Posted in Character, Servant Leadership

Do You Need to Redefine Success?

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When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do you see someone successfully answering the call of God? Do you see someone who is dearly loved and treasured by Him? If not, why not?

May I just say that if you are doing your best to follow Jesus, you are successfully answering God’s call. And no matter what circumstances you face, you are deeply loved and cherished by Your Heavenly Father.

The world has such a narrow definition of success, and it has infiltrated the Church. As people God has called to lead, whether that be in a church setting or market place ministry, at home or in public, we must diligently guard ourselves from the deception that measures our worth by visible outcomes.

My husband and I were involved in pastoral ministry for over twenty-five years before we took a break. In the early years we were called to serve churches out in the middle of nowhere. We poured ourselves into the people of our community and saw Jesus work powerfully in lives. It was wonderful to be a part of radical transformation as someone encountered God’s love and learned to walk in relationship with Him.

Because we wanted to be the best that we could be for the Lord, we read the books popular at the time about church growth and dynamic leadership, and we diligently applied the principles. But despite our efforts, while we saw people grow, we were not successful at numerical growth. To say it was painful to evaluate our success based on our ability to apply someone else’s ministry model is a serious understatement. Yet how realistic was it to expect a similar outcome in a registered ghost town (population 500) as in a mid-sized city?

In addition to leading small churches, I also homeschooled one or more of my five kids over a span of 20 years. I believed the Lord had called me to invest in their lives in this way, and He graciously provided for our family to live on one income. But there were times I felt like a failure. We weren’t involved in homeschool cooperatives. Our schedule was simple and revolved around church, music, and occasionally sports. There were days I itched to do more. I knew I was capable. For some reason, though, when I would start to pursue more activity the Lord would reign me in. He would remind me, “It’s not time for you to be involved in this.” And again, I would slow down.

Everywhere we turn, bigger is better and more is the gold standard.

But that way of thinking doesn’t equate in God’s Kingdom.

So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:4 NLT)

Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant (Matthew 20:26 NIV).

Humility. Serving. Less is more. Loving God and being faithful to Him trump everything else. How well are we doing in these areas?

Success is when we can look in the mirror and know we are being faithful to do His will.

And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people (Romans 2:29b NLT).
Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I confess that I often measure myself by the world’s standards. Help me to keep my eyes fixed on You and what You have asked me to do. Let me realize that being faithful to do Your will is enough. I surrender anew to Your plans and purposes for my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Posted in Personal Development, Vision & Goal Setting

Adopt an Abundance Mindset

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The Lord has such a sense of humor. He knows that I prefer comfort to adventure, and that I do not like to set goals that require faith to accomplish. And yet, time and time again, He has placed me in positions that involve both adventure and faith. I keep reminding myself that God really does know what He is doing, but my initial knee jerk reaction is to shake my head and groan, “Oh no, not again!”

Because I am wired for realism (with some skepticism thrown in), I need to adjust my thinking often. I have found that few things are accomplished with a glass half empty mentality. To successfully fulfill what the Lord has asked, I need make sure I have an abundance mindset. The alternative—a scarcity mindset—is certainly more automatic for me, but it has never taken me anywhere but down.

Let’s take a look at these two mindsets.

A scarcity mindset keeps in view what people can do. People are limited, therefore, resources are limited. There’s only one pie, and we are all trying to get a piece of it. With only so much to go around, somebody will inevitably experience lack, and we don’t want it to be us! We might be afraid, doubting that there will be enough for ministry, so we hold tightly to what we have. In addition, if provision isn’t seen or known, it simply isn’t there. It’s up to us to figure things out.

one pie

In Genesis 17, The Lord God changed Abram’s name (meaning exalted father) to Abraham (father of many nations). God told Abraham that the promise of the covenant would be fulfilled through his barren wife, Sarah, and he laughed in disbelief. He and Sarah were already old, way past the age for having children. Besides Abraham already had a son, Ishmael, from another woman. It just made sense that Ishmael would live under the special blessing. The scarcity mindset could not fathom any other way. And yet, the Lord God had a divine surprise. He blessed Sarah with a baby boy when she was 90 years old.

