Shared about Esther’s life yesterday in church.  She was no special person but because she made herself available for God, she was used in extra ordinary ways – to save her nation.

(Video podcast here)

One might say, “I’m not a queen.  I look like one or act like one, but I’m really not one.”  But you gotta remember that way before she became queen, she was a regular young lady ready for whatever God wanted to do for her and through her.

Concurrently, right at the same time, God was raising up other guys to rebuild the nation of Israel.  Ezra opened the Scriptures to reconnect people to God.  Nehemiah was used to fix the infrastructure of the nation and rebuild the walls.

You see, when God rebuilds a nation.  It’s never one guy.  He pulls many together to accomplish His purpose.  Sometimes, leadership can be over glorified.  It’s still HIM, at the end of the day.  He uses ordinary, regular Joes like us to accomplish his purpose.

To see this nation rise from the ashes, it can’t be one leader, candidate, ‘savior’.  It will have to be all of us coming together to see this thing happen.

It’s a banker who keeps his integrity intact.  It’s the young high schooler studying hard and pushing to excel for one day he will be in a leadership position.  It’s the teacher who gives her best to not only download info but also character.  It’s the father who disciples his kids into all God has planned. And so on…

Each one, doing his part.

Yesterday, one guy did his part.  Joshua Suarez ran 102 km for the DEATH MARCH and raised Php 102,000 for underprivileged students of Real Life Foundation’s Scholarship Fund.

He’s not a Senator, not a governor, not even a CEO of a multi national company.  But in his way, he is making a contribution to make a difference in this nation, this time.

Imagine what this nation will look like in 40, 50, 70 years if everyone did his ‘little’ contribution to make a difference.

Remember, it’s the little things that make the little difference that eventually make the big difference.


Got a chance to sit down with Keith Deloria, our pastor from Ilo Ilo who is doing a phenomenal job.  Our topic?  “Your only as good as your team.”

It’s unfortunate sometimes that the leader is the only one that gets the credit when none of the achievements can really be realized without the team.

I got the chance to catch the last 2 quarters of game 4 of the PBA finals (Alaska vs. Purefoods).  Tim Cone is now a legend.  He has won 12 championship rings for Alaska and that’s such a difficult feat to achieve.  An awesome coach but this past championship series was a disappointment for him, I’m sure.

On the other hand, the young mentor of Purefoods, Ryan Gregorio looked really, really good.  How come?  Not only because they won the championship, but his whole team pitched in and stepped up… as in everyone.  From Caneleta to Kerby, J.Yap to R.Yap, Maierhofer to MarcPing, Artadi to Allado.  His team made him look good.

At the end of the day, it really isn’t JUST about the coach.  In fact, the coach is only as good as his team.

We have too many leaders with “messianic complex” and with an “all-star attitude.”

There’s no “I” in the word team.  Remember, it takes five to complete your starting line up.

Leadership lesson moment with Keith – “You’re only as good as your team.”


What the team does, the team accomplishes…

We met this morning to continue our strategic planning for discipleship.  I am privileged to work with brilliant men and women.

Working with these guys taught me one important lesson – I am not necessarily the smartest person in the room.  I just happen to be the leader.

I’ve always known this (the not the smartest guy in the room part) but consistently finding out and appreciating the wisdom in the room is such an awesome honor.

Mae “Cutie” Perez – who is so brilliant with volunteer management.  She makes Jimmy Carter feel like 4 feet tall with her volunteer management prowess.

Dennis “Action Man” Isleta – who is such a soldier in the kingdom of God who is both a leader and a servant.  He makes Norman Swarzkopf pee in his pants.

Jun “the Doc” Aguilar – who is the master at raising future leaders from scratch.  John Welch wouldn’t even think twice getting this guy in his team.

Crickette “Cookie” Abello – who is the best with details and organization.  The next president of the Philippines should actually get her as press secretary cum presidential chief of staff cum executive secretary.  She can run the nation when the president is out of the country.

Bernard “Mr. Ideation” Marquez – who is amazing at what he does in Pastoral Services that Dr. Phil will want to seek counseling from him.

Carlos “the deliberative consultant” – who often stands as the devil’s advocate (sorry for the term).  But he is good at what he does.  I wouldn’t be surprised if McKinsey & Co. pirates him but they won’t be able to afford him.  They don’t have Old Vine and Gelato.

LA “the small pox” Mumar – who is now on loan because he is on route to planting a new church in Makati.  He is always a welcome voice to the discussion because he is a ‘young veteran’.  While he is still young, he has had so much experience in ministry since he’s been serving since he was 12 or 13 years old.

Of course, our senior pastor – Joey “the grand master” Bonifacio who trailblazes for all of us.  Integrity. Character. Leadership. Strategic. These are some words that I know will describe him.  We are blessed to have him leading all of us.

Then there’s Robert, Rich, Junjin, Jonathan, Manny, Ramir, Klaris, Gabby, Onie, Ganns, Marge, Mich, Mark, Christian, Dan, …. (hope I didn’t miss anyone)

Team!  I know I’m not the smartest person.  I simply am the leader.


Watch the video and learn theses lessons from the dancing guy…

1. Remember the importance of nurturing your first followers as equals.
2. Make it clear that it’s about the movement and not you.
3. Be easy to follow
4. Leadership is over glorified.  Sometimes, the leader gets all the credit.  But it’s the first follower the transformed the lone nut into a leader.


Picture 3Listening to Paul Barker teaching us the 5 Foundations of Productive Teams (based on Patrick Lencioni’s 5 Dysfunctions of a Team).

He mentioned an very interesting poll made by Gallup. There are 4 main things people look for from a productive and highly effective leader. I’ll start with the 4th. Here goes…

4. Create hope.

Members of a team want a leader that inspire and instigate vision. They want to see their leader ‘lead’ them to where they need to go.

