#253: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Those of you who have been with me for at least a year know I love Christmas hymns. Most years, Christmas music starts being played on the radio and in stores right after Thanksgiving. But this year, I heard my first Christmas music, a hymn no less, right after Halloween (how apropos!).

Angels Sing

One of my favorite hymns is Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. Charles Wesley wrote this beautiful, theologically rich hymn in 1739. George Whitfield made a change to the opening verse in 1753. Over the years, other changes included shortening the hymn from its original ten stanzas to the three we commonly see today.

Despite the changes, this hymn retains its beautiful, powerful message just as it was when it was proclaimed by Wesley some 278 years ago.

Our Savior is Born

In the first stanza, Wesley begins with a direct reference to the angels of God announcing the birth of our Savior from Luke 2:14 (note the quotation marks in the second and third lines). Our Savior will bring peace on earth and reconcile God and sinful man. All nations should be joyful as they proclaim Christ is born in Bethlehem.

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Jesus is our Emanuel!

In the second stanza, Wesley proclaims Christ Jesus as our eternal, everlasting Lord. Born of a virgin, He is God incarnate in the flesh of a man.

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Praise the Prince of Peace

In the third stanza, Wesley offers praise for Christ, the righteous Savior of man, who lived and died and rose again. He was born to bring salvation to mankind through the glory of His sinless life.

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Let us be especially mindful of the great sacrifice that our Lord and Savior endured on our behalf so that we might have the assurance of eternal life.

No greater sacrifice has ever been made.

No greater gift has ever been given.

My Christmas prayer for you is that the love of God and His peace will be with you always.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing! by the Celtic Women live at the Helix in Dublin

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What is your favorite Christmas hymn and what special meaning does it have for you?

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

#252: You Can Run, but You Cannot Really Hide

I was 7 or 8 years old when I was down on the farm for the summer helping my grandfather.

Run Hide

We had to move the cows into the barn to be fed. One of the young calves was being stubborn. Grandpa said to leave her in the pen while he took the rest of the cows up to the barn. But I decided I would be helpful and move the calf for him.

It’s surprising how strong a young calf can be! She got away from me running all over the barnyard. I knew I was in trouble for disobeying grandpa.

I left the calf and ran into the house, past my grandmother cooking dinner, into my bedroom and under the covers I went.

When Grandpa finished his chores, he came inside wondering where I was. I’m pretty sure he could see the lump under the covers and knew where I was.

He never said a word about that calf or my disobeying him.

He loved me, and I suspect he knew I had learned my lesson.

Sometimes we do the same thing with God. We disobey and run away thinking we can hide from God. But can we really?

Adam and Eve Hid

Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Remember the “don’t eat the apple” instruction (Genesis 3)? After they ate the apple, Adam and Eve were ashamed, and they tried to hide in the Garden of Eden. God called out to them, “Where are you.” Just like my Grandpa, God already knew where they were. He knew they were hiding because they were ashamed.

Jonah Hid

Trying to hide didn’t work out well for Jonah either (Jonah 1). God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach a message of repentance to the Ninevites. Jonah didn’t like the Ninevites, so he didn’t want to do what God told him to do. Instead, he ran the opposite direction and jumped on the nearest ship sailing as far away from Nineveh as he could get.

You know what happened to Jonah. Jonah had to spend three days in the belly of a fish before he finally repented and did what God asked him to do.

We Can Run but Can We Really Hide?

I thought I was hiding under the covers. Adam and Eve thought they were hiding in the Garden. Jonah thought he was hiding in the ship.

We think we are hiding but can we really hide from God? God is both omniscient (all-knowing) and omnipresent (present everywhere at the same time).

David wrote about our all-knowing, ever-present God in Psalm 139.

1 LORD, You have searched me and known me.
2  You know when I sit down and when I stand up; You understand my thoughts from far away.
3  You observe my travels and my rest; You are aware of all my ways.
4  Before a word is on my tongue, You know all about it, LORD.
5  You have encircled me; You have placed Your hand on me.
6  ⌊This⌋ extraordinary knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to ⌊reach⌋ it.
7  Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?
8  If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there.
9  If I live at the eastern horizon ⌊or⌋ settle at the western limits,
10  even there Your hand will lead me; Your right hand will hold on to me.
11  If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will be night”—
12  even the darkness is not dark to You. The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to You.
13  For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14  I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know ⌊this⌋ very well. Psalm 139:1-14 (HCSB)

God knows where we are. He knows our thoughts. He knows what we are going to say before we even say it. There is nowhere we can go that we can escape the spirit of God. From the heights of heaven to the depths of hell. God is there.

