The City of Heroes: Developing Leaders

I am writing from Manchester on the day 40,000 people turned up to run the annual 10K around our Great City…The newly elected Lord Mayor was one of the thousands of heroes who completed the 10K run in absolute defiance of the ISIS loser who blew himself and 21 innocents up earlier this week. Hundreds of thousands turned up to cheer the runners on. They want us to be afraid…NO FEAR…Our city has so many heroes. We always need heroes, and we certainly need more leaders and today we saw many who were willing to step up to the plate, to take the lead, to show we will neither be oppressed nor defeated. I makes me proud to be a ‘Manc’…

I am honoured to be part of the leadership of a wonderful church that meets in Greater Manchester. A church committed  to produce heroes and develop leaders. This week we held the second of our fortnightly training meetings. People of several generations and both genders, different countries of origin and levels of formal education all masterminding together and  all moving toward one worthy goal.

The first scroll in Og Mandino’s book, The Greatest Salesman in the World was about replacing habits that do not serve us with habits that will lead us towards our Definite Major Purpose in Life. The first of the exercises involved reading the scroll every day, three times each day actually, reading for understanding and reading to establish the very habit of daily reading.

Self development author Brian Tracy says you will double your income if you read in your profession for half an hour every day. I agree with Brian and I would also add that if you read other books and essays not directly linked to your profession they will build you up in every area of life. If you want a reading list The Bible is obviously top of mine and even for non believers there is more wisdom in that book than can be found anywhere else. Steven Covey has been a favourite and I would use him to prove my next point…we will come back to the reading list later

If you want to pass on some of the skills you have learned you will find people are not used to reading and some may find it pretty hard going at first.

That may apply to you who are reading this now so let me ask you to think of it like an athlete. Whatever his sport the athlete will need to learn and perfect skills and techniques: they will need to strengthen certain muscles in order to be better, stronger, faster.  With muscles it is impossible to get more unless you use what muscle you already have and test it, stretch it to its current maximum. Pretty soon the athlete finds what used to be hard gets easier…well it’s exactly the same with learning a new subject…if you read a book that’s ahead of where you are it will be hard, there will be words you don’t understand, it will stretch your brain muscle but if you persevere, one day you will look back and see it as basic, foundational, but by then you will be reading and understanding on a much higher level.

…so back to Stephen Covey…people have told me they started his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and found it hard going so they never completed it. I have to admit I also found it tough but I persevered and now I find the book that’s become his legacy has helped me raise my game. OK so sometimes I have to use a dictionary but now I find things like Emerson’s Essays, Epictetus, Peter McWilliams Charles Haanel have all become staple diet to me now.

So we are looking to develop leaders with the aim of growing the church from the present congregation of 60 or so to what I expect to be 500 within the next four years. That’s a lot of growth and so it means I will have to grow personally, and I will have to develop many leaders, probably twenty or more and be willing for them to take all of the credit and want none of it for myself. I love the sayings of Jesus as he leads up to teaching the disciples to pray in the Sermon on the Mount, he says if men want the credit from other men, they can have it, but that will be all the rewards they will ever get. We know how fickle men are, the adoration will be withdrawn as quickly as it was given. The rewards God gives will be eternal.

So we are studying together a video course by John Maxwell called “Developing the leaders around you”. At the same everyone is supposed to be reading his book, “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth”.

How we are getting on with the videos can be found on the church website at under the developing leaders tag but the personal growth part I want to pursue here.

Last time we looked at the first 5 chapters briefly and though each one was important we thought a bit more about chapter 5 which is called the Law of Consistency. We have to replace habits that are not serving us with new habits that will lead us towards our purpose and not away from it. Habits are things we do every day and are so powerful they can control our lives.

As Christians we believe that God has given mankind free will but it is my belief that we have often surrendered that free will to our habits and addictions.  I personally believe that God’s principles will work for all of mankind but there are certain conditions to be fulfilled. Belief or Faith is the key.

So the free will we have will allow us to choose habits that serve us and honour God.

The first habit as foundation to  many others is the daily reading and it will be easier to do if we set up a conducive environment… which brings me to John Maxwells this weeks edition of Maxwells 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.

