#236: Are These Trials at Work Good for Me?

In the margin of my performance review, one boss wrote, “RRK’s sense of integrity sometimes gets in the way of getting things done.” He concluded the review saying if I didn’t quit he would find a way to fire me.

Trials at work

Another boss made grand promises and sweet-talked me into joining his organization, only to renege on all his promises within two years.

Everyone I know whose career has spanned a number of years have some kind of stories of workplace trials like these. Some, sad to say, are much worse.

Can these workplace trials possibly be good for me? For us?

According to James, yes! James says these workplace trials are good for us, and furthermore, he says, we should expect them!

James, writing to the people of Israel, said, “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials” (James 1:2).

Was James on some form of ancient happy juice?

He says they should be joyful whenever they experience trials? And what kind of trials is he talking about? James says these are trials that will test our faith.

Well, the Israelites had been kicked out of their land and dispersed throughout the Roman empire. So, they lost all their land, their cities, and their ability to provide for their families. They had to start over with nothing in hostile territories.

Admittedly, the workplace isn’t exactly like what James is talking about when he says we should be joyful when we encounter trials. But some of our workplaces are becoming more and more hostile territories!

What kind of trials can we expect in the workplace that will test our faith?

Types of Workplace Trials

I see three broad categories of trials:

1) People openly hostile to our Christian beliefs. These trials range from simple prejudice to limitations on career growth, or even threats of physical violence.

2) Ethical trials. These trials include our own temptation to abandon our faith and compromise our beliefs to “succeed.” They may also be pressure from outsiders to compromise our beliefs.

3) Faith shaking events. Sometimes the workplace trials we face may come events that shake our faith. Promises made are broken. We are laid off. We question how God could let these events happen to us, His faithful servants.

Each of these types of trials can test our faith and they are the ones James says we should be joyful about enduring!

The Result of Enduring

Why in the world would James say that? Because, says James, of the result. If we can manage to withstand all types of trials and maintain our faith in God, the result is endurance. When we can look back on the trials of life and see that God was always with us, this endurance helps us become spiritually mature, complete children of God (James 1:3-4).

That boss that wrote my integrity got in the way of getting things done? An executive who heard about the situation (I still don’t know how he heard) offered me a better job in a better market.

That led to me living in a neighborhood where my wife and I were led to the Lord. It’s where we met people who helped us adopt our beautiful daughter, Rebekah. That boss may have meant to harm me, but looking back, I see God’s hand directing it all to the benefit of our family.

That boss that made promises and reneged on them led me to start writing this blog reaching out to Christians leaders around the world. It may be years before I see all of God’s plan with this ministry, but one thing is clear, His hand is in it. He is in control!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What workplace trials have you endured? And looking back, do you see God’s hand leading and protecting 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 | Character

 

#235: Will God Still Use Me If I Mess Up?

Have you ever encountered someone doing something dumb during a crisis and you thought to yourself, “What in the World Was He/She Thinking?”

Jonah Mess Up

Sadly, as I look back on my life I can remember too many situations where I didn’t do what I should, and afterward said to myself, “What in the world was I thinking?”

When I became a Christian at 33-years old, these “What in the world was I thinking?” situations took on even more meaning. I thought, “Boy, I really messed up this time! Will God still use me?”

It turns out there are quite a few people whose story of messing up is recorded in the Bible.

One of the big mess up’s is Jonah.

Jonah’s Big Mess Up

Jonah was a prophet of God. His job was to bring God’s messages to whomever God told him. God spoke directly to Jonah and directed him to go to Nineveh to preach a message of repentance to the Ninevites.

God said, “Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because their wickedness has confronted Me” (Jonah 1:2). There is no ambiguity in this command. Jonah, get up and go preach to the Ninevites.

What does Jonah do? He thumbs his nose at God and jumps on the closest ship headed in the opposite direction. Jonah rebelled against God.

How often does God call us and we rebel, and head off in the opposite direction?

God caused a big storm on the sea that threatened to sink the ship. Jonah realized the storm was his fault, so the sailors on the ship ended up throwing Jonah overboard.