Where Are You Hiding?

You and I are too old to hide under the covers. The forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden is gone. No ships are sailing away from Nineveh.

But, there are still plenty of ways we try to hide from God today.

  • We try to hide at work. We avoid doing what God has called us to do because we are too busy advancing our careers.
  • We try to hide in our families. We use our families as an excuse not to make time for God.
  • We try to hide in our leisure time. We work hard, so we convince ourselves we deserve this extra leisure time. Surely God doesn’t want me to stress out and work ALL the time!
  • We try to hide doing ministry work. Yes, we are super busy doing ministry work, but are we doing the work God has called us to do?

Leaders, let’s examine our lives to ensure we are not hiding from God. God specifically called each and every one of us to do a specific work in the Kingdom. We might try to run, but we cannot really hide from God.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Are you hiding from God in some area of your life?

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

#251: Do Real Leaders Emerge in the Midst of a Crisis?

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

Do real leaders emerge in the midst of a crisis? Well, if your definition of leadership includes courage and zeal, then yes, many real leaders emerge during a crisis.

Crisis Leader

In this month’s Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known, let’s look at Phinehas (aka Phineas), a leader of courage and zeal who saved the nation of Israel from God’s wrath (Numbers 25).

Israel’s Exodus Fall

During their march to the Promised Land, the Israelites camped at the border of Moab. Eventually, the men of Israel started to have sex with the women of Moab. The Israelite men turned away from God and followed the false gods of the Moabite women.

Not surprisingly, God was furious. He told Moses to have all these men executed to purify the camp. Moses then told the judges to have all the men who had turned away from God killed.

Before the order was carried out, Zimri, a high-ranking Israelite, defied Moses by bringing a Moabite princess into the camp. Zimri brought her right past Moses and the Tent of Meeting (where God met Moses) and into his tent where he planned to have sex with her.

Phinehas Takes Action

Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron, the high priest, saw what Zimri had done. Phinehas jumped up, grabbed his spear, followed Zimri into his tent, and killed Zimri and the Moabite woman.

Phinehas’ quick action, courage, and zeal for God appeased God’s wrath. A plague that had settled over the camp of Israel stopped, but not before 24,000 Israelites died.

God made a covenant of peace with Phinehas and Phinehas became the third high priest in Israel, all because he had appeased God’s wrath.

4 Lessons for Leaders in a Crisis

1. Beware the temptation. Israel had camped right on the border with the Moabites who worshipped foreign gods. The Moabites plotted against the Israelites and were able to cause many to turn away from God by appealing to the carnal nature of the men.

The lesson for us. As leaders, we need to be particularly aware of areas of temptation for us and those whom we lead. You can’t expect to live next to temptation and not be tempted.

2. The leaders saw it and did not respond. Moses, Aaron, and the Israelite leaders saw what the men were doing with the Moabite women. They knew the men were turning away from God and worshipping the gods of the Moabites. Yet, they did nothing!

The lesson for us. As leaders when we see folks being tempted we need to take whatever measures are necessary to remove the temptation.

3. There is a time to act! The Bible says after God gave Moses the instructions and as the plague was taking lives, Moses, Aaron, and the Israelite leaders were sitting in an assembly outside the Tent of Meeting crying. Moses delegated the authority to act to the judges, but no one had acted on God’s instructions.

The lesson for us. When God gives us instructions, whether in prayer or through His Word, we need to act. The time for sitting around in a meeting bemoaning our fate is over. As leaders, we are responsible for the people we lead, so act! Now!

4. Be courageous. Leaders do not sit idly by while people turn away from God in sin. Godly leaders move with the courage and zeal of God.

The lesson for us. If the appointed leaders don’t take action, then we must. As leaders, we must take action to save our brothers and sisters from the sin that causes them to turn away from God.

We have the same kinds of temptations surrounding us today as the people of Israel did then. The appeal to our carnal sin nature is just as strong. The temptation to turn away from God and into sin is just as prevalent.

As leaders, it is our responsibility to care for the flocks that God has entrusted to us.  We need to be leaders filled with courage and zeal for the Lord.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What did you take away from the actions of Phinehas in response to this crisis that you can apply to your life?

