#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?

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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?

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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