#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

 

 

#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

 

 

#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

 

#199: Can Tremendous Results Stem from Small Acts of Faith and Prayer?

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

Can tremendous results stem from small acts of faith? Do the little things we do in faith really make a difference?

Eliezer and Rebekah Faith

The Bible includes countless examples of men and women who relied on God’s promises and stepped out in faith in a big way. But what about those little acts of faith? Can they have big consequences as well?

One of my favorite Bible stories of small acts of faith having enormous consequences is the story of Abraham and his chief servant, Eliezer (Genesis 15:2).

Thanks to Barbara P. for suggesting this month’s character for “Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known!”

The scene opens in Genesis 24. Abraham is 140-years old and has been blessed materially by the Lord. However, his son, Isaac, still does not have a wife to carry on the family name as God had promised (Genesis 15:18-21).

Abraham believed God’s promise to make his descendants into a great nation, so he called for Eliezer. He had Eliezer swear an oath by God that he would not take a wife for Isaac from the local Canaanites but from Abraham’s extended family.

The trouble is, Abraham’s relatives lived 500 miles away, and the journey was treacherous. Abraham promised Eliezer that one of God’s angels would accompany him on the trip. So Eliezer packed up ten camels with presents to pay a bride price for Issacs’s bride and set off.

In the second scene, Eliezer had made it all the way to where Nahor, Abraham’s brother, lived. Eliezer arrived outside the town by the water well in the evening. He prayed that God would grant him success in finding a bride for Isaac. He also asked God for a confirming sign that he had found the right young woman.

Before Eliezer had even finished praying, Rebekah, granddaughter of Nahor, arrived at the well. Her actions confirmed the sign Eliezer had asked of the Lord, proving she was the woman the Lord had sent. When he realized his journey was a success, Eliezer bowed down and worshiped the Lord, thanking God for His kindness to his master Abraham.

In the third and final scene, Eliezer met Rebekah’s family, recounted how the Lord had protected him on the journey, his meeting with Rebekah, and Abraham’s desire for a wife for his son Isaac.

Rebekah’s family gave her permission to leave and marry Isaac. Immediately Eliezer bowed down and worshiped God. He gave gifts to Rebekah and her family, and they arranged to leave to return to Abraham’s land.

Rebekah married Isaac and bore him children. Abraham’s descendants became a great nation just as the Lord had promised, tracing all the way to the birth of Jesus (Matthew 1).

Small acts of faith and prayer had eternal consequences!

It began with Abraham’s faith in God’s promise. I doubt Eliezer had any sense of the role he played in the unfolding of God’s plan.

  • Believed. Abraham believed God’s promise to make him into a mighty nation and acted on that belief. Eliezer demonstrated his faith by loading ten camels with presents, assuming the Lord would bring him success.
  • Obeyed. Eliezer swore and oath to the Lord and obeyed his master, Abraham in faith.
  • Prayed. Eliezer prayed for God to give him success in his duties and even prayed for a sign of confirmation to be sure he was speaking to the right woman.
  • Worshiped. As soon as Eliezer realized God had granted him success and Rebekah was the right woman, he bowed down and worshiped the Lord. When all the arrangements were made, Eliezer bowed down and worshiped God again.

What could we accomplish as leaders in God’s kingdom if we believed and held onto God’s promises? If we obeyed Him in faith. If we prayed to the Lord for success and direction? And if we worshiped the Lord thanking Him for His grace in our lives?!

Small acts of faith and prayer will have eternal consequences in our lives as well. We may never know what difference a small act of faith and obedience will make this side of heaven. But let us be faithful in the small things so one day we will be rewarded with much!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you seen the results of small acts of faith play out in your life or the lives of others?

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

#197: Who Does God Call to do Great Things?

Who was Noah before God called him? He was a simple, good man who lived among an increasingly evil people. God called Noah to build an ark when Noah was 600 years old, and God promised to bless him.

God's Call

Who was Abraham before God called him? Abraham was living in the land of the Chaldees when God called him at 75-years old to take his family and travel to Canaan where God promised to bless Abraham.

