Reflections of a Leader
The discovery of COVID in 2020 unleashed a very busy season for me as a leader. I had to immediately reevaluate my personal and professional priorities, thus necessitating that I stop writing weekly leadership articles. Prior to March 2020, I had been writing articles almost without ceasing since September 2012. Now, nine years since I began, I eagerly return to my writing. I hope you find what I am sharing from my personal leadership struggles and triumphs helpful in your own leadership journey.
Since I last wrote, TotalCare, the medical company I oversee, has both expanded and consolidated. We now have 10 medical facilities in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. We have also become an international company with a presence and mission work in Kenya and Lebanon.
At home, my son Danny turned three in June. For those who are parents, you know the unbelievable joy of raising a child. My wife Joanne finished her Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration, and I am very proud of her. Sadly, we lost my sister’s husband, Waddell David, who was very close to my son, to COVID in July of this year. I never thought COVID would hit home, but it did.
I am writing this on my return flight from our first mission trip as a company at our clinic in Kenya, which was established in partnership with Deliverance Church in Eldoret, Kenya. In three days our team of 11, comprised of four doctors, three nurses, and four administrative staff and leaders, along with two local doctors and a group of medical students from Kenya saw 893 patients. The church pastoral team was involved in preaching the Good News to the patients, of which, 107 made a spiritual commitment to follow Christ.
Our team continued to the Masai Mara to go on an African Safari. I, along with a colleague, am returning to the US due to work and family commitments. While we face challenges in expanding our work in Kenya, I am happy about one thing we did. We faced our fears. We trusted God and did in one day what will undoubtedly will be one of the finest projects we’ve ever done, one that with God’s blessing will have a powerful impact.
What is God’s Will for You?
Reflecting on my recent mission trip, I am naturally asking myself about God’s will. As we have obeyed His call, I find myself thinking about God’s will for us moving forward. What will He have us do next? As a Christian leader, you may have similar questions for your life and leadership.
As a Christ follower, I ponder, is the point of life to do powerful projects “for God”? Instinctively, I feel this is a dangerous ambition—dangerous because the motivation is derived from my desire to feel significant because of what I endeavor to do for God. Naturally, I want my life to count for something positive. In my last days, I want to look back and say, “Look how I faced my fears. Look how I pushed myself. Look at the great work my friends and I did together.” But through this lens, the focus is on me. This must not be so.
As a disciple of Christ, my life must be centered around growing in my faith and obedience to God. If God calls us to accomplish great feats, as He did with Paul, then we must obey. If He calls us to minister at home, like Mary or Elizabeth, then we must do that.
The Bible verse, “The fields are ripe, but the workers are few,” from Luke 10 keeps stirring in my head. Jesus made that statement as a commentary on the human condition as it relates to the Kingdom of God. He said it as it applies to His time, and to our time as well, and to every time in the future. It is a statement regarding the spiritual realm on earth.
One of the most common questions Christians ask is, “How do I know God’s will for my life?” In other words, what does God want me to do? One way to resolve this question is simply to read the Bible and see what Jesus told His disciples to do. If you count yourself as a disciple of Christ, why not count those commandments as directly applicable to you?
Let’s take one commandment: “Go and make disciplines of all nations.” Here is a simple question. Does this commandment apply to you and I? If you answer yes, then this is God’s will for you. You might say, I don’t have the opportunity to participate in disciple-making on another continent. Then that’s not God’s will for you now.
Here is another question regarding our desires as it relates to God’s will. Should I aspire to do big things for God? Should that be my life’s aspiration? Should I feel better about myself for the bigger projects I do for the Kingdom? No. Let me explain.
If you enter an army, you are utilized according to who you are when you are first recruited, based on your innate strengths. Then you are trained, and trained, and trained, formed to become a soldier who can do a certain task well, perhaps better than anyone. You may be trained for Special Forces or you may be a cook in the kitchen. You may become an officer who will one day be a seasoned general. Without a general, we cannot wage war. Without the feet on the ground, we cannot wage war. Without a cook, we cannot wage war. Each is important. Each must be valued.
Could God use you according to the strength He has given you? Paul was a bold risk-taker against Christians before his experience on the road to Damascus. God changed him, and he became a bold risk-taker for Christ.
Sometimes we shy away from leading large, from engaging in big battles in the spiritual and physical realm because we are not sure we have heard God’s will on the matter. The Bible is clear that the fields are ready for harvest, meaning all kinds of workers are needed. Leaders are needed. Innovators are needed. Manual labor is needed. Each is important. Each is valued.
The Bible illustrates this point with the physical body. Each part of the body plays a key role in the function and performance of the whole body. Is the neck more important than the leg? You might say, if you lose your neck, you die, but without a leg, one could survive. One might also conclude that losing a general is more critical than losing a cook. True, in one sense, some people may perform more crucial tasks, but both add value to the whole. Both are absolutely essential.
I ask and pray, “God, my life is in Your hands. Use me as You wish. I am Your tool. I only wish to be significant in Your eyes as I am obedient to You.” That’s my current prayer and belief.
