#030: Four Steps to Failure

We often experience failure at the point where we are strongest. Moses was known for his humility, but became angry, and failed through a lack of humility.

Failure, Denial, Peter

Elijah was known for his boldness but became scared when threatened by Jezebel. Samson was known for his strength but became weak when his hair was cut. Abraham was known for his faith but denied his wife when he went to Egypt.

Peter was known for his self-confidence, but his self-confidence failed him when he denied Jesus. Peter had become a leader among the disciples. Jesus specifically addressed Peter in Luke 22:31, and noted that He had prayed for Peter in verse 32. In Luke 22:33 Peter self-confidently proclaimed that he would follow Jesus to jail or even to death. Yet that very day Peter failed to follow Jesus when he denied him three times (vv. 57-60).

Peter’s fall from proud proclaimer to distraught denier is recounted in four steps in verses 46-55.

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#029: Mirror, Mirror On The Wall

What we see when we look in the mirror has an enormous impact on what we see in others, and how we respond to them.

Mirror

And how we respond to others says a great deal about our own spiritual walk. If we see ourselves pridefully, as superior, it will be very difficult to lead others.

The Apostle Paul addresses this very issue writing to the Galatians when he describes a man suddenly caught in sin and what should be done to restore him. First, we must see others humbly (vv 1-2), and second, we must see ourselves honestly (vv 3-5).

1  Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.
2  Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
3  If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
4  Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else,
5  for each one should carry his own load. Galatians 6:1-5 (NIV)

See Others Humbly

Paul says the spiritual brother should restore the sinner gently. But he also issues a warning saying that believers need to be careful and mindful when restoring a brother that we ourselves might be tempted to sin. Part of the process of restoring a brother is to help carry their burdens. When we carry each other’s burdens we fulfill the law of Christ—to love one another.

See Ourselves Honestly

Paul says we must test our own actions. In other words, we need to see and recognize that we are all sinners. Because we are all sinners we should not be prideful. Someone else’s fall into sin is not to be an excuse to make ourselves look better. Also, we should not compare our work with someone else’s work. God has created a specific ministry for each of us. We need to focus on doing the work God has equipped us to do.

Summary

Restore gently, with an attitude of service to the fallen coworker, as an act of obedience to Christ.  Conduct yourself with humility, seeking counsel of others, with the goal of enabling the restored brother to serve God fully and completely as He has called him.

Application

What do you see when you look in the mirror? Are you balanced in your approach to coworkers? Good leaders respond fairly to everyone. It is important for every leader to have an honest appraisal of their treatment of coworkers and employees. If you’re not sure how you are doing ask some employees that you can trust to give you honest feedback.

Join the Conversation!

As always questions and comments are welcome. Are you able to see others humbly, assessing your own strengths and weaknesses honestly? Are you able to lift a co-worker up in love? What issues have you faced in the workplace that required restoration?

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Category: Relationships | Exhortation

 

 

#028: Is Being Prideful Really an Issue?

Is it wrong to proud of our accomplishments, our achievements? After all, I worked hard, I was dedicated, I was loyal. What’s wrong with having a little pride?

Prideful, Pride, Proverbs

Well, pride is a little like bacteria, you have a little of it, and it can quickly multiply into an uncontrollable disease. Thus, the phrase, “pride goes before the fall” (an adaptation of Proverbs 16:18).

Well, pride is a little like bacteria, you have a little of it, and it can quickly multiply into an uncontrollable disease. Thus, the phrase, “pride goes before the fall” (an adaptation of Proverbs 16:18).

The Bible has quite a few examples of leaders who came from humble origins, became prideful as their notoriety grew, and then came the fall, in some cases, total destruction. Uzziah provides insight into a young man who became incredibly successful, who began to think of success as coming from his own hands thus rejecting God, and in the end even refusing to repent when confronted with his prideful actions.

Uzziah became king of Judah at the age of 16, some 790 years before the birth of Jesus. From 2 Chronicles 26:4-5 we know that Uzziah “Did what was right in the eyes of the Lord…. He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success.”

What did God give Uzziah success in? From chapter 26 we see that Uzziah was:

  • A successful political/business leader—he rebuilt the city of Elath which was a trade center.
  • A successful military commander—he defended the country against the Philistines.
  • A successful civil engineer—he built towers and cisterns to collect water.
  • A successful team leader—he built a team of people who were successful administrators and organizers.
  • A successful inventor—he invented important military devices that protected the city.

As Uzziah grew in power and his fame spread (vv. 8, 15-16) he became prideful, and his pride led to his downfall.  Uzziah became unfaithful to God when he entered the temple to burn incense on the altar. Azariah and 80 other priests confronted him, and told him to stop, but he wouldn’t listen to them. He even argued with them! God struck him with leprosy right in the temple, which Uzziah had until the day he died.

