We have all seen great leaders, athletes, politicians, teachers, business leaders and public officials taken down by private behavior.  The opposite is true as well.  Healthy private practices can have a positive effect on your public influence.  So what steps can we take improve our character?

Recently BELAY Solutions shed some light on this topic.  If you are unfamaliar with BELAY, let me tell you about them.  Entrepreneur magazine recently named BELAY as the #1 Staff Culture in the United States.  Founded by co-CEOs Bryan and Shannon Miles, BELAY provides a full range of virtual services to businesses and local churches including assistants, bookkeeping, web design, and writing assistance.

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Stanton Lanier wrote an incredible article on BELAY’s website about the relationship between private behavior and public performance.  If you are unfamiliar with Stanton, he is the creator of Scripture inspired piano to refresh your spiritTM and has released ten albums, six with Grammy® winning producer Will Ackerman, Founder of Windham Hill Records.  I wanted to make sure my audience had this information as well.  The following are Stanton’s thoughts:


“Selfless, servant leadership is about action, and the bottom line is that what we say and what we believe will only be as effective as what we are also willing to do.” — Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-fil-A, Inc.

What does effective leadership mean to you?  It is a deep and wide topic which encompasses a life time of learning and application. Serving and leading toward positive outcomes is vital in individual life, marriage, family life, and corporate life. There are many possible characteristics of an effective leader we could discuss. I want to suggest a few simple ideas and action steps which transfer from our private practice to our public influence.

From Simplicity To Envisioning 

Take time to do simple things, to see life and the world through a child’s eyes. This helps me have greater faith in what is possible, and helps me clarify my vision for the future. With private time reflecting and creating from a place of simplicity, I can then transfer a vision more clearly to my wife, my family, my team, or my organization.

Without realizing it, this idea was taking shape when I worked at Adventures Unlimited canoe rental during my high school and college summers. We would unload canoes in the morning, drive customers to the starting point, show them how to canoe, and load up the canoes in the afternoon. The work day was simple. The goal was to give the customer a great experience, and stir their child-like simplicity as they explored the great outdoors. “God made us plain and simple, but we have made ourselves very complicated” (Ecclesiastes 7:29).

From Silence To Equipping

Take time to unplug, be silent, pray, and listen for God’s voice. This can feel like swimming upstream compared to the noise and busyness of a demanding world. However, I have found practicing silence to be refreshing and energizing before I begin to equip and train someone to take on more responsibility, manage a task, or complete a project.

I loved the early morning job of unloading one hundred canoes on the sandbar to be ready for customers. I worked in silence and it was silent when the work was done. So silent I could only hear the water, the wind, and the birds. This made me more productive when I offered guidance to customers, or trained a new employee. “But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him” (Habakkuk 2:20).

From Solitude To Empowering

Take time to be alone. Working outdoors along a river offered lots of peaceful seclusion. Today I have to be intentional about creating this space. Many special moments come from rich times of solitude, such as working hard, resting well, creating calmly, listening closely, and even empowering others.

My desire to be perfect and to be in control makes it hard for me to delegate. Effective leadership requires me to empower others. After casting a clear vision and equipping them well, I must then give others freedom to grow in success, and to learn from mistakes. This increases their joy and fulfillment in doing good work.  “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35).

From Surrender To Encouraging

Take a position of surrendering control with relationships, work and play. This took the longest and is the still the hardest for me. Some of life’s worst moments offer the best possibility for responding with surrender. Surrender also leads to some of life’s greatest adventures.

My leadership is most effective when I continually encourage others. During and after I provide vision, training, and authority, I need to watch for and praise excellent effort and results. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Which “private” and “public” aspect of effective leadership needs your action most today?


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