Who was Esther before God called her? Esther was an orphan child being raised by her cousin, Mordecai. They were Jews living in the capital city of the Persian Empire when God placed Esther in a position to save the entire nation of Israel from extermination.

Who was Ruth before God called her? Ruth was a Moabite widow who left her homeland and followed Naomi, her mother-in-law to Bethlehem. Ruth became a lowly fieldhand gleaning grain from the edges of a field to survive. It was only then that God placed Ruth in a position to meet and marry Boaz and become the great-grandmother of David.

Who was David before God called him? David was the youngest of seven boys. He was a simple shepherd, only 15-years old when God sent Samuel to anoint him as king over the people of Israel.

Who were the brothers Peter and Andrew, and James and John when Jesus called them? All four were probably only teenagers under 18-years old, and they were all lowly fishermen tending their nets when Jesus called them to be His disciples.

Who Does God Call?

God calls people of all ages. You are never too young or too old to be called by God.

God calls both men and women. Look around. God is calling men and women all around the world.

God calls people without regard to their vocation. It doesn’t matter to God if you are a street sweeper or a CEO. He calls people from all walks of life.

God calls people without regard to their standing in society. Don’t think for a minute that God only calls people at the top of the society ladder. He calls simple shepherds as well as kings.

Here’s why God calls people without regard to their sex, age, vocation, or standing in society. God looks not on the outward person but our hearts!

The prophet Samuel explained God’s choice in calling David to be a future king over the people of Israel saying,

“People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

God sees the heart of the person He calls. He sees their willingness to follow Him.

God told Noah to build an ark and promised to bless him, but the blessing didn’t come until long after Noah followed God’s instructions to build the ark.

God told Abraham to gather his belongings and his family and travel to an unknown land where God would then bless them. The blessing to Abraham came after he followed God’s instructions.

God directed Mordecai to give instructions to his young cousin Esther, and because they both followed God’s direction, Esther saved the Israelite nation from annihilation.

God directed Samuel to anoint young David king over Israel. Luke records God’s description of David as “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22).

Jesus called Peter and Andrew and James and John to be His disciples when they were fishing. They immediately put down their nets and followed him.

Do you see the pattern here? It doesn’t matter who you are in the world’s eye. It only matters who you are in God’s eye! What matters is if we are ready and willing to answer God’s call.

When the Lord described to Isaiah the terrible situation Israel had gotten themselves into God asked the question, “Whom shall I send” to save them? And Isaiah answered, “Here I am. Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

Isaiah was willing and ready to answer God’s call to serve Him and His people.

I must ask myself, “Am I willing and ready to answer God’s call whenever it comes?”

I pray that I am.

Are you willing and ready?

I pray that you are as well.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Are you willing and ready to answer God’s call on 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

#191: It Takes Character & Courage to be Used by God

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

Have you ever wondered why God uses some people in a mighty way and not others? It seems like God grabs the most obscure, least qualified person He can find to save the Israelites from impending doom. All the while the well-known, talented guy sits out the game on the bench.

Shamgar, oxgoad, oxen

We can learn a lot by studying the men and women God uses. In my case, I especially enjoy studying the obscure Bible characters. In the grand scheme of things, I can identify more with the obscure characters in the Bible because they seem more like me. Sometimes they are full of doubts, fear, and skepticism. Sometimes they are wholly unprepared for the task God has given them.

God Raised Up Judges

The Israelites had settled in the Promised Land but had failed to drive out the pagans completely as the Lord had commanded. Worse, the Israelites abandoned the Lord and worshipped foreign gods. God allowed marauders to come against the Israelites to test them; to see if they would return to Him. But they did not.

The people cried out to the Lord in their oppression and the Lord raised up a series of judges to save the people. Each of these judges led the Israelites to victory against their enemies. They would have peace for a time but eventually they would fall away from God again.

