Run Your Own Race

A TV sportscaster was interviewing a retired Olympic runner just before one race at a big track and field event. One runner they were discussing was the favorite but evidently a strong competitor was in the lane beside him.

“What do you think he needs to do to win today?” the interviewer asked.

Fantasy Baseball, Obama's Foreign Policy and Leadership

I do not play fantasy baseball, nor do I play fantasy football, nor any other fantasy sports that may be lurking out there. When I say what I am about to say, those who do participate in these "sports," and there are plenty in my own family and office, will quickly respond that I simply do not understand the thrill. Frankly, I do not understand the thrill. I just do not get it.

Perhaps it's the word FANTASY that throws me off. Perhaps it's the techno-non-participatory-“geek-ness” factor that does it. The even more likely culprit is my inner resistance to fads. There is something in me that clings to the beach when all the other surfers are paddling madly out for the Big Wave. What this last causes, of course, is that I often miss really fun, exciting waves. I admit it. I may very well be missing the thrill of a lifetime just because everyone else is doing it, while I, the Perennial Fad Curmudgeon, hunker down in my office waiting for Hula Hoops to make their big comeback. In my own defense, however, I also wish to point out that I just cannot get excited about picking, cheering for and subsequently claiming some level of personal victory in a universe of total fantasy. I doubt my ability to take much pride in

First Fruits

Excerpt from
by Dr. Mark Rutland

An unconscious child was rescued from the bottom of a swimming pool. Her terrified parents and concerned onlookers watched in agony as a lifeguard expertly gave her mouth-to-mouth. When water gurgled up and, coughing and sucking in breath, the girl sat up and opened her eyes, the crowd cheered and her parents wept with joy.

She was resuscitated. Where there was no breath, breath came again. One might say she was more dead than alive. Unable to breathe, her little lungs flooding with water, she would have been dead soon enough. But she was not dead.

A friend of mine bought a dilapidated house that I thought beyond hope. Unwilling to discourage him, I said nothing, but I

Honesty: Character and Truth

Excerpt from
by Dr. Mark Rutland

When the German battleship Ostfriesland was sunk by bombs dropped from an American airplane, the career of General Billy Mitchell sank with it. The top brass in the post-World War I American army saw airplanes as high-tech gadgets whose expense was prohibitive and whose only purpose was battlefield reconnaissance. Mitchell, the commandant of the Army Air Corps in WWI, saw the future and dared to tell the truth. The next war, he said, would depend on air power. His counsel rejected, Mitchell arranged for a public exhibition of that power. General Pershing and other WWI generals said it was impossible to sink a battleship from the air. It took Mitchell twenty minutes.

Mitchell's loyalty, prophetic foresight, genuine patriotism and zeal for the truth earned him a court martial. Convicted of insubordination, branded a crackpot and drummed out of the army he loved, Mitchell never backed down. He simply told the army and the country the truth.

Much of the nation and some in Congress listened, but the generals hated him and commanded him to be silent. He

College Athletes, the NLRB and the Ability to Think

Just look at that title, will you? Talk about a title that covers the waterfront. That's a shot pattern worthy of a blunderbuss. Having admitted that, I believe all the words in my title connect.

When a society allows its ability to reason to erode, its determination to resolve issues based on fact and law inevitably yields to the grip of emotionalism. For example, America's founding documents have devolved into antique suggestions easily ignored or "reinterpreted" beyond recognition. The rule of law is collapsing and whoever is in charge

The Moses Syndrome

I am fascinated by the story of Moses. His is a story of rags to riches and back to rags and then on to an unimaginable leadership opportunity which was actually an unimaginable leadership burden. This in turn led to a national opportunity, which was tragically missed, followed four decades later by another chance which was seized by a second generation but in which Moses was not allowed to participate. He was born in a slave hovel, raised in a palace, lived in a desert, died in the mountains and is buried in an unmarked grave which is not even in the country with which his name is

Down Lines Up Lines Leadership Generation Gap

I was raised by an army officer. He thought like an officer, a good one by the way, and he taught me much. I heard tag lines from Officer’s Candidate School at the breakfast table. That combined with my year of birth made a difference in the way I think about life and leadership. Year of birth? Yes, I am what is known as a baby boomer, that is people born in the era around 1947-1962. In fact I am the quintessential "early boomer," born as I was in 1947.

Because I was born at the beginning of the boom I tend to think more like my father's generation, the so-called builders, than I do like those born at the end of my own generation. Take, for example, my inner understanding of

The Tyranny of the Offended

In the National Institute of Christian Leadership, one topic is devoted entirely to one idea: managing along the horizontal continuum between chaos and control. It is always one of the most popular and engaging of the lecture topics in the whole year. Of course, I am not able, in this brief blog, to treat the concept exhaustively, but I will broach the idea.

Every person, every leader and every organization has an inner compass that points to their true north which lies somewhere on a continuum between utter chaos and absolute control. Some have a high tolerance for chaos. Life in a

The Tyranny of the Offended

Live Oak High School in Northern California celebrates Cinco de Mayo every year. Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration of Latino culture and it is always a great time. I love it. The food, the music, the dancing and the art make for a fun fiesta. The celebration is not, as many think, the Mexican Independence Day. That is actually September 16. Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) commemorates the battle of Puebla in 1862, where Gen. Ignacio Zaragoza defeated a much larger and better equipped French army. The strange thing is that Cinco de Mayo is not widely celebrated in Mexico except, of

