5 Leadership Lessons I Learned from my Dogs

5 Leadership Lessons I Learned from my Dogs

I love dogs. We’ve owned as many as four at one time. One currently makes her home with us. Lulu (in the picture on the left) is a combination of a cat, a rat, and a dog. She’s as quick as a cat and looks like a hybrid rat-dog. She was a stray when we took her in “for just a few days until we find her owner.” We became the owners. 

 

On the other hand, P-nut was our registered Chihuahua. I had the agonizing job of taking him to the vet last year to have him put to sleep. He was a funny doggie. He was missing most of his teeth. And sometimes his lip got stuck on his remaining molars so that he sported an Elvis look (no kidding). As I reflect on my relationship with my dogs, I’m reminded of five leadership lessons I’ve learned over the years.

 

  • Consistent: They are pretty much the same day in and day out. They don’t get moody. They’re not angry one minute and kind the next. They “show up” the same way every time I come home: they are glad to see me.
    • Leaders should be consistent with their followers. Your followers or staff shouldn’t have to wonder who’s going to show up each day. They shouldn’t have to wonder if you’ll be in a good mood or a bad mood. We’re called to be a joyful people: ‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.’ – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
  • Grateful: When I give them a treat, they are always glad to get it. Their tails wag, their bodies shake with glee, and they truly appreciate that chicken sliver or doggie biscuit.
    • Leaders should be the most grateful people in every church, ministry, or organization. After all, we get the privilege of leading and influencing others toward a cause greater than ourselves. God puts leaders in places of leadership and when He does, gratefulness to Him should fill our hearts. When we find ourselves struggling to be thankful, remember Paul’s words in Philippians 4:6… ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’
  • Baggage laden: This one may seem odd, but it’s true. When we picked up Lulu off the streets, we had no idea when or where she was born. All we knew was that she was skittish and skinny. We loved her, yet if I raise my hand too quickly, she cowers.
    • Every leader carries his or her own baggage. We don’t emerge from childhood without some broken places. Healthy leaders aren’t afraid to discover their broken places. When leaders become self-aware, they seek help and realize that God can redeem their past for His glory as we’re promised in Romans 8:28: ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’

​​Healthy leaders aren’t afraid to discover their broken places. 

  • Content: Both P-nut and Lulu modeled contentment. I don’t believe they had a worry in the world. I believe they knew that all their needs would be met. So, they didn’t fret about where their next meal or comfy blanket would come from (they have several).
    • Leaders trust the Lord that He will provide, care for, and guide them in any circumstance. Hebrews 13.5 reminds us that … “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
  • Restful: Both dogs knew how to rest. In fact, they took multiple naps every day. When they got tired, they slept.
    • Good leaders know and practice Sabbath. While they certainly work hard, they also get enough sleep, take days off, take vacations, and quiet their souls daily. As one friend often said,” We must Divert daily… Withdraw weekly… Abandon annually.” Jesus practiced rest. For example, Matthew 13:1 says, Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake.’

​​Good leaders know and practice Sabbath.

If you have a dog or pet, what life and leadership lessons have you learned from him/her?

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Charles Stone

Both my wife Sherryl and I have a heart for pastors and pastors’ wives. We’ve taught hundreds of pastors and their wives in the United States, Canada, Nicaragua, Colombia, and Mexico.

I earned an engineering degree from Georgia Tech, a Masters of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctorate of Ministry from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I’m completing another masters degree in neuroleadership. I’m also an avid Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket fan.

I’ve been professionally trained in these areas by these organizations:

Life Coaching through the Professional Christian Coaching Institute
Strategic Planning through Ministry Advantage (certified)
Vision Clarity through the Church Unique Process (certified)
Conflict Management through Peacemakers
I’m the author of 4 books – Daughters Gone Wild – Dads Gone Crazy (Thomas Nelson, 2007), 5 Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them (Bethany House Publishers, 2010), People Pleasing Pastors: Avoiding Pitfalls of Approval Motivated Leadership (Inter-Varsity Press, January 2014), and my brand new book, Brain-Savvy Leadership: the Science of Significant Ministry (Abingdon, 2015).