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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Law of the Picture

In two days we officially begin the District Transformation Project, an experiment in transforming churches into islands of health, capable of dynamically impacting lives and changing communities. In my devotions, I have been reading Maxwell's Leadership Bible. I am enjoying the leadership lessons drawn from the lives of Bible characters. One lesson impacted me so deeply that I would like to paraphrase it for you. It is so applicable to the project that we begin this week.

In the book of II Kings (22:10-23:25) we learn from the life of King Josiah. The leadership lesson is entitled, The Law of the Picture.

Young King Josiah is a classic example of the Law of the Picture. His leadership led to natural reform in Israel, and he teaches us how change occurs: outward reform begins with inward renewal!

Josiah was wholly devoted to the Lord and he desired to lead his people well. His own spiritual passion began to influence the nation of Judah and eventually brought about public reform. The leader must experience personal change before he or she can implement public change.

Personal renewal brings change to a leader's inward thoughts, attitudes and beliefs. This results in personal change in one's words, actions, habits and behaviours.

Public reform follows as others experience internal renewal of their own. This, in turn, results in observable public changes.

Bringing about public change begins with a leader's heart. True reformation isn't merely about behaviour modification but heart transformation. Once this young king recognized the unhealthy state of his own life, he committed himself to repentance. He wanted to change himself. Our leadership journey always begins with self-leadership. I must lead myself before I try to lead anyone else. Once Josiah's heart was changed, he could not keep it a secret. It flowed outward.

When his own life changed, he was in a position to influence others to change. His example influenced public reform. First, the change begins inside the leader, then it becomes visible to others. As they watch, it burns in their hearts and moves them to outward change as well.

Albert Schweitzer wrote, "Example isn't the main thing in leadership. It's the only thing." All the words we speak as leaders mean nothing if our life does not back it up.

Colin Powell said, "You can issue all the memos (or blogs)and give all the motivational speeches you want, but if the rest of the people in your organization don't see you putting forth your very best effort every single day, they won't either."

Through his own life, Josiah gave the people he led a picture of the change he wanted to see. This enabled him to bring about much change in a short amount of time.

Principles of the Law of the Picture

1. Most people are visual learners, not verbal learners.

Educators tell us that 89% of learning is visual. Most people need to see a model or example before they really understand. What we see is what we will be. A picture really is worth a thousand words. Followers beg the leaders to 'show me--don't just tell me'.

2. Good communication makes a vision clear. Good modeling makes it come alive.

Without doubt, a leader's words are important. They clarify the vision he wants to come to pass. However, providing an example is much more powerful and rare. People can then see what is possible if they buy into the vision.

3. It is easier to teach what is right than to live what is right.

As leaders, we must do the difficult thing and practice what we preach.

4. Leaders must work on themselves before they work on others.

Josiah bought into the need for change in his own life, then he proclaimed the need for his citizens to change. The leader must lead himself first.

5. The most valuable gift I can give to others is a good example.

Leadership is more caught than taught. While every leader should become the best communicator possible, communication is more than words. Transforming communication combines clear speech and consistent modeling. There is nothing more confusing than a person who gives good advice but sets a bad example.

Dear God,

As we begin the District Transformation Project, transform me. Fill me with passion, grant me clarity, give me wisdom. May my walk match my talk. Help me recognize 'God moments'. Make me willing to take a risk. Provide resources--human and material. Enlarge your Kingdom in ENY/NE as you see fit.


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