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

#250: Is Mentoring A Rewarding Strategic Choice Today?

Plus Bonus Whitepaper

The idea of mentoring is not new. Mentor was a character in Homer’s Odyssey. As a friend of King Odysseus, Mentor was given the job of teaching and caring for the king’s son, Telemachus.

Mentoring Strategic Choice

Mentor may have provided the name, but the concept had been around for a long time. Examples of mentoring are found throughout the text of the Bible. The first example is in Genesis; God is mentoring Adam. Moses mentored Joshua. Elijah mentored Elisha. Barnabas mentored Mark and Paul. Biblical examples of mentoring are not exclusive to men; Naomi mentored Ruth, and Elizabeth mentored Mary. Jesus mentored the twelve disciples.

Today’s business is in need of a resurgence of strong mentoring systems. Discouraged and disgruntled employees hop from one job to the next looking for work that is intellectually stimulating, fun, and economically rewarding.

Nothing will stop some employees from job-hopping, but a strong mentoring system can reduce turnover by increasing job satisfaction and productivity among current employees.

Mentoring as a Strategic Choice

As a leader, manager, or professional you must understand that mentoring is a strategic choice.

A good mentoring system does not happen by coincidence. You must take care to create a mentoring system, nurture it, and build it into the culture of your organization. Mentoring must become a part of the weave of the fabric of your corporate culture. If you are not willing to do whatever is necessary to create and protect an environment where mentoring can exist, then you would be better off not to start.

The Mentoring Relationship

Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines a mentor as, “a trusted counselor or guide, a coach, a tutor.” The phrase “a trusted counselor” is key. It defines the relationship between mentor and mentee as one in which there is a bond of trust. Also, a “counselor’s” role is to provide guidance – not remold the mentee into their likeness.

The relationship between mentor and mentee is similar to that between a teacher and student. A teacher seeks to educate a group of students. A teacher is judged successful if they can impart knowledge to the student. The student “trusts” that they are receiving accurate and timely information.

As a mentee, you should look for a mentor who:

  • Is someone you can admire.
  • Is someone who believes in the importance of people.
  • Is someone who believes in and is committed to the mentoring relationship.
  • Is someone who has a positive outlook.
  • Is someone who can provide experience, perspective, and guidance.

As a mentor, you should look for a mentee who:

  • Is someone who is willing, and teachable.
  • Is someone who can apply what they are learning.
  • Is someone who is committed to the mentoring relationship.
  • Is someone who will respect you as a mentor.
  • Is someone who will be accountable.

These ten points can be summarized as mutual respect, wholehearted commitment to each other, the willingness to teach, the willingness to learn, and accountability.

One Final Thought

Building a mentoring system will not be an easy task. It will require careful thought and delicate nurturing. But if you succeed, you will have happier, more productive employees and managers.

Jesus was a mentor to the disciples. We should be mentors. Encourage someone else to do works greater than yours.

Bonus Whitepaper

This week’s post is excerpted from a 6-page whitepaper entitled, Mentoring — A Lifestyle for Growth.”

This whitepaper includes a broader discussion of mentoring, including:

  • A broader discussion of the mentoring relationship,
  • The five essential attributes of a mentor,
  • The importance of allowing a mentee to fail, and
  • Six steps to help you start a formal mentoring program.

You can download the whitepaper here: Mentoring — A Lifestyle for Growth.”

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you participated in a formal or informal mentoring program as a mentor/mentee? How did that relationship help/hurt performance?

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 | Human Resource Development

#249: Why Do We Pray As A Last Resort?

Your business is crashing. Competitors have stolen your best customers. Your last product launch didn’t deliver. Employees are stealing from you. Creditors are starting to call demanding payments you can’t make.

Pray

Finally, someone close to you says, “Well, all you can do now is pray.”

The world as you know it is coming to an end. You’ve tried everything you can think of. Done everything humanly possible. And now all you can do is pray.

Really? Has it come to that?

Why is it we exhaust ourselves trying to solve worldly problems and only turn to God as a last resort?

I wish I knew! In my case, it’s usually a combination of stubbornness and pride. I just want to fix everything on my own. For some reason, it’s a sign of weakness to admit that I can’t do everything myself and I need God.

But here’s the thing. I know better! I know God stands beside me, ready to help in my moments of my greatest need. He’s just waiting for me to ask!

I did a quick study of the New Testament and found seven instances where Jesus makes a promise to help us when we ask!

