Be A People Person by John C Maxwell
1. WHAT DRAWS ME TO PEOPLE?
Understanding the qualities you enjoy in others
2. WHAT DRAWS OTHERS TO ME?
Understanding what people like about you and why
3. HOW TO BE CONFIDENT WITH PEOPLE
Learning to feel comfortable with others
4. BECOMING A PERSON PEOPLE WANT TO FOLLOW
Developing the qualities of an effective leader
5. MOTIVATING PEOPLE FOR THEIR BENEFIT
Developing the art of drawing out the best in people
6. HOW TO BE A PERSON PEOPLE RESPECT
Understanding the value of your character
7. YOU CAN BE AN ENCOURAGER
Using your skills to inspire others to excellence
8. LOVING DIFFICULT PEOPLE
Understanding and helping difficult personalities
9. HOW TO BE A PERSON WHO CAN HANDLE CRITICISM
Learning to use confrontation as an opportunity to grow
10. BEING A PERSON PEOPLE TRUST
Building integrity into your relationships
11. DEVELOPING A WINNING TEAM
Learning how to help others become successful
This book is dedicated to the three congregations that I have been privileged
The Church of Christ in Christian Union
Faith Memorial Church
Skyline Wesleyan Church
Lemon Grove, California
These churches represent thousands of relationships that have molded
me as a leader. It is from these experiences that this book has been written.
The one truth that rings clearer than any other is …
People don’t care how much you know
Until they know how much you care.
One of the most important decisions I’ve ever made is to be a people person.
Honestly, it wasn’t a difficult decision for me. I naturally love people
and am attracted to them. But I also have to say, I’ve worked at improving
my people skills. When I was growing up, I knew that I was going to become
a pastor, and that meant that I would be working with people every day of
My father knew this too. He is a pastor. Because he understood the
power and importance of being good with people, Dad helped me to start developing
those skills while I was just a boy. He coached me. He gave me
books to read. And by the time I had graduated from high school, he had
taken me to two Dale Carnegie courses to learn how to win friends and influence
My father also modeled great people skills to me. What makes that especially
impressive is that unlike me, he is not naturally a people person.
Where my temperament is very sanguine, his is melancholic. Where I am a
natural optimist, his bent is toward pessimism. Yet he has taught himself to
be both outgoing and positive. He continues to be an inspiration to me.
If you are a believer in Christ, then you need to be a people person too.
Jesus exhorts us to love one another (John 13:43). And the apostle John explains
that if we truly love God, then we must love our brothers too (1 John
The good news is that with God’s help, anyone can learn to be a people
person—regardless of their personality or background. Be a People Person is
the first relationship book I ever wrote. It contains eleven key lessons that
can help a person to become better at connecting with, relating to, and leading
others. Each lesson is taught from a biblical perspective and contains
references to Scripture to help you learn more about what the Bible says
about the best ways to interact with people.
I trust you will find this book helpful. And may God bless you as you
John C. Maxwell
WHAT DRAWS ME TO PEOPLE?
Understanding the qualities you enjoy in others
THE BASIS OF LIFE IS PEOPLE and how they relate to each other. Our
success, fulfillment, and happiness depend upon our ability to relate effectively.
The best way to become a person that others are drawn to is to develop
qualities that we are attracted to in others.
Just as I was preparing this chapter, I received an anonymous card from
a member of my congregation. It was especially meaningful because it reflected
the importance of warm, rewarding relationships:
When special people touch our lives then suddenly we see
how beautiful and wonderful our world can really be. They
show us that our special hopes and dreams can take us far by
helping us look inward and believe in who we are. They bless
us with their love and joy through everything they give. When
special people touch our lives they teach us how to live.
Does that reflect the kind of person you are to others? It was a humbling
blessing for me to receive such a greeting card. I realized how appropriate it
is to this chapter as we consider what qualities we need to develop in our
lives—the qualities we enjoy in others.
This poster in a Nordstrom’s department store once caught my attention:
“The only difference between stores is the way they treat their customers.”
That’s a bold statement. Most stores would advertise the quality of their
merchandise or their wide selection as what sets them apart from the rest.
The difference between Nordstrom’s and other stores, according to an employee
of the competition, is that other stores are organization-oriented;
Nordstrom’s is people-oriented. Their employees are trained to respond
quickly and kindly to customer complaints. As a result, according to writer
Nancy Austin, “Nordstrom’s doesn’t have customers; it has fans.”
A study by TARP, Technical Assistance Research Programs, in Washington,
D.C., shows that most customers won’t complain to management if
something goes wrong with the purchase. But TARP found out that, depending
on the severity of the problem, an average customer will tell between
nine and sixteen friends and acquaintances about his bad experience. Some
13 percent will tell more than 20 people! More than two out of three customers
who’ve received poor service will never buy from that store again and,
worse, management will never know why.
Every company is bound to goof now and then, but from the customer’s
perspective, what’s important is that the company responds. This is the
secret of Nordstrom’s success. The TARP study also shows that 95 percent of
dissatisfied customers will buy from the store again if their problems are
solved quickly. Even better, they will each tell eight people about the situation’s
happy conclusion. The trick for managers and salespeople is to give
customers ample time to offer feedback on the service they receive.
This chapter certainly isn’t about department stores and customer satisfaction,
but there are some principles from these reports that should speak
to us about our relationships with others:
Are we quick to respond to others’ needs?
Do we run from problems or face them?
Do we talk more about bad news or good news?
Do we give people the benefit of the doubt, or do we assume the worst?
The Golden Rule
What’s the key to relating to others? It’s putting yourself in someone else’s
place instead of putting them in their place. Christ gave the perfect rule for
establishing quality human relationships. We call it the Golden Rule, a name
it got sometime around the seventeenth century. Near the end of the Sermon
on the Mount, Christ summed up a series of profound thoughts on human
conduct by saying, “Therefore, treat people the same way you want them to
treat you” (Matt. 7:12).
In this brief command, Christ taught us a couple of things about developing
relationships with others. We need to decide how we want to be treated.
Then we need to begin treating others in that manner.
Recently I took my daughter Elizabeth out to a restaurant for lunch. The
waitress, whose job it was to take care of people, made us feel that we were
really inconveniencing her. She was grumpy, negative, and unhelpful. All of
her customers were aware of the fact that she was having a bad day. Elizabeth
looked up at me and said, “Dad, she’s a grump, isn’t she?” I could only
agree with a look of disdain.
Halfway through our experience I tried to change this woman’s negative
attitude. Pulling out a $10 bill, I said, “Could you do me a favor? I’d like
some change for this $10 bill because I want to give you a good tip today.”
She looked at me, did a double take, and then ran to the cash register. After
changing the money, she spent the next fifteen minutes hovering over us. I
thanked her for her service, told her how important and helpful she was, and
left a good tip.
As we left, Elizabeth said, “Daddy, did you see how that lady changed?”
Seizing this golden opportunity, I said, “Elizabeth, if you want people to
act right toward you, you act right toward them. And many times you’ll
Elizabeth will never forget that lesson because she had seen a noticeable
change take place right before her eyes. That grumpy woman didn’t deserve
to be treated kindly. But when she was treated not as she was, but as I
wanted her to be and believed she could become, her perspective suddenly
Whatever your position in a relationship, if you are aware of a problem,
it’s your responsibility to make a concerted effort to create a positive change.
Quit pointing your finger and making excuses, and try being a catalyst by
demonstrating and initiating the appropriate behavior. Determine not to be
a reactor but an initiator.
Five Ways You Want Others to Treat You
These next five points seem too simple even to mention, but somehow we
overlook them. The qualities that make relationships right aren’t complicated
at all. There’s not a person reading this who doesn’t need, like, or respond
to these qualities in others.
1. You want others to encourage you.
There is no better exercise for strengthening the heart than reaching down
and lifting people up. Think about it; most of your best friends are those who
encourage you. You don’t have many strong relationships with people who
put you down. You avoid these people and seek out those who believe in you
and lift you up.
Several years ago Dr. Maxwell Maltz’s book, Psycho-Cybernetics, was
one of the most popular books on the market. Dr. Maltz was a plastic surgeon
who often took disfigured faces and made them more attractive. He observed
that in every case, the patient’s self-image rose with his and her physical
improvement. In addition to being a successful surgeon, Dr. Maltz was a
great psychologist who understood human nature.
A wealthy woman was greatly concerned about her son, and she came to
Dr. Maltz for advice. She had hoped that the son would assume the family
business following her husband’s death, but when the son came of age, he refused
to assume that responsibility and chose to enter an entirely different
field. She thought Dr. Maltz could help convince the boy that he was making
a grave error. The doctor agreed to see him, and he probed into the reasons
for the young man’s decision.
The son explained, “I would have loved to take over the family business,
but you don’t understand the relationship I had with my father. He was a
driven man who came up the hard way. His objective was to teach me selfreliance,
but he made a drastic mistake. He tried to teach me that principle
in a negative way. He thought the best way to teach me self-reliance was to
never encourage or praise me. He wanted me to be tough and independent.
Every day we played catch in the yard. The object was for me to catch the
ball ten straight times. I would catch that ball eight or nine times, but always
on that tenth throw he would do everything possible to make me miss it. He
would throw it on the ground or over my head but always so I had no chance
of catching it.”
The young man paused for a moment and then said, “He never let me
catch the tenth ball—never! And I guess that’s why I have to get away from
his business; I want to catch that tenth ball!”
This young man grew up feeling he could never measure up, never be
perfect enough to please his father. I would not want to be guilty of causing
emotional damage to my wife, my children, or my friends by not giving them
every opportunity to succeed.
When Elizabeth and I used to play Wiffleball, I would pitch and she
would swing. I told her it was my responsibility to hit the bat with the ball.
Once she had swung at least twenty times without making contact with the
ball. Finally, in desperation and disgust, she said, “I need another pitcher;
you can’t hit the bat!” I was duly brought low for my failure to let her succeed.
I have since done better.
The story of Eugene Lang gives us an ultimate example of encouragement.
Entrepreneur Lang was Success magazine’s “Successful Man of the
Year” in 1986. The following is part of a feature article about Lang’s encouragement
A gray-haired man stands alone in the center of the auditorium
stage—a distinguished, paternal presence sporting a fine
wool suit and the barest trace of a mustache. He scans the
sunlit room, with its peeling paint and frayed draperies, but
his gaze lingers on the people.
They are Black and Hispanic men and women who fill
most of the seats in the auditorium. Though some do not
speak English, their attention is fixed on the man at the podium.
But his speech is not aimed at them. He has returned to
this place where he once was a student to address the 61 sixth
graders, dressed in blue caps and gowns, who are seated in
the front rows.
“This is your first graduation—just the perfect time to
dream,” he says. “Dream of what you want to be, the kind of
life you wish to build. And believe in that dream. Be prepared
to work for it. Always remember, each dream is important because
it is your dream, it is your future. And it is worth working
“You must study,” he continues. “You must learn. You
must attend junior high school, high school, and then college.
You can go to college. You must go to college. Stay in school
and I’ll …” The speaker pauses, and then, as if suddenly inspired,
he blurts out: “I will give each of you a college
For a second there is silence, and then a wave of emotion
rolls over the crowd. All the people in the auditorium are on
their feet, jumping and running, cheering and waving and
hugging one another. Parents rush down the aisles to their
children. “What did he say?” one mother calls out in Spanish.
“It’s money! Money for college!” her daughter yells back with
delight, collapsing into her parents’ arms.
The place was an elementary school in a poverty-stricken,
drug-ridden, despair-plagued Harlem neighborhood. The
speaker was multimillionaire entrepreneur Eugene Lang, who
53 years earlier had graduated from that very school. The date
was June 25, 1981, and the big question was whether the
warm and ever-confident Lang, a man who believes that
“each individual soul is of infinite worth and infinite dignity,”
would fulfill his promise.
Well, he did and he still is. Of 61 graduates, 54 stayed in contact with
Lang, and 90 percent of those achieved a high school diploma or equivalent,
and 60 percent went on to higher education. You have to understand, at that
time, in that community, the high school drop-out rate was 90 percent.
Lang began the “I Have a Dream” foundation and now other entrepreneurs
all over the country are also going into classrooms offering the same
kind of scholarships. Even the U.S. Congress took notice and used Lang’s
ideas as a model for a nationwide education program called GEAR UP started
People need to be encouraged. Eugene Lang believed in these kids and it
made all the difference in how they lived the rest of their lives. The article
goes on to show Lang’s impact:
Lang’s students speak confidently of becoming architects,
computer experts, entrepreneurs of all types. Lang says 25
will go to college this year, the others will have high school
diplomas, opportunities for vocational training and, eventually
jobs. “This approach is exactly right,” observes Charles
Murray of the Manhattan Institute of Policy Research, whose
book Losing Ground laments that poor people are losing their
drive to climb the ladder of success.
Ari Alvarado expressed it from the students’ side: “I have
something waiting for me,” he said, “and that’s a golden feeling.”
And if this program works, it may in fact become the ultimate
capitalist success story—for, as George Gilder points
out, the roots of capitalism lie not in greed but in giving: The
true capitalist is one who invests money and energy today in
hopes of a return in the uncertain future. That’s what Eugene
Lang has done, and it’s likely that some of his dream students
will follow suit. “I want to become a doctor and do well so I
can adopt a class of my own someday,” says the optimistic
Alvarado. “Just think, if all of us adopted classes … it could
spread across the world!”
That is exactly what Eugene Lang hopes will happen: “We
have to create the opportunity to work with hope, to work
with ambition, and to work with self-respect. The rewards?
There is no way to describe the joy of having a young person
touch your arm and smile because you have taught him new
values and touched his heart and mind. The greatest experience
you can have is to see that child with his new
The happiest people are those who have invested their time in others.
The unhappiest people are those who wonder how the world is going to
make them happy. Karl Menninger, the great psychiatrist, was asked what a
lonely, unhappy person should do. He said, “Lock the door behind you, go
across the street, find someone who is hurting, and help them.” Forget about
yourself to help others.
2. You want others to appreciate you.
William James said, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving
to be appreciated.”
Have you heard the story about the young politician’s first campaign
speech? He was very eager to make an impression on his audience, but when
he arrived at the auditorium, he found only one man sitting there. He
waited, hoping more people would show up, but none did. Finally he said to
the one man in the audience, “Look, I’m just a young politician starting out.
Do you think I ought to deliver this speech or dismiss the meeting?”
The man thought a moment and replied, “Sir, I’m just a cowhand. All I
know is cows. Of course, I do know that if I took a load of hay down to the
pasture and only one cow came up, I’d feed it!”
Principle: We cannot underestimate the value of a single person.
With the advice from the cowhand, the politician began his speech and
talked on and on for two hours as the cowhand sat expressionless. Finally he
stopped and asked the cowhand if the speech was all right.
The man said, “Sir, I am just a cowhand and all I know is cows. Of
course, I do know that if I took a load of hay down to the pasture and only
one cow came up, I surely wouldn’t dump the whole load on him.”
Principle: Don’t take advantage of people.
J. C. Staehle, after analyzing many surveys, found that the principle causes
of unrest among workers were the following, listed in order of their
1. Failure to give credit for suggestions.
2. Failure to correct grievances.
3. Failure to encourage.
4. Criticizing employees in front of other people.
5. Failure to ask employees their opinions.
6. Failure to inform employees of their progress.
Notice that every single item has to do with the failure to recognize the
importance of the employee. We’re talking about people needing appreciation.
I try to apply this principle every time I meet a person. Within the first
thirty seconds of conversation, I try to say something that shows I appreciate
and affirm that person. It sets the tone of the rest of our time together. Even
a quick affirmation will give people a sense of value.
Treat others as you want them to treat you. Treat them as if they are important;
they will respond according to the way that you perceive them. Most
of us think wonderful things about people, but they never know it. Too many
of us tend to be tight-fisted with our praise. It’s of no value if all you do is
think it; it becomes valuable when you impart it.
3. You want others to forgive you.
Almost all emotional problems and stress come from unresolved conflicts
and failure to have developed right relationships with people. Because of
this, many people have a deep desire for total forgiveness. A forgiving spirit
is the one basic, necessary ingredient for a solid relationship. Forgiveness
frees us from guilt and allows us to interact positively with other people.
Earnest Hemingway, in his short story, “The Capital of the World,” tells
the story about a father and his teenage son who lived in Spain. Their relationship
became strained, eventually shattered, and the son ran away from
home. The father began a long journey in search of the lost and rebellious
son, finally putting an ad in the Madrid newspaper as a last resort. His son’s
name was Paco, a very common name in Spain. The ad simply read: “Dear
Paco, meet me in front of the Madrid newspaper office tomorrow at noon.
All is forgiven. I love you.” As Hemingway writes, the next day at noon in
front of the newspaper office there were 800 “Pacos” all seeking forgiveness.
There are countless Pacos in the world who want more than anything
else to be forgiven. The two great marks of a Christian are that they are giving
and forgiving. Show me a person who walks with God, and I’ll show you
a person who has a giving heart and is forgiving of others.
The unfortunate truth is that many of us, instead of offering total forgiveness,
pray something like this Irish Prayer:
May those who love us, love us;
And those who don’t love us
May God turn their hearts;
And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,
May He turn their ankles,
So we’ll know them by their limping.
People who find it difficult to forgive don’t see themselves realistically.
They are either terribly arrogant or tremendously insecure. Though hanging
onto a grudge gives some people a feeling of satisfaction, the truth is people
who do not forgive are hurting themselves much more than they’re hurting
others. A person who possesses this characteristic and keeps score in relationships
is a person who is emotionally wired to carry all the stress that
goes with carrying grudges.
A few weeks ago I met with a man who came from a devastating background.
His father had suffered a stroke and his mother had been in a serious
accident; both are now unable to respond to him in any way. There are
areas in this man’s life in which he needs and wants his parents’ forgiveness,
but because they are physically unable to communicate, he cannot be sure
that they understand him. Every day he goes to the hospital and asks their
forgiveness, but he gets no response. The situation is robbing him of any joy.
This same man has an older brother that he hasn’t spoken to in over two
years. It is basically the older brother’s fault, and my friend wants his brother
to take the first step in patching up the relationship. I challenged my
friend to let God cleanse his heart concerning his relationship with his parents,
and to go ahead and take the first step in making the relationship with
the brother right.
The following Sunday my friend approached me after the service. He
didn’t say a word but gave me a great big hug. I knew what had happened
and said, “You made the relationship right, didn’t you?”
“Yeah, I got it taken care of,” he replied—the freedom from his burden
evident in his smile.
Too often people wait too long to forgive other people. Forgiveness
should be given as quickly and as totally as possible. Do it now. Don’t be in
the position of the young man who no longer has the opportunity to communicate
with his parents. Because of his procrastination he will never experience
the joy of their forgiveness and reconciliation.
One of the most striking scenes of the 1970s was Hubert Humphrey’s funeral.
Seated next to Hubert’s beloved wife was former President Richard M.
Nixon, a long-time political adversary of Humphrey, and a man disgraced by
Watergate. Humphrey himself had asked Nixon to have that place of honor.
Three days before Senator Humphrey died, Jesse Jackson visited him in
the hospital. Humphrey told Jackson that he had just called Nixon. Reverend
Jackson, knowing their past relationship, asked Humphrey why. Here is
what Hubert Humphrey had to say,
From this vantage point, with the sun setting in my life, all of
the speeches, the political conventions, the crowds, and the
great fights are behind me. At a time like this you are forced
to deal with your irreducible essence, forced to grapple with
that which is really important. And what I have concluded
about life is that when all is said and done, we must forgive
each other, redeem each other, and move on.
Do you know how to die victoriously? Quit keeping score of the injustices
that have happened to you. If you are at odds with anyone, take the first
step; confront the problem and ask for forgiveness.
I received a letter from a pastor who, along with some of his laymen,
heard me speak at a conference seven years ago. The laymen all became excited
about what they had learned. The pastor put up a wall of defense,
though. He wasn’t excited, especially when they pushed him to put the principles
into practice. Finally he left the church. Recently I received a letter
from him telling me that he had been bitter toward me for the past seven
years. He asked for my forgiveness. Immediately I responded, assuring him
that all was forgiven.
Over my years in ministry there have been hundreds of times when I’ve
experienced strained relationships. I have had people swear at me, tell me
where to go, how to get there, and offer their assistance. But I have never
knowingly let them walk out the door without telling them I love them. I
don’t hold any grudges or carry any resentment against anyone. I cannot
stress this enough: if you don’t have peace, it isn’t because someone took it
from you; you gave it away. You cannot always control what happens to you,
but you can control what happens in you.
4. You want others to listen to you.
Recently I took a break from my work and walked across the street to the
doughnut shop to get a soft drink. A man was sitting there talking to the girl
behind the counter. Recognizing me, he said, “Pastor, she’s been listening to
me all morning. I’ve been telling her my story.” I realized how important it
was to him that she was listening attentively and showed interest in what he
had to say. It made him feel that he had value.
My mother was the librarian where I attended college, and each time I
entered the library, there would be a half a dozen college girls around her
desk. Mom has always had an incredible counseling ministry, not because
she is such a great talker, but because she is a tremendous listener. There’s a
difference between hearing people and listening to them. Listening is wanting
to hear. Mom loves people and wants to hear from them; people respond
to that kind of caring.
As people gain more authority, they often develop a lack of patience in
listening to those under them. A deaf ear is the first indication of a closed
mind. The higher people go in management and the more authority they
wield, the less they are forced to listen to others. Yet their need to listen is
greater than ever. The further they get from the firing line, the more they
have to depend on others for correct information. If they haven’t formed the
habit of listening—carefully and intelligently—they aren’t going to get the
facts they need, and people will resent their decisions.
I saw a television sketch that, with some variations, might seem familiar
in many households. A husband is watching television and his wife if trying
to engage him in conversation:
Wife: Dear, the plumber didn’t come to fix the leak behind
the water heater today.
Wife: The pipe burst today and flooded the basement.
Husband: Quiet. It’s third down and goal to go.
Wife: Some of the wiring got wet and almost electrocuted
Husband: Darn it! Touchdown.
Wife: The vet says he’ll be better in a week.
Husband: Can you get me a Coke?
Wife: The plumber told me that he was happy that our pipe
broke because now he can afford to go on vacation.
Husband: Aren’t you listening? I said I could use a Coke!
Wife: And Stanley, I’m leaving you. The plumber and I are
flying to Acapulco in the morning.
Husband: Can’t you please stop all that yakking and get me a
Coke? The trouble around here is that nobody ever listens to
5. You want others to understand you.
How do you feel when you’re misunderstood? What kinds of feelings well up
inside you? Loneliness? Frustration? Disappointment? Resentment? These
are common feelings when we have been misunderstood.
Peter Drucker, often called the “Father of American Management,”
claims that 60 percent of all management problems are a result of faulty
communications. A leading marriage counselor says that at least half of all
divorces result from faulty communication between spouses. And criminologists
tell us that upwards of 90 percent of all criminals have difficulty communicating
with other people. Communication is fundamental to
Let’s capsulize what we’ve covered in these last few pages. You want others
• encourage you
• appreciate you
• forgive you
• listen to you
• understand you
As you think about these qualities, consider how they apply to your own
life. Perhaps this short course in human relations can help each of us develop
qualities that we admire in others:
The least important word:
I (gets the least amount done)
The most important word:
We (gets the most amount done)—relationships
The two most important words:
The three most important words:
All is forgiven—forgiveness
The four most important words:
What is your opinion?—listening
The five most important words:
You did a good job—encouragement
The six most important words:
I want to know you better—understanding
In life, you are either going to see people as your adversaries or as your
assets. If they are adversaries, you will be continually sparring with them,
trying to defend your position. If you see people as assets, you will help them
see their potential, and you will become allies in making the most of each
other. The happiest day of your life will be the day when you realize “we”
really is the most important word in the English language.
PUT IT TO WORK
• Our success, fulfillment, and happiness depends upon our ability to
relate to people effectively.
• The key to relating to others is putting yourself in someone else’s
place instead of putting them in their place.
• Treat people the way you want to be treated:
• See people as assets, not adversaries.
• The word “we” is the most important word in the English language.
Putting the Principles to Work
I will apply the principles from this chapter to my relationships with people
in the following ways:
Bringing Out the Best in People, Alan Loy McGinnis
The Friendship Factor, Alan Loy McGinnis.
WHAT DRAWS OTHERS TO ME?
Understanding what people like about you and why
THE GREATEST LEADERS HAVE IT—that special quality that causes
people to be drawn to their magnetic personalities. Extraordinary entertainers
evidence this something extra. We all have the potential to develop this
quality that makes the difference between personality and personality plus.
