The Voice Of God

The voice of God is thunderous.

It roars just like the sea.

Like skywriting across the heavens,

For all the world to see.

English: Daniel refusing the King's Food

God spoke this way for Daniel

In the writing on the wall,

And in the house of Cornelius, for Peter,

As he watched the Spirit fall.

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The voice of God is gentle,

Loving, calm, quiet and kind,

Calling softly within our spirits

To leave the world behind.

God spoke this way for Elijah,

Prophet Elijah, Russian Orthodox icon from fir...

As the prophet pouted within the cave,

And also for the outcast Hagar,

That servant’s child to save.

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The voice of God is like a trumpet,

Blasting clear and loud,

Rising like a battle cry

Above the world’s maddening crowd.

And the voice of God is like the cooing

god

Of a quiet and gentle dove,

Speaking to hearts that are lonely

Of His steadfast, unfailing love.

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The voice of God is ever obvious

To the person He wants to use,

Though how He speaks is a decision

That’s God’s alone to choose.

God, the Father watches us all everywhere.

But the voice of God is never

A difficult thing to hear,

Because all God requires of His servants

Is an obedient heart and a listening ear.

A Lack Of Leadership

It has been said many of the problems people fact are caused by a lack of leadership.  Whether we are trying to act in business, perform church or charity work, raise a family or run a country, the differences between success and failure most often comes from leadership or its lack. 

I had many misconceptions about leadership before I met Team.  “But I’m not a leader; I’m just a mom,” I used to say.  I have since learned from the leadership of Orrin Woodward, Chris Brady and Team being a good parent is an essential leadership role in the establishment of a healthy society.  By accepting the role of mom, I chose to be put into the leadership position of establishing and enforcing boundaries for our children, encouraging their personal and emotional growth and development and helping them to become productive members of society. 

Now, since being in the leadership development program of Team, I am better able to see true leadership and its lack in the world.  When I look at the world now, I am more able to look at it from the viewpoint of someone who has grown from being a mere follower, and is striving to become a leader. 

According to Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady’s bestselling Launching A Leadership Revolution, leaders are characterized by three things.  These characteristics of leaders are that they are hungry, being teachable and being honorable.  

Orrin and Chris are very clear regarding their definitions of these concepts.  To be hungry is to have a vision of something more and/or better.  To be teachable is to be willing to learn, and put into practice what is learned.  To be honorable is to have character, doing what is right because it is the right thing to do.

 Very often, when we think of hunger in terms of leadership, we think of it in terms of being hungry for power.  But as Orrin and Chris point out, this type of hunger is the hunger of selfishness, not leadership.  True leaders serve and do not seek power.  

I often see a leadership lack in the arena of hunger in politics.  We’ve all seen politicians who do what is expedient, instead of what is right, because the easy thing will gain them power among their fellows or constituents.  For example, when New York State’s legislature passed the Same Sex Marriage bill, legislators who had been firmly opposed to the measure in the past caved under pressure from special interest groups and their fellow lawmakers, ignoring the wishes of their constituents.  

When we think of leadership on the political stage, having leaders who are teachable is very often not what we see.  Time and again, I have seen political figures and appointed officials presented with the facts, who continue in the course they have decided, frequently contrary to the facts presented to them.  For example, the judge of the Federal District Court in California over-rode that state’s law opposing Same Sex Marriage.  That unelected appointed leader did so in direct opposition to the wishes of a majority of California’s constituents, who had suggested and voted in the proposition in the first place.  

Honorability in politics is often a difficult thing to find.  Politics is filled with people in power who abuse it and behave dishonorably.  The accusations against President Bill Clinton, both before and after he took office, and those against Senator John Edwards show a lack of honorability.  People of character, who behave honorably, are often scarce in politics.  And even when we find them, often the political process itself can corrupt them. 

A lack of leadership in the world must be first addressed by individuals learning about it and putting it into practice in their own lives.  A quote from the tombstone of an 11th century Anglican Bishop reads, 

When I was young and free my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country. But it, too, seemed immovable. As I grew in my twilight years, in one desperate last attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it. And now as I lay on my deathbed, I suddenly realized: If I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed the world.  

