sad-2

The Church’s Reluctance to Process Failure and the Antidote

I’d been waiting for the call.

Painfully I wanted someone to ask me how I was doing. Someone to check in on me. Someone to see if I was ok and that everything was getting better.

Yet I never got one.

After 13 years leading nearly 1,200 mentors at pregnancy centers, speaking at countless banquets and even getting recorded on Focus On the Family by Jim Daly with a guy I’d personally mentored I resigned and stepped down from an organization I’d created. I’d followed a passion of mine I fired up a ministry that fit a niché and I got a lot of people to follow me as a non-profit leader.

The issue: I’d gotten into a wrestling match with my board of directors and I lost big-time.

Yet after stepping down, no-one called me. No-one checked on me or my family. After sending a letter to my entire donor base and even former board of director members that I’d be stepping down I did not receive a phone call, email or text asking how I was doing.

That was until yesterday, nearly two and half years later…

“Kurt buddy, how are you doing with stepping down at Guys For Life and how are you processing failure?”

In joyful shock I told my friend Steve, “Brother, you have no idea how comforting that question is. For more than two and a half years I’ve been waiting for someone to ask how I am doing. To have the guts to challenge me on failure and more. An here you are asking me today. Praise God.”

From there I shared with Steve what God’s been doing in my heart. How he has returned me as a father to the hearts of my bride and children. How losing the battle with my board was the best thing, and though I disagreed with the way they handled things in 2013, I could see how God used them like Cherubim with flaming swords to keep me from creeping back into the garden I’d made know as Guys For Life. If I’d snuck into that former role, they would have killed me, and rightfully so.

You see, Steve wants to go further with God. He wants to pursue his passions, maybe it’s his calling and he’s trying to figure things out.

Reflecting on his own personality he saw similarities to mine, and though we’d only spoken a handful of times over the years, Steve called to get my personal advice on some of his next moves wanting to serve men in Christ.

We spoke for an hour. He’d speak, I’d listen. I’d speak, then he’d listen. It was a great time to chew the possibilities.

Yet, in doing so, Steve unlocked two important areas of my heart:

  1. First, he gave me a conduit to discuss my failures and process them more.
  2. Second, he gave me a chance at redemption, demonstrating I had value in God’s eyes by asking my advice.

In The Church today, we as a body, have the hardest time at processing failure. That is, regardless a person’s failure as a new convert or long-time meat eater, we as The Church do not look kindly, nor to the best of our abilities work on restoring a brother or sister in sin, after an honest mistake gone misunderstood and more.

As Pastor Mike Chesire wrote in an article for Christianity Today in July of 2013 titled: We Need To Stop Eating Our Own he shared:

Despite what you will hear from some religious leaders in today’s church culture, the average Christ-follower walking out the door is not weak, unwilling to commit, or intrinsically selfish.

The vast majority of these Christians are leaving for two main reasons: First, and foremost, they are tired of being treated harshly by other Christians. Second, they feel the church has lost relevance to its community and to what they are going through in their everyday lives.

Catch that? The first reason people leave The Church is not because of preaching, teaching, elder issues, etc. but rather – they are tired – of being treated harshly by other Christians in The Church.

Yeah, as a leader I bombed. I trusted in my own power. I did not listen well to others at times and was a serious ‘driver’. Maybe even unapproachable due to an overconfident spirit. So I get that people may not want to talk to me, thinking (and I wholeheartedly assume this) “Kurt will never listen. He’s so convinced he’s right.”

Yup, that was me. Good talker – bad listener.

In spite of that, I can tell you the immense pain in not hearing from anyone, or at least people I thought would contact me. The silence get’s you thinking, “Is this how I respond when I see people fail? Do I get what I want from them (like a luscious banana) and when I view them as refuse (the leftover peel) go about throwing them out, seeing them as garbage and nothing but waste should they slip up in any way? Maybe other people view me that way?”

Yet, when Steve asked me how I was doing, how I was processing failure he helped shore up a spiritual truth, that is:”But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13 (NIV)

By asking me how I was doing and digging deeper Steve unlocked the area of my heart needing restoration. Through talking, he encouraged me. Through listening he lifted me up. Through processing it all, with him and Christ as the chord of three strands, I am protected against sin’s deceitfulness.

Amazingly I agree with Andy Woods list of 9 reasons Why the Church shoots Its Wounded. Paraphrased:

  1. It saves time and money – It’s easier to read someone a tract, then get involved and invest in their life.
  2. It makes the Gospel harder to sell to the community – Church is messed up, who wants to follow our example?
  3. Sometimes they have to pick sides – We don’t always support victims.
  4. They’re hurt – Even leaders are hurt, not just sheep.
  5. Pride – Helping someone might infer ‘guilty by association’.
  6. Desire – We want life easy, not slowed down by messed up saints.
  7. Fear – Like a scared dog, we ‘Bark’ at the wounded, because we are scared.
  8. They confuse forgiveness with approval –  Treating someone as if they had never sinned seems to be approving of the sin itself.
  9. They’re just as disconnected with God as the wounded soldier. – We just don’t know how to say it.

Yet this is where we find ourselves in 21st century America. Eating our own, shooting our wounded and as The Church exuding a reluctance to process failure.

After Steve allowed me to speak, to share my story, to hear what God is doing and lead me through the process of discussing failure, he added one more component: He asked for my advice.

What?

I remember asking myself, in my head before I went on, ” Don’t you remember Steve, I bombed in ministry, I blew things up – yet you want my advice?”

Steve broke through the barrier when he said, “Kurt I hear your heart, you didn’t have a moral failure. You may have been headstrong in your leadership, however, I hear you’ve grown immensely since stepping down. From where I sit I see you mentored thousands of men to reach others, save children from abortion and lead people to share the Gospel. Where’s the failure in that?”

He than asked for my advice on men’s leadership and Gospel issues.

Like those of us members who are the Body of Christ, The Church itself on earth, Steve ignored the temptation eat his own, to shoot the wounded and fought the reluctance to process failure. In that hour Steve held the hand of Christ, and then held mine. One spirit, united, connected, forgiving and redemptive.

Think about it.

