#Latinos, Don’t Allow Criticism to Hold You Back


In my book The Dimensional Leader, I talk about how criticism can have a negative impact on the weak-minded to keep a person from manifesting their best. Criticism often comes at the point where Best-Ways-To-Deal-With-Negative-Criticismopportunity presents itself; a point in time when your promotion is about to happen. Some person jealous of your next step in life will arise to say something out of line to demean you and your efforts, so you can second-guess yourself. Criticism happens for the purpose of defusing your resolve to move forward; to enter the next level of being and doing. How has criticism kept you back in the past? When you attempt something noble, does a little voice in the back of your head say something like, “You can’t do it!”, “You are not able!”? If the voice of criticism is keeping you from accomplishing a goal or moving forward into the next place hand-made for you, then you got a problem with that little critic in your head. It could be a person close to you, who for some reason said something out of line. Oh, they really did not mean to slander you. It was just something said “out of character” but the lingering affects of those words remain, embedded in your head. So, you continue living in rejection and performance apathy. This is no way to live your life.

How do you get rid of that critic constantly barraging you every time you step out to do something different that will garner you happiness? Buy my book for the answer.

Calling – Capturing the Elusive Voice in the Wind


Image

I will go over and see this strange sight – why the bush does not burn up.”
-– Moses -–

As a young man, the nagging question I asked myself many times walking a few blocks to High School each morning was – What am I supposed to do with my life? As I pondered this question, at times I felt an inner voice affirming I was created for a purpose. At the time, I did not know what my purpose would be. I only knew this life had more to offer me than the current offerings that were coming my way. A few years after High School, at the age of twenty, my soul-searching phase came to a sudden end, as I devoted my life to Christ. Within a few months I felt a strong urge compelling me to serve a higher cause. I soon discovered my calling and the spiritual dimension were inseparable. Before Christ I had chosen a career in Law Enforcement, an area of my personal interest at the time. In Christ, however, my calling was made clear to me by divine revelation; delivered through a penetrating voice, which resounded within, filling me with dynamic life purpose. A voice spoke to my inner being leaving no doubt in my mind of what I was supposed to do with my life. A “call or calling” is simply a Divine invitation for you to participate in the greatest adventure of your life.

One’s call or calling has its origin in eternity before God created time and space. Lucifer’s rebellion established the need to confront and expunge evil from God’s presence forever. To establish and advance truth and righteousness God created a plan to overcome and destroy the works of evil. God made this redemptive provision possible through His son before time began, which also had you and I in mind – we would receive declarative powers to become His Ambassadors of light in the natural realm penetrating and pushing back the Kingdom of darkness. Calling exists because evil exists. Calling exists because we live in a chaotic, broken and unstable world, which God loves and has a redemptive plan and purpose through his chosen ones.

A call or calling can be defined as God’s eternal design or pre-existing purpose for your life; spoken before time began with the aim of displaying His magnificent glory through you. Once you find your life’s calling, you will have found something of value to focus upon, where you can channel your time, energy and talents in a seemingly effortless way. If you are reading this sentence, then you have a purpose beyond your wildest dreams, which was designed in eternity. If you are alive then you are destined to hear, engage, and manifest God’s ordained plan for your life. You see God can manifest His calling for your life in many ways, for God’s forms of speaking are as varied as the languages of the earth. God is not limited on how He reveals His purpose for our lives. Here are some ways God calls people to manifest destiny:

  1. God’s Voice – Abraham heard God’s voice to leave his father, family and country and traverse upon a journey with God in a foreign land.
  2. Unusual Encounters – Jacob was given a new name and identity after he wrestled with God’s angel through the night (Genesis 32:24-30).
  3. Curiosity – Moses was summoned by a burning bush, which was not consumed by a fire. This strange thing caused him to wonder about it and seek it out for himself.
  4. Angelic Visitation – Gideon was called to a great work by God’s warrior angel (Judges 6:11).
  5. By Revelation – The prophet Isaiah was called from his mother’s womb, where God made mention of his name (Isaiah 49:1). He discovered this truth by a radical heavenly vision, which was first spoken in eternity.
  6. Early Life Signs – Jesus, at the age of twelve, spoke to the teachers’ in the Temple, who were amazed and astonished by his level of subject mastery and communication of truth (Luke 2:46,47).
  7. A Blinding Vision by Day – Saul, who later became the apostle Paul, encountered a bright light and heard a voice from heaven (Acts 9), drawing him out of sterile religion, into his new life in Christ.
  8. Prophetic Interruptions – In the first chapter of Luke, we see a combination of angelic visitations visiting Zacharias and Mary announcing heaven’s will concerning the miracle of birth for both parties. These children were given their specific role in world before their birth. We also see a prophetic utterance by Zacharias, and a prophetic song by Mary over the futures of their children.