An abundance mindset keeps in view what God can do. God is the One to provide for our work, so there is always enough. We may not be able to see it or know where it is, but it is there. God’s kingdom is a kingdom of surplus not lack. We have the privilege of participating in His provision, and to respond with generosity. Using the pie analogy again (My husband and I have a start up pie business so pie is on my mind), there are many pies to share with plenty more on the way.

lotsofpies

Ephesians 3:20 NLT
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Our God is the God who is and has immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine. Think of the largest room you can loaded with money. Our God has access to more. It’s not just about money though. Think of what a healthy relationship with your parents or spouse could look like. Our God can restore in ways that are better and deeper than we can fathom. Think of the biggest problem you face. The Lord who is all knowing, all powerful, and all loving has the wisdom and solution you need. He also has incredible peace to surround you while waiting for an answer. We serve the God of More.

Even more amazing is that the God of More’s power is at work within us. So it’s not about what we can do. It’s about what God wants to do through us.

In what area of your life do you need more? Get a hold of an abundance mindset and see what the God of More will do.

Ephesians 1:19-21
I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, open my eyes to the greatness of Your mighty power. May I see that You are the Lord of extravagant abundance, and that You have more than enough for my life and what You have called me to do. May I view Your call through a mindset of abundance rather than scarcity, and walk with You in complete trust. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Posted in Faith, Personal Development, Servant Leadership

What Courage Really Looks Like

WonderWoman

When you think of someone that is courageous, who comes to mind? As a little girl I idolized Wonder Woman. Not only was she beautiful and possessed super human strength, she wasn’t afraid of anything. She could stop bullets aimed her direction. In the midst of calamity, she stood with confidence, her hands placed firmly on her hips. Wonder Woman was invincible. (Actually, I learned that the inventor did give her one weakness, but that was changed many years later.)

This super hero was so appealing to me because she represented everything I was not. Fear was one of my companions in childhood and continues to visit me as an adult. I never climbed a tree because I was afraid of falling. I hated being in the dark. I was easily spooked. I avoided any situation that seemed to have any kind of risk associated with it. I also was paranoid of getting sick. When I felt the slightest pain or discomfort, I worried that it would become life threatening. Wonder Woman and I were clearly opposites.

Last week I attended a seminar for Executive Directors. The consultant mentioned some of the attributes of effective upper level leaders. Skills can be learned but, according to her, these traits were innate. As she listed them, I checked them off with a sense of relief. And then she got to the trait fearless.

My thoughts immediately started to race. “Oh no, not fearless!” “What am I even doing in this room?” “What am I doing as an Executive Director in the first place?”

I took control of my thoughts, and reminded myself of an important principle.

Courage isn’t about what you feel like on the inside. Courage is about what you do on the outside despite what you feel on the inside.

As a vocal performer and public speaker, I have had lots of experience with anxiety. When I first started singing, I would get physically sick and make multiple bathroom runs before going on stage. Thankfully I learned to ask the Lord for His strength and peace, to help me harness the power of fear and use it as energy to fuel my performance. Nobody had a clue what was going on inside me. All they could see was someone exuding confidence and completely engaged with the audience.

It is similar with leadership. There are plenty of occasions to feel anxiety, fear, or a looming sense of inadequacy. It’s what we do in the midst of these feelings that counts.

Here are some of the external actions that characterize courage.

Courage perseveres. You do what it takes to cross the finish line. You keep following God’s direction and plan for your life, and don’t allow difficulties to deter you.

Courage evaluates. You are willing to take a hard look at the current realities and not sugar coat the facts. You look for feedback from others to accurately assess situations.

Courage changes. You may not like change, but you understand how important it is in order to move forward. Creativity and innovation are necessary in shaking up the status quo.

Courage confesses. You readily admit when you are wrong or when you don’t have the answers. Authenticity is more important than looking good.

Courage prays. You draw your strength and inspiration from Jesus. When challenges arise, you call out to the Lord in prayer and seek His wisdom.

Courage includes. You ask others to help in the areas of their strengths and skills. You know it takes a well balanced team to get the job done.

Remember, you don’t have to feel brave to be brave.

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord (Psalm 31:24).

Finally be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power (Ephesians 6:10).

The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe (Proverbs 18:10).

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, You are my strength and my shield. When I am afraid, help me trust in You. Thank You for empowering me with everything I need to accomplish Your will. May I walk in confidence, knowing You are with me. In Jesus’ name.