leadership lane-assist

This post launches a new series I am calling My Leadership Lane-Assist.


Yeah, you know the feature — that first appeared in 2003 Honda vehicles and has become standard equipment on many new automobiles — designed to keep you from veering off-course when you’re tired, distracted or simply inattentive? Perhaps your vehicle has this feature… or you’ve encountered it when driving a friend’s vehicle or a rental vehicle. If not, perhaps you need to get out more. But I digress…

Lane-assist or lane departure warning system — goes by different names and functions in various ways, depending on the vehicle manufacturer. The system kicks in when you begin to move out of your lane unless a turn signal is on signifying you are intentionally changing lanes.

Some systems (LDW—lane departure warning) warn the driver by means of a noise or vibration. Other systems (LKA/LKS—lane keeping assistance, lane keeping system) actively take over and actively resist driver attempts (or negligence) in changing lanes without signaling. Still others (LCA—lane centering assistance) actively intervene to keep your car centered in its current lane unless and until you consciously signal your intention to change.

As Alice of Wonderland fame remarked, Curiouser and curiouser! It’s a brave new world when our cars purport to be smarter than we are. Scary, huh? We may indeed not be all that far from self-driving cars. But, once again, I digress…

Whatever you think of the idea of lane-assist relative to cars and trucks, it strikes me that the concept has metaphorical relevance to the practice of leadership. Here’s what I mean: those of us who have been leading for a long time develop truisms, axioms, principles that we rely on to keep us and our team members on course — or warn us when we might tend unconsciously to veer off course. You may have previously encountered this concept in books like Donald Rumsfeld’s Rumsfeld’s Rules, or Bill Hybels’ Leadership Axioms: Powerful Leadership Proverbs.

As I reflect on my more than four-decade career in biblical higher education, I realize that I have accumulated my own set of principles that serve as a kind of leadership lane-assist for me. Those with whom I work closely will recognize that I frequently quote and resort to them when faced with a dilemma. For what it’s worth, over the next several months, I plan to disclose to you some of the leadership prompts I have accumulated — in some cases, painfully so — over the years.

Perhaps some of these may feel to you like Saul’s armor was to David. By all means, if it doesn’t fit, set it aside. But perhaps one or two of my leadership lane-assist insights might be helpful to you. I pray that will be the case.

So, here’s my first leadership lane-assist principle:


Think kingdom rather than organization or job.


Well, you might say, that seems like a “Captain Obvious” statement if ever I heard one.

But if you have been a leader for any length of time, I’m willing to bet your “kingdom” mindset has been tested on more than one occasion. No matter whether the resources in question are people, facilities, or money, the tendency to act (especially, to react) like an owner and to become exceedingly possessive grows like a cancer. If we’re not careful, we end up sounding like the seagulls in Finding Nemo – shouting “Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine! Mine!” all the time.

  • You find out a sister ministry leader is courting one of your major donors.
  • One of your top administrative leaders or faculty members tells you she believes God is calling her to serve in another ministry.
  • A local ministry asks if they can use your facilities.
  • A “competitor” is siphoning your students, faculty members, donors.

Possessiveness is a poison pill for a leader. We too often jealously clinch when we should joyfully share. We react in resentful selfishness rather than in reverent submission.

Resources are God’s property, not ours. He has the right to disseminate, dispense, dispose them at His pleasure.

There will be a test. Because stewardship is of the essence of leadership.

When (not if, but when) you are feeling a sense of territorial tension, I pray your own leadership lane-assist will prompt you to Think kingdom rather than organization or job.

Not only does this mindset please the Lord, it is predicated on an important principle. I’ll discuss that with you in the next installment of My Leadership Lane-Assist.

Fresh gleanings to fuel your leadership awareness, reflection, and conversations …


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