#261: Can You Separate Private Integrity from Public Actions?

We need to apply the concept of caveat emptor, let the buyer beware, to leaders and followers. In this case, let the follower beware.

Integrity

It seems like every week I hear about some leader whose moral lapses have resulted in detrimental public actions. But for some reason, the public, that’s you and me, excuse their actions.

For example, back in 1992 when Bill Clinton was running for president, the scandal about his marital infidelities surfaced. Bill and Hillary went on national TV denying the affairs.

I told my wife if he will lie about his marriage he will lie about anything.

People didn’t seem to care about his affairs; they elected him president.

Fast forward six years to when the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. Bill and Hillary denied again until of course, the blue dress with proof came to light. Oddly enough, despite proof of his lies, Clinton’s popularity actually rose according to a Gallup poll.

Gallup postulated the most likely explanation for people dismissing Clinton’s behavior is the economy was doing well, individuals expressed confidence in the future, and the president’s moral lapses didn’t affect them personally. So, who cares?!

Lapses in Integrity Go Public

The same kind of moral lapses occurred back in Biblical times.

Remember David? He had an affair with Bathsheba, and she got pregnant. David ordered her husband, Uriah, deployed in a battle where their enemies killed him. David didn’t repent until confronted by Nathan the prophet (2 Samuel 12).

Solomon, David’s son, didn’t fare much better. Solomon took numerous wives from foreign nations and eventually started worshipping their gods (1 Kings 11). He even built worship sites and made sacrifices on altars to these gods.

God warned Solomon to repent, but Solomon continued to walk away from God. Eventually, God raised up enemies against Solomon. Internal strife resulted in the nation of Israel being divided and ultimately conquered.

Solomon should have taken his own advice. He warned, The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity” (Proverbs 11:3).

Private issues of integrity tend to have public consequences.

Who Are You When No One is Looking?

Clinton thought what he did in private didn’t matter. So, did David. So, did Solomon. And so, did so many other leaders whose lapses in integrity destroyed their reputation and legacy.

Moses warned the Israelites if they failed to do as instructed in obeying God, “you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

Private sin has a way of coming to public light.

So, leaders, we need to be mindful of the fact that we are, as Paul told the Corinthians, “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). That means our integrity, our character, reflects on Christ. If we are to be a light to the world, we must be known by our Godly character (Matthew 5:14-16).

And followers, we need to hold our leaders to a higher standard. I’m not saying only perfect men and women are suited for leadership. I know everyone has fallen short. But why do we continue to turn a blind eye to leaders with obvious ongoing moral lapses and issues of integrity?

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you worked for or with someone whose private moral lapses or issues of integrity had public repercussions? How were you or the organization affected?

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 | Integrity

#260: What Qualities Should a Godly Leader Have?

And What Qualities Should They Rid Themselves of?!

Godly leaders live at the intersection of faith and practice. On one side of the street is our faith. We desire to be men and women whose faith reflects our transformation into Christlikeness (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Qualities Leader

On the other side of the street is the real world where we live out our lives. Here is the dirty, gritty, and oftentimes difficult task of being Christlike in a fallen world, surrounded by unbelievers.

We want to be good. We want to be Christlike. But then the real world raises its ugly head testing our resolve with attacks on our principles, our faith, and even on God Himself.

Every Christian lives at this intersection of faith and practice.

Christian leaders must be prepared to withstand the assault of the world, or their leadership will falter.

The Apostle Peter gave some excellent advice to young believers that every Christian leader should take to heart. His advice consisted of qualities important for the Christian and came in two forms. First, he told them what to do to clean up their lives. Then, he gave them direction for how to live out their lives in a way that would bring honor to God.

Clean Up Our Lives

Peter instructed believers to clean up their lives by getting rid of certain qualities.  In 1 Peter 2:1, Peter said they should “…rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander.”

  • Malice. Wicked ill-will toward others.
  • Deceit. Deliberate dishonesty or concealment of the truth.
  • Hypocrisy. Claiming moral standards not evident in your own behavior.
  • Envy. Resentful discontentment toward someone else’s qualities, property, or possessions.
  • Slander. False statements, lies, damaging to a person’s reputation.

As leaders, the greatest damage to our testimony among non-believers is our inability to live out our lives in a Christlike fashion. We hypocritically claim a moral standard while bearing malice, being deceitful, envious, or even slandering others.

We need to put our own house in order first. Only then will our testimony to non-believers bring glory to God.

Once he addressed the negative aspects of our behavior, Peter addressed how to live our lives, so our example will be a positive one.