TAKE AWAYS:

  1. ACCEPT THERE WILL BE FAILURE – If you’re the least bit truthful, recognize you fail and you fail often. Then, openly allow EVERYONE else you know to fail without your continual judgment.
  2. REACH INTO THE LIVES OF THOSE THAT HAVE FAILED – As a Christ follower live out Hebrews 3:16 and encourage a brother or sister to the point they are guarded from sins deceitfulness through your loving faithfulness.
  3. REDEEM PEOPLE WHO FAIL BY VALUING WHAT THEY ARE THINKING – It’s a process I call, “Honor the Man” and you can see Jesus doing it in all four Gospels where he honors the one speaking, by listening intently to them, regardless their sin position. Try it.

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

hug

As You Start Your Weekend – Hug Someone

It’s Friday. The weekend has begun.
While you’re enjoying yourself Father’s, why not hug some more?
TOP TEN BENEFITS TO HUG SOMEONE :
1. The nurturing touch of a hug builds trust and a sense of safety. This helps with open and honest communication.
2. Hugs can instantly boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger.
3. Holding a hug for an extended time lifts one’s serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness.
4. Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates activates the Solar Plexus Chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, which keep you healthy and disease free.
5. Hugging boosts self-esteem. From the time we’re born our family’s touch shows us that we’re loved and special. The associations of self-worth and tactile sensations from our early years are still imbedded in our nervous system as adults. The cuddles we received from our Mom and Dad while growing up remain imprinted at a cellular level, and hugs remind us at a somatic level of that. Hugs, therefore, connect us to our ability to self love.
6. Hugging relaxes muscles. Hugs release tension in the body. Hugs can take away pain; they soothe aches by increasing circulation into the soft tissues.
7. Hugs balance out the nervous system. The galvanic skin response of someone receiving and giving a hug shows a change in skin conductance. The effect in moisture and electricity in the skin suggests a more balanced state in the nervous system – parasympathetic.
8. Hugs teach us how to give and receive. There is equal value in receiving and being receptive to warmth, as to giving and sharing. Hugs educate us how love flows both ways.
9. Hugs are so much like meditation and laughter. They teach us to let go and be present in the moment. They encourage us to flow with the energy of life. Hugs get you out of your circular thinking patterns and connect you with your heart and your feelings and your breath.
10. The energy exchange between the people hugging is an investment in the relationship. It encourages empathy and understanding. And, it’s synergistic, which means the whole is more than the sum of its parts: 1 1 = 3 or more! This synergy is more likely to result in win-win outcomes.
Think about it…
Beer

How a Bud Light Saved My Life

I’m going out on a limb here, yet I have to admit, I’m becoming a bit of a beer snob.

That is, after brewing a bit of my own beer, then getting introduced to other beers by guys at church and small groups I circulate with I’m developing a particular taste for quality drafted beers and ales.

My beer of choice is anything by St. Bernardus brewery, they will always do me just fine. Even a Smithwick’s Irish Red or a Goose Island Matilida will satisfy.

Yet last Wednesday my life was saved by a Bud Light…

It was a long and deeply frustrating day.

There I was at home all alone mowing my lawn and doing a good job at tearing up my lawnmower. I was getting angry, deeply frustrated and my neighbor who lives across the street does one of those attention getting whistles really loud at me. The mower shuts off and he asks, “Hey, you want a beer? You look thirsty.”

What you need to know is backdrop to this story as to why this was the Bud Light that saved my life.

I live in a home deep in the woods just outside of St. Louis County for 8+ years. In all that time my neighbor across the street has appeared somewhat frustrated with me.  My silly dog ran through his freshly tar sealed driveway and drug her paw prints along his newly stained deck and I remember the tongue lashing I received. Maybe it’s my kids riding their bikes way half way up into his driveway. I’ve always assumed my neighbor really did not care for me or my family.

He’s older, retired and just not very talkative. For years whenever leaving the house alone, or with my family, I would cordially wave to my neighbor across the street. He’d oblige and wave back. From what I could tell it was just neighborly tolerance. I could not have been more wrong about my neighbor.

Yet today was different. I had had a really bad day.

Early in the day my laptop was just not agreeing with me. It took 3 restarts just to get to operating speed and I needed quotes to go out the door, emails to be returned and the like. Yet, my laptop had other plans. Type, crash, type type type, crash – restart – UGH!

Then while trying to get that part of my day going my smart phone begins exploding with requests for help from multiple friends and business sources. It was as if (jokingly) everyone conspired to contact me at once with questions they needed answers to. My only reaction was, “You gotta be kidding me! Now? Now everyone I know wants my attention? Ugh!”

Then it came time to drop off contracts I’d signed with clients and get work rolling. I kid you not, I found myself getting into three (yes 3) traffic jams in St. Louis while I was trying to turn in contracts, trying to get work done, and trying to earn money for my family. I had just about had it.

So I came home, looked at the clock and saw it was 4:45 PM. All I could think of was, “Dang it! Another day going down the tubes! Sorry, but I am not letting this day go to waste!” And standing there in my driveway in front of the garage made up my mind to pull out the ole’ rusty lawnmower and hack the overgrowth in the front of my property.

Unfortunately my mind and heart was was fried by the time I got going on my yard project. I’d unfortunately let the way my day was going get the better of me. More than that, I let my expectation of how the day SHOULD HAVE gone get the best of me and I turned my back on God’s goodness as I began tearing into my yard.

Have you been there? Just trying to be a son of God, just trying to be a good husband, just trying to be a good father, pay your bills by doing work for your family and nothing seems to go right? Nothing seems to go your way.

So you personally decide in your heart and even say “By God I will have some level of accomplishment to this day and nothing will go to waste as long as I’m in charge!” So you decide to do some yardwork, some overlooked project or something else and it’s all downhill from there.

Ever been there?

That was my day.

I’d decided in my heart I was going to get something back, something I felt I’d been robbed of.

My payment? A sense of accomplishment.

So I tackled the 50 yard stretch in front of my home under trees and began fighting the weeds and fighting the poison ivy trying to cut down all of the weeds and overgrowth that I had ignored for weeks. Shamefully, I bet I even took the Lords name in vain once or twice under my breath and my neighbor across the street noticed.

Push – pull – womp – womp – restart – push – pull – kick – drag – huff & puff… This overgrowth aint beating me! This day will not go down in flames!

Then out of the blue, a guy I literally think can’t stand me or my kids cause I believe he thinks we’re probably the neighborhood Hoodlums calls me over to sit down on his patio and have a beer to relax.

