L3 Leadership Podcast Transcriptions: How to Lead Through Tragedy and Difficult Times: What is our Role as Leaders in Today’s World? With L3 Leadership Founder, Doug Smith

By November 5, 2018Transcripts

Please enjoy this transcript of this episode with our founder, Doug Smith.  It was transcribed and therefore might contain a few typos. For ways to connect with Doug, the notes, and for links to everything discussed, check out our show notes.


Doug Smith: 00:00 Hey everyone, today I’d like to talk to you on the subject, how to lead through tragedy and difficult times, how to lead through tragedy in difficult times. A question that I’ve been processing it over the past few years is this is what is my role as a leader in today’s world? What is my role as a leader in today’s world? That I’m not just talking about what is my role in my organization that I serve in or what is my role as a leader at home? Although all of those are part of the answer to that question, but specifically what is my role as a leader in today’s world to make the world a better place? Today I want to share my thoughts on what I’ve been processing as the answer to that question, but I also hope that it will prompt and challenge you to think about your answers to that question.

Doug Smith: 00:40 What is your role as a leader in today’s world to make the world a better place? What prompted me to do this lesson is the tragic shooting that happened in my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania last week. And I literally, when these things happen, I literally can’t even believe it. It’s absolutely disgusting and I cannot believe that there are people on this planet with that amount of hatred in their hearts. And I just want to say out loud that this is not okay. It is not okay. And when tragedies like this happen and they’ve been happening on a consistent basis, unfortunately over the last few years, I just, again, I’m challenged with this question. What can we actually do as leaders? What is our role and our response to this and what can we actually do to do something about these tragedies and make sure that they don’t happen. And so again, what I’m sharing today is the answers that I’ve been processing to that question.

Doug Smith: 01:26 And again, I just hope that this will start a conversation amongst leaders and I would love to hear about what you’re processing, what you believe leaders can do to impact the world in which we live. But, again, this is what I’ve been processing, so I’d love to hear your thoughts, but before we dive into the practical things I think we can do as leaders in today’s world, I just want to share a few thoughts on tragedies and how to process them, at least how I process them. And probably the best resource on how I process is actually a Ted talk by Billy Graham. It’s a 20-minute Ted talk, well worth your time to watch it. But again, Billy Graham spoke at Ted conference, you know, with some of the most brilliant minds on the planet who are solving some of the most incredible problems on the planet.

Doug Smith: 02:05 And this was his challenge to them. He said, you know, no matter how bright people are, no matter who’s elected, and really pretty much, no matter what in all of human history, we have been unable to solve these three problems, human evil, human suffering, and death.  Human evil, human suffering, and death. And, and I’ll just say this, isn’t that true? When you actually process it, at the end of the day, we’ve been able to do some incredible things, but those three things have always existed and it seems like they always will, so what can we actually do about it? You know, he talked about human evil and he said, where does it come from and how do we solve it? He said we can probe the deepest secrets of the universe. We’ve seen under the sea. We see galaxies hundreds of millions of miles away, but on the other hand, we all know that something is wrong.

Doug Smith: 02:52 There’s war, there are mass shootings. We can’t get along with other people. Even with our own families, we have self-destructive habits and even the most sophisticated among us can’t do anything about them. He said, I would love to see an oracle or Facebook or Google or Amazon take this on. How can we take on human evil? At the end of the day, the question becomes, how do we actually change a man’s heart so that he doesn’t lie, cheat, steal, kill, and that we don’t have newspapers filled with stories of evil every day. The Bible says, a biblical solution, he says, the problem is within us, it’s our own hearts and our own source. The bottom line is we’re separated from God and we need to have our souls restored and that’s something that only God can do. And Matthew 15:19, Jesus said, for out of the heart, come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander.

Doug Smith: 03:52 It’s in our hearts that evil lies and from our hearts that it must be plucked out. And Einstein said this, it is easier to denature plutonium than to denature the evil spirit of man. Again, something only God can do human evil. And then we have human suffering. He said, we live in the most advanced society in the world, and yet we still have poverty. We still have families that deconstruct. We still have friends that betray us and he’s never met a person in the world without problems or worry. And the last problem he solved, I brought up was death. He said, death is the forbidden subject in our generation. Most people live as they as though they are never going to die. And technology gives us the myth of control over our mortality. The reality is death is inevitable and it is the one thing we all have in common.

