Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Leadership Through Love - Chapter 2 "Use The Tools, Not The Staff" (Steve Martin)

Leadership Through Love
by Steve Martin 

Chapter 2

Use the Tools, Not the Staff

A.    Do Unto them as you would…
B.     Treasure the people, while digging the foundations
C.     Bless and curse not - honor those who serve with you

After my high school days in Iowa, the Lord had me spend a year at the University of Northern Iowa, before moving to LaSalle-Peru, Illinois in the summer of 1976. I was supposed to have received a transfer through the Eagles food grocery chain, but when I arrived on the scene, no such position was available. They hadn’t even heard of me, as my previous manager had told me they would.

And so I got a job at a local restaurant, the English Muffin, alongside my brother-in-law David Johnson, and sister Mary, who had both moved to this town a few years earlier. Soon an assistant manager position opened at the Kerr-McGee lumber yard, which I promptly took, since I was now engaged to my fiancé Laura Jean Unzicker, and needed to prepare for the days to come.

Oct. 8, 1977 - Steve and Laurie

Working alongside three friends in the office and the yard continued to show me the importance of appreciating those you labor with. You get close to each other when you share common goals on the job, and entrust yourselves to the other one to complete the task.

The yard manager, George Rhodes, and I needed to build a new pole barn to house the steel siding we were adding to the inventory. After the poles were put in place by the Plow Creek construction crew, a common purse Christian community at a nearby farm setting, George and I put the 18’ sheets of metal together. Fighting the wind at times, we entrusted ourselves to the other one, so the metal wouldn’t cut into our hands as we held it in place, to be nailed into the 2” x 6” side boards.

With Kevin Grafton and our other member of the crew, Kelly Hass, supplying the parts and holding steady the tractor platform on which we nailed from, we learned the importance of each one respecting the part the other fulfilled. Teamwork was always important, as I learned on the playing field, and now on the job.

Kevin Grafton (Chicago Cub fan)

The Lord Jesus Himself gave us valuable lessons, while He led His band of men and women on His earthly team. These have proven to be most trustworthy and applicable in my leadership of business and ministry staffs. You also might considering applying these very effective truths in leading and administrating, spoken by Him when He said to His small band, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)

Just to give further impact - these were the two key attitudes I took early on in my management positions, as I learned how to be a “manager of the people”, as one other executive team member put it, during my years with Derek Prince Ministries (1987-1990 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl and 2001-2005 in Charlotte, NC).

Not wanting to be one who “lords it over others”, demanding my own way and using the “staff rather the tools”, I took the posture of treating the staff who served with me as I desired my boss to treat me. I learned to honor them as I wanted to be recognized and honored, and uplifting them as I often needed, but rarely received, in some cases.

As I sought to encourage each one in my care, even as a pastor does his flock, I found that the love grew between them and myself. When those bonds were established, staff readily would give beyond the call of duty and pay, as they knew my heart was not just for the job to be done, but for them in helping me get it done.

Not only did we labor together for the cause of the Lord in the ministry, with me as the recognized leader and their boss, but we became friends for the long haul. I still treasure and continue to keep relationships with those who were in the same office setting with me, or on the church volunteer teams, as fellow servants. Taking a heart position of being their servant, and not one seeking to be served, created and maintained those unique, precious, and long term relationships.

Because of friendships I established with my employees, there were occasions when I had to cut staff, and even terminate some. Because of the respect I still had for them, and with them knowing my heart for them even after their termination, did not mean the “end-of-the-line” in our friendship.

I still maintain communication with ones that were “fired” from my staff. Though the tasks and the outworking of those tasks may not have been performed to expectations and ministry office needs, they still knew that I respected them as a person. They knew that my desire was to see them move on and find a better setting for their skills and lives. Rejection was not going to follow them out the door. They still had dignity and appreciation for the time we served together.

Far too often when people were asked to leave a staff position, it was assumed, and sometimes even expected, that the relationship that was created on the job left with them. Once they were no longer part of the business or ministry staff, it was "expected.". That should not happen, and rarely happened when people left staff I supervised. I didn’t want bridges burned when the Lord moved me on, and so I didn’t burn the bridge when others left the staff.

Even when it came to volunteers, the many who gave of themselves for weekends at the forty-four conferences I administrated, enjoyed coming back when I called on them each time. They knew they were appreciated and valued, not just for the time and energy they always gave, but for the gift of themselves that they freely gave.

Several staff members from one ministry or business that we worked together at providentially wound up on my office team again, some in another city and location than our previous time together. With one, it was after nine years had passed without seeing each other except once or twice.

In another case, there were twenty six years of time between our years of having a job together, and then other jobs apart, in other states. So it was with my good friend and best man at our wedding thirty years prior, Kevin Grafton.

