Illustration results for Bad Leadership
Amputees often experience some sensation of a phantom limb. Somewhere, locked in their brains, a memory lingers of the nonexistent hand or leg. Invisible toes curl, imaginary hands grasp things, a "leg" feels so sturdy a patient may try to stand on it. For a few, the experience includes pain. Doctors watch helplessly, for the part of the body screaming for attention does not exist.
One such patient was my medical school administrator, Mr. Barwick, who had a serious and painful circulation problem in his leg but refused to allow the recommended amputation. As the pain grew worse, Barwick grew bitter. "I hate it! I hate It!" he would mutter about the leg. At last he relented and told the doctor, "I can't stand it anymore. I'm through with that leg. Take it off." Surgery was scheduled immediately.
Before the operation, however, Barwick asked the doctor, "What do you do with legs after they're removed?"
"We may take a biopsy or explore them a bit, but afterwards we incinerate them," the doctor replied.
Barwick proceeded with a bizarre request: "I would like you to preserve my leg in a pickling jar. I will install it on my mantle shelf. Then, as I sit in my armchair, I will taunt that leg, 'Hah! You can't hurt me anymore!'"
Ultimately, he got his wish. But the despised leg had the last laugh. Barwick suffered phantom limb pain of the worst degree. The wound healed, but he could feel the torturous pressure of the swelling as the muscles cramped, and he had no prospect of relief. He had hated the leg with such intensity that the pain had unaccountably lodged permanently in his brain.
To me, phantom limb pain provides wonderful insight into the phenomenon of false guilt. Christians can be obsessed by the memory of some sin committed years ago. It never leaves them, crippling their ministry, their devotional life, their relationships with others. They live in fear that someone will discover their past. They work overtime trying to prove to God they're truly repentant. They erect barriers against the enveloping, loving grace of God. Unless they experience the truth in 1 John 3:19-20 that "God is greater than our conscience," they become a pitiful as poor Mr. Barwick, shaking a fist in fury at the pickled leg on the mantle.
(Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey, Leadership, Vol. 5, no. 3. )
The importance of really living the Christian life is illustrated in the life of the famous author Mark Twain. Church leaders were largely to blame for his becoming hostile to the Bible and the Christian faith. As he grew up, he knew elders and deacons who owned slaves and abused them. He heard men using foul language and saw them practice dishonesty during the week after speaking piously in church on Sunday. He listened to ministers use the Bible to justify slavery. Although he saw genuine love for the Lord Jesus in some people, including his mother and his wife, he was so disturbed by the bad teaching and poor example of church leaders, that he became bitter toward the things of God.
“Staring Down the Critic’s Barrel!” Proverbs 9: 7-10 Key verse(s): 8b:“. . . rebuke a wise man and he will love you.”
The Bible tells us that “rebuke a wise man and he will love you.” Love? What happened to getting the emotional revenge that is so satisfying? There doesn’t seem to be a lot of room in that statement for pride, is there? In fact, being made to look the dummy seems like an invitation to wisdom. That’s something that doesn’t square real well with the world or our own self-esteem. It almost sounds like it would be better to be meek and withdrawing when others criticize us. In fact, if you are one of those people who are not “quick on the trigger” when others start shooting criticism your way, are you blessed? Perhaps. While it is never good to respond to anyone when we don’t have full command of our senses, it doesn’t mean that we should empty ourselves out completely and allow that criticism to fill us up to overflowing. There is a process of assimilation that can help.
Several years ago I read a helpful article on the subject of receiving and benefitting from criticism. If you can keep this process in mind even when bitter criticism is being leveled at you, you may find it easier to bear up and certainly less recriminating when you consider the criticism down the road. It stated that when we are criticized we ought to ask ourselves whether the criticism contains any truth. If it does, we should learn from it, even when it is not given with the right motivation and in the right spirit. The article then offered these four suggestions: (1) Commit the matter instantly to God, asking Him to remove all resentment or counter-criticism on your part and teach you the needed lessons. (2) Remember that we are all great sinners and that the one who has criticized us does not begin to know the worst about us. (3) If you have made a mistake or committed a sin, humbly and frankly confess it to God and to anyone you may have injured. (4) Be willing to learn afresh that you are not infallible and that you need God’s grace and wisdom every moment of the day to keep on the straight path.