Doug Smith: 04:44 We are all going to die and life goes so fast. And so what can we actually do about these three things that have always existed and appear like they always will? Well, this is a very faith-based answer, but I believe it’s the only answer. I believe that Christ is the only hope of the world. He is the only one that can transform a heart. I know this because I had my life transformed by him when I was 17 years old, literally transformed and he continues to do a work in my heart. I did all kinds of crazy things before I met him and I had all kinds of evil things in my heart. And again, he’s dealt with those. And again, there are still things that are in my heart that I’m not proud of, but God continues to work on them in a way I love about God is he literally transformed your life.

Doug Smith: 05:30 Second Corinthians, this is a bible. Verse 5:17 says, this means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a brand new person. The old life is gone and a new life has begun and that is the promise we have in Christ. And so at the end of the day, I truly believe that every single person on the planet needs to to to come to Christ and to form a relationship with them so they could transform their heart and their soul. Something only God can do, and if you’ve never made that decision, I encourage you to make it today. Go to a church, get connected, read, start reading the Bible. Do everything you can to get to know him and your life will never be the same. Your life will be transformed, but outside of people’s hearts transforming through Christ, I don’t see much hope for the world. There are things we can do for leaders that I’m going to share about, but at the end of the day, the answer is everyone just needs God.

Doug Smith: 06:18 Everyone needs God and I’ll talk more about that, but here’s the hope we have in Christ. I love this. In Revelations 21:1-4 this is a glimpse into our future as people and especially if your believers, it says this, then I saw a new heaven and a new earth and for the first heaven and the for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and there was no longer any sea. I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God prepared as a bride, beautifully dressed for her husband and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, look, God’s dwelling places now among the people and he will dwell with them. They will be his people and God himself will be with them and be their God, and here it is. Verse Four. This is the hope we have.

Doug Smith: 07:03 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away. If you’re listening to this and you’re a believer, that is the hope we have in Christ and Christ is the only hope of the world. The hope is that one day in Christ, he will make all things new and he will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death, no more mourning, no more evil, no more crying, no more pain because all of this old order of things has passed away and so when I process tragedy, I process it through this lens that Jesus said in this world there will be trouble but fear not because I’ve overcome the world. Right now in this world we live in, there’s always going to be death.

Doug Smith: 07:48 There’s always gonna be human suffering and there’s always going to be human evil, but that is not a reason to grow hopeless. We have hope because of what Christ has done and as I’ve already said, Christ is the only hope of this world. And so our role as leaders, our entire role is to point people to him so that they can have their hearts and their lives transformed by him. And the more people we get to do that, the more people that get to know Christ, the more people that get their hearts transformed, the better place in the world will be, and I know people all around me are on fire for God and getting people to go after him and lives are being transformed on a daily basis. We have a dent to make in this universe. We have a difference and make while we’re here and we do it by pointing people to him and doing what we’re called to do.

Doug Smith: 08:26 That is the hope we have as leaders that we are called and we have hope and we have the hope that people are looking for and we know exactly who to point people to and that’s exactly what we should do as leaders. So with that being said, let’s dive right into the actual subject of what is our role as leaders in today’s world? Right? What is our role as leaders in today’s world to make the world a better place? The first thing that I will tell you is this. You need to develop the courage to lead and to not take your leadership for granted. Develop the courage to lead. Here’s what I know, you are a leader, you are a leader and some of you are leaders in the education world, in the government world, in the nonprofit world, in the church world, etc, and here’s what I want you to know.

Doug Smith: 09:11 We need you to lead and to do your part. We need every leader doing their part and the world in which they serve. We need them to lead and show up every single day. My favorite definition of leadership comes from Gerald Brooks and he said this, he said, leadership is losing the right to think about yourself. That means that all of your leadership is focused on making the world better for other people, and in fact, I would argue and I would challenge you if you’re listening to this and you want to be a leader for any other reason than making the lives of others better, please do us all a favor and do not become a leader. Leadership is losing the right to think about yourself. And so my goal as a leader, at least this is what I wrote down for this lesson, is I want to become a leader worth following that has something to say that has somewhere worth going to lead people and that will stand up and speak up for those who can’t speak up for themselves and to make the world a better place.

Doug Smith: 10:02 That’s my goal as a leader, as I’ve reflected on, on who God created me to be in the platform he’s given me, I’ve come to recognize that one, I’m a leader and that it actually matters that I lead. I’ve learned that I’m an example whether I want to be or not, that I have influence for a reason and that reason has nothing to do with personal gain, but for speaking up and standing up for others, that people are watching me. I share this because I want others to recognize the same thing about your influence. I want you to know that it matters, that you lead. In fact, I would challenge you, the world needs your leadership.  And so I would turn those things and not just say that’s what I’ve learned about my leadership, but I will tell you that you are a leader and it matters that you lead your an example, whether you want to be or not.