Shamgar: The Obscure Warrior Judge

Among the most obscure Bible characters is Shamgar. Shamgar comes on the scene suddenly. He is mentioned directly in only one verse of the Bible; Judges 3:31, and then is referred to in one other verse; Judges 5:6. Despite his fleeting appearance in the pages of Scripture, there is much we can learn from Shamgar who was used in a mighty way by God.

Shamgar was the third judge God raised up over the Israelites. Judges 3:31 records Shamgar’s military victory over the Philistines:

“After Ehud, Shamgar son of Anath became judge. He delivered Israel by striking down 600 Philistines with an oxgoad” (Judges 3:31 HCSB).

Note: An oxgoad was a pole 8-10′ in length with a sharp point on one end to prod the oxen, and a flat spade on the other end to clean dirt from the plow.

That’s it. That’s all we know about Shamgar. But in this single verse we see a man of character and courage. Here are four important things to note about Shamgar:

  • Shamgar was busy working. Shamgar was a farmer with oxen for plowing. When God looks around for someone He can use, He always looks for someone who is already busy working. God does not call the lazy man to serve.
  • Shamgar stood his ground. The Israelites stayed off of the main highways and stuck to the side trails for fear of the Philistines (see Judges 5:6). When the Philistines attacked, most of the Israelites ran to hide in the hills or caves but Shamgar stood his ground, despite the danger.
  • Shamgar used what he had. The Philistines had confiscated the Israelite’s weapons, so the only weapon Shamgar had was his oxgoad. He didn’t let the lack of traditional weapons keep him from answering God’s call to deliver the Israelites from the Philistines!
  • Shamgar was called by God. Only God’s anointing and power enabled Shamgar to secure victory over hundreds of Philistines. Where God leads, God provides His anointing.

Shamgar was a man of character and courage who set aside his daily activities to answer God’s call on his life. He stood his ground against their enemy. He offered no excuses for his lack of equipment but used what he had at hand.

God is still raising up warriors who are willing to answer His call. Who will put God’s plans before their own? Who will stand their ground in faith knowing that where God leads, God provides?

What is there in your life worth fighting for? Your marriage? Your children? Your freedom to worship God and follow His commands? Those who don’t yet know the Lord?

If there is something in your life worth fighting for, if you are a warrior, be prepared to answer God’s call.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What traits do you think are most important for someone to be used by God?

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

 

Category: Personal Development | Obedience to God

 

 

 

#186: What Do You Say When Someone Asks, “What Do You Do?”

“What do you do?” You’ve probably been asked and answered this question dozens of times. It’s a standard icebreaker question at parties, networking events, conferences, meetings, and more.

Seed, Farmer

For many years, my answer would be along the lines of, “I am a sales manager.” Later in my career, the answer might have been “I am a marketing manager.”

More recently, after I retired for three months, the answer was “I am a student in seminary.” Then it was, “I am a minister.” By the way, saying I was a minister seemed to end conversations and scare off the most people!

These days, when asked, I will usually say, “I am an author. I write two blogs; one about leadership and the other a Bible study.”

A few weeks ago, I had an epiphany, a head slap moment, when I realized that’s only part of the answer. The real answer to the question of what I do is, “I am a farmer, I plant seeds.”

And here’s the thing. If you are a Christian, so are you! You’re a farmer. You plant seeds. Or at least you should if you are following Jesus’ command to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).

I plant the seeds of the Word of God. Sometimes I get to water the seed, sometimes someone else does. Regardless of who plants or who waters, it is up to God to make the seed grow (1 Corinthians 3:6).

These days we tend to think the job of the Christian farmer to plant the seeds of the Word of God and water them is best left to the “professionals.” The folks in full-time ministry; our pastors.

Farming is Not Just for the Professionals!

In my experience, people who believe planting and watering are best left to professionals believe one of two things:

1) Jesus gave the Great Commission to the disciples so it doesn’t apply to us, ordinary people. Wrongo! Jesus said when you receive the Holy Spirit, you will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).

2) Only those who have “the gift of evangelism” are obligated to be witnesses. Baloney! Jesus never said only certain people should be witnesses. Returning to Acts 1:8, Jesus said everyone who believes will be a witness.

