#218: Is What You Desperately Need in Your Hand?

Is what you desperately need already in your hand and you don’t realize it?

Hand

I can’t begin to count the number of times someone has told me they can’t accomplish an objective because they don’t have (fill in the blank). The excuses are often some variation of:

  • “I don’t have enough funding.”
  • “I don’t have enough people.”
  • “I don’t have enough time.”

I’m not surprised by these excuses. I know I’ve used each of them myself at some stage in my career.

When we confronted with an enormous obstacle we can’t see our way around; we often give up mentally never realizing we already have everything we need.

This is not a new phenomenon. Moses was confronted with an enormous obstacle and didn’t realize all he needed was already in his hand.

Moses, What’s in Your Hand?

God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 3). Moses offered up excuse after excuse to God why selecting him was a bad choice. God reassured Moses saying, “I will be with you.”

As Moses continued to make excuses, God said to Moses, “What is that in your hand?” “A staff,” replied Moses. God used this simple shepherd’s staff to perform miracles before the Egyptians and the Israelites. This ultimately led to the Israelite’s deliverance from the Egyptians.

Moses wasn’t the only example of a “what’s in your hand” miracle. Jesus performed a similar miracle in the feeding of the 5,000.

Jesus asked, “What do You Have?”

At the end of a long day, a crowd of some 5,000 men (probably 15,000 or more including women and children) surrounded Jesus and the disciples. The disciples expressed concern that the people did not have anything to eat, so they suggested Jesus send them away. Instead, Jesus told the disciples, “You give them something to eat” (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-15).

The disciples started with their excuses:

  • “This is a remote place.”
  • “We don’t have enough food to feed them all.”
  • “It would take a year’s wages to buy them all food.”

Jesus asked them, “What do you have?” The disciples said, “We have only five loaves of bread and two small fish.”

Then Jesus took the bread and the fish and looking up to heaven He gave thanks. He directed the disciples to distribute the bread and fish to everyone. When they finished, they picked up 12 baskets full of leftovers, one for each disciple!

Jesus’ lesson for the disciples was that you could trust that whatever you have if you place it in God’s hands, it will be enough. In fact, it will be MORE than enough!

What is in Our Hand?

Moses learned that even the simple shepherd’s staff in his hand was mighty when submitted to the Lord.

Jesus demonstrated to the disciples how God would bless and multiply what they had not just to meet their needs but to exceed their needs.

The key for Moses was to surrender his will and submit to God’s calling. The key for the disciples was to place their trust and faith in God to meet their every need.

Leaders, the next time you face with what seems like an insurmountable obstacle look to see what is in your hand. Remember to submit and surrender to God’s will while trusting in faith that He can and will meet all your needs.

As Paul said, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have there been times in your life where you resisted God’s call on your life, or offered excuses to God, only to experience God’s miraculous provision?

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

#217: What a Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice to Deceive

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

Shakespeare was right. What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive. Not only do we get caught up in the web of deceit but so do innocent bystanders.

Web Deceive

In this month’s, Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known we’ll examine the story of a man named Achan (Joshua7).

The Backstory

Moses had just transferred responsibility for leading the people of Israel over to Joshua. The Lord commanded Joshua to circumcise all the people, renewing His covenant to take them into the Promised Land if they would only obey Him.

The first city in the Promised Land they were to conquer was the city of Jericho. The Lord commanded the people of Israel saying all the silver, gold, articles of bronze and iron were to be brought to the Lord’s treasury, and everything else in the entire city itself was devoted to destruction.

The Deception

When the Israelites advanced on Jericho, Achan helped himself to a cloak, 200 shekels of silver, and a gold bar weighing 50 shekels and hid them in his tent.

Achan thought he got away with stealing the things that were to be given to the Lord’s treasury, but God knew what Achan had done. He may have deceived everyone else, but he hadn’t deceived God.

The Repercussions

Achan’s stupid mistake had repercussions far beyond his own decision to steal from God.

The very next battle Joshua sent the Israelites into they were driven back and 36 men died because God was not with them.

When Joshua cried out to God, he learned that someone had violated the covenant to obey God already by stealing things devoted to the Lord’s treasury. The people were brought before the Lord to be judged, and the judgment fell against Achan.