As leaders are grown as individuals and in their homes, the leadership in businesses, churches and charitable organizations will rise.  It is only then leaders can and will rise up to serve in government. 

When I joined Team, I wanted to change the world.  As I began to be exposed to Team and the leadership of Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady, I began to realize, as the quote says, I had it backwards.  Instead of changing the world, I needed to change me.  Being hungry, teachable and honorable starts with the person in the mirror.  Only after my own change became more effective was I able to affect change in my home.  As my family life became better, my leadership at work and in my church began to increase.  I went from being a person who saw leadership as having power over others to being someone who understands it really means to serve, and in serving, lead.

Chasing Our Dreams, Or Being Busy?

In Launching A Leadership Revolution, Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady write, “Picture success as a road that leads to your dreams.”  However, sometimes, on the path of chasing our dreams, we find ourselves feeling like we are chasing our tails, instead.  How does this happen to us, and how do we get back?

I understand that feeling, because it’s happened to me, too.  When I was at my most frustrated, I listened to a CD by Team PC member Tim Marks on Goals And Goal Setting.  The leadership example set by Tim on the CD was very helpful to me.

The difference, according to Tim Marks, is in whether we are managing our business or building it.  And if we are busy, is the focus on being busy, or on getting results? 

Busyness is an easy trap for a leader to fall into.  On the CD, Tim said even he falls into this leadership trap, and needs mentoring with leadership guru Orrin Woodward to leave.  Busyness is action mode, when we are working anywhere in a group, and not working with a focus on our goals.

 Results focus depends on a leader strategically building because their eyes are on a specific goal or goals.  The easiest way to have results focus, according to Orrin Woodward on his CD The Ant And The Elephant, is to have and build a big dream.  Results focus is dream oriented.

Once we get past the need for a focus on results, we need to address other issues.  Time management is a big issue people have struggled with, including me.  I remember times of being incredibly busy, but not getting much accomplished, because my time management skills were lacking.  As I grew in my leadership skill of effective time management, my work became more effective, too.

So what objectives should an aspiring leader reach toward?  The first objective is Power Player, which is Team’s goal for all its members.  Power Player is the basic building block of Team.  Once Power Player is reached, Turbo goals are good objectives.  Attaining Turbo 10, Turbo 25 and Turbo 50 opens up new levels of leadership and learning leadership skills.  Each different objective allows greater access to mentorship by leadership gurus Orrin Woodward or Chris Brady.

The leadership examples on Team provide great resources for aspiring leaders.  The resources Team offers in books and CD’s are invaluable for growing leaders.  They allow us to develop the leadership skills we need to grow our businesses and reach for our dreams.

Taking the Road Less Taken

On page 31 of Launching A Leadership Revolution, Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady wrote, “The right lane is never crowded.  There always seems to be a shortage of leaders, but a plethora of people heading the other way.”

Where is that “plethora of people” going?  Do they know where they are going, or if they will have arrived when they get there?  Do they even know that they are going someplace at all, or are they, as I was, a wandering generality??

Before I met my Team sponsors and leaders, I was a charter member of Orrin’s and Chris’ plethora, vaguely aware my life wasn’t getting any place aside from me getting older every year.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I was raising our children, active in our church and enjoyed my hobbies.  But I knew from youth I was raised for a purpose, and I just couldn’t seem to find it.

Then I met the Team, and started to involve myself in the training system.  My extended family thought I was nuts.  They couldn’t understand why I read those books, listened to the audios and attended the meetings.  At times, I almost agreed with them.  But there was something about what I was reading, hearing and something different about the people involved with Team.

Finally, I figured it out.  What I had been hearing and reading all along was true!  These Team people were people that were going someplace.  They had personal goals, group goals and Team goals.  They wanted to change not just themselves, but the world.  The idea of changing me was uncomfortable.  The idea of changing the world was exciting and energizing!

This realization was just the beginning of my journey.  I had a long way to grow, and a lot of growing up to do in a number of areas.  And frequently, I couldn’t see them.  I needed a good mentor, and my Team sponsors and Team leaders fulfill this need for me.

