ILM #004: Whatever You Do, Don’t Make the King Mad!

Today in our Inspired Leadership Minute I want us to look at Proverbs 16:14, “A king’s wrath is a messenger of death, and a wise man will appease it.”

A king in ancient days had the power of life and death over their subjects. A wise man, through prayer and planning, knew how to approach the king to appease their wrath. Esther and Nehemiah both risked their lives approaching the king on behalf of their people. They both prayed for God’s wisdom and planned their approach to the king carefully.

What is the lesson for us as leaders today?

You probably don’t live or work for a king like Esther and Nehemiah but you probably have a boss or someone that you report to. Be especially carefully when approaching someone in authority who is known to have a short temper.

It is a wise man or woman who considers how they approach someone in authority so as to not arouse their anger. Before you approach them, pray for God’s wisdom and plan carefully.

Please leave me a comment and let me know how this week’s Inspired Leadership Minute inspired you!

#179: Are You in the Right Ministry Role?

I recently had the pleasure of reading Sustainable Church – Growing Ministry Around the Sheep, Not just the Shepherds, by Dr. Walt Russell.

Ministry Role, Spiritual Gifts

Full disclosure, Dr. Russell was one of my professors at Talbot Seminary. When I learned about the release of his new book I ordered it immediately and waited anxiously for the two days it took Amazon to deliver it to me.

In his new book, Dr. Russell describes the shallowness that permeates many of the western churches. Our traditional way of doing church is flawed in two ways:

1) We rely on professional ministers to meet all our needs, and in so doing, saddle them with unrealistic expectations which they cannot possibly meet.

2) The professional “clergy” are the primary gatekeepers of the church’s ministry activities. Often, the ministries of the church follow the vision and passions of the pastor without regard to the spiritual gifting of the members of the church.

These churches, says Russell, are non-organic and unsustainable. They are unsustainable because they rely on professional clergy who cannot possibly meet the needs of everyone inside the church. Neither can they meet the needs of people outside the church. Overall, the American church with its bureaucracy, policies, and traditions has drifted far from the original intent of Jesus, our Chief Shepherd.

By contrast, Russell describes the sustainable church as one in which every member is engaged in ministry. The individual’s ministry is shaped by their spiritual gifts, or as Russell prefers, “grace-gifts.” A church is sustainable when every member is engaged in ministry that leverages the spiritual gifts of the member.

For every member to be engaged in ministry that leverages their spiritual gifts they first must know what their gifts are. Right?! Sadly, only 10-20% of God’s people know what their gifts are, let alone leverage them in their ministry.

The first step in creating a sustainable church is to help people learn about spiritual gifts in general and to know what their gifts are. This, says Russell, is best determined through:

1) Prayer.

2) Studying the gifts themselves.

3) Determining what gifts fulfill you the most.

4) What abilities are confirmed by other believers? And,

5) What ministry work is God blessing in your life?

After reading Sustainable Church I took advantage of the spiritual gifts assessment that Dr. Russell created and makes available (free) at Sustainablechurch.org. Each of the 19 spiritual gifts is scored with the highest scores indicating areas that may be your spiritual gifts.

It turns out I may be an “LPTA.” My top scoring gifts were:

1) Leadership (Romans 12:8).

2) Pastor-Teacher (Ephesians 4:11).

3) Teacher (Romans 12:7) Note: Pastor-Teacher and Teacher were tied.

4) Administration (2 Corinthians 12:28).

After that, my scores fell off dramatically.

Having the scores is a good first step. But to really understand my specific spiritual gifts I must continue the discovery process by praying for guidance and wisdom, seeking confirmation from other believers, and seeing what ministry work God blesses in my life.

It is not enough to know what our spiritual gifts are; we must do them! Imagine what would happen in the church today if every believer knew what their spiritual gifts were, and were actively pursuing ministry opportunities that leveraged those gifts.

James exhorted fellow believers saying evidence of their faith in Jesus is demonstrated by their willingness to do ministry work (James 3:14).

Do you know what your spiritual gifts are? If not, or if you are unsure, get a copy of Sustainable Church, read it, and then complete the spiritual gifts assessment.

Next, confirm your gifts through prayer, confirmation from other believers, and God blessing your ministry work.

Above all, DO the work the Lord has equipped you to do. Leverage your spiritual gifts. When you do, you will be blessed beyond measure.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Do you know what your spiritual gifts are? Are you doing the work the Lord has equipped you to do?