At the moment he called me, you need to know what was going though my mind and heart. I’ve been living through the roughest patch personally and professionally over the last two years. Our family is returning to ministry work and that day my broken heart thought, “When is someone going to pick up the phone and call me to see how I’m doing? I’ve been there for a good number of people God, when is someone going to be there for me?

You see, I was not mad at my laptop. I was not mad at my smart phone for exploding with requests. I was not mad at being stuck in traffic and I was not mad at feeling I’d accomplished nothing – what I was truly mad at was the feeling as if I was all alone. So grabbing the mower and tackling my yard was my physical/spiritual way of shaking my fist at God upset with what He’d given me that day – better yet – what’d He’d given me for the last two years of my life through trials.

In my anger while mowing I said aloud in my head the question God needed to hear from me. A question I’d buried in my spirit unwilling to say, that is, “Why God? Why do I feel so alone as You are leading me? Are you there? Do you even care about what I am going through?”

God answered me in my anger. He touched the heart of my neighbor to touch mine.

My neighbor, the guy I had assumed a great deal about was the very guy who cooled me down. He offered me a beer and a chance to sit down and talk – MOST IMPORTANTLY – a chance to be listened to.

The parallel?

I’d been assuming a lot about God’s love, or lack there of and God in His unique way had to show me the shortcoming of my selfish thoughts by placing my neighbor in my life at the EXACT time I felt alone most.

God’s already supernaturally saved me through his Son Jesus – yet – mentally He continually rescues me from my thinking by placing people, events, circumstances and trials in my life.

I’ll go one step further, my heart tells me that God physically saved me that day and kept me from having a heart attack by placing my neighbor in my path at the time I was most physically consumed in my anger.

And all it took was a Bud Light to save my life.

TAKE AWAYS:

  1. MEN’S ANGER – is no laughing matter. It’s scary, divisive and life-threatening. If people are asking why you seem angry more and more it because you are. Seek help now. Try this resource from Focus On The Family
  2. SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT – Is another sign of stress in your life. If you do not feel fulfilled and lack a sense of accomplishment chances are there is a hole you’re not letting God fill. As a man, stop and share this with trusted men of The Church, your small group or pastoral counselor.
  3. NEIGHBORS – So you think your neighbors don’t like you, that you can’t get along, or fill in the blank. Think again. More than 90% of our perceptions of others are wrong and rooted in the enemy of God’s lies we choose to believe. Walk across the street and SHARE and RECEIVE God’s love for you.

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,” Ephesians 4:26

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Ephesians 4:31

Think about it…

Joplin Tornado

Why So Many Christians Fail

For the better part of my life, I’ve given my heart, soul, mind and strength to the core belief that Jesus is real, I was born a sinner, as a result of my sin I would be separated from God, Jesus took my place on the cross, accepting his love and forgiveness and believing in Him as my sole savior would reconcile me to His Father God and now – I’m his. Once and forever saved.

My bride Heidi and I were baptized into this new covenant with Jesus May 31st, 1997 and since then we’ve been raising our family with a Christian worldview. We’ve been living a Christian worldview and as best we can (mistakes and all) been trying to love everyone we encounter with the same love, grace and forgiveness that’s been extended to us.

Mind you, we’ve dropped the ball, ignored the ball and even hidden the ball – in our sin – along the way. Yet still, we press forward.

As a 48 year old son of the King, husband, father, friend and guy lucky enough to lead others in ministry I’ve discovered something in my own walk that I see many of us who have given their lives to Christ repeating over and over.

It’s but one spoke in a wheel of growth, yet if you will allow me as your friend in leadership to share, I think it may prove beneficial to you.

WHY SO MANY CHRISTIANS FAIL

10In his book The 10 Dumbest Things Christians Do Author Mark Atteberry writes one full chapter titled “Living Below Our Level of Belief“. Hence, the title alone in bold 44 point sized font emblazoned across your computer screen might suffice for the rest of this posting. Yet for this posting I want to pinpoint one thing Mark wrote of and how it applies today to why so many Christians fail.

Mark writes there are three core sins, that as he says, “slip past our radar and nestle unnoticed into our daily routines. They are Materialism, Worry and Superiority.

As for Materialism, we hear a great deal about that subject weekly as Christians hearing sermons in the West. On the other end of the spectrum, many sermons are awash on church websites and servers nationwide to the subject of Superiority. Yet that one sin, smack dab in the middle – Worry – is the one I’d like to speak of.

Mark writes, and I agree, that in view of the Bible and Philippians 4:6 (NLT) which states, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” many of us who believe would see the subject of worry – to be a sin.

However, we worry a lot. Like Mark I think I can also make the point as to ‘why’ we have a tendency to worry so much.

I live in St. Louis, Missouri, just four hours east of Joplin, Missouri. I’m sure just stating the word “Joplin” we all remember how this country was mesmerized just watching the news for weeks in May of 2011 as one of the seven deadliest tornadoes blasted its one-mile wide path of destruction through Joplin.

In its wake 161 people had lost their lives, 7,000 homes were destroyed, 2,000+ buildings we destroyed and more that 16,500 insurance claims were filed. We saw as a nation that little olé Joplin Missouri had become Hell on Earth.

As a daddy, my precious kids saw the news, saw the devastation which occurred and asked, “Could that happen to us?” St. Louis is no stranger to wild thunderstorms and each season they make their way through. So when the tornado sirens in our development go off at 11:00 PM at night – sure, you can bet, we are concerned. Better yet, we flat-out worry, ‘Could that happen to us?”

A core reason we Worry so much is – we’ve seen bad things happen to other people – and instinctively know – bad things CAN happen to us.

Our Worry causes us to live below the level of our beliefs so many times. As a result of Worry, our prayer life is greatly impacted. Worry impacts our prayer walk for the negative like we could never imagine.

As a leader, let me get real and let me get really personal to painfully illustrate the power of Worry and the negative impact is can have on prayer life.

For years I tracked with a fellow brother and friend the Reverend Douglas Merkey founder of Churches For Life who in our time of fellowship taught me one little Christian the following principle:

YOUR GREATEST STRENGTH LEFT UNGUARDED – WILL BECOME – YOUR GREATEST WEAKNESS

He taught me as we spent countless hours talking to one another, having fellowship and building each others ministries up in the early days that each of us as leaders have spiritual gifts that shape up as leaders.

As a leader on ministry for 13+ years I can tell you that through every known assessment my greatest strength and spiritual gift is the gift of FAITH. That is, being given this gift I often have a trust and confidence in God that allows me to live boldly for Him and I manifest my faith in mighty ways.