What quality draws others to me? We can summarize it in one word:
Charisma can be a difficult subject to grapple with because most people
think it is a mystical, elusive, undefinable quality that you either have or
don’t have. However, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary Eleventh
Edition has given several definitions to charisma, and this is the one we will
use, “A personal magic of leadership arousing special popular loyalty or
Each one of us has certain abilities that will increase the charisma of our
personality. You don’t have to make a strained effort to become something
that is not comfortable with your basic nature. However, if your desire is to
become a people person, then you need to develop an appealing personality
that causes others to respond to you.
When we examine the personalities of some of our United States presidents,
it becomes obvious why some were more successful than others in appealing
to the general public. Ronald Reagan possessed the ability to convey
humor, personal warmth, and relaxedness. He knew how to make others feel
good about themselves. John F. Kennedy knew how to give others a feeling
of hope. He exuded boundless energy and made many Americans feel important
and needed. Our favorite leaders will always stand out because of a
Using the word CHARISMA as an acrostic, we can define the outstanding
characteristics of charismatic people:
Keep in mind that these traits are not simply inborn; they are attainable
by anyone who cares about other people and wants to develop his or her relational
skills. Let’s look at each characteristic in CHARISMA in more depth.
Concern—the Ability to Show You Care
Charismatic people have the ability to show concern for people’s deepest
needs and interests. That doesn’t mean charismatic people are mushy or patronizing,
but when you are around them, you sense their interest and care
and leave them feeling that you are important.
Someone once asked Perle Mesta, the greatest Washington hostess since
Dolley Madison, the secret of her success in getting so many rich and famous
people to attend her parties. “It’s all in the greetings and good-byes,” she
claimed. As each guest arrived she met him or her with, “At last you’re here!”
As each left she expressed her regrets with, “I’m sorry you have to leave so
At any gathering you will find two types of people—those who arrive with
an attitude of “Here I am!” and those who possess an attitude of “There you
are!” It doesn’t take long to notice that people flock to the “There you are!”
One of my staff members, Dan Reiland, and I were talking about charisma
and why so many people have trouble getting a handle on it. He gave
me a simple definition, one that makes “charisma” easy to grasp: Be more
concerned about making others feel good about themselves than you are in
making them feel good about you. In other words, don’t try to sell other
people on you, try to sell them on themselves.
If you need to develop greater concern for others in your life, increase
your exposure to people who are hurting. We see Jesus’ sense of concern in
Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in
their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom,
and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.
Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they
were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.
Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but
the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest
to send out workers into His harvest.”
Here’s the sequence: Jesus went, saw, felt, and cared. It’s only when we
go and expose ourselves to various situations that we will see enough to develop
the concern necessary to move us into action.
It’s difficult to become motivated to help people without first seeing and
feeling their needs. The secret is to spend time with them. Only when you go
and see will you feel and do.
Help—the Ability to Reach Out
Put simply, charismatic people are helpers. They are out to see others profit;
they have the gift of grace. In fact, the Greek word for gift is “charisma,”
meaning “gift of grace.” God has freely bestowed upon us spiritual gifts because
of his grace toward us.
In Romans 12:6, we read about this further, “Since we have gifts that differ
according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly.”
And we see in Ephesians 4:11–12, “He gave some as apostles, and
some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,
for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up
of the body of Christ.”
Notice in both references the emphasis on the variety of gifts and their
purpose in the kingdom. It is always for other people, never for self. There is
no charisma in seclusion. You can’t walk into a room and have charisma by
People have problems. Many are like the beleaguered guy who, in desperation,
went to a psychiatrist for help. He told the doctor, “Every time I get
my act together, the curtain falls down.” He needed more than mercy and
concern; he needed help. You will find that it you are adept at solving problems,
that will guarantee you a following forever.
My favorite cartoon character, Charlie Brown, displayed an attitude with
which many of us can identify. He and Linus were talking about their problems.
Linus said, “I guess it’s wrong always to be worrying about tomorrow.
Maybe we should think only about today.”
Charlie Brown replied, “No, that’s giving up. I’m still hoping that yesterday
will get better.”
What can you do to help people with their problems? First of all, encourage
them to face their problems. Too often people would rather flee them,
fight them, or forget them.
Second, encourage them to solve their problems. Use the following acrostic
to teach yourself to help other people with difficulties.
T Tell them it takes time.
E Expose yourself to their problems in order to relate to them.
A Assure them of your confidence in them.
C Creatively show them how to deal with their problems.
H Offer hope to them through the process.
I love this old story about creative problem-solving. Mr. Myrick had to go
to Chicago on business and persuaded his brother to take care of his cat during
his absence. Mr. Myrick’s brother was not a cat-lover, but he agreed to do
it as a favor. When Mr. Myrick returned from his trip he called his brother to
check on his cat. The brother reported in a matter-of-fact tone, “Your cat
died,” and he hung up.
For days Myrick was inconsolable. Then his sadness turned to anger at
his brother for being so brutally honest and insensitive. He phoned his
brother. “It was needlessly cruel and sadistic of you to tell me so bluntly that
my poor cat had passed away.”
“What did you expect me to do?” demanded the brother.
“You could have broken the news gradually,” grumbled Myrick. “First
you could have said that the cat was playing on the roof. Later you could
have called to say he fell off. The next morning you could have reported he
had broken his leg. Then, when I came to pick him up, you could have told
me he passed away during the night. Well, it’s just not your style to be civilized.
Now tell me—how’s Mama?”
After a long pause, a meek voice on the other end replied, “She’s playing
on the roof.”
Myrick’s insensitive brother had learned that there should be a process
Action—the Ability to Make Things Happen
Something exciting always seems to be happening around a person with charisma.
The charismatic person has an aversion to being boring. He or she
may be controversial, unusual, or entertaining, but never boring.
Be honest with yourself and evaluate how you come across to others. A
young fellow in a dry church service turned to his mother and said, “Pay the
man and let’s go home.” The preacher obviously lacked charisma.
When evangelist John Wesley was asked why people seemed to be drawn
to him, he answered, “Well, you see, when you set yourself on fire, people
just love to come and see you burn.”
Do you want to increase your interest with other people? Develop your
creativity and your confidence. Creativity is the ability to say things in an unusual
way; confidence is the ability to do things in an unusual way. Charismatic
people can do both. Develop these two traits and people will stand up
and take notice.
As a speaker and pastor, I always want to be fresh and exciting in my
presentations. I will use humor to drive home a point but never to distract
from the truth. Long after the content of the message is forgotten, people
will remember the creative illustrations and the truth that was emphasized.
Results—the Ability to Produce
Charismatic people want to be on the winning side of life. People like being
around winners and want to play on the winning team. A boy playing chess
with his grandfather says, “Oh, no! Not again! Grandpa, you always win!”
Grandpa says, “What do you want me to do, lose on purpose? You won’t
learn anything if I do that!” But the boy replies, “I don’t wanna learn anything.
I just wanna win!”
Charismatic people not only want to win, they want others to win too.
That creates productivity.
How does a person become productive? Find your strength and then find
someone who needs your strength. Charismatic people use their strengths to
help other people feel good about themselves; they are other-centered. The
person who is self-centered uses his strength to dominate others.
Influence—the Ability to Lead
Leadership is influence. If something new, exciting, and interesting is happening
in your life, you will want to share it. In doing so, you will influence
others and they will want to follow your lead. What happens to you speaks of
your circumstances. What happens in you speaks of your character. And
what happens through you speaks of your charisma.
Do you want to learn how to be a positive influence on others? Five
factors come into play:
Who I am—my position or title.
Where I am—my location or job.
Who I know—my sphere of influence. People open doors of
What I know—my expertise. This will keep you in a position long after
who you know wears off.
What I do—my production, character, credibility.
Sensitivity—the Ability to Feel and Respond
Charismatic people have the ability to be sensitive to changing situations.
They are adept at taking advantage of the mood, feeling, and spirit of any
situation. Most people have the ability to feel something, but they aren’t sure
how to react to it or express it. Charismatic people not only feel it, but they
know how to react and express it.
Charismatic people find a cause; that’s discernment. They also voice a
concern; that’s courage. And they draw a crowd; that’s automatic.
In the late 1960s or early 1970s I watched a television documentary on
George Wallace. At the time, he was a prominent figure in American politics,
perhaps because of his “redneck” philosophy over the civil rights issue. No
one doubted where he stood as he proclaimed, “Segregation yesterday, segregation
today, and segregation forever!” It was a perfect example of a charismatic
leader playing to what that crowd wanted to hear. He was masterful
at taking advantage of the prevailing mood. Because he was able to forcefully
express the feelings of a certain segment of society, he became a champion of
their cause—albeit a negative one.
If you are to become more sensitive, you must be willing to take a risk.
Take the initiative to find a need and take action. People who are overly
sensitive to the point that their feelings are always hurt will withdraw from
others and never take the risk.
But the charismatic person will risk getting out of his comfort zone in order
to make others feel comfortable.
Motivation—the Ability to Give Hope
The secret of motivating others is providing them with hope. People tend to
feel more positive when they are following charismatic leaders. Let’s take a
look at some Bible people who offered hope:
Isaiah, speaking of God, said, “I will do something new” (Isa. 43:19).
Jeremiah talked about a new law in their hearts (see Jer. 31:33).
Jesus spoke about being “born again” (John 3:3).
Paul called a Christian a “new creature” (2 Cor. 5:17).
John’s vision recorded in Revelation spoke of “a new heaven and a new
earth” (Rev. 21:1).
All of these dynamic leaders constantly waved hope before their people.
Do you convey hope or despair to those around you? Learn affirmation
skills, problem-solving techniques, ways to verbally encourage others, and
convey belief and support in others.
Affirmation—the Ability to Build Up
Charles Schwab, the successful businessman, said, “I have yet to find the
man, however exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth
greater effort under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism.”
Everyone wants and needs to be affirmed for his accomplishments. A
little boy playing darts with his father said, “Let’s play darts. I’ll throw and
you say ‘Wonderful!’” That’s what the charismatic person does for others.
We tend to become what the most important person in our life thinks we
will become. Think the best, believe the best, and express the best in others.
Your affirmation will not only make you more attractive to them, but you
will help play an important part in their personal development.
How do we affirm others? We first need to feel good about ourselves.
Then we can verbally and actively believe in others and expect them to respond
positively. People are our only appreciable asset. As Christians, we
cannot afford not to affirm them. If I fail to affirm a brother, we both lose.
Roadblocks to Charisma
Again, charisma is a trait or quality in our life that can be developed. It is not
reserved for those who are extroverts and enjoy being in front of others. The
potential to be charismatic lies within each of us, but first we must move
hindrances from the development of this important personality characteristic.
What are some possible obstructions?
Pride. A prideful person will have a tendency to look down on other
people, feeling a sense of superiority. People will not follow or identify with a
snobbish personality who is conscious of status and position.
Insecurity. Insecure people are not willing to take a risk. They prefer to
remain comfortable and probably unexciting.
Moodiness. This is an immature quality that is detrimental to personal
relationships. Moody people are fickle and, thus, people who cannot be depended
upon. Confidence is never built on a person who is subject to
Perfectionism. Perfectionism is an obsessive need to perform flawlessly.
It stifles creativity and freedom and it turns people away. Perfectionists
can rarely affirm themselves; therefore, it’s very difficult for them to affirm
Oversensitivity. Oversensitive people are constantly licking their
wounds. They look inward and are not aware of the needs of others. Naturally,
people don’t flock around them.
Negativism. By definition, negativism is the opposite of charisma. A
person with a constant negative attitude is depressing to be around. Their
personality says no to life in general. Others will avoid a person like that.
There is no possibility of being a charismatic leader when no one wants to be
Charisma begins at the cross of Jesus Christ. Let’s take a look at Philippians
2:3–11, where we will see Paul using the humility of Christ himself as our
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility
of mind regard one another as more important than
yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests,
but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude
in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although
He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with
God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the
form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of
men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself
by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on
a cross. For this reason, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed
on Him the name which is above every name, so that
at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in
heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every
tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of
God the Father.
There is no question that Jesus was and is highly exalted. But it began
with the deepest of humility. Remember: Charisma is being more concerned
about making others feel good about themselves than you are in making
them feel good about you!
PUT IT TO WORK
• The key to developing charisma: Be more concerned about making
others feel good about themselves than you are in making them feel
good about you.
• Traits of a person with charisma:
Concern—What they show.
Help—What they offer.
Action—What they provide.
Results—What they produce.
Influence—What they do.
Sensitivity—What they follow.
Motivation—What they give.
Affirmation—What they share.
• Charisma is a trait or quality in our life that can be developed! The potential
lies within each one of us.
Putting the Principles to Work
I will apply the principles from this chapter to my relationships with people
in the following ways:
Personality Plus, Florence Littauer
Your Personality Tree, Florence Littauer
HOW TO BE CONFIDENT WITH PEOPLE
Learning to feel comfortable with others
WHEN I’M INTRODUCED TO A group of people I’ve never met before, it
only takes a few minutes to identify those who have influence over others.
What is it about them that sets them apart? Is it their sense of direction—the
assurance that they know where they’re going? Is it an awareness that they
have certain abilities? Is it their sincerity? Their past successes? Their ability
to use eye contact and body language? What do they have that everybody
If there is one quality that would make you successful in motivating
people or convincing people to follow your lead, that trait would be confidence.
And if you can combine confidence with direction, guidance, past success,
or some of these other motivational mechanics, you have a powerful
combination. It is quite possible for a person to know where he or she is going,
yet lack the self-confidence to convince others to follow along. Self-confidence
carries a conviction; it makes others believe in us.
A five-year-old boy was intently working with his crayons at the kitchen
table when his mother walked in and questioned what he was doing. Her son
replied, “I’m drawing a picture of God.”
“But honey,” she responded, “no one knows what God looks like.”
With great confidence the boy boldly stated, “They will when I’m done.”
I like that kind of positivity.
A group of pastors was attending a conference at our church, and at the
end of the first morning session, they headed to the fellowship center for
lunch. Several minutes later I followed, expecting that they would already be
seated. Much to my surprise, all one hundred fifty of them were lined up outside
the door. Then I saw why. At the head of the line stood Joel, my then
six-year-old, with both hands raised, giving orders. “It will be a couple more
minutes and then they’ll be ready for you!” Joel had no clue what was going
on, but he gave directions with the greatest of confidence and these pastors
did as they were told. Confidence is contagious even if it’s the confidence of a
The writer of Hebrews recognized the value of confidence: “Therefore, do
not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward” (Heb. 10:35).
Confidence is not set in cement; it’s possible to lose it.
Our choice of associates will have a tremendous bearing on our confidence
level. Most people fall into two categories: confidence builders and confidence
shakers. If you are unsure of yourself, a confidence shaker can do
you in. The following story provides a great example of confidence
A man lived by the side of the road and sold hot dogs. He was hard of
hearing, so he had no radio. He had trouble with his eyes, so he read no
newspapers. But he sold good hot dogs.
This man put up signs on the highway advertising his wonderful hot
dogs. He stood on the side of the road and cried, “Buy a hot dog, Mister?”
And people bought his hot dogs. He increased his meat and bun orders, and
he bought a bigger stove to take care of his trade. He made enough money to
put his son through college.
Unfortunately, the son came home from college an educated pessimist.
He said, “Father, haven’t you been listening to the radio? Haven’t you been
reading the newspaper? There’s a big recession on. The European situation
is terrible, and the domestic situation is worse.”
Whereupon the father thought, “Well, my son’s been to college. He reads
the paper and he listens to the radio; he ought to know.” So the father cut
down his meat and bun orders, took down his signs, and no longer bothered
to stand out on the highway to sell his hot dogs.
Of course, his sales fell overnight. “You’re right, son,” the father said to
the boy. “We certainly are in the middle of a big recession.”
Confidence shakers see the negative side of everything. When they get
you to buy into it, the very thing that was helping you be successful becomes
Unfortunately, the negative process can and too often does happen in the
lives of Christians. We all go through periods of testing, wondering if God
really can meet our every need. With a little discouragement from a good
confidence shaker, we begin to doubt his ability and our own. This can begin
a downward spiral that ends in the pit of failure and frustration. Our confidence
has not only been shaken but uprooted.
The positive message from Hebrews 10:35 is that our confidence has a
great reward. If we keep it and build on it, we will be more than recompensed.
Confidence in oneself is the cornerstone to success. It is difficult for
those who do not believe in themselves to have much faith in anyone else.
Self-confidence breeds confidence in others, much like a boomerang that
you cast out toward others, only to find it comes right back to you.
Why Do You Need Confidence?
Just why do you need confidence in yourself? First of all, it will give you stability
in every area of your life. Confidence equals contentment with self;
contentment is knowing you have all you need for the present circumstances.
Philippians 4:11–13 provides the basis for this thought. “Not that I speak
from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in
prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being
filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can
do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
These verses cannot be separated because there is an absolute relationship
between experiencing life’s lows and enjoying its highs. The apostle
Paul is resting on the assurance that his strength is in God alone. He understood
that confidence and contentment gave him stability in every situation
he encountered in his tumultuous life.
Contentment is taking your present situation—whatever obstacles you
are facing, whatever limitation you are living with, whatever chronic condition
wears you down, whatever has smashed your dreams, whatever factors
and circumstances in life tend to push you under—and admitting you don’t
like it but never saying, “I can’t cope with it.”
You may feel distress, but you may never feel despair. You may feel
pressed down, but you may never feel defeated. Paul says there are unlimited
resources, and as soon as you say, “I can’t cope,” you are failing to draw
on these resources that Christ has readily, by his loving-kindness, made
available to you. Contentment, therefore, is being confident that you measure
up to any test you face because Christ has made his strength available
If the first thing confidence does is to stabilize you, the second thing it
does is to stretch you. The moment that I have my foundation strong and
stable, I am then in position to begin stretching. Insecure people seldom
stretch because they are not willing to live on the edge of life.
Helen Keller said, “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in
nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger
is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure
Think about a rubber band. It is totally useless unless it is stretched.
When insecurity keeps us from stretching and growing, we end up with a life
that is as unexciting and useless as a limp rubber band.
Confidence Helps You as a Leader
Confidence helps a leader to believe in other people. Don’t we see others as
we see ourselves? Show me a leader who believes in other people, and I will
show you a leader who has a lot of confidence in his or her life.
An insecure leader, on the other hand, believes neither in himself or herself
nor in others. Insecure people are afraid to risk building up others with
compliments, because they are constantly in need of compliments
Here’s a classic illustration of how confidence helps to build up other
people. In the past I had the opportunity to help pastors develop lay ministry
programs in their churches. Prior to the time of challenge and recruitment of
laymen, I would meet with the pastor to ask how many he thought would respond
to the commitment. After a lengthy reflection he would give me a conservative
Each time, with great confidence, I would assure him there would be
many more who would respond. I was always right and the pastor was always
amazed. Each pastor gave a lower number of responses because he
mentally ranked every person according to how he perceived each one’s
commitment level. Therefore, he assumed a low response.
The moment you place a label on someone, you begin to treat him or her
accordingly. Since I didn’t know these people and had no preconceived labels,
I assumed them all to be quality people who would eagerly respond to
the challenge. They could sense my confidence in them and responded positively.
Had the pastor given the challenge, his estimate probably would have
been the correct one.
A leader with confidence is a leader who brings out positive changes in
people. A study conducted at Springfield College in Massachusetts illustrates
this point. The experiment was designed to determine the effects upon
school children of having to do continuous and monotonous work without
The children were told to draw a detailed picture of a man. When they
had finished, they were asked to draw another picture of a man. This one,
they were told, should be better than their first. When they had finished,
they were again given the same colorless order: “Now draw another man,
this time better than the last.”
No matter how poor their drawings might have been, no one was scolded
or criticized for his or her performance. And no matter how well the children
might have done, none of them were praised or given any encouragement.
They were merely told to draw another picture.
You can probably guess the results. Some of the children got angry and
displayed their resentment openly. One refused to draw any more; another
said he was “trapped” and called the instructor a “meanie.” Most, however,
just looked angry, said nothing, and continued their joyless, unrewarding
Each of the drawings got worse and worse, instead of better and better,
as the children had been told to make them.
People must have affirmation and praise in order to maintain a high level
of performance. Withholding negative or critical comments is not nearly as
important as giving positive input through compliments and praise. Again,
the only people who can do this are those who feel positive about
themselves. Work plus praise increases energy, but work without praise
If you study the life of Paul, you may note he uses the word “confidence”
in three distinct but related ways. Six times Paul refers to confidence in his
relationship with Christ, six times to his confidence in himself, and six times
he mentions his confidence in relationships with other people. There must
be a balance because all three areas are related. Without confidence in Christ
we could be tempted to become egocentric and cocky. Without confidence in
ourselves we are defeated, powerless Christians. Without confidence in others
we are suspicious and untrusting.
Paul learned this lesson, and it made him a successful motivator and servant
of the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot consistently perform in a manner
that is inconsistent with the way you see yourself. The price tag the world
puts on us is just about identical to the one we put on ourselves. Self-confidence
is the first great requisite to great undertakings.
How Can You Become Confident?
Establish your worth according to God’s value system. God demonstrated
our importance to him in two great acts. First he created us in his own image,
and second he—through Jesus Christ—died for our sins. God thought so
much of you, believed in you, and saw you as a person of such worth, that he
allowed his son to die so that you could live. When we begin to see ourselves
in light of God’s actions on our behalf, then we immediately begin to have
more confidence. There is nothing more humbling than the realization that if
you were the only person on this earth, Jesus would have died for you. That
makes you priceless.
Another way we become confident is to focus on God and not on our
situation. Try living according to the first three verses of Psalm 27:
The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? When
evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, my adversaries
and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp
against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise
against me, in spite of this I shall be confident.
We can make three observations from these brief verses. First, confidence
is not the result of an absence of problems. It is very clear that the
psalmist encountered many problems and difficulties. He mentions his enemies,
evildoers who want to devour his flesh, adversaries, and a host encamping
Observation number two is that confidence is a result of trusting God in
our problems. In the midst of his difficulties, the psalmist kept focusing on
God and not on his difficult situation. “The Lord is the defense of my life.”
Third, victories yesterday give more confidence for today. In verse 2 the
psalmist speaks in the past tense. “When evildoers came upon me to devour
my flesh, they stumbled and fell.” He’s talking about yesterday. In verse 3, he
talks about today: “Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not
fear.” Confidence today is a result of victories yesterday.
Another way to develop confidence that convinces others is to develop
friendships with confident people. The old cliché is true: Birds of a feather
do flock together. A big man is one who makes us feel bigger when we are
Many people are doomed to suffer from the “Charlie Brown complex.” It
seems that Charlie Brown just can’t do anything right. But notice that one of
his problems is the fact that Lucy is always around him. Lucy does not make
it any better for Charlie Brown because she is always quick to point out the
error of his ways.
On one occasion Lucy puts her hands on her hips and says, “You, Charlie
Brown, are a foul ball in the line drive of life! You’re in the shadow of your
own goal posts! You are a miscue! You are three putts on the eighteenth
green! You are a seven-ten split in the tenth frame! You are a dropped rod
and reel in the lake of life! You are a missed free throw, a shanked nine iron,
and a called third strike! Do you understand? Have I made myself clear?”
Do you have a Lucy around you? It’s safe to say that if you surround
yourself with people like her, you will have a difficult time developing a
sense of confidence. Every time you start out, there will be someone to remind
you what you aren’t, haven’t been, and never will become. If we want
to be confident, we must surround ourselves with confident people, people
who believe in us and will be encouragers.
Another way to develop confidence is to put a few wins under your belt.
Start with building on small successes, and little by little you will tackle bigger
and bigger challenges.
Recently I was listening to an interview of Jerry Coleman, the radio announcer
for the San Diego Padres. He was trying to figure out why the baseball
club had just blown one of its two-or-three-run leads. He commented,
“You can tell by the way they’re playing they have lost confidence in themselves.
They have almost set themselves up for something to go wrong.”
A few successful victories under your belt gives you the impetus to keep
stretching your abilities. If you keep winning, you may see yourself as a nolimits
person. Repeated failures produce the opposite effect. You begin to see
yourself as a hopeless loser. The best way to develop rational, well-balanced
confidence is to go after a few victories immediately following a failure.
Don’t allow yourself the luxury of wallowing in self-pity.
My son Joel and I like to play memorization card games. With the cards
facing down, the goal is to turn over a pair, so it is important to remember
the positions of certain cards to obtain a match. One evening Joel beat me
twice, 14 to 6. It never occurred to Joel that his choices could be wrong.
Around the family room he rejoiced, declaring victory to all.