How often do storms come into our life after we rebel against God?

But here is the amazing thing. Despite his rebellion against God, God hasn’t abandoned Jonah. God is watching out for him. God has a large fish swallow Jonah, and Jonah has an uncomfortable three days in the belly of the fish to think about what his rebellion has cost him.

Jonah’s Redemption

Jonah finally prays to God asking to be saved and forgiven. He repents of his rebellion.

Immediately God forgives him and has the fish vomit Jonah up on the shore. Hopefully, Jonah grabs a shower somewhere and puts on a clean set of clothes because God is not done with Jonah yet!

God speaks to Jonah a second time saying,Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach the message that I tell you” (Jonah 3:2).

With this command, God has restored Jonah to his previous mission, to go and preach to the people of Nineveh.

This time Jonah does what God has told him to do. Jonah puts on his big boy pants and heads off to preach against the dreaded Ninevites.

Jonah rebelled against God. He refused to do the one thing God had called him to do.

Jonah repented of his rebellion against God and prayed for a second chance.

God restored Jonah.

I have rebelled against God. At times, I have refused to do what I feel He has called me to do. But I take comfort knowing that if I repent of my rebellion, like Jonah, God in His mercy will restore me. He will give me a second chance to do His will.

I take great comfort knowing that those future “What in the world was I thinking?” mess ups don’t mean that God is done with me or that He won’t use me. It just means I need to get back to Him as quickly as I can!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you had, “What in the world was I thinking?” mess ups in your life? Have you repented of your rebellion and been restored by 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 | Obedience to God

#234: The Young Leader Who Lived Through Peace, Prosperity, Reformation, and Disaster

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

Imagine turning a large company over to an 8-year old to run. A third grader! You wouldn’t do it, would you?!

Josiah Leader

Now, imagine turning a whole nation over to an 8-year old king? Well, that’s exactly what happened to young Josiah. He was made king over Israel when he was 8-years old after his father, Amon, was assassinated.

Fortunately, Josiah had two Godly people who shaped his young life; his mother, Jedidah, and Hilkiah, the high priest.

There’s a lot we can learn from this young king that parallels many of the situations we face as leaders today. His story is recorded in 2 Kings 22-23 and 2 Chronicles 34-35.

Peace & Prosperity

Josiah’s 31-year rule as king occurred during an unusual period. The Assyrian empire was in decline, and the Babylonian empire had not yet become a world power. The ebb and flow of power between the Assyrians and the Babylonians meant the Israelites had a time of relative peace in which they could govern themselves and pursue their trades.

Reformation

When he was 16-years old, Josiah turned away from the evil ways of his father and turned to God. When he was 20-years old, he began a campaign to rid Judah and Jerusalem of foreign idols and altars.

When Josiah was 26-years old, he ordered the cleansing and repair of the Lord’s temple. A copy of the Book of the Law was found in the temple and read to Josiah. He realized how far the people had fallen away from God. Josiah assembled the leaders, and before the people, made a covenant with God to follow all of God’s commands. All the people of Judah entered into the covenant with Josiah to follow God.

Disaster

When Josiah was 39-years old, God instructed Neco, Pharaoh of Egypt, to march to the Euphrates to help the Assyrians in Battle against the Babylonians. Josiah went out with his army to confront Neco. Neco warned Josiah not to oppose God by engaging in a battle with him. Instead of heeding Neco’s warning, Josiah went into battle and was killed. Josiah’s death ended Judah’s 31-year period of peace and self-rule. They were conquered and ruled by the Egyptians, then the Babylonians.

The people of Judah endured four bad kings in a row for nearly 23 years until Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians and the people of Jerusalem were exiled.

Leadership Lessons for Us

Among the many lessons we might learn from the life and reign of King Josiah, here are my top five:

1) Godly Advisors. Josiah was indeed fortunate that he had two Godly advisors who helped shaped his young life. The important thing here is that Josiah listened to them and became a man after God’s own heart.

Leader Lesson. Surround yourself with Godly men and women who can give you sound counsel and listen to them!

