that they will not be complete alone.

 Affirming diversity accelerates flourishing by anticipating the impact.

Our world is filled with diversity, but we often let differences divide rather than complement. We allow differences to become points of tension and conflict instead of strengths. Wars are fought between different tribes and nations. People more often fight over their differences than celebrate them. Different groups fight for their rights. Different personalities stir up division and separation instead of cooperation and unity. But serving leaders look to God’s design and imagine a world in which diversity is affirmed. They dream of homes where both men and women are equally valued and appreciated. They envision organizations where healthy teams bring their diversity to the table and join hands to work together to accomplish much more, much better and much more quickly than individual efforts could produce. And serving leaders dream of this flourishing cascading from one family to the next, from one church to the next and from one business to the next.

Affirming diversity accelerates flourishing by accepting the implications.

Serving leaders recognize that action is needed for diversity to be affirmed. They don’t simply tolerate diversity; they welcome it! They first acknowledge their own need for others. They understand that there are no well rounded leaders, but there are well rounded teams. So they invite others to their team who are complementary but very different. They work hard to affirm and appreciate the unique perspectives and contributions of each individual. They focus on the unique strengths each person brings to their team and serve by helping them find the right place for those gifts to be expressed. Serving leaders create a flourishing world around them by affirming diversity.

For further reflection and discussion:

How has the intent of affirming diversity been distorted in your context? Reflect specifically about the thinking in this area in your culture, your family, and in the organization where you lead. What impact has this thinking had on you as a leader? In what ways do you need to adjust your thinking to align with God’s intent?

Reflect on what the impact would be if everyone in your organization would fully grasp and live out what it means to affirm diversity. Write at least three reflections.

What action steps will you take as a leader to affirm diversity in your home, organization or community? Choose which of these areas you will focus on and then list 2 or 3 specific steps you will take and dates for when you will take the actions.

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at another ingredient of a flourishing world: Work is Purposeful

#320 A Flourishing World: People are valued

March 16, 2022

The first ingredient in a world that flourishes is that people are valued. God created a marvelous world, filled with animals, plants and amazing beauty. All His creation had value. But the people He created had infinitely more value.

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”  (Genesis 1:26, NIV)

God’s design set humans apart from the animal kingdom and He gives them a place of authority over the rest of creation. The value He placed on people created a flourishing world and leaders reflect deeply on how valuing people impacts the way they lead.  

Valuing people accelerates flourishing by acknowledging the intent.

The Genesis account reveals the profound intent of God when He created humans, “Let us make mankind in our image…” He created humans with His own image stamped into their DNA. A library of books could not fully explain His intent. But God placed people at the pinnacle of His beautiful creation and gives them intrinsic worth and purpose. His image is reflected in the creativity of humans, their sense of justice, their capacity to love, their ability to dream and plan and communicate. Their value is a part of who they are, it is not simply related to their physical appearance or ability to produce or contribute. They have value because they are human! Leaders who look at their people and value only what they will produce for the team miss the value of their team as humans. Serving leaders look at people and see a reflection of the image of God in each one. They see the potential and worth of each individual no matter their status or rank.

Valuing people accelerates flourishing by anticipating the impact.

What would a world look like where every person was seen as a unique and valuable person as God intended? Serving leaders envision a world in which people bring their best selves to work every day, fully engaged, passionate about what they are doing, thinking about ways to improve, engaging in healthy exchange of ideas, and able to use their best judgement to make decisions. We can scarcely imagine the productivity and potential that would be unleashed in even one organization where this was true. And what would a community look like where there were many companies, churches and homes that were truly valuing people?  Serving leaders envision this world and lead in ways that value people more than production or profit. Serving leaders imagine that their church or business can be a place where people are valued as God intended from the beginning and they see the ripple effects flowing into families and nations.  

Valuing people accelerates flourishing by accepting the implications.

Serving leaders accept the challenge to value people and seek first to live into this reality in their own leadership. They stop and talk with the person cleaning the floor. They get to know those they lead as real people who have names, families, children and dreams. They encourage people to be creative and call forth the best in others believing that there is hidden potential in every human being. Serving leaders are willing to take a risk to hire a worker that has been rejected by society because they see the value in every human. Serving leaders create a flourishing world around them by valuing people.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • How has the intent of valuing people been distorted in your context? In what ways are people devalued? Reflect specifically about the thinking in this area in your culture, your family, and in the organization where you lead. What impact has this thinking had on you as a leader? In what ways do you need to adjust your thinking to align with God’s intent?
  • Reflect on what the impact would be if everyone in your organization would fully grasp and live out what it means to value people. Write at least three reflections.
  • What action steps will you take as a leader to value people in your home, organization or community? Choose which of these areas you will focus on and then list 2 or 3 specific steps you will take and dates for when you will take the actions.