Some people sense a calling early in life and have their entire lives to manifest it, while others manifest their calling towards the end of their life’s journey. For example, Mozart, the child prodigy displayed early life signs of calling. When most parents in our day are registering their five year olds for Kindergarten, Mozart was already composing music. President Ronald Reagan, the fortieth president of the United States, was inaugurated President at the age of sixty-nine, within a few weeks of turning seventy. President Reagan spent his septennial years inspiring millions of Americans by leading the greatest nation on the face of the earth to economic freedom and world prominence. President Ronald Reagan manifested his calling all his life but entered his peak-influencing phase of his calling late in life when most people are relishing their retirement. God’s call to duty can come at any time, and can be expressed in various forms because God’s ways of getting your attention are so diverse. Will you be ready to capture the voice in the wind when it brushes upon your heart and soul?

Calling is like the wind; depending on its velocity and volume one can be overpowered by its strength or seduced by its subtle breeze. Some people need to hear it vociferously while others are drawn by its breezy calm. Biblical scholar Steve Thompson, in his book You May All Prophesy, clearly distinguishes the three voices of God. God’s voice can be defined as:[i]

  1. A still small voice of God – This is the soft and gentle voice of God, which comes as we wait upon the Lord in prayer or meditation. It comes internally and quietly.
  2. An internal audible voice of God – This is often a loud booming voice, not coming through our thoughts, but instead cutting through and interpreting them.
  3. The audible Voice of God – Difficult to describe, except to say if you only think you have heard God speak audibly, you have not. When he speaks in this fashion, all thought and doubt is removed.

When God speaks to you directly, He awakens the seeds of destiny embedded deep within our spirit. You and I are responsible to sense the rumbling of this seed awakening from within, to stir and nurture its flow by faith and action. The voice in the wind may not always come directly from God’s mouth as an audible voice but indirectly through a compelling need, the sight of an injustice or when freedom is being threatened. Let’s take a look at a young shepherd boy’s calling.

A Simple Errand Revealed Calling

The shepherd boy David discovered his calling on assignment when his father, Jesse, sent him on a reconnaissance mission to find out the status of three of his enlisted sons. David was sent to the valley of Elah, where the battle lines were drawn between the children of Israel and their archrival, a people group known as the Philistines. It was during this assignment when David’s true calling manifested. As David stood among the soldiers he captured the voice in the wind via a menacing voice defying the armies of the living God. This voice in the wind immediately captured David’s attention, triggering an embedded code within him known as calling. All the sudden, David discerned a distinct nuance connecting his previous experiences with the Lion and the Bear, and this one with the menacing giant with his capacity and confidence to overcome the threat. Goliath’s reckless challenge elicited a response and strategy from David, which would launch him into the hearts of the people and his destiny. It was the behemoth’s challenge, which caused him to inquire throughout the camp on how to go about fighting the beast. This passionate inquiry brought David before King Saul who would, through a brief dialogue with David, grant the young lad permission to face the annoying menace. What started in the morning to be a menial task became an opportunity for David’s true calling to manifest. David teaches us that one must be attentive and pause to discern the opportunity before us. So don’t despise the small things handed down to you, it just maybe a test for your next promotion.

It’s one thing to hear your calling and it is another thing to manifest it. Although the multitudes championed David when he defeated Goliath, he spent the next fifteen years fighting for the manifestation of his destiny. If you think manifesting your calling is going to be easy, think again. When your calling is revealed, it is also revealed to the enemy, the savage destroyer, who will wage strategic warfare over your destiny to see it delayed, frayed or crushed entirely.

Be Open to the Call

Henry Blackaby, pastor and the author of the book Spiritual Leadership, was asked, “Well, what does it mean to be called?” Blackaby replied, “It means to be humbled and be open to learn.”[ii] This truth unveils the struggle between calling and walking in one’s call. Have you ever noticed how some great men of faith struggled at the time of their calling? Here’s the short list:

  1. Moses asked God, “Why me?” (Exodus 3:11); he was doubtful (Exodus 4:1); and alleged his speech was not eloquent enough for the job (Exodus 4:10).
  2. Gideon immediately pointed out that his clan was the weakest among his tribe, and that he was the runt of the family (Judges 6:15).
  3. And, at the initiation of Saul’s inaugural service to anoint him King of Israel, he was discovered hiding behind the baggage (1 Samuel 10:22).

A call is a humbling experience, propelling us into a place of deep introspection, where one evaluates his or her ability to take on such a challenge. A call from God places our lives into a microscope, and all we see is our ineptitude and frail humanity. We then conclude we don’t have the goods to accomplish what God is trying to get us to do. Actually, this is an accurate assessment. We cannot do it without God’s assistance and anointing. Therefore, a call from God requires us to adopt a humble and learning posture, realizing we need his grace and empowerment in our lives to achieve the impossible.

