#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?

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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

#243: What Kind of Leader Will Defend Their Principles?

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

The first time I stepped into an ocean I was probably 13-years old. I was only in the water up to my knees but as the tide went out the pull of the water nearly sucked my feet out from under me.

Leader Principles

I found to stand up I needed to dig my feet into the sand and anticipate the pull of the water. Otherwise, I could not stand against the pull of the tide.

Leaders often find themselves in a similar situation. The pull of popular opinion sucks at your feet threatening to pull you under unless you are firmly rooted in your principles.

How often in the last few years have you listened to a politician say one thing while he/she is running for office and then say something else once they are elected? How quickly do they change their tune when polling data goes against them? They excuse their changed minds and lack of principles while claiming their “thinking has matured.”

Their behavior begs the question, “Is there a point at which a leader must dig in and stand against the pull of popular opinion in defense of their principles?”

Yes, I believe there are times when leaders must be willing to stand against popular opinion. It is whenever men defy God’s principles.

One such example comes from a young prophet named Micaiah. His story is recorded in 1 Kings 22.

Micaiah Stands Firm

King Jehoshaphat of Judah had foolishly aligned himself with King Ahab of Israel against the king of Syria, King Aram. Before attacking Aram, Ahab called for 400 prophets to discern the will of God, and all of the prophets told him to go ahead and attack Aram.

Jehoshaphat asked for a real prophet of God, so Ahab reluctantly suggested they consult Micaiah.

Messengers sent to Micaiah told him all the other prophets had unanimously told the kings to attack Aram and suggested he should fall in line with the other prophets.

When Micaiah was brought before the two kings, he sarcastically told the two kings to attack Aram. But King Ahab told Micaiah to swear to tell the truth of what the Lord had told him.  Micaiah then told the two kings all the other prophets had lied to them; the Lord had revealed they would be defeated and their armies scattered.

As a result of opposing all 400 of the prophets and telling the truth of what the Lord had revealed, Micaiah was turned over to a jailor and put in prison where he was to remain until after the battle.

The two kings proceed to wage war against Aram. Just as Micaiah had prophesied Ahab was killed, and the armies of Israel and Judah were defeated.

Stand Firm Against the Tide

Imagine the pressure Micaiah felt as he stood before the kings of Israel and Judah surrounded by 400 prophets. Every eye is on him. It certainly would have been easier to say what they wanted to hear. Instead, Micaiah’s message opposed 400 prophets. He called them out as liars, and told God’s truth regardless of the consequences.

As leaders, we must be willing to stand firm for God’s principles. We must, as Micaiah was, be willing to oppose the wisdom of the world regardless of the consequences. This kind of courage is the mark of a real leader.

I wonder if Paul had this in mind when writing to the Ephesians. He told them, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens” (Ephesians 6:11-12).

Let us join together as leaders with our feet firmly planted in God’s Word. Let us put on the whole armor of God that we might stand against the tide of popular opinion that opposes God and His righteousness!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Are you the kind of leader who stands firm on your principles against those who oppose God regardless of the consequences?

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 | Leader Qualifications

 

#242: An Instructive Letter from My Back-to-the-Future Self

In the Back to the Future trilogy, Marty McFly travels back in time and then into the future using a time-traveling DeLorean. I loved that DeLorean. It was a great looking car, but more importantly, it enabled Marty to go back in time. Marty could see where his younger self went wrong and helped him straighten out his life.

Back to the future

I don’t have a DeLorean, much less the specially equipped version that enables time travel. But that doesn’t mean I can’t get advice from my older self.

And you can as well—that is, get advice from your older self.

I just finished reading David Green’s (Hobby Lobby founder & CEO) book, Giving It All Away…And Getting It All Back Again. At the end of his book, Green suggests having your 80-year-old self, write your younger self an instructive, yet loving, letter explaining what it means to live a meaningful life.

What a great idea!

My Back to the Future Letter

It’s a bit like traveling back in time to advise your younger self. My 80-year-old self wrote an instructive letter to my 40-year old self. This letter included five key points that frame what I consider important elements of living a meaningful life:

1) To have a great marriage that honors God. Barb and I stood before God in 1980 and made a promise to each other. The older I get, the more precious she is to me, and the more important that promise has become.

2) To raise my daughter to use her gifts and talents to serve God. I can’t think of anything more important than raising a child who loves Christ and dedicates her life to serving Him.

3) To raise my special needs son in a way that helps him be all he can be. God entrusted this special boy’s care to me. It is incumbent on me to reflect Gods love to him and help him grow into a loving and considerate young man.

4) To use my gifts and talents to serve God wherever He places me. Who knows where God will lead me over the span of years He has allotted to me? Wherever God leads, I will use the gifts and talents He has given me to serve Him.

5) To be a faithful steward of the resources the Lord provides. The resources the Lord has placed at my disposal need to be invested carefully and faithfully to advance the Great Commission.

My younger self’s view of a meaningful life included different things like “be successful in business” and “save a lot of money to enjoy a comfortable retirement.”

Mind you; there is nothing wrong with being successful in business or saving money for retirement. The Bible supports both (Proverbs 12:11, Proverbs 6:6-8).

But my 80-year-old self realizes there are fewer years ahead of him than behind him. From this perspective, being successful in business and saving money for retirement is just not as important.

It is far more important to raise children who live lives that honor God and for my own life to be a Godly example to them.