  • If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11 & Luke 11:13)
  • Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. (Matthew 18:19)
  • And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. (Matthew 21:22)
  • If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. (John 14:14)
  • If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)
  • In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. (John 16:23)
  • If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given. (James 1:5)

Now let’s be perfectly clear. God is not like a genie in a bottle that you rub and get three wishes.

Notice the qualifiers in these verses.

  • God gives us good things. Not everything we ask for is good. It may seem good to us, but in the grand scheme of eternity, many things we ask for are not good for us. We just don’t realize it!
  • Ask in prayer, receive by faith. Coming to God in prayer is only the first step. We must have faith that God will answer our prayer.
  • Ask in Jesus’ name. Jesus is our mediator representing us to the Father. Jesus is where the power of prayer lies.
  • Abide in me. My words abide in you. Abide is an unusual word in our vocabulary. Its’ use here means to “stay in a given place, state, relation or expectancy.” The sense here is we are staying in Christ and have His words staying in us.

We need to be close to God as we pray expectantly, by faith, in the power of Jesus’ name.

So, don’t wait until a situation becomes dire and someone says, “Well, all we can do now is pray.”

Instead, make sure that as a leader, you have been praying for your work, your business, your ministry all along.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Do you pray as a last resort or are you a leader who comes to the Lord in prayer on a regular basis? Have you committed your work/business/ministry/life to God in prayer?

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

#248: Gratitude is Way More Than an Attitude

It is Thanksgiving week here in America. A week in which many of us take a few days of vacation, come together with family, eat too much turkey and stuffing, and perhaps watch a football game on television.

Gratitude Attitude

But this is not how it always was.

Thanksgiving started back in 1621 when the Pilgrims gathered together to thank God for His provenance and blessing in their lives.

Our focus on Thanksgiving certainly has changed.

When I was younger, we used to celebrate Thanksgiving in schools with children dressed in handmade costumes reenacting that first Thanksgiving (including the prayers).

Television sitcoms portrayed families gathering around the Thanksgiving table and praying as they gave thanks to God.

Not to be left out, Hollywood produced full-length movies celebrating Thanksgiving. There was A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving.

Today, Thanksgiving is just another holiday sandwiched between Halloween and the real main retailer event, Christmas.

But is that all there is to it? Is it just a day where we permit ourselves to grab another helping of mashed potatoes and another piece of pumpkin pie before we curl up on the couch for a food coma nap?

Or is it time to shift our focus once again and spend time thanking God for what He has given us?

And if so, in what way should our gratitude toward God come to life?

I’d like to propose gratitude toward God is way more than an attitude.

Gratitude Is a Decision Coupled to an Action

When Jesus cured ten lepers of their disease, one of them turned back glorifying God (decision) and fell on his face giving thanks (action).

“Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him” (Luke 17:15-16).

Gratitude Draws Us Closer to God

James, writing to the Christians throughout the land admonished them saying God opposed the proud but gives grace to the humble.

“…God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

Gratitude Is an Act of Humility

Continuing, James reminds Christians to be humble because God exalts the humble.

“Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (James 4:10).

Gratitude is God’s Will for Us

Writing to the Thessalonians, Paul said giving thanks to God is God’s will for us.

“in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Yes, it is vital that we be thankful to God by expressing our gratitude to Him. But our gratitude is far more than an attitude. It is a decision coupled with action. It is an act of humility that draws us closer to God. And most important, gratitude is God’s will.

So, this Thanksgiving let’s celebrate God’s provenance and His blessings. Let’s not forget that our gratitude toward God is way more than an attitude!

Many Thanks to Pastor Chris Brown of North Coast Church in Vista whose sermon, “The Nine Guys Who Missed Thanksgiving” gave me the idea and foundation for this week’s blog.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What does Thanksgiving mean to you and your family? Is your gratitude to God more than an attitude of thanksgiving?

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 | Priorities

#247: Faithless Whiners and Complainers Need Not Apply

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

Have you ever experienced times when you felt like you were surrounded by whiners, complainers, and people who had no faith in you or your leadership?

Faithless Whiners

Me too!

I think all of us who have been in positions of leadership for any length of time have experienced the whiners, the complainers, and the faithless.

If you think your situation was bad, imagine what Moses was going through as he led some 4 million people out of Egypt on the way to the Promised Land. They were only gone a few days, and the people started whining about one thing after another.