For me, how this shows up in my life (when I am connected to God’s leading) comes through the Holy Spirit using this gift in me to encourage and build up the church in her confidence in God.  I simply trust that God is sovereign and He is good.  I take Him at His Word and put the full weight of my life in His hands.  I expect God to move and am not surprised when He answers a prayer or performs a miracle.

As evidence I give you the 500+ pregnancy care centers and nearly 1,200 male mentors I encouraged for 8+ years at GFL to get actively involved with men in unexpected pregnancy. That’s faith.

Yet remember what my brother Doug taught me early on in ministry:

YOUR GREATEST STRENGTH LEFT UNGUARDED – WILL BECOME – YOUR GREATEST WEAKNESS

In spite of all that great and faithful success, I was unguarded as a leader at times. As a result, as high as the mountain peak was on one side – was the deep dark valley – on the other.

Through a painful set of circumstances  and the revoking and reinstating of our ministry by the IRS as a functional non-profit I found myself as a leader at odds with my own board of directors. Guys I had handpicked, men I thought had my back. Through our struggle, being a man of faith who was unguarded and unchecked I began to rely on my abilities, my strength and my charisma to get things done with my crew.

Instead of prayer, leaning on God and trusting that He would get victory, not me, I began to trust the power of my own arms.

The result? I saw, just like a tornado that had ripped through Joplin, Missouri I understood the potential for things to go really bad for me, my board, my family, my donors and everything I’d worked on so hard for 8 years to simply blow-up and explode. Silently, I began to Worry.

In my Worry I picked up every tool I could to fix things with my board and all I got back was a cold non-responsive and heartless response. They’d come up with a list of things to accomplish which should normally take weeks and I’d got done in days. All the while hoping my ability to make things right, would make things right universally.

The more I tried, the worse it got. The more I pushed, the father we got away from one another.

And then I hit bottom.

In a heart-felt meeting with the board, after we’d accomplished some restorative goals – we were still not seeing eye to eye. Later in the week at dinner with my bride I confessed that my struggle to make this all right had become an idol to me.

In that time I convinced myself that God wasn’t listening. I believed He could have helped and didn’t. As a leader I wondered if He really cared. As a result my prayers overall grew less in power and faith became more needy and were placed further apart.

This is why so many Christians fail: We Worry. Through our Worry we revamp, build and construct our prayers exclusive to our circumstance – and when the circumstance is not repaired the way we desire – our prayers weaken, lessen or fade away all together.

SO WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT IT?

The best way I can answer that is through the example of David. As a leader David had an entire army after him. David had an army destined to kill him simply because he was chosen by God to lead – and the other guy was jealous and heartbroken about it. Boo-hoo.

Remember, I believe part of the reason we fail so many times as Christians is that we Worry. Our Worry leads to a prayer life that lessens and weakens and in its place we try to get stronger without God – wanting victory in our own power, not His.

But that wasn’t the case for David.

Read ALL of Psalm 18 below and notice something about David (a leader who by far has made more and worse blunders as a leader than any of us) and his desire for victory THROUGH HIMSELF but solely credited to The Lord for doing so.

Ask yourself:

  1. What am I worried about as a leader?
  2. Do I see myself trying to manufacture ‘wins’ at the expense of lessened or a weakened prayer life?
  3. By making myself the winner, not God, how does this illustrate I live below the level of my belief?
  4. What are 3 issues I can give over to God and let Him win, not me?
  5. How would my prayer life look different if I actually began to understand my Worries and handed them to over the King?

PSALM 18 (NLT)

1 I love you, Lord;
you are my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.
3 I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and he saved me from my enemies.

4 The ropes of death entangled me;
floods of destruction swept over me.
5 The grave[a] wrapped its ropes around me;
death laid a trap in my path.
6 But in my distress I cried out to the Lord;
yes, I prayed to my God for help.
He heard me from his sanctuary;
my cry to him reached his ears.

7 Then the earth quaked and trembled.
The foundations of the mountains shook;
they quaked because of his anger.
8 Smoke poured from his nostrils;
fierce flames leaped from his mouth.
Glowing coals blazed forth from him.
9 He opened the heavens and came down;
dark storm clouds were beneath his feet.
10 Mounted on a mighty angelic being,[b] he flew,
soaring on the wings of the wind.
11 He shrouded himself in darkness,
veiling his approach with dark rain clouds.
12 Thick clouds shielded the brightness around him
and rained down hail and burning coals.[c]
13 The Lord thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded
amid the hail and burning coals.
14 He shot his arrows and scattered his enemies;
great bolts of lightning flashed, and they were confused.
15 Then at your command, O Lord,
at the blast of your breath,
the bottom of the sea could be seen,
and the foundations of the earth were laid bare.

16 He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemies,
from those who hated me and were too strong for me.
18 They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress,
but the Lord supported me.
19 He led me to a place of safety;
he rescued me because he delights in me.
20 The Lord rewarded me for doing right;
he restored me because of my innocence.
21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord;
I have not turned from my God to follow evil.
22 I have followed all his regulations;
I have never abandoned his decrees.
23 I am blameless before God;
I have kept myself from sin.
24 The Lord rewarded me for doing right.
He has seen my innocence.

25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful;
to those with integrity you show integrity.
26 To the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd.
27 You rescue the humble,
but you humiliate the proud.
28 You light a lamp for me.
The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.
29 In your strength I can crush an army;
with my God I can scale any wall.

30 God’s way is perfect.
All the Lord’s promises prove true.
He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
31 For who is God except the Lord?
Who but our God is a solid rock?
32 God arms me with strength,
and he makes my way perfect.
33 He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
enabling me to stand on mountain heights.
34 He trains my hands for battle;
he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow.
35 You have given me your shield of victory.
Your right hand supports me;
your help[d] has made me great.
36 You have made a wide path for my feet
to keep them from slipping.

37 I chased my enemies and caught them;
I did not stop until they were conquered.
38 I struck them down so they could not get up;
they fell beneath my feet.
39 You have armed me with strength for the battle;
you have subdued my enemies under my feet.
40 You placed my foot on their necks.
I have destroyed all who hated me.
41 They called for help, but no one came to their rescue.
They even cried to the Lord, but he refused to answer.
42 I ground them as fine as dust in the wind.
I swept them into the gutter like dirt.
43 You gave me victory over my accusers.
You appointed me ruler over nations;
people I don’t even know now serve me.
44 As soon as they hear of me, they submit;
foreign nations cringe before me.
45 They all lose their courage
and come trembling from their strongholds.

