Bully as Leader

The word, “bullying” takes me back to the childhood idiom, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Although a way to help children to not get bogged down by the hurtful comments of others, the lesson of that idiom never really seemed true. Bullying hurt as a child and it hurts even more as an adult. In a culture that is more connected than ever, bullying seems to be more prevalent than ever. Bullying could once be avoided simply by going home now is unavoidable because of the interconnectedness of social media. In their Resolution on Bullying Among Children and Youth, the American Psychological Association, summarizes bullying as, “commonly characterized as aggressive behavior that (a) is intended to cause distress or harm, (b) involves an imbalance of power or strength between the aggressor and the victim, and (c) commonly occurs repeatedly over time.” This short summarization reveals the root contradiction of a bully as a leader.

A bully is one who has power over the one being bullied. A bully uses his power in order to victimize others. A bully leverages his imbalance of power to force his will upon another. A leader is in a place of influence. A leader holds her place of influence as a steward, existing for the benefit of others. A leader recognizes that her agenda is accomplished through the willful participation and contribution of others. A leader knows that which is to be accomplished is for the benefit of all. The way a bully and a leader functions is almost directly opposite.

How a Bully Functions

   As already stated, a bully depends on his position of power in order to do harm and exert his will upon another. Sandra Harris and Garth F. Petrie write, “Not all bullying is obvious, as hitting or verbal teasing are. Sometimes bullying is subtle, such as consistently excluding victims from groups and activities. This type of bullying is particularly insidious, because often victims do not realize that they are being bullied.” A bully uses his position to accomplish his will and to exclude and victimize anyone in his way.

The power of a bully is also seen in his peer popularity. A bully knows how to work the crowd to garner their goodwill, this is how they often gain the approval and even endorsement of those with even more influence. A bully uses his place of influence, which itself is attracting, to garner the participation of others. Others attracted by the popularity of the bully, and not wanting to be victimized, only make the imbalance of power greater. Others become complicit in the actions of the bully before they even know it, and this demonstrates its “insidious” nature. The bully will subtly and at times not so subtly destroy another all in the watchful eye of onlookers. A bully uses others to make himself even more powerful.

How a Leader Functions

   A leader also has a position of power, but a leader recognizes that position as a stewardship. James MacGregor Burns writes, “Instead of exerting power over people, transforming leaders champion and inspire followers.” A leader recognizes the importance of the willful participation of others. A genuine leader does not view people as merely a commodity to accomplish his will but as someone of value who also will benefit from the better future achieved through their participation.

Leadership is accomplished not through viewing people as a commodity or a means to an end but is accomplished through relationship. James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner write, “Success in leading will be wholly dependent upon the capacity to build and sustain their human relationships that enable people to get extraordinary things done on a regular basis.” Leadership comes through wielding the influence of inspiration for the benefit others not by the pressure of one. It is the ongoing depth in relationship that fuels the participation of others.

Leadership is carried out for the benefit of others. Kouzes and Posner write of a leader, “They connect others to what is most meaningful in a shared vision. They lift people to higher levels of motivation and morality, and continuously reinforce that they can make a difference in the world.” A leader does not subvert morality but rather works from morality and raises others to a higher level of morality. A leader doesn’t use people, but builds people for the benefit of all.


   Bullying and leadership could not be more different. The distinction between the two are essentially important in being a healthy leader, follower, and in having a healthy organization. Accomplishments can take place with a bully at the helm, but this is often at the detriment of others and ultimately the organization. Leadership requires time for relationships to be built and skill to help others benefit in moving together, but it is wroth the effort.

Things I Learned by Preaching Through a Long Book of the Bible

I found these notes on my phone that I had jotted down after completed preaching through a longer book of the Bible. As a Pastor, it is my calling, to the best of my ability to teach the Bible in order to equip those entrusted to my care. It’s difficult to prepare people when they become bored with the subject matter. This is going to be a natural challenge even to the best preacher. The following points are a few things that I learned from preaching through the book of Acts:

⁃ God inspired the writing of books, even long ones for a reason. The book of Acts isn’t just the first history book of the church but it also, at length, addresses her purpose and displays that purpose in action.

⁃ Somewhere there is an intersection between the attention of men and women and your ability to hold that attention on a given subject. I don’t always do this well. There were certain sections that I needed to summarize in order to move forward at a pace that kept this balance.

⁃ As much as it was a disciple for me to preach through a long book, it is also a disciple for people to listen through a long book. I believe God grew me as a preacher as we moved through Acts and I believe He grew those whom I serve as I preached through Acts.

⁃ It was helpful to periodically take breaks from the series. This enabled me to address pressing needs of our church and allow both the church and myself to return to the series with renewed interest.