Achan finally admitted his deception saying he did it because the cloak was beautiful and he coveted the silver and gold.

Achan, his family, and all his animals were stoned to death as punishment, and they were all burned along with everything else he owned.

The Lessons

There are four important leadership lessons we learn from Achan’s story of disobedience and deceit.

1) Temptation to Sin. Even in the midst of victory, we can be tempted to sin. In Achan’s case, he valued the treasures of man more than he valued obedience to God.

2) Sin Impacts Others. We think our decisions have no consequences or perhaps only affect us but most often others are also affected. Achan’s sin cost the lives of fellow Israelites in battle and the lives of his family.

3) Sin Brings Defeat. Achan knew what was right, but he deliberately disobeyed. His disobedience cause the army to be defeated, it brought disgrace to God, and Joshua, their commander, was disheartened.

4) Sin Cannot Be Hidden. Regardless of how well we might hide our sin from man, nothing is hidden from God. He knows our every sin. Achan managed to steal the cloak, the silver, and the gold and get it all the way back to his tent. Then he hid it in his tent thinking he had gotten away with his theft. But nothing is hidden from God.

As leaders, we are susceptible to the very same kind of temptations as Achan. We are tempted to sin; valuing man’s treasure over God even when we are winning. We deceive ourselves thinking our actions affect no one else. Ultimately, our sin against God brings judgment because no sin against God remains hidden.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Which of the four leadership lessons from Achan’s story resonates most with you? Which do you think is most common in the business world 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 | Obedience to God

 

 

#216: What Does It Take to Live the Greatest Life?

It May Not be What You Think!

I asked a few people this past week if they thought they were living the greatest life possible. Most said, “No.” A few said, “Yes.” I followed up by asking, “What does it take to live the greatest life possible?”

Greatest Life

The answers I got were mostly a variation of the happiness theme. From the “no’s” it was:

  • I am unhappy with my job.
  • I am unhappy with my income.
  • I am unhappy with my spouse/family.

From the “yes’s” it was:

  • I am happy with my job.
  • I am happy with my income.
  • I am happy with my spouse/family.

You get the idea.

These answers are flat-out wrong! If you think for a minute that the greatest life possible derives from some measure of happiness brought on by a good job, a nice income, or even great in-laws you are in for a massive disappointment in life.

Good jobs can disappear overnight. And that great income? Poof! An unfaithful spouse? There goes your happiness and your great life.

The reality is, all these things can be taken away or disappear in your next breath. If you are relying on anyone or anything in this world for your happiness you will be disappointed.

The one and only way you can live the greatest life possible is to build your life on God and His Word.

Why? Because God designed us, He created us, He knows what is best for us, and He has promised that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:35-39).

The Greatest Life Possible

So, if happiness is not a measure of a great life, what then, is the secret to living the greatest life possible?

Jesus told us exactly what it takes when he gave the disciples two commandments:

Jesus answered, “The most important [commandment] is…you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).

Love God

The first and most important element of living the greatest life possible is to love the Lord your God. This is what we are commanded to do.

But how do we do it?

Jesus told us how when He said, with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength.

  • Our heart is the center of our emotional control center.
  • Our soul is our will, our self-conscious life.
  • Our mind is our thoughts and the way we think.
  • Our strength is our bodily strength.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I think about whether I love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, I feel ashamed because I could do so much better.

Love Your Neighbor

The second element for living the greatest life possible is to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Who is Jesus referring to when He says to love our neighbors? We know from Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:33-34) that everyone is our neighbor. We also learn from this parable that we limit our love because people are different than us or because of our fears.

Jesus taught how we are to love our neighbors when He said, “…love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34).

Jesus loves everyone, and He loves us unconditionally. In this commandment, Jesus is telling us to love everyone, unconditionally just as He loves us. That includes people of the other political party, people who have a different worldview, even people who disagree with us and would do us harm. We are to love them all.

Nothing, said Jesus, is more important than to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. That, folks, is how we can live the greatest life possible!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. On a scale of 1-10 are you living the greatest life possible? If not, what do you need to change in 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

 

 

#214: Seizing Victory from the Agony of Defeat

Have you ever been so discouraged you felt like giving up? You saw the light at the end of the tunnel and realized it was just another train about to mow you down.