When we are criticized, it’s good to accept what is true and act upon it, thereby becoming a stronger person. And, as the proverb says, “instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still.” Isn’t that every Christian’s goal? Give me more of that wisdom and if criticism is one of the best ways of getting more of it, “bring it on!” I remember a worship dialog from Don Moen’s “God With Us!” that has stuck with me over the years. “Your strength is made strong in our weakness.” When you think of it, there is no weaker state than that of receiving criticism. Is there ever a time when we need to rely on our God more? Being on the receiving end of criticism opens us completely to the devil’s wiles. It is an open door to sin just waiting for the evil to enter. What better time to invite the Holy Spirit in than when we are vulnerable to criticism. The key to being receptive to other people’s criticism is who we are willing to invite in at the first moment when the words begin to sting. We can choose to “commit the matter” to God or “commit” it to Satan. The choice is ours. When staring down the critic’s barrel expect the infusion of the Spirit not the bullet of sin and you may find that the criticism doesn’t sting so much after all.
“Sweeping Closer to Home!” 2 Samuel 12:1-8 Key verse(s): 5-6:“David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.’”
The old fix-it shop was open. That was good because I needed a plumbing fitting that couldn’t wait. Normally I would have traveled a few miles to the chain hardware store in the next town. Prices on their items were less and they stocked more. But this was an emergency. I had plumbing that was leaking and there was no time to waste. I needed that fitting now and the fix-it shop was local and nearly always open. I walked into the dimly lit, one-room store. It was dingy and very poorly kept; but I had expected that. I had been into “Fred’s Fix-It Shop” shop many times over the the years. Usually it was to simply fill up for gas at the pumps he still maintained out front. Occasionally I had stopped by just to “shoot the breeze” and once I had even priced a chain saw there. Mostly, though, I had kept my hardware purchases limited to a battery here and there or perhaps a box of nails. This time it was different. I needed Fred to have something very specific and I knew that there was no way that I would find it on my own.
Fred kept most of his plumbing fittings in a big box he kept under counter. You never knew if you were going to find what you needed until he had finished combing through that old, grease-stained box. I waited at the counter until he had finished with a customer outside. He came in, wiping his hands with a old stained rag. “What can I do for you?” “I need a 1/2” 90º elbow. It needs to be cast, not plastic. I’ve got a pretty bad leak over the water heater. Think you’ve got what I need in that old box?” Fred grabbed the box and began sifting through it. While I waited I cast an eye around the place. Everything had a place but there didn’t seem to be any rhyme nor reason as to where that place was. There were boxes of old screws, sagging and leaking out there sides, smashed into small crevices above the chain-saw oil. Electrical parts were in bins next to lengths of plumbing pipe. And, right smack dab in the middle of the place was a very old display of bug repellents even though that season was long past.
As Fred continued to dig deeper and deeper into that box, pulling out likely pieces and then setting them aside on the counter when they weren’t quite right, I mused out loud, “You know, Fred? This place could really use some organization. Who knows what you’ve all got here? You’re probably sitting on a little gold mine and don’t realize it. What you need is a good healthy clean-out.” At that Fred stopped his rooting and looked me square in the eye. He "humphed", taking out his oil-stained rag and wiping gritty fittings’ residue from his hands. Pointing to an old sign hanging on a nail behind him, he shot back. “See that sign? That’s the motto I live by. Don’t be to quick to criticize my friend.” I squinted to read the old faded letters. I saw a picture of a broom followed by a line of copy that read, “The person who always sweeps before his neighbor’s door has never seriously examined his own doorstep.” It suddenly struck me that I had a basement room that looked like Fred’s store. And there was that tool shed that I never seemed to get straightened out. I knew where everything was, but neat? Fred was right, if I was going to sweep I needed to start closer to home.
How easy it is to bring the spotlight to bear on others faults and how difficult it is to allow even a small flashlight to shine upon our own. In some strange way we find del...
“Bring Back the Rotary Phone?” Acts 13:42-52 Key verse(s): 50:“But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.”
There are three things you can do in life when confronted by change. You can examine the change, judge its merits and incorporate it into your life. You can, upon that same examination, deem it unworthy or foolhardy and courageously push it out of your way. And, finally, motivated by fear, you can pull over to the side of the road and let it rush past you. The first and second alternatives feed on courage. The latter feeds on your fears.
Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a “thing” about telephones. I grew up in a day and age when phones were something that were either mounted solidly on the kitchen wall or sat boldly on your father’s desk. In either case, they had rotary dials and not buttons. Telephones were heavy, so if you dropped them on your foot you knew it. They had cords that connected the receiver to the base. They were not portable. If you wanted to make a phone call you had to go to one of these two places. You asked to use the phone and, permission given, you placed the call after carefully dialing the number. That is, of course, if the neighbor was not on the line before you. If the phone rang you knew exactly where it was ringing from since it had to be either on the kitchen wall or on Dad’s desk. You did not need to search for the source of the ringing since there was no need to worry about a misplaced receiver. So connected, they were always there, ready to be picked up and answered.
Since those wonderful days of Bell Telephone so many years ago, many things have changed. Bell is no longer Bell. Phones are light-weight; that wonderful dial has been replaced with buttons, and receivers are no longer connected to the base unit. These modern times find us wandering around the entire inside of our homes as well as the outside with a wireless receiver. There is no longer the need to worry about “party” lines or if you knew the exchange number before your called. Everything is programmed in and, with only the touch of a finger to a button, your call is sent instantly around the world. Add cell phones and internet calling to the mix, and you’ve got a picture of change probably unequalled in our society by any other technology over the last forty years. But, as mentioned, I have a “thing” about phones. When they ring I can’t find the receiver. When I want to make a call my finger tips are too large and I hit the wrong buttons. And, worst of all, they are no longer devices for which you ask permission to use. Now they are deemed as much a part of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as breathing and going to the bathroom. I lament the passage of time and the changes in phone technology to that extant. I often find myself yearning for the days when phones were heavy, a privilege to use, stayed in one place and you seldom misdialed. Yet, as my children have informed me so often, those days are gone and I just need to adapt to the change. All my complaining won’t bring back the rotary phone. Besides, despite the inconvenience of the convenience, modern communication has been enhanced by these sometimes inconvenient enhancements.
When changes come, especially those which demonstrate “inconvenience” even hardship, it is hard to embrace them. We want to shut our minds to them because our security is threatened. The “pattern” and habit of our lives is a comfortable thing and when this is threatened, we often react blindly and without thought. From time to time I have threatened to install an old rotary phone in our house. But, after some thought, I knew this would be foolish. The day of the rotary phone is past and I need to move on. I recall reading about a group of Amish folk who pulled up stakes and moved their entire community to Peru. When asked why they were taking such a drastic measure, they responded that “We got tired of having to move our wagons to the side of the road to let the cars go by.” When presented with change, they pulled over refusing to take a stand one way or the other. Sometimes that’s the easiest way to go because changes that confront the very purpose of who we are and what we do are the most difficult ones to handle. We simply don’t want to be wrong, so we pull over to the side of the road and let the challenge pass. This is what the Jews in Antioch were confronted with. Paul and Barnabas challenged their beliefs and they, finding great comfort in those beliefs, refused to accept the need to change to something with more promise and greater hope. They pulled their wagons over and let the teachings of Paul and Barnabas pass by hoping that the whole thing would simply go away. When it comes to changing our lives for the better and removing those bad habits that are comfortable, it is never wise to pull our wagons over to the side of the road.
“Getting to The Good Stuff!” Exodus 6: 1-12 Key verse(s): 12: “But Moses said to the Lord, ‘If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips’.”
When I was a boy I had the rather thankless job of feeding a herd of our neighbor’s hereford cattle. The job was in payment of some kindness the man had done our family; so there was no remuneration for the services rendered. The job was not one of my favorite things to do for a variety of reasons. First, it had to be done first thing upon returning home from school. When all the other kids were gearing up for at least an hour or so of bike riding and just hanging around, my brothers and I had to trudge across the meadow, down the hill and over to the cattle barn. The barn was not well kept so you always needed to be careful as to where you stepped. If you happened to step in the wrong place you could end up sinking up to your shins in something that looked like mud but didn’t smell like mud. And, of course, there was the poor lighting in the barn. As evening fell the barn got very dark and the few scattering light bulbs did little to relieve the fear that the sound you heard three stories up in the loft was something more than a cat or a barn owl. And there was the hay. How I hated the hay! It came in bales and those cattle ate a bunch of it. First you had to lug it, then snap the twine without cutting yourself, and then force it down the manger chute. All the while the air was filled with tiny bits of chaff that targeted my sinuses like ballistic missiles.
