Posts Tagged leadership

The Way of Wisdom

Proverb 11: 11

By the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is torn down.

So, yesterday was election day in the United States. Job done, right? No way. No matter what country you live in, registering your vote is the smallest part of the job. You can bless your city, country or province or you can curse it. Which shall it be?

Most of us do not understand the power we have as Christians to bring blessing everywhere we go. By our blessing, we are also blessed and this is no clearer than in the administration of government. Whether your candidate won or not, the real job begins now. We are taught to pray for our leaders, “First of all, I encourage you to make petitions, prayers, intercessions, and prayers of thanks for all people, for rulers, and for everyone who has authority over us. Pray for these people so that we can have a quiet and peaceful life always lived in a godly and reverent way. This is good and pleases God our Savior” (1 Timothy 2: 1 – 3). What this means is that we should be praying for every leader of every organization we are members of including our churches. Why? We make our lives a whole lot better if we do. In the book of Acts, “They had the disciples in each church choose spiritual leaders, and with prayer and fasting they entrusted the leaders to the Lord in whom they believed” (Acts 14: 23). These people entrusted their leaders to the Lord Jesus and we must do the same. This would be our spiritual leaders, of course, but also our bosses, presidents, governors, the president of the PTA, the leader of the Bible Study and every other person you can think of who is in a leadership position. It is the Lord Jesus who gives us all the grace to do whatever we are called to do. He is what makes a great leader. And if you are involved in choosing a leader for your organization or for a government office the best thing you can do is to pray. Some people pray for their candidate to win but after the election is over, that is when the prayer is most needed. No matter who wins, they are not qualified to lead. Only Jesus is fully qualified so we need all of our leaders following him. We need all of our leaders blessed and ministered to by him. I don’t care who the person is, it is almost immaterial. The key is for that person be able to hear the leading of the Holy Spirit.

We like to elect Christians to political office but a Christian who does not hear and listen to the voice of God will be just as lost in the fog as a non-Christian. We need people in all of our organizations who can, and will, hearken to the voice of the Lord. If an unsaved person was elected in your jurisdiction, then you will want to begin to pray for that person’s soul. I don’t mean that you should begin praying condemnation prayers over them. I mean you should pray compassion prayers for them. Pray for them like they were your only child. We all need a touch from Jesus. They are no different from us in that respect. Even if the individual is a person of God, don’t you think they will be tried and tested? Of course they will and they need our support every day. By your blessing of them, you will be blessed.

You can speak ill of your leaders or you can speak well of them and pray for them. If you constantly run down your boss, your political leaders and your church leaders, what do you suppose you will get? Remember, words are power containers. You are going to end up unhappy and oppressed. Then who are you going to blame? You are going to get what you sow. Therefore, pray for everyone who in anyway provides leadership in your life. Pray and curse not. This is the way of wisdom.

And while you are at it, pray for me too. It is only when God speaks through my fingertips and keyboard that I have anything valid to say and to send to you, so pray for me and I promise I will pray for you.

Leadership 101

1 Thessalonians 5: 11

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

I wrote in the spring on Hebrews 3: 13 which reads, “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Over these last four months God has been showing me, increasingly, how important it is to be an encourager. Additionally, He has shown me that encouragement is one of Jesus’ leadership traits. Before this year I would likely not have included encouragement in a list of leadership traits. I would have been wrong. The Lord is showing that in order to become the leader He has ordained you to be, you must embrace the responsibility of encouragement.

Encouragement, as we see from today’s verse, builds a person up. A large part of leadership is building up others. All too often our model of leadership is in the correcting of others. I found an amazing quote in a book I am reading. The book is Becoming the Person You Want to Be by Dr. Jim Richards. Dr. Richards wrote, “As leaders we have assumed people didn’t really want to move forward. We have blamed their lack of faith. We have questioned their commitment. We have told them they needed to try harder, pray more, cry out to God, and a plethora of other ‘spiritual gymnastics.’ But the truth is we have never given them the right key.” In other words, when people are not succeeding at the level we are or at the level we think they should be, we question their motivation, their commitment and even their faith. Richards points out that most often those people simply have not been given the appropriate tools for success.

