#214: Seizing Victory from the Agony of Defeat

Have you ever been so discouraged you felt like giving up? You saw the light at the end of the tunnel and realized it was just another train about to mow you down.

Victory Defeat

It seems there is an epidemic of discouragement and uncertainty in our world today. We live in most uncertain times. Economies around the world are experiencing turmoil. More people live in poverty than ever before. Millions and millions of people have become refugees fleeing their ancestral homes to avoid war.

On a more individual level, a decline in spiritual maturity has been met with moral decay. Marriages are failing at record rates. More children are being born into single-parent homes than ever before. Crime in our inner cities is out of control.

How are we to make sense of it all? How can we avoid the spirit of discouragement or defeat that has surrounded so many?

The answer lies in our faith. Let’s look at a few Bible characters whose faith allowed them to seize victory from the agony of defeat, who were down but not defeated.

Joseph Endured Difficulties

Joseph was his father’s favorite. He had a bright future, but his jealous brothers pretended he was dead and sold him into slavery. Things were looking up a little when he became the house manager for a powerful man but then he was falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison.

Job Experienced Adversity

Job was successful and wealthy with a large family. In a period of days his flocks, his herds, and even his family were all taken from him. In the midst of his despair, he was struck with painful boils all over his body.

Naaman was Ostracized

Naaman was a revered military commander. At some point in his life, he contracted leprosy and became a complete outcast from society and even his own family.

Daniel Faced Governmental Oppression

As a teenager, Daniel was taken prisoner by a conquering army. He was ripped away from his family and taken to a foreign land. He was ordered to worship the king, but Daniel refused, vowing to worship only the Lord God, even if it meant death.

Esther Faced Racism

Esther was a Jewish virgin who was taken to be part of the harem of the king of Persia. She found favor with the king who made her his queen. But Haman, a high-ranking official in the Persian government, hated Jews and hatched a plan to annihilate the entire Jewish population throughout the Persian empire.

Ruth was a Refugee

Ruth was a Moabite widow who left her homeland with Naomi, her mother-in-law to travel back to Naomi’s homeland. She had no possessions and no money. She was forced to pick grain at the edge of the fields to survive.

Great Faith was Rewarded with Victory

Joseph, Job, Naaman, Daniel, Esther, and Ruth were all down but never defeated. Because of their great faith, they all rose above their persecution.

  • Joseph got out of prison and rose to second in command of the Egyptian empire. This put him in a position to save his father and brothers from starvation during a seven-year famine.
  • Job maintained his faith in God throughout all his trials. Because of his faith, God restored Job’s wealth and granted him more children. He lived 140 more years and saw four more generations born to his children.
  • Naaman believed his Jewish servant girl who told him if he had faith the prophet of God could cure his leprosy. Naaman had faith, sought out Elisha the prophet, and was cured of his leprosy.
  • Daniel survived certain death in the lion’s den because God protected him. The king was so happy that God had protected Daniel from the lions that the king wrote a letter declaring Daniel’s God to be the living God who endures forever.
  • Esther became aware of Haman’s plan to kill all the Jews, so she hatched her own plan to trap Haman. Her plan worked. Haman was hung, and the king issued an edict allowing the Jews to take revenge on all those who had threatened them.
  • Ruth followed the advice of Naomi her mother-in-law to seek out Boaz, her nearest relative. Boaz redeemed Ruth and became her husband. Their great-great grandchild was David, the king of Israel.

Paul said it well as he wrote to the Philippians when he proclaimed, I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. We can experience victory. But we must have faith, and we must trust God when He says that He will work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you ever experienced difficulties persecution like Joseph, Job, Naaman, Daniel, Esther or Ruth? Has there ever been a time when God enabled you to seize victory from the jaws of defeat?  What happened?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

 

 

#213: 7 Things Bad Bosses Taught Me About Being a Good Leader

Thank goodness for bad bosses! I know that seems like an odd thing to proclaim, but it’s true. I am thankful for bad bosses.

Good leaders

Why?

Because bad bosses can teach us a lot about being a good leader. If we learn something from the example of a bad boss then they are a fulfillment of Paul’s proclamation in Romans 8:28, “…we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

A bad boss may be miserable to work for today, but if you learn something from them that makes you a good leader, then it makes enduring them worthwhile.

Last week I wrote about two bad bosses in my life (you can read about them here). This week let’s dig in and look at a few of the things I learned about being a good leader from these two bad bosses.