⁃ I still struggle with preaching long passages. I was not able to address many details in the text, but that’s ok. It’s ok, not because the details don’t matter but because someday, I will return to the text. Also, as I grow, as the congregation grows, I will understand and the church will understand the text more deeply.

⁃ I am more confident than ever that the Chief Shepherd shepherds His sheep through the expositional preaching of His Word. I am the Under Shepherd. I don’t have all of the answers to life’s problems or the wisdom to lead His flock but He does and He is so kind and faithful to tend to His flock.

⁃ Different genres of Scripture require a different approach in preparation and preaching. Acts is largely Narrative by which God reveals historical events and God reveals Himself. In Narrative broader strokes are often required as opposed to Epistles which require at times greater attention to details such as literary devices and language.

– The acts of the Holy Spirit as He moved the gospel to the nations through the church is the story of Acts. Although there is a constant tension in Principle-izing the text in application, the story given by the Holy Spirit is that given by God through the text not man-centered, self-help principles.

Even as I look over these lessons, I recognize that they reflect my inadequacies as a preacher. I hope that if you are a preacher reading these lessons that you find them helpful in your own growth. If you are reading these lessons as one who has listened as I preached through the book of Acts, I hope that it helped you in your walk with the Lord and thank you for your graciousness as I learn to serve you and ultimately the Lord more faithfully.

Sermon Prep Fundamentals

I have had classes on preaching.  I have preached now for more than 20 years and I am still trying to become a better preacher.  I have also found that almost no two preachers prepare the same way.  I am not sure there is a right or wrong way to prepare a sermon, but I do believe the fundamentals of preparation must be the same.  I think that the pattern of a faithful sermon is demonstrated in Scripture.  A faithful sermon must explain the text, apply the text to the listener, and point the listener to Jesus.  There are many who merely deliver religious speeches, but if the pattern is ignored it cannot be qualified as a sermon. Continue reading “Sermon Prep Fundamentals”

The Long Book Challenge: Acts Edition

Serving the local church through pulpit ministry is more often than not done through a process of planning.  Many aspects are examined when planning for preaching.  At any given time, I try to take into consideration the state of the church, the needs of the folks, the direction in which I believe God is leading the church, prayer, the calendar, and at times local, state, national and even international events.  The process of planning for preaching must stretch the preacher and serve the congregation faithfully with the goal of teaching the whole counsel of God.  I am committed to expositional preaching.  I believe that God inspired the 66 books of the Bible and the best way I can serve the church is by preaching through books.  I have preached expositional messages on various subjects and doctrines.  I have preached expositional messages through shorter books in both the Old and New Testament but I had never successfully preached through a longer book.  Recently, in about 40 messages, I preached through the entirety of Acts. Continue reading “The Long Book Challenge: Acts Edition”

Harvey, Harold and You: A Call For Renewed Involvement

The name Harold Moore may not mean much to you but if you were part of Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief then you know Harold was something of a legend.  He volunteered with the Greenup Baptist Disaster Relief for more than 20 years.  Disaster Relief is the pride-and-joy of many Southern Baptists.  It is Southern Baptists putting their faith to work in helping the hurting.  In Disaster Relief circles just the mention of Harold’s name commanded attention.  Harold served in just about every major disaster over the past 20 years.  He was even honored with the Distinguished Service Award by the Southern Baptist Convention.

KBClogodisaster    The tragic flooding in Houston by hurricane Harvey reminded me of Harold.  This tragedy reminded me of his absence.  I had the honor of being Harold’s pastor.  I had the privilege of preaching Harold’s funeral.  The damage done by Harvey reminded me of Harold’s absence and the desperate need for men and women just like Harold.  It also reminded me of the need for state and associational work.  Harold served more than 20 years in Southern Baptist Disaster Relief but more specifically, Harold served Southern Baptist Disaster Relief through the Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief from the Greenup Baptist Association.  There has been a lot of talk lately about the value of State Conventions and even more about the value of local Associations.  How are Harvey, Harold and Associations connected?  When you turn on your television and you see those yellow and blue hatted Southern Baptists handing-out meals, remember they have been mobilized by a local association, and largely trained through state conventions.  They cook meals, run chainsaws or do mud-out with equipment mostly owned by state conventions or local Baptist associations.  The most important element in all of this are the volunteers who come from local churches that are active in local associations that are apart of state conventions who unite under the Southern Baptist banner.  Look closely at all of those trailers when you see them on the news, they will say Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief and then their sending state.  Southern Baptist Disaster Relief is comprised of volunteers and equipment from local associations and state conventions.  Each element of this cooperative chain is vital but all of the parts are not equally strong.  As local Southern Baptist Associations struggle to find their way, Southern Baptists ability to respond in times of disaster Is also suffering.   In the Greenup Baptist Association, like many other associations across North America, involvement is down.  Decreased involvement in local associations means decreased involvement in Disaster Relief which results in a decreased ability to respond in times of disaster.  The pride-and-joy of Southern Baptists can only be as strong as our involvemet with our state conventions and local assoications.  Southern Baptist Disaster Relief cannot exist from your money alone, it needs a new generation of men and women to fill the spot left by Harold and others just like him. Continue reading “Harvey, Harold and You: A Call For Renewed Involvement”