We all are painfully oblivious to our blind spots in life.  It doesn't matter the arena, whether in personal relationships or business dealings, we all have them.  We see what we see, and do not see what often seems obvious to others.  Whether our faults, foibles and human failings are subtle or blatant, we just do not see them.  In the comfort of our own skin, we are benignly (for the most part) oblivious, unless painful reality comes up and smacks us in the face with circumstances our own ill-conceived behaviors have created, or to which they have contributed.  We don't have to like it, but it's the truth.  

A good mentor sees these blind spots and points them out to us.  They show us where we have run rough-shod over others, hurt people's feelings, not done our best work or whatever it is at which we have failed.  They help us to not only see our faults, but also to help us strategize to overcome them.  They help us to be better, in a process Team’s leaders call "PDCA," which stands for Plan, Do, Check and Adjust.

Years ago, I gave my own mentor permission to do the PDCA process with me when she sees issues I don't.  It saves us both time and aggravation.  As former college classmates, we've been doing it together for over 30 years.  There have been times she has teased that if I didn't listen, she might have to repeat the process with a baseball bat!  I do not recommend that method of PDCA, though I fully understand the temptation for a mentor to resort to it at times.  I have a mentee who I sometimes think needs the baseball bat method on a semi-regular basis . . .

My own mentor gently and none-too-subtly pointed out a couple of my blind spots recently, in the Check part of the PDCA process.  I needed the wake-up call.  I had been completely clueless about them, all the while racing madly through life, not seeing the reactions of others to my own ill-conceived entrenched habits, attitudes and behaviors.

  It was only after she did the PDCA process with me that I became aware the issues she pointed out even existed.  It was only then, with the increased awareness given to me by my mentor, that we could work together to consider solutions.  Now, in the Adjust part of the process, I am at work repairing the damage my own obliviousness to my weaknesses has caused.  As I go about working on these things (the Do part of the process), with the Plan we developed, we set a time not too far into the future, to revisit the issues and see how the Plan is working, and what might need to have a PDCA done with it.

The PDCA process is, as I have illustrated, meant to be ongoing.  It is not an inflexible thing, and adjusts to times and circumstances very well.  It accommodates personality styles for both a Mentor and Mentee.  And it is an invaluable tool, when undertaken with a good Mentor, for human development and personal and professional growth. 

Today, with the PDCA process with my sponsors and Team leaders in my life and the knowledge I get from Team, poet Robert Frost’s “Road less taken” is becoming an exciting reality in my life.  I wouldn’t trade it for being a member of the plethora again for anything . . .

Pink Diaper Bags & Yankee Bears

My husband and I are members of a leadership development community called Team.  Team teaches and its leaders model Christ-centered Servant Leadership.  When we first joined Team from another organization, George and Jill Guzzardo and Chris Brady modeled Servant Leadership in the way they welcomed us to the Team.  They showed us acceptance and were patient with our process.  They inconvenienced themselves for our good.  They went beyond anything we’d asked for or expected.

Servant Leadership is particularly important is in family relationships.  God established the family as the basic organization on which everyone’s happiness depends.  Christ-centered leadership is sacrificial and principle-based.  It is the ground on which strong families are created, and results in families that work.  It is out of strong families we get strong communities and radiating out to a strong society as a whole.  

One aspect of Servant Leadership is recognizing what is a big picture issue, and what is not.  As parents, we often are called to sacrifice of our own desires and inconvenience ourselves for the good of others.  Servant Leaders recognize when smaller issues of preference are not worth the larger issues of relationships. 

Father’s Day weekend this year we had one of our granddaughters, 2 ½ year old Keyna, for the weekend.  Saturday afternoon, we were in a wholesale club, trying to pick up a few things for dinner and get gas for the car.

My husband went to the pumps while Keyna, our son and I shopped.  We quickly found the groceries from our list.  Then we wandered the aisles, knowing my husband would take a while, because the lines at the pump were long.  It was tough keeping Keyna occupied in the cart, and she was starting to get bored.

I had sent our son back to the shelves with something he’d chosen and I did not want to buy.  Keyna and I waited for him in a large main aisle, by a display of charcoal.  Keyna was tired of my means of distractions.  Then I saw it.