1. Lead by Example

All leaders lead by example. The issue is, are you setting a good example or a bad one? Peter, writing to the elders (1 Peter 5:1-4), admonished them to be willing, servant leaders not taking advantage of those they lead.

Paul writing to his young protégé, Timothy, said: “set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (Timothy 4:12). That’s the kind of example good leaders set.

2. Trust Those You Lead

David wrote that it is better to trust in the Lord rather than in men (Psalm 118:8-9).

Yes, our ultimate trust must be in the Lord, but I have found that if people see that you trust them, they will return your trust. On the other hand, if people feel that you don’t trust them they will become untrustworthy themselves.

3. Get Out of Their Way

One sign that you trust your people is that when you give them an assignment, you get out of their way and let them work. Being a micro-manager who hovers over your people makes you a poor supervisor, certainly not a leader.

General George Patton said, “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.”

It’s been my experience the more you tell people what to do the more you restrict their creativity. The more you restrict someone’s creativity, the less they have invested in your success.

4. Take Responsibility

Leaders take responsibility when things don’t go according to plan. Solomon wrote, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

If you are a good leader, you don’t throw your people under the bus when results don’t come in as expected. It was your job to lead. It was your job to anticipate and deal with problems. So, if things go haywire, it was your fault. Take responsibility.

5. Give Credit

When things go well good leaders know the results accrue to the hard work of the team and they give the team credit.

I learned early in my management career the quickest way to build morale in the organization is to build up the people who did great work. Shout their achievements from the rooftops. Let everyone know how great your team is.

Andrew Carnegie said, “No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it.”

6. Don’t Play Favorites

Good leaders do not play favorites. I know it’s hard not to have favorites sometimes. There are some people you like more than others. Some are kindred spirits that you click with the minute you meet. Others make you tense up the minute they come into the room.

But good leaders avoid the temptation to play favorites. Solomon warned against playing favorites when he said, “To show partiality is not good” (Proverbs 28:21a).

James also warned against playing favorites when he said, “But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers” (James 2:9).

7. Listen for Understanding

One of the most valuable skills any leader can have is the ability to listen. Learn to listen, not just to hear, but to understand. Often understanding comes from comprehending that which is beyond what is said.

James exhorted fellow believers saying they “should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). You cannot listen for understanding if you are readying your response while the other person is still talking.

These are just seven of the leadership traits of good bosses I learned from my bad bosses. If you are already a leader, make sure you exhibit each of these traits. If you are on the road to leadership, make sure you make each of these traits is part of your leadership character.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. If you’ve worked for a bad boss what did you learn from them about being a good leader? Are there any of these leadership traits you need to work on?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Skills | Leadership Development

 

 

 


#212: Have You Worked for Either of These Kinds of Bad Bosses?

There are two kinds of bad bosses, and I have worked for both kinds. There is the boss who doesn’t know they are bad, and then there is the boss that is bad, he knows it, and he doesn’t care!

Bad Bosses

Looking back over the 36-years of my business career I can only think of a couple of bad bosses (maybe my memory is shot, but that’s all I can remember).

The Unwitting Bad Boss

This boss came along later in my career. He was someone I had known for years and even worked with on several occasions. He was a pleasant enough fellow when I worked with him on projects, but when he became my boss, I saw a whole other side of him.

He took credit for the good work my team did even when he didn’t have anything to do with it. But, when something went wrong, he was the first one to throw my team and me under the bus.

I tried hard to work with him and even talked to him about how his behavior was impacting the morale of the organization. He didn’t seem to realize that his behavior was causing his people to pull away from him.

Even after being confronted with what was going on he never changed. Before long complaints about his behavior reached the ears of upper management, then human resources got involved. Eventually, he was demoted and transferred where he had the chance to start over with another division of the company.

The Bad, Bad Boss

I was a sales manager responsible for three states, and our team had just gone through a particularly tough quarter. Right after the close of the quarter, the mailman brought a large package and inside was what we lovingly referred to as the “Boot Trophy.”

Our boss had taken one of his old hiking books and had it mounted on an oak plaque. This became the Boot Trophy. It was to be held in the office of the worst performing manager for the entire quarter. It would then be sent on to the next manager who had the worst quarter’s performance.

I am sure the boss thought me having to stare at the Boot Trophy all quarter would remind me of the unit’s shameful performance and motivate my team to work harder and do better.

It didn’t.

I threw the stupid thing into the back of a closet. I didn’t look at it or tell my people about it. And then when it was time to forward to another manager, I “lost it.”

The Boot Trophy was just one of the examples of this manager’s abysmal leadership. He would rig sales contests to favor people he liked. He manufactured reasons to transfer or fire employees he didn’t like.