After two losses to Joel, I challenged his sister Elizabeth to a game. Elizabeth
tends to be much less confident than Joel. When we started our first
game, she said, “Daddy, Joel beat you both times, didn’t he?”
I replied, “Yes, he did.”
She said, “The score was 14 to 6, wasn’t it?”
Again I replied, “Yes, it was.” And I added, “Sissy, I bet you can beat me
about 14 to 6 too.”
I arranged it so that I lost the first game 14 to 6. She was visibly eager to
play another game, which she won without my help. By this time I was beginning
to develop a complex and lose confidence. So I got my wife, Margaret,
to agree to play the next card game. I whipped her royally and retired
My father taught me the value of developing a confident attitude. Each
night after dinner my older brother and I wrestled on the living room floor.
One particular week Larry won each match. My father noticed my sense of
defeat and discouragement and told Larry that he couldn’t wrestle me for
one week. Instead, Dad and I wrestled nightly, and after each struggle I beat
him. Dad would raise my arm high above my head and declare me the
The following week he allowed Larry and me to go back to wrestling. My
brother never could pin me after that. Did I suddenly acquire extra strength?
No, I had acquired confidence from having some wins under my belt.
My high school basketball coach came up with the skill-building technique
that he hoped would make our team more successful. He put an extra
rim on the inside of the hoop, reasoning that if we could put our foul shots
through the smaller basket, we would really be good with the regular rim in
the real game. I argued with the coach over the idea. I knew the guys would
have difficulty sinking the ball through the smaller hoop, and the more they
missed, the more discouraged they would become. I was right; they began
routinely missing easy shots, because their confidence was shaken. Failure
A great confidence booster is a personal victory list of past successes and
achievements. This is a biblical concept. There are two Bible characters who
practiced this: Samson, who became a total failure, and David, who became
a great success.
In Judges 16:20, we see Samson’s victory list: “She [Delilah] said, ‘The
Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ And he awoke from his sleep and said, ‘I
will go out as at other times and shake myself free.’ But he did not know that
the Lord had departed from him.”
Now let’s read about David’s victory list in 1 Samuel 17:37: “And David
said, ‘The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw
of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.’ And Saul
said to David, ‘Go, and may the Lord be with you.’”
There are two strong similarities between these two men. They both were
chosen, ordained, and anointed by God, and they were both leaders of Israel
at a time when Israel was battling against the Philistines. But this is where it
stops; Samson and David also had three distinct differences. These differences
made one a winner and one a loser.
The first thing we notice about Samson is that he wanted to please himself.
He lived life in the flesh, depended on his own strength, and felt no need
to rely upon God, even when going into battle. He chose the road that always
leads to ultimate defeat. Unlike Samson, David desired to please God. He
knew that, left to his own resources, he was already defeated. So he called
upon the Lord and went to battle with divine help. His weakness became
God’s strength and he was assured of victory.
Samson’s alienation from God not only led to his defeat, it ended his
leadership. For David, however, this episode with Goliath was the beginning
of his leadership. It was the incident that brought him into a position where
God could greatly use him. Victory lists should give us confidence, not
Another way to increase your confidence is to quit comparing yourself
with others. Comparisons always leave you found wanting. The following
little story illustrates my point. A milk truck passes two cows grazing in a
pasture. On the side of the truck are the words, “Pasteurized, homogenized,
standardized, Vitamin A added.” Noticing this, one cow says to the other,
“Makes you kind of feel inadequate, doesn’t it?” I think we have all known
that feeling of inadequacy when we compare what we can offer with what
someone else offers.
One of the surest ways to build confidence is to find one thing you’re
good at and then specialize until you are special. It could be a sport, a task,
a natural ability, or a personally developed talent. Use that strength as much
as you can to build your level of assurance and specialization. A successful
leader knows that he helps his followers most by helping them discover their
special giftedness, encouraging them to develop it, and then discipling them
to use it.
Also, begin to develop a knowledge of people and product. Remember
that success is just 15 percent product knowledge and it’s 85 percent people
knowledge. Once you have knowledge of your product and of the people with
whom you work, you have an inside edge on meeting their needs. That inevitably
raises your confidence.
Here is a humorous old story that points out the importance of knowing
who you’re dealing with. A Baptist deacon had advertised a cow for sale.
“How much are you asking for it?” inquired a prospective purchaser.
“One hundred and fifty dollars,” said the advertiser.
“And how much milk does she give?”
“Four gallons a day,” the deacon replied.
“But how do I know that she will actually give that amount?” asked the
“Oh, you can trust me,” reassured the advertiser. “I’m a Baptist deacon.”
“I’ll buy it,” replied the other. “I’ll take the cow home and bring you the
money later. You can trust me. I’m a Presbyterian elder.”
When the deacon arrived home, he asked his wife, “What is a Presbyterian
“Oh,” she explained, “a Presbyterian elder is about the same as a Baptist
“Oh dear,” groaned the deacon, “I have lost my cow.”
The deacon had product knowledge; he knew his cow. But his lack of
people knowledge defeated him.
What to Do with Confidence When You Have It
Now that you have all this confidence, what should you do with it? Keep refueling
it! Confidence is not a constant; it fluctuates according to your success/
failure ratio. We all have defeats and failures that occasionally and temporarily
lower our level of confidence. If you accept the fact that you will not
be outstanding in everything you attempt, you will not be devastated when
your best is not good enough.
You will find that your confidence has a contagious quality. It will spread
throughout your sphere of influence. The Bible provides some interesting examples
of “confidence contagion.” For instance, how many giant-killers were
in Saul’s army? None. When Goliath defied the armies of God, they quaked
with fear (1 Sam. 17:11). David, who came to bring food to his brothers, sized
up the situation, went out in faith, and killed the giant. After David the giantkiller
became king, how many giant-killers arose in Israel? Quite a few. They
were almost a common commodity in the army under David’s leadership.
Let’s take a look at 1 Chronicles 20:4–8:
Then Sibbecai the Hushathite killed Sippai, one of the descendants
of the giants, and they were subdued. And there was
war with the Philistines again, and Elhanan the son of Jair
killed Lahmi the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of
whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. Again there was war at
Gath, where there was a man of great stature who had twentyfour
fingers and toes, six fingers on each hand and six toes on
each foot; and he also was descended from the giants. When
he taunted Israel, Jonathan, the son of Shimea, David’s
brother, killed him. These were descended from the giants in
Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of
Why do you suppose there were no giant-killers in Saul’s army? Surely
one reason is that Saul himself was not a giant-killer. However, under
David’s leadership they were numerous, because David was a giant-killer.
This illustrates a tremendous principle of leadership, a principle that runs
throughout the Bible—it takes one to make one! When you develop
confidence, those around you—friends, family, and associates—will increase
in their own confidence levels. Confidence breeds confidence.
Everyone needs to be affirmed both as a person and as a coworker. It’s
easy to give a generic compliment such as “You’re great to work with.” But a
comment that really means something is specific and mentions a certain
quality: “I appreciate your efficiency in relational skills, and this is very important
to the success of the group.” We don’t help others by passing on
empty compliments or avoiding the necessary task of sharing needed constructive
criticism. Unfortunately, too often we’re stingy with honest praise.
Build your coworkers up and encourage them by verbalizing their worth and
value in front of others. Remember, praise in public and criticize in private.
Confidence can provide the momentum you need to be the person God
meant you to be. It cannot substitute for character, or skill, or knowledge,
but it enhances these qualities so that you can be a person who makes a difference.
When you have knowledge or skill and the momentum that confidence
brings, then things begin to happen in your relationships.
The largest locomotive in the New York Central system, while standing
still, can be prevented from moving by a single one-inch block of wood
placed in front of each of the eight drive wheels! The same locomotive, moving
at 100 miles per hour, can crash through a wall of steel-reinforced concrete
five feet thick. The only difference is momentum. Confidence gives you
the momentum that makes the difference.
You remember the childhood story about the train engine that did because
she thought she could. Some of the larger engines were defeated when
they saw the hill. Then came the little train hustling down the track repeating
to herself, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can …” and she began to
pass all the other locomotives who were saying, “It can’t be done.” As she got
closer to the top her speed got slower and slower, but as she reached the
crest, she said, “I thought I could, I thought I could, I thought I could …”
The little engine made it, but not because she had more power or skills.
The little engine made it because she thought she could; she had more confidence.
Many times we feel like little insignificant engines. But if we hone
our skills and talents, then add a good dose of confidence, we can climb hills
and overcome obstacles and barriers that could have stopped us dead in our
tracks. Why pull off the track and stop when we can conquer those mountains
with the momentum of confidence in our engines?
PUT IT TO WORK
• Confidence is contagious.
• Contentment is being confident that you measure up to any test you
are facing because Christ has made his strength available to you.
• You cannot consistently perform in a manner that is inconsistent with
the way you see yourself.
• Six steps to developing confidence:
1) Establish your worth according to God’s value system.
2) Focus on God and not on your situation.
3) Develop friendships with confident people.
4) Put a few wins under your belt.
5) Find one thing you’re good at and then specialize until you are
6) Begin to develop a knowledge of people and product.
• When you have knowledge or skill and the momentum that confidence
brings, then things begin to happen in your relationships.
• A leader with confidence is a leader who brings about positive change
Putting the Principles to Work
I will apply the principles from this chapter to my relationships with people
in the following ways:
How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie
Dropping Your Guard, Charles R. Swindoll
BECOMING A PERSON PEOPLE WANT TO
Developing the qualities of an effective leader
IN EVERY AGE THERE COMES a time when leadership must come forth to
meet the needs of the hour. Therefore, there is no potential leader who does
not find his time. Tragically, there are times when no leader arises for that
Why should there ever be a time when there is a lack of leadership? And
if there are not enough leaders to meet the demand, what can be done about
it? Michael Korda, the author of Power!, was asked to draw up a list of the
most powerful people in America. His findings were published in an article
called, “The Gradual Decline and Total Collapse of Nearly Everyone” (Family
Weekly Magazine, Aug. 29, 1982). Korda said, “… the list of movers and
shakers is not at all easy to draw up. In fact, there are very few powerful figures
left in American life.
“Not so long ago teachers ran their classes; generals (or sergeants) ran
the army; policemen were feared and obeyed; college presidents were respected
figures, remote and awesome … and so on down the line. America
was, in effect, ruled by authority figures.”
Unless one has been asleep through the ’60s and ’70s it is surely apparent
that all this has changed. Korda says, “It is the result of a long process,
the consequence of our fear of power and authority.…” Two whole generations
have turned against the very idea of power.
“Power, it was felt, had led to abuse. Therefore we could do without it …
not only could, but must. Everything must be subject to the will of the
people, expressed in open debate.”
Lack of trust in leadership has a tremendous bearing on all types of
group relationships. It is conceivable that this distrust of authority figures
has spread into many of our churches. In fact, it could well be the cause of
much of the upheaval that has resulted in unprecedented numbers of pastors
and other church staff members being asked to leave or being summarily
dismissed from their positions.
When speaking at conferences, I always enjoy taking time to share with
lay people as well as pastors. One active layperson, speaking of a situation in
his church remarked to me, “No one seems to be in charge. No one seems to
be accountable.” Perhaps no other statement better reflects the frustration of
good churchmen. They’re taught to shepherd and love, but very seldom how
to lead the flock.
I teach the principle of the “leadership umbrella.” Imagine an open umbrella
held by a hand—the hand of the leader of that organization. Under the
protection of that umbrella are all the departments of the organization. The
success of each department can never, will never, rise any higher than the
level at which the leader holds the umbrella. Leadership sets the standard,
whether the organization be a business, a church, or a family. The higher the
standard, the more effective the leadership.
What is effective leadership according to effective leaders?
British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery: “Leadership
is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a
common purpose and the character which inspires
President Harry Truman: “A leader is a person who has
the ability to get others to do what they don’t want to do and
An outstanding leader, Fred Smith: “Leadership is influence.”
That is simple but profound; a person may have a
position of leadership, but if he is not affecting the thoughts
and actions of others, he is not a leader.
From the Bible we learn that true leadership comes from
serving others. And in Matthew 15:14 we read, “If a blind man
guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”
My favorite leadership proverb is this: “He who
thinketh he leadeth and hath no one following him is only
taking a walk.”
Just where have all the leaders gone? They seem to have vanished. Is
great leadership a commodity of the past? No, I believe that America will
again produce great leaders. Generally speaking, the emergence of leaders
conforms to the law of supply and demand. Difficult times produce men and
women who will rise to meet the crisis.
The complexity of our times hinders the rise of leadership. Perhaps we
have become too analytical to take decisive action. We may be spending too
much time studying our problems and not enough time solving them. A good
case-in-point is President Jimmy Carter. When David Hartman interviewed
Tip O’Neill, retired Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Hartman
asked who, in O’Neill’s opinion, was the most intelligent president.
“Unquestionably,” he answered, “it was Jimmy Carter.” O’Neill said Carter
read and studied reams of paper on technological issues that were facing our
country; he had a superior understanding of the complexities of technology.
But although he was an intelligent president, he was not a strong leader. Unfortunately,
the perplexing and intricate issues facing America today do not
produce leaders. We are being pulled in so many different directions that it’s
almost impossible to unite behind a leader.
Another reason there are few well-known leaders is because of the negative
reaction to authority figures following the Vietnam War years. The peace
movement and the flower children sprang up because of their disdain for
war and violence. A bumper sticker reflects the attitude of the times: “Challenge
Authority.” There is no longer an unquestioning loyalty to those in
power. Incidents like Watergate have added fuel to the fire of mistrust.
America is learning to suspect anyone with authority. My prayer is that in
the near future we will begin to reap more directive, visionary, strong leadership
types throughout our country and in our churches.
Although you or I may never attain the height of being a renowned world
leader, we each have an arena of influence. We are leaders within our homes,
businesses, offices, congregations, and ministries. As such, we should strive
to be the most effective leaders we can be. I believe there are five nonnegotiable
characteristics that every effective leader must have: a sense of calling,
an ability to communicate, creativity in problem solving, generosity, and
An Effective Leader Must Feel a Sense of Calling
True leaders feel an inner urging to take their positions; they feel a sense of
responsibility. I believe that the moment a father and mother see their newborn
child they experience a strong calling to be godly examples to that
precious new life. For the church leader or pastor, there is a specific calling
from God; a deep, innate feeling or desire that causes him to do what he is
called to perform. For the business leader, there is an urging to rise to the
challenge, to take the helm and move forward.
In Isaiah 6:1–9 we find a vivid example of a man specifically called by
God. In verses 1–5, Isaiah experiences a discovery of God and a discovery of
himself. He becomes overwhelmed by the grandness and glory of God himself
within the holy temple, contrasted by his own unworthiness and uncleanness.
People who are called discover something bigger than themselves:
a mission, a challenge, a goal, or a movement that draws them into an arena.
When a person feels set apart to lead, he should also sense a strong feeling
of victory. In Isaiah 6:6–7 we read, “Then one of the seraphim flew to me
with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with
tongs. And he touched my mouth with it, and said, ‘Behold, this has touched
your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.’” The
leader experiences an assurance that he will be adequate for the work. This
foretaste of victory enables them to continue on in their mission and overcome
obstacles in the way.
A leader will always find his or her time. There will come times when a
leader’s particular gifts and talents are necessary to meet a crisis. Leaders try
to use and exercise their gifts for the glory of God. They also will feel a strong
desire, an urging, to be used by God. In verse 8, Isaiah is offered the opportunity:
“Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” And then in verse 9 he
exercises the desire to be used: “Here am I. Send me!”
This desire within the leader’s heart is what I call the “have to” feeling.
Personally, I feel a sense of “having to” declare something, point in some direction,
lead others on a mission. I do not feel a sense of choice in the matter.
In fact, there are times when I would prefer to sit back and let someone else
take on my challenge. But when I see or feel God doing something, that
“have to” feeling compels me to keep going. The followers of a true leader
confirm his calling. He doesn’t have to declare his calling, others do it for
What about the person who is not in Christian ministry? I believe God
places each of us in areas where we can use our gifts and influence others for
his sake. A man might be called to begin a business, for instance. He knows
he is putting his money, his credit, even his credibility right on the line.
There is something within him that drives him and compels him.
Perhaps you are wondering if a person can be a great leader without this
sense of calling. I believe a person can be a good leader but not a great one.
It sounds rather mystical but I believe God places his hand on those whom
he calls to be great leaders. Everyone in leadership, however, can cultivate
and enhance their leadership skills.
How do you sense that a leader is called? One clue is that called leaders
have a lasting quality; they don’t quit and couldn’t if they wanted to. Also,
the anointed people have the right answers; the God who called them equips
them. There are many voices in the crowd, but the called leader stands out
among all the others. He or she rises above the normal, the typical, the usual.
The called leader tends to reproduce other called leaders; there is fruit in
their ministry. Called leaders are relevant and speak to the times and issues.
An Effective Leader Must Be Able to Communicate
Great leaders have the ability to visually communicate their message to
people. Some time ago I watched Ronald and Nancy Reagan on Good Morning
America. Nancy was close to the edge of the stage and she fell off. Immediately
people rushed to help her while the president watched. Knowing that
she was all right, he looked at her and said, “Nancy, I told you not to fall off
the platform unless I wasn’t getting any applause.” President Reagan was
able to use an embarrassing incident as a tool to communicate. He communicated
to the audience that he was in control, that he had a quick wit, and
that he trusted his relationship with his wife enough to joke about her
Good communicators are able to convey a strong belief in their people;
there is a very high trust factor. Again, I think Ronald Reagan demonstrated
this quality as well as anyone in recent memory. Consider the following excerpt
from Fortune magazine, September 15, 1986:
Picking competent people who are on his wavelength has also
enabled Reagan to delegate more effectively than most presidents.
Former Transportation Secretary Drew Lewis recounts
an incident during the 1981 air traffic controller’s strike that
set the tone for labor-management relations throughout the
Reagan era. Lewis worried that Reagan’s friends, whose
private planes were grounded, might urge him to back down
on his decision to fire the controllers, which Lewis had recommended.
So the transportation chief called Reagan to test
his resolve. Recalls Lewis: “The President said: ‘Drew, don’t
worry about me. When I support someone—and you’re right
on this strike—I’ll continue to support him, and you never
have to ask that question again.’ From that day on, it was
clear to me—whether in increasing the federal gasoline tax in
1983 or in selling Conrail—that once he said, ‘Fine,’ I never
had to get back to him. I had the authority.”
Some longtime Reagan associates speculate that his capacity
to delegate stems from his Hollywood experience. Says
John Sears, his former campaign manager: “A lot of people in
political and corporate life feel that delegating is an admission
that there’s something they can’t do. But actors are surrounded
by people with real authority—directors, producers,
scriptwriters, cameramen, lighting engineers, and so on. Yet
their authority doesn’t detract from the actor’s role. The star
is the star. And if the show’s a hit, he gets the credit.
Every asset that you’re entrusted with—whether it’s money, procedures,
materials, technology—all of it is depreciating. All of it is becoming obsolete.
Human assets also can depreciate in value. It’s literally true that in some organizations,
the people are worth less—and in some cases are worthless—
compared with a year ago. But human assets can also appreciate in
value. People can become worth more. Those who are powerful in leadership
understand that one of the key tasks of management is to find ways to grow
On Thomas Edison’s eightieth birthday, he was approached by an interviewer
who asked him which of all his inventions was the greatest. And Edison,
without a moment’s hesitation, replied, “The research laboratory.”
I doubt his answer was fully understood by Edison’s own generation.
People were starry-eyed over his miracle productions—the lightbulb, the record
player, the improvements that made radio, the telephone, and electronic
motors possible. He was known by his generation as the Wizard of Menlo
Park. He so transformed people’s dull and drudgery-oriented lives into lives
that were full of entertainment and light, possibilities and alternatives, that
he was respected like no other man in American industry.
But Edison understood the secret of his great success: You can’t do it all
yourself. If you really want to be an uncommon leader, you’re going to have
to find a way to get much of your vision seen, implemented, and added to by
others. The leader sees the big picture, but he also sees the necessity of sharing
that picture with others who can help him make it a reality.
Ronald Reagan did this exceptionally well. He established the direction
for the organization but left the hands-on management to his chief of staff.
Reagan looked to his cabinet and White House staff to put the flesh on major
initiatives and to serve up new ideas, while he focused on big issues such as
tax reform or on opinion-shaping events like the summit with Soviet leader
Mikhail Gorbachev. Says Harvard presidential scholar Roger Porter, who
spent five years in the Reagan White House: “He does not devote large
chunks of time to peripheral issues. That is one of the keys to his success.”
More than other recent presidents and many corporate leaders, Reagan
also succeeded in translating his vision into a simple agenda with clear priorities
that legislators, bureaucrats, and constituents can readily understand.
Lyndon Johnson had his vision of a “Great Society,” but his legislative
agenda was too cluttered. Jimmy Carter’s objectives were obscured by
frequent flip-flops. In contrast, Reagan’s agenda of tax cuts, deregulation, a
defense buildup, and a slowdown in domestic spending was set early and
pursued consistently. Independent pollster Gerald Goldhaber says that
nearly 70 percent of the American people can name at least one of Reagan’s
four priorities. By contrast, such ratings for the Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and
Carter administrations ranged from 15 percent to 45 percent.
Reagan had the ability to put the vision before the nation. How do you
transfer a vision? First, you must see it yourself very clearly; you can’t transfer
something that you can’t see. Then you must be able to say it creatively so
that people understand and can grab hold of it. Finally, you must be able to
show it constantly. It must be continually placed before the followers as a reminder
of the goal.
Good leaders also have self-confidence and, therefore, the confidence of
others. The author of this little poem understood the value of self-confidence
He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool; shun
He who knows not, and knows that he knows not, is a child; teach him.
He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is asleep; wake him.
He who knows, and knows that he knows, is wise; follow him.
Confidence in oneself is the cornerstone. People who do not believe in
themselves have trouble believing in others. Others have trouble believing in
them too. Self-confidence in a leader elicits the confidence of his followers,
which gives him the freedom to be a risk taker and a change agent.
An Effective Leader Is Creative in Handling Problems
Everyone faces problems. The ability to creatively find solutions will determine
the success or failure of each difficulty.
The Chinese symbol for crisis means danger. It also means opportunity.
The key is to use a crisis as an opportunity for change. You’ll never succeed if
you throw up your hands and surrender. The Greek poet Homer understood
the value of a crisis. He wrote, “Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents
which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant.”
Remember the story of the chicken farmer whose land was flooded virtually
every spring? Even though the floods caused him horrendous problems,
he refused to move. When the waters would back up onto his land and flood
his chicken coops, he would race to move his chickens to higher ground.
Some years, hundreds of them drowned because he couldn’t move them out
One year after suffering heavy losses from a particularly bad flood, he
came into the farmhouse and in a voice filled with despair, told his wife, “I’ve
had it, I can’t afford to buy another place. I can’t sell this one. I don’t know
what to do!”
His wife calmly replied, “Buy ducks.”
Creativity is a trait not always admired by those who don’t have it. They
interpret creativity and inventiveness as stupidity and impracticality. If they
see the creative person as salvageable, they will try to pull him back into the
mainstream of thought. He will be told to stay busy, follow the rules, be
practical, and not make a fool of himself. Traditional thinkers don’t realize
that creative thinkers are the geniuses of the world. Had it not been for
someone’s inventiveness, they might not have jobs!
Walt Disney’s brother tells an amusing story about Walt’s budding genius
as a fifth grader. The teacher assigned the students to color a flower
garden. As she walked among the rows examining the student’s work she
stopped by young Walt’s desk. Noting that his drawing was quite unusual,
she remarked, “Walt, that’s not right. Flowers don’t have faces on them.”
Confidently he replied, “Mine do!” and continued his work. And they still
do; flowers at Disneyland and Disney World all have faces.
An Effective Leader Is a Generous Contributor
The measure of a leader is not the number of people who serve him but the
number of people he serves. Real leaders have something to give, and they
give it freely. Anthony DeMello saw a starving child shivering in the cold.
Angrily he lifted his eyes to heaven and said, “God, how could you allow such
suffering? Why don’t you do something?”
There was a long silence and then DeMello was startled when he heard
the voice of God answer him, “I certainly have done something—I made
Consider the comments of William Arthur Ward of Texas Wesleyan College
in Fort Worth, Texas:
If you are wise, you will forget yourself into greatness.
Forget your rights, but remember your responsibilities.
Forget your inconveniences, but remember your blessings.
Forget your own accomplishments, but remember your debts to others.
Forget your privileges, but remember your obligations.
Follow the examples of Florence Nightingale, of Albert Schweitzer, of
Abraham Lincoln, of Tom Dooley, and forget yourself into
If you are wise, you will empty yourself into adventure.