Chapter 6 The Law of Environment

First you must create your own personal environment to help you learn better. Find a place where you can be comfortable, quiet and undisturbed every day, your den, your office, the bottom of your garden if like.

Then agree with yourself on a special time, even if you have to get up 30 minutes earlier, but whenever it is block it out of your diary, and don’t let anyone take it away. If they try just say, “Sorry, can’t do it then, I already have an appointment”.

Be sure to leave some time for just sitting and thinking over what you have read, make some notes, write it up in your own words… like I am doing right now.

If you learn something new or an alternative way of understanding something you already know…think about how you can teach or at least discuss it intelligently with someone else, you will learn a lot more from teaching. Maybe you can share it on a blog like this one.

The chapter in Maxwell’s book covers all the other environments that affect your life, your workplace, church, associations etc…if you feel they are no longer places you can grow and you can’t affect them positively to change that environment for the benefit of everyone there then you may have to move on.

I like to keep goldfish in a pond, I used to keep them in tanks but it was not long before I noticed they would stop growing according to the size of the tank. When I moved them from the tank to the pond they would quickly double in size. Sometimes we have to change our environment to grow. That may take courage, you may have to push back the boundaries of your comfort zone but you only get one shot at this life. So go for it.

Propagating our new knowledge for the benefit of others.

As a consequence of six months study with the MKMMA  a big part of my DMP, the part which involves significant growth in the membership of the church where I am pastor, has become clear and the pathway to get there plain.

We are looking to develop leaders because we have a vision to greatly grow the church in numbers and in significance. It is evident that a strong church family is the body to support the home family unit and to lead a successful society.

So talking to the individuals who came to our first early Saturday morning session eager to lean and develop as individuals and leaders we introduced the session this way.

Before you can have you must do and before you can do you must be. But you can be anything you want to be provided it is in harmony with the will of God.

You can be what you will to be…meaning you can design the future you by thinking the thoughts, speaking the words and beginning to do the things that the person you want to be in your future would do.

You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. The scripture tells us that nothing shall be impossible to us if we trust in Christ and live right with God.

You can have anything in life you really want. You just have to help enough other people get what they want. Jesus said if any would be great among you he must first be a servant. Therefore the greatest among you will have served the most people the best way possible. The more you serve, the greater your reward and the closer you get to your own goals.

We then watched John Maxwells Lesson which will be reviewed separately.

And then looked at the first 5 chapters of John Maxwell’s book  “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.” Because as well as watching the Developing leadership videos we are conscious that we must all grow individually into the position as leaders and have chosen this as our first text.

Chapter 1 The Law on Intentionality I choose to grow…and I take action every day to develop myself. Of course there is much more in the full chapter and these brief summaries are only to serve as a memory jogger. Please read the book one chapter a day.

Chapter 2 The Law of Awareness   I know myself…I know where I am now…where I want to be…I am working hard to find out what are the various ways to get there and especially what is the best way for me right now.

Chapter 3 The Law of the Mirror.  I see value in myself… I am a child of God… He thinks I am worth saving so I must believe I am worth the effort it will take to develop myself to reach my full potential.

I don’t see this as a chore…but as a service to the world around me. The more I develop myself the more I have to offer. If I add value to myself then I can add more value to the world. This is a virtuous circle since the more value I add the greater will be my rewards.

Chapter 4 The Law of Reflection. I must let the growth catch up. Spend time each day thinking, concentrating on the person I wish to become… allowing my spirit to bring my soul up to speed with what I have learned. The penny may take a few days to drop when I am leaning new things at a fast rate. Time spent in meditation and thought helps me to gain an understanding rather than simply storing facts by memory.

Chapter 5 The Law of Consistency

Success in any venture does not come by one massive effort though it may sometimes look like that’s what happened…but success is built over a long period, many small positive steps taken one day at a time.

Similarly failure does not come by one big error of judgement although it can be that one error that finally brings a man down. The character that finally brings about the error was built over a sustained period. Lots of small steps taken every day until they became habitual.

So whatever we have consistently thought and done in the past has produced the person we are now. Whether that is good or bad we can’t turn the clock back but we can make it better. We can develop, we can grow.  And over the next 16 weeks if we help each other we can all be better and we can all be on a track to life long improvement.