Although God still uses certain things from our lives to accomplish his will. For instance, God asked Moses, “What is that in your hand?” Moses replied, “A shepherd’s staff.” God said, “I can use that shepherd’s staff.” When God called Gideon he said, “Go in the strength that you have.” Gideon had strength, but just enough to get started, then he increased his strength and passion as he journeyed on his mission in obedient fashion. God can use the small and insignificant things you possess on you or within you for his glory. The struggle is not the call itself per se, but the size of the struggle within you to initiate the demand being placed upon our life. Self-revelation of your ineptitude to heed such a grandiose call will require humility, and adopting a posture of learning as we move forward fulfilling our God-given call for our lives.

A Prophetic Voice in Literature

Have you ever watched the Lord of the Rings movie series? In the initial stage of J.R.R. Tolkien’s story The Hobbit one of his illustrious characters, a wizard named Gandalf, arrives at Bilbo Baggins’ home seeking out a lowly Hobbit to call out for an important assignment. At first Bilbo struggles with this compelling call upon his life, perhaps thinking it was too big a task for a small Hobbit like him. After Gandalf’s departure Bilbo finds himself piddling around the house, contemplating on his recent visitor’s request. Will he heed the call or continue his daily routine around his home pinning his life away doing nothing? Most of us are like Bilbo Baggins, piddling around the house without any purpose in life. After a brief time considering the stranger’s invitation, conviction and courage emerged within the lowly Hobbit. Finally, Bilbo Baggins decides to take on Gandalf’s invitation to engage in the greatest adventure of his life. As Bilbo urgently jetisons from his home along the path to meet up with Gandalf, one of his neighbors inquires out loud, “Bilbo, where are you going?” Bilbo responds with an exuberant cry of the heart, “I’m going on an adventure!” And this is exactly what God’s call is.

——-

Raphael Santi – European Master Painter: Study for Moses in Front of the Burning Bush.

[i] Thompson, Steve (2000) You May All Prophesy. MorningStar Fellowship Church, Charlotte, NC; pg. 43, 44.

[ii] Barna, George (2009) Master Leaders; Revealing Conversations with 30 Leadership Greats, Tyndale Publishers, Inc.; pg. 56.

Trials and Sufferings – A Fast Track Process for Developing Leaders


Image

It is inevitable, all Christians will experience trials and sufferings because to extend God’s kingdom requires an immersion in the art of spiritual warfare. After Paul and Barnabas’ first missionary journey, they decided to retrace their missionary steps to visit the churches they had planted. What was their recurring message to all the churches they planted? They encouraged the young churches to remain true to the faith once delivered to them, exhorting them, “We must go through many tribulations to enter the kingdom of God.”[i] The apostle Paul, a person familiar with trials and tribulation, alludes again in 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (NKJV) to a litany of personal experiences:

‘We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed – always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.”

Paul, in 2 Corinthians 11:24-28 (NKJV), continues his transparency by listing his struggles:

‘From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; [in] journeys often, [in] perils of waters, [in] perils of robbers, [in] perils of [my own] countrymen, [in] perils of the Gentiles, [in] perils in the city, [in] perils in the wilderness, [in] perils in the sea, [in] perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness – besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.”

Leaders, who expect to extend their sphere of influence, should expect trials and tribulations to follow them as they pursue their God-given vision for their lives. As a matter of fact, upon Saul’s conversion, the Lord told Ananias in Acts 15:16, “For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” As a leader, are you ready to make a difference for Christ? Of course you are! On the flip side, are you willing to suffer for his namesake? This question, which eludes many, can only be answered by your commitment to the one you love. It is for this reason, when people come to the altar to pray about their problems, I pray not for God to intervene and save them from their personal tribulation. I pray for a bold and steadfast spirit that by standing firm they may overcome, and in the process of overcoming, they become stronger, bigger and more daring as a person.

A metron is not only limited to geography and populations of people reached therein, it is also applicable for enlarging one’s spiritual endowments, talents, skills, anointing and character. For instance, many Christian leaders do not operate with the endowment of healing while others do, yet the bible emphatically notes you can access Kingdom endowments if you eagerly desire and pursue them. Allow me a personal testimony.

A Sphere Enlarged Through Personal Trial

On an autumn morning mid-September 1983 as I was preparing for my morning commute to Sacramento, a forty-five minute drive, to attend a full day of college classes. Then my mother called me over to her side and said, “I don’t understand what he is saying”, and handed me the phone. On the phone was one of my father’s co-workers who said, “Your father has been taken to Rideout Hospital and you need to meet me there as soon as possible.” His voice possessed a sound of urgency and severity. I did not know what to make of the call, so I left immediately.