Remember the words of General Douglas MacArthur: “There is no security
on this earth. There is only opportunity.”
Empty your days of the search for security; fill them with a passion for
Empty your hours of the ambition for recognition; fill them with the aspiration
Empty your moments of the need for entertainment; fill them with the
quest for creativity.
If you are wise, you will lose yourself into immortality. Lose your cynicism.
Lose your doubts. Lose your fears. Lose your anxiety. Lose your
Remember these truths: A person must soon forget himself to be long remembered.
He must empty himself in others to discover a fuller self. He
must lose himself to find himself. Forget yourself into greatness. Empty
yourself into adventure. Lose yourself into immortality.
It sounds like Jesus, doesn’t it? Great leaders are great givers.
An Effective Leader Acts Consistently
I put this last because there are too many people who are consistent but are
not leaders, yet no one has ever been an effective leader over the long haul
without being consistent. The moment people learn we are not dependable
or responsible is the moment they will not recognize our leadership.
I recently saw a cartoon that illustrates this important principle. A young
man is telling the preacher, “Being a minister must be really hard. I mean,
living for others, leading an exemplary life. That’s a lot of responsibility. The
pressures must be tremendous! Having to set a good example … people
watching, waiting for one false move, one sign of human frailty they can
jump on! Oh, I don’t know how you handle it!”
Finally the preacher sheepishly says, “I stay home a lot.”
The word being is derived from a root meaning “to engrave.” When we
speak about someone’s “being,” we are referring to all those qualities and
characteristics which identify that particular individual. “Being” may correctly
be called “the signature of our soul.” It is what we are. By our actions,
though, it can be enhanced or diminished.
“The first key to greatness,” Socrates reminds us, “is to be in reality what
we appear to be.” Jesus expressed the same idea in the Sermon on the
Mount. “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing
but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matt. 7:15).
A leader must be consistent in three areas: people—this builds security;
principles—this provides direction; and projects—this builds morale. Leaders
let people know where they’re coming from. A recent study showed that
people would rather follow a leader they disagree with than one they agree
with if the latter is constantly changing positions.
The call to be a leader is a challenging one. The need for strong leadership
has never been clearer. The price of leadership has never been higher.
The temptations of leadership have never been greater. The hour for leadership
has never been closer. Take the challenge! Remember, “in every age
there comes a time when leadership must come forth to meet the needs of
the hour. Therefore, there is no potential leader who does not find his time.
Tragically there are times when no leader arises for that hour.”
You can be the leader for your hour.
PUT IT TO WORK
• Leadership is influence.
• He who thinketh he leadeth and hath no one following him is only
taking a walk.
• The followers of a true leader confirm his calling. He doesn’t have to
declare his calling, others do it for him.
• Those who are powerful in leadership understand that one of the key
tasks of management is to find ways to grow people.
• Self-confidence in a leader elicits the confidence of his followers,
which gives him the freedom to be a risk taker and a change agent.
• A leader must be consistent in three areas:
People—This builds security.
Principles—This provides direction.
Projects—This builds morale.
Putting the Principles to Work
I will apply the principles from this chapter to my relationships with people
in the following ways:
Learning to Lead, Fred Smith
Leadership, Greatness, and Servanthood, Philip Greenslade
MOTIVATING PEOPLE FOR THEIR
Developing the art of drawing out the best in people
AT WHAT POINT IN LIFE does a person learn how to be persuasive?
When does he learn the fine art of convincing others that what’s good for
him is good for them too? Have you ever been around a newborn baby who
is hungry, or needs a diaper changer, or just wants to be held? It doesn’t take
long for that baby to persuade some adult that some kind of action is being
called for! Nobody enjoys being around a red-faced, crying baby for very
As that baby grows older, his motivational methods become refined. He
learns when to throw temper tantrums and when to take an apple to the
teacher. He learns what types of behavior get him in trouble and what types
get him what he wants. This ability to persuade, which is evident from the
moment of birth, should become more refined and beneficial to us and those
we lead as we experience life and relationships.
Just before school one day, my son Joel wanted to go outside and see the
construction workers in front of our house. He knows them all by name, and
they certainly know him! He considers himself vital to the completion of the
project. When I asked him if he had brushed his teeth, he said he had. Well I
knew he hadn’t, and because he lied to me, I told him he could not go outside
to watch the workers and would instead have to brush his teeth. Crying,
he went to his room. Shortly, he returned looking like the cat who had
swallowed the canary. “Dad,” he said, “how about letting me go outside this
morning and you can take away my television privileges for today?”
I said, “No, I’m sorry; you cannot go outside.”
He cried again and went back to his room. Two minutes later he returned
with another big smile, “How about taking my computer privileges away?”
Obviously, Joel was trying to negotiate and persuade me to change my
mind. He’s good at it, but in case you’re wondering, he did not go outside
I heard the story of a wealthy Texan who threw a party for his daughter
because she was approaching the age to marry. He wanted to find a suitable
husband for her—someone who was courageous, intelligent, and highly motivated.
He invited a lot of young, eligible bachelors.
After they had enjoyed a wonderful time at the party, he took the suitors
to the backyard and showed them an Olympic-size swimming pool filled with
poisonous snakes and alligators. He announced, “Whoever will dive in this
pool and swim the length of it can have his choice of one of three things.
One, he can have a million dollars; two, ten thousand acres of my best land;
or three, the hand of my daughter, who upon my death will inherit
everything I own.”
No sooner had he finished when one young man splashed into the pool
and reappeared on the other side in less than two seconds. The rich Texan
was overwhelmed with the guy’s enthusiasm. “Man, I have never seen anyone
so excited and motivated in all my life, I’d like to ask you: Do you want
the million dollars, ten thousand acres, or my daughter?”
The young man looked at him sheepishly, “Sir,” he said, “I would like to
know who pushed me in the pool!”
The world has some misconceptions about persuasion. People have attached
negative connotations to persuasion and associated it with
manipulation. Actually, the Latin meaning of the word is very positive. Per
means “through” and suasio means “sweetness.” So, to persuade means to
use sweetness to get people to do things. Effective persuasion is a result of
relating, not ruling. It speaks to the heart as well as to the head. Therefore,
persuasion does not make use of force or intimidation.
Getting someone to do something without convincing them it’s the right
thing to do is not the result of effective motivation; it’s the result of intimidation.
It’s like the mom who told the little kid to sit down in the grocery cart at
the supermarket. He kept standing up and she kept telling him to sit down.
Finally she reprimanded him firmly enough that he sat down. She heard him
whisper to himself as he was scrambling down, “I may be sitting down on the
outside, but I’m standing up on the inside!”
When we succeed in getting people to sit down on the outside while
they’re still standing up on the inside, we are not persuading them; they are
just accommodating us. We have neither convinced them nor have we met
their basic needs.
One Man’s Persuasive Ability
The following incident lays the foundation for the rest of this chapter. It is a
dramatic account of the persuasive ability of Emile Zola Berman as told by
attorney Morton Janklo.
When Emile Zola Berman, the famous trial lawyer from New
York, entered the Non-Commissioned Officers’ Club at the
Marine Corps boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., that hot, humid
July night in 1956, the tension was immediate and palpable.
The usually boisterous drill instructors were stunned into
silence as Zuke Berman (as he was known to the legal
world) strode into their sacred precincts as if he owned the
place, went to the center of the room, climbed onto a table
and, with steely-eyed gaze, stared out at the assembled
The room grew silent. Then, with the skill of the great actor
that he was, Berman spoke: “My name is Emile Zola Berman.
I’m a civilian. I’m a Jew, and I’m a Yankee from New
York City. I’ve come down here to save the Marine Corps. If
no one helps me, I’m going back to New York to resume my
life. If you care about the Corps, and if you care about the
truth, come see us in our quarters tonight and help us keep
you proud to be Marines.”
With that, he scrambled down off the table and strode out
of the room as silently as he had entered it.
The occasion for this high drama was the most famous
Marine Corps court-martial in history. Sgt. Matthew
McKeon—the embodiment of the professional Marine drill instructor—
was on trial on the most serious charges stemming
from the drowning deaths of six young recruits in his company
during a disciplinary night-training exercise in the
swamps of Ribbon Creek. Berman and I (then a young attorney
with experience in the military justice system) had volunteered
to defend McKeon.
The key to our defense to the most serious charges was to
prove that what McKeon had done did not constitute cruelty
against his troops but was, in fact, common practice among
Marine Corps drill instructors training young men for
When we arrived at Parris Island a few days earlier, we
had fully expected the drill instructors to cooperate with us in
getting at the truth about combat training. What we met instead
was a stonewall—set up, we learned, by the Marine
Corps brass. Nobody would talk to us. We couldn’t even get
witnesses from other bases. Try as we would, we could not
persuade the leadership of the Marine Corps or its drill instructors
that the future and credibility of the Corps was at
Berman’s one-minute appearance and dramatic statement
at the NCO Club was his desperate effort to break through
that wall of silence. “This will either make us or break us,” he
said to me as we left the club.
Back in our quarters, Berman went to sleep, having admonished
me to sit up and wait, in case, as we hoped, somebody
showed up. At about 2 A.M. just as he had predicted,
there was a light tap at the window. I let in an extremely
frightened young drill instructor. “I think I know why you
guys are here,” he said, “and I’m prepared to tell you what
really goes on in these boot camps.” His testimony was the
break in the dam. Before we were finished, dozens of drill instructors
had come forward to testify that, indeed, the march
in the swamp was common practice to discipline troops and
that there was nothing “cruel or unusual” about this behavior.
Zuke Berman had persuaded a group of the toughest men in the world to
do what was right in the face of fear. I have taken Attorney Janklo’s account
of Berman’s motivational ability and pinpointed the seven principles of persuasion
Know Precisely What You Are Trying to Accomplish
Before you can persuade others on any issue, you need to know just exactly
what it is you want to accomplish. Zuke Berman was specific in his purposes
and goals. Businessman H. L. Hunt also understood the importance of goals.
He identified three steps that we must take to reach a goal. First, we must
decide what we want, then decide what we are willing to give up, and, finally,
go for it.
In working with pastors, one of the first things I suggest is that they develop
a statement of purpose in order to help them determine where they
want to go. You can’t accomplish anything that counts until you know where
you’re going. When I first formed our statement of purpose at Skyline, I
asked the church board members to assist me. I posed the question: What is
the purpose of this church? Twenty-two members gave me sixteen different
answers. I realized that if our lay leaders didn’t agree on our purpose, we
would accomplish nothing great for God. We first needed to develop one
statement of purpose. So we worked together, clarified our thinking, and
agreed on our common purpose for the church.
There is an inspiring plaque in the Smithsonian Museum of Science. It is
a statement John Fitzgerald Kennedy made in the early 1960s: “This nation
should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing
a man on the moon.” We know what happened in July 1969; millions
watched it on television. Because the president stated a definite, achievable
goal, the nation enthusiastically got behind it.
In commenting on the success of the historic moonflight, Albert Siepert,
deputy director of Kennedy Space Center, stated in 1969: “The reason that
NASA has succeeded is because NASA had a clear-cut goal and expressed it.
By doing this, we attracted the best of men to our goal, and we got the support
of every phase of government to reach our goal.” A goal is a dream with
To give yourself a handle on establishing and accomplishing goals, keep
in mind these “Five Cs.”
• Consideration—What is the needed response? That’s what Mr. Berman
asked himself when he asked those tough Marine drill sergeants
• Credibility—What must I do to get the needed response?
• Content—What must I say to get the needed response?
• Conviction—How must I say it?
• Conclusion—What steps do I need to take to get the needed response?
Now that I have said, felt, and determined to do something,
what action will I take?
A lot of organizations remind me of the little girl who was riding on a bus
with her father and was unsure of her destination. She asked, “Daddy, where
will we be when we get to where we are going?” Better we should know
where we’re headed before we get on the bus!
Place Yourself in the Other Person’s Shoes
We persuade, not from our own perspective, but from getting the perspective
of others. Mr. Berman did this in his statement, “I’ve come down here to
save the Marine Corps.” He did not say, “I have an exceptional record, and
I’m here to prove it to you.” He immediately identified with the pride of the
Marines and he therefore had their attention as well as their respect.
Be aware of the specific reasons why the other person requires persuasion
and perhaps has resisted it. What is there about your goals that he resists
or resents? What need or priority of his is threatened by your goals?
How can you alleviate that fear? These Marines were worried that if they
came forward in defiance of their superiors’ policy to keep the story quiet,
they might get into trouble.
Berman did not attempt to mislead the Marines by telling them there
was no risk; the risk was obvious. He chose, instead, to appeal to their pride
as men and as Marines. He put himself on their side and made them realize
that his objective was one they shared, namely to save the Marine Corps. By
putting yourself in the other fellow’s shoes, you develop a sensitivity to that
person’s needs and can better address the issues that concern him or her. It
is not always easy to do, but it’s usually necessary if you’re to be successful.
Recently I joined Dr. Carl George and Dr. C. Peter Wagner for a conference
called “How to Break the 200 Barrier.” When they assigned me that
topic, I knew it was a “hot button” because most churches in America are below
that number. I recalled that stage in my own ministry in Hillham, Indiana.
I had to be able to identify with the pastors of small churches before I
could encourage them. There were three questions that I had to answer before
I could put myself in their shoes. These are generic questions that you,
too, can use.
First, what do they know? With what kinds of experiences have they
dealt? If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Have they
been using one kind of tool? Ask people questions about what is important
to them. Find out what is unique in their lives.
Second, what do they feel? Effective persuasion takes into account a person’s
emotions. Once the emotion is identified, steps can be taken to form a
plan of action.
Bob Conklin, in How to Get People to Do Things, recalled the story of
Ralph Waldo Emerson and his son struggling with a female calf and trying to
wrestle her into the barn. Drenched with sweat, the great sage was on the
brink of losing his self-control when an Irish servant girl came by. She
smiled sweetly at Emerson as she thrust a finger into the animal’s mouth.
Lured by this maternal gesture, the calf peacefully followed the girl into the
“People are like the calf,” says Conklin. “You can poke them, prod them,
push them, and they don’t move. But give them a good reason—one of their
reasons—a way in which they will benefit, and they will follow gently along.
People do things for their reasons. Not your reasons. And those reasons are
emotional, aroused by the ways they feel.”
The story is told that when Michael Faraday invented the first electric
motor, he wanted the interest and backing of the British prime minister,
William Gladstone. So Faraday took the crude model—a little wire revolving
around a magnet—and showed it to the statesman. Gladstone was obviously
“What good is it?” he asked Faraday.
“Someday, you will be able to tax it,” replied the great scientist.
He won his point and the endorsement of his efforts by appealing to the
interests of the prime minister. Here was an invention that represented
Faraday’s sweat, toil, and genius, but to win Gladstone’s approval, it had to
represent the British pound sterling.
The third question is, what do they want? People have certain needs and
expectations. If they can see that what you want can also give them what
they want, they will be much more open and receptive. That great motivational
speaker, Zig Ziglar, frequently says, “You can get everything in life you
want, if you help enough people get what they want.” If we hit the “hot buttons,”
then people will be willing to pay the price.
Tom Hopkins writes in How to Master the Art of Selling, “You have to
close through your eyes.” He gives the example of a blind real-estate salesman
who attributed his great success to the fact that he could not see the
properties he sold and therefore, had to sell through the eyes of his prospects.
“You must see the benefits, and features, and limitations of your
products or service from your potential buyer’s viewpoint,” Hopkins says.
“You must weigh them on his scale of values, not your own. You must close
on the benefits that are of value to him.” Your perspective determines your
actions and reactions:
When the other fellow takes a long time, he’s slow.
When I take a long time, I’m thorough.
When the other fellow doesn’t do it, he’s lazy.
When I don’t do it, I’m busy.
When the other fellow does something without being told,
he’s overstepping his bounds.
But when I do it, that’s initiative.
When the other fellow overlooks a rule of etiquette, he’s
But when I skip a few rules, I’m original.
When the other fellow pleases the boss, he’s an apple
But when I please the boss, that’s cooperation.
When the other fellow gets ahead, he’s getting the breaks.
But when I manage to get ahead, that’s just the reward of
Sidney J. Harris, the columnist, wrote, “Thomas Aquinas, who knew
more about education and persuasion than almost anybody who ever lived,
once said that when you want to convert someone to your view, you go over
to where he is standing, take him by the hand (mentally speaking), and guide
him. You don’t stand across the room and shout at him; you don’t call him a
dummy; you don’t order him to come over to where you are. You start where
he is, and work from that position. That’s the only way to get him to budge.”
Expose the Problems Immediately
One of the classic parts of the speech by Zuke Berman is his opening statement:
“My name is Emile Zola Berman. I’m a civilian. I’m a Jew, and I’m a
Yankee from New York City.” To be a civilian, to be a New Yorker, and to be
Jewish were really not the ideal qualifications for a defense counsel in South
Carolina in a prominent Marine court-martial in July of 1956. But by laying
all of his cards on the table at the beginning, Mr. Berman knew that these
possible stumbling blocks would be behind him, not down the road ahead.
When you face the potential problems at the start and get the emotions
out, then you can get to the important issues. Otherwise, issues are never
heard and all that is dealt with are the “yes, but’s.” I rely heavily on this principle
in leading my church. For example, just before a congregational business
meeting, I send out a letter addressing all the potential problems that
the church is facing at that time. The fact that the congregation knows the
leader is already aware of the problems gives them confidence and peace of
Always deal with the problem issues up front. This establishes a base of
trust, which is necessary in any relationship. Failure to recognize and handle
problems allows them to color the issues and create barriers and negative
feelings. It creates a credibility gap. Count on having to deal with problems
at some point. Better it be at the start, before they have the chance to fester
and become insurmountable.
Be Prepared to Take a Risk
You might have to stick your neck out and make commitments that may cost
you something. Mr. Berman stuck his neck out when he declared, “If no one
helps me, I’m going back to New York to resume my life.”
Whenever you are attempting to change an opinion—whether of a jury in
a homicide trial or of a friend, spouse, or parent—you’re going to meet
strong levels of resistance. There will come a moment when you’ve made
your best case and you must be prepared to stand by it and take the consequences.
Most people, when attempting to advance a point of view persuasively,
become fearful that they will fail, and that fear is conveyed to the
person they are trying to persuade.
Fear is the surest cause of failure. If you can work up your courage, as
Zuke Berman did, present all aspects of your case, and walk away prepared
for possible loss, you will most often be a winner. People have enormous respect
for someone who says, “This is my case. I’ve been as honest as I know
in explaining my position, and I hope that you will agree with me.”
Leaders have two important characteristics: They are going somewhere,
and they are able to persuade other people to go with them. Effective risktaking
leadership takes place when I sense conviction (the cause is right),
and when I sense confidence (I can do it and others will help me do it).
Appeal to the Higher Vision
Most people are inherently decent and fair and they want to “do the right
thing.” They’re not always sure, however, what fairness or rightness is, and
they are often full of anxiety when forced to say yes or no. It is your job, as
the persuader, to make them understand the human values represented by
your position. They must be made to feel empathy for what you are trying to
do so that emotionally they want to give you the response you seek. Zuke
Berman did this when he said, “I’ve come down here to save the Marine
Corps.” Those drill instructors understood that and admired his courage in
taking them on.
The civil rights movement enjoyed its ultimate victory over bigotry when
network news showed the dogs being loosed on the marchers in Selma,
Alabama, and the police crashing into the crowds with their clubs. Suddenly,
people all across America understood the real effects of unfair and inhumane
policies. Their emotions were aroused in a positive way, and it wasn’t long
before the president and the Congress felt that the public would support a
strong Voting Rights Act.
People don’t buy newspapers. They buy news. It isn’t glasses that are
purchased; it’s better vision. Women who spend big bucks for cosmetics are
really trying to buy good looks. Millions of drills have been sold; yet not a
single person wanted one. They are buying holes. Diet books are not sold by
publicizing the evils and risks of being overweight; they’re sold by ads depicting
how attractive one can become by shedding a few pounds. Athletes
do not go through the agony of practice and training to avoid losing; they do
it to make the team and be a winner. Appealing to a higher vision is simply
helping others become not only what they are capable of becoming, but what
they really want to become.
The method of motivation is not new. It was described profoundly by the
philosopher Lao-Tse 2,500 years ago, “A leader is best when people barely
know he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worse when
they despise him. But of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is
done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, ‘We did it ourselves.’”
In the early part of the twentieth century, the same philosophy was
echoed by Harry Gordon Selfridge, developer of one of the largest department
stores in London. Selfridge, who achieved success by being a leader
rather than a boss, said this of the two types of executives:
The boss drives people; the leader coaches them.
The boss depends upon authority; the leader, on good
The boss says “I”; the leader, “We.”
The boss fixes the blame for the breakdown; the leader
fixes the breakdown.
The boss knows how it is done; the leader shows how.
The boss says “Go!”; the leader, “Let’s go.”
Know When to Stop
The number-one reason most people lose arguments is not because they’re
wrong; it’s because they don’t know when to quit. There is a moment when
you have marshaled all of the factual and emotional issues in your favor and
have expressed them as best you can. If you continue to hammer away, you
do nothing but build resentment in the person you are trying to persuade.
Zuke Berman could have said a lot more that night in the NCO Club. He
could have talked about the attitudes of the brass, enumerated the issues in
the case, talked about their suspicions that every man in the room had
committed the same acts as did the defendant, or taken questions from the
audience. In fact, he did none of these things because he knew, intuitively
and brilliantly, that to belabor his point would weaken his position.
There is great dignity in simplicity. Most of the immortal works of literature
not only have the brilliance of brevity but also the dignity of simplicity.
The Lord’s Prayer consists of only fifty-seven words, none more than three
syllables. The Declaration of Independence, which revolutionized the thinking
of the New World, can be read by a fourth-grader in less than five
minutes. Simplicity is eloquent; it speaks loud and clear without insulting
the intelligence of the listener.
Cover Your Topic with Enthusiasm
Occasionally there will be times when you’re dealing with an issue about
which you know you’re right, but none of your techniques of persuasion can
budge your opposition. Be enthusiastic! Columbia Law School professor
Jerome Michael teaches his students this technique: “If you have the facts on
your side, hammer the facts. If you have the law on your side, hammer the
law. If you have neither the facts nor the law, hammer the table.” A speech
without enthusiasm is like a landscape painted entirely in shades of
gray—there is form but not color. Enthusiasm alone will many times give you
the edge you need.
In England there is a monument to the sport of rugby, the forerunner of
American football. The statue depicts an eager boy leaning down to pick up a
ball. At the base of the statue is this inscription: Who with a fine disregard
for the rules, first took the ball in his arms and ran with it.
The statue and inscription tell a true story. An important game of soccer
was taking place between two English schools. During the closing minutes of
the contest, a boy more gifted with enthusiasm and school spirit than with
experience was sent into the game for the first time. Forgetting all the rules,
particularly the one that says a player does not touch the ball with his hands,
and conscious only of the fact that the ball had to be at the goal line within
seconds if his school were to be victorious, the boy picked up the ball and, to
the amazement of everyone, started the sprint of his life to the goal line.
The confused officials and players remained frozen where they stood. But
the spectators were so moved by the boy’s spirit and entertained by his performance,
that they stood up and applauded long and loudly. This incident
totally eclipsed the rest of the game’s action. As a result, a new sport was
born: rugby. It wasn’t because of carefully worded arguments and rule
changes; it was because of one boy’s enthusiastic mistake!
PUT IT TO WORK
• To “persuade” means to use sweetness to get people to do things.
• A goal is a dream with a deadline.
• “Five Cs” in motivating people:
Consideration—What is the needed response?
Credibility—What must I do to get it?
Content—What must I say to get it?
Conviction—How must I say it?
Conclusion—What steps do I need to take?
• We motivate best from the other person’s perspective.
• You can get everything in life you want if you help enough people get
what they want.
Putting the Principles to Work
I will apply the principles from this chapter to my relationships with people
in the following ways:
Be a Motivational Leader, LeRoy Eims
See You at the Top, Zig Ziglar
HOW TO BE A PERSON PEOPLE RESPECT
Understanding the value of your character
THE HEADLINE ON THE FRONT cover of Time’s May 25, 1987, issue contains
simply two words: “What’s Wrong?” I want to share a couple paragraphs
from that issue’s lead article, because it gives us a shocking glimpse
of the moral fiber of America in that time.
