Connie Mack

How Worry Affects Leadership

Connie Mack will always be remembered as one of the greatest personalities in baseball.

After coaching the Philadelphia A’s for 50 years, he retired in 1950 at the age of 87 as the winningest manager in history.

Books could be written, and probably have been, on the management techniques of Connie Mack. Leaders have a lot to learn from his example.

One management technique: he refused to worry.

Early in his career, when he realized how worry was threatening to destroy his ability to lead — especially worries over past defeats — he forced himself to get so busy preparing to win today’s game that he didn’t have time to worry about yesterday’s losses.

He summed up it by saying, “You can’t grind grain with water that has already gone down the creek.” This colloquialism may be lost on many of us, but it’s Mack’s way of saying what St. Paul said …

But I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Philippians 3:13-14)

This works.

The act of preparing today keeps your mind off yesterday’s regrets and away from tomorrow’s uncertainties.

So give your attention to what is really pressing this day … and press on.

To play second chair

Are You Willing to Play Second Chair?

“There are plenty of people who want to be first violinists, but to find someone willing to play second chair, in any section of the orchestra, is a problem. But without a second, there is no harmony.” — Leonard Bernstein

Leaders, quite naturally, feel most comfortable leading. It’s where we’re gifted. There’s a certain fulfillment that comes with taking charge of a project, developing a strategy, putting a team together, and seeing it through to completion.

A problem that many organizations face, however, comes when you have to deal with those special few leaders who can’t — or won’t — do anything but lead. As in: If I’m not in charge, I’m not there.

The best leaders understand and embrace the idea that sometimes your contribution to a project is not to call the plays, but to help the play-caller execute the plan.

Or, as Mr. Bernstein might say, there are times when — no matter how gifted a leader you may be — it’s your job to play second chair and add a little harmony to the outcome.

When you find yourself involved in work in which first chair is already in place, don’t quit the band, don’t stage a coup, don’t pack your bags and go home.

Instead, seize the opportunity to be the kind of second chair you wish you had in every project you lead.

You’ll be amazed at what you can learn about playing melody when you choose to play harmony once in a while.

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. (Colossians 3:23)

Image of Service

The Image of Service

Is the image of success much different than the image of service?

The world has differing ideas of what makes an individual great. Most often we associate it with power, wealth and celebrity. We typically measure a person’s influence by their number of followers.

The Bible suggests a different way to greatness: the way of a servant. Greatness is found in living for others.

For most of his career Albert Einstein kept the portraits of two scientists on the wall: Newton and Maxwell. Toward the end of his life he replaced those portraits with Ghandi and Albert Schweitzer.

He said, “It is time to replace the image of success with the image of service.”

Maybe he had been inspired by Schweitzer’s words: “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know, the only ones among you who will be truly happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”

We are all on something of a self-directed journey to greatness. Let’s remember that the path is paved with service to others.

If you want to be great, learn to be the servant of all. Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. (Mark 10:43-44)


Sabina: The Movie

Sabina: Tortured For Christ (The Nazi Years) is a new film from Voice of the Martyrs. The story follows VOM founders Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand through the first years of the marriage, their conversion to Christianity, and the early years of their ministry to those who suffer persecution.

The movie is available to stream online for free.

You can also host a showing of the movie at your church. VOM will send a DVD, promotional materials, and a special gift to all in attendance.

More information can be found here.

The Roll Call of Responsibility

You remember the story of Nehemiah, the slave to the Babylonian king who went on to rebuild the crumbling wall surrounding the city of Jerusalem.

Nehemiah’s story is a lesson in leadership, as he recruited the help of the whole city, asking all to to do their part.

Chapter 3 is a summary of those who finished each section they were assigned: Eliashib and his fellow priests rebuilt the Sheep Gate. The sons of Hassenaah rebuilt the Fish Gate. Joiada repaired the Old Gate. And so on.

You could say that if Hebrews 11 is the roll call of faith, Nehemiah 3 is the roll call of responsibility.

However, one verse in this chapter sticks out:

The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors. (Nehemiah 3:5)

I can imagine that the nobles were the type that didn’t mind helping supervise the project, but they weren’t inclined to, as Nehemiah says, “put their shoulders to the work.”

I guess we all have experience with someone like that — someone who could pinpoint the problem, but was of no real use in bringing about a solution. Someone who saw themselves as being just a little above the hands-on effort required to complete the task.

British General Alan Brooke said, “It is child’s play deciding what should be done as compared with getting it done.”

This is what many leaders look for more than anything else when hiring an employee or placing someone in a position of leadership: the ability to get things done.