To My Girls on Adoption Day!

Today life seems a little bigger and a lot more designed. Today is a bold reminder that life is bigger than I even imagined. Today marks the end of a struggle and the realization of something far bigger than me. Today the struggles of Foster parenting come to an end; you are finally home. You will never have to be frightened when we pack a bag or when a stranger shows up at our home. You are home. No more brave faces when we drive across town, once and for all you are home. No more will I have to put on a brave face when a stranger drives away with you on a visit, you are home. Today brings with it the assurance that I won’t have to wait by the phone to hear how my life, your life, our life will change because of what seems like the arbitrary decisions of a few strangers. Today, a judge will confirm something bigger, God’s plan. I wasn’t there when you were born. I wasn’t there when you took your first steps or said your first words but today a judge confirms that even then, when I didn’t know you and you didn’t know me, you were my girls. Today marks the end of your struggle of getting to me and the end of my struggle getting to you. Today is the realization that despite all that you have been through, God in His infinite love and wisdom has worked out His plan to bring you home. Today is a reminder that family is bigger than biology and genetics, family is the work of God. The Apostle Paul wrote, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who are under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5). The picture that Paul uses to help his readers understand what happens when a person comes into the family of God is adoption. Adoption is something that is received. I will adopt you today. What happens today it is the realizing of the plan of God from eternity past; you have always been mine. Today I realize that years ago sitting in class hearing my favorite college professor talk about his love for his children (some biological and some adopted); God was bringing you to me, even before you were. I realize that those key conversations standing outside of a Shoney’s or that unexpected conversation with a friend from the past; God was brining you to me. I realize now, looking back, just how intricate that God’s plan truly is and even as there are some things that I cannot explain, “the fullness of time has come”, and you are finally home. Today we all get to see what God has been working since before time began you are my daughters, always have been always will be.

Daddy Continue reading “To My Girls on Adoption Day!”

Leadership & Individual Dignity

There are many definitions of leadership but all of them have a single common denominator, people. Of all the things that are addressed in leadership theory, among all of the applications of leadership principles, they all ultimately involve people. Leadership is about people. The way the leader views other people matters. If a leader has a low view of people, it will be reflected in virtually every area of his leadership. The way a leader views people, in the most difficult situations, that view will be demonstrated in the decisions he makes. Every aspect of the leader is reflected in his view of people. It is on this basis, the individual value and dignity of all people, that a leader must find his mooring. All people, regardless of circumstances, possess indelible value and dignity. The value and dignity of every human life has been ascribed to every person without exception by God Himself. Moses wrote, “God created man in His own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27). The value of each person has been ascribed to them by God because of how God created mankind.

God created man in His image. Biblical scholars offer various contributions as to the meaning of being made in the image of God, but what is clear is that this image makes man unique among all of creation. Also, the image of God is directly connected to the reason for man’s existence. Moses wrote, “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28). Because God made man in His own image, God instructed man to, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth…” God’s instruction for mankind was to fill the earth with the image of God through reproduction and his position was to subdue creation under the authority given to him by God. Man has been distinguished from animals by God through his position as one created in God’s image. People have been distinguished from animals by God because each person bears the image of God.

Every person is of value and bears individual dignity because they were created in the image of God. Moses wrote, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.” (Genesis 9:6). In this passage, the highest punishment for murder is prescribed by God, death. Murder is punishable by death because every person bears the image of God. Every person bears the image of God and is of the highest value because of the way in which they have been created. All people have been created uniquely by God because every person bears God’s image and a leader must view every person with value and dignity. The image of God is to even affect the way that people speak of one another (James 3:9). People cannot be viewed as a commodity or as a dispensable resource. People are not a means to an end. Henry and Richard Blackaby wrote, “There is a difference between giving God your best and giving God the best. Excellence generally describes tasks, and tasks are usually a means to an end. People are the end. Churches that concentrate more on their tasks than on their people are missing what God considers most important.” The way a leader views people will determine his priorities and the way those priorities are carried out. A leader cannot disconnect the way he views people and the way he leads people. Every person is created in the image of God and every person must be led with value and dignity. Continue reading “Leadership & Individual Dignity”

A Leader’s Tribute

Jerry Falwell Sliding Down Water SlideThe following was sent to me by my college Mentor, a leader of leaders, who was the Campus Pastor at Liberty University and worked directly for Dr. Jerry Falwell.