Discernment in Leadership

The problem with talking about gifts and giftedness is that the entire conversation is different depending on with whom you speak. Some consider only natural gifts, as in Kevin Durant is a gifted basketball player. He certainly is. Just as certainly, he has also worked hard to hone his skills. I am absolutely certain there was a raw gift there way before his first practice, before his first step or even his first breath. Beyond that, 6’ 9” and 215 pounds has a certain enviable gift quality about it as well. There are gifted performers, speakers, athletes and artists whose best efforts to perfect their skills would have been futile without their natural gifts. I sense intuitively that had I worked even harder than Durant I just might not,

Death and the Modern Technocracy

The bodies lie like cord wood by the sides of the roads. Hacked to ribbons by machetes or bludgeoned to a pulp, they are the evidence, we think, of the murderous genocidal savagery of the Central African Republic, or whatever the massacre of the day happens to be. Our eyes grow so weary of televised horror that we seize the remote and click to the mindlessness of comfort TV. We simply cannot understand how a country can get itself in that kind of monstrous tribal bloodbath. What kind of people must they be?

Rwanda, Croatia, The CAR, Syria or any one of a number of other killing fields seem to be the ubiquitous fodder of the nightly news. We cannot get away from them and there appear to be no end of them. Now even much of Mexico has

Dream: An Introduction

Excerpt from
by Dr. Mark Rutland

Next week Alison and I will be attending the International Ministerial Fellowship Winter Gathering in Melbourne, Florida. In light of the theme for this year's conference, "It's time - Dream Again," I wanted to share a short excerpt from my book, simply titled, Dream:

During a Larry King Live interview, Paul McCartney said that he dreamed the entire melody to “Yesterday.” When he awakened he simply wrote it down, only taking a few minutes to compose the music, which was destined to be recorded by many of the world’s greatest artists, become one of the most enduringly popular songs of recent history and make Paul McCartney a boatload of money. All because of a dream.

McCartney added that he did not dream any words to go with it. The first he came up with were: “Scrambled eggs; O my darling, how I love your legs.” (Sing them. They actually fit.) Evidently the creative process that eventually produced McCartney’s memorable and singable lyrics was not as instantly ingenious as his melodic dream.

Yesterday, still on the runway but strapped into my seat on a flight to Dallas, happy to actually be leaving on time for once, now a novelty in modern air travel, I heard words that sent a chill down my spine. "Hello folks, this is your captain speaking. I'm afraid I have some bad news."

Those words invariably introduce other words bound to disrupt the travel plans of everyone involved. That certainly proved to be true yesterday. We had to taxi back to the gate, deplane, troop to another gate, await another plane, then reload and try again.

Let me list them. You know them already but let me call their terrible names. Here are my choices for the top ten causes of depression in the ministry.

1) Failure

2) The fear of failure

3) Rebellious opposition

4) Disappointment

5) Mental and physical fatigue

6) Loneliness

7) Stress: usually financial

8) Frustration

9) Accumulated hurt

10) Anger and unresolved inner issues

Great leadership is multidimensional. The facets of the jewel of leadership are wonderfully on display in the Hebrew Bible. Nuanced words used at different places in the Old Testament reveal different aspects of leadership, or perhaps different types of leadership needed in different seasons. Some may say leadership is leadership but that is certainly not the case. Speed, pace, tone, volume; all these and other variables determine what leadership means in various contexts. I have identified multiple Hebrew words used in different places to speak of different aspects of leadership. I believe there are six such words.

One way of stating the leader/manager's job description is actually "senior decision maker." I think that among the biggest and most disconcerting of all the surprises that I had in moving, lo these many years ago, into the senior executive role was the constant barrage of decisions that demanded an answer:

What do you want to do about…?
When should we…?
How do you want…?

Volley after volley of questions, small and consequential, lobbed into my lap like mortars, became at times excruciatingly oppressive. This was not entirely new to me. I had first experienced some of the challenges of decision making as a leader in sports, first as a player, then as a coach and finally, and most illuminating of all, as a referee.

The Leader's Notebook will be on hiatus until the second week of January.
I sincerely hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

The teenager who wants to borrow her mother's car needs to learn not to ask in the moments just following her mom's long and harrowing commute home from work. The employee who wants a raise should never ask right after the boss has announced that the company is in a cash flow crunch and everyone needs to tighten their belts. Timing may not be everything but it ranks right up there.

The Leader's Notebook wants to give you some questions to ask yourself on timing that may help your appeal, request or proposal enjoy a greater likelihood of success. None of these are fool proof and even if your answers are right on all of them, you may still hit a wall, but at least you will know it probably wasn't because your timing was bad.

If I come to believe that I deserve something, if I "had it coming," how can I be grateful for it? Why should I be? Perhaps it is the prosperity in which they grew up, but whatever its cause, America is faced with a generation that feels entitled. No matter what good thing comes to them they get cannot quite make themselves be truly grateful. It is, after all, they reckon, no more than they deserve.

This attitude is also fueled by a spirit of envy. Envy not only wants more than it has. It wants whatever anyone else has. Even worse than that, envy says if for some reason it cannot be mine, second best is if no one has it. In other words, just as good as keeping up with the Joneses is seeing the Joneses drop down to my level.

Excerpt from
by Dr. Mark Rutland

Its young men gone to death or in prisoner of war camps far in the North, its heartland in ashes and its agriculture and industry destroyed, the South, in 1865, was shattered. Postwar poverty and a deep sense of shame and defeat gripped the states of the former confederacy with economic and psycho-social depression.

Global Servants

Global Servants was founded by Dr. Mark Rutland in 1977 as a worldwide, nonprofit missions and ministry organization. He started this ministry with the desire to see lives changed by the power and truth of God’s Word. For more than a quarter of a century, the men and women of Global Servants have risen to the call and gone into the world to preach the good news and spread the love of God. READ MORE.