Variables and Constants…Leading in the 21st Century

Reading time: 1 minute. Video time: 10 minutes.


Would King David’s, General Patton’s, Vince Lombardi’s, or Theodore Roosevelt’s leadership been as effective today as it was during their time?


They led in a different environment, different people, had different obstacles, and different resources.

When we think about producing great leaders today, we often look back on the great male and female leaders of their time and try to match or emulate their skills. By wholly doing so, however, we might be putting ourselves at a disadvantage. There are certainly leadership constants that will withstand the test of time, but it is the leadership variables that will separate and elevate a great leader from his peers. On the surface, I would argue that none of the aforementioned leaders possessed the variables necessary to succeed as a leader today, however, whether or not they would have adapted and developed them is a different story (I’d like to think they would have). They were too Wise, Rugged, and Brave, and in our time, those qualities are becoming less valued and quickly transitioning into the more desired attributes of being Learned, Alluring, and Careful. In turn, creating leaders who lack what it takes to continually move forward and make challenging decisions regardless of how much it might hurt. Focusing on the constants and refining the variables will help any 21st century leader produce a greater good not only in the environment in which they operate, but also the ones that surround it. Once we (collectively) begin to realize we are in a leadership drought, due to our own valuation of infirm attributes, we can begin to work towards developing our current and next generation of leaders to carry us through some challenging times ahead.

Check out this spot-on TED talk on what variables are necessary for a 21st century leader.

TED Talk on Leadership – Click HERE

Be Wise. Rugged. Brave.


Photo Source: Time Magazine Online.


Make the call and move on.


Reading Time: 2 minutes.

We spend too much time worrying. Was the decision I made right, or was it wrong? Why are so often caught paralyzed in thought, unable to make a simple decision; Pepsi or Coke, Venti or Grande, Apple or Windows? I wish all our decisions were so minuscule. But this simple immobilization/indecisiveness bleeds into our bigger and more important decisions. Trends soon transform into behaviors, and behaviors/habits can be hard to break (as we all know). A common proverb that is often taken for granted:

“When the going gets tough the tough get going.”

When tough decisions come upon us it is the strongest that we rely on to stand up and make them confidently. Forget about being right or wrong and focus instead on moving forward. This is the leadership our nation so desperately needs. Make the call and move on.  If it was in fact the wrong call, hurdle the new obstacle and keep moving forward, at least you are moving. People respect and understand this. If they do not, then they get left behind. There will always be a few that are left behind, unfortunately (or fortunately) it is unavoidable. Why put everyone else in danger while you are waiting to make sure the decision is perfect for everyone?

In 2010, after I came back from my Iraq deployment, I found I had very little patience for anyone who took longer than 30 seconds to make a simple decision. Where are we going to eat tonight? When should we go shopping for milk? Brown rice or white rice, steak or chicken?  Budget cuts, taxes, or continuing resolution? Make up your mind, its been 29 seconds already!

While deployed, there was very little time to sit, ponder and worry. You made quick decisions because you had to, and if it was the wrong one, you embodied the lessons learned and moved on to the next decision 10 seconds later. We did not have time to sit around and contemplate our next Facebook post. We were both productive and extraordinarily innovative, solving problems left and right. Whether it was out of necessity or because of the operations tempo, it flat out worked. Your mind is a powerful machine when you keep it under the gun. It was like the wild west out there! I felt like I had an idea of what it was like to be like my great grandpap back when America was an industrious nation building quality skyscrapers, homes, roads and other local infrastructures at exponential rates; we were #1. There was no red-tape clogging up a stove-piped bureaucracy. We moved FORWARD in dynamic fashion.

Making quick decisions on the tactical things allowed us more time to think strategically on some of the more complex longer term problems we faced. It is interesting though, something I noticed was that even though we spent more time coming up with solutions for those strategic challenges, the time spent was a fraction of what it would normally take others, outside of that environment, to gin up a plan. We flourished in that environment.

Overtime the good ole’ USA, its general population, has become over saturated with too many diminutive decisions every minute of every day. The ability to choose from so many options has resulted in an incapacitated society which has lost the wherewithal to make tough decisions. We have handicapped our strong leaders for when the going gets tough.

The going is tough, worldwide, and we have essentially become numb to the consequences of our deficiency in leadership. It is a scary thought. Nevertheless, I will not worry nor be infirm. I am ready for the challenge. Let’s make a decision, and move forward together.



Sanctity and a College Degree.


Reading time: 2 minutes.

When did church become a business? Or maybe the right question to ask is, when in history has church not been a business? It seems churches today are being thrust into the ground by leadership that are not qualified to run businesses, and our money (offerings) are going along with them. When we pull back the sheets, we find toxic leaders who have no applicable qualifications in business/financial management. Frankly the “business side” of running a church should not be the business of the Clergy. Billions of dollars each year are poured into the ministry only to be managed by the very people who often have issues managing their own personal finances. Additionally, it seems that the focus of the church has shifted towards appearance and appeal, investing in ways to market/sell God in hopes to increase attendance rather than creating a place reserved for fellowship, worship, and prayer.  Why are we allowing this to happen?

We close our eyes to what happens behind the “green curtain,” scared of what we could find. Could it be as shocking as what was revealed to Dorothy? A bumbling man with an inferiority complex?

Frankly, I believe we feel safer and happier having faith that God will take care of the details. But is that enough? Where does our responsibility lie in regards to the church? While our lives pass by who is taking care of the people who have chosen to sacrifice all to serve us (the church’s body) and God unconditionally? Here is what I believe to be the crux of the issue: 

Somewhere along the way it become “required” for a Pastor to have a college degree. If a Pastor would like to advance in the “ranks,” it is common for them to be required to have an advanced degree (i.e., a Masters in Theology or PhD in a similar field). Has anyone ever stopped to consider that degrees cost money? Where are Pastors getting the money from? They come out of college with a “Private School” degree, costing $25K per year (on the low end), hoping to score an Associate/Youth Pastor position. These jobs pay on average under $44K per year (, leaving the new pastor with a load of debt, taking upwards of 12-15 years to pay back. Relatively speaking this may be close to the same situation that someone coming out of their undergrad with a business degree is in. That being said, there are some fundamental issues here:

– Managing the burden of personnel debt and leading a church is NOT a good combination; one is now in the service of two masters.  Matthew 6:24 states, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (NIV)

– Having to pay for and get a degree to be “credentialed” in something God has called us ALL to, is a lie. Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)

Today, many Pastors are finding themselves in a perpetual state of debt/darkness chasing after a piece of paper. When will the congregation stand up and decide to put an end to the glorification of a college degree and put more emphasis on the sanctity of the Clergy which comes through apprenticeship, personal study, and an unyielding devotion to God? We need to realize that we (the church’s body) are fueling all the institutions that are in the business of making money off of Pastors “in training,” leaving the ones in which we look to for spiritual guidance under a load of stress and burden, unable to lead effectively. Also, when will the business leaders in attendance at church chose to stand up to help run the church be diligent in the way in which we apply our offerings and manage/lead the organization? If the church continues down the path it is on, it will continue to lose any of the credibility which it has gained, in turn, doing a disservice to God who was never in the business of “doing business” in the church in the first place.

Matthew 21:12 reveals,  “Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.” 13 It is written, he said to them, “My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.”

We can only blame ourselves for the current state of the church. It needs a facelift, and I believe we are wholly responsible for the direction in which it will go in the future. But to get it headed in the right direction we have to first and foremost appropriately prepare and care of those that God has chosen to lead His congregation. They cannot lead effectively while in the service two masters, and while trying to accomplish things in which God has clearly called others in the congregation to help with.