As ministers, we can certainly be guilty of this. Our parishioners’ lack of success is a negative reflection on us. If we do not have an answer then we can easily blame the lack of success on their faith or their commitment. Perhaps, though, if the student is not learning, we should inquire of the teacher. I admit to being challenged by this passage from Dr. Richards because I want to be the leader God called me to be. Bit by bit I am learning that only comes with the power to encourage others. We must become builders of people. 

Yahweh, our Father, has called every one of us as a builder of the kingdom. The Kingdom of God, however, is not made of brick and mortar. It is not built of evangelical trips to the Congo. It is not even in the Holy Sacraments. The Kingdom of God is Yahweh’s people. Until we place a value on the building up of God’s people we will continue to miss the mark. 

Every one of you has been called to great things in the Kingdom of God. Don’t doubt it. Let us help each other to become all that God as ordained us to be. We can be the leaders, mentors and teachers who help people attain their highest ambitions. Let’s encourage one another in this pursuit.

Compassion

Luke 7: 13

When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.”

I have lately been strongly impressed with the importance of compassion in Christ’s ministry and his personality. There are seventeen places in the New Testament which speak about compassion. That is a significant number of entries. It turns out that Jesus got his compassion from his father. Romans 9: 15 reads, “For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” The point is that compassion is a behavioral and personality characteristic which is important to our heavenly father. 

The dictionary defines compassion as “the deep feeling of sharing the suffering of another in the inclination to give aid or support, or to show mercy.” Wow! That is a powerful ideology and doesn’t it sound exactly like Jesus? Now we see why so many times the scriptures say that Jesus was “moved” by compassion. Compassion is not the same as pity. Compassion invokes action. When we look again at Romans 9: 15, where Yahweh is talking about showing mercy and compassion, we can now comprehend that His compassion stimulated Him to action. Because of His great compassion He moves on our behalf. 

In today’s verse we see that Jesus felt compassion for a woman. If we will read one verse more we will find that he then did something. He didn’t just feel sad for her and say, “Oh, I am so sorry for your suffering.” He did something. He raised her son, restoring him from death to life. Okay, that is doing something!

Compassion, encouragement, love, acceptance, forgiveness and forbearance, these are the bricks and mortar of Christianity. It isn’t in how many Bible verses you can quote. It isn’t in how much service you offer at church. The life of Christ in you is seen in how you extend the love of God to those around you. I see so clearly today how Jesus comes along side us and is filled with joy when we, out of the overflow of our hearts, express his essential nature. This isn’t something we do. It actually is allowing the life of Christ within you, his nature, his compassion, to flow out from you. It is a living testimony of the love of Christ in his people. And it is how you evangelize the world and disciple nations. Let Christ in all his glory be expressed through you.

Do you want to find the real church leaders, the one’s that the Holy Spirit recognizes? Go look for those people who reach out from themselves with compassion and encouragement. Look at who is actually praying for others rather than talking about it or discussing doctrine. See who responds when news is received. Who picks up the phone and calls just to offer an encouraging word or a prayer? Who is it that always seems to find a way to bless their friends, neighbors and even people they don’t know? Those are the true leaders in the body of Christ. They are not always the celebrated in the earth but the angels know their names. God bless you, the encouragers, the compassionate, the beloved.

Advisable Reliance

2 Chronicles 32: 8

And the people relied on the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.

Here is another significant lesson for winning spiritual warfare. Find someone you can rely on. Brother, you are a sitting duck if you don’t have someone you can rely on in the day of trouble. I don’t care who you are or who you think you are, you need someone to lean on. You may be the biggest preacher in town but the day will come when you are under attack and you will need someone’s words other than your own. You will need someone to listen to who is an encourager and a bold believer. Do I preach to myself? Sure, but I also have a plethora of people I listen to regularly and on whom I can rely in the day of trouble.