Eventually, he butted heads with his boss. My bad boss was given what I like to call, “alternate employment options” (an office and 30 days to find a new job and resign or get fired).

Dealing with Your Bad Boss

The Bible has a a lot to say about dealing with difficult people. My favorite passage comes from Jesus who gives instructions to the disciples regarding discipline among church members.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17).

If we apply these instructions to our organizations, there are four steps we should take in dealing with bad bosses:

  • Address the issues privately with him/her, one-on-one. If this does not resolve the situation then,
  • Take one or two others with you and discuss the issues in private once again. If this does not resolve the issue then,
  • Take the issue either to higher ups or the human resources department depending on your organization. If the situation is resolved, great. If not then,
  • Break off relationship with the bad boss. This can be tricky in an organization. You may need to ask for a transfer, or you may need to start looking for a new job.

Regardless of how the situation is resolved, we need to practice forgiveness. As Jesus continued teaching the disciples in Matthew 18:21-22 he told them they were to forgive the person who had sinned against them seventy-seven times.

We must forgive also. As hard as it may be, we must forgive those who have sinned against us for our sakes, for the sakes of our employees, and for the sake of the organization.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you worked with an unwittingly bad boss or the boss who was bad and knew it? How did their leadership affect the organization? How did you handle the bad boss?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Skills | Conflict Management

 

 

#211: 13 Traits of Remarkable Biblical Leaders You Should Have

What does it take to be a remarkable leader? The Bible provides many examples of both strong and weak leaders.

Biblical Leaders

Characteristics of remarkable Biblical leaders capable of meeting the needs of the people include loyalty, courage, desire, emotional stability, empathy, decisiveness, risk-takers, a sense of timing, competitiveness, confidence, accountability, trustworthiness, and a servant’s heart.

Loyalty

Loyalty between master and servant, and between servant and master is a reciprocal relationship common among strong leaders.

Elisha was loyal to Elijah to the extent that even though Elijah encouraged Elisha not to follow him, Elisha refused (2 Kings 2:1-12). On three separate occasions, Elisha restated his desire to stay with his master until the very end. His reward for this loyalty was to inherit Elijah’s powers and responsibilities.

Courage

Leaders must have courage. The job of leadership is often a lonely one, confronted with obstacles and adversity. A good leader must have the courage to bear up under these difficulties.

One of the most powerful pictures of courage in the Bible is the young boy David who steps onto the battlefield to face Goliath (1 Samuel 17). David was a shepherd whose only weapon was a sling. He faced Goliath, a giant over nine feet tall, who was a professional soldier.

Desire

Strong leaders have a desire to lead that is inescapable. They would rather lead others, affect the outcomes of events, and change processes than anything else.

Consider the example of Paul, who by his own account was shipwrecked, flogged, and thrown into prison for years. Paul endured this because of his intense desire to see the job he was commissioned to do completed.

Emotional Stability

Ever increasing levels of responsibility bring more and more stress. Good leaders have the ability to maintain composure in the face of adversity. They can recover quickly from the disappointment of failure with their perspectives clearly in focus. This kind of emotional stability and resilience are marks of a strong leader.

Job provides a wonderful example of a man, who in the face of adversity, maintained his emotional stability through his faith in God.

Empathy

Leaders must be able to appreciate the differences between people’s values and other cultures. Empathy brings about a unique understanding that is required to be able to meet people’s needs.

Jesus is the greatest example of a man who understood and valued the differences between people. In the selection of the apostles he chose a wide variety of people; a Pharisee, a tax collector, Jews, Greeks, young, old, well-educated, and those with no education. He chose them all with a complete understanding of how they would work to complete the missions assigned to them.

Decisiveness

Leaders must be able to make decisions. Wishy-washy procrastinators confuse and discourage subordinates.

Jesus never had any trouble making decisions. When He encountered the moneychangers at the temple, He immediately overthrew their tables saying, “My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers” (Mat 21:13).

Risk-Takers

Leaders are willing to step out and take risks when others retreat to the comfort of stable security.

Paul’s life during his three missionary journeys, conducted over a twelve-year period, are a testimony to a man willing to take risks. He willingly placed himself in circumstances of great risk to fulfill his commission to spread the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 13-28).

A Sense of Timing

A leader must develop a sense of timing. The ability to know how and when to make a decision, when to make announcements, when to make changes, etcetera.

Jesus provides many examples of a perfect sense of timing. He always knew the right word or the right lesson, and the perfect time to deliver them.

