Category Archives: God

5 For Leadership

Here is “5 For Leadership” for the 3rd week in July.  There are some great posts this week.  Don’t miss some of these authors.

Women Don’t Take Risks Like Men  This is a great read from the Leadership Freak that counters the notion that male leaders are riskier than female leaders.  Dan sites Alyse Nelson’s work to demonstrate that women simply do risk differently-not less.

Real Leaders Learn To Give  This is a guest post on the Leadership Solutions blog by W. Mark Valentine, who is a colonel in the Air Force.  Mark talks about the necessity of getting the right verbs attached to the function of leadership.  This too is a great read and might cause you to make a paradigm shift.

10 Real Reasons Pastors Quit Too Soon  This post is by Tim Peters on the Churchleaders.com blog.  Tim highlights that over 1700 pastors leave the ministry EACH MONTH.  That number should get your attention.  He lists some very telling reasons that impact that number.  Every person in ministry should read this.

Pastor: Do You Know The 7 Characteristics Of Advancing Leaders?  I also found this on the Churchleaders.com blog by way of Thom Ranier.  This list was compiled over different generations of leaders in Thom’s research and provides a good grid for what to look for.

Kindling Words From God’s Daughters  This is a very good post from my friend Judy Douglass.  She highlights five women as leaders of the Christian faith who made their mark for the cause of Christ.  Judy lets these leaders speak in their own words-be inspired!

There are the five for this week.  Lead well!

What’s Necessary to be King

Deuteronomy 17:14-20 outlines for the nation of Israel some necessary qualifiers for a king to reign over them.  This book of the Bible supplied a restatement of the Law for the people of Israel as they prepared to enter the promised land of Canaan.  Deuteronomy exhorts the people of Israel to obey the Law, to give allegiance to God alone, and to remember that repentance can restore them to the land and to relationship with God-if lost.  This particular passage foresees a time when Israel will demand a king to be like the nations around her.

There are two primary concerns for any king of Israel:  that his heart not turn away from serving Yahweh and that his heart might not be lifted up above those whom he leads.  In summary, the concerns are for an unconsecrated heart and a proud heart.  These should be our deep concerns too as we lead.

What is crucial here is to think with a Hebrew understanding of the word “heart.” We relegate this concept to mere emotions.  The Hebrew understanding of the “heart” is more holistic.  It includes the mind, will and emotions.  The heart is our governing center-it is that part of us that chooses all day, every day-either for good or for bad.

v.17 states, And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.  Let’s be honest, these are two things that men are always susceptible to-the love of women and the love of money.  But women leaders can struggle likewise.  A preoccupation with money or material things and men can also turn their hearts away from a single minded focus. These pursuits have great potential to turn any heart away from a pure devotion to God. King Solomon may be the greatest biblical example of this (see 1 Kings 11:1-3).  An unconsecrated heart becomes an independent heart.  Even the exhortation to not seek many horses (v. 16) was meant to sustain a pure national identity and a holy dependence on God alone.  To say it conversely, a consecrated heart is one in full dependence upon the Lord.

v.18-19 exhort the king to keep a copy of God’s Law close by and to read it all the days of his life.  This was to keep him with a right reverence for God and that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.  The writer ties not only a humble spirit to the constant reading of God’s Word, but also leadership longevity.

You see, for the Christ-centered leader, if our hearts become unconsecrated-if our hearts turn away from a determined pursuit of God and His kingdom-then we risk the same fate as Solomon-a broken and divided kingdom.  If our hearts become proud then we become only self interested.  We are no longer in a good position to serve those we are meant to lead.  We will serve ourselves. And our leadership lives will be cut short.

Consecration and humility-these were necessary requirements for he who would be king in Israel.  These are also worthy heart pursuits maintained by the grace of the gospel for any spiritual leader today.

Sometimes It Is Good To Feel Small

There are three times when I always feel small:  when I am near the ocean, when I am on a mountain peak, and when I have the window seat on a long flight.

This past week my family and I spent a few days at the beach on vacation.  I once again had the sensation of smallness.  I am not talking about a feeling of insignificance-but smallness.  This is a matter of perspective.  Every leader needs to feel small occasionally.