Hypocrisy, betrayal and greed unsettle the nation’s soul. Once
again it is morning in America. But this morning Wall Street
financiers are nervously scanning the papers to see if their
names have been linked to the insider-trading scandals. Presidential
candidates are peeking through drawn curtains to
make sure that reporters are not staking out their private
lives. A congressional witness, deeply involved in the Reagan
Administration’s secret foreign policy, is huddling with his
lawyers before facing inquisitors. A Washington lobbyist who
once breakfasted regularly in the White House mess is brooding
over his investigation by an independent counsel. In
Quantico, Virginia, the Marines are preparing to court-martial
one of their own. In Palm Springs, California, a husbandand-
wife televangelist team, once the adored cynosures of
500,000 faithful, are beginning another day of seclusion.
Such are the scenes of morning in the scandal-scarred
spring of 1987. Lamentation is in the air, and clay feet litter
the ground … Oliver North, Robert McFarlane, Michael
Deaver, Ivan Boesky, Gary Hart, Clayton Lonetree, Jim and
Tammy Bakker.… Their transgressions—some grievous and
some petty—run the gamut of human failings, from weakness
of will to moral laxity to hypocrisy to uncontrolled avarice.
But taken collectively, the heedless lack of restraint in their
behavior reveals something disturbing about the national
character. America, which took such back-thumping pride in
its spiritual renewal, finds itself wallowing in a moral morass.
Ethics, often dismissed as a prissy Sunday school word, is
now at the center of a new national debate. Put bluntly, has
the mindless materialism of the ’80s left in its wake a values
What is amazing about this article is that it appeared in a secular
magazine, not a Christian periodical. The world is calling attention to what I
consider the biggest problem in our community today: the lack of morality
and ethics. The Christian community faces an incredible credibility problem
among leaders. If we don’t get hold of this situation and turn it around, it
will cause more damage to the church than any other issues.
One of the two or three life-changing books that I have read in the last
ten years is The Man Who Could Do No Wrong by Dr. Charles Blair, a good
friend, a wonderful Christian man, and a pastor of Calvary Temple in Denver,
Colorado. I attended a conference in which Dr. Blair shared the story
that was later revealed in his book.
He was a highly trusted pastor, a man with tremendous vision, who
wanted to do something great for God. Unfortunately, and unknowingly, he
hired fund-raisers who did not share his ethics. As a result, he eventually
found himself indicted and convicted of fraud.
Dr. Blair took total responsibility for the problem because he was the one
who hired these men and trusted their methods. What makes this book so
gripping is that this man, an outstanding Christian leader, straightforwardly
admitted his wrong. The cover is gripping in itself as it reads, “Alarm bells
should have rung when they called me the man who could do no wrong.”
Dr. Blair talks about the fact that he was loved by his people, respected
by the community, and had developed a sense of invulnerability. Everything
he did and said just turned out right; he had the “Midas Touch.” After hearing
him speak and then reading his book, I was moved to understand the importance
of credibility. I had an opportunity to ask him about this situation,
and he said, “John, I literally set myself up for a fall by bringing people
around me and trusting them implicitly without checking on them.”
Alarm bells should have rung, but Dr. Blair had felt no need to be on
alert. Not one of us is in a position where we can do no wrong. We should always
be alert to alarm bells ringing to warn us that we may be on the edge of
a potential disastrous problem.
Leaders and Credibility
As surely as every leader has his strengths, he also has his weaknesses. On a
visit to Canterbury Cathedral, I had to laugh at a line of graffiti scrawled on
one of the walls: “The Archbishop cheats at Scrabble.” Even the Archbishop
has a crack in his armor! But don’t we all? The important thing is that we
discover where our cracks are so we can deal with them.
Leaders are on the frontline of spiritual battle and are very susceptible to
Satan’s attacks. Often they are among his first victims. Leaders are exposed
to pressures and temptations beyond the usual run of testing. Pitfalls face
the unwary, and traps abound even for the experienced. Satan knows that if
he can get the leader to fall, many followers will go scrambling after.
Leaders are to live a higher standard than followers. It is a biblical principle
that must be honored consistently. Leaders will be judged differently
because their gifts and responsibilities are different.
Note the following triangle. It shows that followers have many options in
how they live, how they spend their time, and choices they make. However,
the farther up you go on that triangle, the more leadership you assume, the
fewer options you have. At the top you basically have no options because you
are a servant-leader. The options decrease as the responsibility increases.
Most people do not understand this precept. Many leaders live on the principle
that the more influence they have, the more options and choices they
have. They begin to live as though they are above the law. James 3:1 highlights
this truth: “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my
brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly”
(NIV). And Jesus in Luke 12:48 also states the same principle: “From everyone
who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted
much, of him they will ask all the more.”
As leaders, we must remember that God has given us much, but he also
requires much in return. We are not judged by the same standards as the
world. We may sin as the world does, and we can certainly be forgiven as the
world is, but it’s not that easy to return to our position of leadership once we
have lost credibility with others.
Some fallen Christian leaders do not seem to understand or want to understand
God’s Word as it applies to forgiveness and restoration. Their attitude
is that, since they have asked God’s forgiveness, they have every right to
return to their position and privilege. However, everything is not as it was.
When we fall, we must go through a period of proving ourselves and regaining
that precious ground of credibility. Leadership is not a position that
one is given but a position that one earns by proving faithful.
Possibilities for failure abound, but mistakes can be avoided if the leader
will listen for the “alarm bells” in his or her life. I am convinced that we do
not have to step into the pitfalls. If we’re looking for them, we can avoid
them. Herein lies the key to success: Listen for “alarm bells.” The following
questions may trigger alarm bells in your own life. Consider them carefully.
Is My Personal Walk with God Up to Date?
That question should prompt a quick and positive answer. If not, you are
getting too close to the edge, too close to trouble. My friend Bill Klassen asks
me each time we meet, “Do you have a word from the Lord that is up to
date?” or “What have you been learning recently from the Lord?” Bill isn’t
asking me for a history lesson; he wants to know what God is teaching me
You will find that leaders who are effective are leaders who are disciplined
in their daily lives. A disciplined daily walk is the best protection to
keep us from falling into sin.
Why is this so essential to your personal credibility? Because the Word of
God convicts our hearts. Psalm 119:11 says, “Your word have I treasured in
my heart, that I may not sin against You.” It also helps us think like God. The
things that we think on are the things that we become. If we are not spending
time with God, we’re spending that time with whatever it is that has become
more important to us. When this happens we quickly become insensitive
to his Spirit and therefore, we no longer have the strength to resist
temptation and do spiritual battle. It boils down to a simple fact: Sin will
keep us from the Word or the Word will keep us from sin.
A person of integrity is one who has established a system of values
against which all life is judged. That system of values is determined by a person’s
walk with God. I once heard Billy Graham tell this story about a family
from South Carolina who went to New York City for a vacation. They told all
their friends they would attend the Broadway play My Fair Lady. Unfortunately
it was sold out and they couldn’t obtain tickets. They were disappointed
and embarrassed to have to go back home and tell their friends they
missed the highlight of their trip, so they decided to do the next best thing.
They picked up discarded tickets, purchased a program, and bought the musical
tapes. In the motel room they learned all the songs and reviewed the
program. Back home they sang and whistled the tunes to all of My Fair
Lady’s hits hoping no one would suspect they never saw it.
When we, as Christians and leaders, begin to put on a facade, we’re in
trouble. When we attempt to “talk the talk” without “walking the walk,” we
are destined for failure. We can avoid this pitfall by keeping our walk with
God close and consistent.
Am I Keeping My Priorities Straight?
Priorities have a tendency to sneak out of position when we’ve not paying attention.
Countless numbers of Christian leaders have become “successful”
only to discover the tragic price for their success was a broken marriage or
loss of health. At some point along the road to success, their priorities
The first priority of any Christian should be his or her relationship with
God. That means growing closer to him, worshipping and loving him, and
being obedient to him. The careful maintenance of this relationship is the
surest safeguard against failure. One of my favorite passages is John 21:15
where Jesus asks of Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than
these?” The question the Chief Shepherd most wants his under-shepherds to
answer is not, “How much do you know about Me?” or even, “How much are
you telling the world about Me?” It is, “How much do you love Me?”
Our second priority should be our family responsibilities and our third
concern should be our ministry or career commitments. Paul tells us in 1
Timothy 5:8, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for
those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an
Scripture provides two illustrations of leaders who did great damage to
the cause of the kingdom because they didn’t keep their families in order.
Both of them were judges—Eli and Samuel. I have always felt that since Eli
and Samuel had a mentor-student relationship, Eli’s chief weakness also became
Samuel’s chief weakness. That is discipleship in a negative sense.
Let’s take a look at 1 Samuel 3:11–13. “The Lord said to Samuel, ‘Behold,
I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it
will tingle. In that day I will carry out against Eli all that I have spoken concerning
his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I am
about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his
sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them.’”
Now Samuel was a very successful judge. In 1 Samuel 3:19–20 it is said
of him, “The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his
words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized
that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord” (NIV).
Yet, Samuel watched the nation that he loved and led turn from the purposes
of God. As God’s chosen people, the Israelites were never meant to
have a king; God was to be their king. But because Samuel failed to rear his
sons in the fear of the Lord, Israel rejected the rule of God over them. In 1
Samuel 8:1–5 we read,
And it came about when Samuel was old that he appointed his
sons judges over Israel. Now the name of his firstborn was
Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judging in
His sons, however, did not walk in his ways, but turned
aside after dishonest gain and took bribes and perverted
justice. Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and
came to Samuel at Ramah; and they said to him, “Behold, you
have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now
appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations.”
Such sober warnings in the Word of God should impress upon us the importance
of keeping our priorities straight: God first, family second, ministry
or career third. Only when a leader’s relationship to God is right, and only
when responsibilities as a family member are being properly met, can the
leader be fully faithful in exercising the ministry God has given him or her.
Am I Asking Myself the Difficult Questions?
What are the critical questions? The first one is, Why am I doing this? Why
am I spending time on this project or with these people? What are my
motives? If you’re doing the right job for the wrong reasons, don’t count on
God to bless your project.
The second question is, How should it be done? This deals with presumption.
The danger of presumption is ever-present, especially for people
called to an adventurous ministry of faith. Moses strikes the rock to produce
water on one occasion and then presumes quite wrongly that this is to be
God’s method on a later occasion.
The third critical question is, When should I do it? This question deals
with timing. When does God want his task accomplished? Again, aggressive
leaders have a tendency to run ahead as Abraham did when he tried to speed
up God’s promise to Ishmael. We have a tendency to want short-term success
at the expense of God’s long-term will.
Am I Accountable to Someone in Authority over My Life?
In 1 Thessalonians 5:12–13 we read, “But we request of you, brethren, that
you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over
you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very
highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.”
You are at peace among yourselves when you are accountable to
someone in authority. This is one reason why I believe in the local church.
Every Christian should be a member of a local congregation and should submit
to those in authority. It is very universal and very unhealthy for Christian
organizations to have members on the board who are not tied in to a local
church. I would be very frightened to follow someone who was not responsible
to anyone. Only God himself can handle that kind of power and
My friend Ron Jenson provided me with a great idea: Stop here for a
minute and write down the name of the person to whom you are
Now write out “five questions I hope no one ever asks me” on a sheet of
paper. List four questions that will address your weaknesses, and then enlist
the help of a Christian brother or sister who will keep you accountable in
these areas. The fifth question you should seek to answer is this: Have I lied
about any of the previous four questions or have I intentionally left out
I believe that much of the problem of credibility in the Christian community
is caused by people with power who struggle with the same tough
moral issues as the rest of the world, yet are often not accountable to anyone.
Authority minus accountability equals a very dangerous situation.
Am I Sensitive to What God Is Saying to the Body of Christ?
Are you sensitive to the fact that God speaks to others too? If you can’t answer
an unqualified yes, you’re skating on thin ice. In the checks and balances
of Christian integrity, the Spirit speaks to others in the body who complement
us and make up for our weaknesses.
Paul beautifully portrays this principle in 1 Corinthians 12 when he
speaks about how one member of the body is not to despise another; rather,
we are to complement each other. Not one of us has a corner on God’s gift.
Ask yourself this question: “Am I a listening leader or am I a lording leader?”
First Peter 5:2–3 instructs us not to lord it over others. When we’re more interested
in telling people what to do than in listening to what they are
presently doing, we are off balance.
Am I Overly Concerned with Image Building?
I am bothered by the amount of professionalism and role-playing within the
ministry. Too many of us have become more interested in image building
than in kingdom building. Pretense has replaced passion in our preaching.
How we deal with the following four areas will reveal our authenticity, both
in the church and outside of it.
• Character. Do I make decisions based on what is right or what is most
easily accepted? Am I a leader or a follower?
• Change. Do I change my personality, speech, or actions according to
the people I am with?
• Credit. When I do something for the Lord, do people see me or do
they see my God? And do I care who receives the credit?
• Channel. Does God work through my life to touch others? If other
lives are not changing as a result of mine, this is a good indication
that the image I’m building is my own, not God’s. Only if you are
open, honest, transparent, and vulnerable with others can God use
you to change others.
Am I Overly Impressed by Signs and Wonders?
We all seek to experience revival. But more than seeking revival, we need to
seek God. Then we certainly will experience revival, healings, and miracles.
But if we pursue revival for revival’s sake, we’re seeking after secondary
Luke 10:17–20 speaks to this.
The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the
demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to
them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.
Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and
scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing
will injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the
spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded
God is not in the entertainment business. When he works miracles, it is
for one purpose only—the ultimate good of his kingdom. A wise old minister
once said to a younger one, “God can work miracles through anybody. If he
made Balaam’s donkey speak by a miracle, don’t get puffed up if he decides
to work a few through you.”
When God does a great work through you, does it humble you or does it
feed your ego? The appreciation and fascination for God’s moving should
never dim or replace our desire for holy living and righteous character.
Am I a Loner in My Service to the Lord?
Hebrews 10:23–25 admonishes us, “Let us hold fast the confession of our
hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider
how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own
assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another;
and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
It is never healthy to be a “Lone Ranger” in service or ministry. Bring
your family and your colleagues along with you. Not only is it more fun to
share the joy with others, but being part of a team can provide a system of
accountability. I’ll never forget the first time I heard Reverend Paul Y. Cho.
He stood up before more than a thousand pastors in New York and introduced
one of his friends and staff members. Then he looked at his audience
and said, “I bring my friend with me because I find I am susceptible to sexual
temptations and he is my safeguard.” The air was still and silent but we all
knew what he meant. He takes someone with him so he won’t mess up morally.
He draws strength from a brother.
When we design our lives after the Lone Ranger concept, we are sure to
suffer some unfavorable consequences. We develop a distorted perception of
ourselves, our ministries, and other people. We are imbalanced and incomplete
without the other members of the body of Christ and their spiritual
gifts. We become irrelevant because we don’t live where other people live.
There is a sense of exclusiveness and an inability to relate to the real world.
Am I Aware of My Weaknesses?
To be forewarned is to be forearmed! Perhaps we should ask an even more
important question: Am I honest about my weaknesses? Most of us know
our deficiencies, but we have a tendency to try to cover them.
Take a moment now and consider areas of weakness that could cause you
to become sidetracked in your life. Realize that these are the very areas in
which you will be tempted. Are you tempted by opportunities simply because
they may be ego gratifying? Do you expect too much of others or not enough
of yourself? Do you get your feelings hurt easily?
Besides having a weakness for chocolate, I have difficulty in keeping my
schedule within the bounds of human endurance. When I allow myself to become
overextended, it has a negative effect on those around me. Realizing
that this is an area of personal weakness, I have set standards to help me
maintain my priorities. First, each outside activity has to meet certain qualifications
which I have imposed. And second, I have established a committee
of three to review my schedule. Remember, though, that the first step in
overcoming this weakness was to admit to myself that there was a problem.
Is My Commitment Constantly Before Me?
This is supremely important if God has called you into a position of Christian
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7:24, “Brethren, each one is to remain with
God in that condition in which he was called,” Remember when Paul stood
before King Agrippa and said, “I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly
vision.” Paul could have been tempted to give up, take other options, or yield
to the persecution, but the thing that kept him on track was the vision before
The world continually thrusts opportunities at us that would distract us
from God’s call. There is nothing more tragic than when a Christian leader
loses God’s anointing on his life by allowing himself to become sidetracked.
There is no higher violation of God’s trust. For when a leader stumbles, others
There have been many times when God has helped me resist temptations
because I stopped and considered the harm it would do to others if I yielded.
I grew up in a church where the pastor was building a great work for God
but he fell morally. Twenty years later the church is still staggering under the
effects of that moral fall. That man no doubt experienced God’s forgiveness,
but he will spend the rest of his life wondering what he could have accomplished
for God if he had not messed up. It’s better not to do it than to do it
and regret it.
I once heard Cavett Roberts, a great motivational speaker, say, “If my
people understand me, I’ll get their attention. But if my people trust me, I’ll
get their action.” People respond quickest and most ably when the leader has
credibility. If God can maintain his faith in you, so will others.
PUT IT TO WORK
• Leaders are to live a higher standard than followers.
• Leadership is not a position that one is given. It is a position that one
earns by proving faithful.
• A person of integrity is one who has a system of values against which
all life is judged.
• Authority minus accountability equals a very dangerous situation.
• When we design our lives after the Lone Ranger ideal, we are sure to
suffer some unfavorable consequences.
• When a leader stumbles, others fall.
Putting the Principles to Work
I will apply the principles from this chapter to my relationships with people
in the following ways:
The Other Side of Leadership, Eugene B. Habecker
The Man Who Could Do No Wrong, Charles Blair
YOU CAN BE AN ENCOURAGER
Using your skills to inspire others to excellence
THE KEY TO ENCOURAGEMENT IS in knowing what gives people courage,
what spurs them on to action. Too many of us take pleasure in discouraging
people by pointing out their mistakes and getting excited about their
failures rather than focusing on their strengths and getting excited about
In this chapter I want to focus particularly on “on the job” relationships.
In the workforce, successful managers have learned the tremendous value of
encouragement. It’s the greatest management principle. Why? Because you
get the kind of behavior you reward. You don’t get what you hope for, ask
for, wish for, or beg for. You get what you reward.
It’s a fact of life that people spend the most time doing what they believe
will benefit them most. If they do not benefit in some way for doing the right
things, they will seek other avenues of self-fulfillment. This can lead to selfdestructive
behavior. It’s a simple thing to offer encouragement, but it can
have a tremendous effect on someone’s life.
When we think of organizational success, we often think in terms of dollars,
cents, statistics, facts, and figures. But dates and charts are nothing
more than mere symbols that represent the collective behavior of human beings.
Reward people for the right behavior, and you get the right results; fail
to reward the right behavior and you’re likely to get the wrong results.
People are encouraged to continue behavior that brings them rewards. At
home one summer we tried this principle with the kids. We set up ways for
the kids to earn merit points that could be turned into money. They earned
points for positive activities such as reading the Bible, Bible memory, general
reading, piano practice, maintaining a clean room, and so on. Some tasks
earned more points than others.
One evening I opened the front door and Joel ran to me with the news
that so far he had earned 113 points. He didn’t say, “How are you, Dad?” or
“How was your day?” or “It’s great to see you.” His greeting let me know that
he was excited about success.
Behavior that is rewarded is behavior that will continue. This concept is
transferable for the mom in the home, the pastor in the church, or the leader
of an organization. Polls taken in the workforce reveal that American workers
are not giving their all; they’re giving half-hearted effort to their jobs. Yet
the American work ethic is still alive. If American workers deeply believe in
the value and importance of hard work, then why aren’t they willing to give
their best? The answer may be found in the reward system. Are they being
encouraged by the right incentives? I believe that people withhold their best
efforts when they see little or no relationship between what they do and how
they are rewarded.
Rewards in Action
One Father’s Day our family went to a restaurant for dinner. Unfortunately,
all of San Diego chose to be at this restaurant on this particular day. Though
we had a reservation, an incredible line of people was waiting to be seated.
At the reservation desk stood three hostesses surrounded by a mob of unhappy
people. Their stomachs were growling with hunger, and it was reflected
in their unsmiling faces.
After observing the scene for a few minutes, I approached the desk and
said, “Ladies, I have a reservation, but I see there are a lot of people here and
you’re under pressure. I have a large group with me today, but we want to
help you. You tell me, what can I do to make your job easier? Do you want us
to divide our group and go in different sections?” A hostess looked up,
smiled, and agreed that it would help for us to divide. Then I added, “I’m not
going to stand here at the desk because you already have so many people
pressing you. We’re going to stand off to the side here and whenever you
need anything just wave at me.”
Every time the hostess walked by I asked her how she was doing and if
there was any way we could help. Within twenty minutes we had our table.
We rewarded the person who helped us. At the end of our meal I again
talked to the three women and said, “I know what’s going to happen. Your
manager is going to get a lot of complaints because I heard a lot of unhappy
people.” I gave them my name and telephone number and instructed them
to have the manager call me if they did receive complaints. I assured them I
would tell him what a terrific job they did. They smiled and were relieved.
They had been rewarded for a job well done.
Once we understand the principle, we have to determine what kind of
behavior deserves reward and encouragement. Look for solid solutions to
problems; short-term quick fixes won’t endure. Reward long-term people
and programs that have been productive. At a conference I once asked the
audience what success meant to them. One fellow said simply, “Success is
lasting.” He had a good point. Consider what will work and last over the long
haul. Also identify the main factors that are most important to the longrange
success of your team and communicate these to them.
In a conference at our church Josh McDowell said, “The longer I’m in the
ministry and the more I travel and see things happening, the more I have respect
and appreciation for things that are long-term.” That’s tremendous insight.
Go for quality and not quick fixes.
Qualities That Should Be Rewarded
As the senior pastor over multiple staff, I look for and reward several qualities
that I feel are very important for my staff members to exhibit. I expect
these things from everyone, whether they are a pastor, a secretary, a custodian,
or an intern. A positive attitude is at the top of the list. No matter how
smart or gifted a person is, if his or her attitude is not what it should be, it affects
the entire team. Loyalty to the church, the pastor, and to one another is
another crucial quality. Staff members are also rewarded for their personal
growth because as they grow so grows their ministry. Each member of the
pastoral staff is expected to reproduce his or her life into another person who
could also be trained in leadership. Creativity is another quality that is rewarded.
We want staff members who can ask the right questions and can
also find creative answers and solutions.
Another behavior that I encourage is risk-taking instead of risk-avoiding.
“Safety first” may be the motto of the masses, but it’s not the watchword
of leaders. No gain is ever made without the possibility of a loss. Steven
Jobs, cofounder of the brilliantly successful Apple Inc., was asked how he
managed to create such a flourishing new company. His reply, “We hire
great people, and we create an environment where people can make mistakes
Leaders need to encourage applied creativity instead of mindless conformity.
An organization’s most important asset is not its buildings, land, or
holdings. It is the creative minds within that organization. To illustrate: An
employee of a company complained about the working style of a fellow
worker. He said that when the guy wasn’t casually walking around, he could
be found sitting in his office, feet on the desk, gazing out the window. He saw
his coworker’s laid-back behavior as a waste of the company’s money. The
manager replied to his concern with: “His last idea was worth two million
dollars to the company. If he only comes up with one idea like that each year,
he’s worth his salary.”
Now I’m not advocating slothfulness, but sometimes the creative mind is
misunderstood and criticized. However, if everyone is encouraged to develop
their creativity within preapproved reasonableness, the organization will benefit.
Success is held in the hands of those who provide the solutions.
Determine to encourage what I call decisive action instead of paralysis
by analysis. One pastor wanted to end a dying ministry in his church but was
concerned about a small group of people who wanted to keep it going. A
friend suggested, “Take it to committee. That’ll kill it for sure.” The purpose
of any organization is to get results, and that takes action, not endless introspection
and meetings. Once the consulting has taken place and the reports
have been delivered, it’s time for a decision.
One executive summed up the importance of decisiveness beautifully:
“To look is one thing. To see what you look at is another. To understand
what you see is a third. To learn from what you understand is still something
else. But to act on what you learn is all that really matters.”
Encourage your people to work smarter, not harder. If your priorities are
right—if you’re working smart—your results will be fruitful. Success is not
determined by how many hours you spend, but how you spend your hours.
Comedian Woody Allen once remarked that showing up is 80 percent of life.
Many employees behave as if showing up and being busy is 100 percent of
work. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t rewarded for achieving specific goals
that contribute to output.
The key to working smarter is knowing the difference between motion
and direction. In the final analysis, results are what matter; attendance and
Encourage simplification instead of needless complication. Find and
eliminate the unnecessary. Cutting the fat will produce increased efficiency,
which, in turn, will increase production.