Victory Defeat

It seems there is an epidemic of discouragement and uncertainty in our world today. We live in most uncertain times. Economies around the world are experiencing turmoil. More people live in poverty than ever before. Millions and millions of people have become refugees fleeing their ancestral homes to avoid war.

On a more individual level, a decline in spiritual maturity has been met with moral decay. Marriages are failing at record rates. More children are being born into single-parent homes than ever before. Crime in our inner cities is out of control.

How are we to make sense of it all? How can we avoid the spirit of discouragement or defeat that has surrounded so many?

The answer lies in our faith. Let’s look at a few Bible characters whose faith allowed them to seize victory from the agony of defeat, who were down but not defeated.

Joseph Endured Difficulties

Joseph was his father’s favorite. He had a bright future, but his jealous brothers pretended he was dead and sold him into slavery. Things were looking up a little when he became the house manager for a powerful man but then he was falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison.

Job Experienced Adversity

Job was successful and wealthy with a large family. In a period of days his flocks, his herds, and even his family were all taken from him. In the midst of his despair, he was struck with painful boils all over his body.

Naaman was Ostracized

Naaman was a revered military commander. At some point in his life, he contracted leprosy and became a complete outcast from society and even his own family.

Daniel Faced Governmental Oppression

As a teenager, Daniel was taken prisoner by a conquering army. He was ripped away from his family and taken to a foreign land. He was ordered to worship the king, but Daniel refused, vowing to worship only the Lord God, even if it meant death.

Esther Faced Racism

Esther was a Jewish virgin who was taken to be part of the harem of the king of Persia. She found favor with the king who made her his queen. But Haman, a high-ranking official in the Persian government, hated Jews and hatched a plan to annihilate the entire Jewish population throughout the Persian empire.

Ruth was a Refugee

Ruth was a Moabite widow who left her homeland with Naomi, her mother-in-law to travel back to Naomi’s homeland. She had no possessions and no money. She was forced to pick grain at the edge of the fields to survive.

Great Faith was Rewarded with Victory

Joseph, Job, Naaman, Daniel, Esther, and Ruth were all down but never defeated. Because of their great faith, they all rose above their persecution.

  • Joseph got out of prison and rose to second in command of the Egyptian empire. This put him in a position to save his father and brothers from starvation during a seven-year famine.
  • Job maintained his faith in God throughout all his trials. Because of his faith, God restored Job’s wealth and granted him more children. He lived 140 more years and saw four more generations born to his children.
  • Naaman believed his Jewish servant girl who told him if he had faith the prophet of God could cure his leprosy. Naaman had faith, sought out Elisha the prophet, and was cured of his leprosy.
  • Daniel survived certain death in the lion’s den because God protected him. The king was so happy that God had protected Daniel from the lions that the king wrote a letter declaring Daniel’s God to be the living God who endures forever.
  • Esther became aware of Haman’s plan to kill all the Jews, so she hatched her own plan to trap Haman. Her plan worked. Haman was hung, and the king issued an edict allowing the Jews to take revenge on all those who had threatened them.
  • Ruth followed the advice of Naomi her mother-in-law to seek out Boaz, her nearest relative. Boaz redeemed Ruth and became her husband. Their great-great grandchild was David, the king of Israel.

Paul said it well as he wrote to the Philippians when he proclaimed, I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. We can experience victory. But we must have faith, and we must trust God when He says that He will work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you ever experienced difficulties persecution like Joseph, Job, Naaman, Daniel, Esther or Ruth? Has there ever been a time when God enabled you to seize victory from the jaws of defeat?  What happened?

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

 

 

#210: Are Ordinary People Made Extraordinary by Following God’s Purpose?

Is it true that ordinary people are made extraordinary by following God’s purpose? The Bible is full of examples of God calling ordinary people who accomplished great things for the Kingdom.

Gideon, Ordinary

Take Gideon for example.

