Four Ways to Lead Yourself Before Leading Others

Follow The Leader!

This post originally appeared on Mason Kesner’s blog

Everyone wants to be a leader. However, leadership doesn’t happen overnight. You can’t just walk up to a group of random strangers and declare, “I am your leader. Follow me.”

Before you can lead others well, you must first be able to lead yourself. As the Latin proverb goes: “It is absurd that a man should rule others, who cannot rule himself.” Even after you become a leader, you owe it to your followers to lead yourself well.

So how do you begin to rule yourself? Here are four habits of successful self-leaders:  Read more of this post

8 Characteristics of a Godly Decision Maker

Compass

God’s will is something that everybody wants to know. Where will I live when I grow up? Where will I work? Who will I marry? The list goes on and on.

Why do we want to know all of these things anyway? Probably because we want “peace” about a decision or want to have a life free of uncertainty and with minimal risk. While that’s understandable, it’s not necessarily the way God’s will works. As RC Sproul said, “Many Christians become preoccupied or even obsessed with finding the ‘will’ of God for their lives…. Far from being a mark of spirituality, the quest for God’s secret will is an unwarranted invasion of God’s privacy. God’s secret counsel is none of our business.” Too often we spend so much time trying to figure out the parts of God’s will that He doesn’t want us to know yet, that we forget to do the things He has already clearly told us to do. Burk Parsons puts it this way: “So many are looking for special revelation from God while it sits on their shelves gathering dust.”

How should we seek God’s will then? Romans 12:2 gives us a hint: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”   Read more of this post

How to Develop a Personal Mission Statement

 

Arrow

Mission statements. Every company has one. Some are really good; some are really bad. Regardless of the quality of a mission statement, they all have the same purpose: to give direction to the daily actions of an organization.

Organizations aren’t the only entities that need mission statements to guide them. You and I need mission statements as well, especially as you think about building your personal brand. Having a personal mission statement is important for three reasons:

  1. It differentiates you from others
    One of the things I’ve learned as an entrepreneur is that investors invest in people more so than products. For example, they would rather invest in an entrepreneur trying to create positive social change by selling widgets than an entrepreneur trying to get famous and make a lot of money selling the same widget. Having a personal mission statement helps potential investors, employers, friends, etc know your underlying motivations and what sets you apart from others.
  2. It gives direction to your career path
    Knowing what your true mission is will help you select jobs that will allow you to accomplish your goals, even if on paper they seem unrelated. I currently am involved in the agricultural technology, young adult ministry, experiential education, and social media arenas, but I am still able to fulfill my mission in these seemingly random combination of jobs.
  3. It reminds you why you do what you do when things get tough
    Your job isn’t always easy. There are some days you’ll want to quit or disengage. Having a purpose behind your work keeps you focused and moving forward even during the hard times. Your mission is a motivator pushing you toward a greater purpose than earning a paycheck.

Steven Covey refers to developing a mission statement as “connecting with your own unique purpose and the profound satisfaction that comes from fulfilling it.” Here are five questions to ask yourself in order to develop your personal mission statement:  Read more of this post

The Gospel at Work [Book Review]

The average person will spend over 90,000 hours of their life working. 90,000 hours! To put that in perspective, it would basically be like clocking in today and working non-stop for just over 10 years before clocking back out.

Not only does our vocation consume a significant amount of our time, it is also part of our identity. One of the first questions I always get asked when I meet someone new is: “What do you do for a living?” For better or worse, we are associated with the work that we do.

Many people tend to compartmentalize their lives. There’s a Work compartment, Family compartment, Friends compartment, Hobby compartment, and so on. We do our best to keep the different areas from overlapping.

However, for Christians, there is one compartment that should pour over into all the others–or rather be the foundation for everything else: our faith in Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul writes, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” According to this, everything we do throughout a given day should be based on the gospel and done to bring glory to God and not ourselves.

With that in mind, Christians must ask themselves: “How does my faith impact the way I do my job?” To help answer this question, Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert wrote The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to our Jobs. In this great little book, Traeger and Gilbert address the two main problems that everyone faces when it comes to work and then show how the gospel transforms our purpose and motivation for every aspect of our vocation. They close the book with practical application as it relates to choosing a job, managing people, sharing the gospel, and defining success.  Read more of this post

Lessons from Three Years as an Entrepreneur

Agricultural Food Systems has now been in business for three years!

It’s been an interesting year for AFS: we completely redesigned the TenderID prototype, took part in another round of testing with the USDA, continued fine-tuning our technology, and were featured on CNNMoney’s website with fellow John Brown University alumni businesses James+James and Craftistas.