Upon arriving I saw one of the most hideous scenes I had ever seen in my life. My father was laying on a gurney surrounded by six doctors. He had been in a serious, life threatening accident at work. That cool autumn morning my father had been teaching a new field laborer how to operate a tractor. My father had the man sit up on the seat to show him the gear system, while the tractor engine warmed itself. My father then stepped down from the tractor and stood next to the rear tire continuing the short lesson, not knowing the man had his foot on the clutch while the tractor was still in gear. All of the sudden the laborer unknowingly released the clutch. Can you guess what happened? The tractor engaged and leaped forward forcefully pinning my father upon the ground. Once on the ground, the tire spun relentlessly upon his middle torso. My father yelled and screamed but the man did not know what to do. The man finally had enough sense to turn the tractor off, which now settle on top of my father. The man ran to get help. Within a few moments help arrived, and soon after my father was rushed to the hospital in grave condition.

When I finally arrived to the hospital’s emergency area, my father lay coherently upon the gurney, and his appearance was shocking to say the least. His stomach was swollen like a woman’s stomach at her ninth month of pregnancy – the exterior of his stomach was littered with mixed colors of red, blue and purple due to his internal and external contusions. His veins visible and inflamed, vividly penetrating through his skin. The tractor had crushed his pelvis to pieces, broken both of his femurs, and many ribs. We exchanged a few intimate words. I told him how much I loved him before the six doctors rushed him into the surgery room.

I was a new Christian at the time, just a year into my walk with Christ. My new faith was tested early on, and all I could do at the time was lean upon the Lord, and call out for His mercy.

After six hours in surgery my father was immediately placed on critical life support with a slim chance of recovery. When I heard the news I was shaken but was determined to see him through this mess. At the time I felt something within me rise up, a firm belief God would heal my father and restore him fully. I confessed the little I knew of random scriptures. I cried out to God and I prayed regularly and earnestly for him, and when prompted by the Holy Spirit. Many times, during a Sunday morning altar call, I would go up sobbing, telling the lead pastor my story. Looking back I felt I had embarrassed him by my constant pleas for prayer and loud cries at the altar. I was broken for my dad. I would later come to understand my actions of “standing in the gap” for my dad were actually acts of “intercessory prayer” for someone who could not act for himself. I did not know this terminology yet. My infant faith grew during this time, as I stood on the word of God, and the limited knowledge I possessed.

In retrospect, my faith capacity was enlarged and fortified throughout this entire ordeal. After three months of being on life support, my father came out of his coma but was in traction for several more months. Several months later my father was finally released from the hospital, and was given a second chance at life. Today, my father has the full use of both legs, and most notably, he is enjoying his retirement on his ranch in Jalisco, Mexico, planting and reaping his crops. At the writing of this book my father is seventy-seven years of age.

Throughout this tormenting time I acquired the gift of healing but did not know it until I came across two random incidents. The first incident occurred when a good friend of mine and I were playing catch with a football. My friend being a good size and possessing formidable strength threw the ball so hard that I heard and felt my thumb pop on my left hand. I cringed at the sharp pain, which ran through my thumb and up my arm. Immediately, I verbalized these words, “In the name of Jesus, be healed!” Instantly, I felt something like a power surge come out from my arm, exiting outwardly through my thumb. In a “wink of an eye” I was healed. In the moment I yelled, exclaiming out loud, “I’ve been healed! I’ve been healed!” My friend, who was a Christian came over and heard my testimony. We both praised God together.

My second incident occurred as a college student, while I was working part-time as a Loss Prevention Agent for a large retail chain. It was my first day at this new location, and I was scheduled to work for an eight-hour shift. The store was large in size with three levels; a basement, the main floor and a second level. There were many stairs to climb up and down, unlike today, when cameras are used to detect and record shoplifters. As a Loss Prevention Agent, my duty was to walk around the store looking for shoplifters. At the end of an eight-hour shift I was so exhausted and my legs were extremely sore. When I got home that evening I immediately laid down on my bed. All the sudden I placed my hands below my belt line and said, “In the name of Jesus, heal my legs!” Again, a power surged through my arms and down my legs and the pain was gone. Once again, I raised my voice, “I’ve been healed!” My roommate ran into my room and said, “Is everything okay?” I said, “I’ve been healed!” My roommate was not a believer and thought my actions were a little strange but I knew something was different about me.

After seeking answers to this “new” power I possessed, I soon realized my faith was activated through my father’s trial, which imparted a greater capacity within me through my steadfast response to his accident. I was able to access a new authority and ability for healing. My spiritual sphere was enlarged within me through an unwelcomed trial. God must know something we do not see or know about ourselves. If God permits us to go through trials, He must see the seed of faith ready to root and sprout within us, and what we will become if stay strong and endure through the storms of life. The most important lesson I learned through this experience was being able to embrace my trial as learning and growing experience, which placed me at higher level of faith operation in Christ. James, in his epistle, notes:

‘My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have [its] perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:1-3 NKJV)

Another word used for “patience” in this passage is the word “endurance”. When one endures trials he or she grows in godly character and spiritual authority. A trial is simply God’s fast track process for developing leaders. If we trust and stand with Him through the trials that come our way, we become “complete, lacking nothing.” This insightful piece of wisdom from C.S. Lewis should encourage you as a leader, “God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain.” As painful as my trial seemed at the time, in the midst of it, I was being transformed in His image into a man of steel, which by far, attained for me a far greater glory outweighing my present struggles for my father’s healing.