Doug Smith: 10:48 You have influence for a reason and it has nothing to do with personal gain. It’s for others and people are watching you. Now more than ever, we need leaders to lead and that includes me and so moving forward, I plan on standing up and speaking up more often when I feel like I should and I hope that you will as well. And listen, I want you to know that you don’t have to be perfect to lead. Craig Rochelle said it best. He said, you, you don’t have to be perfect to lead people. Remember, we impress people with our strengths but connect through our weaknesses. You’re never going to feel like you’re the perfect leader. You have everything you need to lead. You’re just going to need to simply develop the courage to step up and lead, and so if you’re going to do that, you have to ask yourself a question that I’ve been asking myself is, what do I do with this responsibility?

Doug Smith: 11:31 Here’s what I’ve written, what I’m going to do with my leadership. I’m going to educate myself on issues that are relevant to our culture and speak into them. I will connect with a diverse group of people, diverse groups of people, and learn from them. I will be a light everywhere I go. I will stand up for injustice. I will be vulnerable and authentic. I will walk with God all the days of my life and trust him to do a great work in and through me. I will learn to practice empathy. I will respond to tragedies. I will show up and lead every day. I will speak up. I will create content that lifts people and points them to Jesus and I will challenge the leaders we influence to do something with their leadership and I would. I would encourage you to make that same list.

Doug Smith: 12:12 Write down what will I do with this response with that responsibility given to me called leadership. Another list that I made when it comes to standing up and lead is what if I don’t do something? What if I don’t stand up and lead? Well, here’s what I wrote. One God will use someone else and I’ll miss out on being part of the greatest story ever told the world will be less of what it should be if I don’t step up and lead. People that I’m called to reach won’t be reached. I’ll squander what God put in me, I’ll become irrelevant and leaders won’t develop as they are too. So the first thing I would say that you need to do as a leader and your role as a leader in today’s world is this is just a stand-up and lead. You know, I always think of that scene from Braveheart

Doug Smith: 12:54 when William Wallace is talking to the king and he said, people don’t follow titles. They follow courage and if you would just lead them, they would follow you. And then he says, and so would I be courageous and stand up and lead the world needs your leadership. The second thing I believe we’re called to do as leaders in today’s world is to be an example, and this is all about leading yourself now more than ever, we need leaders to be examples and models of what is right in the world. We need to teach the next generation and those around us. What is right and wrong, and it starts with us. One of my favorite quotes is by Dr. Tony Evans, and he said this, he said, if you want a better world composed of better nations, inhabited by better states, filled with better counties, made up of better cities, compromised of better neighborhoods, illuminated by better churches, populated by better families, than you’ll have to start by becoming a better person.

Doug Smith: 13:52 If we want to make the world a better place, it has to start with us and our families and our churches and our neighborhoods and our cities and our counties than our states, nation and ultimately the world. Gandhi said it. I said, be the change you want to see in the world. Lead yourself well. So many times we get overwhelmed because we think we have to change the world when the reality is we just need to change and lead ourselves and if we start doing that well, all those other pieces will start to fall in place. So being an example and lead yourself. The third thing I think we need to do as leaders in today’s world is to speak up. You know, historically when tragedies like the shooting happened, I would tend not to speak up or say anything publicly on social media and it’s not because I didn’t care.

Doug Smith: 14:33 I didn’t have anything to say. It’s because I didn’t want to say the wrong thing and that’s not something I’m exactly proud of. To be honest with you. If I’m honest with you in the past, I’ve been afraid to speak up and fear that I’ll say something dumb that I didn’t mean to say that I’ll say something controversial and it’ll backfire on me. That I don’t know all the facts about a specific situation that I’m not educated enough to get in this conversation and that I don’t know the solution. However, it’s become clearer and clearer to me as a leader and in this case as a human being, it is my responsibility to speak up and stand up and support my brothers and sisters in need. So why should you speak up as a leader? And again, this is a biblical answer, but I believe we’re commanded to in Proverbs 31:8-9 says, speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves.

Doug Smith: 15:18 Ensure justice for those being crushed., yes, speak up for the poor and the helpless and see that they get justice. I love that verse. It’s what we’re called to do as leaders. It’s a call to action for every leader. It is our responsibility to speak up. So let’s take that seriously. Martin Luther King Junior said this, he said, our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. James Mcdonald said this about tragedies taking place. He said the greater your influence, the greater your complicity, if you don’t call to attacks like these, what they really are, heinous acts of terrorism, entirely rooted in hatred. We need to speak up against evil in the world. The next thing we should do as leaders is to simply love our neighbor as ourselves. Love our neighbors as ourselves. The reality is all people are valuable and all lives matter.

