Posted in Faith, Servant Leadership

Take Time to Examine Your Motives

Motive-of-the-Heart

 

I don’t want recognition; I only want to make a difference.

 

Several years ago I woke up from a sound sleep with these words swirling around in my mind. It expressed the philosophy I really try to live by, and I wrote it down right away. To the core of my being I want to be an excellent servant leader, emulating the example of my Lord Jesus Christ. I yearn to serve others, free from the entrapment of being recognized for my efforts.

I truly believe in the “rightness” of servant leadership, and have dedicated myself to studying it. If I ever have the opportunity to enroll in a doctoral program, my dissertation will include some aspect of servant leadership.

Unfortunately, I am painfully aware that there is also the sinful nature to contend with. The sinful nature wants to be recognized, to fight its way to the top of the heap. It wants to ignore others and emerge as the winner. It reminds me of a class of kindergarteners, hands waving high in the air, crying in desperate tones, “Oh, oh, oh, pick me! Pick me!”

Our culture feeds into this yearning for recognition too. It’s easier than ever to publish a book or increase visibility. Social media, blogs, and YouTube exist to get the message out to the masses.

Anyone can become famous. It should be me. If I’m just at the right place at the right time and do the right things I can be the next big time speaker, blogger, author, pastor, you fill in the blank. The problems is I end up spending more energy on marketing, promotion, and advancement opportunities than serving. I may tell myself that I am serving others by getting the message out. However, when less than the masses are blessed by my work, I become discouraged and begin to second guess God’s call.

It is wonderful to step out in faith to do great things for Jesus. We must be about His business, to build His Kingdom for His glory. We must be passionate about what we do. Because of this we must frequently step back and evaluate our own motives. Who is in control of the why behind what we do—the Holy Spirit or the sinful nature?

I have been guilty of doing my Father’s business, with part of me looking over my shoulder, hoping that somebody “important” notices. When nobody sees (or at least acknowledges my noble efforts) the rejection stings. I get angry when I feel ignored. Or the lack of human validation takes the wind out of my sails.

Over the years I have learned that as I lick my wounds, I need to take pause and examine my own heart.

Am I doing what the Lord has asked?
Am I doing it to the best of my ability?
Am I aware of others and doing what I can to serve them?
Do I trust that Jesus opens the doors that He wants me to walk through?

I ask the Lord to help me make the adjustments so that I can truly say “yes” to each of these questions. I certainly can’t put the sinful nature to death on my own, but with His power I can get back on track. I live for and serve an audience of One. When He is pleased, then all is well.

Matthew 6:1 NLT
Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.

Philippians 2:3-5
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, You see me and You know where I am weak. I desire to serve You and others with pure motives. But sometimes my attention gets turned away to myself. Help me to do what You’ve called me to do, to lead where You’ve called me to lead, without the need for human praise. Bring me back to a place of trust in You and love for You, untainted by the ways of this world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Advertisements
Posted in Character, Faith

Let Go of the Need to Know

Have you ever tried to manipulate God to do what you want? I know, this is a hard thing to admit. After all, as Christians we are supposed to be followers of Christ. We sing songs about surrender and ask Him to be the Ruler of our lives.

I will speak for myself, although you probably can relate. Despite my noble intentions, I try to tell the Lord the best way to do His job, and (this sounds terrible) I even get upset when He doesn’t listen. I am guilty of this sin of control, allowing my human nature to be in charge and dictating the terms of my service to the Master of the Universe. In spite of my penchant to lead the way, the King of Kings is so patient with me.

Last week He lovingly reminded me through devotional readings, songs on the radio, and gentle whispers of His Spirit that He really does know best. I can trust Him to work every situation for my good and His glory. Yet, I still wrestle between resting in the knowledge of God’s sovereignty and jumping in to run the show. Sometimes more than others.

As leaders it is our task to set direction and plan the course. We keep one eye on the road to ensure safe arrival to our destination. We also must have strategic foresight. We keep the other eye on the horizon in order to be aware of changes that will affect our environment in the future. And we encourage and inspire others to follow. It’s our job to know!

In the midst of all this responsibility, we end up relying on our own abilities and not on the power of God.

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps (Proverbs 16:9, NLT).

Letting the Lord lead is more important than the need to know.

This weekend I had the great joy of witnessing my youngest child graduate from high school. For me part of the celebration was reflecting on God’s faithfulness in raising her. Born with a serious disability, the path to adulthood has looked very different than my other kids’. Physical limitations and unpredictable medical challenges have dotted the landscape of our lives together. There have been countless times when her life has taken an unexpected turn and we have made the adjustments necessary in the moment. In the presence of God’s grace with us in each of these moments, I have learned two basic precepts.

I really don’t need to know.

The Book of Job describes the lengthy struggle of a righteous man to know God’s reasoning behind his personal suffering and loss. I identify with his quest to understand. I like the security of knowing what’s next. I like the peace of knowing why something is happening. However, when there are no answers available, I need to come to the same conclusion as Job.

Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know (Job 42:3, NIV).

My heavenly Father has the best plans.

Being convinced of this truth makes the first statement possible. I really don’t need to know, because my heavenly Father has the best plans. His plans for me are motivated by perfect love.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1a).

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him (1 John 4:16).

Friends, no matter what inexplicable difficulty or hardship you may be facing, find courage in your heavenly Father’s love for you. It’s time to let go of the need to know.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank You that I can call You Abba—Daddy. Help me to trust You deeply like a child, knowing that You love me perfectly. You never leave or forsake me. You are always near. Help me to love and lead others well. When things simply don’t make sense, help me to let go of the need to know. In Jesus’ name.

Posted in Faith, Teamwork

The Gift of Others

“Honey, can you help me find my glasses? I don’t see them anywhere.”