[i] Acts 14:22 (NKJV)

Metron: The Measure of a Leader’s Influence


 Image

‘Influence is to be measured, not by the extent of surface it covers, but by its kind.” William E. Channing

It is one thing to be a leader, but what separates any leader from becoming a masterful one? At what scale does one have to influence to separate oneself from a group of good leaders? I believe it starts when a leader receives a transfer of trust from those they desire to lead. You cannot have influence without trust, and trust is built through love. It is crucial for leaders today to build trust or what I call creating “shares of trust” with those they desire to lead. This happens when a leader leads unselfishly, building value and virtue, exuding integrity and confidence in others as they move forward with the common vision. Trust leads to a shift in power. When a leader builds trust they also amass power, and this power is the leader’s impetus to lead others. This power is known as referent power, which is synonymous with influencing. Without influence it will be difficult to lead any type of group, organizational, civic or cultural transformation. A masterful leader, therefore, is one who exerts influence for the purpose of transformation through collaborative effort. This collaborative effort between leaders and followers is the key to moving a vision forward towards concrete results.

This idea of building and transferring “shares of trust” sums up the life and leadership influence of Jesus of Nazareth. A transfer of influence came from the heavenly Father to His son, then from Jesus to his band of twelve disciples, and from Jesus’ twelve followers this heavenly transfer has influenced and transformed pagan and religious cultures in nations for over two millennia.

Just what is influence? According to a Google search, influence is “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something…” Influencerising.com views influence as “the ability to alter or sway an individual’s or a group’s thoughts, beliefs, or actions.”[i] In my view, influence is a personal catalog of transformative virtues emanating from within, which are expressed for the benefit and purpose of attracting others to engage in creating change and leading transformation. These qualities are a mixture of innate and learned abilities, which are cultivated over time, plus spiritual endowments bestowed by our Creator. In sum, influence is the original Law of Attraction for the purpose of wooing others, and persuading them to enter God’s flow or to fulfill a specific agenda.

An etymological search for the root meaning of the word influence revealed “a flow of water” or a “flowing into.”[ii] After reading this definition, my thoughts were immediately drawn to John 4:14, where Jesus provides us with a vivid picture of spiritual influence:

“Whoever drinks the water I give him (a flowing into) will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up (a flow of water) to eternal life.”

This inner release of “welling up” from within is the fountain of life people deeply yearn for. It’s the “well” of divine influence, which bubbles up from within you at the time of conversion and continues to manifest its divine stream of influence throughout your life, only if you stay on course to guard and nurture its precious flow. This divine influence is a person, not a thing or paradigm, who abides within you, releasing a supernatural flow of favor and anointing, while at the same time leveraging your talents, and gifts for influencing. It is one thing to have influence but how do you measure its effectiveness? Allow me to illustrate both natural and supernatural examples of influence.

Cultivating Influence

Influence is a gift and a study; it is acquired through learning and nurtured by growing. And, since you and I reflect both the spiritual dimension, as well as the physical dimension, we must learn to use our innate abilities given to us during the miracle of formation in our mother’s womb, as well as the spiritual endowments bestowed by our Creator upon our conversion. Therefore, for leaders seeking personal mastery, you and I must understand the painstaking effort of hours upon hours of disciplined study, learning and practicing their chosen craft to hone in the critical skills, abilities and talents required to build influence.

When you think of the great motivational speakers of our era, a few individuals come to mind. For me personally, I think of people like the late Jim Rohn and Zig Ziglar, or Anthony Robbins, one of our contemporaries. Just how is their success measured? Is it measured by the thousands of people they have transformed by their uncanny ability to communicate life and leadership principles with clarity and flairs of humor? Can it be their charisma mixed with style of delivery? These great communicators of our day were not passive students of leadership by any means, but added value to people each day by being purposeful, engaging and being on the cutting edge of relevancy for their specific audience in time. These speakers, over a span of time, enlarged their capacities as great communicators in their area of expertise, which extended their sphere of influence throughout the business community, eventually becoming some of the pioneers of the personal development movement of the past half-century.