Competitiveness

Leaders have an intense desire to win. Second place is not good enough. Although no one wins all the time, strong leaders know which races are the most important to win.

In his letter to the Corinthians Paul writes, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Cor 9:24). Paul encourages the Corinthians to understand which races are important and not settle for second best.

Confidence

Strong leaders exude confidence. Despite personal doubts, they appear confident of their ability to succeed at all times, and this confidence carries over to subordinates.

Moses provides an example of outward confidence and inner doubt as he said, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:10).

Accountability

Leaders understand the need to praise others for their work and take responsibility for failure. Strong leaders not only give credit where credit is due but take responsibility for the failures of their subordinates.

Remember the parable of the talents that Jesus taught the disciples (Matthew 25)? The master gave three servants five, two, and one talent of money to invest on his behalf while he was away. When the master returned, he rewarded the men who invested well. The master held the man who did not invest well accountable for his actions.

Trust

A leader has the trust of friend and foe alike. His word is his bond. His yes means yes and his no means no.

Jesus provides an important lesson about trust saying, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” (Luke 16:10).

Servant

Above all else, a leader knows that it is his or her job to serve. There is no need for a shepherd if there is no flock.

Certainly, no one can be seen as more of a master and a servant in the Bible than Jesus himself. Among the dozens of examples of how He cared for His flock is a simple but dramatic example of when He abruptly stopped eating dinner to wash the disciples’ feet. He did this to provide an example of how He wanted them to serve and care for others (John 13).

One Final Thought

In his book, Leadership Is an Art, author Max Dupree notes, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor. That sums up the progress of an artful leader.”

If we are not the quintessential leader that we might hope to be, we can study great leaders, understand their strengths, and try to emulate them. Eventually, with experience and dedication, you can develop the leadership skills you desire!

Bonus Whitepaper

This week’s post is excerpted from a 5-page whitepaper entitled, 13 Traits of Remarkable Leaders You Should Have.”

This whitepaper includes an expanded discussion of each of the 13 Biblical leadership traits and three lessons about leaders from the life and experiences of Ezekiel.

You can download the whitepaper here: 13 Traits of Remarkable Leaders You Should Have.”

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Which of the 13 traits of Biblical Leaders are your strengths and which are areas where you want to improve?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

Category: Skills | Leadership Development

 

#210: Are Ordinary People Made Extraordinary by Following God’s Purpose?

Is it true that ordinary people are made extraordinary by following God’s purpose? The Bible is full of examples of God calling ordinary people who accomplished great things for the Kingdom.

Gideon, Ordinary

Take Gideon for example.

Gideon, the Poor Farmer

When God called Gideon, he was threshing wheat for his father. The Lord told Gideon to conquer the Midianites, but Gideon protested saying his family was the weakest in the entire land of Manasseh and he was the youngest in his family.

In faith, Gideon sent messengers throughout the land calling all the Israelites to battle, and 32,000 men showed up to fight. God reduced the size of Gideon’s army to only 300 men. Those 300 men plus God defeated the Midianite army of 135,000 soldiers.

The Israelites enjoyed 40 years of peace during the lifetime of Gideon.

Gideon was an ordinary young man, the son of an ordinary man, with an ordinary family.

Ordinary Family

Gideon described his family as the weakest in the tribe of Manasseh. His parents had turned away from God and worshipped the idols Baal and Asherah. There were no nobles or powerful leaders in his family to show him the way.

Ordinary Trials

The first action the Lord demanded of Gideon was to tear down his parent’s altar to Baal and their Asherah pole. He was to replace them with an altar to the Lord. Gideon did exactly as the Lord commanded.

Ordinary Fears

Gideon was so afraid of what his father and the men of the city would do when they found the altar to Baal destroyed, and the Asherah pole cut down; he did it at night. Gideon was afraid to attack the Midianite army, so God arranged for Gideon to overhear a Midianite’s dream of being conquered.

Ordinary Difficulties

The Israelites had no army to wage war. Gideon sent messengers throughout the land calling Israelites from the tribes of Manasseh, Asher, Naphtali, and Zebulun, to join him in the battle.

Ordinary Doubts

To say Gideon had doubts about God’s call on his life is putting it mildly. He asked God to confirm His call to attack the Midianites not once, but twice.

Ordinary People are made Extraordinary

There is a little bit of Gideon in all of us isn’t there?

We view ourselves as ordinary. We come from quite ordinary families and are leading quite ordinary lives. Perhaps even the weakest, least qualified person we know to be called by God.

