Category Archives: Leadership Series

Leadership – Guarding Our Mouth

Here’s a really well known verse:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” – Galatians 5:22-23

We often think of the fruit of the Spirit as personal qualities, but each one of them is a leadership quality too. A leader who has no love, no joy, no faithfulness… isn’t going to be leading for long.

But you’ll notice a highlighted word in the verse above – ‘self-control’. When it comes to leadership and longevity in a leadership position… I reckon this has to be one of the most important qualities that we can possess.

In fact if you think about it, pretty much every leader who has ‘taken a tumble’ has done so because they lacked self-control… be it with their wallets, their libido, or with the words they used. And it’s the area of our words that I want to look at today.

Cue another well-known verse:

We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check – James 3:2

What’s contained here is stunning when we think about it. James basically says, if we’re able to keep our tongues under control, we can keep our whole body in check. Could it be that self-control in the area of our speech is a key to unlock it’s power in the rest of our lives too? Hmmm.. thoughts to be explored another time.

One thing I love about King David is that he’s so brutally honest in the Psalms. And here in Psalm 39 we get an incredible behind-the-scenes insight into the heart of the man:

I said, “I will guard my ways
That I may not sin with my tongue;
I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle
While the wicked are in my presence.”
I was mute and silent,
I refrained even from good,
And my sorrow grew worse.
My heart was hot within me,
While I was musing the fire burned;

Then I spoke with my tongue:
“ Lord, make me to know my end
And what is the extent of my days;
Let me know how transient I am.
“Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight;
Surely every man at his best is a mere breath.
– Psalm 39:1-4

David is clearly writing about an episode that’s taken place in his life. Because of some negative experience he’s had previously, he’s made the decision to be way more careful about what he says… especially around those he doesn’t trust (‘the wicked’).

Let’s break it down:

1) David Makes A Good Decision To Guard His Mouth

In life, it’s wise to reflect on situations that haven’t gone well, so that we can make adjustments for next time. Otherwise we can end up in cyclical patterns where history continues to repeat itself.

When we make decisions on how we’re going to react in a situation BEFORE it happens, it empowers us to stay on track WHEN it happens.

For leaders, there’s some good wisdom here that David shares – in that it’s smart to be careful with what you say around other people.

For me, I’m a natural extrovert, which means that I have a tendency to think out loud and come to conclusions while I’m speaking. But I’ve learnt over the years that it’s wise to be careful with situations and ideas that are still evolving because not everyone has the ability to process well what they hear you say. Some people get the wrong message or twist your words, some people tell others things they shouldn’t, some people gather ammunition that gets fired back later on.

David had been through all this and came to a wise conclusion. Be self-controlled when it comes to what you share.

We always have the opportunity to ADD to what has been said later, but we never have the chance to REMOVE something that has already escaped our lips.

2) David Takes His Decision A Step Too Far

“I was mute and silent… I refrained from even saying anything good..”

Uh oh. It seems like David got offended somehow and decided to give the difficult people around his life the silent treatment! It’s funny isn’t it – because we can start out to solve an issue with the right intentions but if we’re not careful we can actually overbalance the other way.

David went from shutting his mouth to actually shutting off his heart to those around him. I’m sure there’s times that every leader has been tempted to do that when you’re dealing with difficult people. BUT – he was their King. These people may have been hard work, but they still needed to hear from their King.

It’s really important for us as leaders to check our heart with those that we are leading. We can create huge problems for ourselves if we don’t deal cleanly and authentically with people. We can’t let the actions of other people change our value system or define the way that we will relate to them.

3) David Becomes Aware Of The Effect On His Heart

The thing with giving people the silent treatment… is that it doesn’t usually have the desired effect, and David discovers this firsthand. His silent treatment just ends up making him more and more angry with people.

Anytime you find your heart is getting hot and angry… then something is out of order. Something is going wrong!

Many times, silent treatments end up with explosions as all the emotions that have been held in inevitably find their way out. Fortunately though, this Psalm doesn’t end this way!

4) David Gets Heavenly Perspective

In the midst of it all, David goes to God. When he does this – David starts to get an eternal point of view – and realises… all of this is just so temporary.

It seems to me the secret to self-control is remind ourselves that ‘this too will pass’. In the moment we can feel like a problem or issue is our whole world. But if I deal with the emotion right, then it will pass, and I will win the victory.

In Conclusion

1) Make the decision to be careful with what you say as a leader – your words carry weight

2) Be aware that great communication is needed – even with difficult people – so that you can stay in an effective place of leadership

3) When you’re heart is angry – something is wrong. Don’t proces out of the moment.