2) Seek the Lord. Josiah made a personal decision to follow the Lord.

Leader Lesson. It is not enough to have Godly men and women speak into our lives. We must each make a personal decision to follow God.

3) Courage. Josiah was only a young man, but he had the courage to rid the country of the foreign idols and altars that had been allowed by his father and grandfather.

Leader Lesson. There will be times in each of our lives when we must have the courage to stand against the tide of public opinion when it is contrary to God’s will for us.

4) Humbled Himself. When Josiah heard the words of the Lord read from the Book of the Law, he humbled himself and vowed to follow all the Lord’s decrees.

Leader Lesson. A position of power or prestige often brings out our prideful nature, but true Godly leaders will humble themselves and always be ready to follow as God leads.

5) Keep Seeking the Lord. Josiah’s reforms brought the people of Judah back to the Lord. But at some point, he stopped seeking the Lord in every matter. Ignoring the Lord in the matter of Pharaoh Neco, brought about his death and the enslavement of the people of Judah.

Leader Lesson. There is never a good time in the life of a Christian leader to stop trusting and seeking the Lord.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Which of these leadership lessons do you think is most important in your life right now?

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

#233: Christian Leaders Need to Read Their Bible!

A recent survey by Lifeway Research found a lot of Americans think the Bible is helpful, but they don’t read it much.

Leaders Read Bible

What? Tell me it isn’t so! How can you say a book is helpful if you haven’t read it?

Some Have Read

In this survey of “representative Americans,” Lifeway found only 11% had read the Bible all the way through. Only 9% had read all the Bible more than once. Another 12% said they had read almost all of it, and another 15% stated that they had read at least half.

So, 47% of Americans have read half the Bible or more.

Some Haven’t Read

On the other side of the equation, 10% of Americans have never read any of the Bible, 13% have read a few sentences, and 30% have read a few passages or stories.

So, 53% of Americans haven’t read enough of the Bible to know what it says or doesn’t say.

This doesn’t make sense! Nine out of ten homes in America own a Bible, and the average home has three Bibles! What are we doing with them – using them as paperweights?

Many Think It’s Worthwhile

What is even more confusing is a lot of people seem to think the Bible is worthwhile:

  • 52% said it is a good source of morals.
  • 37% said it is helpful today.
  • 36% said it is true.
  • 35% said it is life-changing.

I’m going out on a limb here, but I bet the people that think the Bible is a good source of morals, is helpful, is true, or is life-changing are the 47% of folks who have actually read a good chunk of it.

Some Don’t Think So

A few people didn’t have a positive view of the Bible: 14% said it is outdated, 8% said it is bigoted, and 7% said it is harmful. Again, I’m going out on a limb here, but I bet these folks are the ones who haven’t read much or any of the Bible.

We Have a Problem

If you claim to be a Christian, a follower of Christ, you need to know who it is you are following! The best way to do that is to read and study His Word.

I am absolutely convinced that many of the political and societal issues we are facing today are the result of two things. First, too many professing Christians don’t know the Word of God. The second reason for our political and societal issues is that we are not doers of the Word (James 1:22).

Christian leaders, we need to step up. We need to take responsibility and be the powerful, inspired leaders God has called us to be. We need to know the Word, and we need to be doers of the Word.

Our example as leaders will be a light that shines before others. They will see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

Start Reading and Studying Today!

If you are one of the Christians, who hasn’t read and studied the Bible as much as you would like, then I implore you to start today. Find a Bible reading program and start reading. Get into a good Bible study. Get into a good Bible teaching church.

Do you want to get into a program to help you read and understand the Bible in the course of a year? If so, you are welcome to join with me and people from over 100 countries who are reading and studying the Bible daily.

I’ve developed two reading and studying programs that will get you through the Bible in a year. One is a straightforward Genesis – Revelation study. The other is a Chronological study which presents the Bible in the order events happened in history.

If you are interested, check us out and join us out at Bible Study Daily.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What do you think of these survey results? Do they surprise you, trouble you, or is it about what you expected?

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 | Commitment