Learn to ignore the “squeaking joints” and encourage the quiet, effective
producers. Many times we manage by the squeaky wheel principle. The one
who yells the loudest and longest is the one who gets the attention. What we
need to do is look for and encourage the person who is quietly and effectively
accomplishing something. You will be amazed at how fast the “squeaky
wheels” catch on.
Consider this skeletal anatomy of an organization:
• The wishbones wish somebody else would do the work.
• The jawbones talk a lot but do little else.
• The knucklebones knock what everyone else does.
• The backbones actually do the work!
Encourage and reward quality work instead of fast work that is mediocre.
The product needs to be something the organization can be proud of and
that reflects the quality of the organization. There really are greater payoffs
for quality work such as lower cost, higher output, and worker pride. Did you
realize that the American car has a built-in cost factor of 25 percent because
of work that needs to be redone in production due to ineffective work the
Personal charisma should not be allowed to substitute for steadfastness
in performance. Consistency should be recognized and rewarded. Again,
look at the person who is dependable and accountable over the long haul.
There are many who can make us smile and laugh but never really come
through with the goods. Know the difference and encourage the producer.
Recognize and reward those who work well together. This is key in management
because none of us is as smart as all of us. There is value in creative
Top Ten Rewards
Let’s take a look at the ten best ways to reward good work. When we reward
people with something that is meaningful to them, we are encouraging them
as well as increasing their personal value and worth.
1. Money. Money does talk; it tells an individual how valuable he is to
whoever pays his salary. Pay for leadership and get leaders. Pay
peanuts and you get monkeys. Did you hear about the clothing
manager who turned out thousands of sweatshirts with “Money
isn’t everything” printed on them? He went bankrupt!
“How can I ever show my appreciation?” a woman asked Clarence Darrow,
after he rescued her from legal woes.
“My dear lady,” responded Darrow, “ever since the Phoenicians invented
money there has been only one answer to that question.”
No, money isn’t the only way to show appreciation for a job well done,
but it’s one of the best ways.
2. Recognition. People need continual affirmation so they know they
are meeting a need and doing it well. Lawrence Peter says there are
two kinds of egotists: those who admit it and the rest of us.
3. Time off. If someone has worked extended hours on a special project,
give them an afternoon or day off with a hearty thanks on the way
4. A piece of the action. Not all of us have the opportunity of profit
sharing within a company, but we can pass on additional responsibility
for work well done.
5. Favorite work. Reward good work by assigning people tasks they enjoy
doing. Find out what they like to do best and give it to them.
6. Advancement. Allow only your producers to advance and move forward,
not your workers. This is a biblical principle we see modeled
in the parable of the five talents.
7. Freedom. Give producers the autonomy to do their jobs in the way
they feel most comfortable. Don’t stifle them by trying to fit them
into your own mold.
8. Personal growth opportunities. Reward your people with the opportunity
of further career education. Provide books, conference attendance,
tapes, and speakers that will enhance them.
9. Special time together. If you are the leader, boss, or pastor, take time
to socialize over a meal in order to affirm someone’s productivity.
10. Gifts. Your thoughtfulness in taking time to select a gift that would
be meaningful shows a productive person that you appreciate him
Money and recognition are the two most powerful rewards. Almost
everybody responds to praises and raises!
In the final analysis, encouragement is your key to helping other people
succeed. The ability to encourage is and always will be much more of an art
than a science; your success depends both on your sensitivity and your skill.
To use an analogy, I can only supply you with a canvas, brush, easel, pallet of
colors, and a few lessons. Producing the masterpiece is up to you. You have
to know how to compose the picture and blend the colors to bring about the
desired effect. The same is true with people. If you are a leader, you may
bring together a group of highly skilled people, but that alone won’t ensure
success. You need to know how to improve their shortcomings and build
their assets by the skillful use of simple encouragement.
PUT IT TO WORK
• Encouragement is your key to helping other people succeed. The ability
to encourage is and always will be much more of an art than a
science; your success depends both on your sensitivity and your
• The key to encouragement is in knowing what gives people courage;
what spurs them on to action.
• It’s a fact of life that people spend the most time doing what they believe
will benefit them most.
• Reward people for the right behavior and you get the right results.
Fail to reward the right behavior and you’re likely to get the wrong
• People withhold their best efforts when they see little or no relationship
between what they do and how they are rewarded.
Putting the Principles to Work
I will apply the principles from this chapter to my relationships with people
in the following ways:
Encouraging People, Donald Bubna
Top Performance, Zig Ziglar
LOVING DIFFICULT PEOPLE
Understanding and helping difficult personalities
ARE YOU AWARE OF THE tremendous advantage frogs have over humans?
They can eat anything that bugs them! Wouldn’t it be great if we
could consume our relational problems rather than letting them consume
us! What “bugs” you the most about people? Is it inconsistency? Inflexibility?
Inability to give and take? I am most bugged by people who—you
guessed it—have bad attitudes. I can handle disagreements or differences of
opinion, but negative attitudes really get to me.
I find that many Christian people suffer from guilt in their relationships
with others. Christians are often taught that we should be full of grace. Just
what does that mean? Does God expect us to get along peaceably with everybody?
Are we the ones who must always overlook other people’s faults and
idiosyncrasies? Right relationships with difficult people can seem like an impossible
standard to reach. Just what are we supposed to do?
The apostle Paul offers this practical advice, “If possible, so far as it depends
on you, be at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18). I would like to paraphrase
that verse: Do the best you can to get along with everyone. Yet realize
that once in a while you are going to have a relationship with a difficult person
that may fall short of the ideal.
Right now, picture in your mind someone with whom you do not have an
ideal relationship. As you continue reading, I want you to constantly call to
mind this particular person. I trust you will then read about some
characteristics and solutions that will help you creatively deal with the situation
and be able to rise above it.
A personal inventory of the “Three Ps” will help you determine your part
in a difficult relationship or association.
• Perspective. How do I see myself? How do I see others? How do others
see me? Our perspective determines how far our relationships
• Process. Do I understand the stages of a relationship? Do I realize
there are some stages in a relationship that are more crucial than
• Problems. When facing difficulties in a relationship, how do I handle
Show me a person who sees himself or herself in a negative light and I
will show you a person who sees others in a negative way. The opposite is
true too. A person who sees himself positively also looks for the good in others.
It’s all in one’s perspective.
Some people see a relationship as a series of isolated incidents, and one
bad incident can break the relationship. People who think this way never develop
deep relationships. Their friendships are precarious, on-again-offagain
types of associations. These people run every time a difficult situation
arises. They seldom, if ever, develop longstanding relationships.
Perspective and Relationships
Let’s take a look at perspective first. I act as I see myself. In fact, it is impossible
to consistently behave in a manner that is inconsistent with the way
we see ourselves. Understandably, this is the cause of many marital
problems. Just the other day I met with an unhappy man and his irate wife. I
listened as she relentlessly spewed out bitterness and animosity toward her
husband. When I confronted her with her anger and unforgiving spirit, she
frantically pointed her finger at her husband and said, “I’m not the one who
is angry and bitter, he is!” She transferred her negative emotions to him. She
saw her husband as she herself was.
Only when we view ourselves with 20/20 vision will we be able to see
other people clearly. Perspective is crucial. That’s why Jesus spoke about
judging others: “Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but do
not notice the log is in your own eye? … first take the log out of your own
eye” (Matt. 7:3–5). He is telling us we need to deal with our own attitudes
before we criticize another person.
In Matthew 22:39, we read Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as
yourself.” He knew that if we truly loved ourselves, we would also love our
neighbor. He also knew that before we could really love our neighbor, we
would need to love ourselves—not a selfish, self-serving type of love, but a
deep appreciation of who we are in Christ. Most of the time our relational
problems stem from the fact that we ourselves have problems or issues that
haven’t been resolved. It is not possible to treat another person’s hurt until
we have first discovered the cure and accepted the treatment ourselves.
The story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30–37 illustrates this principle.
The robbers who beat up the traveler used people. They stole from the
traveler and saw him as a victim to exploit. The priest and the Levite were
legalistic and withdrawn. They saw the beaten, robbed victim as a problem
to be avoided, because they believed if they touched a dead man they would
be unclean according to the law. The Good Samaritan was a social outcast—
despised, ignored, and rejected by society. He knew what it was like to
be passed by and uncared for, but he also had experienced the cure. When he
saw this victim, he was able to empathize with him. He looked upon him as a
person who needed to be loved, identifying with the traveler’s problem and
sharing in the solution.
Recently I read an interesting article by Jacques Weisel about self-made
millionaires. One hundred entrepreneurs were interviewed in a search for
the common denominator that bound them together. The interviews revealed
these highly successful men and women could only see the good in
people. They were people builders, rather than critics. Again, it is perspective
that helps build relationships.
When you realize that people treat you according to how they see themselves
rather than how you really are, you are less likely to be affected by
their behavior. Your self-image will reflect who you are, not how you’re
treated by others. You will not be riding an emotional roller roaster. This
type of stability will have a tremendous effect on how you feel toward and
deal with others.
The key to successful relationships really gets down to responsibility. I
am responsible for how I treat others. I may not be responsible for how they
treat me, but I am responsible for my reaction to those who are difficult. I
can’t choose how you’ll treat me, but I can choose how I will respond to you.
Understanding Personality Types
There are several types of difficult people, and it’s helpful to identify their
common traits in order to learn how to deal with them effectively. As we review
these traits, remember that you can choose how to react to them. The
effect of difficult relationships—whether they make us or break us—is determined,
not by the treatment we receive but by how we respond to it.
Take a look at the “Sherman Tank” personality. This label may bring to
mind a person who runs over everything and anything that is in the way.
These people have a tendency to intimidate others because of their “I’mright-
and-you’re-wrong” attitude. They intimidate through sheer force and
power; their behavior is aggressive and even hostile. Because of the Sherman
Tanks’ insensitivity, people tend to battle with them. It is difficult to sit down
and reason or rationalize with “tanks.”
Don’t lose hope; there is a strategy for dealing with the Sherman Tanks
of life. First consider this person’s influence as well as the issue at stake.
How important is the point being fought over, and how many people are being
influenced by the “tank?” If the issue could have a direct, negative effect
on others within the organization, it probably will be worth fighting over.
But if it is an insignificant issue or a matter of pride, it’s not worth the battle.
When crucial issues arise, however, you must stand up to this personality.
True, there is no easy way around these people. Be direct, because they probably
don’t understand tactfulness. Look at them face to face and confront the
specific issues at hand. Unfortunately these people cause more pain than any
of the other difficult personality types because they feel little pain themselves.
As a result, they can afford to be unreasonable. What adds to the burden
of dealing with these people is that, with their power to intimidate, they
can pull together many allies.
Another difficult personality with whom we all come in contact is the
“Space Cadet.” These people live in their own worlds, walking to the beat of a
different drummer. They usually do not respond to normal motivation techniques.
Frustration is the overwhelming feeling I get when working with this
type of person. I have learned that when working with or speaking to a large
group of people, I should not be greatly influenced by this person’s feedback.
Probably the people you know who fall into this category, you have labeled
Consider these guidelines when working with a Space Cadet:
• Don’t evaluate your leadership by the Space Cadet’s response. In fact,
don’t even ask his or her opinion about something because you’ll
get an off-the-wall answer. Space Cadets aren’t good sounding
• It’s not a good idea to place a Space Cadet in a “team ministry” position.
When you need a group of individuals to pull together to accomplish
a goal, the Space Cadet has difficulty pulling with other
people in the same direction.
• Don’t place Space Cadets in positions of leadership, because they
won’t be able to determine the heartbeat of others.
• Don’t write off your Space Cadet friend as a lost cause, though. Search
for the key to his or her uniqueness and seek to develop it. Many
Space Cadets are extremely brilliant and creative; they have much
to offer if you put them in the right spot. They work best when they
work alone, so find an area in which they’re interested and give
them space to dream and create.
The “Volcano” is an explosive, unpredictable type of person who tends to
be unapproachable. How do we treat them? Should we walk around them
softly, or test the waters to see what kind of day they are having? It’s difficult
to relax around them because we don’t know when the heat is about to rise.
Just as the Space Cadet causes frustration, the Volcano causes tension.
Those who have to work with this person can never relax; they never know
what might set him or her off.
How should we handle Volcanoes when they blow up? Calmness is the
key. Remove them from the crowd and remain calm yourself. They don’t
need an audience, and you’ll be better off to keep your blood pressure down.
Once you have them alone, let them vent steam. Allow them to blow as hard
and as long as necessary; let them get it all out. Don’t try to interrupt because
they won’t be hearing you. In the attempt to get the story straight, you
may need to go back and ask them to repeat some details. Minimize any exaggeration
and remove any hearsay that has mingled in so you can deal only
with the facts and not the emotion. Then provide a soft, clear answer concerning
the situation. Finally, hold these people accountable for the things
they say and the people they harm.
Another person who is difficult to deal with is the “Thumb Sucker.”
Thumb Suckers tend to pout, are full of self-pity, and try to get people to
cater to their own desires. This pouting is used as a leverage to manipulate
others. If things are not going their way, they can create a heavy atmosphere
that is as oppressive as a rain cloud. They can do this very cleverly. Often
they employ the silent treatment to get what they want.
Here’s a strategy in dealing with this individual. First, make the Thumb
Sucker aware of the fact that moodiness is a choice. This is essential. People
become moody to manipulate people and gain control. They are very seldom
moody by themselves. Teach them that they are responsible for the atmosphere
they create, especially if they are in a position of leadership. Everybody
in the world has problems; the Thumb Sucker has no right to add his or
her personal petty grievances to the load. As a pastor, I feel responsible for
creating an “up” mood for the many volunteers who work in the church, being
encouraging, motivating, and positive. If you choose to lead, then you
also need to choose to be even-tempered.
Sometimes it is helpful to expose the Thumb Suckers to people who have
real problems. Perhaps it will cause them to see themselves in a different
light and to have a more grateful heart and positive attitude. I knew a man
who exhibited a thumb-sucking attitude, constantly feeling sorry for himself
because his work was not appreciated. He was a church custodian and a perfectionist
at it. The sanctuary was always spotless and the grounds were
beautiful. Unfortunately this orderliness became overly important to him. It
upset him when the children and adults walked across his polished floors,
dropped papers on the lawn, and spilled water from the sinks. He focused
his attention on himself and his clean church and lost sight of the big picture.
The people coming to church to learn about Jesus should have been
more important. To help him reestablish his priorities, I took him to the cancer
ward at the local hospital, pointing out that these people were so sick
they probably would never be well enough to come to church, and many of
them probably would die without knowing Jesus. My little exercise worked;
the following week there was a marked change in his attitude. He began to
quit feeling sorry for himself and be grateful that he had a part in sharing
It is important never to reward or give attention to moody people. Giving
them an opportunity to publicly exhibit their negative attitudes gives them a
sense of recognition. The best method of attack is to praise this person’s positive
ideas and actions and ignore him when he’s sucking his thumb.
Thumb Suckers are subject to mood swings; they’re negative only part of
the time. The “Wet Blanket,” on the other hand, is constantly down and negative.
He is the classic impossibility thinker who sees a problem in every
solution. He is afflicted with the dreaded disease of Excusitis—finding the
problems and making excuses.
The most difficult thing about working with a person like this is that he
or she usually takes no responsibility for his or her negative attitude and behavior.
It’s either “the other guy’s fault” or it’s “Just the way I am”—a way of
blaming God. Again, don’t reinforce the Wet Blanket’s behavior by providing
a platform from which to make excuses. Kindly but firmly point out that you
have confidence in this person, but his or her present attitude is hindering
progress. He needs to choose whether or not he’s going to risk being positive
and responsible. If he chooses to change his behavior, he’ll have a cheering
section. If he chooses not to change, though, your best move will be away
The “Garbage Collector” is locked even deeper into the mire of negativity
than the Thumb Sucker and the Wet Blanket. Garbage Collectors have surrendered
the leadership of their lives to negative emotions. Oh, how they
love to rehearse and replay the injuries they have suffered at the hands of
other people. They nurse their wounds and hold onto their wounded ill spirits.
Briefly and concisely, they stink! The fact that there is garbage in life is
depressing enough, but to collect it and haul it around town in a dump truck
for public viewing is downright sick.
How do you deal with these people? First, confront them about the way
they try to represent other people. I never allow a person to tell me “there
are many others who feel this way also.” I won’t hear them out unless they
give me names. That single requirement takes a lot of the “stink” out of their
garbage because it usually boils down to just one or two individuals who
have an affinity for garbage too. I challenge their statements by pinning
them down when they make generalizations and exaggerations. If they have
created a serious enough situation, it may become necessary to destroy their
credibility by exposing them to a decision-making group. In my case, this
would be the church board or the pastoral staff.
“The User” is the person who manipulates others for his or her own personal
gain. Users avoid responsibility for themselves, while demanding time
and energy from others to benefit their own situations. They often use guilt
to get what they want. They put on a weak front in order to get people to feel
sorry for them and help them out.
How do you work with Users? First, set predetermined limits on how far
you will go to help them. Otherwise, they will push your guilt button and you
will weaken. Remember that these people will not only take you the second
and third mile, they’ll take you to the cleaners if you allow them. Require responsibility
from the User. Even if you feel disposed to help him, make sure
he is responsible for some part of the job. Otherwise, you will wind up carrying
the load while he goes on his merry way—more than likely looking for
another gullible soul.
Last, don’t feel obligated to Users, and don’t feel guilty for not feeling obligated.
Most of the time a simple, firm no is the best medicine.
Perhaps you have recognized someone you know in each of these caricatures.
Or maybe you’re dealing with a person so difficult, he is in a category
all by himself. Take heart; there are certain general rules that you can put into
practice that will enable you to work more effectively with problem
1. Love them unconditionally.
2. Ask God for wisdom in working with them.
3. Stay emotionally healthy yourself.
4. Do not elevate people to positions of leadership in order to rescue
5. Be honest with God, yourself, and them.
The Process of Relationships
It’s important to understand the process of relationships; specifically the
stages of a relational breakdown. Let’s take a look at them one by one.
• The honeymoon stage is the one we begin with. We usually have an
unrealistic view of the relationship at this point. Obviously, what attracts
people to each other, whether it be a business relationship, a
friendship, or a romance, are their positive qualities. The excitement
of finding someone who meets some need in our lives tends to
temporarily blind us to their negative traits.
• Specific irritation is the stage where we begin to open our eyes and
see things we don’t like. Here we develop a memory bank of these
negative traits. But then we also see the relationship in a more realistic
light. If you look back at the early weeks of your marriage or of
a new job, you will probably recall the first incident that shook you
into reality—the time you realized the honeymoon was over.
• General discomfort should cause us to deal with the specific irritations
that have piled up in our memory banks. We become more
open, honest, and transparent about telling someone why they’re
making us uncomfortable.
• Try harder is a stage of development where we raise our energy level
to make a success of the relationship. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s
very hard to separate the problem from the person.
• Exhaustion often becomes a serious problem in a relationship because
we are too tired to try any longer. We tend to throw up our hands
and quit at this crucial point.
• Separation is the final stage. By this time the relationship has usually
been terminated with little hope of restoration. Usually, by the time
this happens, we are too numb to even care or hurt.
This series of stages does not have to be completed; the cycle can be
broken. Most often, if the process is reversed, it happens during the stage of
general discomfort. At that point it is still possible to make the decision to
accept what you don’t like about a person and to love that person unconditionally.
As you try harder to overlook a person’s faults, it becomes easier to
again focus your attention on his or her positive traits.
Problems in Relationships
In most relationships it is inevitable that at some point a confrontation will
take place. At this crisis point it’s very important to approach the offending
party prepared with the right attitude. If a confrontation is handled correctly,
it can actually strengthen the relationship. If not, it can bring an abrupt,
unhappy end to the relationship. In order for this not to happen, follow
these six guidelines:
1. Bring in principal persons involved in the conflict. Experience has
taught me that unless all persons involved come together, the whole
story will never be pieced together accurately.
2. Line up the facts. Relying on hearsay evidence or “general impressions”
will only invite emotion-laden rebuttals and, possibly, resentful
3. Never reprimand while angry. Make sure you are in control of your
emotions. The angrier you are, the less objective you’ll be—and the
less effective your reprimand. It’s prudent to delay a confrontation
until you’ve coolly asked yourself two questions: Could I have contributed
to the problem? Were there mitigating circumstances I’m
4. Be precise about the offense. Let the person know exactly what the
charge is. Don’t try to soften the blow by hemming and hawing or
refusing to cough up the details.
5. Get the other person’s side of the story. Always give the offender the
chance to explain what happened and why they behaved as they
did. There may be extenuating circumstances. (Sometimes, you
may even be part of them.)
6. Be sure you keep comprehensive records. The better your documentation—
how the mistake came about, when it happened, and who
was involved—the more even-tempered and productive the reprimanding
session will be.
7. Don’t harbor a grudge. Once you’ve handed out the reprimand and
administered any sanctions, don’t carry around hostilities. Let that
person know you consider the problem a closed book and act
Do you remember the episode of Amos and Andy in which Andy kept
slapping Amos on the chest, until one day Amos decided he had endured
enough? He decided to fix Andy once and for all. Showing Kingfish some explosives
tied to his chest underneath his jacket, he proudly said, “The next
time Andy slaps me on the chest, he’s going to blow his hand off.” Poor Amos
hadn’t thought through the consequences of his retaliation. It never pays to
hold a grudge to the point of explosion; it will do more damage to you than
to the offending party.
Our ultimate goal in dealing with problems should be to present the
truth in such a way as to build the relationship, not destroy it. Unfortunately,
this cannot always be accomplished. If a relationship cannot stand an honest
face-to-face encounter, then it probably is not a healthy relationship. In
some cases, ending the relationship is the only solution, but this should be
the last choice.
PUT IT TO WORK
• Show me a person who sees himself negatively and I will show you a
person who sees others in a negative way.
• Most of the time our relational problems stem from the fact that we
ourselves have problems or issues that haven’t been resolved. It is
not possible to treat another person’s hurt until we have first discovered
the cure and accepted the treatment ourselves.
• When you realize that people treat you according to how they see
themselves rather than how you really are, you are less likely to take
personally their behavior toward you.
• The key to successful relationships really gets down to responsibility;
I am responsible for how I treat others. I may not be responsible for
how they treat me; however, I am responsible for my reaction to
those who are difficult. I can’t choose how you’ll treat me but I can
choose how I will respond to you.
Putting the Principles to Work
I will apply the principles from this chapter to my relationships with people
in the following ways:
The Fine Art of Getting Along With Others, Dale E. Galloway
Untwisting Twisted Relationships, William Backus
HOW TO BE A PERSON WHO CAN HANDLE
Learning to use confrontation as an opportunity to grow
OUR ABILITY TO TAKE CRITICISM can make us or break us. No one is indifferent
to criticism; it causes us to respond either positively or negatively.
Just yesterday I spoke to a woman whose husband has been traumatized by
destructive criticism. He has become bitter; his personality and outlook on
life have turned negative.
Learning how to handle criticism was one of the most difficult lessons I
ever had. I grew up in a church where the surest sign of success was a unanimous
pastoral vote. At the annual conference the hottest topic of discussion
was the vote at the various churches. Heaven help the pastor who received
negative votes! It seemed that little importance was placed on whether or
not the church was experiencing growth and maturity or people were growing
in their relationships with Christ. If the pastor received a unanimous
vote, that was the pinnacle of his career and he was highly esteemed. It also
meant that the church was spiritually in tune.
Coming from that background, I went to my first pastorate in Hillham,
Indiana. At the end of the first year we had thirty-three members; the vote
was thirty-one “yes,” one “no,” and one “abstain.” That put me in a panic. I
immediately called my father and asked if he thought I should resign from
the church. He couldn’t imagine why I was so upset and laughed hysterically.
Little did I realize that would be the best vote I’d ever receive in my career as
a pastor! Knowing there was just one person, possibly two, who did not like
what I was doing was very difficult for me to handle. Since then I’ve learned
that if you want to do great things for God, there will always be someone who
doesn’t want to participate.
Taking a Positive Approach
I heard a story about a critical, negative barber who never had a pleasant
thing to say. A salesman came in for a haircut and mentioned that he was
about to make a trip to Rome, Italy. “What airline are you taking and at what
hotel will you be staying?” asked the barber.
When the salesman told him, the barber criticized the airline for being
undependable and the hotel for having horrible service. “You’d be better off
to stay home,” he advised.
“But I expect to close a big deal. Then I’m going to see the Pope,” said the
“You’ll be disappointed trying to do business in Italy,” said the barber,
“and don’t count on seeing the Pope. He only grants audiences to very important
Two months later the salesman returned to the barber shop. “And how
was your trip?” asked the barber.