  • They complained about the taste of the water (Exodus 15:23).
  • They complained about being hungry (Exodus 16:2-3).
  • Then they complained about being thirsty (Exodus 17:1-4).

Despite the miracle of being led through the Red Sea, the water being purified, the mana being provided every day, and the water flowing from the rock, they doubted God and Moses.

But Not Everyone

As leaders, it sometimes seems like we are standing alone, but that is seldom the case. It wasn’t the case for Moses either.

About a year after they left Egypt, God gave Moses detailed instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle (Exodus 25-30). But who will do all the work? Not these faithless whiners and complainers!

Yet, where God leads He provides, and God knew exactly who He wanted to build the Tabernacle. Enter Bezalel, from the tribe of Judah, whom God personally chose and appointed to supervise the work of building the Tabernacle (Exodus 31:1 & 35:30).

What made Bezalel so special? According to Exodus 35:30-34 Bezalel was:

  • Filled with the Spirit of God,
  • Skilled,
  • Intelligent,
  • Knowledgeable, and
  • Inspired.

When you think about a resume for a great leader, this is about as good as it gets!

How’s My Leadership Scorecard?

When I look in the mirror and honestly assess myself against these leadership qualifications, I feel woefully inadequate.

  • Am I as Spirit-filled as I could be? No. I often feel I should spend more time reading and studying the Scripture. I feel my prayer life is not as strong as it should be.
  • Am I skilled as I could be? Nope. I always feel like there are things I need to do to improve my skillsets.
  • Am I as Intelligent as I could be? Well, this one is out of my control. But the bigger question is, am I using what intelligence the Lord gave me in ways that honor Him?
  • Am I as knowledgeable as I could be? Again, no. As fast as the world is changing there is always something new to learn.
  • Am I inspired? Finally! Something I can say yes to! God called me to this ministry at this time in my life. I feel privileged to get up every day and do what I am doing!

So, here’s the thing. God chooses whom He chooses, but whom the Lord chooses, He qualifies (1 Thessalonians 5:24). God has called each of us to a specific work, and He has equipped us for that work.

In conclusion, the most important thing for us as Christians who are also called to leadership is

1) to be filled with the Spirit of God, and

2) to be skilled, intelligent, knowledgeable, and inspired

as we apply the gifts and talents, God has given us to our daily work and ministry.

Faithless whiners and complainers need not apply!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. How do you rate yourself against each of the leadership characteristics God attributed to Bezalel? Are there some where you have room for improvement?

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

 

#246: Jesus’ Five Remarkable Tests For Leaders

One of the jobs of any good leader is to seek out and develop younger men and women to follow in our footsteps.

Leaders Tests

In the business world where I lived for most of my life the characteristics of leadership we look for in young people included attributes like knowledge of the business, technical and people skills, good judgment, and strong character.

I’ve often thought about how the attributes we tend to look for in future leaders is very different than what we see in leaders portrayed in the Bible.

That difference between man’s standards and God’s came into focus when I listened to a sermon by Pastor Bill Hybels (watch it here) that was recommended to me by a student. In this sermon, Pastor Bill identified five leadership tests Jesus used when He called Peter to be His disciple (Luke 5:1-11).

The five tests as Pastor Bill described them were 1) bias for action, 2) obedience, 3) who deserves the credit, 4) the grander vision, and 5) will you leave it all behind.

1. The Bias for Action Test (Luke 5:3)

Jesus had a large crowd gathering around him at Lake Gennesaret and knew it was an ideal time to preach the Gospel. Jesus got into Peter’s boat and told him to row out into the lake. Peter put down his nets, got into the boat, and rowed into the lake.

Passing the Test. Jesus saw an opportunity to minister to the people and to pass the Bias for Action test Peter needed to respond immediately. This was not a time for Peter to say, “Well, Jesus, I’m a tired right now. I’ve been out on this boat fishing all day, I still have to fix my nets and get them ready for tomorrow, and then I need to get home and have dinner!”

2. The Obedience Test (Luke 5:4)

When Jesus had finished preaching, He told Peter to row further out into the lake and throw out his nets for a catch. Peter started out with an excuse, “I’ve been fishing all day and didn’t catch anything.” But Peter quickly recovered and agreed, saying “But because you say so, I will.”

Passing the Test. Peter’s decision to act and put out the nets to catch fish was done despite his earlier lack of success. Peter obeyed Jesus in faith, and the result was the nets were immediately filled to overflowing. So much so, they had to get help from people on the shore to help them unload all the fish.