46 The Lord lives! Praise to my Rock!
May the God of my salvation be exalted!
47 He is the God who pays back those who harm me;
he subdues the nations under me
48 and rescues me from my enemies.
You hold me safe beyond the reach of my enemies;
you save me from violent opponents.
49 For this, O Lord, I will praise you among the nations;
I will sing praises to your name.
50 You give great victories to your king;
you show unfailing love to your anointed,
to David and all his descendants forever.

DAD BACK

Disciple Makers – Don’t Love Their Opinion Over Others

In 2002 I was called into leadership at a local pregnancy care center in St. Louis. Before I served a single male client in unexpected pregnancy – an unresolved sin in my heart  – soon became apparent to the staff, yet was hidden from me.

That is, as a guy understanding his spiritual gifts, one of them being the gift of prophecy (To Exhort, Console and Lead the Body of Christ BACK to what she should be doing) I leveraged my gift inappropriately. Instead of loving The Body of Christ I fell short as a leader and loved my opinion more than people or anything.

Everywhere you turned at the center, be it a meeting, the way I adorned my office to the very working with male clients my opinion, and how highly I held to it, painfully projected itself on everything my eyes could cover. You can’t make disciples loving your own opinion more than you love other people.

In our case, we were bringing in male clients to a pregnancy care center (not the ideal environment for guys) where any move we make – be it furnishings, letterhead, the way the place smells and even how the staff behaves towards male clients could send them running out the door. All they need is one single reason to run – and they’re gone.

One male client in particular rings a painful bell.

His name was Tim. Unlike the majority of male clients visiting our center, whom wanted their girlfriend to go through with an abortion (so they could pursue their dreams) this guy wanted to man up as a Daddy. His girlfriend however wanted an abortion. So he set an appointment with our office to come talk. Being the lead male mentor and program director, he was assigned to me.

I remember the front desk clerk ringing me in my office that my appointment arrived. I ok’d her to send him back. While I was knee deep in preparing a Powerpoint presentation, with my back turned towards my office door – I smelled him. Yes, I smelled him before I saw him. As I turned around all I could see was a greasy teen, in leather, hat backwards covered in tattoos and piercings. In my head, and thankfully inaudible, I said, “Why the Hell would anyone want to do this to themselves?”

From there Tim told me his story. The incredible lengths he’d gone to pleading with his girlfriend to have the baby and give their relationship a chance to work. It went on for 45 minutes. While he spoke out loud at a decibel well within my range of hearing it was as if it was all static. I did not, repeat, did not hear a single thought he shared. All I did was form a strategy for what I thought he needed.

It was March of 2004 and The Passion Of The Christ by Mel Gibson just came out and our church was giving away tickets for members to invite people to the movie. I had two in my pocket and was scheduled to take my bride Heidi with me the same night and day I saw Tim in the office.

Instead of listening to Tim’s heartfelt plea for realistic help, I opined that what he really needed was a savior in Jesus Christ. I mean, that’s what this is all about anyway, right? Bringing people the Gospel was all that mattered and using a pregnancy care center as a stepping stone to do so was the truth.

So I leap-frogged over what Tim shared for 45 minutes and at the end I asked him if he wanted to go to a movie that night and talk more. Tim, for his part, thought I was caring and listening. Yet, deep down, I’d already cut him off at the pass and put together an alternate plan.

We met at the theater and I told him what movie we were seeing. He told me he was raised in a broken Christian home and that he was still unsure about Jesus, The Church and all that jazz. Do you think I listened to him say that? Nope, I blew right by it saying he’d be ok. We entered the theater and the movie began.

For the next 127 minutes we watched Jesus get brutally flogged, beaten and crucified like no other film ever put together. I was a quivering mess by the time the credits rolled and soon began to realize I’d made a huge mistake.

As we exited the theater to talk I tried as best I could to switch gear AWAY from what we’d just witnessed and tried to call up in my mind what Tim and I were meeting as mentor and male client was all about. Tim was having none of it. I remember him saying, ‘I don’t know whether to say I love you or hate you for taking me to this movie.” We spoke for another 3-5 minutes and he was gone.

I tried calling his cell phone the next day and got voice mail. I tried the day after, and after, and after never getting a response. I don’t know if Tim and his girlfriend became parents. I don’t know if they split up. I don’t know if they had an abortion. All because I loved my opinion more than my fellow man.

Why am I writing you this? Why does it matter? Don’t I as a Christian leader and speaker know that people want more POSITIVE writings than they do POINTED writings?

Yup, I sure do.

Yet, I’ve never held to the belief to give the Body of Christ sugar, when it needs meat.

Today I found myself on Facebook taking the enemy’s bait to get into an opinion and position contest with another brother in Christ. Today I saw the wages of my sin was death and I saw there could be a death in my relationship with my brother in Christ, whom I love. And it reminded me of a sin issue I’ve carried (maybe my own thorn in my flesh) all the way back to a client named Tim.

Please read:

“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:22-26 (ESV)

My youthful passion is to fight. To fight with my opinion. As a Disciple Maker it’s caused me to NOT pursue righteousness, NOT rely on Faith, NOT love and NOT be at peace.

I took today’s Facebook bait as a new beginning to again build a quarrelsome spirit.

As HIS servant, guess what. I am NOT supposed to be quarrelsome, but rather I am to be kind to EVERYONE. Yes, the word says EVERYONE. I must be able to be taught, even as a leader. I am patiently to endure evil (not avoid it of gripe about it). I am to correct my opponents with gentleness. On Facebook, I admit, I’m not all that gentle.

As a result, as a disciple maker, if I love my brother, more than my opinion, God’s word promises they may be granted repentance, come to truth, may come to their senses and could possibly escape the snare of the devil – AFTER – they’ve been captured by him to do his will.

Whoa – you mean that by LOVING PEOPLE MORE THAN MY OPINION could possibly leave room for God to do HIS work and NOT ME?

Unbelievable.

Think about it.

 

leadership voddie baucham

The Allure Leadership Brings and the Enemy Exploits

Recently my bride Heidi and I attended a Marriage and Family Seminar one Friday evening at our church. The content of which was the following of a video on Love and Marriage by pastor Voddie Baucham. Though his topic was Love and Marriage, today I’m moved to think part of his teaching reached past marriage and into the subject of Christian Leadership.