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll examine another ingredient of a flourishing world: Diversity is Affirmed

#319 A Flourishing World: God’s Design

March 3, 2022

God designed our world to flourish. Not to simply exist or survive, but to thrive! He created a flourishing world.

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.”

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. (Genesis 1:1, 20, 31, NIV)

What an amazing picture of the world! There was provision, abundance, thriving, multiplication, life, health, harmony and beauty. It was filled with luscious green trees, beautiful flowers and was teeming with life, it was a flourishing world!  This was the design of the creator.

In this series we’ll look at the ingredients serving leaders cultivate to create a flourishing world. First, they reflect on the significance of God’s design for flourishing.

God’s design accelerates flourishing by acknowledging the intent.

The flourishing world God created was soon fundamentally changed when sin entered the picture, but His intent did not change. His design was built into the DNA of the universe! Just as God created an environment designed to produce life and growth, leaders who understand God’s design partner with Him in restoring this flourishing world. Serving leaders acknowledge God’s intent as they create and shape and environments that reflect His design for flourishing.  

God’s design accelerates flourishing by anticipating the impact.

What does a flourishing world look like in a business, a church, a factory, or school? When people are flourishing, they stand taller and straighter. They walk with more confidence and take appropriate authority over the work that is in their domain. They understand the significance of their work. They find pleasure and satisfaction in what they are doing and increasingly contribute more of the unique gifts they possess. They think of ways to improve and freely share their ideas. They grow and become more fully alive. The impact of this flourishing extends far beyond the workplace, it reaches into the homes and communities where they live. Around them, they encourage others to grow and flourish.  Serving leaders anticipate the difference flourishing would make in those they serve and do all they can to create an environment that will encourage them to flourish.

God’s design accelerates flourishing by accepting the implications.

What does God’s design imply for leaders? Serving leaders look for and expect flourishing in their organizations. Numbers and statistics are not their ultimate goal; flourishing is! They measure success by people who are standing taller and growing. Serving leaders also accept their role in the process. Just as God created an environment that produced flourishing, leaders are responsible to create and shape a similar environment. Leaders are like farmers that add nutrients to the soil so the seeds will grow well. Serving leaders accept their role as the ones who will focus on the “soil” in their organization and keep adding nutrients until everyone is thriving. What are those nutrients? We’ll examine one ingredient in each of the issues in this series. 

Serving leaders create a flourishing world around them by understanding God’s design.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Read the first chapter of Genesis seeking to grasp the beauty of God’s design. Then answer the questions below.
  • How has the intent of God’s design been distorted in your context? Reflect specifically about the thinking in this area in your culture, your family, and in the organization where you lead. What impact has this thinking had on you as a leader? In what ways do you need to adjust your thinking to align with God’s intent?
  • Reflect on what the impact would be if everyone in your organization would fully grasp and live out what it means to follow God’s design. Write at least three reflections.
  • What action steps will you take as a leader to implement God’s design in your home, organization, or community? Choose which of these areas you will focus on and then list 2 or 3 specific steps you will take and dates for when you will take the actions.

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at the next ingredient of a flourishing world: People are Valued

#318 Serving leaders ask those who follow: “What are you doing to finish well?”

 February 16, 2022

Serving leaders reflect on how they will finish to keep their own focus on the right areas. But they quickly turn to serve those they lead by also encouraging them to think about finishing well. Although leaders are often further along in their own life journey than those they lead, they consider the implications of Paul’s words for those they lead as well.

6For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing (2 Timothy 4:6–8, NIV).

Serving leaders ask “What are you doing to finish well?“ to keep the cost in mind.

“I am already being poured out like a drink offering…” Paul does not hide the cost of serving leadership, it is a giving up and pouring out. Leadership is costly. But his focus on finishing well makes the cost worthwhile. Serving leaders want the best for those they lead so they ask for a high level of commitment. They call others to personal and professional growth as well as higher levels of responsibility. But they acknowledge that more responsibility will require more discipline, effort, and focus. While they understand that not everyone is willing to pay the price, they invite those who follow to be willing to pay the costs by asking them to reflect on the long term instead of the short term.  

Serving leaders remind those they lead that the cost they pay today will bring benefits tomorrow.    

Serving leaders ask “What are you doing to finish well?“ to keep the end in mind.