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

ILM #003: The Importance of Staying on the Road

Today in our Inspired Leadership Minute I want us to look at Proverbs 16:17 “The highway of the upright turns aside from evil; whoever guards his way preserves his life.”

This highway is a common road that we frequently travel. But there are temptations on either side of the road that will lure us into sin. The upright man stays on the highway and guards himself against being lured into the sin that lies at the side of the road.

What is the lesson for us as leaders today?

The journey of life is full of temptations. They are on both sides of the road. The Christian leader needs to guard themselves against those temptations.

There is a lot at stake if you give in to the temptation to lie at work, to cook the books, or to have an affair. Your career, your marriage, and relationships with life-long friends, could all be flushed down the drain.

And it’s not just our direct actions that are important. Our example as leaders is also critical to helping our employees, our friends, and our family members to also remain on the highway and avoid the temptation to wonder off the road.

Please leave me a comment and let me know how this week’s Inspired Leadership Minute inspired you!

#178: The King Who Achieved Much but Died of Pride

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

He should have known better. He was well educated. He had all the wisdom of the wise men available to him. He had wise counselors. At the very least, he should have learned from the bad example of his father. But he didn’t.

2 Chronicles 26:16, Pride

Pride, the sin that is so common to man, caused his downfall. Some 200 years before, Solomon wrote this stern warning to leaders, Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).

Ahaziah should have had that Proverb written in big letters on a piece of parchment hanging on the wall behind his desk.

Ahaziah was only 16 years old when his father, the king of Judah, foolishly engaged in battle with the Israelites and was taken captive. Ahaziah whose name meant “Jehovah has helped” was made king of Judah. As king, he changed his name to Uzziah which means “Jehovah is strength.”

A Successful Starting Point

Uzziah started out great. As a young king, Uzziah did right in following the Lord (2 Chronicles 26:4), and sought God throughout the life of his counselor Zechariah (26:5), and the Lord gave him success:

  • He was an accomplished military leader.
    • Uzziah was able to recover the city of Elath.
    • He went on to secure military victories over the Philistines, Arabians, and the Ammonites.
    • He built up a well-trained army and equipped them with weapons and armor.
    • Uzziah built war machines that could shoot arrows and catapults that could hurl large stones.
  • He was a builder.
    • In addition to the war machines, Uzziah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem to protect the city.
    • He built cities in the territories he conquered and settled them.
    • He built towers in the fields and stationed guards to protect the farmers and herdsmen
  • He increased economic trade
    • The city of Elath gave the people of Judah a major seaport for trade.
    • The Philistine lands he conquered gave the people of Judah additional trade routes and seaport trade.
  • He supported agriculture.
    • Uzziah built cisterns for water.
    • He assigned people to work the fields, vineyards, flocks, and herds.

A Dangerous Turning Point

Over time, Uzziah became strong because of the Lord’s blessing on him and his fame spread throughout the land.

In arrogance and pride, Uzziah decided he wanted to not only be a king but also to be a priest ministering before the Lord. Only Levites were allowed to be priests and Uzziah was not a Levite.

The high priest and 80 other priests stood before Uzziah and bravely told him not to enter the temple to offer incense to the Lord.

Uzziah was furious with the priests and was intent on offering incense to the Lord when the Lord suddenly struck him with leprosy. The priests rushed him out of the sanctuary of the temple.

A Sad Ending Point

Uzziah lived the rest of his life in isolation with leprosy. He was not allowed in public. He had no access to the temple or even the palace of the king. His son, Jotham became king and ruled over Judah.

When Uzziah died, he was buried in the royal cemetery but not in the tombs of the kings of Judah.

Lessons for Leaders

Uzziah should have been humbled by the Lord’s blessings on his life and the people of Judah. The Lord blessed him with military victories, new territories, and the opportunity to rebuild the economy and infrastructure of the kingdom of Judah.

Instead of being humbled and gracious for the Lord’s blessings he became arrogant and prideful. He became so full of himself that he even angrily rejected the warnings of the high priest.

Then, when God struck him with leprosy he never repented of his actions. His stubborn pride caused him to live the rest of his days in isolation, cut-off from the very people the Lord had given him to lead as king.

Success is often followed by prideful arrogance and ambition. We forget it was the Lord who blessed us in the first place, and we think we achieved our success based on our own effort.