Voddie passionately shared a key example to the failings of many marriages (which I believe also touches leadership) through the prism of parenting.

CASE IN POINT

Voddie presented the notion today a good number of Jesus loving parents are having trouble raising their own children. As their children progress into adolescence and young adulthood many parents feel inadequate to the task of loving, guiding and leading their children. As a result, many literally “dump” their children into the hands of youth pastors ill-equipped to handle and guide their children the way their parents should be doing as a set of devoted Godly Gospel driven parents.

creature of the wordHowever, he made the emphatic case those same exact parents (who are having trouble raising their children) if presented an opportunity with their job to advance their career, would do whatever it takes to make it happen. I may be paraphrasing Voddie, as I don’t have the tape to go word-for-word, yet I remember him saying, “So your boss comes to you and says ‘Hey, a new position just opened up in your department and we need you to step us as a leader. It’ll require more hours, more training and more of you personally, but we think you’re the guy. You up for it?'” To which Voddie pointed out 99% of failing parents reply would be, “Sure boss, you can count on me, I’LL DO ANYTHING IT TAKES.”

Hold the phone! You mean out of one side of your mouth YOU CAN’T be a Gospel driven parent but out of the other side of your mouth you can be a pharisitcal employee doing whatever it takes to make the job happen?

Recently reading Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson and Eric Geiger’s book Creature of the Word and the chapter titled, “The Creature Worships” I discovered the authors making an incredible case for the three unique issues which become barriers to living a Gospel centered life. Barriers which keep us from living a Gospel centered life by drinking from the wrong well. They are:

  1.  WELL #1 – Money and Comfort
  2.  WELL #2 – Relationships and Sex
  3.  WELL #3 –  Respect and Success

Following Voddie’s lead that leadership is alluring, and can draw you away from being a Gospel driven parent let’s look at how the enemy can exploit you.

MONEY AND COMFORT

Ever look in the White Pages to see how many people named Jones there are? Whatever number you come up with on paper, throw it away. At some point, we are all the Jones’. Keeping up with the Jones is a habitual sin likely to catch us at some time, or one we’re tempted with short-term or long-term. New stuff is nice. The new car, a new home or exotic vacation to post all over Facebook. We’ve been marketed to for years and years that the next generation computer, the next model car will satisfy us.

With regards to leadership the enemy of God daily exploits your desire for more stuff by presenting you the idea that stepping up in leadership equals more money. More money then equals more stuff.

He’s tried it before, “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Matthew 4:8-9 (NIV)

Jesus response? “Away from me Satan!” Priceless. Your answer to the allure of leadership should be similar – IF – you’re honest with yourself that your real desire is money and comfort.

RELATIONSHIPS AND SEX

As a Christian you need to know – there is nothing wrong with wanting relationships and wanting sex. You were designed beautifully for both. Yet, they were designed with a purpose, a higher goal and a significance for your relationship with your Abba Father.

As it’s pointed out in Creature of the Word for Women, you’ll never find the man to satisfy you. None of them will (exciting isn’t it?). Only a savior like Jesus can fully satisfy. For Men, not much different. You’re never going to find a bombshell bride willing to grill you a steak every night, let you veg on sports all alone and then be ready for you to come to bed as a passionate lover.

How the enemy exploits the allure of leadership with regards to relationships and sex is massive. To name a few:

  • Stepping up in leadership at work = More money = more time with my bride and kids = better relationships (never true)
  • Stepping up in leadership at work *might* get me recognized by a co-worker I want a relationship with and sex with (really?)
  • Stepping up in leadership will lead to more respect in my home, which for me, soaking up more respect in my leadership as a man at home – (of which when I receive more) – I will love more in return. Hence a better relationship. (I know, I know NO ONE has ever thought that)
  • (Fill in the blank)

Want to avoid his scheme? Be honest with yourself. Write down the top 5 reasons for accepting a higher leadership role and how you think they will affect relationships and sex. Then share them with someone you’re accountable to. What would they say in return?

RESPECT AND SUCCESS

How many of us want to be seen? How many of us want to be acknowledged? How many of us want others to see what we are doing and be mesmerized by what they are taking in?

As the author to today’s blog, I must openly admit, this is my key barrier.

Yet, when it comes to the allure of leadership how does the enemy exploit our desire? Have you ever said:

  • If I get this promotion my Dad would be so proud
  • If I get this promotion my Mom will approve of me
  • If I get this promotion my wife will respect me
  • If I get this promotion my husband will understand my needs even more
  • Should I go on?

Want to overcome it? Well partner, that’s gonna take time, a lot of pain and a lot of change. Yet, you can do it. Philippians 4:13 ring a bell?

Bringing it home the allure of leadership is much more vast than what I’ve written today. Just remember, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:7 (NIV

How can we help you master the allure of leadership and move forward in a Gospel centered leadership role?

Drop us a note…

Leadership And The Language of Lying – 4 Take Aways

Earlier this week a dear friend, Matthew Loomis, founder of Build Your Own Blog posted an interesting video in his Facebook feed. It is titled The Language of Lying by Noah Zandan and it’s prominently posted to the TED-Ed Lessons Worth Learning website.

I highly suggest watching this video and returning to this text when you’re done.

In the video Noah reveals the amount of science and equipment we’re using today to detect the truth in others has been eclipsed by that of Communication Science and Linguistic Text Analysis. Indeed there are four common patterns established to your and my subconscious language of deception – AKA lying.

They are:

  1. Minimal Self References
  2. Negative Language
  3. Simple Explanations
  4. Convoluted Phrasing

The tendency as a leader would be to point our focus of this subject outward. That is, in review of this video, we would do a quick 24-48 hour assessment of the people we are most intimately involved with personally or professionally and use this material to size-up others. Are our close confidents at home, work or friendships and otherwise lying to us?

For today’s leadership challenge I’m going to ask you to deny that urge. That rather instead you point these four patterns back at yourself and indeed face the leader in the mirror.

4 TAKE AWAYS FOR YOU AS A LEADER:

I – MINIMAL SELF REFERENCES

In this video Noah shows that the science indicates those that lie reference themselves less when making deceptive statements, they write or talk more about others, often people lying use the third person to distance themselves from the lie.

QUESTION: As a leader look at your email communication in response to direct questions from others, management or even you own board recently. Do you notice a pattern of making minimal self references when communicating? If so, why? What does that reveal?

