In a USA Today Article by Steve Strauss, he comments on a leadership book from 1904, “Safe Methods of Business.”

But what really caught my eye was a section called “Safe Principles and Rules.” I looked down the list, I wondered what this sage advice could apply to ministry. I think, as leaders we can learn from leaders of any generation. Let’s take a look… [the “Safe Methods” are in italics, my comments follow each statement.]

1. Remember that time is gold.

Value your time and other people’s time. If you’re asking people to show up, make it worth their while. Don’t plan stuff just to plan it. What is this meeting for? Is everyone coming prepared? Why is this event important? Does it have a purpose? Do we have goals to achieve?

2. True intelligence is always modest.

Humility is a healthy attitude, especially in leaders. An arrogant attitude might display a lack of understanding.

3. Don’t cultivate a sense of over-smartness.

Never think you know it all, or know enough. Keep growing and learning. Are you reading books or articles about your area of ministry? Why not? If you are, is it changing the way you think about how you do what you do?

4. A man of honor respects his word as he does his note.

Honesty. Promises. It shouldn’t take a signature or a contract for us to honor our word. If we say we’ll call, then call. I’m not perfect at this in all circumstances, but I have learned from my children — don’t promise if you won’t go through with it. This is why I’m jumping out of an airplane on June 23rd.

5. Shun lawsuits, and never take money risks you can avoid.

This makes me think of good stewardship. Interesting how money issues can create conflict. Let’s be wise with our money. It doesn’t mean we don’t take risks. But it does mean we should minimize them if we can. And we don’t just spend on things that won’t move the Kingdom of God forward.

6. Never forget a favor, for ingratitude is the basest trait of man’s mean character.

We covered this in last month’s leadership letter. Never forget to say thank you.

7. Remember that the rich are generally plain, while rogues dress well and talk smoothly.

Modesty, even in dress or in our homes or in what we drive, all speak to our character. People of substance don’t put on a show. Be real. I once read that most milliionaires in America drive 4-door Ford sedans. And that is why they’re millionaires 🙂  Most truly successful people are humble and unassuming.

8. Remember that steady, earnest effort alone leads to wealth and high position.

I think this works for ministry too. We have to put time and effort in. The difference is, since our results are spiritual in nature, it takes a partnership with the Holy Spirit to truly accomplish our goals.

9. Never be afraid to say no. Every successful man must have the backbone to assert his rights.

Rather than rights, we might say, “never be afraid to say no. Every spiritual leader must have the backbone to stick to what is right.” We need to say “no” to things that are going to distract us from our call to lead. These may be relationships, activities, or other good endeavors. If they get in the way of doing the better thing that God has asked us to do, then we must say “no.”

10. To industry and economy add self-reliance. Do not take too much advice, think for yourself. Independence will add vigor and inspiration to your labors.

We are part of a community, but leaders need to lead. Get advice, but don’t get stuck there. Make the call, lead the way. When you do that, you take ownership of your area of ministry. If your decision is wrong, then it can usually be corrected. Good decisions can only be made if we are making decisions!

Which of these principles stand out to you? Which one challenges you as a leader? What comments would you add under each of these? How have you seen these in action? Please “comment.”