Yet God calls us to serve the Kingdom.

Perhaps the initial call on our life is a small step, like Gideon removing the altar of Baal and the Asherah pole.

Even so, we experience fear. What might happen if I step out in faith? Will I fail? Will I look foolish? What will others think of me?

Then we imagine the difficulties that may lie ahead if we follow God’s call. The task seems insurmountable to us. We cannot possibly do what God is asking us to do. We forget that one plus God is always a majority.

Even with God’s assurances, we doubt we can do what God has called us to do.

This is Why God Calls the Ordinary

It is because we are ordinary that God calls us to do the extraordinary. It is when we act in faith despite our insecurities, our fears, and our doubts that we demonstrate God’s strength and His glory.

So, the next time you feel God’s call on your life consider young Gideon, the youngest and weakest of his tribe. Who, despite his insecurities, fear, and doubts followed God’s call on his life and became an extraordinary man of God.

Our world needs ordinary men and women to say “yes” to God and become extraordinary in the process!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Are you ready to move from ordinary to extraordinary as you heed God’s call on your life? If not, what is holding you back?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Obedience to God

 

 

#209: You and I are on a Journey to God Knows Where!

Have you ever been lost? You know where you want to end up, but you don’t know where you are, and you’re not sure how to get where you want to go?

Journey

I’ve been that lost. Just a few years ago, before cars with GPS, I was driving to meet a co-worker early in the morning. The sun was up, but the fog was so thick it was nearly dark. I lost my sense of direction and got completely turned around. Instead of driving north to the meeting place, I had turned south. I didn’t realize my error until I saw the Pacific Ocean in front of me!

When I was a young lad in Boy Scouts, I learned to hike a specific route through the woods out and back using a compass. I plotted a course out to the destination and followed the compass. After arriving at my destination, I plotted a course using the compass back to camp. With my compass, I never got lost. Without it, I would probably still be wandering around in the Idaho woods.

Life is like that. We make our plans. But then, like when I was lost in the fog, we get turned around and head off in the wrong direction. We plot our course. But without a compass (or a GPS) we get lost and wander about never reaching our destination.

There is good news. As pastor Kurt Johnston said in a sermon recently, “When you don’t know where you’re headed, God knows where He is taking you.” We do not have to get lost on our journey through life. God has given us the ultimate compass; the Holy Spirit to guide our lives and His Word to direct our path.

Many thanks to Pastor Kurt Johnston of Saddleback Church for giving me permission to adapt his sermon to this blog article!

We Don’t Know Where God is Taking Us

The challenge for us is we often don’t know where God is taking us. That makes us nervous and sometimes scared to death. Humanity has always been like that.

Remember the story of Esther? God placed her in a position to become queen and save the people of Israel from extermination. She had no idea where her life was headed, or where she would end up, but God knew exactly where He was taking her.

Gideon was the least of his tribe, and his tribe was the smallest of all the Israelite tribes. Yet God called Gideon to lead their army to victory over their enemies (Judges 6-8). Gideon was so skeptical God was calling him, he asked God for proof—twice!

David was the youngest of his family when God called him to be king. Do you think David had any idea what lay ahead in his life? Fighting Goliath. Being befriended by King Saul then hunted by him? Traitors and insurrection arose from within his own family. Yet David was the king who united the tribes of Israel. David, the young shepherd boy, had no idea where the Lord was taking him.

We see this and similar scenarios repeated throughout the pages of scripture. Sometimes people question where they are going. Sometimes they head off in the wrong direction (Jonah). Sometimes they doubt God is calling them.

Through it all, God knows exactly where He is taking us.

How to Get to Where God Wants Us to Go

Pastor Kurt offered three tips for getting to where God wants us to go.

1) Embrace the ambiguity of life. We want to have all the answers. We crave the certainty of knowing what comes next. But God is perfectly comfortable leading us one step at a time because He knows that’s all we can handle.

Jesus told the disciples not to worry but to seek God, saying “…do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:31-34).

2) Persevere through adversity. Everyone faces adversity in their lives. Successful people persevere through adversity to achieve God’s best.

Paul exhorted the Corinthians to persevere saying, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

3) Rest in His authority. There is no circumstance in this life that can derail God’s plan.

When he finally recognized God’s sovereignty “…Job replied to the LORD: I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:1-2).

Our Journey as Leaders

Make no mistake. God has a plan for every one of us. We may not know where God is taking us, but He does.

As leaders, we must set an example for those who follow. We must embrace life’s uncertainties knowing that God cares for us. We must persevere through any and all adversity knowing that God will never abandon us. And we must accept and rest in God’s sovereign authority.