3. The Who Deserves the Credit Test (Luke 5:8)

Peter realized the catch was miraculous. He ran and fell down before Jesus confessing his sinful nature. He knew the catch was not because of what he had done but was due to Jesus.

Passing the Test. Peter didn’t thump his chest and proclaim himself to be the greatest fisherman in all the land. He kneeled and confessed his sinfulness knowing that Jesus deserved all the credit.

4. The Grander Vision Test (Luke 5:10)

Once they managed to offload some of the fish, Jesus cast a greater vision before Peter. He told him not to be afraid, from now on he would be a fisher of men!

Passing the Test. Peter was probably a pretty good fisherman who provided for himself and his family. But Jesus’ vision for Peter was grander; Peter was to change his focus from providing for himself to the salvation of others.

5. The Leave It All Behind Test (Luke 5:11)

The final test occurred once they got to shore. Peter left everything and followed Jesus.

Passing the Test. Jesus asked Peter to leave his life of fishing behind and follow Him. Peter left his boat and his nets and followed Jesus because he believed in the grander vision.

Three Key Insights for Leaders

There are three things I think are very important and often overlooked as we read this passage.

  1. The Test Funnel. I see these tests as progressive. If we fail at one, we won’t get the next one. Jesus is looking for people who have a bias for action, will be obedient, who know the credit goes to God, who believe in the grander vision, and are willing to leave something behind to follow Him.
  2. Jesus is with us. Notice in the passage when Peter agreed to put out his nets the language changes to the plural “they” (vv. 6-7). They put down the nets. They caught a lot of fish. Their nets were breaking. We are not working alone when we are working with Jesus. I know sometimes it feels like we are battling evil by ourselves, but we are not, Jesus is right there beside us!
  3. Others will see and follow. When the catch was made, all those with them were astonished, as were Peter’s partners, James and John (vv. 9-10). Then (v. 11) they all left and followed Jesus. This is the power of effective witness. Others will see our good works and be drawn to the Father (Matthew 5:16).

When I feel God calling me, I need to be especially mindful of Jesus’ five remarkable tests for leaders. I need to remember if I fail at one test I may not have the opportunity to do a work for the Kingdom that God has called me to do. I need to remember that whenever I am working for the Kingdom, I am not working alone. And I need to remember all I do is seen by others and done well for Christ’s sake, has the power to draw others to the Father.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. How are you doing at Jesus’ five leadership tests? Do you sometimes feel like you are working alone?

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

#245: What Are the Five Solas Everyone Is Talking About?

OK, I admit, maybe not everyone is talking about the Five Solas. But the Solas are pretty popular among nerdy theologians, seminary professors, and more than a few pastors.

Five Solas

You see, 500 years ago, on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther hammered his 95 theses onto the door of a Wittenberg church. His disputations, as they are sometimes referred to, started the Reformation which led to the emergence of the Protestant denominations that exist today.

The Solas are doctrinal statements that evolved during the early days of the Reformation and on into the 20th century. The Reformers articulated Sola Fide (faith alone) and Sola Gratia (grace alone). In 1916, Sola Scriptura (scripture alone) was added. Then in 1934, Soli Deo Gloria (to the glory of God alone) was added. Rounding out the five Solas, Solo Christo (Christ alone) was added in 1965.

Sadly, many Christians have never heard of the Five Solas. They rarely get a mention in most pulpits on Sunday morning. It’s a shame really because our salvation and the power of what we believe as Christians are contained in these five simple Latin phrases.

Here’s a look at each of the Solas.

  1. Sola Fide (“Faith Alone”). Salvation is a free gift available to all who accept it by faith. Faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross is the only means by which we can stand justified before God.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

“Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, ‘THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH’” (Galatians 3:11).

  1. Sola Gratia (“Grace Alone”). We are all sinners and can do nothing to earn our salvation. No amount of good living cancels out the sin in our lives. Our salvation is a result of what God has done through His grace.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

  1. Sola Scriptura (“Scripture Alone”). The Scriptures are the sole source of divine authority. Man’s religion is not. Man’s traditions are not. The Scriptures are clear and contain all necessary teaching for faith and salvation.

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:15-17).

  1. Solo Christo (“Christ Alone”). As our mediator and high priest, Christ alone intercedes on our behalf before the Father. His finished work on the cross assures our salvation through faith in Him.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).