“Wonderful!” replied the salesman. “The flight was perfect, the service at
the hotel was excellent; I made a big sale, and I got to see the Pope.”
“You got to see the Pope? What happened?”
The salesman replied, “I bent down and kissed his ring.”
“No kidding! What did he say?”
“Well, he placed his hand on my head and then he said to me, ‘My son,
where did you ever get such a lousy haircut?’”
There’s a saying that “what goes around comes around.” This is especially
true in the area of attitudes. If you are a critical, negative person, life
will treat you badly. On the other hand, if you have a positive, joyous outlook,
the joy you share will be returned to you.
There are two kinds of people who are highly subject to criticism. The
first group are the leaders. Aristotle said it well, “Criticism is something you
can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” Yes,
one of the costs of leadership is criticism. If you’re willing to stand apart
from the crowd, you’re putting yourself in a vulnerable position, so count on
some degree of criticism.
Once after speaking about negative attitudes at a conference, I received a
note that I have kept: “Realize that the guys who criticize will minimize the
guys whose enterprise rises above the guys who criticize and minimize.”
That’s what a leader does—he rises above. When you are willing to stick your
neck out, someone will want to chop it off.
Don’t let that threat keep you from being all you can be. Rise above it, as
did the late Adolph Rupp, the former University of Kentucky basketball
coach. Throughout Rupp’s coaching career he experienced an uphill struggle
against those who were critical of his methods. There were many who took
issue with Rupp—he was difficult and sanctimonious—but it is difficult to
fault the trapper with the skins on the wall. By the end of his career he had
874 victories and was the winningest coach in college basketball history.
Besides leaders, the other group of individuals who are prone to criticism
are the “leapers,” people who leap into public eye because they are change
agents. They bring unwelcome and uncomfortable change into people’s lives
even though it is usually for their benefit. Many years ago the medical community
strongly opposed the idea of vaccinating children against disease because
it was new and unknown. People who make discoveries and create
inventions find it takes time for people to accept their ideas because people
In the closing years of John Wesley’s life, he became a friend of William
Wilberforce. In England, Wilberforce was a great champion of freedom for
slaves before the American Civil War. He was subjected to a vicious campaign
by slave traders and others whose powerful commercial interests were
threatened. Rumors were spread that he was a wife-beater. His character,
morals, and motives were repeatedly smeared during some twenty years of
From his deathbed, John Wesley wrote to Wilberforce, “Unless God has
raised you up for this very thing, you will be won out by the opposition of
men and devils; but if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of
them together stronger than God? Be not weary in well-doing.” William Wilberforce
never forgot those words of John Wesley. They kept him going even
when all the forces of hell were arrayed against him.
The question for leaders and leapers is not “Will I be confronted with criticism?”
but “How can I handle and learn from criticism and confrontation?”
It is possible to learn how to take criticism successfully, and the following
ten suggestions can help you help yourself.
Ten Tips for Taking Criticism
1. Understand the difference between constructive and destructive criticism.
You need to learn how to interpret criticism. Is it positive criticism to
build you up or negative to tear you down? Someone once said that constructive
criticism is when I criticize you; destructive criticism is when you
To determine the motive behind the confrontation, ask yourself some
questions. First, in what spirit is it given? Look beyond the words and
determine the motives. Is the critic projecting a gentle attitude or a judgmental
attitude? If your critic’s attitude is kind, you can rest assured that the
criticism is meant to be constructive.
Second, when is the criticism given? Times of confrontation must be
shared privately, not within public view or hearing. If a person criticizes
someone publicly, you can be sure his or her intentions are not the best.
They are out to destroy and not to build.
Third, why is the criticism given? This question deals with the attitude of
the critic. Is it for personal benefit and growth, or is it given from personal
hurt? Sometimes the person who has experienced difficulties and problems
will deal with others in a negative, critical way.
2. Don’t take yourself too seriously. If you can develop the ability to laugh at
yourself, you will be much more relaxed when given or giving criticism. Face
it, we all do some stupid and silly things. Blessed is he who can enjoy his
blunders. We are approved by God; we don’t have to win the approval of others
and look good in their eyes. We are not perfect people. Too many of us
take ourselves too seriously and God not seriously enough.
“Life at St. Bashan’s” cartoon strip portrayed a pastor who was forced to
learn how to handle criticism. A parishioner approaches the pastor after the
service and says, “Reverend, I want you to know that wasn’t one of your better
Openly the pastor responds with, “And Bill, I want you to know I’m
grateful for constructive criticism.” In the next frame the pastor walks into
the study, locks the door, and then falls to his knees with a cry,
We’ve done that, haven’t we? Outwardly we appear to appreciate the
words, but in private we fall apart emotionally, becoming angry, vindictive,
or deeply hurt.
3. Look beyond the criticism and see the critic. When someone comes to me
with news about another person, I am more interested in the person who
said it than what was said. In fact, that’s one of my first questions: Who said
it? Who told you that? When I find out who the perpetrator is, I know
whether or not to listen. I will either straighten up and take it seriously or I
will think to myself, “There they go again.”
Keep in mind certain considerations regarding your critic: First, is it
someone whose character you respect? Adverse criticism from a wise man is
more to be desired than the enthusiastic approval of a fool. Second, is this
person frequently critical? Is criticism a pattern? If so, don’t place too much
value in what they say. Possibly it’s a way to get attention. Criticism from a
positive person, on the other hand, probably deserves your attention.
There is a story about a twelve-year-old boy who in all of his twelve years
had never spoken. After being served oatmeal for breakfast several times in a
row, a miracle happened. To everyone’s shock, he yelled, “Yuck, I hate
His mother was overwhelmed. She ran across the room and threw her
arms around his neck. “For twelve long years your father and I were convinced
you couldn’t talk!” she cried. “Why haven’t you ever spoken to us?”
Bluntly the boy explained, “Up till now, everything’s been OK.”
I’m not sure if she kept serving him oatmeal to keep him complaining,
but this boy knew how to be heard.
Finally, ask yourself this question: Does the critic sincerely want to help
me? Is he or she on your team, believing the best in you, desiring to help?
Remember that people who are busy rowing seldom have time to rock the
4. Watch your own attitude toward the critic. A negative attitude toward
criticism can be more destructive than the criticism itself. Remember, a chip
on the shoulder indicates wood higher up! The late Herman Hickman, great
football coach at Tennessee, Army, and Yale, said, “When you are being run
out of town, get to the head of the line and look as though you are leading
First Peter 2:21–23 provides the right attitude toward criticism:
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also
suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in
His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in
His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return;
while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting
Himself to Him who judges righteously.”
Could it be that a poor attitude reveals the fact that we have trusted in
ourselves, rather than in God who knows the entire situation? If we are
trusting him and are obedient, we can expect some criticism. He often calls
us to take an unpopular stand. He has also called us to love those who are
critical of us.
5. Realize that good people get criticized. Jesus, whose motives were pure
and character was spotless, was called a glutton (Matt. 11:19), a drunkard
(Luke 7:34), a Samaritan (John 8:48), and a friend of sinners (Matt. 11:19
and Mark 2:16). If our lives are Christlike, we can expect criticism. In fact,
there are times when we should see criticism from the world as verification
that our lives have been changed. A person whose mind is polluted and
whose vision is not clear cannot understand or interpret behavior based on
obedience to God. So if you’re living on a higher plane than the world, expect
6. Keep physically and spiritually in shape. Physical exhaustion has a tremendous
effect on the way we act and react; it distorts the way we see and
handle life. Recently Margaret and I were returning home from a long trip,
and after being up many hours and hassling with several airline connections,
we were both physically wiped out. Realizing that any attempts to communicate
could put us over the edge, Margaret proposed that we each bury our
face in a book. By the time the plane landed in San Diego, we were not exactly
alert but we were still friends. It’s a simple fact of life: These minds and
bodies need rest.
Elijah succumbed to opposition when he was in a state of weariness.
Jezebel was a firecracker, and her opposition sapped the preacher’s strength.
Elijah complained, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life; for I am not better
than my fathers” (1 Kings 19:4). Elijah was completely shaken. Watch
weariness because Satan will take advantage. When we become overly tired,
we become overly critical, and at the same time we are less able to handle
criticism from others.
7. Don’t just see the critic; see if there’s a crowd. The following story illustrates
Mrs. Jones had invited a great and well-known violinist to entertain at
her afternoon tea. When it was all over, everyone crowded around the
“I’ve got to be honest with you,” one of the guests said, “I think your performance
was absolutely terrible.”
Hearing his criticism, the hostess interposed: “Don’t pay any attention to
him. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He only repeats what he hears
everyone else say.”
I’m suggesting that you expand your vision; go beyond the critic and see
if he has a cheering section. Consider the possibility that you are hearing the
same criticism from several people. If this is the case, and the critics are reliable,
you need to realize that you have a challenge to work on. If, on the other
hand, you’re dealing with a pocket group of negative people, your challenge
is to not be affected by them.
George Bernard Shaw, the Irish playwright, certainly had his critics, but
he knew how to handle them. After one opening, a critic voiced his displeasure.
He said, “It’s rotten! It’s rotten!” To which Shaw replied, “I agree with
you perfectly, but what are we two against so many!”
8. Wait for a time to prove them wrong. Time is your best ally; it allows you
to prove yourself right. Often, as events unfold, the cause for criticism is
eliminated and you will be vindicated. You may be thinking, “Easy for you to
say, Maxwell, you’re not where I am.” But I’ve been there many times. If you
know your action or decision was right, hang in there. Time will prove you
Abraham Lincoln, perhaps the most loved president of the United States,
was also the most criticized president. Probably no politician in history had
worse things said about him. Here’s how the Chicago Times in 1865 evaluated
Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address the day after he delivered it: “The cheek
of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat, and
dish-watery utterances of a man who has been pointed out to intelligent
foreigners as President of the United States.” Time, of course, has proved
this scathing criticism wrong.
9. Surround yourself with positive people. When you have optional time,
spend it with people who will build you up. Enough quality time with positive
people will minimize the effect of negative criticism. It will also discourage
you from being critical. When a hawk is attacked by crows, he does not
counterattack. Instead, he soars higher and higher in ever widening circles
until the pests leave him alone. Circle above your adversaries rather than
battle with them. If your positive attitude has any effect on negative people,
it will be because of your example, not your defensiveness. So rise above
them. It really is hard to soar like an eagle if you identify with turkeys!
10. Concentrate on your mission—change your mistakes. Most people do
exactly the opposite—they change their mission and concentrate on their
mistakes. If you run from your task each time you make a mistake, you will
never accomplish anything. You will always be in a state of frustration and
defeat. The only real mistakes in life are the mistakes from which we learn
nothing. So instead of dwelling on them, count on making them, learning
from them, and moving on to finish the job. There’s an Arabian proverb that
says if you stop every time a dog barks, your road will never end. Don’t let
your mistakes become roadblocks; make them building blocks.
In order to build strong relationships, you need to know how to take criticism
gracefully, but there are also times when you will have to be the critic.
It is possible to confront without ruining a relationship, but use caution, because
careless confrontation can be devastating. Before you confront, check
yourself in the following areas.
Ten Tips for Giving Criticism
1. Check your motive. The goal of confrontation should be to help, not to humiliate.
Three key questions will help expose your true motives. First, ask
yourself, Would I criticize this if it were not a personal matter? Sometimes
we react differently when we are emotionally or personally involved. Here’s
what I mean:
Sluggo: “That new kid in school is a big fat-head!”
Nancy: “You shouldn’t call people names like that. I never
call people names.”
Sluggo: “Well, I just got mad when he said you were silly
Nancy: “What else did that big fat-head say?”
Second, ask yourself, Will criticism make me look better? Cutting
someone down to boost yourself up is the lowest form of ego gratification.
It’s the sign of a very insecure person. Remember that it isn’t necessary to
blow out another person’s light to let your own shine.
Third, ask yourself, Does this criticism bring pain or pleasure to me?
When it is painful for you to criticize others, you’re probably safe in doing it.
If you get the slightest bit of pleasure out of doing it, you should hold your
2. Make sure the issue is worthy of criticism. To whom does it really matter?
Sometimes our pride causes us to engage in skirmishes that need never happen.
Continual, petty criticism is the mark of a small mind; you have to be
little to belittle. The secret to not letting yourself be distracted and needled
by insignificant issues is to keep your head up and your eyes on the goal.
3. Be specific. When you confront, you must be tactfully explicit. Say exactly
what you mean and provide examples to back yourself up.
I once had a staff person who had great difficulty confronting; he hated
to make people face up to areas in which they needed to change. On one particular
occasion I coached him. He rehearsed with me everything he was going
to say to the individuals in question. After the confrontation I asked him
how it went. He assured me everything went smoothly and there were no
problems; in fact, he said the people did not even question him. At that moment
I knew something had gone wrong. Total acquiescence is not a normal
reaction to honest confrontation. Two days later the truth came out. One of
the individuals said to me, “The other day we spent thirty minutes with
Pastor So-and-so, but we have no idea what we was trying to tell us.” The
pastor had spent half an hour dancing around the issue without ever addressing
it. He would have been better off to have left it alone.
If you can’t be specific, don’t confront. People can usually tell when
you’re skirting an issue and will not respect you for it.
4. Don’t undermine the person’s self-confidence. Try to find at least one area
in which you can praise the person before you expose the problem. Stay
away from all-inclusive statements like, “You always …” or “You never.…”
Assure them that you have confidence in them and their ability to handle the
5. Don’t compare one person with another. Deal with people on an individual
basis. Comparisons always cause resentment and resentment causes hostility.
There’s no need to create a bigger problem than the one you already
have, so why arouse heated emotions? If you stick to the facts, you’ll be less
likely to put the person on the defensive.
6. Be creative or don’t confront. Will Rogers said, “There is nothing as easy
as denouncing. It doesn’t take much to see something is wrong, but it does
take some eyesight to see what will put it right again.”
Look beyond the problem and see if you can help find some solutions.
For most of us it’s much easier to be critical than to be creative. But unless
you’re willing to help to some degree in turning the situation around, you’re
not ready to comment on the problem.
7. Attack the problem not the person. Deal with the issue at hand. When a
confrontation becomes a personal attack, you destroy your own credibility
and find yourself in a no-win situation. The expected outcome of a confrontation
should be that the offender leaves with a clear understanding of the
problem and the hope that he can turn it around.
8. Confront when the time is right. The right time is just as soon as you
know something is wrong. When you’ve completed your homework, then
you’re prepared. Sometimes people tell me about their relationship problems
and ask me for advice. The scenario is always the same and so is my advice:
You cannot escape the need to talk to the person. When you wait too
long, you lose the opportune moment and the issue becomes history. When
you confront the person in a timely fashion, you are better able to keep the
facts straight and use the incident as an opportunity to help the person grow.
9. Look at yourself before looking at others. Instead of putting others in
their place, put yourself in their place. Have you successfully done what
you’re accusing the other guy of failing to do? Look at things from his point
of view. You may see that you’re the one who needs to make changes.
10. End confrontation with encouragement. Always give confrontation the
“sandwich treatment.” Sandwich the criticism between praise at the beginning
and encouragement at the end. To leave a discouraged person without
hope is cruel and vindictive. Goethe, the German poet, said, “Correction does
much, but encouragement does more. Encouragement after censure is as the
sun after a shower.”
In my effort to simplify things as much as possible, I have come up with
one-word descriptions of the various ways people will respond to
BYE. The “bye” people never profit from confrontation;
they don’t hang around long enough. Their egos are too
SPY. Spies become suspicious of everyone. They begin an
investigation to find out who in the organization is out to get
them. Often they will avoid risking a failure again.
FRY. Some people will simply get mad and either fly of
the handle or do a slow burn.
LIE. The liar has an excuse for every mistake. Therefore
he never faces up to the reality of his situation.
CRY. Crybabies are overly sensitive and become hurt by
confrontation. Unlike the “bye” people, criers hang around in
hopes that people will see how mistreated they are and sympathize
with them. They have a martyr complex.
SIGH. These people have a “That’s-too-bad-but-there’snothing-
I-can-do-about-it” attitude. They don’t accept any responsibility
for making right the wrong.
FLY. This category of people takes criticism and flies with
it. They learn from it and become better because of it.
Which category has fit you in the past? Are there changes you need to
make before you can take criticism and fly with it? I challenge you to start
PUT IT TO WORK
• If you’re willing to stand apart from the crowd, you’re putting yourself
in a vulnerable position. Count on some degree of criticism.
• When you are willing to stick your neck out, someone will want to
chop it off. Don’t let that threat keep you from being all you can be.
Rise above it.
• The question is not, “Will I be confronted with criticism?” but “How
can I handle and learn from criticism and confrontation?”
• If you develop the ability to laugh at yourself, you will be much more
relaxed when given or giving criticism.
• A negative attitude toward criticism can be more destructive than the
criticism itself. A chip on the shoulder indicates wood higher up.
• In order to build strong relationships we need to know how to take
criticism gracefully, but there are also times when we will have to be
the critic. It is possible to confront without ruining a relationship.
Putting the Principles to Work
I will apply the principles from this chapter to my relationships with people
in the following ways:
The Winning Attitude: Your Key to Personal Success, John C. Maxwell
Helping Those Who Don’t Want Help, Marshall Shelley
BEING A PERSON PEOPLE TRUST
Building integrity into your relationships
PEOPLE NEED TO SEE WHAT they ought to be. A cartoon punch line says,
“No matter what you teach the child, he insists on behaving like his parents.”
That’s certainly a humbling truth for all parents.
Dennis the Menace often reinforces this truth. On one occasion, while
holding the remnants of a tricycle that has been smashed to smithereens,
Dennis the Menace asked his dad, “What are some of those words you say
when you hit a bad golf shot?” He had learned that there was a certain way
to behave when you’re frustrated.
When I disciple others, it is important to be what I teach or ask others to
do. This is a crucial truth: We teach what we know, but we reproduce what
we are. To teach others to do right is wonderful. To do right is even more
wonderful! It may be a harder way to teach, but it’s a much easier way to
Dr. James Dobson, psychologist and author, tells us that kids begin to
buy in to your spiritual guidance and direction in the areas of values at about
five years of age! During the early years of your child’s life, you are the
primary role model, the most significant person in his or her life. If what you
say is different from what you do, your child will choose to imitate what you
do every time. In the words of Zig Ziglar, “Your children pay more attention
to what you do than what you say.” So the most valuable gift you can give
your little ones is the example of a clear, consistent, disciplined approach to
faith in God. It is most important that they see this beginning in their
earliest years. What they learn and establish in their lives during these years
can go a long way toward getting them through the tumult of adolescence.
Encouragement Causes Growth
Encouragement has the effect of a gentle rain; it causes steady growth. The
secret of Andrew Carnegie’s genius for developing others was his ability to
encourage good qualities while holding faultfinding to a minimum. Confidence
withers under faultfinding, as the following story about a singer
She made her debut at the age of five in a church cantata. The choir director
told her parents that someday she would be a great singer. The entire
congregation had fallen in love with the little girl in pigtails—her voice, her
poise, her instinctive stage presence.
She continued to sing and after college went to study music in Chicago.
One of her instructors was a man named Fritz. Though he was old enough to
be her father she fell in love with him and they were married. Wherever she
sang, Fritz would be there. Afterward he would point out all of her mistakes,
constantly urging her toward perfection. In their apartment he set alarm
clocks telling her it was time for practice. His trained ear caught the slightest
Gradually her singing got worse instead of better. Musical directors
stopped hiring her. Under the constant barrage of criticism, her spirit was
breaking, she was losing her assurance, her naturalness.
While her career was plummeting, the husband died. Even after he was
gone, she sang little, haunted by his familiar voice pointing out her errors. A
couple of years later she happened to meet a jolly, carefree salesman named
Roger. He knew little about music, but liked her voice and encouraged her to
take up singing again. In a few months they were married.
Friends noticed that she seemed to be regaining her self-assurance, and
that the strident quality had left her voice. It was pure and joyous, as it had
been when she was a child. Now musical directors eagerly sought her out.
The woman’s first husband, though well-intentioned, had broken both
her spirit and her voice by constant faultfinding. The second man, by contrast,
gave her the encouragement she needed by stressing only the good in
I have yet to find the person, whatever his or her station in life, who did
not perform better under a spirit of approval than under criticism. There are
enough critics in the world; what we need are more cheerleaders!
You can learn to be an encourager by practicing the following
1. Appreciate people for who they are. This truth is dramatically played
out in the lives of children. They have a way of mirroring what they
hear about themselves. Recently, I watched a talk show that was devoted
to the subject of teenage suicide. More and more teenagers
are attempting suicide as an escape from the demands of life. They
feel they can never measure up to the standards of performance expected
by parents and others. They feel appreciated only when
they’ve done well, not because they’re unique and priceless individuals.
As a result, many kids see life as a no-win situation.
2. Anticipate they will do their best. When working with people I always
try to look at them not as they are, but as what they can be. By anticipating
that the vision will become real, it’s easy for me to encourage
them as they stretch. Raise your anticipation level and you raise
their achievement level.
3. Admire their accomplishments. Thank them and praise them for
what they have done. Remember, man does not live by bread alone;
sometimes he needs a little buttering up. Remember the effect of
praise on the singer.
4. Accept your personal responsibility. If you oversee people, you are
responsible to take the heat at times. I developed a tremendous admiration
for Coach Bear Bryant when I heard him say:
I’m just a plowhand from Arkansas, but I have learned how to hold a
team together—how to lift some men up, how to calm down others, until finally
they’ve got one heartbeat together, a team. There’s just three things I’d
ever say: If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, then we
did it. If anything goes real good, then you did it. That’s all it takes to get
people to win football games for you.
Again, let me emphasize the importance of character in developing trust.
Bishop Able Muzore tells of a critical period in his life when he had been
asked by his people to lead the African National Council. He knew that all
previous leaders of Rhodesia who had been critical of unjust government
policies toward black Rhodesians had been either deported from the country,
put in a restricted camp, or killed.
He struggled with his decision and prayed as he had never prayed before.
He did not want to be killed, or deported, or placed in a restricted camp, yet
his people were calling him to lead them. During the time he was struggling
with his decision, a friend handed him this poem:
People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered—love them
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives—do
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies—succeed
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow—do good anyway!
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable—be honest and frank
The biggest people with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest
people with the smallest minds—think big anyway!
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs—fight for some underdog
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight—build
Give the world the best you’ve got and you’ll get kicked in the
teeth—give the world the best you’ve got anyway!
Believe the Best
Develop a person’s expectation level by believing the best of him or her.
When you look up to people, they begin to look up to their dreams. A few
weeks ago I spoke to some salespeople about their expectation level of those
they oversee. I explained that how we view a person is reflected by how we
treat a person. If we have a high expectation level and believe in people, we
will encourage them. Again, it is the principle of seeing people not as they
are but as they can be.
The business manager at our church placed his house on the market.
One Saturday he and his wife posted signs all over the neighborhood announcing
an open house. As they prepared for the day, Ken told his wife,
Mary Lynn, “We’re going to have all kinds of people come in and out of the
house today, most with absolutely no resources or intention of buying. But
we’re going to treat them all the same—as if they were our guests.”
Sure enough, they had dozens of people come through just to look. One
young couple in their early twenties asked to see the house. They announced
that they were newly married, she had no job, and he was just starting a new
job. After the tour they extended their thanks and left. Ken and Mary Lynn
announced to each other, “Well, we’ll never see them again.” But in just
thirty minutes they saw a very expensive car drive up and park in front of the
house. The same young couple returned—this time with mom and dad. The
father shook Ken’s hand and said, “The kids sure liked your home. This will
be a cash sale; how short can we make the escrow?”
I’m certain that Ken and Mary Lynn’s high level of anticipation filtered
through to each person who crossed the threshold of their home. They had
no idea what benefits that positive attitude would bring.
Many people, unfortunately, have a low personal expectation level. We
need to know how to develop a dream for others and then share it with them.
Begin by seeing it for them. We can all learn a lesson from the “four-eyed
fish.” These odd-looking creatures are native to the equatorial waters of the
western Atlantic region. The technical name of the genus of fish is anableps,
meaning “those that look upward,” because of their unusual eye structure.
Unique among vertebrates, the anableps have two-tiered eyes, with the upper
and lower halves of each eyeball operating independently and having
separate cornea and irises. The upper eyes protrude above the surface of the
water and enable the anableps to search for food and to spot enemies in the
air. The lower eyes remain focused in the water, functioning in the usual
fishlike fashion. Thus, in rather ordinary ways these four-eyed fish navigate
with ease in the waters of their environment. But, in addition, the anableps
enjoy a remarkable capacity to sustain life by participating in the “higher”
world above their primary element. They see in both worlds.