Doug Smith: 16:09 I posted a sign that I saw that I loved on social media and a lot of people love this and the sign said this. It said, love your neighbor who doesn’t look like you, who doesn’t think like you, who doesn’t love like you, who doesn’t speak like you, who doesn’t pray like you, who doesn’t vote like you love your neighbor. No exceptions. That’s a great sign, but here’s the problem. We usually only surround ourselves with neighbors who are like us. Therefore, if we’re actually going to make a difference in love, our neighbors, then it is going to have to be intentional. I love with my friend Matthew Shepard said. He told me once, he said, Doug. Too often we think that our neighbors should know us, but the reality is we should know our neighbors and I absolutely loved that. We think our neighbors should know us, but the reality is as leaders, we should know our neighbors to use the excuse of well, they never say hi to me as not a good excuse and here’s my challenge to you,

Doug Smith: 17:02 get in proximity of people who are not like you and don’t think like you and listened to them. When is the last time you spent time with people who aren’t like you? People who are going through things that you’ve never gone through, people who disagree with you, who have different views than you? You know, I think about before I started working in Light of Life Rescue Mission. I didn’t know anything about the homeless is or what they went through, but you know, I have discovered in my time at Light of Life that the men and women who walk through our doors are just like me. In fact, we’re all one or two decisions away from being the same situation. A lot of the men and women that we serve are in, and if I’m honest with you, if we went through half of the stuff that a lot of these men and women have had to go through, we would probably be in a worse position.

Doug Smith: 17:42 And so I’m so grateful that I’ve had that opportunity to get to know the men, women, and children that we serve. One of my old bosses, she thinks completely different than I do. I affectionately call her the other side because I know when I need a perspective that’s different than mine, that I can ask her what she thinks about a specific situation and she’ll tell me and let me just tell you that’s her thoughts. The way she processes things have made me a better person and they helped me see the world and specific issues in a different light. And she’s also a person that’s consistently encouraged me to do lessons like this. And so I’m so grateful for that. Do you have quote-unquote another side of person in your life? I just want to challenge you, get around people who aren’t like you and get to know them, befriend them, ask them their story, ask what it’s like to be them. Ask how you can help them and just love them. I literally believe if you’ll follow that simple exercise, it’ll change your life and it’ll change the way that you see the world. Here’s what I’ve come to know that we all far more in common than we have different. We’re all going through this thing called life and I believe the world is always a better place when we get through it together, so let’s come together and get to know our neighbors and love our neighbors.

Doug Smith: 18:55 The fifth thing I think we can do as leaders is to not tolerate injustice anywhere, to not tolerate injustice anywhere. Martin Luther King Jr once said, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. He said we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. You know what tragedies like this take place, I think one reason we all get overwhelmed is that we don’t actually feel like we can do something to solve the larger scale injustices in our world. However, I believe in my opinion, the best way we can make a dent and fit and fixing the large-scale injustices is to recognize and do something about the small injustices we see every day. Listen, if you are a parent, a teacher, an aunt, an uncle, a grandparent, a youth pastor, and administrative assistant, a principal, a coach an accountant or anything else, I want you to know that you have influence in the lives of others and so I can’t encourage you enough to never take the influence you have for granted.

Doug Smith: 20:02 All of us come in contact with people every day that we have the opportunity to influence for good and we have an opportunity to train up the next generation and shape the people around us. And here’s what I know about our influence. We’re either using our influence for good or we’re using our influence for bad and not speaking up. When you see injustice is not using your influence for good, we all have a part in making this world as it should be. I love what Andy Stanley says. He said this, he said, you should do for one what you wish you could do for everyone. Listen, you may not have the influence to stop a large scale, so injustice like the synagogue shooting, but you may have the influence to change the life of a young man or young woman who years from now may have been someone capable of being a part of what happened there.

Doug Smith: 20:47 Had you not pointed out things in their life that are wrong, such as bullying, etc. Right? You can impact and stop things that you never know just simply by using your influence for good. You know, we have a family member who works for the FBI and he said he literally, this was years ago, but he would say the FBI on a daily basis literally stops thousands of terror, terror threats each month. Thousands. And think about that. What if through your influence, you’re stopping future events like that on a daily basis. I just want to encourage you, never, never tolerate injustice and never take your influence for granted. Martin Luther King Jr against said, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Don’t tolerate injustice. The last few things. Number six, I believe we can pray for our nation. We can pray for our nation. Now people post this all the time.