My life journey has been a long way from perfect. Looking back on my 66 years, I realize I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way. I wish my 40-year old self had gotten this letter sooner. But if I take the advice of my 80-year old self now and focus on these five things I will one day stand before the Lord having lived a meaningful life.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What advice would your older self give you? How would that advice change how you live your life today?

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 | Values

 

#241: How to Prepare Your Organization to Recognize A Shifting Paradigm

Plus A Bonus Whitepaper

Horses as the primary mode of transportation, candles used for lighting, wood used for cooking and heating, windmills for pumping water, wind-up mechanical watches, and mimeograph machines, are all extinct. These were not bad products, but none the less they are gone.

Shifting Paradigm

What happened? Paradigm shifts occurred. Technology made new products possible, new products replaced old products, and in many cases, created whole new markets.

The ability of leaders to recognize these types of paradigm shifts in the future will make the difference between companies who are successful in the 21st century and those that are just hanging on.

What is a Paradigm Shift?

The greatest paradigm shift of all time came when Jesus preached the gospel. The impact of that simple message has been felt throughout the world. People changed, societies changed, and governments changed, all because of one man and His message.

The word paradigm comes from the Greek paradeigma which means “model, pattern, example.” In his book Future Edge, author Joel Barker provides his definition of a paradigm: “A paradigm is a set of rules and regulations (written or unwritten) that does two things: (1) it establishes clear boundaries; and (2) it tells you how to behave inside the boundaries in order to be successful.”

Think about some “minor” industry changes. What would you have done if you had known about the following technology paradigm shifts in advance?

  • FAX machines,
  • Personal computers,
  • VCR’s, Laser Disks, and DVDs,
  • Cable television,
  • Cellular phones, or
  • Streaming audio & video?

The list of industries created in the last ten years numbers in the hundreds! The list of industries that are gone also numbers in the hundreds. Companies that want to survive well into the 21st century had better be adept at managing change, and able to forecast paradigm shifts.

Don’t Trust the Experts!

Often, experts who develop technology don’t even understand the import of their actions. Simon Newcomb, a noted astronomer, said in 1902, “Flight by machines heavier than air is unpractical and insignificant, if not utterly impossible.” In 1913 the American Road Congress reported that “It is an idle dream to imagine that…automobiles will take the place of railways in the long-distance movement of…passengers.” Thomas Edison said in 1880 that, “The phonograph…is not of any commercial value.” If you want to recognize paradigm shifts you might want to look to someone other than the “experts” for answers.

Getting Started

If you are a manager and you want to develop an organization capable of forecasting, recognizing, and taking advantage of paradigm shifts then the following points will be helpful:

Forecasting

Get a group of individuals together and have them write “future” scenarios. What will this industry look like in 20 years, 50 years? These “future” scenarios will help you see major paradigm shifts. If you’re in the home building business, you may see the concern for the environment as a precursor to a major shift in home building technology; new heating systems, new building materials, new super insulation materials, etc.

Get another group to write about what problems exist in the industry today, and to forecast future problems and needs. For example, if you’re in the plastics business you might consider oil supplies as a future problem. You might see pollution control legislation as a problem. You might see a need for a new type of plastic that will meet certain consumer needs, etc.

Flexibility

As managers, we tend to focus on problem-solving. In the crush of our workloads, we tend to be very comfortable with current solutions to problems. What we don’t realize is that there are new ways of doing old things and that we must be willing to accept these new solutions, even while the old solution is still working.

Search and Reapply

Search and reapply is a big opportunity area for most businesses today. One department gets a good idea and uses it to solve a problem, but nobody else in the organization ever hears about it. We need to create systems for publicizing ideas throughout our organizations. Next, we need to teach people to constantly look at the way other people do things as fertile ground for ideas that will help them do their jobs better.

Listen

As a manager, you need to understand that the people who have the ability to spot paradigm shifts are probably working for you right now:

  • They are the young people who have not been so socialized by years of experience that they are capable of seeing things a different way.
  • They are the experienced people who just took on a new job.
  • They are the odd ducks who are always challenging the status quo, never content with the way things are; they are forever trying to change things.
  • They are the inventors who get ideas and build prototypes. They often don’t even realize how valuable their ideas are in terms of solving other problems.

Now that you know who is most likely to spot paradigm shifts, make it a point to listen to them, and record their ideas. You never know when what seemed like a silly idea for one project will turn out to be a brilliant solution to another project.

One Final Thought

Any organization that wants to be successful in the 21st century will need to be:

  • future oriented; capable of anticipating changes in technology and consumer needs,
  • innovative; not only in the way they apply technology, but in the way they approach it, and
  • focused on quality; total quality will be the bare minimum in the next century.

To be successful, you will need all three of these components; not one or two, but all three. Getting to the point where your organization has these attributes may represent a major paradigm shift, so you might as well start right now.

Bonus Whitepaper

This week’s post is excerpted from a 6-page whitepaper entitled, Shifting Paradigms – Building an Organization that Leads Change.”

This whitepaper includes a broader discussion of shifting paradigms, including:

  • Understanding what a paradigm shift is,
  • The Swiss Blew their Opportunity,
  • The Fall of Books and Magazines, and
  • Forecasting Paradigm Shifts

You can download the whitepaper here: Shifting Paradigms – Building an Organization that Leads Change.”

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What are you doing to recognize and leverage a paradigm shift in your business?

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 | Change, Innovation