I was given the book “Onward” by a friend and have been enjoying reading it.  It is the story of the resurgence of Starbucks.

The book details how the company was in decline in 2007, and that is when Howard Schultz again assumed the daily oversight.  Schultz had retire from CEO in 2000, and in 2007 the company found itself in dire straits.

If this was an unusual story or even a one in a hundred situation, I might not pause to reflect.  It is not unusual, and actually is more typical.

I personally think leaders are not appreciated by many until they leave and then people see what they had.  Good leaders make it look easy.  When they are in the leadership position it appears that anyone could achieve the same results.  Let’s explore this a bit.

I would submit a couple of business examples, and then some from the Bible.

First, Apple Inc.  I am a devoted Apple user.  I like their stuff.  I began using their stuff way back in the 1980’s.  My first computer was an Apple IIc.  I moved on to the Macintosh.  The CEO of Apple was Steve Jobs back then.  Several years ago Mr Jobs stepped down due to a battle with cancer.  The next few years saw a decline and near crash of Apple.  When Steve Jobs returned, we saw the introduction of the new gadget iPod.  Then there was the new generation of macs.  Along came the iPhone.  Then there came the iPad.  All of this under the leadership of Steve Jobs.  It is an amazing illustration of how much valuable one man is to the direction and success of a business.

The second illustration of the importance of a leader is Starbucks.  Howard Shultz joined Starbucks in 1982 and rose to the position of ceo. (Starbucks does not capitalize their titles 🙂 ) In 2000 he stepped away from the daily business and concentrated on global strategies. By 2007 the company was in trouble.  Many factors were the cause.  The story of their rebirth and resurgence as a company is well documented.  No one doubts it is the leadership of Shultz that made the difference.

Are these two stories an anomaly?  I say no!  I say any business, any church, and organization is ultimately the product of leadership.  The small decisions based on life philosophy that ultimately flow into a river of success or failure.

Let me show an example from the Bible.  I submit Samuel as an example of this principle.  Israel had war with the Philistines for many years before he became the Prophet of his day.  We are informed in the Bible throughout his life the Philistines were completely subdued.  There were no wars or skirmishes.  As soon as he died, Israel was back on the battlefield again against the Philistines.  It was the leadership of this man that made the difference!

When you look at your local church, it is easy to not appreciate the leadership your pastor provides.  It is easy to think well it would be the same is someone else was doing the job.

Good pastors make it look easy.  Church splits are avoided.  Church factions are kept broken up and scattered.  Quarrels are kept to a minimum and out of the mainstream of the church.  Small problems are solved before they become large.  It all seems so easy until he is no longer there, the the Philistines re-appear, and the long forgotten wars begin again.

Is there a Samuel in your life?  Take time to appreciate Him.  Take the time to say nice things and show support.  Leaders live lonely lives.  They struggle with decisions.  They wrestle with issues.  They make hard things look easy.

Thanks for reading today!