Gideon, the Poor Farmer

When God called Gideon, he was threshing wheat for his father. The Lord told Gideon to conquer the Midianites, but Gideon protested saying his family was the weakest in the entire land of Manasseh and he was the youngest in his family.

In faith, Gideon sent messengers throughout the land calling all the Israelites to battle, and 32,000 men showed up to fight. God reduced the size of Gideon’s army to only 300 men. Those 300 men plus God defeated the Midianite army of 135,000 soldiers.

The Israelites enjoyed 40 years of peace during the lifetime of Gideon.

Gideon was an ordinary young man, the son of an ordinary man, with an ordinary family.

Ordinary Family

Gideon described his family as the weakest in the tribe of Manasseh. His parents had turned away from God and worshipped the idols Baal and Asherah. There were no nobles or powerful leaders in his family to show him the way.

Ordinary Trials

The first action the Lord demanded of Gideon was to tear down his parent’s altar to Baal and their Asherah pole. He was to replace them with an altar to the Lord. Gideon did exactly as the Lord commanded.

Ordinary Fears

Gideon was so afraid of what his father and the men of the city would do when they found the altar to Baal destroyed, and the Asherah pole cut down; he did it at night. Gideon was afraid to attack the Midianite army, so God arranged for Gideon to overhear a Midianite’s dream of being conquered.

Ordinary Difficulties

The Israelites had no army to wage war. Gideon sent messengers throughout the land calling Israelites from the tribes of Manasseh, Asher, Naphtali, and Zebulun, to join him in the battle.

Ordinary Doubts

To say Gideon had doubts about God’s call on his life is putting it mildly. He asked God to confirm His call to attack the Midianites not once, but twice.

Ordinary People are made Extraordinary

There is a little bit of Gideon in all of us isn’t there?

We view ourselves as ordinary. We come from quite ordinary families and are leading quite ordinary lives. Perhaps even the weakest, least qualified person we know to be called by God.

Yet God calls us to serve the Kingdom.

Perhaps the initial call on our life is a small step, like Gideon removing the altar of Baal and the Asherah pole.

Even so, we experience fear. What might happen if I step out in faith? Will I fail? Will I look foolish? What will others think of me?

Then we imagine the difficulties that may lie ahead if we follow God’s call. The task seems insurmountable to us. We cannot possibly do what God is asking us to do. We forget that one plus God is always a majority.

Even with God’s assurances, we doubt we can do what God has called us to do.

This is Why God Calls the Ordinary

It is because we are ordinary that God calls us to do the extraordinary. It is when we act in faith despite our insecurities, our fears, and our doubts that we demonstrate God’s strength and His glory.

So, the next time you feel God’s call on your life consider young Gideon, the youngest and weakest of his tribe. Who, despite his insecurities, fear, and doubts followed God’s call on his life and became an extraordinary man of God.

Our world needs ordinary men and women to say “yes” to God and become extraordinary in the process!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Are you ready to move from ordinary to extraordinary as you heed God’s call on your life? If not, what is holding you back?

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

 

 

#209: You and I are on a Journey to God Knows Where!

Have you ever been lost? You know where you want to end up, but you don’t know where you are, and you’re not sure how to get where you want to go?

Journey

I’ve been that lost. Just a few years ago, before cars with GPS, I was driving to meet a co-worker early in the morning. The sun was up, but the fog was so thick it was nearly dark. I lost my sense of direction and got completely turned around. Instead of driving north to the meeting place, I had turned south. I didn’t realize my error until I saw the Pacific Ocean in front of me!

When I was a young lad in Boy Scouts, I learned to hike a specific route through the woods out and back using a compass. I plotted a course out to the destination and followed the compass. After arriving at my destination, I plotted a course using the compass back to camp. With my compass, I never got lost. Without it, I would probably still be wandering around in the Idaho woods.

Life is like that. We make our plans. But then, like when I was lost in the fog, we get turned around and head off in the wrong direction. We plot our course. But without a compass (or a GPS) we get lost and wander about never reaching our destination.

There is good news. As pastor Kurt Johnston said in a sermon recently, “When you don’t know where you’re headed, God knows where He is taking you.” We do not have to get lost on our journey through life. God has given us the ultimate compass; the Holy Spirit to guide our lives and His Word to direct our path.

