#097: Is It Important to Align Our Life to God’s Vision For Us?

Effective leaders understand the importance of having a vision and communicating it to our organizations. Without vision, an organization goes through the motions of completing its daily work, but with no unifying core values, sense of purpose, or direction.

Vision, Personal Vision

What about us as individuals? Is having a personal vision important? What is the difference between an organizational vision and a personal vision? What is the purpose of a personal vision?

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#096: What Three Critically Important Questions Does Psalm 98 Answer?

This is one of my favorite times of the year because I love Christmas music, especially hymns. One of my favorite hymns is Joy to the World! I have a hard time signing this hymn without a lump forming in my throat and a tear forming in the corner of my eye.

Joy, Psalm 98

Joy to the World! was written and published by Isaac Watts in 1719 in his book Psalms of David Imitated. It is a paraphrase of Psalm 98. So let’s take a look at this important Psalm that inspired Joy to the World!

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#095: Does leadership involve both accountability and responsibility?

Does leadership involve both accountability and responsibility?  This can be a confusing question simply because a lot of people use the terms accountability and responsibility interchangeably.

David, Uriah, Accountability

If I am accountable for something, I am the one who is ultimately answerable for the activity or decision.

If I am responsible for something, I am the one who actually completed the task.

Generally speaking, the leader is accountable, the one who is ultimately answerable for the activities and decisions they make. The leader may also be responsible if they are the ones carrying out the decision or task.

The result of a leader not being accountable or being held accountable can spell disaster for an organization. Over the span of my career, I worked with only two managers who tried to avoid being held accountable for their actions.

While the Bible provides several examples of leaders who were not held accountable for their actions today I want to look at what happened to King David.

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#094: 4 Steps to Leadership Failure

No leader is perfect. We all make mistakes. Even the good kings of the Old Testament made mistakes and God still used them. Which is good news for me, because that means God can use me even if I’m not perfect!

Failure 2 Chronicles 16:9

Three weeks ago our topic “What to do when you are stuck cleaning up someone else’s mess” examined seven lessons we learned from King Asa as he cleaned up the mess left by his father and grandfather ( 2 Chronicles 14-15).

Asa’s heart was “fully committed to the Lord all his life” (2 Chronicles 15:17). Things went well for Asa for about 35 years, but in the 36th year of his reign things changed. Baasha, the King of Israel, fortified a city just a few miles north of Jerusalem. This gave Baasha the strategic position he needed to watch Asa in Jerusalem while preparing to mount an attack.

Asa stripped the gold and silver from the Temple treasuries and made an alliance with his enemy Ben-Hadad, the king of Syria. Ben-Hadad broke his treaty with Baasha and attacked several cities in Israel. Baasha retreated, and Asa plundered the cities that Ben-Hadad had conquered for him. Asa then used the plunder to build up the cities of Geba and Mizpah (2 Chronicles 16:1-6).

From a human perspective Asa’s actions appear to be reasonable, and in some ways very successful. He made an alliance with a troublesome neighbor, he paid his neighbor to go to war against his enemy, and he took the spoils and used them to build up two important cities. Sounds pretty good right? Too bad it’s not what God had in mind!

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#093: Nine Keys to Fulfilling Christianity

I was in a neighborhood restaurant with my family recently when a framed poster caught my eye. It was from the Coca-Cola Company and pictured a Navy crewman serving his buddies Coca-Cola on board a destroyer during World War II. The caption read, “Any place, anytime, the pause that refreshes.”

Refreshed, Refreshes

As I stood there reading this phrase for the fourth time I suddenly realized that in our hectic, go-go lives we seldom take a break to refresh ourselves; to think about how we are living our lives, about our Christian walk, and whether we are centered in God’s will.

Of course, we could refresh ourselves “anyplace, anytime” but you know what happens; you get busy, and “anyplace, anytime” never happens.

We need to take a moment every once in a while to review ourselves in light of God’s unique plan for us, and make sure that we are still on track. So let’s take a moment now to “pause and refresh.” When you are done, if you want to learn more about developing a fulfilling, authentic relationship with God read Bill Hybels’ book, Honest To God? Becoming An Authentic Christian.

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#092: Can We Be Thankful Today?

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving Day here in America. The first American Thanksgiving Day was celebrated in 1621 when the Pilgrims gave thanks for the harvest and God’s provision.

Thankfulness, Brownscomb

Today, the holiday seems to be more about having a party and watching several football games, rather than being thankful to God for His provision in our life.

There are several thanksgiving day celebrations recorded in the Bible. Typically they were days of feasting and celebration, but all centered on being thankful for God’s presence, provision, or protection.

Psalm 118 describes just such a celebration of thanks to God. Many scholars believe David wrote the Psalm, perhaps marking the restoration of the walls and gates of Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles in 444 B.C. That would certainly be cause for celebration!

The first four verses of Psalm 118 begin David’s prayer of thanks.

1  Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!
2  Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”
3  Let the house of Aaron say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”
4  Let those who fear the LORD say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”
Psalm 118:1-4 (ESV)

 Let’s dig a little deeper into these verses to see when we should give thanks, why we should give thanks, and who should give thanks.

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#091: What To Do When You Are Stuck Cleaning Up Someone Else’s Mess!