The second part of this is for goodness sake learn to rely on those who are speaking faith in the face of trouble. Jesus said, “Sure you’re gonna have trouble but take heart because I have already won” (paraphrase of John 16: 33). You are meant to overcome those troubles through the victory of Jesus. That’s the plan but when you are under the barrage of missile attacks it is often difficult to remember that. When the onslaught is heavy enough you will even forget which scriptures you know to rely upon. I will even think to myself, “Now, what do I tell other people when they are going through this?” In those times you need the advice of wise, Christian counselors; those who themselves rely on the scriptures. They will feed you the scriptures you need so don’t hesitate to call on them. In the very first Psalm King David starts us off with this advice. Verse 1 reads, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” I take that to mean “make sure that the counsel you receive is from Godly people who can speak truth.”

And then here is the real key. Make sure you are listening to these sage individuals. We want to know that they are listening God and that their advice is scriptural. And you are still responsible to God for the advice you take but the point is that you need to have someone that you can trust and listen to and you need to sublimate your ego and take advice and counsel. If you are an island then you are in error. God did not make us to be rugged individualists. He made us to be a family of believers. We are supposed to rely on one another as the collective members of one body.

If you never learn to submit to the instruction of others you will always be a target and you will never be a leader. Only those who learn how to follow responsibly ever become leaders. If you can’t quiet your ego long enough to take advice then you will never have the gentility to lead others. You will never appreciate what a good leader looks like. We learn to lead by following good leaders.

We all need those who can help us through the storm. In today’s passage the people listened to the direction of Hezekiah. They relied on his Godly counsel. And they not only weathered the storm but they came out victorious. This is the way and the counsel of God. Seek the wise, scriptural counsel of Godly counselors in the time of trouble and you also will prevail.

Leadership Trait

2 Chronicles 32: 1 – 8

After these acts of faithfulness Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah and besieged the fortified cities, and thought to break into them for himself.  Now when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come and that he intended to make war on Jerusalem,  he decided with his officers and his warriors to cut off the supply of water from the springs which were outside the city, and they helped him. So many people assembled and stopped up all the springs and the stream which flowed through the region, saying, “Why should the kings of Assyria come and find abundant water?”  And he took courage and rebuilt all the wall that had been broken down and erected towers on it, and built another outside wall and strengthened the Millo in the city of David, and made weapons and shields in great number.  He appointed military officers over the people and gathered them to him in the square at the city gate, and spoke encouragingly to them, saying,  “Be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed because of the king of Assyria nor because of all the horde that is with him; for the one with us is greater than the one with him.  With him is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people relied on the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.

You’ve heard it said that attitude determines altitude. A person’s attitude towards the situations of life determines how they will come through those circumstances. King Hezekiah shows us the attitude of a good leader.

The scripture says that in the face of Sennacherib’s threats Hezekiah gathered the people and spoke encouragingly to them. That is what we should be doing. Encouragement is a big deal. In fact, God has told us to encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5: 11). Since discovering that God commands us to be encouragers I have been watching people. Some people are very good at it. Some people even seem anointed of God as encouragers. Then I discovered something. Leaders are encouragers. It turns out that encouraging others is a big part of what it means to be a leader. I didn’t know that.

Hezekiah saw that the threat to the people of Judah was not only to their persons but first to their psyche. The Assyrians were not knocking on their door for a tea party. Hezekiah knew that people would begin to be afraid so he gathered them together and encouraged them. You don’t have to hang out with God, the Father very long to find out where Hezekiah learned this skill. God constantly encourages and uplifts. We have all heard this verse from Ephesians, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear” (4: 29). We have focused on restricting unwholesome words but there is a second mandate; make it a point to speak words which build people up. That is what edification is, building people up. When someone does a good job, leaders tell them so.

I wonder sometimes if we have become such a broken people that we feel like we are diminishing ourselves if we lift others up. Really the opposite is true. We build ourselves when we lift others. This is such a big deal that the Apostle Paul wrote about it at least five times. I like what he wrote in Romans 15: 2, “Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.” Did you know this was the message of Christianity? Can’t say that I did but now none of us have the excuse of ignorance any longer. We have all been called by Christ as leaders. We are the ones who are supposed to be encouraging the frightened, and lifting up the weary. Start today being an encourager. If you cannot find someone to encourage, you aren’t trying very hard. Be a blessing of the Lord.