Six years ago today Dr. Jerry Falwell died. He was my pastor as well as boss and mentor. On May 15, 2007 as I was working on the Fall and Spring Schedule for 2007/2008 I received a text that said lots of rescue personal at the Mansion – it appears to be related to Dr. Falwell. A few minutes later I receive the notice that indeed it was him and shortly the word came that he was now in the presence of the Lord. Today we remember a man that had as a personal desire that God would have all of him. Millions have been impacted by his life and ministry. Before you in my Tribute to him.

My Tribute to Dr. Falwell

Emerson wrote – great men exist that we might have even greater men. The following is a tribute to a great man who made me a better man.

I learned first from Dr. Falwell to be a person of faith. Dr. Falwell can be described in many ways, with many terms. I think without question he first and foremost should be described as a man of FAITH. He believed God. He believed in the power of prayer. He stated that nothing of eternal significance ever happened apart from prayer. He preached many times from Heb. 11:6 – reminding us that it was impossible to please God without faith and that God was a rewarder of those who did express faith. Without question Dr. Falwell was a man of great faith.

Dr. Falwell was a man who had a great Attitude. Over and over he would repeat the quote, “You don’t determine a man’s greatness by his wealth or his talent, as the world does but rather by what it takes to discourage him.” He also said that we should, “remove all negative people from your inner circle.” I believe his faith in God made him always look at life with a positive view. He just believed God could do the impossible. One of his favorite sayings to live by was, “life is filled with glorious opportunities brilliantly disguised as insolvable problems.” I will always remember his positive attitude and his challenge to face life optimistically.

Dr. Falwell was without question a Leader – He was a visionary and he dreamed big dreams – He had his BHAG. He had numerous ideas and then he implemented those ideas. He made things happen. While there was clearly the leadership of his family, TRBC, LCA LU, the Moral Majority and many of the other organizations he started, what will have the greatest impact on me most of all was his leadership of himself. I am convinced that the greatest leaders lead themselves first. You never had to ask Dr. Falwell if he had his quiet time – early in the morning he was alone with God, reading through a one year Bible – reading the devotional My Utmost for His Highest – writing out his prayer requests. He led himself in the area of integrity – being very careful of never giving the appearance of evil. He was a phenomenal Christian leader, but I will take from his life the importance first of leading myself before attempting to lead others.

Dr. Falwell was a dynamic WITNESS for the Lord. Over and over on TV he would share the gospel. I loved to watch him being interviewed by Larry King or some other reporter, knowing that he would be sharing the gospel. He witnessed personally – he started a church by going house to house. He would witness in front of grocery stores. Sometimes he would talk with a person, sharing the glorious story and sometimes he witnessed with a handshake. That is how he impacted me – the first time I met him I was 18 and was very involved in a sinful lifestyle – (I jokingly say that he created Moral Majority because of people like me). I was in a store purchasing beer when I came face to face with him. He, seeing my long hair and seeing the beer in my hand, moved toward me and then to my surprise stretched out his right hand toward me and said “how are you doing, young man?” I will admit to being a little taken back – I expected a sermon – not a hand shake. Later, after getting saved, I read in Luke 15 about how Jesus was known as a friend of sinners. I thought about my meeting Jerry Falwell for the first time and concluded he was acting like Jesus – being friendly toward sinners. He would challenge us to create our own Top 10 Most Wanted List of people we wanted to see saved. Dr. Falwell was truly a witness for Christ.

Dr. Falwell was an Exhorter who poured out encouragement. He believed that people could be Champions for Christ. He knew how to get you to want to excel at whatever you were doing. I know that what I miss most from him is his encouragement. I am one of thousands that will state “he believed in me when I did not believe in myself.” I can tell of several times in which he called to just see how I was doing. He did that with so many people. I will take away from his words to me that he wanted me to be all that I could be for Jesus Christ – a CHAMPION FOR CHRIST!

Dr. Falwell was a man who loved to Laugh. He told jokes – he pulled pranks – he loved to hit you – when he was in his truck he would love to try to run over you or to blow his horn at you. It did not matter who you were either – I saw him pull pranks on the Chairman of the Board. My children will remember him for grabbing them at baseball games and tickling them. I often thought that Dr. Falwell was a man who truly enjoyed life.

