We Can Always Put On A Big Show As A Leader, but it’s the character of the man and the leader that makes the real difference.
SUMMARY: It is not so much our skill or ability as a leader that makes the difference but the character of the man leading. In this Resolute Leadership Podcast, Vince Miller hosts Wayne Pederson, president emeritus of Reach Beyond an international ministry providing the message of Jesus Christ to nations across the world. Listen as Wayne shares about the importance of character and how to build character into the life of a leader.
Vince: This is Resolute and the Resolute Leadership Podcast. I am Vince Miller, your founder, and host. And today we’re in a series joined by Wayne Peterson, on leadership. And today we’re discussing the topic of character.
Welcome to the program. If this is your first time tuning in, well thank you for joining us. Our mission at Resolute is to disciple and develop men to lead. So if you’re looking for content for your men’s group or men’s ministry, then you need to go to our website today at beresolute.org. We have a number of great tools for men who are leading other men, including some new small group series that you would love for your men’s group. And now let’s dive in.
I’m joined again today by Wayne Peterson. He is the former President of Reach Beyond, which is an international ministry that takes the gospel to the farthest reaches of the planet through modern media and healthcare. He has also had an incredible resume. He’s worked for Moody Media and Moody Radio. He has also worked as the VP of media at the University of Northwestern, through KTIS Radio in the Twin Cities. And we’re just excited to have him here.
Today we are discussing the inner leader, Wayne. And I – I got to tell you, I think that there’s plenty of people that want tips or tricks on leadership. Maybe they do need some skill development in their life? Maybe they need to understand the tools that bring about greater influence around them? But I know that you care deeply about the inner character of a man. And really that is the first person we lead, is ourselves.
Yet, I know that guys out there take that for granted at times. They spend more time on the skill development or the tools for influence, rather than really working on the – the inner character, the development of themselves. What’s your – just generally speaking, what’re your thoughts on that? Is that – is that an area that you have seen that is important to really have an understanding of, and to be leading on a regular basis?
Wayne: Well you’ve said it so well, Vince. It’s hard to know what to even add to that. But, I mean you said before, “We can lead others. Before we can manage others, we need to manage our own lives.” And again, starting from a negative model – through the years I’ve seen leaders with a lot of flashes, a lot of pizzazz, a lot of charisma – that have a moral failure. Or something – the way they handle money or their sexual relationships or whatever. It’s because they have not paid attention to the development of the inner person. It’s been all the external stuff.
Vince: Yeah, so you know – I don’t know, Wayne – if this is – if you would say this is true from your perspective? But unfortunately in the 25 years, I’ve done full-time ministry, I have witnessed a lot of leaders drop like flies for that very reason. I would assume in your career, you’ve seen that happen as well. And very few make it a very long time. Is that true?
Wayne: Well that is true, and then on the other side of that, Vince – I know great leaders that have a close personal walk with Christ. And intentionally allow the Holy Spirit to control their lives. And they’re in it for the long haul. They’ve been doing ministry 30, 40, 50 years without a – without a blemish on their ministry.
And I guess the most obvious example – I think of Billy Graham, who is soon to turn 99 years old – that has run his ministry for 60 years without a scandal. And it’s because he’s intentionally guarded his soul, and guarded his – his inner life. And watched his eyes and ears, and what he gets involved in. He’s taken precautions to avoid temptations and the downfall.
And I know – some of the great leaders I know, they may not be famous, but they have a fabulous life of prayer. And they have their quiet time, and they’re in the Word of God daily. And they’re doing all of this to guard their soul and equip their soul so that they’re– They’re – all that they do is based on who they are and their relationship to Jesus Christ. And God cares much more about who we are than about what we do.
Vince: See that – that’s where we start to get the – the true identity, the true heart of a man, right? Is–
Vince: That we begin to understand that really our identity isn’t about the externals, the outside of the house, right? It’s about the inside of the house. Or maybe we can compare it to the – the building of the foundation – either on the rock or the sand. It’s what happens when a storm comes. Are we completely ripped apart or not? Are we still standing because our foundation was built deep, right? Down and deep into the rock.
And while we know these stories and these parables that Jesus taught, we fail to focus on that. Tell me how to have– I mean, I know it’s a challenge, Wayne. You’ve – you’ve been and worked in ministry for a long time. I know that your heart has probably had moments where it’s had great success and maybe a few failings. But you’ve had no major failing in your life. Do you wake up every day with giving attention to your own personal character? Is that what you do? Do you wake up every day with a focus on, “Okay, today I’m not going to blow it?”
Wayne: Well Vince, I have to admit I have not been as diligent in being in God’s Word and in prayer, as I would’ve liked – or should have been with the business of being a father and a husband and a, and a leader. And I say that to my own embarrassment. Now that I’m retired and rewired – I’m finding I have more margin in my life so that I can be in God’s Word and in prayer daily.