II – NEGATIVE LANGUAGE

People who have a problem with telling the truth use a good amount of negative language for on a deep subconscious level they feel bad about lying. He used a simple example of “My stupid phone battery died. I hate that thing!”

QUESTION: Truth be told, how many times during the course of the day do you use negative language to cover your shortcomings? You’ve encountered it many times from your employees, staff or otherwise and it frustrates you. Now spin the arrow. What message do you think you’re sending when employing negative language to cover your tracks with those that are following you?

III – SIMPLE EXPLANATIONS

People who have trouble with lying build explanations in the simplest of terms for the simple fact that our brains have trouble building and supporting complex explanations involving judgement.

QUESTION: When leading people where you continually provide simple explanations unchallenged, albeit ones they instinctively know require a comprehensive answer (for things sometimes get complicated) what does that say? While you don’t always need to get into the weeds in explaining things, a continual M.O. on your part to provide simple explanations creates a larger gap between you and those you lead.

IV – CONVOLUTED PHRASING

In closing Noah shared liars, while keeping descriptions simple, use convoluted sentence structure. They often insert unnecessary words which are relevant and factual sounding details in order to pad the lie even more.

QUESTION: Bringing it home, as a leader, look at your response to people verbally and in written text. Can you identify the times when someone in your office or organization has asked you a simple question and you answered with more words than necessary? That your response, while addressing basic facts, was loaded with other relevant facts that were simply over the top, bloated and unnecessary? What do you think that says to those that follow you?

“In the multitude of words sin is not lacking,
but he who restrains his lips is wise.”

Proverbs 10:19 (MEV)

Think about it.

 

President

President Obama Irritated- A Quick Lesson In Leadership

“But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.”

Matthew 15:18 (NASB)

Yesterday, November 4th, 2014 were the mid-term elections across America. Stunningly the GOP, and more importantly the electorate of America, shook things up in Washington, DC. Across this country the people removed the Democrats power-hold in the Senate, increased seats in the House of Representatives with more Republicans and for added measure, provided more leadership of individual states by adding more Republican governors.

In response to this news, President Obama, as reported by Fox News through the New York Times said he was “Irritated” with one aide adding, “He doesn’t feel repudiated”.

Interesting choice of words…

Whether you are a liberal, conservative, moderate or even a progressive – know this – your/my words have significant meaning. Your and my words reveal our true heart just as a tell does to other players in a game of Texas Hold-Em poker.

In this case, for the president to say this one single word – Irritated – in response to an entire nation using the power of the electorate to clearly demonstrate their concern about the economy, the direction of the country and so much more is truly revealing.

So that we do not put words in the president’s mouth, let us put the spotlight on ourselves as leaders, to make the point.

Say you’re the leader of a company, organization or not-for-profit. Let’s use a not-for-profit for this example. You are responsible for a staff, board of directors, a bevy of donors and ultimately the people you’re trying to provide a valuable service to. Working till the wee-wee hours sometimes your job is immense and often spills over into other areas of your personal life. The task is daunting at times, but alas, you trudge through as only a dedicated and valuable leader could.

Yet along the way, your staff begins to pull away. Day by day, they become a little more distant. You can’t put your finger on “why”, it’s just happening.

Then your board of directors begins to question what you’re doing. In the beginning you were tight, but now, it’s as if you have to share every jot-and-tiddle of what you’re doing with them. The scrutiny is increasing and at some point you catch yourself saying in your head, “Is this really fair”?

Next, you lose a key donor or two. Significant donors who give generously and have been with you arm-in-arm. However, they just don’t seem fired up as they used to be. You ask them openly and as best you can describe it, they’re just “Meh”, not motivated by you or the organization. They’ve actually found another ministry to love and are firmly planted in their decision to support them.

Finally, client numbers are stagnant or worse yet, declining. You do your best homework to discover why and as far as you can tell the staff is working extra hard, the board is supporting the work and donations (while not their greatest) are supporting what you need to get done according to your vision. Yet, it’s just not happening. The impact you once you thought had is fleeting and people are going elsewhere to get like-minded help.

Now with all this happening it would be safe to say as a leader you could be:

  1. Frustrated
  2. Disappointed
  3. Disheartened
  4. Upset

 

However (this goes to the core of ALL OF US AS LEADERS) to say one is IRRITATED by all of this reveals a completely different position.

Compare:

Frustrated – 1. disappointed; thwarted: 2. having a feeling of or filled with frustration; dissatisfied.

Irritated – 1. angered, provoked, or annoyed. 2. inflamed or made raw, as a part of the body.

Remember, words have meaning and they reveal our heart. As a leader of a company, organization or not-for-profit please reflect on President Obama’s response to the 2014 mid-term election and then yourself as a leader. What words are coming out of your mouth in response to all that is going on around you? What do the words coming out of your mouth reveal about the necessary changes you will need to make to improve things with A) your organization and B) yourself personally.

“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

Luke 6:45 (NASB)

Think about it.

blow-it

How Could Anyone Blow A 10-Day Test Of Leadership So Badly?

READING TIME: 3 MINS :54 SECONDS

It was only a 10 day wait. How could they blow it so badly?

Earlier this week I wrote about the Test of Leadership using the backdrop of Johanan and his officers from the book of Jeremiah. How we as leaders should never resort to our old way of doing things. When we do resort to doing things the old way – it always leads to ruin.

I’d like you to notice a couple of additional insights from the text. Look closely:

“Then all the army officers, including Johanan son of Kareah and Jezaniah son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest approached Jeremiah the prophet and said to him, “Please hear our petition and pray to the Lord your God for this entire remnant. For as you now see, though we were once many, now only a few are left. Pray that the Lord your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do.”

“I have heard you,” replied Jeremiah the prophet. “I will certainly pray to the Lord your God as you have requested; I will tell you everything the Lord says and will keep nothing back from you.”

Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act in accordance with everything the Lord your God sends you to tell us.  Whether it is favorable or unfavorable, we will obey the Lord our God, to whom we are sending you, so that it will go well with us, for we will obey the Lord our God.”

Ten days later the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah.” (Read Jeremiah 42)

All they had to do was wait 10 days for a response – and then –  Jeremiah spills everything they are to do/not to do. He also included God’s specific promises for them to prosper. All they have to do is A) Trust and B) Obey, that’s it.