Remember, you and I are on a journey to God knows where! Even when we don’t know where we’re headed, God knows where He is taking us.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you ever questioned where God was leading you? How did you feel at the time? Did you face adversity? Did you rest in the assurance of God’s plan?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Purpose/Passion

 

 

#208: What is the Cause of our Deepening Cultural Divide?

There is a deepening cultural divide that exists around the world. Protests, riots, and wars are being fought over these political differences.

Cultural Divide

The disagreements run the gamut from annoyance to vehement disagreement. Some even live in fear of what action those with different views will take to advance their agenda.

This tension certainly exists between our government and the populace. It existed long before I was born, and has existed throughout all thirteen presidents who have served during my lifetime.

We have become a people who, for the most part, look to the president and the rest of our government to direct our affairs. When they do what we want, we like them, when they don’t, well, we hate them.

Many of the international, domestic, economic, and social issues that divide us have been around for a very long time. For example,

  • Some people want secure borders; others want open borders.
  • Some people want tight controls on drugs and guns, while others don’t.
  • Some people believe in limited government, while others see the government as the solution to most of the problems we face as a society.
  • Some people believe abortion is a woman’s right, while others believe in the rights of the unborn.

Secular versus Biblical Worldview

In every case, the various opinions are an expression of the differences in people’s worldview; either secular or Biblical.

A secular (or humanist) worldview places humanity at the center. The secularist rejects the idea of a supernatural being (God), preferring to explain the cosmos in terms of science. Morals are derived from human experience. Ethics are relative since there is no higher being (moral relativism).

A Biblical worldview places God at the center. The Biblical worldview accepts God as the Creator of all things. Morals and ethics are derived from God. God created man; man sinned against God, and God has a redemptive plan in His Son Jesus Christ.

There is no Biblical provision for a separation between the “religious” and “secular” life of a believer. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Jesus did not say, “I am the way on Sunday, but anything goes at work on Monday.” So, in the Biblical worldview, all aspects of the believer’s life, has at its core, a belief in God and His plan for humanity.

The Cause of the Cultural Divide

The cause of our cultural divide traces directly back to a difference in worldview.

Secularists, or in today’s nomenclature, progressives, espouse a worldview in direct opposition to a Biblical worldview.

What is difficult for me to reconcile is that many secularists I know say they believe in God, yet support secular beliefs. This inconsistency baffles me. How can someone say they believe in God and reject what He says?

Sadly, there are just as many who claim a Biblical worldview as Christians who manage to divide their lives between Biblical and secular life. This inconsistency also baffles me.

Christian Leaders and a Biblical Worldview

A worldview is comprehensive. It informs every area of our lives from work to finances, family, marriage, politics, and everything in-between. Inconsistency in the expression of our worldview weakens the testimony of the Christian leader. There must be no inconsistency in the expression of our worldview.

Writing to the church in Laodicea the Spirit said, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot” (Revelation 3:15 HCSB)” The last thing a Christian leader should be is “lukewarm.”

A Christian leader who holds firmly to their Biblical worldview becomes spiritually mature and Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:13).

If you are a Christian leader, who holds firmly to a Biblical worldview, congratulations! Be strong and courageous.

If you are a Christian leader who recognizes some inconsistency in the expression of your worldview then pray for direction from the Holy Spirit, spend time in God’s Word, and seek out other Christian leaders with whom you can share your struggles.

No matter what, do not remain lukewarm!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. How does your worldview influence your life? What role does your worldview play in decisions you make?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Obedience to God

 

#207: What Can We Learn From A Courageous Slave Girl?

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

What can we learn from a courageous slave girl with a simple message? As I’ve said before, I love studying lesser known characters in the Bible. Few of them are “lesser known” than the young woman described in 2 Kings 5:2-3:

Slave Girl Naaman

“Aram had gone on raids and brought back from the land of Israel a young girl who served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, ‘If only my master would go to the prophet who is in Samaria, he would cure him of his skin disease.’”

Her place in history is short and not even marked with her name. We only know that she was a young Jewish girl taken captive in a Syrian army raid. She was forced to be the personal servant of the wife of Naaman, the Syrian army commander.

While Naaman was a highly-regarded military commander, he suffered from leprosy. Leprosy was incurable and made Naaman a societal outcast.

This young Jewish girl, serving as a slave to her mistress, boldly suggested that Naaman could be cured of his leprosy if only he would go and visit God’s prophet (Elisha), who lived in Samaria.