4 Reasons You Should Be a Farmer

1) The command to witness was given to all believers (Acts 1:8). Paul, writing to the Corinthians said we are all ambassadors for Christ (1 Corinthians 5:18-20).

2) In the early church, ordinary believers were witnesses. When Saul was persecuting the church, Luke notes that as the new believers scattered they went preaching the Good News (Acts 8:4).

3) We all have a stewardship responsibility. We have been given the gift of salvation through faith in Christ. Jesus specifically told us not to hide our light under a basket but to let it shine before men (Matthew 5:15-16).

4) Farming is part of the “work” of the ministry. Paul, writing to the Ephesians (4:12), said the spiritual gifts were given to equip the saints for ministry and in this list of gifts Paul included the gift of evangelism.

Not Every Planted Seed Will Grow

By now I hope you are willing to say, “I am a farmer” because you plant the seeds of the Word of God.

Our responsibility is to plant the seed. As Jesus said, while teaching the disciples, the seed will be sown on four kinds of soil (Matthew 13:18-23):

  • The path. Satan took away the seed sown on the path.
  • Rocky soil. The hearer hears and receives the Word but has no root and dies from pressure or persecution.
  • Among the thorns. The hearer hears but is worried about the cares of the world and the Word is choked out.
  • Good soil. The hearer hears and bears fruit yielding an increase over what was sown.

Note that most of the seed that is sown bears no fruit. There is nothing wrong with the seed. The issue is with the soil it is sown in.

Leaders Lead by Example

There is no Biblical exclusion that releases leaders in the workplace from the responsibility of being responsible stewards of God’s Word.

Leaders lead by example. Therefore, let your light shine before men! And the next time someone asks, “What do you do?” you may say to yourself, “I am a farmer and I plant the seeds of the Word of God.”

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Do you see yourself as a farmer responsible for planting and watering the seed of the Good News? Do you let your light shine before men so others see it and are drawn to Christ?

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Category: Personal Development | Obedience to God

#179: Are You in the Right Ministry Role?

I recently had the pleasure of reading Sustainable Church – Growing Ministry Around the Sheep, Not just the Shepherds, by Dr. Walt Russell.

Ministry Role, Spiritual Gifts

Full disclosure, Dr. Russell was one of my professors at Talbot Seminary. When I learned about the release of his new book I ordered it immediately and waited anxiously for the two days it took Amazon to deliver it to me.

In his new book, Dr. Russell describes the shallowness that permeates many of the western churches. Our traditional way of doing church is flawed in two ways:

1) We rely on professional ministers to meet all our needs, and in so doing, saddle them with unrealistic expectations which they cannot possibly meet.

2) The professional “clergy” are the primary gatekeepers of the church’s ministry activities. Often, the ministries of the church follow the vision and passions of the pastor without regard to the spiritual gifting of the members of the church.

These churches, says Russell, are non-organic and unsustainable. They are unsustainable because they rely on professional clergy who cannot possibly meet the needs of everyone inside the church. Neither can they meet the needs of people outside the church. Overall, the American church with its bureaucracy, policies, and traditions has drifted far from the original intent of Jesus, our Chief Shepherd.

By contrast, Russell describes the sustainable church as one in which every member is engaged in ministry. The individual’s ministry is shaped by their spiritual gifts, or as Russell prefers, “grace-gifts.” A church is sustainable when every member is engaged in ministry that leverages the spiritual gifts of the member.

For every member to be engaged in ministry that leverages their spiritual gifts they first must know what their gifts are. Right?! Sadly, only 10-20% of God’s people know what their gifts are, let alone leverage them in their ministry.

The first step in creating a sustainable church is to help people learn about spiritual gifts in general and to know what their gifts are. This, says Russell, is best determined through:

1) Prayer.

2) Studying the gifts themselves.

3) Determining what gifts fulfill you the most.

4) What abilities are confirmed by other believers? And,

5) What ministry work is God blessing in your life?