Live Out Our Faith

Peter continued urging the young believers to live holy lives among the non-believers wherever they live and do good works so others will see their example and be drawn to God (1 Peter 2:11-17).

Peter provided four specific instructions:

  • Avoid the fleshly desires that war against you (v. 11). This is more than the lustful desires. It includes all the sinful desires of the world.
  • Conduct yourselves honorably (v. 12). Not just with believers, but with non-believers, so despite their slanderous accusations against you, everyone will see that Christians are honorable.
  • Submit to human authority; obey the law (vv. 13-14). God ordained government, so Christians should obey man’s laws as long as they do not violate God’s law (Acts 4:19).
  • Show proper respect to everyone (v. 17). This includes loving the brotherhood of believers, fearing God, and honoring the king.

Peter’s instructions came at a time when Christians were living as strangers in a world that was hostile to the Gospel. Christians were slandered, falsely accused, and in many cases, suffered intense persecution.

In light of this adversarial environment, Peter’s instruction was for Christians to live their lives in a way that made them stand out from the world of non-believers. Through their good deeds, people would ultimately glorify God.

Leaders, it is said that the only view of God most non-believers see is that of Christians. Let’s make sure that what we reflect to the world in our lives is behavior that brings glory to God. In so doing we will fulfill Matthew 5:16, which says, “…let your light shine before men, so that they [non-believers] may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Which of Peter’s instructions for leading a good Christian life do you think is most difficult?

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

 

 

#259: Two Obscure Women Whose Courage Saved a Nation

Leadership Lessons from The Lesser Known

Whenever I see a list of important women in the Bible these two women’s names are never listed. Their near anonymity is not surprising since their names are listed only once in the Bible, and their entire story takes up only six verses in Exodus (Exodus 1:15-20).

Women Courage

But the nation of Israel owes them a great debt.

Israelites in Egypt

Back when the Israelites were in Egypt they enjoyed relative prosperity while Joseph was alive. But after Joseph died, a new Pharaoh came along who didn’t know Joseph, and he was intimidated by the size of the Israelite community.

To solve the problem of the growing Israelite population, Pharaoh enslaved the Israelites committing them to hard labor. But their population continued to swell.

Frustrated by his failed attempt to control the Israelite population, Pharaoh called in the two head Israelite midwives, Shiphrah and Puah. He ordered them to kill the Hebrew baby boys as they were born (Exodus 1:16).

But Shiphrah and Puah feared God and did not do what Pharaoh had ordered them to do (Exodus 1:17).

Shiphrah and Puah were probably not the only two midwives serving the entire Israelite nation. I think they were the leaders of the midwives’ union and used their influence to convince the other midwives to go along with their plan to disobey Pharaoh and allow the Hebrew boys to live.

When Pharaoh called Shiphrah and Puah in to explain why the Hebrew boys were allowed to live they explained that the Hebrew women gave birth before the midwives could arrive (Exodus 1:19).

God approved of the action of Shiphrah and Puah. He caused the Israelite population to grow even more, and because Shiphrah and Puah feared God, He gave them families of their own (Exodus 1:20-21).

Courage and Conviction

Shiphrah and Puah feared God more than Pharaoh. As a result, they had the courage and conviction to do what was right no matter the cost.

They understood that in this specific case, God’s law superseded man’s law. They knew that killing innocent Hebrew babies was a sin against God. Pharaoh could have easily ordered their execution, but Shiphrah and Puah preferred to be right with God.

Peter encountered a similar situation when the apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin and accused of violating the order not to preach about Jesus. Peter and the other apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

Peter and the apostles also displayed courage and conviction in refusing to obey man’s law when it violated God’s law.

Must We Obey Man’s Law Regardless?

Paul, writing to the Romans, said: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established” (Romans 13:1).

So, as Christians, are we to submit to authority, as Paul directed, or are we to observe the example of Shiphrah, Puah, Peter, and the Apostles?

The answer, it seems, is to submit to man’s law as long as it does not conflict with God’s law.

Killing innocent babies is a sin against God. Regardless of what Pharaoh commanded, it was wrong. So, Shiphrah and Puah defied man’s law to be obedient to God’s law.

Christian leaders, we need to be guided in our actions by the Holy Spirit. We need to be filled with courage and conviction and follow the example of two obscure Hebrew midwives to obey God no matter the cost.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you encountered situations when you had to decide between following man’s law or God’s law? Do you think Christians should follow man’s law even if it conflicts with God’s law?