The tendency in all leadership positions is towards being big.  In our broken state we lean toward grandeur.  All leadership comes with necessary power and authority-but that very power and authority can become intoxicating.  Grandeur is an illusion, not reality.  For there is only One who is truly Grand.  And we are not He.  Read Isaiah 40:12-17.

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
and marked off the heavens with a span,
enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure
and weighed the mountains in scales
and the hills in a balance?
Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord,
or what man shows him his counsel?
Whom did he consult,
and who made him understand?
Who taught him the path of justice,
and taught him knowledge,
and showed him the way of understanding?
Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
and are accounted as the dust on the scales;
behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.
Lebanon would not suffice for fuel,
nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering.
All the nations are as nothing before him,
they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.

The greatness of God is being personified in these verses in such a way that we are overcome with His “bigness.”  And we should be overcome also with a sense of our “smallness.”  That is the design of the passage.  In v.23 we also read, “. . .  who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.”

As leaders we are in constant need of perspective.  If we are to serve, shepherd and steward well then we must maintain our proper sense of smallness.

Lead well!

What is Fairness?

I rarely write about social/cultural issues on this blog but I have been bothered during this political season about the concept of “fairness.” This term is being used frequently by our President as leverage for raising taxes on the rich-that they might pay “their fair share.”  It is being used as a common refrain by the Republican party as a counter attack about the “50%” of the population that pay no tax at all-“is that fair?”

What is fairness?  How are we to think on that word and therefore decide who is telling the truth.  “Fairness” according to Merriam-Webster is something which is marked by “impartiality and honesty-free from self interest, prejudice or favoritism.”  At least that is one central piece of the definition.  And it is this piece that I think is missing in the debate.  I’m sorry, but I don’t really trust either side when it comes to impartiality and honesty.  I don’t believe that either side does not have some self interest, prejudice or favoritism at stake in this matter.  Apparently many Americans share my point of view.  In the most recent RealClearPolitics poll, 78% of Americans disapprove of the job that Congress is doing.  According to RCP polls Americans are split right down the middle on the President’s job approval-47% approve and 47% disapprove.  Confidence is waning.

Fairness, as it is being bandied about in political circles today, is arbitrary.  What is fair for one does not seem fair for another.  It is idealogical in nature.  And I have never seen a political landscape so divided along idealogical lines in my lifetime.  We are being hoodwinked into thinking about “fairness” when we should be considering “justice.”

“Justice” as it is defined by Merriam-Webster means “the administration of law” and “conformity to truth, fact or reason.”  Justice has a measuring line.  Justice has a standard.  Justice forces you to determine where you truly are in the argument.  It is not arbitrary-at least not be definition.  And therein lies the problem with human fairness or justice.  We are inherently unfair and unjust.  We are arbitrary about all things because we are inherently selfish and self preserving.

To have true “fairness” and “justice” there has to be a true standard.  A universal standard.  There has to be a universal law and lawgiver that is righteous-so that justice can prevail.

Consider the following from the Bible:  Romans 3:22-26                                                   For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.  This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he passed over former sins.  It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

To rise above our self centeredness we have to admit our need for the just law giver who graciously provided our redemption through the cross.  We will never get to “fair” or “just” any other way.

Saint Patrick-The Person Behind The Day

Saint Patrick’s Day is one of those strange holidays we mark without truly understanding the meaning behind it.  Culture largely celebrates with alcohol and green.  But there is a story of a man that God used greatly to draw a people to Himself.  It is a story of inhumanity being turned toward salvation.  It is a story of courage to face your fears.  It is a story of obedience to calling.  It is a story of leadership.  It is a story we need to contemplate today.

I don’t usually do this-but for this post I will link to another web site for telling this story (biography.com).  I will get you started.  Follow the link and finish the story.  You will be encouraged.

St Patrick was a Christian missionary. Two authentic letters from him survive, the only universally accepted details of his life. When he was 16, he was captured in Britain by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland. He escaped, returned home and became a bishop. He later returned to Ireland, but little else is known. By the seventh century, he was credited as the patron saint of Ireland.

Here is the link for the rest of the story.


5 for Leadership

Here is “5 for Leadership” for the 3rd week in March. I hope you will be informed and encouraged.

One Thing Every Young Leader Needs To Hear This is a post from Ben Reed and was found on Millenialleader.com. This is a web site aimed directly at the Millennial generation of leaders and quite insightful. Ben is a pastor in Tennessee and offers some good thoughts for young leaders-and one phrase of encouragement they must hear. By the way, Ben’s web site is worth a look too and the link is at the bottom of the post.