4 Lessons from a Courageous Slave Girl

Despite her brief appearance in the pages of scripture, we can take four important lessons from this unnamed slave girl.

  1. She accepted her situation without bitterness or rancor. We see no indication that being torn away from her family and forced to serve her captors made her bitter. In fact, this situation describes someone with a remarkably positive attitude.
  2. She retained her faith in God. She does not curse God for placing her in this situation. Rather, her actions demonstrate a strong faith in God’s power and grace.
  3. She acted on her faith. When the opportunity to act on her faith arose she took it. Her faith did not remain hidden in a closet but was shared with her captors as she witnessed to them.
  4. She wished her master would experience God’s healing grace. You can sense caring, perhaps even love, in her plea for her master to be healed of his suffering.

2 Important Conclusions

This unnamed young girl didn’t have much of an opportunity to serve the Lord, but when her opportunity arose, she laid ahold of it and acted. Without her courage, Naaman would have remained a leper the rest of his life.

  • How often do we allow an opportunity to serve the Lord slip away because we are afraid or we think the task is too small?

Along with courage, I see a young woman who was gracious. Despite her trials, she reflected God’s love to her captors. She did not stop serving God, nor did she become bitter because of her circumstances.

  • How often do we look away from someone who is struggling because we think they deserve it? How often do we refuse to share God’s love and mercy because someone disagrees with us?

Hurting people surround us in the workplace. As Christian leaders, we have the opportunity, no, the responsibility, to be courageous and gracious as we share God’s love and compassion with those who need it most.

If not us, who will shine God’s light on a darkened world?

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you been placed in difficult situations in which you were able to shine the light of God’s love and grace to an unbeliever? What happened?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

 

#206: The Seasons of Life

Seeking God in Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring

On the farm where my grandfather lived his life, there were specific jobs that had to be done in each of the seasons.

Seasons of Life

During the fall of the year, the red winter wheat was planted. Winter was when all the equipment got overhauled in preparation for the next year’s work. Spring was when the white spring wheat was planted; weeds were plowed under, and the crops were fertilized. By early summer the harvester would emerge from the barn to be prepared for the work to come.

As the wheat would begin to turn golden brown, everyone knew that harvest was near. Every morning as the sun began to break over the horizon Grandpa would walk into the field, grab a head of wheat, rub it in his hands to remove the chaff, and then eat a kernel or two. “Not yet,” he’d say, “maybe tomorrow.” Farming is a risky business, but Grandpa was one of the best farmers around because he understood the reason for the seasons and did what was needed in each.

God has seasons for our lives as well. So, as we close out one year and begin a new one afresh, it seems fitting to consider what God has in store for us in the seasons of our lives.

Winter: The Season of Storms

In every winter season that I have lived through there have been storms. Regardless of the size of the storm, you can be sure in every winter season there will be storms. Storms tend to come upon you quickly without warning, and then just as quickly they fade away.

In our lives, we will face many seasons of “storms.” When we are faced with storms in our life, we need to seek the shelter of God’s love. When we do, God promises to comfort us and to deliver us. Paul wrote, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

So, the next time you find yourself in the middle of a storm call out to God in prayer and know that He has promised not only to comfort you but to deliver you.

Spring: The Season of Growth

For the farmer, spring is the time for planting and nurturing young seedlings. When you are in a spring season, you need to plant seeds. It’s a great time for making changes, building better relationships, focusing on new ministries, new businesses, or developing new habits.

Spring is a time of great energy. It is the best time to renew our perspective on life, review God’s purpose for our life, and praise God for all He has done for us. Remember, “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (I Corinthians 3:7).

Summer: The Season of Waiting

After the seeds are in the ground, there is little the farmer can do. He must wait for the crop to grow. Things like wind and rain are beyond the farmer’s control; he must wait until the crop is ready for harvest.

We have similar times in our lives. We may have planted the seed of a new ministry or a new business, and now we must wait to see it grow. So many times, God tells us to wait for Him, but it is difficult because we are so impatient. The psalmist instructed us to “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7).

I believe that sometimes the greatest test of our faith is when God wants us to wait. Remember, God answers all our prayers. Sometimes the answer is “yes,” sometimes it is “no,” and sometimes it is “not yet.” It’s those “not yets” that challenge my faith. When I am faced with a “not yet” I try to remember Grandpa checking the wheat and saying, “Not yet, maybe tomorrow.”

Fall: The Season of Success

The fall is the time for harvest; bringing in the crop that was so carefully planted and nurtured in the spring, and so fretfully worried over in the summer.