 “It” was a bear, sitting on the charcoal, dressed in some kind of white outfit and blue cap, designed as a Pillow Pet.  I grabbed the bear and started playing a silly game with Keyna with it, successfully distracting her.  In the midst of the game my husband and son rejoined us.

We tried to put the bear back, but Keyna would have none of it!  “No, Nana!  That’s mine!” It was then our son noticed something.  That white outfit wasn’t mere clothes.  It was a logo outfit, registered to the NY Yankees.   

Not only did this mean the cost of the bear was almost double the average Pillow Pet for what he was wearing, it also meant trouble for us with Keyna’s parents who are Boston Red Sox fans!  My husband and I cringed as our Yankees fan son laughed, thinking of the reactions of Keyna’s parents to her coming home with a Yankees bear.  Eventually, the humor of the situation got to us, and I suggested we go look for the display.  Surely a company smart enough to carry Yankees items would also carry Red Sox items, in our sports-mad region . . .

The display had Red Sox Pillow Pets.  We distracted Keyna, removed the bear and replaced it with one wearing Red Sox colors.  Keyna took one look at the Red Sox Pillow Pet, and tossed it to the floor.  It was an admittedly ugly one in green, looking like that team’s monster mascot, with orange hair and a red outfit and hat.  We all had to admit the Yankees bear, with its white and blue pinstripe outfit and hat, was simply much cuter! 

Keyna caught sight of the Yankees bear and started hollering, “No, Nana!  That’s mine!”  The only thing to calm this over-tired and hungry toddler was to give back the bear and realize we were not getting out of the store without buying it. 

The bear went to church with us the next day.  Keyna refused to be parted from it.  Later, when her parents came after her nap with little sister Ariel to celebrate Father’s Day, their upset over the bear was less than we’d anticipated.  They first tried to blame its purchase on our son, but I quickly stepped in and took full responsibility, just as I had been taught by Team. 

Keyna kept trying to play with the bear with her father, who refused.  He kept trying to toss it across the living room to our son.  Finally, I reminded him of something from when we found out they were having her, our first grandchild.

We knew when we went shopping for baby items they were having a girl, so we got them a lovely pink flowered diaper bag.  He vowed never to carry it, until my best friend, Keyna’s godmother, and I reminded him that a real man wouldn’t be ashamed to carry pink for his daughter.  He relented, just as he did with the bear, for the same reason.  I told him to think of it as “just another pink diaper bag.”  It was, I said, just a small price to pay for having daughters . . .

Pink diaper bags and Yankee bears have in our family become synonymous with the sacrifices parents and Servant Leaders in our homes make for the love of our children and grandchildren.  When we become parents, our needs, our wants and our comforts are put aside for the love and care of our children.  When they are babies, we give up sleep.  As children get older, we give up other stuff.  They become our pink diaper bags and Yankee bears, the preferences we give up for the greater good of loving and caring for our children and grandchildren. 

Servant Leaders understand kids should always get boundaries, and don’t always get their way.  Discipline is essential for children, and rules are meant to be enforced.  Servant Leaders teach good behavior and rewarded it appropriately.  They equally discipline unacceptable behavior and deal with it appropriately.  However, knowing the rules and obeying them is not the goal.  Raising children to be responsible, considerate and unselfish individuals is always the goal.

As Servant Leaders in our home, we learned when our children were teenagers that lines must also be drawn over issues worth fighting over, and which are not.  When Keyna’s mother was a teenager, we couldn’t walk into her room without shoes, because of her messy floor.  Closing the door and ignoring it (and making her live in it until she got tired of it) was a smaller issue when compared with things like showing respect, participating in needed chores, maintaining acceptable grades and being a positive member of our family.  The fight over her room was less important in the raising of a productive, positive young person.

Servant Leaders understand the all-over goal of maintaining positive family relationships needs to be the standard for judgment calls in discipline issues.  And when it’s not a “big rock issue,” as Steven Covey said in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, it’s just another pink diaper bag or Yankee bear.  And these are just not worth the effort to fight.