Many thanks to Pastor Kurt Johnston of Saddleback Church for giving me permission to adapt his sermon to this blog article!

We Don’t Know Where God is Taking Us

The challenge for us is we often don’t know where God is taking us. That makes us nervous and sometimes scared to death. Humanity has always been like that.

Remember the story of Esther? God placed her in a position to become queen and save the people of Israel from extermination. She had no idea where her life was headed, or where she would end up, but God knew exactly where He was taking her.

Gideon was the least of his tribe, and his tribe was the smallest of all the Israelite tribes. Yet God called Gideon to lead their army to victory over their enemies (Judges 6-8). Gideon was so skeptical God was calling him, he asked God for proof—twice!

David was the youngest of his family when God called him to be king. Do you think David had any idea what lay ahead in his life? Fighting Goliath. Being befriended by King Saul then hunted by him? Traitors and insurrection arose from within his own family. Yet David was the king who united the tribes of Israel. David, the young shepherd boy, had no idea where the Lord was taking him.

We see this and similar scenarios repeated throughout the pages of scripture. Sometimes people question where they are going. Sometimes they head off in the wrong direction (Jonah). Sometimes they doubt God is calling them.

Through it all, God knows exactly where He is taking us.

How to Get to Where God Wants Us to Go

Pastor Kurt offered three tips for getting to where God wants us to go.

1) Embrace the ambiguity of life. We want to have all the answers. We crave the certainty of knowing what comes next. But God is perfectly comfortable leading us one step at a time because He knows that’s all we can handle.

Jesus told the disciples not to worry but to seek God, saying “…do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:31-34).

2) Persevere through adversity. Everyone faces adversity in their lives. Successful people persevere through adversity to achieve God’s best.

Paul exhorted the Corinthians to persevere saying, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

3) Rest in His authority. There is no circumstance in this life that can derail God’s plan.

When he finally recognized God’s sovereignty “…Job replied to the LORD: I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:1-2).

Our Journey as Leaders

Make no mistake. God has a plan for every one of us. We may not know where God is taking us, but He does.

As leaders, we must set an example for those who follow. We must embrace life’s uncertainties knowing that God cares for us. We must persevere through any and all adversity knowing that God will never abandon us. And we must accept and rest in God’s sovereign authority.

Remember, you and I are on a journey to God knows where! Even when we don’t know where we’re headed, God knows where He is taking us.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you ever questioned where God was leading you? How did you feel at the time? Did you face adversity? Did you rest in the assurance of God’s plan?

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 | Purpose/Passion

 

 

#208: What is the Cause of our Deepening Cultural Divide?

There is a deepening cultural divide that exists around the world. Protests, riots, and wars are being fought over these political differences.

Cultural Divide

The disagreements run the gamut from annoyance to vehement disagreement. Some even live in fear of what action those with different views will take to advance their agenda.

This tension certainly exists between our government and the populace. It existed long before I was born, and has existed throughout all thirteen presidents who have served during my lifetime.

We have become a people who, for the most part, look to the president and the rest of our government to direct our affairs. When they do what we want, we like them, when they don’t, well, we hate them.

Many of the international, domestic, economic, and social issues that divide us have been around for a very long time. For example,

  • Some people want secure borders; others want open borders.
  • Some people want tight controls on drugs and guns, while others don’t.
  • Some people believe in limited government, while others see the government as the solution to most of the problems we face as a society.
  • Some people believe abortion is a woman’s right, while others believe in the rights of the unborn.

Secular versus Biblical Worldview

In every case, the various opinions are an expression of the differences in people’s worldview; either secular or Biblical.

A secular (or humanist) worldview places humanity at the center. The secularist rejects the idea of a supernatural being (God), preferring to explain the cosmos in terms of science. Morals are derived from human experience. Ethics are relative since there is no higher being (moral relativism).

A Biblical worldview places God at the center. The Biblical worldview accepts God as the Creator of all things. Morals and ethics are derived from God. God created man; man sinned against God, and God has a redemptive plan in His Son Jesus Christ.