Lastly, Dr. Falwell was a man deeply in Love. He loved his Savior. I cannot prove this, but I think his favorite song was My Jesus, I Love Thee. He loved his wife. Hardly anyone ever saw Dr. Falwell cry. The first time I did was in a convo in the early 90’s when his wife was sick and had to be hospitalized – as he talked about her he choked up. You could tell he loved her deeply. Some of the greatest words ever spoken to me from Dr. Falwell were words that challenged me to keep my relationship with Donita a top priority and keeping it fresh. I can truly say I have had a role model in being a husband. He not only loved his wife, he loved his children. Over and over he stated “what does it profit a man if he gained the world and lose his family.” I not only learned from his example and teaching about being a husband but about being a father! He loved his church – TRBC – but let me quickly say that it was not the building – it was the people. Because of my role with the viewings that took place after his passing I was privileged to see thousand of people walk past his casket. I marveled at how many people just stood and wept. Some would come over to me and tell a story of something that Dr. Falwell did for them. It was so clear that the people of TRBC loved their pastor because he loved them. I will never forget the love he showed me and my family when my mother died. He and his wife drove out to my father’s home to visit with us and pray with us. He truly showed love. And yes – he loved Liberty University. He was its #1 fan. He attended as many events as possible – howbeit sports or musicals or plays or debates. But above all, as stated above he loved his Savior most of all, of whom he now worships face to face. And though he is not here his works live on.

I will never be same because of meeting – knowing – ministering with Dr. Jerry Falwell. And may that be true of all who knew him. I conclude my reflection by giving this challenge
May we all find ourselves living by FAITH
May we all daily have a positive ATTITUDE
May we strive to be a mighty LEADER
May we always be a WITNESS
May we strive to exhort and ENCOURAGE
May we enjoy life with much LAUGHTER
May we be known for demonstrating LOVE.

Continue Strong,

Dwayne Continue reading “A Leader’s Tribute”

The Fundamentals of Impact

shoesIt is easy to lose focus on the fundamentals, the building blocks, as we carry out the mission to which God has called us.  Each of us has a mission to which God has called but our daily activity can be like a snow ball, picking up clutter along the way.  In the life of a leader, there is a constant need for the discipline to refocus our lives to ensure that we continue to carry out the mission to which God has called us.  Refocusing maintains the aim of the original mission.

It is easy to lose focus of the fundamentals within pastoral ministry; there are always projects to work on, people to call and lessons to prepare.  In the midst of all of this good work, fundamentals can easily be overlooked.  A leader must maintain the discipline of returning to the fundamentals which are the building blocks of greater things.  The late, great Coach of the UCLA Bruins, John Wooden, was a master at emphasizing the importance of fundamentals.  Wooden wrote, “…on the first day of practice I personally showed players how to put on their sweat socks to prevent blisters…Socks, put on correctly, may prevent a turnover, which in turn may win a game.  What if that game is for the national championship?”  The stakes are much higher in pastoral ministry only the results are not as readily seen as the wins and losses of an athletic competition.  One of the simple fundamentals of pastoral ministry is discipleship.

The pastoral ministry is too important to not personally make disciples.  The calling of God is too great not to personally make disciples.  The Pastoral ministry is too demanding not to practice the discipline of removing the clutter that accumulates with the task and returning to the simple task of putting your socks on correctly and teaching others to put on their socks correctly as well.  A Pastor must be a disciple maker, not just from the pulpit but on an individual basis.  The task of disciple making does not come with fanfare and does not happen with a crowd but it is the way that great men and great churches are built.

Jesus was a disciple maker.  Jesus commanded His disciples not to go but to make disciples, they were already going.  If you make a close study of Jesus’ disciple making process, you will see that He taught His disciples in life, as they were going, not in an institutionalized class.  I was struck by this statement by Warren Wiersbe in my personal time with God.  He wrote, “The older generation must provide for the next generation, not only materially but most of all spiritually. “Senior saints” must be examples of believers and encourage the younger generation to trust the Lord and wholly follow Him.”  Maybe you read these words and as you assess your life you do not see a faith that reproduces a life worth emulating.  If that is the case, please be willing to ask for help.  There is no shame in asking for help, only in failing to grow.  Personal growth takes an investment.

Pastor, wipe away the clutter and begin to pour into someone’s life.  Do you want to see the church of which God has made you a steward to make an impact on your community?  In order to make an impact you must build men, leaders, and disciples to multiply your effort.  Pastor, return to the fundamental task of “…teaching them to observe all things…”  Let’s impact the world for Jesus’ fame! Continue reading “The Fundamentals of Impact”

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