And so, I will circle back to the question: Do I want to do big things for God in order to feel good about myself, or is my true motivation to be obedient to God? Paul embarked on three missionary journeys through which he changed the world. Moses freed the Israelites. Joshua led God’s people into the Promised Land. All of these men trusted God and pushed themselves beyond their human abilities. If God had called them to do tasks for the Kingdom that seemed small in their eyes, would they have done them?
The summation of the matter is this: Regardless of where God places you, serve the Kingdom. In some seasons it may seem to be in the small things. In others, big feats. Remember those judgments are made through the eyes of men, not the eyes of God. Whether we see our missions as big or small, our aim must be to please God and be obedient to Him. If we do this, we will in fact fulfill God’s will for our lives.
The World is Suffering. What’s the Solution?
Before I came to Kenya, I visited our team in Lebanon, a team of beautiful people who understand and practice our company culture so well. But the country of Lebanon is in turmoil. I left Lebanon when I was 15 years of age; that was 30 years ago. After 25 years in the US, I visited Lebanon in 2015, and God has since opened some ministry and work projects for me there. August 4, 2021 marked the one year anniversary of the Beirut bomb, the equivalent to a small nuclear bomb. It was the detonation of chemicals illegally stored in the port depots, an event that has since enraged people. Moreover, about a year and a half ago, Lebanese citizens could not access their own money in the banks, an event alone that could cause a revolution. To add to that, just a few months ago, the Lira (Lebanon’s currency) lost more than 90% of its value. People are desperate. Some are hungry.
In the US, since I last wrote, our country has gone through a very bitter election. The country seems to be growing more divided. While our suffering is not close to the woes of the Lebanese, still I see pain.
As a medical doctor, I have seen our helplessness when it comes to COVID. The whole scientific world is mobilized, and while the vaccine has helped, death remains rampant. In Kenya, I saw patients whose plights broke my heart, including a young blind boy, the tender age of six. He has tumors in his eyes that I am sure were overlooked early in life due to poor healthcare. As he stood there reaching out for his mom’s comfort, my heart wept. After talking to her through a translator, I learned that she had already been told by local ophthalmologists that his condition is inoperable. So much heartache and pain. I saw a man with a large mass in his neck, unable to have it removed due to a lack of funds. One of our leaders on the trip, donated a $100 to pay the doctor and hospital fees to have it removed.
When my brother-in-law passed away, in the same week, a friend of one of my colleagues lost her two-year-old boy to drowning. It was a tough week for me. That week, I searched for perspective. I looked online to see how many people die daily in the world. The answer is over 150,000.
At the time of this writing, the Taliban has taken over Afghanistan. Many are dying. The whole country will most likely go under a black curtain again, where women are mistreated and girls are uneducated. Our helplessness as a human race to end our own suffering shakes me to the core. What is the solution?
At one point in my life, I looked to leadership to be our savior. I don’t anymore. Leadership and wisdom are tools, and we must employ them powerfully. However, they are not enough to single-handedly snatch this world from the grip of darkness and death.
We must turn to God.
Corruption and Leadership
With regard to Lebanon’s broken political situation, the current man appointed to be prime minister is a billionaire. Theoretically, there is no problem that he is a billionaire, but several other politicians in Lebanon are also billionaires and multi-millionaires. Meanwhile, citizens cannot access their own bank accounts. Something is not right. Corruption is the story on everyone’s minds in the two countries I just visited and in most of the developing world. Bishop George Gishana, our host in Kenya, said that he sees three main problems in Kenya: deceit, ignorance, and poverty.
What kind of laborers are needed most? Jesus does not distinguish. In this moment in time, I believe leaders are needed more than ever before. God always looked for leaders to guide His chosen nation. Some turned out to be good. Many were not. But all laborers add value to the Kingdom.
While leadership is a powerful answer, I am reminded that leadership is not the Good News, the final solution. Leadership is a set of resources that equips a person to influence and impact others. My Christian worldview is that this world is fallen, beset by sin, beset by evil. Nothing can save it except the Savior. Jesus is the Good News.
So, if you are a leadership-lover like me, remember that growing as a leader is a must, however growing as a Believer is vastly greater. Growing in wisdom is a must, but accessing the power of heaven is much more powerful. Being effective is a Biblical expectation, but connecting to God through prayer and scripture is the cornerstone for success.
I challenge you, as I challenge myself, to grow in faith and make God the foundation of your life. If you think Christianity is a bunch of fables, I hope you will consider my challenge to read the Bible. Pray that God will visit you. He will show you the way to Himself. The Bible promises, “Seek and you shall find.”
The Future of My Writing
I look forward to writing you my dear brothers and sisters, my fellow leaders. I will endeavor to share what I am learning about leadership and life, about God and family, and about nations and world events. My writing will address Christ followers, leaders who desire to engage our fallen world. My goal is to explore how to wisely steward our gifts of leadership to be of best use in the Kingdom of God.