There is no Biblical provision for a separation between the “religious” and “secular” life of a believer. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Jesus did not say, “I am the way on Sunday, but anything goes at work on Monday.” So, in the Biblical worldview, all aspects of the believer’s life, has at its core, a belief in God and His plan for humanity.

The Cause of the Cultural Divide

The cause of our cultural divide traces directly back to a difference in worldview.

Secularists, or in today’s nomenclature, progressives, espouse a worldview in direct opposition to a Biblical worldview.

What is difficult for me to reconcile is that many secularists I know say they believe in God, yet support secular beliefs. This inconsistency baffles me. How can someone say they believe in God and reject what He says?

Sadly, there are just as many who claim a Biblical worldview as Christians who manage to divide their lives between Biblical and secular life. This inconsistency also baffles me.

Christian Leaders and a Biblical Worldview

A worldview is comprehensive. It informs every area of our lives from work to finances, family, marriage, politics, and everything in-between. Inconsistency in the expression of our worldview weakens the testimony of the Christian leader. There must be no inconsistency in the expression of our worldview.

Writing to the church in Laodicea the Spirit said, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot” (Revelation 3:15 HCSB)” The last thing a Christian leader should be is “lukewarm.”

A Christian leader who holds firmly to their Biblical worldview becomes spiritually mature and Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:13).

If you are a Christian leader, who holds firmly to a Biblical worldview, congratulations! Be strong and courageous.

If you are a Christian leader who recognizes some inconsistency in the expression of your worldview then pray for direction from the Holy Spirit, spend time in God’s Word, and seek out other Christian leaders with whom you can share your struggles.

No matter what, do not remain lukewarm!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. How does your worldview influence your life? What role does your worldview play in decisions you make?

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

 

#207: What Can We Learn From A Courageous Slave Girl?

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

What can we learn from a courageous slave girl with a simple message? As I’ve said before, I love studying lesser known characters in the Bible. Few of them are “lesser known” than the young woman described in 2 Kings 5:2-3:

Slave Girl Naaman

“Aram had gone on raids and brought back from the land of Israel a young girl who served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, ‘If only my master would go to the prophet who is in Samaria, he would cure him of his skin disease.’”

Her place in history is short and not even marked with her name. We only know that she was a young Jewish girl taken captive in a Syrian army raid. She was forced to be the personal servant of the wife of Naaman, the Syrian army commander.

While Naaman was a highly-regarded military commander, he suffered from leprosy. Leprosy was incurable and made Naaman a societal outcast.

This young Jewish girl, serving as a slave to her mistress, boldly suggested that Naaman could be cured of his leprosy if only he would go and visit God’s prophet (Elisha), who lived in Samaria.

4 Lessons from a Courageous Slave Girl

Despite her brief appearance in the pages of scripture, we can take four important lessons from this unnamed slave girl.

  1. She accepted her situation without bitterness or rancor. We see no indication that being torn away from her family and forced to serve her captors made her bitter. In fact, this situation describes someone with a remarkably positive attitude.
  2. She retained her faith in God. She does not curse God for placing her in this situation. Rather, her actions demonstrate a strong faith in God’s power and grace.
  3. She acted on her faith. When the opportunity to act on her faith arose she took it. Her faith did not remain hidden in a closet but was shared with her captors as she witnessed to them.
  4. She wished her master would experience God’s healing grace. You can sense caring, perhaps even love, in her plea for her master to be healed of his suffering.

2 Important Conclusions

This unnamed young girl didn’t have much of an opportunity to serve the Lord, but when her opportunity arose, she laid ahold of it and acted. Without her courage, Naaman would have remained a leper the rest of his life.

  • How often do we allow an opportunity to serve the Lord slip away because we are afraid or we think the task is too small?

Along with courage, I see a young woman who was gracious. Despite her trials, she reflected God’s love to her captors. She did not stop serving God, nor did she become bitter because of her circumstances.

  • How often do we look away from someone who is struggling because we think they deserve it? How often do we refuse to share God’s love and mercy because someone disagrees with us?

Hurting people surround us in the workplace. As Christian leaders, we have the opportunity, no, the responsibility, to be courageous and gracious as we share God’s love and compassion with those who need it most.