It is in our seasons of success that we must be careful to stay close to God. It is the time when we think we can do anything, a time when we think we are solely responsible for the harvest. Jesus said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4).

Celebrate, share, and save. It’s a good formula for business; thank God for the success He has brought, share your success with others, and save for the future.

One Final Thought

God gives us seasons to build our trust in Him and to develop us into better people. During winter storms, we need to turn to Him for deliverance. In the spring, we need to be renewed in mind, body and spirit. In the summer, we need to trust in God, rest and wait upon Him. And in the fall, we need to celebrate our success, share our bountiful harvest, and save for the future.

No matter what season you may be in now, know that God stands beside you ready to comfort and deliver you if you will just trust in Him. Isaiah, referring to God, wrote, “He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge” (Isaiah 33:6).

God’s foundation is a Rock, who will never leave us or forsake us. Who better to turn to during the storms of our life? Who better to look to for comfort and deliverance? Who better to build a solid foundation for our lives? Who better to trust and provide rest? Who better to share our love? The answer is simple. There is no one better!

Bonus Whitepaper

This week’s post is excerpted from a 5-page whitepaper entitled, The Seasons of Life: Seeking God in Summer, Winter, Spring, and Fall.”

This whitepaper includes a discussion of God’s seasons in our life and a broader discussion of each season.

You can download the whitepaper here: The Seasons of Life: Seeking God in Summer, Winter, Spring, and Fall.”

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. What season of life are you in right now?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

#205: The Disastrous Effect of One Bad Apple on Your Organization

Out behind the farmhouse was the root cellar grandpa built for grandma. It was big enough to store all the delicate fruits and vegetables that needed protection from the searing sun of eastern Washington.

Apple Attitude

In the back of the cellar was a barrel of Washington Delicious apples. Grandma used to pick apples at nearby farms and store the apples in the root cellar. She would inspect every apple as she placed it in the barrel because, as she told me, one bad apple would cause all the rest of the apples in the barrel to rot. Thus, the wisdom of the saying, “One bad apple spoils the whole barrel.”

It turns out the same thing is true for organizations. One bad apple, one person with a bad attitude, can have a disastrous effect on your organization!

How to Recognize the Bad Attitude Apple

Most of us past the age of four can identify someone with a bad attitude. They are easy to spot because their attitude is displayed through their words and actions. They are negative, critical, grumpy, impatient, arrogant, self-centered, and on and on.

In an organization, these are the people who complain about everything. They spread gossip. They talk about others behind their backs. And when the bad attitude is severe enough, they will even undermine the authority of the leadership.

I’ve seen it play out in large and small companies, work teams, non-profit organizations, and even in church groups. No organization is exempt from the decay brought on by the bad attitude apple.

What Causes the Bad Attitude?

It is important for us as leaders to understand what causes a bad attitude. The Bible says our actions reflect the condition of our heart.

“For as he thinks within himself, so he is” (Proverbs 23:7).

Solomon taught the actions of a man reflected his heart.

“As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man” (Proverbs 27:9).

In other words, a bad heart causes a bad attitude. As a leader, there is very little you can do to affect change in someone else’s heart.

What to do About a Bad Attitude Apple

If you’ve ever struggled with a bad attitude yourself, you know someone else can’t force you to change how you feel. That change must come from inside you. You have to perform heart surgery!

The same is true for the bad attitude apples in your organization; they have to want to change. They have to be willing to perform heart surgery on themselves.

That said, there are three things you can and should do as a leader to help them:

1) Be a coach. A coach is an instructor or teacher. Sometimes people don’t realize how their bad attitude is being expressed so let them know how their attitude is affecting the organization.

2) Be a mentor. A mentor is a trusted advisor or guide. Knowing is different from doing. By mentoring someone with a bad attitude, you can help them recognize their bad behavior and focus on being more positive.

3) Be an example. Most important of all, as a leader, you must be a role model. Your life must set an example of the right kind of attitude. Your attitude, according to Paul, should be the same as Jesus, a humble servant obedient to God.

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV).

A bad attitude apple can have a disastrous effect on an organization. As a leader, you can’t afford to ignore the bad apple. You need to take action before their attitude spreads to the rest of the organization. A leader guided by the Holy Spirit can be a catalyst for attitudinal change. Be a coach, be a mentor, be an example, and be the powerful, inspired leader God intends you to be!.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you worked with someone who had a bad attitude? How did his/her attitude affect the organization? How did you deal with the person?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Relationships | Interpersonal Relationships