 “The time for my departure is near.”  Paul was aware that the time he had was short. But he was confident that because he had lived well, he would also finish well. He lived his entire life with the end in mind. He nearly lost his life several times when he was stoned, beaten and shipwrecked.  He may have been surprised that he lived this long! Because he lived with the end in mind, he did not fear the end. Serving leaders help those they lead to keep the end in mind. While there are current tasks that need to be done, serving leaders ask questions about the future. “Where do you hope to be 5 years from now?” “What will it look like if you keep developing your strengths for the next 10 years?” “What are you doing now to ensure strong family relationships in the future?” Questions like these help followers to focus not only on the tasks for today, but on the targets for tomorrow.  

Serving leaders remind those they lead that long term gains are more important than short term successes.

Serving leaders ask “What are you doing to finish well?“ to keep the rewards in mind.  

“There is in store for me the crown…”  Paul was able to look ahead at the prize that was the reward of a life well lived. This perspective made the pain of being “poured out” worthwhile. He was able to finish well by keeping the rewards in mind.  Serving leaders do not ignore the need for short term rewards. But they serve those they lead by helping them focus on the long-term rewards of finishing well.

Serving leaders remind those they lead that the most significant rewards come at the end of a life well lived.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • What costs am I asking those who follow me to pay? Have I been open about what it costs to grow as a leader? How can I encourage those who are growing to reflect on the long term instead of the short term?  How do I respond to those who are not willing to pay the price of growing?        
  • What am I doing to help those who follow to focus on long term gains? What questions should I be asking those I lead to help them gain a long-term perspective? When will I talk with someone about this?
  • Has my leadership focused on short-term rewards or long term? How can I keep the needed short-term rewards but help those I lead focus on the rewards that come from a lifetime of living well?

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at a new topic.  

#317 Serving leaders ask themselves: “What am I doing to finish well?”

February 2, 2022

Serving leaders not only want to run well, but they want to finish well. They begin with the end in mind and lead with the end in mind. They ponder the meaning of Paul’s words written near the end of his life.   

6For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing (2 Timothy 4:6–8, NIV).

As Paul reflected on the end of his journey, he was able to list three accomplishments, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Serving leaders reflect on these words of a great leader near the end of his life. They learn from Paul’s example to keep their focus by asking themselves, “What am I doing to finish well?”

Serving leaders ask “What am I doing to finish well?“ to keep their focus on calling.

“I have fought the good fight.”  Paul boldly confirms that he has completed the calling God gave to him. There were many battles along the way. But Paul focused on his calling and didn’t allow distractions to shift his life in other directions. At the end he could say with confidence that he had fulfilled the great purpose God had for his life and leadership. Serving leaders learn from Paul to keep their focus on what really matters. They discover their great purpose and then pursue that relentlessly. In the group or organization they lead, they invest significant energy in keeping that purpose a part of every activity. Serving leaders reflect on the end to keep their calling the focus of their daily activity.  

Serving leaders ask “What am I doing to finish well?“ to keep their focus on successors.

“I have finished the race.” Paul shifts his analogy from fighting to running and asserts that he has run to the end of the race. He was well aware that handing off the baton to the next runners was a key element in running. Paul, as he discipled Timothy and many others on his team, equipped them to run the race. So, he is able to say “not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” Paul knew that there was no personal success without successors. He did not fear that the next generation would not be able to carry on, he had equipped them well. In the language of The Serving Leader Model*TM, Paul was able to “upend the pyramid” by passing on power to others. Serving leaders think about finishing well to keep their focus on the next generation of leaders. Serving leaders reflect on the end to remind themselves that there is no success without successors.

Serving leaders ask “What am I doing to finish well?“  to keep their focus on values.  

“I have kept the faith.”  Paul was confident at the end of this life that he had not compromised his faith. He lived what he taught and was able to affirm that he had not taken the easy way out of difficult situations. He had not compromised his values in pursuit of success. Serving leaders reflect on Paul’s example and look at the end to keep their daily focus clear. They do not measure their success by the size their retirement accounts, but by the daily acts that live out their faith values. And as they live out these values, they “Raise the Bar” for those around them. Serving leaders reflect on the end to keep their daily focus on the things they value most.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Is my purpose in life clear to me and to those around me? If not, what do I need to do to clarify that purpose? If it is, how does this shape my daily activities and choices? What are the current ‘distractions’ that I am facing which would take me away from my purpose?
  • Where am I in the process of handing off the baton to the next generation of leaders? Am I spending adequate time to equip and empower those around me to do the work after I will be gone? Who are the persons into whom I should be investing the most time and energy?
  • Are my life values clearly defined? What about the values for the organization or group I lead? Where am I currently tempted to compromise on those values? How can focusing on the end help me avoid those temptations?        