Any entrepreneurial journey must be one marked by constant learning. Sometimes this learning comes through success, other times it comes through hardship and failure. As Winston Churchill put it,I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.” In other words, every situation presents an opportunity to grow. During my first year running AFS, I learned the importance of thinking strategically, constantly moving forward, and staying humble. The second year as an entrepreneur taught me to not let my identity be defined by my work, the benefits of delaying gratification, and how collaboration is an integral part of innovation. Those six themes were prevalent again this year as we continued to move forward with our R&D. Here are three additional lessons I learned this year:     Read more of this post

Don’t Miss the Target [Guest Post]

 

On Target

[Guest post courtesy of Nvulane Nhlapo. Scroll to the bottom to learn more about Nvulane.]

While there is an older, more established generation of entrepreneurs who have devoted their lives to their craft, there is a growing new wave of young entrepreneurs who are taking their expertise into new territories. Along the way, some of these young businesspeople can get blinded by the strict formalities the business environment has put in place and, as a result, may never pursue their dreams or work on that ground-breaking project they once saw potential in. At the end of the day, they miss the target.

Here are a few tips that have personally helped me to never miss the target:

  • Keep it Simple
    The complexity around us can be overwhelming. As a result, many people are now looking for simplicity, not only in the products and services they use, but also in the way ideas are communicated. Simplicity is all about making sure that the whole message connects with an audience. One of the ways to excel as an entrepreneur is to keep things simple and promote simplicity in their young companies. Breaking a compound project into smaller pieces not only makes it easier to understand and communicate, it could get potential investors to buy into your vision.
  • Pursue Opportunities
    Always be alert. There are a lot of opportunities around. As long as people have needs, there will always be opportunities. Look for ways to improve peoples’ lives. Help to solve the problems in your community. Sometimes the opportunities come at a time when you may not feel ready, but you should still give it a shot and pursue them. These kinds of occasions help us grow even though we may be uncomfortable at first.
  • Start Small
    All entrepreneurs yearn for a massive launch of their projects. While this may seem like a decent idea, it is often better to start small and scale one step at a time. Often by trying to build up to a huge launch, you lessen your chances of getting started and at the same time delay the time until you product or service can hit the market and start making money. Working on a venture without the conviction that it works or that people will like it adds risk to the whole plan. Start small, scale in increments as time goes by and you meet milestones.
  • Help Yourself
    Potentially, the most painful part of the entrepreneurial journey is losing and forgetting yourself during the process.  The bottom-line is this: yes, you should help others; but help yourself too. Make allowances for the personal areas of your life.

If there was ever a time to follow your passion and work on something that matters to you, that moment is now. Do not wait for any other time. Incorporate these tips, do your research, and it will help you hit the target. Go for it!

Which of these tips are important to you? What are some of the principles that have prevented you from missing the target? 

___________________________

Guest post courtesy of Nvulane Nhlapo. Nvulane is a BSc (Hons) Information Technology student from Lesotho and he works at Basotho Crafts. He is growing as a young entrepreneur, blogger, speaker and a casual drummer. Follow Nvulane on Twitter: @NvulaneNhlapo

Want to write your own guest post on Lawson’s blog? Click here to make it happen!

[image credit: vizzual.com on Flickr]

Follow Me: The Command to Disciple

This is the third of three lessons in the “Follow Me” discipleship series from the 2014 Harvard Avenue College/Career Ministry Spring Retreat.

In this series, we’ve explored what it means to be a disciple of Christ. We looked at Jesus calling His first disciples and saw that the call of discipleship is initiated by God towards rebels dead in sin unto adoption as sons. This involves both belief and repentance. Next, we saw that the cost of discipleship requires loving family less than Jesus, bearing our cross, and relinquishing everything. Even though this cost seems high, what we get in return is infinitely more valuable: the righteousness of Christ.

We’re going to wrap up our “Follow Me” study by looking at one of the first and last things Jesus gave to His disciples while on the earth: the command to make disciples. True disciples of Jesus Christ are supernaturally compelled to make more disciples.

Commanded and Accompanied

READ Matthew 4:19; 28:18-20

Notice in these two passages that Jesus doesn’t suggest that His followers make disciples. He doesn’t highly recommend it. He didn’t teach them the latest evangelism technique or instruct them on how to be a role model. No, Jesus gave them a clear command: “Go and make”. From the very beginning, Jesus intended for every disciples to make more disciples.

It is also important to note that He doesn’t give them this command and leave them to figure it out on their own. On our own, we are destined to fail. That’s what’s great about being a follower of Christ: He doesn’t leave us alone! The commands that Jesus gives His disciples can only be accomplished by the work that He does in them. In Matthew 4, He promises to make them fishers of men while in Matthew 28, Jesus tells His followers that He may be leaving them physically, but He will always be with them in the presence of the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit continues to mold and shape us into the image of the ultimate Disciplemaker.

The Motivation for Disciple-making

What then is our motivation to make disciples? Should we do it because we feel guilty if we don’t? Should we do it to check off that box on our Heaven Admission Form? Not at all! Look at the Apostles: they were supernaturally compelled to tell others about Jesus. As a result, not even death could stop them from obeying this command.  Read more of this post

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