  1. Soli Deo Gloria (“To the Glory of God Alone”). God alone is due the glory for our salvation, and the goal of our lives is to glorify God in all we do.

“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

“Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:11).

Summarizing the Five Solas, our salvation is according to Scripture alone, in Christ Jesus alone, by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, for the glory of God alone.

Paul said, speaking of the Bereans, “…they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

Let us all be like the Bereans, examining the Scriptures daily. This is how we will come to know the Father and how we will become more like Christ.

Thanks for bearing with me as we took a little bit of a departure from our usual focus on leadership this week to dive into some church history. I think it’s important, especially for us as leaders, to have an appreciation for and understanding of that which we believe.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What do the Five Solas mean to you?

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

#244: Why “Leaders Must Be Readers” is Wrong

Harry S. Truman said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” Was Harry right, or is his statement yet another political platitude meant to tickle the ears? Well, I think he was at least partially right.

Leaders Readers

Not All Readers Are Leaders

Reading by itself doesn’t make you a leader. If it did, college students would all be leaders, and recruiters would be looking for leaders among subscribers of romance novels. No, reading by itself won’t make you into a leader.

All Leaders Are Readers

Is Harry saying there hasn’t been a leader from the dawn of time that wasn’t a reader? Probably not. The earliest known texts didn’t come on the scene until 2600 BC. So, before that, there was nothing for anyone to read!

Let’s give Harry the benefit of the doubt and assume he is referring to modern times. There are numerous native tribes around the world today who still don’t have a written language, yet they have leaders.

Apparently, there is no causal relationship between leading and reading. All leaders are not readers.

But, can reading make you a better leader? Now, I suspect, this is what Harry was really trying to get at!

Are Readers Better Leaders?

I suspect the answer to the question, “Are readers better leaders?” is, “yes.” But, not just because they read. No, the answer to why readers are better leaders lies in what they read!

Better leaders are purpose driven readers. Their reading selections are intentional. They read with the intent to improve their ability to lead.

Author Michael Hyatt wrote Five Ways Reading Makes You a Better Leader (you can read his article here). In this article Hyatt says:

  • Reading makes us better thinkers. Studies show reading helps increase our analytical skills.
  • Reading improves our people skills. Studies show understanding others through their stories helps increase our EQ (Emotional Quotient).
  • Reading helps us master communication. It helps us improve our language skills.
  • Reading helps us relax. It helps us reduce stress.
  • Reading keeps us young. It helps us stay sharp mentally.

John Coleman, writing for the Harvard Business Review (For Those Who Want to Lead, Read), noted there is a sharp decline in reading among leaders despite the many benefits for leaders who read. Coleman notes:

  • Reading can improve intelligence and lead to innovation and insight.
  • Reading increases verbal intelligence, making a leader a more adept and articulate communicator.
  • Reading can improve empathy and understanding of social cues, allowing a leader to better work with and understand others.
  • Reading can make you more personally effective by keeping you relaxed and improving health.

Reading has a lot of tangible benefits for a leader, but to leverage the time we spend reading we need to be purposeful about our reading choices.

Becoming a Purpose Driven Reader

Time is limited. To maximize the benefit of time spent reading we need to be intentional and purposeful about our reading choices.

Here are six tips to make your reading time both intentional and purposeful:

  1. Establish the reading habit. Set aside a specific block of time to read, and put it on our calendar like any other appointment or commitment. For some folks this is early morning, for others, it’s their lunch hour. Still others find the evenings a perfect time to dive into a book.
  2. Read a variety of genres. If you are a business person step out and try reading a biography, a history book, or go crazy and read some Shakespeare! Be intentional about your selections.
  3. Apply what you read. Whether the book is specific to your industry or not, look for ways to apply what you are reading to your work. Get out your sticky notes and your highlighter. Make notes in the margins if you want, but take action on key points you discover as you read.
  4. Read with others. This might be something as formal as a book club or just a friend who agrees to read along with you. The benefit comes from the accountability and the discussions you’ll have about what you’re reading.
  5. Share the fun. If leaders grow by being intentional, purposeful readers then share the fun with co-workers. It’s a great way to build the depth of your organization.
  6. Relax and enjoy. Have some fun. Relax. Yes, be intentional and purposeful, but don’t forget to have some fun along the way!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Are you a reading leader? What have you read recently that inspired you in some way?

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 | Self-Discipline