If we can develop four eyes, two for seeing what is and two for seeing
what might be, we can help others dream. Everyone needs to be exposed to a
vision. Unfortunately, not everyone will go for it. Pursue it with those who
are ready to stretch.
Help Others Be Successful
Develop confidence in others by helping them experience success. We all
agree with the slogan “It doesn’t matter whether you win or lose”—until you
lose! Winning increases our self-image, our outlook on life, and lifts our expectation
level. It gives us the confidence that we can succeed again. How
can you help make another person successful? It’s fairly simple. Make sure
their gifts and abilities match their tasks. Otherwise you set them up for sure
failure. Discern their gifts and desires and match them to the opportunities
available. When you have the ability to suit them to a job at which they can
succeed, an incredible bond of trust and respect develops.
Everyone enjoys the glory of the spotlight and the opportunity to shine.
But it’s a sign of a mature person who will afford another that prized position
of recognition. For example, I have shared my faith in Christ effectively
for many years, but I also train others to develop their witnessing skills. If I
sense a prospect is extremely open and receptive to making a commitment to
Christ, I allow the trainee the opportunity of leading the person to Christ.
Likewise, if the trainee is struggling, I will jump in to assist. Success for the
leader is a single victory. However, when the protégé experiences success, it
becomes a double win.
Equip People for Future Growth
“Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a
lifetime.” In other words, if you want to help him, don’t give him a fish, give
him a fishing rod. This principle applies to personal growth. You and I can’t
grow another person, but we can give him the equipment to develop himself.
We do this by first showing him that the growth is beneficial; we whet his appetite
for growth. Then we expose him to people like himself who have
moved out and become successful; we prove that it can be done. And finally,
we provide an opportunity for him to use his new equipment. And we stand
back and encourage.
In the late 1800s a salesman from the east arrived at a frontier town
somewhere on the Great Plains. As he was talking with the owner of the general
store, a rancher came in. The owner excused himself to take care of the
customer. The salesman couldn’t help overhearing the conversation. It
seems the rancher wanted credit for things he needed.
“Are you doing any fencing this spring, Josh?” asked the
“Sure am, Will,” the rancher said.
“Fencing in or fencing out?”
“Fencing in. Taking in another 360 acres across the
“Good to hear it, Josh. You got the credit. Just tell Harry
out back what you need.”
The salesman couldn’t make much sense of this. “I’ve seen all kinds of
credit systems,” he said, “but never one like that. How does it work?”
“Well,” the storekeeper said, “it’s like this. If a man’s fencing out, that
means he’s running scared with what he’s got. But if he’s fencing in, he’s
growing and getting bigger. He’s got hope. I always give credit to a man
who’s fencing in!”
Give people the encouragement they need to fence in. Provide the encouragement
and the know-how for them to expand their horizons. The rewards
will not only come back to them, they will come back to you. By believing
in people and helping them trust in themselves, you have established
a relationship in which everyone involved is a winner.
PUT IT TO WORK
• People who receive a high level of trust have developed their character
and have earned the right to be trusted. When this important
foundation exists, strong, positive relationships are built and are
fed by encouragement and consistency.
• Trust depends very little on a person’s name, his station in life, how
much money he has in the bank, or his position. The key to consistent
and dependable trust lies in the character of the person who
Keys to being a trustworthy person
• Demonstrate what you want to instill.
• Be an encourager.
• Believe the best of others.
• Help others experience success.
• Equip people for future growth.
Putting the Principles to Work
I will apply the principles from this chapter to my relationships with people
in the following ways:
How to Have a Better Relationship with Anybody, James Hilt
How to Get Along with People in the Church, A. Donald Bell
DEVELOPING A WINNING TEAM
Learning how to help others become successful
ONE NIGHT AFTER WORKING QUITE late, I grabbed a copy of Sports Illustrated,
hoping its pages would lull me to sleep. It had the opposite effect
though. On the back cover of this issue was an advertisement that caught my
eye and got my mental juices flowing. It featured a picture of John Wooden,
the coach who led the UCLA Bruins for many years.
The caption said: “The guy who puts the ball through the hoop has ten
hands.” They called John Wooden the wizard of Westwood. In a span of
twelve seasons he brought ten national basketball championships to UCLA.
Back-to-back championships are almost unheard of in the competitive
sports world, but he led the Bruins to seven titles in a row! It took a consistently
high level of superior play; it took good coaching and hard practice. But
the key to the Bruins’ success was Coach Wooden’s unyielding concept of
This ad was exciting because it said so much about teamwork. When a
basketball player becomes a high scorer, we make him a hero. But could he
have done it had he been facing the opposition alone? I doubt it. It took eight
other hands to prepare the way for his successful baskets. It was a team effort
all the way.
In Genesis 11:1–6 we can read a biblical account of team effort: the building
of the Tower of Babel. In this account we find some key concepts that can
help you build an effective team.
Now the whole earth used the same language and the same
words. It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a
plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one
another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.”
And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for
mortar. They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and
a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for
ourselves a name; otherwise we will be scattered abroad over
the face of the whole earth.” The Lord came down to see the
city and the tower which the sons of men had built. The Lord
said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same
language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing
which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.”
I’ll stop here long enough to point out that their efforts were for a wrong
cause. But God saw here the incredible power of a group of people coming
together. In these verses, we see how to develop a successful team. There are
only two essential ingredients: first, a common goal, and second, the ability
to communicate that goal. “Come, let us build for ourselves … a tower” expresses
both a desire to work together and a goal.
That phrase also expressed a motive—”for ourselves.” God didn’t like
what he saw because it was for an evil purpose; therefore, in verse seven we
read that he decides to stop the team. Nevertheless, this account provides an
excellent example of the importance of good teamwork.
It’s easy to understand a sports team. The team’s goal is clear because
lights and numbers flash when the team has reached it. You know the players
are a team because they wear identical uniforms. Their purpose and
focus is clear because all eyes and attention are centered on the ball, and all
motion swiftly moves toward it.
But there are other kinds of teams that are harder to analyze. Wearing
the same uniform, whether it be a baseball cap or a clerical collar, working in
the same office, or being paid by the same organization does not make a
team. Uniformity is not the key to successful teamwork. The glue that holds
a team together is unity of purpose.
I was taught something about teamwork early in high school when I
played basketball. We had some talented guys, and all but two were big
enough to stuff the ball in the basket. We were expected to be third or fourth
in the state, but our team had a problem. There was a tremendous division
between the juniors and the seniors. On the starting lineup we had two juniors
and three seniors and instead of throwing the ball to the most open man,
we threw it to the fellow who was in our same grade. Our team was divided;
we had fights in the locker room as well as on the court. Because of the lack
of teamwork we did not achieve what we could have with all the talent represented
on that team. Our goals were not shared.
Winning Teams Play to Win
There are four major attributes that characterize a winning team. First of all,
a winning team plays to win. Team members realize that wins and losses are
often determined by attitude alone. The difference between playing to win
and playing not to lose is often the difference between success and
When the Olympics were held in Los Angeles in 1984, there was an interesting
article about the best of the best who competed in those games. The
bottom line was that the difference between a gold-medal winner and a
silver-medal winner is not skill, it’s attitude.
When I moved to the West Coast, the only thing I left my heart tied to
was Ohio State football. I continued to follow the team and catch Ohio State
games on television whenever possible. The team’s trips to the Rose Bowl
were especially exciting for me. But anybody who knows anything about college
football knows that when any of the Big Ten comes to the West Coast to
play, it’s usually a West Coast victory. Though the eastern teams often had
superior talent, they often did not take a risk. I think the Big Ten teams play
not to lose—not a winning strategy.
Winning Teams Take Risks
The second characteristic of winning teams is that they are risk-takers. My
philosophy of life is to throw the ball and go for it! Don’t move three yards
and huddle together and hope. Take a risk and let what happens happen. It
will make the difference between a successful team and a mediocre one. On
my office wall hangs a plaque that says, “I don’t have to survive.” I want my
team to perform above the level of mediocrity. It’s far better to try and fail
than to fail to try.
The following poem appeared in Ann Landers’ column. Each line contains
a truth and a test:
To laugh is to risk appearing a fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out for another is to risk involvement.
To expose feelings is to risk rejection.
To place your dreams before the crowd is to risk ridicule.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To go forward in the face of overwhelming odds is to risk
But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life
is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing,
He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he cannot learn,
feel, change, grow, or love.
Chained by his certitudes, he is a slave.
Only a person who takes risks is free.
I love the story about the old farmer, ragged and barefooted, who sat on
the steps of his tumbledown shack, chewing on a stem of grass. A passerby
stopped and asked if he might have a drink of water. Wishing to be sociable,
the stranger engaged the farmer in some conversation.
“How is your cotton crop this year?”
“Ain’t got none,” replied the farmer.
“Didn’t you plant any cotton?” asked the passerby.
“Nope,” said the farmer, “’fraid of boll weevils.”
“Well,” asked the newcomer, “how’s your corn doing?”
“Didn’t plant none,” replied the farmer, “’fraid there
wasn’t going to be enough rain.”
“Well,” asked the inquisitive stranger, “what did you
“Nothing,” said the farmer, “I just played it safe.”
A lot of well-intentioned people live by the philosophy of this farmer, and
never risk upsetting the apple cart. They would prefer to “play it safe.” These
people will never know the thrill of victory, because to win a victory one
must risk a failure.
C. T. Studd made a great statement about risk-taking: “Are gamblers for
gold so many and gamblers for God so few?” This is the same missionary
who, when cautioned against returning to Africa because of the possibility of
his martyrdom, replied, “Praise God, I’ve just been looking for a chance to
die for Jesus.” How can a guy like that fail? He has everything to win and
nothing to lose.
Winning Teams Keep Improving
The third characteristic of winning teams is they continue to try harder.
They realize that when they’re through improving, they’re through. It’s interesting
to note that during the 1980s no team playing professional basketball,
baseball, or football has won a championship for two years in a row. It was
hard to stay on top. Once you get there, you tend to try to maintain the situation
and hang on to the glory. This is a big mistake, because there’s always
someone below who is hungry for victory. They’ll make the necessary sacrifices
and take the risks to get to the top. It’s easier to win when you’ve got
nothing to lose. It never pays to rest on your laurels; you must be willing to
give them up if you want to keep winning.
Lon Woodrum, a dear friend of mine who lived to his nineties, continued
to be an outstanding speaker, writer, and poet late in life. He set a goal for
himself to read a book a day. I questioned him about that, thinking that at
his age he should be taking life a little easier. He said, “John, I have a tendency
to get lazy. I want my 86-year-old mind to keep growing and learning. I
want to die with a book in my hand.” Lon lived. I know a lot of people who
are breathing, but who are already dead!
Art Linkletter put it this way:
I never want to be
What I want to be,
Because there’s always something out there
Yet for me.
I get a kick out of living
In the here and now,
But I never want to feel
I know the best way how.
There’s always one hill higher,
With a better view,
Something waiting to be learned
That I never knew.
Till my days are over,
Never fully fill my cup;
Let me go on
The highest reward for man’s improvement is not what he gets for it; it’s
what he becomes as a result of it. Ask yourself why you are trying to improve.
Is it to receive something for it? If so, that’s the wrong motive. Try to improve
because it makes you a better person.
Winning Team Members Care about Each Other
The fourth characteristic of a winning team is that each member cares about
the success of every other member. They enhance each other. Andrew Carnegie
realized that, before he could be successful, he needed to make his employees
successful. He once said, “It marks a big step in your development
when you realize that other people can help you do a better job than you
could do alone.” In the business world he was known for his outstanding development
of people. Once he had thirty millionaires working for him. That’s
when a million dollars was a million dollars. Someone asked Carnegie how
he induced so many millionaires to work for him. He replied that they weren’t
millionaires when he hired them; they made it while they were with him.
“How did you find such men?” people inquired.
Carnegie answered, “It’s like mining for gold. When you start, you may
have to move tons of dirt to find a gold nugget … but when you start mining
for gold, you overlook the dirt.”
Charles Brower said, “Few people are successful unless a lot of people
want them to be.”
Do you recall when Edmund Hillary and his native guide, Tenzing Norgay,
made their historic climb of Mt. Everest? Coming down from the peak,
Hillary suddenly lost his footing. Tenzing held the line taut and kept them
both from falling by digging his ax into the ice. Later Tenzing refused any
special credit for saving Hillary’s life; he considered it part of the job. As he
put it, “Mountain climbers always help each other.”
If you’re an old enough sports fan, you’ll remember the days of the Boston
Celtics and Red Auerbach. When he knew they had won the game, he
always lit up his cigar. That was his trademark. Whenever he lit his cigar, he
sent out smoke signals to the other team—it’s our win! When I can tell that
my team, the Skyline staff, is working together on a winning project, I mentally
light a cigar!
Just how do we develop a winning team? Three key areas together determine
the success of the team: hiring, firing, and inspiring. Let’s consider
each one in turn.
The most important feature of any organization is the quality of the staff.
Great athletic coaches know it takes more than inspiration to win; they must
have talent. Therefore coaches take a major hand in the hiring. After all,
staffs that just happen get happenstance results!
Most pastors of large churches tell me that staffing is their number-one
frustration. A few years ago I was in a forum with pastors of some of the
largest churches across the country. Our agenda included a variety of topics
for discussion. The very first item was the question, “What things frustrate
you the most in ministry?” It is no exaggeration to say that 80 percent of the
next two and a half days were spent discussing staff and staff-related problems.
Rather than moving with their staffs toward mutual goals, many of
these senior pastors were preoccupied with staff-related problems.
Perhaps you may be reading this and feeling that because you have a
smaller church with only one other staff member, this section is not relevant
to your situation. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can get by with inferior
staff members because you are small. The opposite is true. In a business
of 100 employees, if one is inferior, the loss is only 1 percent. But if a
church has a payroll of two, and one is inferior, the loss is 50 percent.
Kurt Einstein in Success magazine said that hiring the wrong person is
an extremely costly mistake. If that employee is fired within six months, it
costs the company at least two years’ salary. You can see the damaging financial
effect of not hiring correctly.
There are three hindrances to hiring outstanding staff, especially in
Christian circles. The first is in getting references from previous employers.
Honest references are almost always sabotaged by tolerance, because no one
wants to blow the whistle on a poor worker. It is my Christian responsibility
to be as objective as I can when giving a reference. To do otherwise would be
deceitful. An employer does an employee no favors by recommending him
for a job for which he is not suited.
Another hindrance to hiring top-quality staff is the fact that you are
probably a small organization and smaller organizations have less to offer
than larger organizations. But take my advice: Don’t let the size of your
church or organization determine the quality of your staff. Go for the winner
and offer him or her your vision for the future. Don’t offer your present situation
unless you plan to camp there permanently. Hire a person who can
grasp your dream. If they understand that you have the ability to make that
dream a reality, they may be willing to leave a comfortable situation to move
into an exciting one.
Rick Warren, pastor of the Saddleback Church in Southern California,
showed this type of entrepreneurial spirit when he responded to God’s call to
plant a church. As the assistant pastor of a church with more than three
thousand members, he became the interim pastor when the senior pastor
left. The congregation approached Rick with the possibility of taking the
leadership of that church. He turned them down. Captured by his vision of
planting a new church, he gave up what was in his hand.
The third hindrance in hiring outstanding staff is not knowing what
qualities to look for in prospective staff members. Perhaps you know what
job needs to be done but are not sure of the qualities a person needs to do
the job best. Here’s a hiring formula that will help you RATE an individual:
Relationship + Attitude x Talent + Expectation = Production
Let’s consider the importance of each of these words.
Kurt Einstein of Success magazine says of this important characteristic in a
work-related situation: “87 percent of all people fail, not because of capability
but because of personality.” People usually don’t fail because they can’t
do the job, but because they can’t get along with their coworkers.
If you work only for yourself, you may not need too many relational
skills. However, if you work with people, you must have (or seek to develop)
the ability to interact positively with them. Can you talk to people easily? Do
you listen to them? Do you have a sense of humor and the ability to laugh at
yourself without being sensitive and defensive? Do you enjoy people and
working with them? Are you warm and approachable?
The leader of any group must exemplify certain relational essentials.
First, he must respect his staff. They will not only absorb his respect, they
will reflect it back to him. He also needs to provide open and honest two-way
communication on all issues. Open communication establishes an atmosphere
of trust that is essential if a group of people is to function as a team.
Some leaders have a great deal of insecurity and are, therefore, fearful of
trusting those with whom they work. This type of leader looks at others with
a suspicious mind, dwelling on possible underlying motives: Is a staff member
out to take over their position? Determine if your fears are real or not. If
they are not, dispel them and trust your people.
A leader will be hurt in one of two ways. He can be nontrusting and hold
his people at a distance, never sharing or being open with them. Though his
feelings may not be hurt because he won’t allow anyone to get close to him,
he will be hurt in other ways because no one will ever help him. His will be a
lonely trip with no one to hug, love, or share the joy of ministry. On the other
hand a leader can choose to be open and transparent and chance the possibility
of being hurt by one who takes advantage of that trust. That is a risk
worth taking. I would hate to think of the rich, deep friendships I would never
have developed had I not risked trusting people.
This is the tiebreaker for hiring a team member. If I have interviewed two
people who are on equal footing, their attitudes will always determine my
decision. It doesn’t matter how capable a person is, if he has a negative
mind-set, he will be destructive to the team. A negative mind-set manifests
itself in a critical spirit and nonsupport of other team members. If I ever
sense that this is a problem with a staff member, that person will soon be
looking for a new job. I can help a person improve his abilities, but only he
can change his attitude.
Businessman Jim Cafcart looks for three things in helping people become
Talent. What are they good at?
Interests. What are they fascinated by?
Values. What do they believe in?
Interests and values pretty much determine how and to what extent one
uses his talents. It is a fact that we are not equal in dislikes. The parable of
the talents in the gospel of Matthew certainly underlines this truth. The ability
of the employer to discern the gifts and abilities of potential employees is
essential for the success of the team.
A leader needs to know what his staff members expect of him, and the staff
needs to know what’s expected of them. Here are some of my expectations of
Growth. I expect continual personal growth and departmental
growth. Each staff member should be stretching to his
or her utmost and the results should be visible. As this happens,
each area of leadership will feel the positive effect.
Teamwork. The whole is more important than its parts.
Though each member of the team should be producing results
in his or her own department, this growth is subordinate to
the health and growth of the body as a whole.
Leadership. They must learn how to influence people and
develop people. This generally happens as staff members
stretch and grow themselves.
In Leadership magazine I once saw a cartoon of a pastor sitting at his
desk talking on the telephone. The caption read, “Well then, will you take
two secretaries and one choir director for one assistant pastor and a singles
man?” This leads me to the next aspect of staffing, firing staff members.
Firing a Worker
Being released from one’s responsibilities can have a devastating effect on a
person. It is not an action to be taken on a whim but only after careful, prayerful
consideration. The following questions can help in making the decision.
First, has the church outgrown the pastor or has the pastor outgrown the
church? It is not uncommon for either to happen. I know what it is like to
realize that the challenge is gone and it is time to move on to other
possibilities. I have also known churches to forge ahead while the pastor sat
wringing his hands, wondering what to do with a situation beyond his
Before letting a staff member go, another question to ask is, who believes
this person needs to be replaced? If I, as the pastor or leader, am the only
one who believes a change needs to be made, then I should tread carefully.
Perhaps there is a personality conflict that needs attention and resolution.
When it’s time for a change to be made, more than one person should be
sensing that need. Other staff, members of the church board, other key associations,
and even the staff member in question, will feel the need for this
change. To guard against personal prejudices and unfair evaluations, I yearly
ask the church board to participate in an anonymous review of all the staff
members. This provides a wide spectrum of the effectiveness of each staff
The third question to be answered: What is the basis for the dismissal?
What grounds are serious enough to let someone go? By far the most important
thing to review is moral integrity. When there is a basic character
problem—lying, moral compromise, deceitfulness—a quick removal is in order.
I am convinced that when a person has lost trust, his or her ministry
and service is over within the Christian community. I certainly believe in forgiveness,
rehabilitation, and restoration into fellowship, but not restoration
to a position.
Other possible grounds for dismissal would include serious relational
problems. If a person is chronically at odds with other members of the team,
there is need for removal. Or when a staff member shows an obvious negative
attitude toward the church or organization, it’s time to let that person go.
Negative thinking can spread like a cancer. Finally, if a staff member reveals
a serious lack of ability that cannot be corrected, he or she should be
As the pastor, it is my responsibility to have the best person possible in
each position. The church board holds me accountable for this. If I neglect to
do this, then I am not keeping the church’s highest potential as a priority.
The board holds me accountable just as it does my staff. My own job is on
the line if there is someone else who can better lead and serve.
If firing is necessary, just how do we make the transition a little smoother?
Assume we have worked through the tough questions. We have tried to
balance mercy with stewardship and forgiveness with accountability. The decision
becomes clear; the person must be removed from ministry or work responsibility.
First of all, we do it personally. A letter or memo is too cruel and impersonal,
allowing feelings of desertion to be magnified and bitterness to be cultivated.
A personal encounter allows for tears, anger, and other emotions
that accompany such a blow. It also gives opportunity for the person to raise
questions. Obviously, the news should be delivered promptly and directly
before some grapevine has a chance to reach the worker being terminated.
Do it gently. There is no need to write a twelve-page list of the person’s
shortcomings. In fact, that person should have had that twelve-page list several
weeks prior and been given a probation period to work on his or her
problems. When the dismissal is given, the person may become angry or defensive
and that is the time for a “soft answer.” Gentleness, however, does
not require dishonesty. If the person is ill-equipped for ministry or leadership,
it is more harmful to pretend otherwise. Remember that how and when
these messages are given can soften the blow.
Do it without bitterness or malice. Those who deliver the message of dismissal
must be under the Holy Spirit’s control. Emotional outbursts or
attacks on the person’s character are counterproductive to the goal of the
person’s growth and eventual healing.
Close off responsibilities quickly. The longer a lame duck has to drag on
in the job, the lower his or her productivity and the more he depresses the
zeal of others. A drawn-out firing process opens the door to lobbying for a
reversal and excuses for poor performance. Also, it is possible for the leader
to lose his objectivity when he starts getting pressure from pocket groups.
He will then begin second-guessing his decision to fire.
Be discriminating. “All the facts” do not need to be divulged to those
whose interest is to slander or gossip. The details of a moral failure may
serve to titillate warped appetites for scandal more than to promote healing
in the body of Christ. Choose your words cautiously. Do not make matters
worse than they are and needlessly jeopardize the person’s future.
Anticipate the person’s reactions and be prepared with your answers.
Also consider the effect on those who are close to the person. How might you
help those who may be hurt or offended in this change. Do you need to be involved
in some emotional healing? Finally, consider where that person
might go if possible, and try to help them in that transition.
Inspiring Your People
Harold S. Geneen, former director, president and CEO of IT&T, said, “The
essence of leadership is the ability to inspire others to work together as a
team—to stretch for a common objective.”
The leader needs to pave the way for those following by exemplifying a
positive, hopeful attitude. A leader motivates his team toward the end result
by continually reminding team members of the overall vision and the importance
of accomplishing the goal. When the leader communicates clear expectations,
he also gives his people a freedom to create. Most importantly, a
leader expresses the most profound inspiration when he believes in his
people—when they feel and know that he thinks they are the best and his
total confidence is in them.
E. E. Kenyon of American Weekly shared this story of a surefire way to
inspire the team (though not one I would recommend). The normally sourfaced
boss smiled genially at the salesmen he had called together for a meeting.
“Well, gentlemen,” he said, “I’ve called you in to announce a big sales
contest that I am starting immediately and that I will personally supervise.”
There was an excited murmur from the assembled salesmen, and an
eager voice from the rear called out: “What does the winner get, Mr.
“He gets,” announced the boss, “to keep his job.”
PUT IT TO WORK
• Uniformity is not the key to successful teamwork. The glue that holds
a team together is unity of purpose.
• Characteristics of winning teams:
They play to win.
They take risks.
They keep improving.
They care about each other.
• People who prefer to “play it safe” will never know the thrill of victory.
To win a victory, one must risk failure.
• The highest reward for man’s improvement is not what he gets for it,
it’s what he becomes as a result of it.
• It marks a big step in your development when you realize that other
people can help you do a better job than you could do alone.
• Relationship + Attitude x Talent + Expectation = Production
• The essence of leadership is the ability to inspire others to work together
as a team—to stretch for a common objective.
Putting the Principles to Work
I will apply the principles from this chapter to my relationships with people
in the following ways:
People Power, John R. Noe
You and Your Network, Fred Smith
BE A PEOPLE PERSON
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