Summary:

God can bless all legitimate vocations when they are carried out in a way that honors Him. God does not separate secular and sacred. However, God does judge between righteousness and sin. Uzziah had a chance to repent of his pride, but he rejected God’s priests and was judged immediately.

Application:

Beware the trap of man’s power and success. If you are powerful or successful realize this blessing comes from God. The question is what will you do with your success? Will you use it to continue to build the Kingdom, or will your success cause you to become prideful and arrogant?

Join the Conversation!

As always questions and comments are welcome. Has being prideful in you personal or business life impacted you? If so, in what way? How have you been impacted by others who are prideful?

Category: Personal Development | Character

 

#027: God Equips, Encourages, and Enables You for His Service

God equips, enables, and encourages, us for His service. God does not ask us to do what He has not Equipped, Enabled, and Encouraged us to do!

Encouragement, Joshua, Service

A quick look at Joshua 1 demonstrates God equipping, enabling, and encouraging Joshua for the work that lies ahead.

1) Equipping. Joshua was among the twelve that were selected to spy out the land of Canaan, and along with Caleb were the only two that recommended conquering the land.  Joshua became a military commander, leading the Israelites on to many great victories. All this time, God was equipping him to do the specific work He had planned: to lead the nation Israel into the Promised Land.

2) Enabling. God enabled Joshua’s victory. Three times God told Joshua to “be strong and courageous” (v 6, 7, 18). The key to victory came from God’s power as Joshua led the Israelites by faith. Joshua’s name meant, “Jehovah is salvation,” so as long as Joshua and the people remembered that God is the source of their power and their salvation they would succeed in all that God gave them to do.

3) Encouraging. God appointed Joshua as the new leader of the nation Israel after Moses died. This is an enormous task of great responsibility. God encouraged Joshua with a promise of success (v6), and His continual presence (v9):

6  “Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Joshua 1:6 (NASB)
9  “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NASB)

 Application

If you are in the workplace you are in ministry. Your pastor has an hour or so once a week to impact people with the truth of God’s Word, but His soldiers in the workplace have 40-60 hours per week in which their example for God stands before men. I believe every workplace is an opportunity for ministry and believe that God has equipped you for that service. And if you will, by faith, engage in that service God will encourage and enable you to serve Him.

What has God equipped you to do in the workplace to serve Him? Are you doing it? If not, what is holding you back?

 Join the Conversation!

As always questions and comments are welcome. What barriers have you encountered in workplace ministry? What success have you had?

Category: Relationships | Encouragement

#026: Is Our Motivation Important to God?

We know God expects us to obey Him, but in our obeying, are our motives important? Does it really matter why we do something as long as we do the right thing?

Right Path, Motivation

What difference does it really make if I do the right thing while muttering under my breath why I don’t want to, as long as I do the right thing? On more than one occasion my boss has “guided” my decisions to do the right thing against what I thought was my “better” judgement. My spouse has played the same role guiding my decisions in our home life.

Solomon addressed the question of motivation in Proverbs 21:

 1  A king’s heart is like streams of water in the LORD’s hand: He directs it wherever He chooses.
2  All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD evaluates the motives.
3  Doing what is righteous and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice. (Proverbs 21:1-3, HCSB)

There are three important takeaways from this short passage:

Power. Kings considered themselves to be absolute rulers over their lands and people. But no matter how powerful a king thinks he is, God is more powerful. God is sovereign even over a king. God directs a king’s heart as easily as a farmer directs water into a field to irrigate it.

It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding” (Daniel 2:21).

Motivation. Men may think their way is right, but God looks inside our hearts at our motives. Men may try to justify their actions in any number of ways. Men try to lift themselves up, to exalt themselves, but God examines our hearts.

Speaking of the Pharisees, Jesus said,

“You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15).

Obedience. Being obedient to God is more important than the outward actions of religious observance (“doing church”). The Israelites had dozens of laws governing their religious sacrifices, but God says he would rather we be obedient to Him in doing what is righteous and just than go through the motions of making sacrifices for the sake of making sacrifices:

“For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Hos.6:6).

Summary. We are kidding ourselves if we think we can deceive God. We cannot hide anything from Him. God knows our motives and sees every action. He knows our hearts, our plans, and every word that springs from our lips. He will not bless wrong actions done with good intentions, and He will not bless good actions done with wrong intentions. We must not only do the right thing, we must do it for the right reason!

Application

Examine the motives that drive your decisions. Are you doing the right things for the right reasons? Are you doing the rights things for the wrong reasons? Let’s hope you are not doing the wrong things for any reason!

Join the Conversation!

As always questions and comments are welcome. Do you consider yourself accountable to God for your decisions? What do you struggle with in your decision making? How do you resolve these issues?

Category: Skills | Accountability