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll examine the final question serving leaders ask others: “What are you doing to finish well?”

*The Serving Leader Model includes five actions. Three are mentioned in this issue, Run to Great Purpose, Raise the Bar and Upend the Pyramid. The other two are: Blaze the Trail and Build on Strength. To learn more, read the book The Serving Leader or visit the Center for Serving Leadership’s website.

#316, Serving leaders ask those who follow: “Who are you following?”

January 19, 2022

Serving leaders give conscious thought to who they follow. They also reflect on what the following verses mean for those they lead.

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1, NIV).

Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. (Philippians 3:17, NIV)

Paul is first a follower, but he quickly calls others to follow his example. He wants others to choose well those they follow. Serving leaders ask those they lead, “Who are you following?” so that their followers also grow in their ability to follow well.

Serving leaders ask, “Who are you following?” to elevate awareness.

Paul makes it clear that we will follow someone and encourages his readers to make good choices. He knows that many people give no conscious thought to who they follow. They may follow those they hear their friends talking about. They may look at social media, the music world or sports and assume that the most popular people are the best to follow. Without thinking they are being influenced by those they follow. Serving leaders ask those they lead to give conscious thought to this choice when they ask, “Who are you following?” With conscious awareness a follower can begin to make better choices about who they follow.  

Serving leaders ask, “Who are you following?” to encourage focus.

Paul encourages those who follow to “keep your eyes on those….” He desires for his followers to have clear focus. He understands that our thoughts follow our eyes, our actions follow our thoughts, and our habits follow our actions. Serving leaders encourage those who follow to keep a correct focus by asking, “Who are you following?” Serving leaders look for opportunities to elevate those who serve as good role models in the organizations they serve. They look for “those who live as we do” and when they find these people, they encourage others to focus on them. While a serving leader cannot determine where a follower will focus, they can share use meetings or other times to share examples of those who are good models.  

Serving leaders ask, “Who are you following?” to evaluate community.

Paul calls his followers to “Join together in following…” He sees a clear link between our ability to follow well and those who are around us. He believes in the power of community to shape our focus. Every leader needs a community of those who will encourage and challenge them to live well. There is power in following together, not in a clique or an elitist circle, but in groups of others who share similar values and vision. Followers need the same community and serving leaders are willing to ask them not only who they are following but to help them think about who they choose around them as they follow.

The serving leader listens well to the responses to these questions to better understand the person and better know how to serve them. And like Paul, the serving leader is not uncomfortable to call others to follow them since they also follow well!

For further reflection and discussion:

  • What person(s) should I ask, “Who are you following?” and when will I do this?
  • After talking with them reflect on the following questions to evaluate what you heard.
    • What did I learn about those I lead?
    • What surprised me in these conversations?
    • How should their responses change the way I lead them? When will I take this action?
    • What steps can I take to encourage them to follow well?
    • Am I comfortable to offer myself as a model to others? 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 a question serving leaders ask themselves: “What am I doing to finish well?”

Merry Christmas to you from Jon

Christmas greetings 2021

Dear Friend,

In place of the next issue in our series, “Questions Serving Leaders Ask,” I want to pause and send my personal Christmas greetings to each of you.

Around the world, people pause to reflect on and celebrate the birth of Jesus who, in my opinion, is the greatest leader the world has ever known. At His birth, through His life and then His death and resurrection, He models for all people and nations a radically different way of leading. He starts in the humblest of circumstances and with no pretense or prestige. And He models serving to His disciples as He stooped to wash their feet. He was willing to suffer a painful death rather than defend His position. In all He did Jesus modeled patience, humility, giving away His power to His followers, and focusing on others rather than Himself. He was a serving leader long before that phrase became popular.

Whether or not you call yourself a follower of Jesus, this Christmas season I hope you take a serious look at how Jesus led and seek to model your leadership after His. Our world would flourish if each of us would lead like Him and wise men (and women) still seek Him!

Today, I sincerely want to wish you a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year! It’s a privilege for me to connect with you through this email every two weeks as we reflect together on how to strengthen our leadership. I appreciate those who provide feedback and welcome any thoughts you have on what would be more helpful to you. It’s my desire to serve you well!

Thanks for sharing this journey with me!

Yours on the journey,

Jon Byler