It’s also a characteristic effective parents want to see instilled in their children.

And it’s a quality we should all try to build in ourselves.

The best leaders do more than diagnose the problem. They take the steps necessary to make the problem go away.

Tom Landry

What Do You NOT Want to Do Today?

Legendary football coach Tom Landry once said:

“The job of a football coach is to make men do what they don’t want to do, in order to achieve what they’ve always wanted to be.”

It’s also said that successful people become successful by doing the little things that average people don’t want to do.

In your work there are probably a few little things that you don’t want to do: items that should be done, but don’t have to be done — at least not yet.

Though the items on your don’t-want-to-do list change from day-to-day, most likely they all have one thing in common: none of them are impossible.

They’re all do-able, with just a little bit of effort.

They have another thing in common: by ignoring them, we short-change ourselves.

We don’t like to call this type of delay by its proper name, but Solomon doesn’t hesitate to:

Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth. (Proverbs 10:4)

For many of us, this “L” word is all that stands between us and our goals.

Remember that’s not a mountain in front of you. It’s just a hill. A small, tedious, but completely climbable and ultimately conquerable hill.

Challenge yourself and your team today to make a don’t-want-to-do list — and tackle these items first, one-by-one. See what happens.


Today’s post is taken from It’s All in the Dailies.

Outside Input

Andrew Carnegie said, “It marks a big step in a man’s development when he comes to realize that other men can be called in to help him do a better job than he can do alone.”

Along these lines, Ken Blanchard said more succinctly, “None of us is as smart as all of us.”

Leaders must walk a thin line here.

On one hand, we need to be able to think a step ahead of the crowd — to see the big picture when others can’t see past today.

On the other hand, we must learn to listen to those we lead. Their input is invaluable — and not merely because it makes them feel “as though they have a voice.” It’s invaluable because their input actually leads to a better end result.

None of us is as smart as all of us.

A verse in Chronicles illustrates this approach to leadership. David is bringing the ark back to Jerusalem, and I want you to notice how he does it:

David conferred with each of his officers, the commanders of thousands and the commanders of hundreds. He then said to the whole assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you and if it is the will of the Lord our God, let us send word far and wide…” (1 Chronicles 13:1-2)

I like the flexibility in David’s words. I like the way he listened to others. It’s something every leader needs to develop.

Being Wounded

Amy CarmichaelMore than half a century ago, Amy Carmichael wrote these words…

Hast thou no wound?
No wound? No scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And pierced are the feet the follow Me;
But thine are whole: can he have followed far
Who has no wound nor scar?

A teacher once told me, “You can recognize leaders by their limp.”

His point: those most effective in ministry are most often those who have been wounded at some time in their lives.

Sometimes these wounds come from others, sometimes they’re the result of our own dumb decisions. But the best leaders are the best leaders because they are survivors.

In fact, they’re more than survivors. They’re overcomers.

No one likes being wounded, and no one enjoys suffering. But this is part of the process of becoming like Christ.

If you’ve been in ministry very long, no doubt you’ve been hurt a time or two. God can, and will, heal your hurts. And he will use them to help him use you in more effective service.

Therefore, since Christ has suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. (1 Peter 4:1)

The Honking of Encouragement

Geese typically travel long distances together in a V formation, with one flying in front of the rest, designated as the leader. This formation serves to minimize wind resistance, making it possible for the flock to conserve energy.

Since the one in front is prone to tire from the burden of facing the wind alone, the group will rotate flight leaders from time to time.

After the change, the one who has taken the lead — who had previously been moving in momentum with the rest of the group — now suddenly feels the full force of the strong wind.

This is where the honking comes in.

Ornithologists say that the geese honk during flight to support and encourage the one currently in front, as in: “We’re behind you. You’re doing a great job. Keep it up.”

Let’s remember, then, that the ones we work with — especially those leading / serving in an area new to them — will benefit most from our words of encouragement.

When someone steps up to do their part, it’s not enough for the rest of the team to coast. Let’s offer up a honk or two in support of those who are making the greater effort.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Problems & Solutions = Problems & Solutions

In the mid-19th century, fire trucks were typically pulled by horses. At the fire house, the horses were kept downstairs, while the firemen slept and ate upstairs.

• This led to a problem: When the horses could smell food being prepared, they wanted some. So they would frequently climb the stairs to see for themselves what’s on the stove.

• This led to a solution: Fire stations began to install spiral staircases, too narrow for a horse to navigate. This kept the horses safely on the lower level.