But I will say this. There’s been a conscious effort in my life to – to every day say, “Lord, use me today. Protect me, direct me, and fill me with your Holy Spirit, so that I can demonstrate credibly God’s love to the people around me.” And that has been intentional. And I wish I could be a good navigator and say, “Every day I’m spending 3 hours in prayer.
Vince: Yeah, right. Yeah right.
Wayne: That type of a thing. But honestly, an intention on, focusing on the inner man as the proverb says, “Guard your heart, for out of it comes the issues of life.”
Vince: Yeah, yeah. I – I love that you’re being completely honest with the guys. Because I don’t – I don’t know that everybody has a perfect quiet time, a perfect prayer life. A perfect daily reading that they do and that they spend hours every day. I know I’ve heard a number of great quotes from great leaders in the past. But not to overestimate what is actually possible for us. We do let the busyness get after us.
And I know that sometimes I wake in the morning with this private guilt that my day is too busy, right? To really give attention to that. But I feel a constant swing, Wayne – in my own life – where I’ll have weeks where my – my devotion is awesome. I just feel like I’m really close to God. And then I’ll have weeks where I don’t feel close to God, but I – I guess I have always had a little bit of that impulse that, “Look, I need to be leaning into that.” And I guess there is some healthy, good guilt in there that keeps driving me back to the activity of saying, “I’ve seen too many people fall, I need to stay connected.” So it sounds like you have felt some of that in your own life.
Wayne: Absolutely. And it – even our – our spiritual walk doesn’t depend on what we do. I’m convinced it depends on what God does. And even when we’re not as disciplined as we should be, or even not as aware of God’s presence – his presence doesn’t leave us. And his Holy Spirit doesn’t leave us. His Holy Spirit still fills us. And my daily prayer is, “Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit today, and help me live out the fruit of the spirit.”
Which we’re all familiar with. The love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. And as we – daily allow the Holy Spirit to exhibit his fruit in our lives, I think – that springs from the heart. And it’s not something that we have to try to do. It comes naturally, ’cause the Holy Spirit is filling our hearts and overflowing to us, through us.
Wayne: Yeah, sometimes I feel like in my own life – I don’t know about you. But I do feel like this sway toward feeling very close to God, feeling very far away from God sometimes. And yet, I know that I can get distracted by the things of this world. So the skills or the talents required. And our identity is not based in those things. Our identity is based in Jesus Christ, yet even when we’re working on our character development – we can become too focused on the tools and the tricks and the tips as well, right?
It isn’t just about external leadership. We can actually – those things can happen internally to us. And while the fruit is – is something that we want to become, it’s not really the focus. The focus is to become more focused on becoming like Jesus through his love – exhibiting those fruits, because of the closeness of our relationship. And really, the fruit is – is an exhibit, an outcome of our closeness with Christ. Therefore, the world sees that about us. How – what would you say to the guys out there that are probably hearing something like this for the very first time? They’re hearing, “Well maybe I need to check my identity a little bit?” How would you recommend that they do a little barometer check on their character?
Wayne: That’s a good question. I find that as I spend time with God’s Word – daily, whether it’s 5 minutes or a half hour. And you do that consistently – amazingly, you begin to think God’s thoughts. And it sounds a little arrogant.
Wayne: But you want to, you want to think God’s 10:59 God’s 11:00 then, read God’s Word. And you’ll seen begin automatically thinking God’s thoughts. Sometimes in board meetings or business meetings, I’ve said something regarding a decision – and I’m surprised at what comes out of my mouth. And I know it’s not Wayne’s wisdom.
Wayne: It’s God’s wisdom coming through me.
Wayne: Unbeknownst. Secondly, it’s not just what you do, it’s what you avoid. And there are so many temptations. We’re barraged with temptations today to materialism or popularity or sensuality or – there are so many pitfalls to guard against what you read, movies you go to, what you watch on TV, what you access on the internet. Which is – pornography on the internet is a huge, huge problem today.
And men particularly, but not just men – and leaders even – have to really guard their ear gate and their eye gate of what they take in that works against the Holy Spirit. It’s the enemy that drives the lust and materialism and the pride and arrogance and all these things in our lives. And it’s the Holy Spirit that gives us a pure heart and protects us from that. But we have to take deliberate steps to block out. As Paul says in – in Philippians chapter 4 – that we’re to think on things that are noble, right, pure, lovely – whatever it is. Admirable or praiseworthy, think about those things.