Wisdom is for the Wise

Proverb 9: 7 – 9

He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, and he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself. Do no reprove a scoffer, lest he hate you, reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser, teach a righteous man, and he will increase his learning.

This has been one of the hardest lessons of my life to learn. I thought that everyone wanted to know truth and to learn but it just isn’t true. And brother, if you want to alienate some folks in a hurry, correct them. You see, I have been willing to be corrected because I really wanted to know the truth. I didn’t want to continue in ignorance when there was someone who could teach me. My biggest frustration has been in finding someone who would teach me. But this is not the way of the majority. Most folks prefer the status quo no matter how uncomfortable.

You are likely to run into this problem too. As you learn and grow in the things of God you increasingly see more victory and more ease in your life. You are going to want to share what you have learned with those you care about. That’s all good. But, when they start doing the very things that have led them into disaster time and time again and you have already shared with them what has worked for you then let it be. They do not want to be corrected. It seems most people would rather live with their adversity than to change. There is some perverse comfort we have with our own calamity that makes it easier to live with than endeavoring to change ourselves. 

There are two things you can do. First, of course, pray for them. Second, is to just keep living your life in the glorious glow of Jesus. Hopefully, your friends and family will see the grace that the Lord has blessed you with and will ask you for your secret. 

The other problem is that some of these “friends” will become very critical of you. They want what you have but are unwilling to do what you have done. They see you growing and experiencing life as they want it and they become jealous. Sometimes they will treat you unkindly. Again, the best thing you can do is to continue to live a life of grace doing as the Bible and the Lord Jesus instruct you. “For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men” (1 Peter 2: 15). We want people to see the magnanimity of our Father but we cannot preach them into acceptance. We must lead, but mostly by example. Every once in a while a person will come along who is that wise person spoken of in today’s verse; one who is seeking to be wiser. These people are a joy and a delight and I pray that your life be filled with them.

Leadership Through Encouragement

Hebrews 3: 13

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

We all need encouragement and by this verse we might conclude that we need it daily. People need to hear that they are a blessing or that they are doing things well. I am learning that leaders are encouragers. Several times this spring God has impressed upon that a large part of leadership is encouraging others. I can’t say that I knew that before. I’ve probably heard it but it certainly never sank in. Now I see that encouragement is a key piece of leadership and effective management.

As the Father has impressed this on me I began to ask why we are not naturally better at encouraging others. I have concluded that we are not good encouragers because we are so needy ourselves. We are working so hard at getting what we need and what we want that we have little time or inclination to attend to the needs of others. It is not that we do not wish to be sources of light. It is just that we are consumed with our own stuff. We don’t even look up at others and attempt to be a blessing to them.

However, think of the people that are encouragers in your life. Their emails and phone calls are like a breath of fresh air aren’t they? You really know who these people are. They are the first ones to tell you that you did a good job. They compliment your work, your attire and everything they can find which is well done. And yet these people will never lie to you. They seem to know the value of speaking the truth. They won’t tell you something is excellent unless it is and that makes their praise even more valuable. Another thing about them is that you never have to solicit their compliments. They are free with earned praise. We love having these people in our lives. Now the next step is to become like them.

My sense is that this is an expression of the love and kindness of our Father. Encouragers have received the love of God in their hearts and they are compelled to share it with others. It just flows out from them like a river. They don’t seem to strain, they don’t have to concoct a compliment or cogitate over it. It just flows out from them easily and freely. They are satisfied that God loves them so their striving is done. They are no longer grabbing for all the comfort they can get so they are able to lift their eyes off of themselves and see the grace, beauty and hard work of others. They have peace in their souls so that they can hear the Father’s words of encouragement bubbling up inside them; then they ever so effortlessly just release those words into the lives of others.

Today I wish to celebrate all those people who extend themselves to others to keep us encouraged. I also wish to offer a prayer for all of us that our Father would fill our needy souls with the certainty of His abundant love and acceptance for us. Lastly I wish to exhort each one of you to speak a word of encouragement to someone today. Perhaps we could even make it a goal to encourage one person a day every day.

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