If not us, who will shine God’s light on a darkened world?

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you been placed in difficult situations in which you were able to shine the light of God’s love and grace to an unbeliever? What happened?

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Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

 

#206: The Seasons of Life

Seeking God in Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring

On the farm where my grandfather lived his life, there were specific jobs that had to be done in each of the seasons.

Seasons of Life

During the fall of the year, the red winter wheat was planted. Winter was when all the equipment got overhauled in preparation for the next year’s work. Spring was when the white spring wheat was planted; weeds were plowed under, and the crops were fertilized. By early summer the harvester would emerge from the barn to be prepared for the work to come.

As the wheat would begin to turn golden brown, everyone knew that harvest was near. Every morning as the sun began to break over the horizon Grandpa would walk into the field, grab a head of wheat, rub it in his hands to remove the chaff, and then eat a kernel or two. “Not yet,” he’d say, “maybe tomorrow.” Farming is a risky business, but Grandpa was one of the best farmers around because he understood the reason for the seasons and did what was needed in each.

God has seasons for our lives as well. So, as we close out one year and begin a new one afresh, it seems fitting to consider what God has in store for us in the seasons of our lives.

Winter: The Season of Storms

In every winter season that I have lived through there have been storms. Regardless of the size of the storm, you can be sure in every winter season there will be storms. Storms tend to come upon you quickly without warning, and then just as quickly they fade away.

In our lives, we will face many seasons of “storms.” When we are faced with storms in our life, we need to seek the shelter of God’s love. When we do, God promises to comfort us and to deliver us. Paul wrote, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

So, the next time you find yourself in the middle of a storm call out to God in prayer and know that He has promised not only to comfort you but to deliver you.

Spring: The Season of Growth

For the farmer, spring is the time for planting and nurturing young seedlings. When you are in a spring season, you need to plant seeds. It’s a great time for making changes, building better relationships, focusing on new ministries, new businesses, or developing new habits.

Spring is a time of great energy. It is the best time to renew our perspective on life, review God’s purpose for our life, and praise God for all He has done for us. Remember, “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (I Corinthians 3:7).

Summer: The Season of Waiting

After the seeds are in the ground, there is little the farmer can do. He must wait for the crop to grow. Things like wind and rain are beyond the farmer’s control; he must wait until the crop is ready for harvest.

We have similar times in our lives. We may have planted the seed of a new ministry or a new business, and now we must wait to see it grow. So many times, God tells us to wait for Him, but it is difficult because we are so impatient. The psalmist instructed us to “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7).

I believe that sometimes the greatest test of our faith is when God wants us to wait. Remember, God answers all our prayers. Sometimes the answer is “yes,” sometimes it is “no,” and sometimes it is “not yet.” It’s those “not yets” that challenge my faith. When I am faced with a “not yet” I try to remember Grandpa checking the wheat and saying, “Not yet, maybe tomorrow.”

Fall: The Season of Success

The fall is the time for harvest; bringing in the crop that was so carefully planted and nurtured in the spring, and so fretfully worried over in the summer.

It is in our seasons of success that we must be careful to stay close to God. It is the time when we think we can do anything, a time when we think we are solely responsible for the harvest. Jesus said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4).

Celebrate, share, and save. It’s a good formula for business; thank God for the success He has brought, share your success with others, and save for the future.

One Final Thought

God gives us seasons to build our trust in Him and to develop us into better people. During winter storms, we need to turn to Him for deliverance. In the spring, we need to be renewed in mind, body and spirit. In the summer, we need to trust in God, rest and wait upon Him. And in the fall, we need to celebrate our success, share our bountiful harvest, and save for the future.

No matter what season you may be in now, know that God stands beside you ready to comfort and deliver you if you will just trust in Him. Isaiah, referring to God, wrote, “He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge” (Isaiah 33:6).

God’s foundation is a Rock, who will never leave us or forsake us. Who better to turn to during the storms of our life? Who better to look to for comfort and deliverance? Who better to build a solid foundation for our lives? Who better to trust and provide rest? Who better to share our love? The answer is simple. There is no one better!