Vince: Yeah, I love that. So as we – I don’t know if guys are paying attention, but you should be. And you should be hearing Wayne’s wisdom today. That it really begins with the thoughts that we’re thinking. The things that we’re putting in our mind. That if we begin the day by reading God’s thoughts, rather than relying upon our own – that is a– That’s part of the process of character development. Then secondly, it’s about some – avoiding some things.
And I’ve just got to tell you, I think media in general can – is being taken in by people in massive quantities. I mean, we’ve got media on our phone. We’ve got media in our car. We got – 20 TV’s in our house. I mean, even when we go out to eat, we’re – there’s – we’re succumbing to media and messages all over the place. Some of them are very unhealthy, right? And they support character development that is not in the path of God. And then becoming deliberate about what we’re taking in as a leader. I do think you’re right about that.
We just – we take in bad thoughts, bad beliefs from the people around us. Whether – they could even be well-meaning people, right? But then there are times that you’re absorbing God’s Word, and you’re – you’re taking in his truth. And you’re prayerful and you’re centered and you’re really focused on a spirit. Where – I would say I’ve had those moments too, Wayne. Where something comes out of your mouth, and you have no idea where that came from. And you just kinda smile, because you’re like, “Well that had to come deep from the spirit of God,” right?
Wayne: Yeah. Well and – just– There are so many areas of life. We’re talking about what we read and what we watch and that type of thing. But it has to do with our companionships.
Wayne: We talked earlier about the friends that we choose.
Wayne: Even in our marriage, we have to be guarding against the things that might interfere with our relationship with our spouse. Because this is a gift that God has given us.
Wayne: And it’s so easy to neglect or abuse that relationship in a way that’s not healthy for us too. So I don’t want to focus on the negative, but all of those are the – the things that are close to our life that we need to keep those– Some people call it a hedge.
Wayne: Around us, a hedge of protection against all the darts of the enemy that seeks to assail us, and to deter us from the mission God has given us.
Vince: Yeah. Okay so as we close, Wayne – if you don’t mind me asking this question, I’m going to push a little bit. But what is one area of your life where you have had to really work on your own personal character?
Wayne: Wow, just one?
Vince: Yeah, just – just one. We all – I mean, I can think of a list of 3 or 4 for myself. But I’m just wondering what’s one that you’ve – you’ve had to really like hone over the years?
Wayne: I think the – the thing that I’ve had to work to really avoid is the spirit of being judgemental or critical.
Wayne: There’s the pride thing, and there’s the sensuality, and there’s the materialism thing. But it’s so easy to think that when things – when good things happen, it’s to my credit.
Wayne: When bad things happen, it’s other people’s fault. And to guard my heart against being critical and judgemental.
Wayne: Which can be a terrible trap that turns to bitterness eventually.
Wayne: And cynicism, which is not becoming a follower of Christ.
Wayne: That’s one area I’ve really had to – to get before the Lord on and confess repeatedly.
Vince: Okay. So I love that you share it that way because I think you’re demonstrating that you’ve – you’ve come to terms with it. At least you understand it. Because you’re right. I mean you can – cynicism can lead to bitterness, that can lead to a critical spirit, that can lead to – unfortunately, hate and anger.
Vince: And all kinds of other things. And the fact that you understand that about yourself is really the beginning of the first step. And then it is absorbing the truth about the situation.
Wayne: Yeah. Nobody’s ever asked me that question before, Vince. So that’s just what came out of the top of mind.
Vince: Yeah, that’s good. I – no, I appreciate you sharing that way. ‘Cause we – for me, it’s — it really controls. And I’m not a micro manager. But I have anxiety that’s produced from my need to really understand and control situations.
Vince: And I’ve struggled with that for years. And when my anxiety rises up, it’s usually because I’m trying to control something. And, man I’ve had to come to terms with that, ’cause that’s a character flaw. But man, I can sure read God’s Word. And I can learn that anxiety’s a sin and that God’s in control of all things, not me – right? And that’s where my character is deeply formed. Well, Wayne, thank you so much for these last few episodes. And I just thank you for your friendship and – again – for sharing this with, with our friends and the men that are out there that need to hear from you.
Wayne: Thanks, Vince, it’s been a privilege for me, and I just have a new respect and high regard for your ministry and what you’re doing to help men live authentically in their relationship with Christ and before others. Thank you for what you’re doing.
Vince: Yeah, thank you. Well, guys, that’s the show. Thanks for listening. As we close today, I want to remind you that we have great content for your men’s groups. Excellent small group videos and participant handbooks that will empower the men of your church to lead. And will equip them to build the men around them. Check it all out at beresolute.org. Or you can just send me a direct email at [email protected]
And as we close our time today, I hope you enjoyed this podcast. But please know that the time that we spent together today is worthless, unless you choose to act on it. So do something today, by getting off the bench and into the game. And I’ll see you right back here next time on another edition of The Resolute Podcast.