Solomon was right, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Do you know leaders who pridefully believe their success accrues only to their efforts? Did their pride bring about their fall?

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

 

ILM #002: How to get Wisdom and Understanding

Today in our Inspired Leadership Minute I want us to look at Proverbs 16:16, “How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.”

The Hebrew word for “get” literally means “to purchase or acquire.” In God’s economy, it is far better to acquire Godly wisdom and understanding because they are much more valuable than gold or silver.

That begs the question where and how do we acquire this Godly wisdom and understanding?

First, Godly wisdom comes from God. Godly wisdom according to James 3:17 is, “pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”

Second, we get it by asking God for it. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

So, to get Godly wisdom and understanding we need to go to the source, God’s Word. We need to study His word. The second thing we need to do is to pray for God to give us His wisdom and understanding.

That’s it for this week’s Inspired Leadership Minute. My prayer is that together we will be the powerful, inspired leaders God intends us to be!

#177: Pray and Trust God. Has it Really Come to That?

Life is full of setbacks, trials, and disappointments. That light at the end of the tunnel? It’s another train.

Pray and Trust God

People we care about and trust will turn against us. People will ridicule us and lie about us. All manner of evil people will oppose us hoping to prevent us from fulfilling God’s call on our lives.

It is, in this fallen world, an unfortunate fact of life.

What are we to do in the midst of trials and tribulation?

Our natural inclination (at least mine) is to take the bull by the horns and continue on my path under my own power. I find myself following the motto, “If it is to be it is up to me.”

But what happens when we charge off on our own? We leave God behind!

Sometimes I’m a painfully slow learner but I’ve discovered leaving God behind is never a good idea.

To keep the train metaphor going, sometimes I’m the engine and God isn’t even part of the train. Sometimes I’m the engine and I invite God along but I put Him last. I’m in trouble when I’m the engine and God is the caboose.

God needs to be first in my life’s journey.

One of my favorite Bible characters is Nehemiah. Nehemiah is an inspiration to me because he faced all kinds of trials and never lost sight of God’s call on his life.

Let’s look back at Nehemiah to see how he responded to some of the problems he faced in rebuilding the city of Jerusalem.

Devastating News. Nehemiah received devastating news about the condition of the city of Jerusalem and the people living there.

Nehemiah’s Response. Nehemiah grieved, fasted, and prayed for several days (Nehemiah 1:4).

Ridiculed. Enemies of the Jews ridiculed them for attempting to rebuild the city of Jerusalem.

Nehemiah’s Response. Nehemiah prayed and the people worked even harder to rebuild the city wall.

Outright opposition. Incensed at the progress on the wall, their enemies plotted to fight the Jews to stop the work.

Nehemiah’s Response. Nehemiah prayed and posted guards to protect the workers (Nehemiah 4:9).

Slandered. Nehemiah’s enemies spread lies about him saying he was planning to rebel against the king.

Nehemiah’s Response. Nehemiah denied the slanderous attacks and prayed (Nehemiah 6:9).

Attempt to Discredit. Nehemiah’s enemies tried to trick him into running and hiding and thus discredit him in the eyes of the people.

Nehemiah’s Response. Nehemiah refused to be intimidated and prayed (Nehemiah 6:14).

Not all of Nehemiah’s problems came from his enemies. Some of his problems came from the very people he was trying to help.

People neglected their offerings. Nehemiah discovered the Levites had not received their offerings from the people, so the Levites had left to work their own fields.

Nehemiah’s Response. Nehemiah rebuked the city officials, called the Levites back their duties and prayed (Nehemiah 13:14).

People working on the Sabbath. Nehemiah discovered the people were treading grapes, bringing goods into the city, and selling food on the Sabbath.

Nehemiah’s Response. Nehemiah rebuked the people, stationed guards at the city gates to stop the import of goods on the Sabbath, and prayed (Nehemiah 13:14).

Intermarriage with Gentiles. Nehemiah found out some of the Jews had married Gentile women. One of the men was the son of the high priest who had married the daughter of one of Nehemiah’s enemies.

Nehemiah’s Response. Nehemiah rebuked the people who married Gentile women, removed the guilty priest from leadership, and prayed (Nehemiah 13:29).

The Common Denominator

Nehemiah dealt with some tough situations! He received devastating news about his people. He was ridiculed, he was opposed at every turn, and he was slandered. His enemies even tried to convince him to run and hide for his life. If all the external issues were not enough, Nehemiah also had to deal with his own people not obeying God.