When all was said and done, this was often an unpleasant job. Sure, there was the occasional hay or feed fight to distract us from time to time. And, after a time we got to know each steer and cow pretty well. But, overall, I found the job to be tedious and difficult. I remember bumping into the farmer one evening as the three of us dragged into the barn for our evening chore. He could see that we looked none too excited to be there and decided to give us a hand with the lugging and the dumping for once. After a while he broke the silence with one of those declarative statements that just seem to come out of nowhere. Sensing the rigors and unpleasantness of our daily trudge he simply blurted, “Did you ever notice how the good timber always seems to be surrounded by a swamp?” We stared in respect but our lack of response evidenced our utter confusion. “You know.” He continued. “That one tree you really would like to cut down always seems to be more of a chore to get there than to cut down. Swamps! They’re everywhere!” He smiled and didn’t say another word.
For years I really thought that the man was daft. But, over time I began to understand what he was trying to get at. If you ever are going to find the good in this life, you have to be ready to deal with the bad. Feeding those cattle was not often fun. Yet, it was one more chore in life that built character and gave us skills. It was a sort of swamp that each of us boys had to pass through if we were going to get to that grown-up side of life waiting temptingly just around the bend.
I wanted to tell you men about a story that some of you may be able to relate to. I used to love to squirrel hunt. As a matter of fact I preferred it over just about any other kind of hunting. Well one day when I was about 19 while attending Southwest a friend of mine said that he had found the perfect place to go squirrel hunting. He told me about this beautiful patch of woods out near Ruth that was loaded with old growth hardwoods and full of squirrels. I was excited. We left right after school one day early in the season. We didn’t even bother to change clothes. We got into the woods and he was right. There were squirrels everywhere. There were so many we stayed longer than we expected. When it started getting dark we headed out. But we soon realized we were lost. We ended up spending the night in those woods. It got cold then it rained. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse we got treed by a bunch of wild hogs and had to sleep in a tree huddled together for warmth. It was miserable. I had assumed that my friend knew the way to go. He didn’t. I had followed him all over those woods not knowing he didn’t know the way out. I remember thinking later that I wish I had had a compass. Compasses come in all shapes and sizes. They can be purchased or they can be made out of simple items found in most households. But they all do basically the same thing. That is point the way North. Once you know which way north is you can go anywhere without getting lost. I made a crucial mistake that day. I followed someone who I thought knew the way.
Antoine Augustine Parmentier a chemist and pharmacist,
overcame the potatoes bad rap for the French
when he acquired a miserable and unproductive spot of ground outside of Paris.
There, he planted 50 acres of potatoes.
During the day, he set a guard over it.
This drew considerable attention in the neighborhood.
In the evening the guard was relaxed and the locals came to see
what all the fuss was about.
Believing this p...
April 18, 2005 “Good Name Above Good Gain!” Genesis 43:1-12 Key verse(s) 12:“Take double the amount of silver with you, for you must return the silver that was put back in the mouths of your sacks.”
In a world so caught up in rules and regulations it is not surprising that in that regulating process the door has literally been left ajar for those who enjoy skirting the rules. Whether it’s cheating on college exams and papers (which has become pan-demic on college campuses around the world) or fudging a few figures on Uncle Sam’s form 1040 (according to the IRS tax fraud has increased dramatically in the United States, especially since taxes were simplified over the last few decades), fraud is on the increase around the world. It seems the more governments try to circumvent it with complicated systems of control and reporting, the more it seems to spread. One young enterprising IRS examiner put it this way. “It’s like scratching a rash. The harder we try to stop the itching, the worse the itching gets and the farther the rash spreads.”
Where once a man’s integrity was so valuable that he would do nearly anything to preserve his good name, now integrity has become with many nothing more than an afterthought, something that you almost forgot about but knew, perhaps, you should be careful to avoid trouble with. There was a time when the central focus of political campaigns was whether or not the candidate had integrity or not. Lincoln ran on this platform in 1860 and 1864. Theodore Roosevelt did the same almost fifty years later. But now, a century since Teddy, the fact that a man or woman has shown less than sparkling character during the course of their personal lives seems to be of little importance in a more pragmatically focused world where “our personal lives are none of the nation’s business.” (Bill Clinton, 1998.) Issues like whether or not you have cheated on your spouse or faithfully served your country in the military or, for that matter, believe in God, have been relegated to the scrap heap of time-worn and irrelevant ideas that are no longer applicable to our times. (By the way, if you ever have wondered what common thread tied Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt in such a way as to be the faces depicted on Mt. Rushmore, you need look no farther than this: each man led a life of integrity.)
The thing that so often exemplified presidential leadership in days gone by was something called integrity. Everyone expects a president to be honest. That’s doing the right thing when everyone expects you to do it. But, doing the right thing when no one expects it is certainly another. That’s called integrity.