Why I am Leaving Goldman Sachs This is an oped piece from the NY Times. The author is Greg Smith who has been an Executive Director with Goldman-until today. This is worth the read and has been trending on Facebook and Twitter. I love how it speaks to leadership culture and integrity.

6 Characteristics of Spiritual Leaders I often highlight what Michael Hyatt writes. If you missed this post this week-here’s a second chance. Hyatt distinguishes between spiritual leadership and other forms of organizational leadership and then offers six functions or traits of a true spiritual leader.

Good Churchmanship This comes from Tim Challies, who is well known in reformed circles. I really enjoy his blog and is one of the few to which I subscribe. Tim is a thoughtful writer and I really like this post that compares sportsmanship with churchmanship-and what has been lost with both concepts. This is a good read for the leader and follower.

The Empire of Entitlement This final post is from Pete Wilson who is the pastor at Cross Point Church in Nashville. Pete writes a great exhortation about the dangers of our culture of entitlement-and how it can really threaten our leadership. He highlights Deuteronomy 8 and reminds us well that there is one God-and it is not us.

There are 5 for this week-lead well!


Reflections on Easter

I have taken time each day this past week to read and reflect on the passion week narratives in the Bible.  What has captured my attention in a fresh way this time has been the metaphor of the cup recorded in Matthew 26.  While in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prays three times to the Father “if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.”  He affirms that what is tantamount is the will of the Father.

The cup-what is Jesus referring to?  The cup is a metaphor that almost always stands for judgment in the Bible.  Earlier in Matthew 20, at the hands of a request by James and John for privileged positions in the coming kingdom, Jesus asks them if they are “able to drink the cup.”  The kingdom of God is not without controversy and to lead in God’s kingdom requires the cup of judgment.    Jesus knew that the cross was right before Him.  He knew what His purpose in life was.  He knew that He was about to take on the sins of the world-and incur the judgment and wrath of the Father on behalf of you and me.  But there were other aspects of the cup that Jesus experienced that are instructive for us.

1. Jesus experienced the complete abandonment of His closest followers.  After the time of prayer in the garden Jesus betrayer shows up with a band of accusers to arrest Him.  The disciples put of a small show of allegiance and defense-then Matthew 26:56 says, Then all the disciples left Him and fled.  We often hear about Peter’s thrice denial-but we forget that ultimately all twelve (and probably others) abandon Him at the hour of His greatest need.

2. Jesus experienced the humiliation of His own creation abusing Him.  During the first phase of a trumped up trial Jewish leaders tried to find consistent testimony that would condemn Jesus.  They could not find anything of credibility.  Finally they challenge Jesus with the one thing he could not deny nor remain silent.  They asked Him a question regarding His very identity.  “. . . tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”  Jesus reply’s, “You said so . . .”  He goes on to make an clear allusion to Daniel 7:13 with the language of the Son of Man which was a clear reference to Messiah.  Upon the Jewish leaders condemning Jesus to death they spit in His face, struck Him and slapped Him.  Have you ever considered that the very ones whom Jesus created abuse Him with this kind of behavior?

3. Jesus experienced the obscene pain of the cross.  This is the aspect that we know best.  But do we?  The experience of the cross is more than just the instrument of death.  It is the whole process of shame, mocking at the hands of Roman soldiers, a crown of thorns, scourging with a cat of nine tails, the journey to Golgotha-and being nailed to a cross.  Execution on the Roman cross was known to be one of the most painful deaths possible.  This was part and parcel of the cup.  What we truly deserved Jesus truly suffered.

4. Jesus experienced the loss of fellowship with the Father.  Finally, as Jesus was about to expire, still hanging on the cross, He exclaims in Matthew 27:46, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”  What Jesus had always known, perfect fellowship with the Father, was suddenly absent.  As Jesus took upon Himself all the sins of the world, the Father had to rightfully look away.

Could there be any greater pain than the physical abuse of the cross, the communal abandonment of the twelve, suffering abuse at the hands of His own creation, and the emotional loss of the fellowship of the Father?  It was all for us! Reflect and worship.  The reality of what tomorrow represents changes everything.