4) Eternal perspectives help us thorugh temporary troubles!

Leadership – Experiencing The Vision

Whenever someone speaks about VISION, there’s one go-to verse that nearly always comes up:

Where there is no vision – the people perish – Proverbs 29:18

Another translation of this verse says “Without a vision, the people cast off restraint” – Proverbs 29:18.  Whichever version you read, it’s clear that vision is important.  Without a strong sense of the future and a clear reason for being, it’s only a matter of time before even the greatest things start to die.  People will commit to huge constraints on their time, money and energy when they believe in a vision that’s yet to come to pass – but without that vision, the burdens seem pointless and apathy easily sets in.

Walking The Land

In Genesis 12, we see something interesting played out in the life of Abraham.  God calls him to leave the land he’s been living in and go to a new land that he will be shown.  But Abraham doesn’t go and just stand on a hill and look over the land – he walks right through it:
When they came to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negev – Genesis 12:6-9
The  same can be seen in the life of Joshua.  He rallied the people to walk into the land that God had promised them and God said to Joshua:
Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses – Joshua 1:3
So Abraham WALKED throughout the land.  Everywhere that Joshua PUT HIS FEET, the land was given to him.
But I think there is more to this than just ‘prayer-walking’.  In both situations, as Abraham and Joshua travelled through their promise they EXPERIENCED what God was giving them.  They didn’t just see the vision from afar, but they took the time to walk through the vision, to become accustomed to it, to touch it themselves.
It wasn’t just about where their feet walked, it also about what their EYES saw while their feet were walking.

Experiencing The Vision

When I was young there were empty lots down the end of the road I lived on.  They were just grass sections with not much happening on them.  But then one day construction began and eventually brand new houses were built on the sections.
Long before those houses ever appeared in the ‘real world’, they were visions inside the mind of an architect.  While everyone else saw an empty lot, the architect saw the completed house that would sit on the lot.  They saw the bedrooms, the kitchen, the lounge rooms, the garage.  Maybe they saw as far as the light fittings, the bench top and the tapware.
What started as a vision inside their head grew and developed through plans and detailed drawings.  Eventually it was clear enough to pass on to a team of people who together would build the house.
The most compelling visions are more than just a statement or a few lines on a piece of paper.  They’re strong pictures held in the heart and mind, realities that we’ve seen by faith that don’t exist yet in the world – but that God wants to bring to pass.  It’s different from visualisation because visualisation is simply creating what WE want to see happen in the future.  True vision is comprehending and seeing what God has planned.  One is a fantasy, the other has SUBSTANCE!
See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain – Exodus 25:40
When Moses constructed the tabernacle, he made something no one had ever seen before.  But he already had a plan that he was building to…. that which was ‘shown to him on the mountain’.  He then built what he had seen, what he had experienced.
The clearer as leaders that we can SEE what God is wanting to do, the more familiar we become with it – the better we are at being able to articulate it to others.  We can pass the plans on to the leaders and teams around us and they can begin to build with confidence.

The Authority To Speak 

It stands to reason that the more time that leaders spend seeing the vision that God wants to release through them, the better they will be able to pass that vision on to others.  There comes an authority when they speak that those who have merely had a good idea one day can’t come close to.
When Jesus spoke on the kingdom of heaven, he was able to speak with great detail and great authority.  Why?  Not because He’d heard someone talk about it once, or He’d woken up with a good idea one morning – it’s because He’d EXPERIENCED it.  He knew the kingdom of Heaven not just intellectually but experientially.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched–this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. – 1 John 1:1
The apostles were able to communicate such a clear picture of Jesus because they had seen him, beheld him, their hands had touched his wounds.  They’d experienced Him.  So what they were communicating wasn’t just some good thoughts, but a reality.
In many ways, Vision and Faith are very similar.  True vision is about seeing something that God wants to do but hasn’t done yet, and co-labouring with Him to bring it about.  Faith, too, is being certain of ‘what we do not see’.  Maybe we don’t see it with our physical eyes, but when faith’s involved it’s clear as day to our hearts!

Now It’s Our Turn!

So what has God shown you about the future?  What’s that thing that exists on the inside that He’s calling you to build on the outside? Take the time to EXPERIENCE it – walk through it and feel what it’s like, take in every element.  The clearer we see what God wants us to do, the easier it becomes to bring it into the here and now on the earth.