Throughout all these trials and tribulations Nehemiah never lost site of the work God had called him to do. With great courage, he persevered against every external and internal challenge.

What sustained him you ask? How was he able to keep his focus on the work God had given him? Did you notice the recurring theme in each of the situations that confronted Nehemiah?

He prayed and trusted God.

The best way to deal with the challenges we face in life is to come to God in prayer. Yes, folks, it’s come to that. We need to pray and trust God. When we do, what we will find is that light at the end of the tunnel is God directing our path.

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Why do you think we sometimes try to deal with life’s challenges on your own power, without God?

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

ILM #001: Why Honest Advisers are Important

Today in our Inspired Leadership Minute I want us to look at Proverbs 16:13.

Solomon writes, Righteous lips are the delight of a king, and he loves him who speaks what is right.”

What does that mean? Solomon is saying two things: 1) that as a king he valued someone who would tell him the honest truth, and 2) that he loved to have people around him who had the courage to speak truthfully.

What is the lesson for us as leaders today?

The higher up in leadership you are the more people want to tell you what they think you want to hear, or they tell you things that flatter your ego to get on your good side.

An astute leader knows it is critically important to surround yourself with people who have the courage to tell you the truth, to be honest!

You have to make a lot of decisions and those decisions need to be based on facts, not flattery. So seek out and surround yourself with honest advisors, and you’ll be a better leader!

Please leave me a comment and let me know how this week’s Inspired Leadership Minute inspired you!

#176: Can We Finally All Be One in Christ Jesus?

On July 4, 1776, 240 years ago, the United States Second Continental Congress declared independence from Great Britain. Independence. Freedom. The right to govern oneself; to be free from the tyranny of the king.

United Christ Independence

In their Declaration of Independence, Congress expressed belief in the equality of all men as deriving from their Creator:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Recently, a legislator from the state of Louisiana labeled the Declaration of Independence racist because when it was written only Caucasians were free (not true, but she’s a politician). What she may not have remembered from her civics class was slavery was brought to America by the British and French.

It was the framers of our Declaration who originally hoped to outlaw it.

Benjamin Franklin wrote in the original draft of the Declaration a very specific indictment against the King of England regarding slavery. It was the last of 27 complaints listed in the Declaration and was the longest and harshest by far:

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither.  This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain.  Determined to keep open a market where Men should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce.  And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he has obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed again the Liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.

Strong words indeed!

Sadly, this condemnation of slavery was removed from the final version of the Declaration and replaced with a simpler and more ambiguous complaint that the king had “incited domestic insurrections among us.”

Slavery prevailed in much of the country for another 100 years until the groundswell against it reached a boiling point and the civil war was fought to end slavery in the United States once and for all. In the north, 1.5 million soldiers fought to maintain the Union and end slavery. My paternal great-great-grandfather was one of them.

Unfortunately, ending the legality of slavery did not automatically change people’s beliefs. We are 150 years beyond the civil war and we still have a very long way to go to live up to the promise of our Declaration that all men are created equal.

We have an even further road to travel to realize God’s ideal as expressed by Paul:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

Honestly, it depresses me when I think about how divided we are in America as a people of God. I get even more depressed when I consider society at large. It seems there is more distrust, angst, and vitriol than ever. Instead of moving toward God’s ideal we seem to be moving away.

It’s not hard to imagine that if we, as Americans, were closer to God we would have less division and strife.

As much as I am saddened by the state of affairs in America, I was downright disgusted when I saw a report released just recently that 46 million men, women, and children are living in slavery somewhere in the world (Global Slavery Index Report 2016).

Over 60% of those living in slavery around the world are in just six countries: India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, and North Korea.

It’s also not hard to imagine that if the people in countries where human misery and abuse is commonplace were to experience Christ in a meaningful way, hearts would change. Lives would change.

Jesus said, “If you abide in my word…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).

The truth of God’s Word will set all mankind free. It will unite all mankind as one in Christ.

As Christians, we are all called to ministry, to serve the Lord. As leaders, we have a responsibility to use our gifts and talents in service to the Kingdom.

My challenge to you as we celebrate our Independence Day here in America is to consider, “What can I do to help unite the world in the family of God such that we will all be one in Christ Jesus?”

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Do you think Christians should be engaged in global political issues? Why, or why not?

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 | Character