Sooner or later you will likely be in the position of needing to clean up someone else’s mess.

Cleanup, Mess

If that call hasn’t come yet it could happen anytime. As a leader, cleaning up someone else’s mess can be a particularly difficult and challenging time in your career, but it can also be an extremely rewarding time.

Cleaning up someone else’s mess may require restructuring the organization, changing its direction, or changing processes that have been in place for years. Often, the sense of urgency is intense—clean up the mess, make the needed changes, and do it quick!

Asa, was the third king of Judah, and the great grandson of Solomon. The Bible describes Asa as a good king, a man “who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord” (1 Kings 15:11, 2 Chronicles 14:2). We can learn a lot about leadership and how to clean up a mess from him.

Asa became king of Judah when he was only 18-22 years old after his father, Abijah, died. The people of Judah had lived for 20 years under two bad kings, Asa’s father and grandfather. They allowed the people to build altars to foreign gods and worship them as they forsook the God of their fathers, David and Solomon. Asa inherited quite a mess!

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#090: Are you Peter on Monday Morning?

Jesus is brought before the Sanhedrin for a trial, and Peter takes up a vantage point in the courtyard to watch. First, a servant girl accuses Peter of being with Jesus the Galilean and Peter denies it saying, “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” (Matthew 26:70).

Fear, Peter's Denial

Then another woman approaches Peter and accuses him of being with Jesus the Nazarene and Peter denies it with an oath saying, “I don’t know the man!” (Matthew 26:72).

Finally, a group standing nearby confronts Peter and accuses him of being one of the disciples with Jesus because his accent gives him away. Peter curses and swears another oath saying, “I do not know the man!” (Matthew 26:74).

This is the same Peter who just a few hours before picked up a sword, and despite being surround by over 600 Roman soldiers, cut off the ear of Malchus, the High Priest’s servant (John 18:10).

One minute Peter is bravely defending Jesus against all odds, and a little while later, he denies knowing Jesus, swears an oath that he doesn’t know Jesus, and ultimately, he even curses at those who suggest he knows Jesus!

Wow, we would never do that, would we?!

Recently, an acquaintance told me that trying to start bible studies in the workplace was a challenge because people didn’t want to “come out of the closet.” These are folks who are perfectly comfortable going to church on the weekend and even serve those in need in the community. But they draw the line at being identified as a Christian in the workplace.

Why is that? Why do people shrink away from being known for their beliefs in the workplace?

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#089: Lookin’ For Esteem in All the Wrong Places

Country western singer Johnny Lee recorded the song “Lookin’ For Love.” The lyrics go “Lookin’ for love in all the wrong places, lookin’ for love in too many faces.” The same is true for many of us as we go “lookin’ for esteem in all the wrong places.”

Submit, Man Praying, James 4

To esteem something is to set a high value on it, to regard it highly, and to prize it accordingly. So self-esteem is to set a high value on ourselves, to regard ourselves highly, and to prize ourselves. We see this focus on “self” all around us; the self-awareness books and seminars, and the self-improvement industry all teach us to get in touch with our “inner selves” to find happiness, confidence, and self-esteem.

The self-esteem crusade is rampant with its insidious tentacles reaching into the classrooms of our own children. In my daughter’s first grade class the school offered an hour long self-esteem class three times a week. Parents were told attendance was not mandatory, but no alternative was given for parents who didn’t want their 5-year old children to get “self-esteem” training. In a school of nearly 500 children, my daughter was the only one not in attendance. She spent this hour in the library reading her favorite books.

Why not let her attend you may ask? First, because on close examination the course material was thinly disguised Eastern religion complete with relaxation exercises, visualization, centering, developing spirit guides, etc. Of course, the material didn’t use those exact words but the techniques they were professing were unmistakably similar. Second, self-esteem is the wrong focus for our children, and for us.

The “me” generation of the 60’s spawned most of the self-esteem culture. There was “free love,” marijuana, incense, transactional analysis, and a host of cultural changes that encouraged people to focus on themselves; their needs and their wants. Perhaps the closest Biblical parallel would be life in Sodom or Gomorrah.

Our business culture is not immune to the “self-esteem” advocates. There are dozens of seminars and consultants who in the name of increasing employee morale, sensitivity, or improved productivity teach us to get in touch with our “inner selves.” They tell us that if “I’m OK, You’re OK.” They say that we can’t value others until we value ourselves. The key to self-esteem they say is to focus on liking yourself. The humanist psychologists made popular the concepts of personal identity, positive self-image, self-actualization, self-esteem, and self-worth.

What psychobabble! We would all be a lot better off if we valued ourselves less, and God more. Can you imagine Jesus saying that he was greater than the Father? Can you imagine Jesus trying to find value in others by liking himself more? Or can you imagine Jesus becoming “self-actualized” by visualizing himself dying on the cross? If you have a hard time bringing these pictures up in your mind then you know that “self-esteem” as proffered by the world is not the Biblical solution.

The one thing that humanistic psychology and Biblical Christianity agree on is that we need to get to know ourselves. Humanist psychologists say we need to get to know ourselves so that we can feel good about ourselves. Whereas Biblical Christianity teaches us to know ourselves so that we might turn away from ourselves, and towards Jesus Christ.

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