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How to Identify a Bad Leader as Told by Proverbs

In many years of leadership, I often find myself drawing comparisons from the Book of Proverbs to leadership traits I have identified in myself and in others. While there are countless ways to recognize a great leader, what may be more important is identifying one who is not. Here are a few oracles that can be adapted from the Book to help to pinpoint a foolish leader.

Proverbs 23:9 — Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words

Leadership is a constant practice. Great leaders are those who know that they can always improve and learn from other leaders. I, myself, have a mentor, Dr. John Maxwell, who provides me with invaluable guidance that has benefitted me through all my years of education and leadership.

Proverbs 10:18 — Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool

In a position of authority, slander is unacceptable, especially in an educational institution. Gossip is a disease that can quickly spread and should not be influenced. An admirable leader is someone who speaks highly of others, offering praise where earned or constructive feedback when necessary.

Proverbs 12:16 — Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.

In my time in a leadership role, I have learned that you cannot please everyone with your actions, you can only try your best and stay true to your character. A great leader is someone who consistently works towards the betterment of their institution and does not let negative affront affect their work.

Proverbs 10:23 — A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes, but a person of understanding delights in wisdom.

Making mistakes is part of life and everyone who succeeds does not do so without first failing in some aspect. The key to making a mistake is learning from it for the future. However, a foolish leader is one who makes does not accept their mistakes or makes jokes about them. A great leader is someone who recognizes that while mistakes are inevitable, they look forward to learning from them.

Proverbs 17:7 — Eloquent lips are unsuited to a godless fool– how much worse lying lips to a ruler!

Someone in a position of leadership and authority has a following that not only respects them but looks to them for guidance. One of the most important things that a leader can be is someone who is honest, practices good morality, and speaks the truth, no matter the situation. A foolish leader lies to their advantage, losing the respect of their following.

This article was originally published on MarkSmithCIU.com

Essential Tips for College Students

The spring semester may have just ended but soon enough autumn will be here and with it, a new wave of incoming college freshman. With deep nerves and heavy books, new students are faced with the challenge to navigate this new experience in solitude. Here are some essential tips and pieces of advice that, looking back, I wish I was told before starting my journey into higher education.

1.Be passionate in your pursuits

You may be entering your first year completely blind to what your future holds. You do not know what you want to study, or what profession you want to pursue, and your dream job may change every other day. This is all fine so long as you are acting with passion. If Matthew 22:37–38 teaches us anything, it is to be fully invested in what you feel in your heart and to love God with all of your being. If you do this, God will help guide you to success to your passions. I urge you to commit fully to God and your schooling and to use your education to fuel your devotion.

2. Embrace change

This entire experience of higher education is a change in itself, far different and more consuming than primary and secondary education. This will come with challenges and obstacles that need to be overcome. Embracing this change and welcoming the obstacles will lead to a greater experience. You will be given many opportunities to make new friends and to discover a new church that will connect you to God’s people away from home.

3. Manage your time well

Time management is an essential component of success in any stage of life but will be tested in college. Attending classes, completing assignments, saturating yourself in extracurricular activities, and staying devoted to the Bible will take ample practice and patience. Be intentional about making time for all of those as they will lead to success, and do not cut time from any of them. In John 15:5, Jesus says “Apart from me, you can do nothing” and this reigns true even when you are overloaded with responsibilities. It is imperative to make time to ruminate with God, as this is just as important as studying for any course’s test.

4. Be kind to others

Continue to accept others for their differences and be open to allowing new people into your life. Whether your school is 15 minutes from home or 8 states away, finding friendships and forming bonds with others will make the college experience even better. This starts with showing kindness to others and making them feel welcome in the same new environment that you are also in.

5. Stay connected to home

Finally, be sure to stay connected to what matters to you most. Your family may be near or far, but that does not mean that you can’t remain in their lives and up to date on their actions. Semesters will pass quickly and you will be on your way back for the holidays, eager to share the new aspects of your life and blend it with the old and familiar.

This article was originally published on MarkSmithCIU.com

What Makes a Spiritual Leader — Part 1

John Piper of Desiring God defines spiritual leadership as “using God’s methods to get his people where he wants them in reliance on his power.” By this definition, a spiritual leader is someone whose mission it is to develop and change people to accept and exalt God in their hearts and in their lives. We all have Christian duties to spiritually lead in some aspect, however not everyone fully shines in this realm — which is okay. Anyone can learn and adapt to these traits of a successful spiritual leader.

To succeed as a spiritual leader, you must be someone who loves both friend and foe, as outlined by Matthew 5:14–16. This will bring others to accept and glorify God, and increase those who follow you. Loving everyone, even foe, extinguishes fear and allows you to practice love. This is something that is difficult to perform at first, but once you do, you will inspire those around you to do the same.

Spiritual leaders are also disengaged from settling into a repetitive state. Often times, leaders can stick to what they know works and has worked for years, with no desire to change or adjust with their followers. Spiritual leaders crave change and growth, and are always looking for ways to take their ministry to new depths of worship and servitude in the name of God. Spiritual leaders are always moving towards new goals and recognize that their mission is never finished.

Optimism in God’s plan is another identifying characteristic of a spiritual leader. Romans 8:28 states “For those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” A leader is inspired by the words of God and is sure that he is good and just. They make it their spiritual mission to share these words with others and ensure those that accept God that they will be taken care of in life and long after. Spiritual leaders showcase energy and excitement for their ministry, which becomes infectious in their following.

Not surprisingly, a strong spiritual leader is well-educated and versed. Like apostle Paul in Colossians 4:4, all leaders should speak clearly with articulation so as to compel others to believe your ministry. Not only that, but they should use their words and thoughts in a way that teaches others. Teaching others and stimulating thought providing communication is a telltale sign of an astute spiritual leader.

John Piper outlines many more aspects confined in both an inner and outer circle of spiritual leadership. Those who possess these characteristics will find success in their initiative to gain followers in God’s power.

This article was originally published on MarkSmithCIU.com

5 Bible Verses about Perseverance

What feels like ages ago, but also sometimes feels like yesterday, I was in a life-changing accident. The details of the accident are not important now, but what remains relevant is that God got me through the darkest part of my life. At a time when I was unsure if I would ever walk again, I knew my faith was all that I could rely on. With a prodigious amount of hard work, support from my family, and perseverance, I not only gained back my full physical abilities but increased my devotion for God even more than I knew I could. No matter what struggle you may be facing, turn to the Bible and find the faith to keep fighting.

Romans 5:3–4 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

It is important to trust in God, and know that whatever you are suffering from now is temporary, and only a test of your endurance to overcome. Endurance adds to your character long after the battle is over.

Proverbs 3:5–6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.

My accident was just that, and it did not make sense why it happened to me. When things do not make sense, do not try to make sense of them. Instead, trust in God’s plan and know that all will work how he intends it to.

John 15:7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

No matter the situation, the first step to recovery and understanding is to remain faithful. Eventually, things will work out how they are meant to be so long as you remain with God and trust in him.

James 1:12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love him.

While under the trial of my accident, I was diligent about walking again. I knew it would be a long trial, with many obstacles along the way, but I also knew that I would succeed with the Lord.

2 Corinthians 12:9 My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.

This is possibly my favorite and most relevant quote during my recovery. I knew that if I could overcome this accident, that I would find power and strength from it. With the grace of God, I was certain that I would overcome this.

This article was originally published on MarkSmithCIU.net