#075: Can a Peaceful Leader be an Effective Leader?

Peace, in its broadest sense, describes a society where there is public order, security, and freedom from violence. In the Bible, we see three different societal models of peace.

Peace, Peaceful

1. Pax Romana. Latin for ‘Roman Peace’ it was a period of some 200 years in which there was little military expansion of the empire. Peace was maintained by military force and intimidation.

2. Jewish Peace. During Biblical times, Jews looked for a peace like that during the reign of King David.

3. God’s Peace. Jesus spoke of a different kind of peace, a peace that originated with God, residing in our hearts: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

The first two types of peace originated with man, through man’s control, while the peace that Jesus spoke of originated with God. The first two types of peace were subject to the desires of man and could easily be broken. The third type which originates from God, cannot be taken away because this peace lives in our hearts.

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#074: Our Leadership Crisis is a Self-Inflicted Wound

Last week I suggested there is a correlation between poor leadership that is driven by a preponderance of man’s wisdom, and a lack of God’s wisdom. This week I learned about the American Bible Society 2014 report on the Bible in America that goes a long way toward confirming that thesis.

Crisis leadership

Some of their findings include:

  1. There has been a significant drop in the percentage of people who view the Bible as sacred in just three years: 2011 = 86%, 2014 = 79%.
  2. Bible ownership remains strong but readership remains weak: 88% of households own a Bible, but only 37% of Americans read their Bible once a week or more.
  3. Millennials (ages 18-29) are leading the shift toward skepticism: 19% of Millennials believe no literature is sacred (46% more than the population as a whole); 35% of Millennials agree the Bible contains everything a person needs to know about a meaningful life (43% less than the population as a whole), 39% of Millennials never read the Bible (50% more than the population as a whole).
  4. The study suggests across a broad range of questions that Elders (age 68+) hold the Bible in highest regard as sacred, they believe that it represents the inspired word of God, and they read it more than any other age group. Boomers (ages 49 – 68) are slightly lower than Elders across most measures, Busters (ages 30-48) are lower than Boomers, and Millennials are lower still in almost every measure. The trend here is what is most disconcerting to me: every successive generation since the Elders has less and less regard for the Word of God, and see it and God, as less and less important in their lives.

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#073: Man’s Wisdom or God’s Wisdom–Which do You Choose?

As I survey what is going on around the world, I admit to a lot of head scratching lately. Prominent world leaders are doing and saying things that make me wonder, “Really, what were you thinking?”

Wisdom

My head scratching continues as I peruse the business news. Here are a few highlights from the last couple years:

  • The Hostess CEO ordered an 8% pay cut for everyone in the company but continued to collect his $125,000 a MONTH salary while the company was going through bankruptcy proceedings.
  • The CEO of Yahoo lied on his resume, claiming a degree he didn’t have. CEO gone.
  • The married CEO of Best Buy had an affair with a young subordinate. CEO gone.
  • The CEO of JC Penny eliminated all consumer promotions and attempted to reposition the brand as upscale, all at the same time. Sales dropped precipitously—almost as much as the stock price dropped. CEO gone.

It would seem that common sense isn’t so common, and wisdom is in short supply in both political offices and executive suites. Supposedly these leaders are among the best and brightest so you understand why I keep scratching my head and wonder “What were you thinking!?” Maybe you do too!

There are two kinds of wisdom: man’s wisdom and God’s wisdom. Reviewing these examples of leadership it’s pretty easy to declare them as failures of man’s wisdom. As Christian leaders seeking to be the best leaders we can be, we should seek God’s wisdom and His best. There is a passage in James that paints a picture of the difference between man’s wisdom and God’s.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace. (James 3:13-18 NRSV)

 Man’s Wisdom

  • Bitter envy. Man’s wisdom is often displayed in bitterness and envy of other people’s success.
  • Selfish ambition. Man’s wisdom is seen in people whose ambition is to promote themselves at all costs.
  • Boastful. Man’s wisdom is obvious in prideful people who love to boast about their accomplishments.
  • Untruthful. Man’s wisdom often includes deceit and untruthfulness, especially when boasting is involved!

Man’s wisdom, says James, does not come from God, but is earthly, unspiritual, and evil. It results in disorder and all kinds of wickedness. Man’s wisdom tends to lead to sin.

 God’s Wisdom

  • Pure. God’s wisdom is displayed when we are spiritually pure, holy.
  • Peaceable. God’s wisdom is displayed when we have peace that flows from holiness.
  • Gentle. God’s wisdom is displayed when we are gentle and reasonable.
  • Willing to yield. God’s wisdom is displayed when we are fair-minded and willing to compromise where God leads.
  • Full of mercy. God’s wisdom is displayed when we are merciful.
  • Full of good fruits. God’s wisdom is displayed when the actions of our lives align with our beliefs.
  • Impartial. God’s wisdom is displayed when we hold to God’s standards impartially.
  • Sincere. God’s standards are displayed when we are sincere, open, and honest, not hypocritical.

