This may be one of the most important questions we will address, so let me get my brain going on this. I have found that it is pretty easy to lead followers. When I teach and train I have learned to identify leaders and followers. There are those who choose a path that is defined. They choose comfortable places to work from. Where there are obvious authority structures. A classroom, becoming a key player in my work environment, bringing what I have to benefit the purpose. The more defined a role, the more comfort we have with our place in relationship to our context. I have found that there is another level of leadership. This solidified in my careers in the military, law enforcement, and in our choices for how we do business. Here we are surrounded by alphas, many with a cleric mentality. We have some experience, some success, and along with our independence is the independent desire to see others trained and lifted up for success. Leading this second group is different. I read somewhere that you can’t break a stallion. You train one.

So with that our goal becomes to be an example of all we wish to teach those who are meant for leadership. Our example is the foundation for our words and provides credibility for leading a leader. This is why our lives must evidence fruit. A true leader teaches and models so the people we lead may have capabilities and skills we don’t, but that’s okay, our job as a leader-mentor is to bring out the best in others. You’re not intimidated or feel challenged by this approach. You feel excited to be able to use your wisdom and help them to be better than they are. Even to surpass you. I have read about this in the corporate environment. Often these potential management stars are held down because superiors do not want to be outshone or exposed. We all want to be recognized or needed, so it is a real challenge to break through this leadership thought ceiling. I learned a lot about this in the military. It goes to purpose. What is the purpose of the military? Protect our country. I don’t want to hold people back from their purpose. I want to encourage and equip them to be the best they can be. I don’t want my ego to get in their way from their growth toward purpose. I want to lift those in my business world, my people world, and do all I can to see them engage in surpassing success. By having and applying wisdom in order to see the qualities and potentials of others unlocked and expanded, I am using my true leadership skills to build and encourage.

Jesus and His disciples. Paul and Timothy. Moses and Joshua. Knowledge builds upon itself and skills are multiplied by selflessness and strength in leadership. When those we mentor surpass us, each in their own individualized ways, we succeed. This is key to leading current and future leaders.

I have many favorite attributes about both my God and my people. But one stands crystal clear above all. I think true love is appreciation which is demonstrated by care. Truly caring for the other person. My wife. My children. My grandchildren. How do we lead others in choosing true love over the gratification that come from wanting to see, have, and be? Shallow love wants the best for ME. As I have grown older I have realized many things as wisdom has overtaken my soul. My wife and I are yoked together before God as one flesh. When she has joy, I have joy. When she hurts, I hurt. It can be intimidating, but no thought, no action, no intention goes unnoticed before our great God. This is beyond reviewing video footage. All people are created in the imago dei – the image of God. I value that and give people room. When I was young and dumb it was all about me and how others viewed me. It is different now.

I was with my granddaughter Violet the other day. She is a sharp mind and soul, so I watch my words. I work to not just merely reinforce my delight over her, but to draw out the things which will make her succeed in her God image. I want her to know she is smart, but I also want her to know a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset. We have varying degrees of talent, but there is only one of each of us – completely unique. Our talents have a ceiling, our souls do not. Our first response to challenges can be to run away. But if you have a growth mindset, you will continue to embrace the challenges and successes of learning. I want her to see herself the way God sees her. I am pumping gas and I look at her little face in the back seat. She is in her car seat, looking intently at me. I opened the door and saw this deep look of love and it just messed me up. Like, wow. I just felt like God was saying everything right there. And I received it, and it spurred my on to be who my grandkids need for me to be. Hope is beautiful. Faith can be fulfilling. But love – that is the greatest, right?!

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was brought to life in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the satisfaction for our sins. Beloved, if God loved us this way, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time, but if we love one another, God dwells in us, and His love is perfected in us.” – 1 John 4:7-12

The idea of salvation – rescue – has captured my imagination. You start out knowing. Then believing. You check the Jesus belief box. I know that He died for my sins, He was crucified, and conquered the grave. He rose from the dead. I believe all of this. Now I have spent decades learning to respect the depth and impact of what He has done. Is doing. What are the “depths of the riches” of His grace? To learn this whole thing and the depth of it. I just don’t want to let Him down. I want to honor Him. The fear of God is not merely like a scary movie, it is an overflowing love and respect kind of fear – an awe. I don’t want to let Him down just because He IS.

