Leadership Lessons from My Dad: You have to speculate to accumulate

February 9, 2023

I believe leadership skills are developed first and foremost from the combination of what has been modeled for us and what experience has taught us.

My first great leadership model was, and remains, my father. He is an accomplished leader in both the business world as an entrepreneurial dairy farmer and in the church as an elder, deacon, and adult Sunday school teacher. But, interestingly, the best lessons I learned from him were taught around the dinner table, in the car, and, believe it or not, when playing cards. 

One Christmas many years ago, my sister gave our father a book she created recounting some of his notable sayings accompanied by scripture. We all laughed as we read the all-too-familiar sayings we grew up with, the underlying truths in each statement, and the biblical truths they conveyed. 

I’ve chosen four of my favorites that speak directly to leadership, and more specifically, to leadership in the church. Over the next four weeks, I hope you see these truths as well and resonate with them so they can encourage your leadership journey.

“You have to speculate to accumulate.” This phrase was often heard when he outbid his hand while playing a card game called Rook. His opponents were often left dumbfounded when he would bid way over what the cards in his hand, for all practical purposes, would warrant.

But dad knew that winning the bid would gain him five new cards from the kitty in the middle of the table, which in his estimation, was always worth the risk. He was banking on those new cards to give him a completely different hand, one that would take all the points and win the hand. And nine times out of ten it would pay off for him and his partner and be reflected in the final score, much to his opponent’s dismay.

As a leader in the church, as well as in our personal walk with God, there are plans to strategize and decisions to make. Sometimes it’s more comfortable to make the easy choice or to create a safe plan that we’re confident will be successful. But Paul tells us in Ephesians that God is able to do more than we can even imagine.

Ephesians 3:20-21 – “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.”

I don’t think this is a nice description of how powerful God is; I read this as a command or a challenge from Paul to intentionally go beyond what we think God can do and to ask for even more!

My father has lived this out time and time again in both business and in the church. He will tell you that sometimes it went the way he thought it would, but most of the time the outcome wasn’t what he expected. 

I recently had someone ask me, “Can we surprise God?”.  My answer was nope, I don’t think so, and I’m glad we can’t.

Because being unable to surprise God should increase our confidence to boldly step out in faith when God calls us, even when the worldly odds are stacked against us. I read Ephesians 3:20 as permission to trust the God whose immeasurable power is working through us to bring glory to His church. As leaders who trust in a God that powerful and that personal, taking risks should be fun! 


Written by Trudy Ash

Regional Catalyzer – CRCNA – USA Midwest


Photo: Creative Commons


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  1. Thanks for your story about your Dad, Trudy. Brought back memories of you sharing his wisdom and the book he wrote in some of our conversations. I trust you are doing well and flourishing in your varied roles and responsibilities..