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 | Courage/Risk-Taking

#257: How My Faith Walk Was Like My First Car Experience

I bought my first car in 1968. It was a 1964 Ford Galaxy 500, 2-door fastback. It was silver with a black interior and bucket seats. Under the hood was a 390-cubic inch powerhouse of an engine (gas was $0.19/gallon back then). With a fresh coat of paint and chrome wheels, it was stunning.

Faith Walk, Car

I loved that car. I spent hours cleaning every square inch. Then hours more polishing every bit of chrome and waxing it until it gleamed in the sun. I loved that car.

After a year or so I got tired of cleaning and polishing it all the time and allowed it to get dirty without giving it much of a second thought.

Then one day a red 2-door 1968 Ford Galaxy 500 caught my eye. In the space of 4 years, I had gone from excited, to indifferent, to blasé about the  ’64. I sold my ’64 to my mom and started cleaning and polishing the ’68.

My Faith Walk Was Like My Car Experience

Sad to say, but sometimes my walk with Christ is a little like my experience with my first car. When I was a baby Christian, I was so excited. I read my Bible as much as I could. I joined Bible studies. I change my life to live out my new faith.

Then, my Bible reading habits slipped. I tried to live well but didn’t think about it all that much. I didn’t feel especially close to Jesus.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I continued to drift away from my faith. I even said, “no” when I felt God calling me to do something.

Peter’s Example Restored Me

I don’t remember when it was. I don’t even remember if it was when I was reading, or something said during a sermon. But Peter’s story caught my attention. His walk with Jesus included a time of dedication, a distancing, and finally, denial.

Dedicated

Jesus interrupted Peter while Peter was fishing and said, “Come follow me.” And Peter immediately left his nets and went and followed Jesus (Matthew 4:19-20).

Later, as one of Jesus’ disciples, Peter saw Jesus walking on water. Peter had so much faith in Jesus he asked Jesus to call to him to walk on water with Jesus (Matthew 14:28-29).

Peter dedicated himself to Jesus.

Distancing

Close to the end of Jesus’ ministry, Jesus was arrested and taken before the high priest. Peter, no longer the bold, assertive disciple, continued to follow Jesus, but at a distance (Luke 22:54).

Peter distanced himself from Jesus.

Denial

That evening as Jesus was being tried by the high priest, Peter waited in the high priest’s courtyard. Three times people recognized Peter and accused him of being a follower of Jesus, and three times Peter emphatically denied he was a disciple of Jesus.

Peter denied knowing Jesus.

We’re All Like Peter

We are all like Peter in our faith walk. There are times when we feel especially close to Jesus. Times when problems loom and our faith slips. There are even times when we may hear ourselves saying no to God’s call on our lives.

Just like Peter, there are times in our faith walk when we may be dedicated, when we may distance ourselves, and sadly, when we may even deny Jesus.

But also like Peter, we can come back to Jesus.

When Peter realized what he had done in denying Jesus, he wept bitterly (Luke 22:62). He repented of his sin. Imagine the agony of the next days as Peter saw Jesus flogged, crucified, and laid in the tomb. When word came that Jesus had risen from the dead, Peter was the first disciple to rush to the tomb to see for himself (Luke 24:12).

The first disciple the Lord showed himself to after His resurrection was Peter (Luke 24:34). Jesus was right there for Peter, despite Peter’s distancing and denial.

Two Important Questions for Us

Given Peter’s experience, there are two important questions every Christian should consider:

1) Where are you in your faith walk right now? Are you dedicated, distanced, or denying? And,

2) What are you going to do about whatever stage you are in?

If you are distant from Jesus or even if you have denied Him, remember Jesus will meet you right where you are! All you need to do, like Peter, is to repent and get headed in the right direction.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Where are you in your faith walk and what are you doing about it this year?

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

 

 

 

#254: The Most Important Goal You Forgot to Set

Happy New Year! 2017 is in our rear-view mirror. 2018 lies ahead, all shiny and new, ready to be explored.

Goal Rest

It is the time of year when many of us obsessive-compulsives set new goals for ourselves. Our goals have us reaching higher, climbing faster, and going where no man has gone before. We set goals for our careers, our relationships, our physical fitness, and a plethora of other things.

But most of us forget to set one important goal. And this goal is critical. Because failing at this goal almost always causes us to fail at the career goals, the relationship goals, the fitness goals, and all the others.

Here’s How Things Usually Go

We spend a few minutes reflecting on the year just past. We determine to make the next year the best year ever by setting new goals that represent all our dreams and aspirations. Once the goals are memorialized in our new productivity planners, we put our heads down and get to work. We charge ahead. We give every goal 110% effort.