One thing is for certain, you cannot measure potential – only performance, since results carry the day over good intentions. We see this time and time again by people who have stretched themselves to enhance their personal and professional craft, which millions of Americans love and respect. Take into account, actors and actresses from the past and present, people like Jimmy Stewart, Marlon Brando, Morgan Freeman, Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, and actresses of the likes of Bettie Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Meryl Streep and Kate Winslet. All these artists have something in common, they are known for their work ethic, on and off stage and screen, which is evident through many of their memorable and endearing roles. Their success can be calculated by applying various measures; their over-the-top box-office sales, their acting prowess, believability on screen, and by the accolades and honors received year after year at annual award ceremonies.

Divine Influence

As a minister, when I reflect upon contemporary influencers of the faith, I cannot help but think of the likes of Evangelist Billy Graham, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Pastors’ Rick Warren, Bill Hybels and Joel Osteen. From the inner well of the Rev. Billy Graham, we have seen a proven track record for soul winning and ministerial longevity. Bishop T.D. Jakes flavor is unashamedly communicating the truths of the gospel with persuasive and passionate preaching; Pastor Joel Osteen’s stream of influence is preaching a consistent message of positivity and hope, which attracts thousands of churchgoers and television viewers to hear his weekly messages. In addition, several millions of readers are drawn to peruse his books filled with life principles to live by. These modern day preachers’ sphere of influence is unique to each one, and can be measured by their personal integrity and ministerial longevity, and their masterful skills in communicating Biblical truth with simplicity, power and grace; each one is measured with a distinct style and substance.

In the book of Hebrews, chapter eleven, we are provided a list of heroes of the faith whose influence was measured by their simple deeds of faith. Faith was and still is God’s way of measuring success in the Kingdom, for without faith it is impossible to please God. These men and women of faith obeyed God’s call to serve their respective generation, which ushered them into a personal and glorious adventure. On many instances, their lives and contributions did not seem too inspiring, but their deeds glorified God, and this is the essence of expressing a divine influence.

You do not have to be an “outlier”, an extraordinary individual, to exert influence at a small or large scale. Influence can be exerted by anyone willing to pay the price for grooming personal, spiritual and professional mastery.

Influence is one thing but just what is a sphere of influence? And, just how does one begin to exert influence to enlarge their sphere? In the next chapter, I will define what a sphere is.

#Leading a Thriving #Organization


tree

Organizational executives, managers and leaders have good intentions to create thriving organizations that reflect their vision and mission for successful outcomes in the marketplace. Over the years, I have had the privilege to work for many organizations in various capacities; as an employee, a middle manager, a pastor, an executive, as a coach and marketing consultant. In other words, I have seen the internal dynamics of how organizations are managed and led; some thrive whiles others struggle to survive. To accomplish this monumental task of building a thriving organization it will take an organization to understand and embrace the four pillars of a thriving organization, which are simply strategy, synergy, structure and systems. Let’s start with the first critical layer of strategy.

1. Strategy

The original meaning of the world strategy reveals the “art of the General”, which implies the General’s broad grasp of the craft of warfare based upon years of acquired acumen and intuition from experiences on the battlefield. We can break down this art form into to three layers: hindsight, insight and foresight. Likewise, those in positions of mid to higher management in an organization have years of accumulated knowledge and wisdom derived through their education, exposure to people and events within an organization, and past experiences on the job. The accumulated wisdom of these employees is critical for tapping into new strategic methods for success.

Strategy is the sum of two parts: it’s your acumen and your approach. Strategy is melding what you already know and how you will go about executing what you know. Strategy, however, fails on many accounts. The most critical one is the lack of collaborative imagination that keeps many organizations operating in the dark at mediocre levels. King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, understood the power of collaborative imagination. His wisdom was and is today second to none; the biblical narrative notes a person like Solomon will never be matched again, so listen carefully! King Solomon provides our culture today with a great Tweet tucked away in Proverbs 24:6:

Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers.”

Can you imagine tapping into the combined acumen, intuition and experience of many advisors? So why don’t you take an assessment of the creative members on your team and begin to tap into their combined wisdom for strategic advantages and advances in the marketplace. The wisdom is all around you… are you listening?

2. Synergy

One lazy afternoon, on my day off, I went to the afternoon matinee to see the movie Pitch Perfect. It simply amazed me on many levels! It wasn’t the humor, although I had a load of laughs. It wasn’t the brilliant singing that caught my attention although it was American Idol on Steroids. The main message for me was how a singing team formed and fermented into greatness. Let me see if I can sum up the important snippets of the movie that helped me see how teams form to create dynamic energy and synergy:

1. Pride was present at first since the old guard did not want to give up their place or stature on the team. So they resist anyone trying to introduce new ideas, which will improve the team’s performance.

2. Then there is friction between the old guard and the newcomers since the new ideas being offered are better than the old ones. It’s takes some time for the old guard to realize their methods have become obsolete.

3. Thirdly, the old guard finally accepts reality and realizes it needs to adapt and change. They are now willing to make some accommodations to make the team better.