After reading Sustainable Church I took advantage of the spiritual gifts assessment that Dr. Russell created and makes available (free) at Sustainablechurch.org. Each of the 19 spiritual gifts is scored with the highest scores indicating areas that may be your spiritual gifts.

It turns out I may be an “LPTA.” My top scoring gifts were:

1) Leadership (Romans 12:8).

2) Pastor-Teacher (Ephesians 4:11).

3) Teacher (Romans 12:7) Note: Pastor-Teacher and Teacher were tied.

4) Administration (2 Corinthians 12:28).

After that, my scores fell off dramatically.

Having the scores is a good first step. But to really understand my specific spiritual gifts I must continue the discovery process by praying for guidance and wisdom, seeking confirmation from other believers, and seeing what ministry work God blesses in my life.

It is not enough to know what our spiritual gifts are; we must do them! Imagine what would happen in the church today if every believer knew what their spiritual gifts were, and were actively pursuing ministry opportunities that leveraged those gifts.

James exhorted fellow believers saying evidence of their faith in Jesus is demonstrated by their willingness to do ministry work (James 3:14).

Do you know what your spiritual gifts are? If not, or if you are unsure, get a copy of Sustainable Church, read it, and then complete the spiritual gifts assessment.

Next, confirm your gifts through prayer, confirmation from other believers, and God blessing your ministry work.

Above all, DO the work the Lord has equipped you to do. Leverage your spiritual gifts. When you do, you will be blessed beyond measure.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Do you know what your spiritual gifts are? Are you doing the work the Lord has equipped you to do?

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

#152: The Handsome Farmer Who Got Fired for Stealing and Lying

Once upon a time in a land far, far away lived a handsome young farmer and his beautiful wife. They had a Perfect Boss, who had given them the responsibility and authority to care for the Boss’s garden.

Handsome Farmer

Until one fateful day when a particularly sneaky fellow came into the garden. This sneaky fellow was charming and charismatic. He convinced the young farmer and his wife that their Boss wasn’t perfect; that He had deceived them.

This sneaky fellow caused them to doubt the word of their perfect Boss, and even to rebel against Him. The handsome farmer and his wife stole from their perfect Boss, and then when He confronted them about their actions they lied to Him.

When the Boss discovered their treachery, he cursed them, fired them, kicked them out of the garden, and even posted guards to make sure they didn’t try to renter the garden.

The handsome young farmer’s name was Adam, and his wife’s name was Eve. Adam and Eve had a perfect deal going working for God, the Perfect Boss.

God had given them the responsibility and authority to care for His garden. They could eat any of the food from anywhere in the garden except they were not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Satan came along and tempted Adam and Eve. He caused them to doubt God’s word. He twisted God’s words and made them believe a lie about God. He made them think they, not God, knew what was best for them.

The sad result was they lost the intimate communion they had enjoyed with God. They lost the simple life of caring for the garden and having everything provided for them. Instead, they were cursed by God to work for their food, deliver children in pain, and condemned to die.

Breaking their covenant relationship with God was a costly decision made in a moment of temptation, that was based on a lie.

We don’t enjoy the intimate relationship that Adam and Eve had with God as they walked together in the Garden. But we are not lacking for inspiration from God:

We have His Word. Studying God’s Word provides His guidelines, His principles, and lots of examples for us to learn about Him.

We have the Holy Spirit. When Jesus went back to be with the Father, He sent the Holy Spirit to take up residency in our hearts, to be our guide helping us to lead God-honoring lives.

We have the power of prayer. Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father. He is our mediator, who longs to hear the prayers of His children.

Leaders, be mindful of the ease in which Adam and Eve listened to a lie. They rejected God’s best and had to live with that fateful decision for the rest of their lives. It takes only a moment of weakness to cause a lifetime of heartache.

There are two ways of doing things: God’s way, and our way. The closer we align our way to God’s way the better off we will be.

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. As a leader, have you struggled with times when you were tempted to do things your way, knowing God’s way was better? What was the result? How do you stay connected to God to insure your decisions align with God?

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

 

 

Category: Personal Development |Obedience to God