Leading the Team Out of a Maze

Nobody talks about the life-changing leader who helped them raise their umbrella at the beach.  Influence happens only rarely in comfort zones or times of ease. Vision is not the starry-eyed product of Monday morning quarterbacks or couch potatoes. Adversity was made for leadership.  And leaders were made for adversity.

Seth Godin puts it this way: [click to continue…]


A Gown in the Night

by Andy Wood on November 12, 2014

in LV Stories


Jim was hardly the first businessman to ever try to operate by the Golden Rule.  But he was one of the few who actually put the name Golden Rule over the dry goods store he co-owned and ran in Kimmerer, Wyoming.  So I suppose when your store name means, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and when you choose to live with your wife across the street from the Golden Rule store that you run, it would probably be a good idea to practice what you preach.

Fortunately, the founders of the Golden Rule chain had found in young Jim a work ethic and care for people that would make him an excellent business partner and store manager.

Simply put, Jim was a servant leader before people ever talked of such things.

All that was put to the test one night when Jim and his wife were awakened by a loud banging at his door.  There stood a Chinese man who spoke no English, gesturing with great agitation, beckoning Jim to open his store.

What would you do?  Point to a clock and ask the man to come back when the big hand got there and the little hand got there?  Close the door and go back to bed?  Call the police? [click to continue…]


Want to have a good day tomorrow?  Then ask for it!

Every Christian I know gets up in the morning with some sort of desire for a good day.  I know of no one who actually relishes the idea of a total disaster, although I have encountered plenty who expected it, planned for it, and sure enough, got it.

These “good days,” of course, are always measured by our expectations. To the degree that we accomplish what we set out to do and no person or circumstance violates our standard of expectations, our days are classified as “good.”  Anything less than that spells trouble.

The Bible makes it abundantly clear that the success or failure of your day does not depend on your circumstances, but on your preparation for them, and your reaction to them.  And one of the greatest tools at your disposal is the time you spend alone with God in the morning.

Here is a growth idea that will add strength, beauty, and productivity to the activities of your day when you use it during that morning time.  After you have spent some time praising the Lord, and have submitted your authority and your will to Him, pray for a “G.O.O.D.” day! [click to continue…]


(Sort-of-random thoughts at 30,000 feet with a lot of free time on my hands…)

It takes minutes to make paper fly; to build something capable of carrying you long distances takes months, and a lot of helpful, smart people.  The same is true with your important dreams – and your character.

You were created with the language of Forever in your heart, and nothing else will satisfy.

“I will” spoken with resolve has power, but your resolve will be tested and the limits of your willpower will be exposed.

You were not born with the wisdom and capacity to wait, but wisdom and reward waits for those who learn to.

God created the world for you, not you for the world – but He does hold you accountable for leaving it better than you found it.

A thousand opportunities dance before those whose eyes are open to see them.  Ten thousand chances pass by those too lost in fear or consuming to notice them.

Summers are God’s way of showing that you don’t have to be in a classroom to learn.

I just saw a man express his gratitude by giving up his first class seat to a woman… who happened to be wearing a United States Army uniform.  I wonder how I can say thank-you to somebody today.

I will always respect the one who can wait (there’s that word again) with discipline, but then decisively act with courage.

I’m not so sure that God has a plan for you so much as God has a plan period and invites you to participate joyfully in it… Or bruise yourself on it. [click to continue…]


What would you do if you were Jimmy?  You’re caught in a dilemma because your best friend is a hood.  Riff-raff.  Wrong side of the tracks.  Your parents say you can’t visit him.  And he’d do just as well to stay on his side of town, too.  But there’s something special about him; that’s why he’s your best friend.  He doesn’t have much, but he does have heart and passion. 

And a cheap, second-hand guitar he doesn’t even know how to tune.

You come from a good family, with something of a pedigree.  You live in one of the music capitals of America, and your cousin is a famous country musician.

Maybe you can still be his friend – this kid some people called “white trash.”

Maybe you can introduce your friend to your cousin.  Maybe your cousin can cross the tracks in your place.

That’s what Jimmy did.  [click to continue…]

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Ask most any Christ follower who or what the ultimate model for leadership is, and they’ll point you to Jesus Christ. 

Ask that same Christ follower what the ultimate standard for leadership is, and they’ll probably land on servanthood.  “Jesus was a servant leader,” they will opine, “and He called His followers to lead by serving.”

Okay, so far, so good. One more question.

Ask that same believer to name somebody from among the most successful ministries or institutions who actually practices servant leadership across the board…

…and watch their pupils widen.  The headlights just caught the deer.