3. Provide stability.

A.D.D. has become an excuse by leaders who don’t even have A.D.D. to justify instability. People who follow a ‘red balloon’ one day and then another ‘red balloon’ the next week has caused many a team member to lose trust. People want stability. People need stability to trust their leader.

2. Show compassion.

When a team member says, “My leader cares about me as a person, not just about what I can contribute to the organization,” it becomes a win for the whole team. People follow leaders who show compassion and sense that they are not just being ‘used’ as an instrument for the success of the organization.

1. Build trust.

Leaders who build trust not just because of what they say but by how they live their life and apply the very standards they ask their team members to meet is what people seek for. Trust is built when leaders lead by example not by a ‘top-down’ type of leadership which would be – ‘do as I say with no questions asked.’


Picture 4Conference concluded today.  Thought about writing a blog for each session.  But I think if I attempt that, I might end up not doing it at all because I gathered so much.

Allow me to just list down a few key thoughts.  Won’t be complete but oh well…

  • What does an ‘unstoppable church’ (Scott Chapman) look like?
    – Spiritually transforming
    – Culturally inspiring
    – Relationally connecting
    – Missionally impacting
  • The (local) church is the hope of the world… because we are the hands and the feet of Jesus! (Scott Chapman)
  • Don’t allow ministry to trump over family time. (Geoff Surratt)
  • We hit barriers when…
    – we’ve outgrown our leadership capacity
    – we’ve outgrown our structures
    – there’s a culture shift
  • Mission creep happens when we change our goals to match our successes. (Larry Osborne)
  • Success assaults clarity.
  • If you’re not accomplishing your God-given vision, then who is?  Too many have ‘cut&paste’, photo-copied type of vision. (Will Mancini)
  • Sometimes, the real problem is defining the real problem.
  • You were born an original.  Don’t die a carbon copy! (Jim Sheppard)


08172009101I spoke to one of our ministry staff yesterday.  Since he is quite new in the team, he wanted to clarify a few things.

He mentioned that he appreciated the environment that everyone’s ideas and opinions are heard during the staff meeting.  He said that he was told before that “less talk, less mistakes”.

I told him that we try not to operate that way.  Joey Bonifacio has created an environment that each idea is heard that’s why at the end of the discussion, we feel we end up with the best decision since we’ve listened to all perspectives.

I was listening to a leadership podcast this morning that confirmed this.

“You are probably not the smartest person in the organization; you’re just the leader.”

Kabam!  That’s so true!  (Though I had no doubts about this statement way before I heard it because it was so obvious to the others I am leading even to my family).  As a leader, you and I are not probably the smartest people, we’re just the leader.  Sometimes we’ve place so much premium in the role and end up thinking the leader has to end up with all the answers.

Which is why we have to create an environment where listen and that everyone in the leadership team is heard.
– Leaders are attracted to environments where their ideas and opinions are heard.

– Leaders who refuse to listen will eventually be surrounded with people who have nothing important to say.  And that would be that saddest day in any leader’s life.


c and cWhile having breakfast with my kids this morning before going to school, we read a verse that talks about humility and character.  Then the topic of trust in the area of leadership came up.  We talked about why some of our nation’s leaders are losing the trust of the Filipino people.

I told Nathan and Janina that there are 2 things that build the trust of the people we lead.  When one of them is lost, trust is potentially lost as well.

I was talking about CHARACTER and COMPETENCE.

1. Character.  Some people are very competent.  They are skilled, talented and have abilities beyond measure.  They even have the charisma to lead thousands if not millions.  However, if character is not present, I told my kids, people will always be suspicious in the back of their heads if things are being done out of selfish gain or for personal achievement.  That is why character is critical in leadership.

2. Competence. There are those who have great character.  They are very sincere.  They have great hearts.  However, even if the person has a great heart and yet drops the ball often enough and doesn’t deliver, trust is potentially lost as well.

Psalm 78:72 tells us that King David “shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.”

Integrity of heart (character)…  Skillful hands (competence)…

And what envelopes all these is the grace of God …  for without Him, we can do nothing.  (John 15:5)


truthI learned a leadership lesson years ago from Ferdie Cabiling.

He told it through a story.

“I was about to meet a man who was rich and powerful.  He came to church with his family.  However, our meeting wasn’t just for fellowship.  It was counseling  wherein I needed to say certain things – truth coupled with love, nevertheless, serious and poignant truth.

I got to the restaurant early, gave my credit card to the waiter, giving stringent instructions that I was to pay for the bill.

Why did I do that?  The man I am about to meet with is used to paying for all the bills whenever he would meet with people.  I wanted to have the freedom to be straightforward and pointblank if I needed to not feeling the need to walk on eggs.

And straightforward I was.

Thereafter, I prayed for him, signed the bill (to his surprise) and left our meeting.”

This I heard years ago and stuck with me for the longest time.

Daniel was faced with a similar scenario.

King Belshazzar had a dream… handwriting on the wall that none of the magicians and astrologers could interpret.

The queen remembered Daniel, that he was one in the time of King Nebuchadnezzar that could interpret the most difficult of dreams.

The King called for Daniel, offered him the purple robe, gold chain around his neck, and position to be the third highest ruler in the kingdom.

Daniel’s response?

“You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else.  Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means.”

After which, Daniel told the plain simple truth that the writing meant that the King was going to be judged for all he had done and that time was short.  No qualms, no hesitations, reluctance.

As His people, God has called to tell the truth, represent truth and live truth without equivocation nor ambivalence.  Because HE is the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE, we are to live it, share it and speak it when necessary.  That probably would be every single day…