If you read in Jeremiah 43 Jeremiah sums it all up and the people respond:

When Jeremiah had finished telling the people all the words of the Lord their God—everything the Lord had sent him to tell them—  Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the arrogant men said to Jeremiah, “You are lying! The Lord our God has not sent you to say, ‘You must not go to Egypt to settle there.’ But Baruch son of Neriah is inciting you against us to hand us over to the Babylonians, so they may kill us or carry us into exile to Babylon.”

Did you catch that? In one exchange they promise Jeremiah that regardless how God responds – good or bad – they’ll accept His answer. Then 10 days goes by and BAMMO they flip-out accusing Jeremiah of being a liar, setting them up for destruction and they GO BACK on their promise. Ouch.

And as we say, “The rest is history”. Read further in Jeremiah to see what happens to Johanan and all the people. Were they right in their disobedience? Did they prosper despite the warning?

Just go look.

So here are a few questions for you as a leader this Friday:

  1. When’s the last time you felt you needed counsel on what to do next?
  2. Have you received wise counsel that shares if you go this way it will lead to ruin, but if you stay put, you will prosper?
  3. Did you ignore the counsel, even have contempt for those delivering it?
  4. What was the cost to you as a leader?
  5. What was the cost to those around you?
  6. What do you intend to do differently in the future?
  7. Finally, in the comments section, leave a pearl of wisdom for others.

 

As I’ve written, a true test of leadership is the ability to trust. There is great testing in waiting. Taking 10-days to wait (as in this example) for an answer tested Johanan and his officers ability to trust.

How about you?

Think about it.

desert

A Test of Leadership – Don’t Resort To Old Ways

As a not-for-profit founder and men’s ministry leader I’ve had my shares of ups and downs. From the victory of watching male mentors spirits being awakened to the Christ-like Warriors they truly are to the agony of failing my board of directors, family and friends in my capacity to lead courageously and fearlessly.

I recently discovered while reading God’s word one particular leadership quality that’s taken the past eighteen months to conquer, that is, the quality of trust. Not the trust I put in others, nor the trust they put in me but rather yet the very trust I put in God himself to lead me where I need to go. The trust I need afford Him to lead me in what I do. Solid faith in Him to deliver me beyond my capacities.

It came while reading Jeremiah 42

THE BACKGROUND

In response to Ishmael, the son of Nethaniah, who was going on a power hunger killing spree Johanan, son of Kareah, and his army’s officers muster up a force to come against Ishmael. They meet Ishmael near the pool at Gibeon where Ishmael’s captives somehow come over to Johanan. Amazingly, Ishmael and eight of his men escape.

In view of Ishmael’s power Johanan’s group of captains strongly feel they should return to Egypt. Maybe it was their fears, affections or very own politics pushing them to return home – we simply don’t know.

In a bold and transparent move they make a bargain with the prophet Jeremiah about calling upon God to advise them in their own matters. In doing so, they cough up two incredible things:

  • First, they have no idea what to do – they are clueless.
  • Second, they commit to being content with God’s answer, good or bad – they are at the very least a bit faithful.

 

Jeremiah obliged them saying:

I have heard you,” replied Jeremiah the prophet. “I will certainly pray to the Lord your God as you have requested; I will tell you everything the Lord says and will keep nothing back from you.

True to form, Jeremiah holds nothing back. Upon hearing from God he answered them. Through Jeremiah God answered their question with the following details:

  1. They were commanded and encouraged to continue prospering in the land of Judah.
  2. They were given the assurance that if they did it would go well with them.
  3. They were forbidden to return to Egypt.
  4. They were explicitly told should they do so did it would be to their ruin.

 

As a leader reading this, I’ve came up with two simultaneous responses, “Ouch and Thank You”. Maybe that should be, “Thank you” then “Ouch”? For as many of us in leadership know, sometimes the best lessons come at the end of a greasy 2×4’s recoil off the top of our heads. In the blunt delivery a truth is absorbed, but at the cost of a painful experience.

THE PARALLEL

Hopefully as a Christian leader you’re beginning to see the parallel in your own leadership journey. If not, let me get as real, transparent and vulnerable with you as possible to help it come into full view.

First, Johanan see’s an injustice going on with Ishmael so he musters up a force to come against Ishmael. Have you ever seen something wrong, something needing attention and it caused in you a response to take up an effort to provide justice or safety? Maybe it was with others or something in your own life.

Second, Johanan’s top officers get a little shaky saying, “Maybe we should simply to return to Egypt”. Have you ever experienced something similar? Wherein you start to realize you’re in over your head, your task looks insurmountable or you have doubts and consider, “Maybe I ought to do things like I’ve always done before?”

Third, being honest with themselves they seek God’s counsel and submit, whether the news is good or bad, they’ll accept it. Come now, as a leader have you really, I mean really, had the intestinal fortitude to go before God on really big matters and say, “OK, God, good or bad, I’ll accept your answer to my prayer.” (Marinate on that one)

Fourth, in Chapter 43 when Jeremiah delivers the final detail to Johanan and the prophecy of exactly what he and his leaders are to do their response is bone-chillingly painful. In a stark about face they flat out ignore the deal they just made to accept the word of God, good or bad. Yelling at Jeremiah they say, “You are Lying!” How bout you? Have you been delivered a response from God, a truth you know as a leader you should follow, but you disobey and in your spirit, tell God the same, that He is lying by way of your response?

I submit, I’ve done this my friends.

My ability to succeed/fail in this area comes from the leadership quality to trust (Psalm 3:5-6). As leaders God has stationed us with the unique ability to move forward in Him and Him alone. We are to trust where He has planted us and He has made it complete with instructions on what to do.That is, if we simply seek Him with an earnest and open heart.

For me, I’ve dropped the ball in this area and failed a test of leadership  when I’ve sought God through the counsel of wise men, gone to God in prayer, had clear and concise conviction on knowing what I should do – in full light of the consequence – only to find myself resorting to my old ways and the arm of the flesh (Oh how I longed for a return to Egypt…) I’ve felt the pain of being found out by the King of Babylon, suffering destruction for my distrust. Don’t go there as my friend.

Here’s my advice to you if your questioning God what to do next:

  • Prosper where you are at, where God has you firmly placed.
  • If you do, God promises it will go well for you.
  • DO NOT return to Egypt (Layman’s terms – don’t resort to the old way of doing things in YOUR power)
  • Should you do that, it leads to RUIN every time.

 

Think about it…