Kevin and I worked together at the Kerr-McGee wholesale lumber yard in Mendota, Illinois for three years, from 1977-1980, and then, because we kept the bond of friendship alive, even as my family moved to three different states over the next twenty five years, we again joined arm in arm in 2004 for the work of the humanitarian aid center of Vision For Israel, in Charlotte, NC.

Even though I was again his “boss”, due to the different service areas we were given to do, the approach we both took was to respect the position the other had, and continue our friendship on and off the clock.

Kevin Grafton (top middle)
Vision for Israel staff - Charlotte, NC(2006)

Another attitude I try to apply, I will word as “treasure the people, while digging the foundation.”  Involved with businesses and ministries that I was employed at, some at the foundational stages of their work, I found that it is so important to show appreciation for those who work with you. Even while being in a “boss-employee” relationship, showing people are valued first for who they are, and then for what they do, will benefit the administration of the tasks being given and completed.

No building foundation is built without digging “below the surface”, and as you build a relationship of caring and encouraging your staff, they will see the concern you have for them. Going beyond the surface level on the job relationships will bring strength when tough times come, and you further need to depend on your staff to help get you through those tasks.

One way I enjoyed showing appreciation and honor for my staff was to bless them on their birthday, which gave them a special “day” that was especially for them. Cake, ice cream, even balloons and other birthday specialties showed my love for them, and desire to honor them, with them being in the spotlight. People know you really do care when you express appreciation for them in ways that show you took some time and effort to bring it about. (And sometimes you get a cake back!)

Take opportunities like this to also share with the rest of the staff something about your department member, if that is the case, that would uplift them in their peers’ presence. I found that sharing a Bible verse, which exemplifies a character aspect they have, not only encourages the individual, but the others who hear it, to press on even more in that area of appreciation.

As so often seems to be the case, the boss or leader of the group gets the recognition when a major task is completed, leaving the rest of the team sometimes wondering why the glory wasn’t shared across-the-board. Making a staff member the spotlight on these special days, and speaking not only words of joy but also giving of thanks for them, will go a long way in both task production and loyalty.

Expressing thanks for personal staff contributions can come by taking the time to go to lunch one-on-one. This gives them the space to share things that may not be expressed in the hectic business hours. Some time away from the office setting, even for a lunch period if possible, gives the employee an opportunity to discuss feelings and concerns that are not as easy with the boss sitting behind his or her desk.

Learning to bless and not curse those who labor with you, under your oversight, will actually give you more “tools” to enable your staff to grow. People will know you are not using them for the “tools” they are, but that they are being allowed to grow and prosper for their benefit also. Knowing that they themselves are the treasures, having talents and gifts to share in the work at hand, will get the foundation and the building built that you are administrating in a strong and enduring fashion. 

Look for Chapter 3 next week! 

If you missed the Intro & Chapter Listing, and Chapter 1, you can search for them on this Blog site using the Search box in the top right hand corner.

(Write me at and I will send you the full book via email.)

Leadership Through Love

Chapter Listings

1.      A Gift for His Purposes

- The Early Years
- On the job training

2.      Use the Tools You Have, But Not the Staff

- Treasure the people, while digging the foundations
- Do unto them as you would…
- Bless and curse not: honor those who serve with you

3.      Right Man (or Woman!) for the Job

- All are created equal – make the most of this!
- If the Shoe Fits, Have Them Wear It

4.      Train and Let Loose

- It IS Who You Know and Are Known By
- Hire To Complement Your Strengths
- if you are weak, then they are strong
- Outsource as needed

5.      Burn Candles At Both Ends? – NOT!

- Rest and Sabbath Days
- Mornings with the Lord
- Trust in Him at all times
- We all are given 24 hours each day

6.       The Visionaries Need You!

-          They dream it - you make it happen
-          It takes a team
-          Head Won’t Get Far without the Neck
(or heads will roll)
7.      Field Trips and More!

- Staff Retreats
- Party Time!
- Birthdays and BBQs
- After Hours

8.      It Doesn’t All Depend On You

- The Lord is the Rock – Not You
- Whose strength  - yours or His?
   - Key Staff to Lean On
    - Trustworthy managers and assistants

9.      Practically Speaking…and Walking

- Handle each piece of paper once
- File so you can find it!
- Early morning – before the others come
- Take a Break

10.  Meetings – Time-manger or Time-waster?

- Do you really need all those meetings?
- Group or One-On-One?
- Why Morning and Mid-Week?
 - Prov. 24:6 “By wise counsel…multitude of counselors

11.  Acknowledge Him in All Your Ways

- Heart of Thankfulness
- Heart of Worship
- Heart of Service

12.  Another Man’s Vineyard

-          Follow & help fulfill their vision
-          Faithful with another’s
-          Learn and growth until your time
-          The proper way of moving on

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Thanks for sharing. Blessings on your head from the Lord Jesus, Yeshua HaMashiach.

Steve Martin
Love For His People
Charlotte, NC USA