4. And finally, the team comes together to implement the new ideas. There’s a dynamic shift in team culture and performance.

Synergy is hard to create but when it is present it is dynamic and energizing. When a team creates synergy it begins to release that corporate magic many organizations long for. How do we know when synergy is present? It is evident when optimum energy is released and dynamic synergy is increased.

3. Structure

Every organization is structured in a unique way. Some structures are more rigid than others, such as the military and Law Enforcement agencies, while other organizations tend to adopt a more fluid and flexible approach. “By structure, we mean the framework around which the group is organized, the underpinnings which keep the coalition functioning. It’s the operating manual that tells members how the organization is put together and how it works. More specifically, structure describes how members are accepted, how leadership is chosen, and how decisions are made.”[i]

The structure solely depends on what your organization wants to accomplish. For instance, let’s take two examples from nature to make my point. An eagle and a duck are structured quite differently from one another since they have different purposes to perform. One is meant to fly in high altitudes, and to dive at fast speeds to catch unsuspecting prey by surprise. Eagles like to be alone most of the time; they are the kings of the air. While a duck is given webbed feet to navigate through the water, and tightly knit feathers to keep them warm in cold climates. Ducks like to fly in teams, and work together to fly long distances.

Each bird has a particular function to play and purpose to fulfill. These distinguishing features provide you and I insight into the roles they perform in their respected environments.

Let’s take another example from nature. What about a tree? An Oak tree has a firm base extending to the general body. It is immovable and strong. Then as the branches move out they thin out and become more flexible, bending by the wind, even with the subtle breeze. Structures in organizations should have a stabilizing structure but should also allow flexibility is some areas of the organization to accommodate quick changes.

4. Systems

Systems are like highways that connect motorists to interchanges, intersections and bridges, which provide a proper flow of traffic so that people can get to places in an efficient manner within a specified time frame. Let me provide you a personal example:

I remember a time when our church fed thousands of inner city people on a Saturday afternoon. At the time, our church had an extraordinary cook on staff that was once Donald Trump’s private Chef (and you know Mr. Trump is a pretty picky guy). Anyway, when it came time to feed the multitudes, I just happened to walk into the kitchen area where I overheard the Chef say, “This is how we are going to take the food out to feed the folks.” To shorten my story, he had adopted a system with six steps before the people could even receive their food on the table. I thought to myself, “This process or system is going to take forever. We can do better?” So immediately, I took the Chef aside and advised him of a more efficient way. After I made it sound like it was his idea, he adopted the new system. The result of this simple change in the flow of food delivery was that everyone was happy, from the volunteers who had to serve the food, to the Chef himself, and the multitudes receiving our compassionate services for the day. All it took was a simple change to the “system”, which provided more efficient outcomes.

Systems should be made simple, but most people make them more complicated than they should be. The Chef in this situation had extraordinary skills but he lacked the basic skills of how to deliver his product efficiently.

What area above is the weakest in your organization? Which one is the strength of your organization?


[i] An Organizational Structure: An Overview. http://ctb.ku.edu/en/tablecontents/sub_section_main_1092.aspx, accessed on 4/7/2013.

Default Leadership: The Presumptuous Leader


 presumption

The “presumptuous leader” sounds like an oxymoron. Well, it actually is one! Leaders who are presumptions think of themselves a little higher than they actually are and think they know more than others. Allow me a short illustration:

I was recently promoted to a new position and took hold of my new branch which had a lot of potential for growth and profit. However, after a quick appraisal of the store’s metrics I soon discovered the store also had some areas that required immediate attention and improvement – most noticeably its leadership presence. This particular branch had been on the decline for some months with the present management who was feeling the pressure from top brass concerning some alarming numbers. During my first few days in the office, my objective was to get to know my team members by simply interacting with them and observing how they worked with each other, but most importantly how they perceived me as their new leader. On the onset I detected some resistance from the store manager, the second in command. At first he was a little distant, cold and “short” with me. One time, during a brief interview, he must have presumed we were done with the conversation, so he got up and walked away. I sat on my seat stunned thinking, “Does this guy have any social skills?” Over a period of two weeks, I knew I had a lot more to work on than getting the store to operate at peak performance. I needed to groom my store manager with the right leadership skills for personal, team and corporate success. Throughout my interactions with the store manager I soon found three default characteristics of a presumptuous leader:

1. Previous work experience does not add up to competent leadership

After spending some time with my store manager, I noticed how he would keep bringing up his previous employment experience, “In my previous job I supervised fifty employees.” And the time I asked him to do the schedule he made a point to say, “It’s easy, doing a schedule for four people is nothing compared to what I used to do.” My first thought, “Wow, I have a great leader working with me. We are going to turn this store around quicker than I first anticipated.” Soon enough, within a matter of days, I noticed the incompetence surface. He lacked the basic skills of supervision, delegating responsibility and holding his direct reports accountable for their work performance. My initial thought was, “Now, how did this guy get to a position where he supervised fifty people?” It just didn’t add up.

