Doug Stringer, Founder and President of “Turning Point Ministries” and “Somebody Cares,” is the author of several books. I enjoyed reading his latest release, “Leadership Awakening: Foundational Principles for Lasting Success,” and recommend it to you — especially here in the beginning of the New Year.
Books on leadership often seem written by authors who gave little effort, simply regurgitating bland truisms and pithy quotes. Stringer gives plenty of principles, truisms, and potent quotes from leaders past and present. But this isn’t a boilerplate book on leadership. Stringer invested himself in the writing and it shows. Pick up a copy and chew on it slowly; don’t speed-read this one. Let Stringer talk to you, and then talk to God about what you’re learning.
Doug and I talked on the phone about his book recently. What follows is an edited down version of some follow-up questions I had for him about Leadership Awakening. Also, below the Q&A you’ll find a video explaining the book further.
WSL: What led you to write “Leadership Awakening” and what is the significance of the word awakening in the title? To you, what is that conveying to the reader
Stringer: I see so many people who measure on the scale of success. They look at things like “How big you I build?” or “How much can I acquire?” and the influence of one’s name. Yet I noticed that once a person’s position is no longer is a part of their title, it changes the level of degree of influence that they have.
I realized that the Kingdom of God is built on relationships. First with God. Then, with one another. The level of influence that we have to lead is determined by the degree of those relationships with God and with others.
Seminary professor Dr. Robert Clinton said that in his research 70% of Christian leaders did not finish the race well. He said the six key areas which many leaders stumbled in were: finance, power, pride, sexual temptation, family issues, and loss of spiritual momentum.
So, when I began to look at these things and saw so many people I even knew over the years that I had looked up to not finishing well, I began to evaluate my own life. If these guys can’t make it, if these ladies can’t make it, how am I going to finish well?
We can’t just start the race, but we have to finish the race, and we have to finish well if we’re going to leave a lasting legacy to others.
I jotted down a lot of thoughts and notes for myself, and I realized many people are building on faulty foundations. What are the guaranteed foundations of guaranteed lasting success? As a believer in Christ, I know that I probably have an unshakeable kingdom and for me, I can’t build on something that’s cracked in the foundation. How do I build something that’s guaranteed to last?
First Corinthians 3:11-15 says that if you build on anything other than on Christ, Jesus, it will not last.” It will implode. So every principle that I began to share, everything we did, had to be filtered through God’s character, God’s Word, His nature and spirit—and began to build upon that filtering rather than what was a good idea.
One of my spiritual mentors was Dr. Edwin Louis Cole, the founder of the Christian Men’s Network. He used to say, “A man’s talent can take him where his character cannot sustain him.” Talent may take you to athletic pinnacles, but you need a moral foundation underneath to support it. Skills may make you a millionaire, but your finances won’t remain under control if your heart and mind are out of control. He’d say, “Real men discipline their lives with truth. It is an error to build your life on talent on personality instead of on principle and character. Character counts.”
WSL: What is the place of trials in the life of a leader? Often, they’re seen as evidence that we’re misguided or that something went wrong or something. What is the place of trials and suffering in the life of a Christian leader?
Stringer: Are we a people of consecration and conviction and character? Such people will face trials and opposition. Just look at the book of Nehemiah. There were at least seven to 10 different kinds of oppositions that came against Nehemiah and those who had a heart to see that the City of Jerusalem and to see the city gates built up and to see the people who were scattered brought help into their lives again.
For example, there is the threat of ridicule and mockery. Or the threat of attack. And discouragement, which I talk about in the book as being a powerful drug. Discouragement causes us to become so disillusioned and disappointed in others and in ourselves that we lose sight of the destination in which we intended to go. So, in the midst of our journey of discouragement, we become disillusioned, disappointment, distracted from our destination. Then, Nehemiah faced extortion. And slander.
All of these trials were faced by Nehemiah, a man of consecration, conviction, and character.
But leaders must stay on their knees in a posture of humility and prayer. Who we are in private becomes very public under pressure. So when trials begin to come against us, we can have strength and refuse to acquiesce and compromise.
One of my mentors, Leonard Ravenhill, scribbled a note to me back in the early 90s. He wrote: “My dearest brother Doug, Let others live on the raw edge or the cutting edge, you and I should live on the edge of eternity.”
Whenever I go to my pity parties, or I go through difficult times, I have to remind myself that what I have in Christ and the things and lessons I’ve learned through the legacy of others that have been invested in my life, I need to share with others because my little bit of crumb as the prophet says, “To the satisfied soul, they take for granted the honeycomb. But to the hungry soul, even the bitter things are sweet.”
So, I have a responsibility to continue to walk this faith out in a very public way, and private way because what I do in private does influence my public persona. I believe that what we do behind closed doors determines the power of God or lack of it in public.