We reach higher. Climb faster. And go where no man has gone before.

And then suddenly, without warning, we’re lost. We’re exhausted and completed stressed out. Amidst a forest of competing demands, we can no longer see the goal off in the distance. We may not even remember why we set the goal in the first place!

We give up and commit to doing better with our goals next year! And all this happens by the end of January!

What happened?

We forgot to set the most important goal!

The Most Important Goal

When God finished the work of creation what did He do? He rested! This theme of rest occurs throughout the Scripture. God ordained special celebrations when His people were to abstain from all work to rest and worship Him. Even the land was allowed to rest a full year every seven years!

As we jump to the New Testament Jesus continues to underscore the importance of rest. Preaching to the crowds, Jesus said,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

Who, these days, is not weary and burdened? Jesus invited all us who are weary and burdened to come to Him, and in Him, He promised rest for our souls.

Easy to say, quite a bit harder to live out in our daily lives. We don’t have rest training in school, and our employers certainly don’t offer weekend seminars on resting!

But if we want to be the people God designed us to be, we need to do what He has designed us to do.

I love the way author Gwen Smith defines the acronym R.E.S.T. in her article, “God’s Best Requires Rest.”

  • Reflect
  • Engage
  • Surrender
  • Trust

Reflect

Gwen says, “When you reflect on God, you better reflect God.” The truth of the matter is, most of us are so busy we don’t spend much time outside of church reflecting on the magnificence of our Creator!

Engage

Engage with God on a personal level. Pray. Meditate on God’s Word. Paul said if we tell God about everything, then He will give us peace (Philippians 4:6-7).

Surrender

Surrender your will to God’s will. Remember what Jesus said as He prayed in the Garden of Eden? He said, “…not my will but thy will be done (Luke 22:42)! On His way to the cross, Jesus remained completely surrendered to the Father’s will.

Trust

Trust God. Life can be messy, dangerous, disappointing, and terrifying. But we must trust God’s promise, “…we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Establish Your R.E.S.T. Goal

Get out your planner, or wherever you have your goals written down, and add a R.E.S.T. goal.

And just to get you pointed in the right direction consider the following:

  • Daily: 30 minutes of rest. I know this one is hard. You’re not used to doing it. You tell yourself you don’t have time. But you need to make time! Take 30 minutes every day to rest. Go for a walk in a park or at the beach. Spend some time thinking about God’s grace in your life. Decompress from all the other stress in your life!
  • Weekly: Sabbath of rest. I checked, and Commandment number 4 is still in the Bible (Exodus 20:8). So, take one day a week and rest in the Lord. Keep the day Holy to the Lord. Don’t trade company email, major housework, or remodeling projects for rest. R.E.S.T. one day. It’s part of God’s plan for us.
  • Quarterly: Two days of rest. Plan a weekend away. No work. Shut off all your electronic devices. Take your Bible and maybe a notepad. Or maybe a good Christian book. Practice R.E.S.T.
  • Annually: A full week of rest. Schedule it. Make it happen. Go somewhere. Explore God’s magnificent creation. Go on walks. Get away from work and the stresses that surround you at home. Reflect. Engage. Surrender. Trust.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. How do you practice R.E.S.T.? What ideas can you share that have worked for you?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Priorities

 

 

 

 

#253: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

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

Angels Sing

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

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

Our Savior is Born

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

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

Jesus is our Emanuel!

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

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

Praise the Prince of Peace

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

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

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

No greater sacrifice has ever been made.

No greater gift has ever been given.

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

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

Join the Conversation

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

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

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

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

Run Hide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adam and Eve Hid

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

Jonah Hid

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

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

We Can Run but Can We Really Hide?

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

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

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

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

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

Where Are You Hiding?

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

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

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

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

Join the Conversation

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

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Obedience to God

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

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

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

Crisis Leader

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

Israel’s Exodus Fall

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

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

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

Phinehas Takes Action

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

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

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

4 Lessons for Leaders in a Crisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the Conversation

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

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Obedience to God

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

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

Pray

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

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

Really? Has it come to that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notice the qualifiers in these verses.

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

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

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

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

Join the Conversation

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

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Character

#248: Gratitude is Way More Than an Attitude

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

Gratitude Attitude

But this is not how it always was.

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

Our focus on Thanksgiving certainly has changed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gratitude Is a Decision Coupled to an Action

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

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

Gratitude Draws Us Closer to God

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

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

Gratitude Is an Act of Humility

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

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

Gratitude is God’s Will for Us

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

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

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

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

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

Join the Conversation

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

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Priorities