I learned so much about this from my Dad’s example. I did not want to let him down but I inevitably did. I felt guilty. Ashamed. But he never wavered in his care and love for me. I have come to realize that this is who my heavenly Father is. This is how He loves. This is how He wants me to love, right? That’s my true north. When I get off course, and I do, I can immediately step back onto the rock platform of my faith, grab the controls, and resolutely get back on course. I think that faith is like a deep pool. You come to faith, and then you embrace it. And all of a sudden you are pulled into something that’s way deeper than you ever imagined. It is deep enough and big enough for a lifetime – and beyond. How cool is that.

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and untraceable are His ways!” – Romans 11:33

It really is all about what is right. If I have been given a good example in this, I have a responsibility to pass it to those around me. If I did not have good growing up examples, I owe it to myself to become a student of what is right. I watched my Dad do it right. I watched the people he associated with, those he chose for friends. I didn’t know the depth of who these people were, but there was a common commitment to decency and guidance for next generations like myself. I watched how my Dad treated my Mom. They laid a foundation for roles of respect and value. It made sense that chivalry was a part of honor toward women, and that respect was what men sought after and taught. Of course, my career in law enforcement gave me a front row seat to lots of bad examples of this. This is why my heart goes out to true victims. To those who are vulnerable to being taken advantage of. Especially women and children.

I always taught my son to be a protector. Stand between bullies and those being bullied. Never be a bully yourself. Somebody knocks books out of a vulnerable person’s hands, step in. A girl gets made fun of or threatened, step up. Weak men are not men – just males. Women or men who manipulate others through their actions are not defensible. You step in. And he has. Strength and courage come from what is right and true. When God is on our side, truth will prevail. As we grow into God’s Man/God’s woman we are empowered for what is right, whether we win a particular battle or lose it. Peter seemed to get the core values of this:

“Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands. Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor – since they’re already “one” in marriage.” – Ephesians 5:22-28/M

This kind of goes back to the status quo conversation in the book. Paddling against the stream. We were created to be with each other. The opposite of divided. Our adversary (and the nature of life) drives wedges between us. Divide and conquer. So this is a real battle. This is why I am so careful about who I associate with. The storms will come. I want to be standing on the rock with other men and women I can count on. I also pay attention to my eye gate, ear gate, and heart gate. What I see and what I hear has a direct line to my heart. When I lead people I am vigilant about the relationships. Good, solid communication is what keeps us heading in the same direction – pulling together.

I don’t know allot about pulling horses, but this story was interesting to me. One horse could pull a certain weight, and another a very similar load. You’d think if you put them together, they could haul the same combined weight, right? Not so. Together they pull significantly more. My point? If you let the noise direct and limit you there is so much that is never accomplished by working alone. It’s not just the competition, it is the camaraderie. We are better together. This is why I am so big on the right associations. There is not only the combined pulling strength but the differences in giftings and strengths. Added to this, you can watch each other’s back.

“Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.”

– Solomon, from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

It is not like I wake up every morning and go “I just want to build people.” I don’t. My passion comes from principle: it is the right thing to do. I believe true leadership is bringing out the best in people. Look for the good in people and shine more light on it. What a cool world it would be if we all lived like this. So this is like a people-building paradigm. I don’t have to think about it, it is just the way I am made and how my experiences have formed me. It is why I want to be around other people-builders. Together there is a strength of insight and forward motion that comes from doing things God’s way.

“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” – Luke 6:31

“Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.” – Matthew 5:41

Each God-connected mentor has imparted unique things to me. It is not like you search the internet for a mentor. They come to us in the course of life. Our relationship illustrates this (Dave), and I consider you a pretty significant mentor. In the beginning we connected from a distance. I would listen to your teachings about Kingdom life, we met for some lunches, and that developed into more depth. When you understood who I was and what I was doing, we were able to mutually shine light into each other’s stories. I have benefited from mentors like this. Over the years I have had some pretty special people speak into my life. In the military there were high level leaders giving training, and as a police officer the same thing happened. Sharp people who communicated truth to me.

This transferred to our lives as we have built the business – good associations with like-minded people. And in the middle of all of this my faith took root and I was blessed with spiritual mentorship as well. Things change and flow. The things given to me I share with others whom it is my directive to mentor as well. Example and associations are everything. And what is given to us, we are compelled to pass on to others who need the wisdom and encouragement. I can see these faces who have come into my life and were used to shape me. I want to participate in that.

He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” – Proverbs 13:20

“For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside. I would rather stand at the threshold of the presence of my God than live in the tents of wickedness.” – Psalm 84:10