Bonus Whitepaper

This week’s post is excerpted from a 5-page whitepaper entitled, The Seasons of Life: Seeking God in Summer, Winter, Spring, and Fall.”

This whitepaper includes a discussion of God’s seasons in our life and a broader discussion of each season.

You can download the whitepaper here: The Seasons of Life: Seeking God in Summer, Winter, Spring, and Fall.”

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. What season of life are you in 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

#203: Terrifying Boyhood Adventure Results in Valuable Life Lessons

The searing hot sun beat down us relentlessly that August, but we didn’t care because we were on a boyhood adventure.

Adventure Lessons

August in eastern Washington, where I grew up, is time for farmers to begin the wheat harvest. But for my cousins, Rick and Mike, and I it was two weeks of carefree fun exploring and playing on grandpa’s farm.

I was 10-years old, which means Rick and Mike at 11 were older and wiser when the adventure began.

We knew Grandpa had a graveyard of old farm implements down in the gulley about a half mile away from the main house so off we went. Grandpa’s graveyard of old farm tools was a veritable treasure chest for three boys on an adventure.

Our first find was two sets of iron wheels. We were thrilled to find they rotated freely on their axles. The wheels themselves were open-spoke steel and at four feet high were about as tall as we were.

We attached a rope to the first pair of wheels and slowly pulled them uphill through the soft farm dirt to the main barnyard. Returning in the afternoon, we repeated the process to retrieve the second pair of wheels.

With scavenged pieces of wood, we crafted a magnificent chariot! It was about eight feet long, five feet wide, and set about two feet off the ground.

It was time for a test ride!

We pushed our chariot out of the barnyard and down the gravel road that ran in front of grandpa’s farm. With some effort, we pushed it all the way to the top of the tallest hill on the road. We climbed aboard and off we went. Gravity did its job. We picked up speed and soon we were flying down the hill on the ride of our lives.

It was at that point that I realized our chariot had no steering mechanism.

It didn’t have brakes either!

No matter these design deficiencies. At this point, we were fully committed!

Unfortunately, our chariot started to veer to the side of the road as we approached the bottom of the hill at top speed.

To make matters worse, there was a gully on the side of the road with a ten-foot drop to the field below.

There was no escaping; our chariot was about to become an airplane with a glide path of a rock.

Jumping off our chariot onto a gravel road didn’t seem like a practical solution to our dilemma, so we held on as we went airborne off the side of the road.

Happily, we landed right-side up, still on our chariot, and the soft dirt of the farm land brought us to a slow stop.

What a grand adventure! Being boys we were ready to repeat the ride but wisely determined to make some modifications to our chariot before attempting a second test run.

We pushed our chariot all the way back to the farm planning to make the needed modifications the next day.

At dinner, Rick, Mike, and I regaled grandma, grandpa, and my uncle Dick with the story of our grand adventure of our chariot turned airplane. For some reason, they failed to appreciate the wonder and excitement of our adventure.

The adults expressed, in no uncertain terms, that no further test runs would be allowed. Our chariot was to be hauled back down to the implement graveyard the next day.

Important Life Lessons

A lot of valuable life lessons occur in our formative years. Here are five lessons I took away from my boyhood adventure that hot August week on grandpa’s’ farm.

Life is an Adventure. Our day began as an adventure. We didn’t know what we would find or what we would do. Not having everything determined in advance made the adventure all the more fun. Kids seem to know how to experience the joy of adventure, but as adults, many of us have forgotten how to experience daily life as an adventure.

Create Alignment Around a Vision. As soon as we found those wheels we all envisioned our magnificent chariot. Most truly breakthrough discoveries are the result of a team of people aligned to a shared vision.

Live your Passion. If we hadn’t been passionate about the prospects of riding our chariot down the hill, we would have found a million excuses for why we wouldn’t be successful. That negativity would have doomed us before we even got started.

Determination. We would never have struggled to pull those wheels up through the dirt, build the chariot, or get it out on the road for a test ride if we had not been determined as a group to see the work to completion.

Courage/Risk-Taking. You never know how things will turn out when you’re doing something you’ve never done before. Living life as an adventure takes courage and the willingness to risk failure.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What life lessons have you learned through childhood adventures?

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 | Vision