Doug Smith: 21:37 Hey, I’m praying for this and I’m praying for that when tragedies happen, but then we get a lot of feedback of like, yeah, that’s great, but what can you actually practically do? And I want to challenge you not to take prayer for granted. My favorite scripture on prayers and in the book of Daniel in the old testament, it’s Daniel 9:23 and it said, it says this. It was an angel talking to Daniel said, the moment you began praying, a command was given in heaven, and now I’m here to tell you what it was for. You are very precious to god, so listen carefully so you can understand the meaning of your vision. Listen, the moment you began praying, a command was given, and I believe that prayer actually matters and it matters that we pray. God hears our prayers, God responds to our prayer.

Doug Smith: 22:16 God told us to pray. Jesus modeled for us, so listen, do not take praying for nature. We need to pray for granted. We need to pray for our nation. The seventh thing which is right along those lines is do you know that we have to pray for our enemies? We need to pray for our enemies in situations like this. This is probably one of the hardest things to process and this may be one of the hardest scriptures to read and act on in the bible, but in Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus said this, he said, you have heard the last say, love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I say love your enemies. pray for those who persecute you and that way you will be acting as true children of your father in heaven, for he gives sunlight to both evil and the good and he sends rain to the just and unjust alike.

Doug Smith: 23:03 If you love those, only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you were kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that, but you are to be perfect even as your father in heaven is perfect. We are to pray for our enemies. At the end of the day, even the man that committed the shooting and the synagogue, at the end of the day, he is someone who is simply lost and in need of God. In fact, most of all the evil in the world has been. That person just needs god and we need to pray that people like that would come to Christ and we need to pray for our enemies. I think about Jesus when he was getting crucified on the cross, he looked at the very people to crucify them and he said, father, forgive them for they know not what they do and my prayer man, when we all need to have that, our father forgive that man because he has no idea what he’s done and my prayer for that man and for anyone who commits acts like this or wants to this is they would get saved, that they would repent and they would follow God all the days of their life. And the last thing I want to encourage you to do as a leader in today’s world is to love your enemies.

Doug Smith: 24:16 Romans 12:17-21 says this, it says, never pay back evil with evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you were honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Do you have friends? Never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the scripture says, I will take revenge and I will pay them back says the lord instead of your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they’re thirsty, give them something to drink and doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their head. Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good guys. Conquer evil by doing good. About a year ago, the whole Charlottesville incident happened and I read an article that a friend shared on social media about an African American man who actually befriends KKK members and the article said, why does he do that?

Doug Smith: 25:07 In his words, he said, how can you, the KKK hate me when you don’t even know me, look at me and tell me to my face why you should lynch me. And as a result of his approach, actually befriending the KKK, many have left the KKK and I think that is absolutely incredible and I think that’s the standard we’re called to in Christ. We are called to love our enemies and we’re called to conquer evil by doing good. We are to conquer evil by doing good. And so I just want to encourage you, love your enemies. Love those who persecute you. It matters. And so those are eight things that I personally believe we’re called to do in these times as leaders and what we’re supposed to do to lead in today’s world. There are certainly other things you can do. You know, I think about as a leader, we need to do whatever we can to protect our people and feature situations.

Doug Smith: 25:53 We need to develop systems to protect them. Specifically, when it comes to these mass shootings, we should not have to Be thinking about these things. Unfortunately, we have to think about these things. So what systems could we pull out and put in place to protect ourselves against a situation like this? We could certainly vote. I encourage you all to vote. Voting is extremely important. So vote, we talked about prayer already. I always say, do for one what you wish you could do for everyone. And at the end of the day, just do what you’re called to do. If you do what you’re supposed to call to do, you’ll reach who you’re supposed to reach and you’ll make the dent in the universe that you’re supposed to make while you’re here on this earth. And so in conclusion to this lesson, just a few things. Here’s what I believe. I believe until Christ comes back, there will continue to be evil, suffering, and death in our world.

Doug Smith: 26:34 However, that is not a reason to be hopeless. In fact, I believe we have hope because of what Christ has done, and I believe that Christ is the only hope of this world. He is the only who can transform the human heart, and that is his part. Our part is to provide hope to the world by pointing the world to him and when we point the world to him, he does what only he can do. And so my challenge to you is to ask yourself the question I’ve been asking myself, what is my role as a leader in today’s world to make the world a better place? And to process this, just a few questions for you. What are you learning about your role to role as a leader in these difficult times? what are you going to start doing as a leader to make an impact in the world? Those are the questions I want to leave you with today. I hope this lesson added value to your life. I would. I look forward to the conversation. Please leave comments. Email me. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks so much for listening and I’ll talk to you next episode.