In spite of all our claims to servant leadership, the honest truth is that leadership on a grand scale means knowing what to do with opportunity, influence, power, and public image.  Can a leader have all of that and remain a servant?


But will he?

Camels and the eye of the needle come to mind. [click to continue…]


Riley and Rusty and a Closed Door

It all started a few weeks ago when I noticed something about Gracie, my dog wannabe.  As the house queen in her own eyes, Gracie likes to keep her options open.  In other words, she can’t stand closed doors.  Any closed door.  It’s not so much that she wants or needs what’s on the other side.  She just likes having options.

And so do I.

I love opportunities and the capacity to dream.  And get frustrated when a door closes in my face, or somewhere else.

All that led to a half-baked observation a couple of weeks ago:  “Even my dog hates closed doors.”

And that led to a well-thought-out meditation from my sister Debbie Hughes about dogs, doors, and why and how we (people, that is) experience them.

So if you’ve had your share of frustrations or disappointments, keep reading… this is from her, for you: [click to continue…]

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I want to take you to a place where, frankly, we aren’t invited.  For just a minute, let’s be one of “those” people we often gripe about – those rubberneckers on the highway, who seem fascinated with somebody else’s messes.  

In this case, we’re creeping up to a closed bedroom door, where on the other side, we can hear muffled sobs. 

A man’s sobs.

A few days ago, somebody from home had rocked his world.  The news was bad, and every ounce of optimism he once had was crushed.

You should have been here yesterday.  He was really blubbering then.  And he will be again tomorrow.  Fasting, too.  And praying.  Lots of praying. 

But as he cries and prays and cries and fasts and cries some more, something happens.  [click to continue…]


No telling how many times I’ve said to someone, “Put this in your oven and let it bake for a while,” or “I don’t have this all sorted out yet – it’s still in the oven.”

I thought I’d share some of the “bread” that’s in my oven right now.  Here are seven half-baked, half-raw ideas I’m heating up.  I may toss ‘em.  I may cook ‘em up.  Put them in your oven too, and let’s see what comes out.  You can help, if you’d like, by sharing your thoughts in the comments below.


There is no such thing as a porcelain healer.  There are expert healers, wounded healers, bloody healers, spiritual healers.  But if your goal is to look pretty on a shelf or remain detached from the broken, the sick, the wounded, or the dying, you aren’t much use.  For God’s sake, stay out of the way of those who are.


“The Lord has made everything for its own purpose…” (Proverbs 16:4). If God is purposeful, He must be faithful to complete His purpose.  Otherwise, He’s an idiot or impotent, a scoundrel or attention-deficit, careless or passive.  In other words, if He is purposeful but not faithful, He’d be created in our image.


Even my dog hates closed doors.


The Ultimate test of a leader is whether he will “lay down his life for his sheep.” In other words, will he say no to his instinct toward self-preservation and do what is best for the people he leads?  If you must maintain your position, your salary, your perks, or your title at all costs, you are no leader.


“Have you ever considered how often we judge ourselves by our intentions while we judge others by their actions?  Yet intention without action is an insult to those who expect the best from you.”  –Andy Andrews, The Noticer.


Having a wallet that’s an inch thick is NOT a status symbol.  (Wait for it… wait for it…  Here it comes… What’s in YOUR wallet?)


Overheard on “Criminal Minds” a few weeks ago:  “Scars remind us of where we’ve been, but they don’t have to dictate where we are going.”


backwards clock“So much of our time is spent in preparation, so much in routine, and so much in retrospect, that the amount of each person’s genius is confined to a very few hours.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Whatever happened to Green Stamps?  They’re an indelible memory of my childhood.  In case you missed it, the Sperry & Hutchinson Company, began offering stamps to retailers back in 1896. Grocery stores, gas stations and the like bought the stamps from S&H and gave them as bonuses with every purchase, based on the amount you bought.  In their heyday, 80 percent of U.S. households collected some kind of stamp.

My sister and I grew up licking green stamps and pasting them in books.  When the A&P bag began filling up with completed books, we started getting excited.  We’d peer at the two pages of toys in the S&H catalogue, surrounded by page after page of sheets, clocks, toasters, and other boring things.  (Truth be told, you could get virtually anything with stamps; a school in Erie, Pennsylvania, exchanged 5.4 million stamps for two gorillas for the local zoo.)

Anyway, when we had collected enough to make the trade, we’d go off to the Redemption Center.  Technically, we’d already “bought” the stuff.  We were presenting evidence of our purchase (the stamps) in order to redeem – to buy back – our merchandise.

This is not about Green Stamps, but about redeeming.  About buying back something that already belongs to you – namely your opportunities and your time.  [click to continue…]