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Lifting the Veil -- Jay Grant

I was driving in the Pavilions parking lot last week when I spotted

former Laguna Beach City Councilman Wayne Peterson. We waved at each

other and I immediately thought of Wayne’s leadership following the 1993

firestorm. While the entire council rallied around the fire victims, it

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was Wayne who constantly drove up and down my street, comforting and

encouraging those of us who had lost our homes.

I’ve learned something about leadership over the years, both as a

pastor and as the sales manager at the Sawdust Festival. The most

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important characteristic of a leader is not how experienced they are.

It’s not their organizational skills. It’s not personal charisma. It’s

not how much knowledge they possess. It’s important how they treat

people. The greatest leaders possess authority, softened with compassion.

In other words, they are firm but care deeply about those under them.

This principle is true both in ministry and the secular world. Good

leaders care about people. This was brought home in the recent A & E

production of “Shackleton,” the story of a British explorer whose

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expedition to the South Pole in 1914 almost turned into a tragedy when

his ship was crushed in an ice floe. Shackleton managed to press through

almost insurmountable difficulties to bring back every crew member alive.

It was an incredible story of perseverance and the determination of a

leader who cared deeply for his men.

Skilled leaders release the very best in people by continually

encouraging them. Good coaches get far more out of their players by

building them up, not tearing them down. When I coached in Laguna Beach

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Little League, I worked hard at strengthening the self-esteem of those

kids who perpetually felt lousy about their abilities.

My job was to convince them that with a little effort they could be a

decent ball player.

When a husband comes to me struggling in a difficult marriage, I give

him an assignment as a part of my counseling. I tell him to go home and

for two weeks do nothing but build his wife up, pour out praise for all

her good points and refrain from criticizing or communicating anything

negative. Almost always the husband returns, amazed over how much the

marriage has improved.

This is what I love about the Lord. God is continually affirming me,

revealing in Scripture how much he cares for me. Even with my faults and

inadequacies, God tells me I am fully accepted by him, loved

unconditionally. Thus I willingly yield myself to God’s authority, a

submission made easier because I’m absolutely convinced that God deeply

loves me.

I called Laguna Beach City Manager Ken Frank a couple of years back to

tell him how much I appreciated his leadership. I told him I was praying

for him and the City Council and was there anything specific I could ask

God for on his behalf.

Sounding surprised that someone was praying for him, his answer

reflected how much he loves our town and why he has been an effective

leader in Laguna for so many years.

“Laguna has a lot of great people but I wish a few of them would be a

little less angry and a bit more patient in their differences,” he said.

“If they did, our city would be even a nicer place to live.”

I love working in my yard. I’ve noticed my plants flourish when I give

them nourishment and attention. If you are a leader, consider carefully

how you treat those under you. A little love and encouragement can go a

long way in bringing out the very best in your people.

* JAY GRANT is a pastor and 32-year resident of Laguna Beach. He can

be reached at P.O. Box 391, Laguna Beach CA 92652 or by e-mail at o7

nikkinjay@cox.netf7 .


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