Booker T. Washington describes meeting an ex-slave from Virginia in his book Up From Slavery: “I found that this man had made a contract with his master, two or three years previous to the Emancipation Proclamation, to the effect that the slave was to be permitted to buy himself, by paying so much per year for his body; and while he was paying for himself, he was to be permitted to labor where and for whom he pleased.
Finding that he could secure better wages in Ohio, he went there. When freedom came, he was still in debt to his master some three hundred dollars. Notwithstanding that the Emancipation Proclamation freed him from any obligation to his master, this black man walked the greater portion of the distance back to where his old master lived in Virginia, and placed the last dollar, with interest, in his hands.
In talking to me about this, the man told me that he knew that he did not have to pay his debt, but that he had given his word to his master, and his word he had never broken. He felt that he could not enjoy his freedom till he had fulfilled his promise.” (Douglas E. Moore.)
Jacob didn’t have to put double the silver back into those sacks. It is probably certain that he could have ill-afforded to do so personally as years of draught must certainly have drained his resources. Nonetheless, even though no one expected him to do so, he was compelled to not only do the honest thing and return the silver, he was also compelled to double it because his name, the most valuable thing he possessed, was even more compelling. Perhaps the temptation was there to try to “get away with something.” Jacob was as human subject to sin as you and I. Yet, he did not yield to this. Rather, he was not willing to accept something for which he had not dutifully paid. It really didn’t matter whether he had to or not. His reputation was on the line and he would spare no cost to make sure that his good name would remain so. Jacob guarded his integrity. He put his good name above good gain.
Heavenly Father, may we always regard our good name highly, not just in public, but also in secret where only You know what we do. May we always place integrity, a good name, above any good gain. Help us to guard our integrity at all costs. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!
Douglas Hyde was a major leader in the Communist Party in England during the 1930’s and 1940’s. However, in 1948 he converted to Christianity. Later he wrote a fascinating little book, Dedication and Leadership, in which he pointed out that the means of developing leaders among the communists were not all that different from the means of developing leaders among Christians. The only real difference, Hyde observed, was that the communists had actually employed those means.
Hyde developed an entire chapter to a young man named Jim. Jim had approached Hyde after a lecture in which Hyde boldly asserted that the Communist Party could take anyone who was willing to be trained in leadership and turn him into a leader.
Sizing him up, Hyde took Jim to be a man who “was almost pathetically anxious to be turned into a leader.” In fact, “As I looked at him I thought that I had never seen anyone who looked less like a leader in my life.”
According to Hyde, Jim was extremely short and fat, with a pale complexion, a slightly crossed eye, and worst of all, a most debilitating handicap: “Quite literally he came to me and said: ‘C-c-comrade, I w-w-want you to t-t-t-take me and t-t-turn me into a l-l-leader of m-m-m-men.’ I looked at Jim and I wondered how I was going to do it. Then I thought to myself: ‘Well, I told the class that we could take anyone who was willing to be trained in leadership and turn him into a leader, and here is Jim pathetically anxious for me to do it. This is a challenge.’ So I set about the job.”
Then Hyde writes: “It will be observed that I had made only one qualification. This was that the would-be leader must be willing to be trained. This presupposed a certain attitude of mind, which Jim already had. I was, so far as I could see at that moment, almost the only thing I had to build on.”
What was that one qualification, that one attitude? An eagerness to learn, a willingness to be trained. It was indeed all that Jim had - but it was enough to get started.
Jim spent many months showing up to lectures and classes, listening to the leaders discuss communist philosophy, history, and strategy. Then they put a man under Jim for him to tutor. From there they sent him into his workplace to build relationships with other men and gradually infect them with seeds of communist thought. Eventually they even enrolled him in a public speaking course.
“[Jim] was appalled at the thought,” Hyde wrote. “But he knew, nonetheless, on the basis of his experience in tutorial work that he had unsuspected potentialities. So he went. We did not turn him into a great orator, we did not even entirely cure him of his stutter, although, as he gained confidence in himself this became modified and finished up as a noticeable but not entirely unhelpful impediment in his speech.”
Jim eventually assumed leadership in his industry’s local trade union and from there went on to become a national leader and a key agent of the Communist Party. As Hyde put it, “Jim, the most unpromising-looking piece of human material that ever came my way had become a leader of men.”5
5. Howard & William Hendricks. Iron Sharpens Iron. Moody Press, C/O, Chicago, Illinois, 1995, pg. 53-54.