2. Layered expectations is a form of controlling others not leading them

There’s nothing more I dislike than someone saying, “They are not allowed to do that!”, or something similar, “The previous boss would only let me do that.” After a few comments like these I had to put a stop to that kind of managerial thinking. In a learning environment managers must relinquish some control and trust others to learn and do the job. After all, we must advance not only the agenda of the organization but also employees to their next level of operation. So I asked myself, “Where did he get this learning?” After some brief dialogue, it was the previous General Manager who would not allow certain people to do some basic things, such as count the cash drawer upon opening or closing the store. My style of training is a “cross-trainer” approach where everyone gets to participate and learn a new aspect of the operation. This happens gradually when someone is willing and ready to learn the next new thing. A working environment must be empowering not controlling others based upon one’s position or title.

3. Leading from behind is not authentic leadership

After a week or so I noticed the store manager was not leading his direct reports properly. So I asked him, “How do you lead your team?” He responded, “Oh, they already know what to do. I just let them do it.” I then asked, “How do you know they are accomplishing tasks on time and being effective in their jobs?” He just stared at me. His style of leadership was laissez-faire, from a French term meaning laid-back leadership. When I questioned his style of leadership he simply replied, “I’ve always done it that way.” Presumption – yes or no? As a leader, you have to engage your direct reports with vision and responsibility, and responsibility with accountability, and timed tasks that are measured by effective performance and results.

What did I learn in the first two weeks of this encounter? First, I learned that the more someone is “experienced” the harder they are to train, because “they just seem to know so much” more than you. Employees who brag about their previous work experience must embrace new learning experiences. Second, bringing correction to a leader who seems to “know it all” is difficult to do but it’s a must. A leader must have the courage to have transparent and regular discussions. What kind of discussions? The one’s where you tell your direct report to “push the refresh button” and to start all over by learning how to lead effectively.

Latino Townhall’s Top 25 #LatinoQuotes of 2011


These are Latino Townhall’s Top 25 Quotes of 2011, which are provided to inspire you to stimulate your thinking, and help you through times of difficulty. I have provided my name at the end of each quote in case you want to copy and paste on social media sites. Thank you for your support in 2011:

Fear is the sure beginning of failure, eventually leading to one’s demise. –Joel Garcia (January 2011)

Every Christian should aspire to a leadership role because the Spirit of God within them is constantly moving and creating change, and this is what leaders do. –Joel Garcia (April 2011)

Leading with love is the most excellent way. –Joel Garcia (April 2011)

To overcome incompetence do not stand-alone rather deepen your pool of knowledge by standing alongside others. –Joel Garcia (April 2011)

Listening provides the context you need to ask the right questions. –Joel Garcia (May 2011)

Your personal gifts prophesy to your future. –Joel Garcia (June 2011)

Hope is the assurance of a release date from your wilderness journey. –Joel Garcia (July 2011)

Leaders who reinvent themselves see things in a whole new way, therefore, driving needed change in their environment. –Joel Garcia (Aug. 2011)

A comprehensive Christian worldview must instill belief, power and the ability to transform culture. –Joel Garcia (Aug. 2011)

If you keep hope alive, you stay alive. –Joel Garcia (Aug. 2011)

A gospel with power adds wonder. –Joel Garcia (Aug. 2011)

Ideas have a better chance of life in a community. –Joel Garcia (Aug. 2011)

Complaints measure your ineffectiveness, while solutions measure your effectiveness. -Joel Garcia (Aug. 2011)

Creativity rebounds during moments of rest and solitude. –Joel Garcia (Sept. 2011)

Every action you take sets in motion something greater; transformation begins with enough of the right actions. –Joel Garcia (Aug. 2011)

When a man loses his moral compass, he lands in desolate places. –Joel Garcia (Sept. 2011)

There’s no transformation without a struggle. –Joel Garcia (Sept. 2011)

The gift of change is loss; if we don’t learn to let go we’ll never change. –Joel Garcia (Sept. 2011)

Servant leaders inspire others to be and do their best by their lifestyle. –Joel Garcia (Oct. 2011)

Tension and misunderstanding go together; get understanding and watch tension gradually release itself. –Joel Garcia (Oct. 2011)

You can’t “cherry pick” your character, it’s cultivated through time, choice and action. -Joel Garcia (Oct. 2011)

The primary objective of parenting is making a child beautiful on the inside. –Joel Garcia (Nov. 2011)

Wisdom triumphs over experience. –Joel Garcia (November 28, 2011)

Submission doesn’t come when you ask for it; it happens when you’ve work for it. –Joel Garcia (November 28, 2011)