God’s wisdom, says James, is sown in peace and leads to a harvest of righteousness.

Man’s wisdom is on display when motives are impure, when decisions lead to rivalry and war, when truth is compromised in the name of peace, when stubbornness closes the mind, when we talk about mercy but don’t show it in our actions, when beliefs do not match our actions, when we are indecisive—yielding to pressure rather than holding to God’s standards, and when we are insincere and hypocritical.

None of us is perfect. We all struggle every day in the battle between man’s wisdom and God’s. But God has promised us His wisdom if we will just turn to Him and ask for wisdom in faith:

“If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord. (James 1:5-7 NRSV)

The question is, “Are you trying to obtain God’s wisdom in your daily life, or are you settling for man’s wisdom?”

 Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. How are you doing in your quest for wisdom? Which of the characteristics of man’s wisdom do you see most often in others? In yourself?

Category: Personal Development | Character

#072: In God We Trust, Or Do We?

Last weekend here in America we celebrated Independence Day. So I thought it would be worthwhile to look back over our 238-year history to reflect on the nation that was birthed that day in 1776.

Trust, God

On July 2, 1776, the American Second Continental Congress approved a resolution of independence from Great Britain. Once the resolution of independence was completed, Congress turned its attention to writing the Declaration of Independence which was accepted on July 4, 1776.

In-between, on July 3, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail, “The second day of July 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty.”

Adams believed as many of our founders believed that the American people’s devotion to God was central to the establishment of America as an independent nation.

I wonder what Adams would say if he could see America today? Or for that matter any of the others who drafted the Declaration (Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Robert Livingston of New York, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia). Would they be pleased, or would they be dismayed at how far we have fallen from the ideals they established?

  • Prayer in public schools – not allowed,
  • Valedictorian speeches mention of God – not allowed,
  • Christian Fraternity/Sororities receive university recognition/funding – not allowed (a recent case in San Diego),
  • Military Chaplains praying in Jesus’ name & quoting scripture in VA Hospitals – not allowed,
  • Gideon’s passing out Bibles to students who request them – not allowed (South Dakota),
  • 5-year old in school praying before lunch silently with head bowed – not allowed (Florida),
  • Cross on public land – not allowed (Mt. Soledad, California),
  • Air Force cadet oath “so help me God” – not allowed,
  • Funerals at Veteran’s Cemeteries use of the word “God” or praying in Jesus’ name – not allowed (Texas).

Contrast this partial list of places and events where God is not allowed, with the fact that during the Revolutionary War Bibles were in short supply in America, so Congress authorized the importation of 20,000 Bibles from Holland and Scotland. Congress also oversaw the development of the first Bible translated and printed in the United States (the Aiken Bible 1782). Congress appointed Chaplains to serve the military during the war and authorized their pay at the rank of a major in the Continental Army. Beginning in 1864 “In God, We Trust” appeared on our coinage, and was added to paper currency in 1957, after being adopted as the official motto of the United States in 1956.

So, do we as a nation, still trust in God? According to a 2013 Harris poll Americans still believe in God, but not as much as they used to:

  • 74% of adults say they believe in God, down from 82% in 2005;
  • 72 percent believe in miracles, down from 79 percent;
  • 68 percent believe in heaven, down from 75 percent;
  • 68 percent believe that Jesus is God or the Son of God, down from 72 percent;
  • 65 percent believes in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, down from 70 percent;
  • 64 percent believe in the survival of the soul after death, down from 69 percent;
  • 58 percent believe in the devil and hell, down from 62 percent;
  • 57 percent believe in the Virgin birth, down from 60 percent.

From the “not allowed” list it is clear that many of our leaders in education, the health fields, the military, the courts, and our elected representatives in government do not hold God in high esteem. Rather, it seems that many are putting God in a closet, pushing Him further and further to the back, in an effort to keep Him from the public sphere. Perhaps they think in their enlightened state that they don’t need God; that they can get along just fine without Him. Nothing could be further from the truth!

As I read my Bible, I come across numerous examples of kings who followed God with all their hearts, until they got some measure of success. Then they starting thinking they knew better than God. They started doing things their way, ignoring God, pushing Him further and further into the back of the closet. In every single case, these leaders fell, taking their nations with them.

There are, I think, two things we must do as believers, and perhaps, if it God’s will, we can reverse the course of this country before God is outlawed altogether.

1) Pray for all those in leadership. Paul writing to his young protégée said,

First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (HCSB)

2) Be an example of Christ’s love so that people will be drawn to Him. Jesus, teaching the disciples said,

“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 (HCSB)

I’ve read to the end of the Book. I know who wins. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What do you think of the course we are on? Do you think belief in God is important to our society?

Category: personal Development | Dependence on God