• This led to a problem: A dozen firemen trying to race down a spiral staircase at 3:00 in the morning was neither safe nor quick.

• This led to a solution: Chicago-based fire fighter Captain David Kenyon is credited with the invention of the fire pole: Safer, faster, more efficient.

Following Chicago’s lead, the Boston Fire Department soon installed a fire pole. It wasn’t long before other departments throughout the land heard about this innovation, and began using them, too. You could say the idea spread like … I don’t know … what would be a good analogy here?

Here’s my point.

Problems rarely come with a one-step-and-this-settles-it-forever solution. The best solution to one problem will often present corresponding challenges in another area.

So what do you do? Abandon a good “first-step” idea?

No, you continue to adapt. You continue to confront the follow-up challenges that come along.

That’s part of being a leader: solving one problem after another. It’s not always the most enjoyable line-item in our job description, but it’s often the most necessary.

The end result for fire stations across the nation is that the fire pole is a much faster method of getting to the lower level — faster than even a traditional set of steps. And when you’re on your way to a fire, every second counts.

Facing problems day-in and day-out can be tedious, it’s true. However, solving them one-by-one makes everything better for everyone.

And more than likely, that’s much of what your job entails.

The Price We Pay for the Right Words to Say

Do not believe that he who seeks to comfort you lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good.

His life has much difficulty and sadness and remains far behind yours. Were it otherwise he would never have been able to find those words.”

— Rainer Maria Rilke
Letters to a Young Poet

This quote from the 19th century Bohemian poet makes me think, first, of the life Christ lived for us.

He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. We sometimes forget.

He did not consider equality with God as something to cling to, but instead he humbled himself, taking on the nature of a servant, becoming obedient, even to the point of death.

He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. He suffered for our sins, that by his stripes we may be healed.

And it is this attitude of humble, sacrificial service that Paul calls us to imitate.

I also think of how Rilke’s words apply to those in ministry, especially the preaching / teaching ministry.

It is through the struggles we face and the challenges we endure that God is able to give us the necessary words that can offer strength and hope to others.

We’re often tempted to ask, “Why is it necessary that I endure this hardship?”

Let’s consider the answer might be: “Because the people you’re called to serve will someday need to learn, from you, how to overcome this same kind of challenge.”

3 Characteristics of Critics (and Your Best Response)

We’ve all heard what Elbert Hubbard said:

“To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.”

However, for those called to do kingdom work, this just isn’t an option.  The truth is, we’ll all be criticized. We just need to learn how to deal with it.

Samuel Goldwyn, founder of MGM Studios, gave his people the following advice:

“Don’t pay any attention to the critics. Don’t even ignore them!”

As impossible as that sounds, I think I know what he meant.

A good example of enduring criticism can be seen in David.

You remember the story of how the Philistine Goliath stood before the Israelite army, defying them day after day to defeat him in battle. No one believed he could be conquered; the Bible says that they were all “dismayed and shaken.”

But when a ruddy-looking red-headed teenaged shepherd boy named David happened on the scene, he got the idea that he, by God’s power, could slay this giant.

When he said something about it, his own brother spoke with burning anger:

“Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.” (1 Samuel 17:28)

David’s brother, Eliab, epitomizes the nature of critics. Here’s how.

• He was obsessed with the trivial. David was about to win a mighty battle for the glory of God, but Eliab was more concerned with the sheep.

Critics usually focus on the little picture, not the big picture.

• He made it personal. Eliab called David “conceited and wicked.”

This highlights the difference between criticism and advice. An advisor helps you evaluate your options and rethink your strategy. A critic just attacks your motives and condemns your character. As the poet Ezra Pound said…

“You can spot a bad critic when he starts by the discussing the poet and not the poem.”

• He underestimated David’s intentions. He said, “You came down here to watch the battle.”

No, David came to win the battle. He came to save the day. He was ready to do what brother Eliab and King Saul and the rest of the warriors weren’t: he was ready to risk his life for the opportunity to do something great for the glory of God. Eliab didn’t get that.

So what was David’s response?

“He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter.” (1 Samuel 17:29-30)

David didn’t get into a debate with his big brother about the purity of his motives or the extent of his vision. He didn’t even bother to explain what arrangements he made for the sheep. He just turned away from the criticism and talked to someone else.

And then, of course, he turned his attention to Goliath.

David had five smooth stones to work with. There was no point in wasting any of them on Eliab.
The temptation is to give critics more recognition than they deserve. The best response, however, is simply to turn away.

Turn your attention, instead, to doing that which God has called you to do.