I had been searching for my eyeglasses for 15 minutes, and I decided to enlist the assistance of my husband. One minute later he walked out of our bedroom, grinning from ear to ear and triumphantly holding up my glasses.

“Where we they?” I asked in surprise.

“On the dresser where you usually put them.”

I had checked my dresser three different times and they weren’t there. How could I have missed them?

Although I felt sheepish, I was truly grateful for my husband. He was able to provide perspective that I didn’t have and his perspective solved my problem

As we live and lead, being in community with others is incredibly valuable. For some people this is easier to do than for others. Our independent society esteems the “self made” man and woman. Somehow we feel inferior or deficient if we ask for someone else’s perspective. But there really is nothing like a second pair of eyes. Or to have a trusted person look at a situation from a different frame of reference.

My grammar skills are excellent, and I love to proofread for other writers. Without effort my eyes go straight to the typos on a page. Nevertheless, I always ask at least one other person to read my writing before submitting it. I know what I intended to write, so I see things the way they’re supposed to be rather than what is really there. Someone else can help me by seeing what is actually there and pointing out what I may have overlooked.

At times, like my glasses, I don’t see what is right in front of me. Perhaps I’m too close to a problem. Perhaps I have been involved in an organization for a long time. The more engaged I am in a situation, the less I can see the answers. Other people can generate dynamic ideas and solutions when I feel stuck.

God has given us the gift of others. Don’t do this thing called life alone.

“Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success” (Proverbs 15:22, NLT).

“So don’t wage war without wise guidance; victory depends on having many advisers” (Proverbs 24:6).

Who is in your circle of advisers? Who in your life offers valuable perspective?

Inviting the input of others isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength. And wisdom. Be willing to live and lead in partnership with others.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank You for including me as a member of the Body of Christ. Help me live and lead in community with others, and to reject the notion that I can do it alone. May I be open to the perspective of others and be willing to share my insights with them. As we help one another, be glorified. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Posted in Faith

You Have What It Takes!

You can do it! Really! What has the Lord has called you to do? What ever it is, you can do it!

This weekend churches all around the globe celebrated the glorious Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We remember the miracle, the mystery, the incredible power that infused life into His lifeless body. The Man who was beaten and tortured for us, who suffered and died on our behalf, rose again. He is risen!

Ponder the awesome move of the Holy Spirit that breathed life into Christ’s body, and restored Him to perfect health. Imagine the force it required to move the massive stone from the tomb. Envision the light shining from the angels who made the announcement to the women.

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words. Luke 24:1-8

The story doesn’t end here. The amazing life of the Spirit is in us. He is in you and in me.

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Romans 8:11

So, I ask you again. What has the Lord called you to do? He had more than enough power to raise Jesus from the dead. He lives in you and has more than enough power to strengthen you to live for Him and do His will. You have what it takes!

Keep the miracle of the Resurrection and the power of the Holy Spirit in full view, as you follow God’s call. He is risen indeed!

Posted in Servant Leadership, Teamwork

The Healing Power of Vulnerability

“How do you do it?” my staff member asked. As I turned toward her to give my full attention, she continued. “How do you work full time and get everything done at home? I work part time and struggle to do what I need to do.” Her body tensed at the thought of her heavy load.

With her eyes fixed upon me, I had a decision to make. How would I approach this opportunity?

  • I could give her pointers on effective time management.
  • I could share my strategy for setting priorities.
  • I could instruct her about the importance of cultivating a relationship with Jesus as a powerful way to deal with the stressors of life.

In that split second, however, I sensed the question was really revealing something deeper. The dear woman standing before me was opening up and being vulnerable. The best thing to do would be to share myself, to be vulnerable in return.

Vulnerability requires trust and a willingness to be authentic.

I can trust because I am secure in the Lord and where He has placed me. My desire is to build God’s Kingdom not my own. He is my Protector, so I can safely offer myself to others. Because I know that an effective team is founded on trust, I extend trust to my teammates.

I can be authentic, because I don’t need to make a good impression by acting all put together. “The wise don’t make a show of their knowledge” (Proverbs 12:23). I can share with humility, seeking to be led by the Holy Spirit, aware that I am still in the process of becoming more like Jesus.

I firmly believe that as a leader I have been granted position by the Lord. This gives me great responsibility and holds me to a high standard. This means I must use my position as a means to serve others, encouraging and equipping them to grow and thrive in what God has called them to do.

So how did I respond to the question?

I smiled and admitted, “You probably would be surprised by my home. I really don’t do much there. My husband is a lot of help. He gets home earlier than I do, and cooks most of the meals and takes care of the dishes. And I don’t have children at home who need me much any more. I honestly don’t think I could do this job without my husband’s support and if my kids were younger.”

She nodded and sighed with understanding, relieved and a bit more relaxed.

“The words of the wise bring healing” (Proverbs 12:18). I pray my words have that effect.

Posted in Faith, Vision & Goal Setting

Out with the Old, In with the New

There is a sense of excitement as the old year winds down and we say hello to a new year. I realize there isn’t much difference between December 31st and January 1st. One day seems pretty much the same as the next. But having a distinct marker where one year ends and a new year begins can be powerful in our journey of faith.

Out with the Old

I love traditions. They create a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves and forge strong ties with a beloved heritage. But holding on to the past can also hold us back.

The Apostle Paul stated his philosophy.

But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us (Philippians 3:12b-14, NLT).

The past Paul referred to was good—notable heritage and achievements, things any Israelite would be proud of. Some of it was bad too—the zealous persecution of the Church.

Growth can be thwarted when we hold onto the old-bad. We are chained to our past mistakes and doubt we can break free. The consequences of the past cast doubt that we can ever change.

It can also be thwarted when we hold onto the old-good. “We’ve always done it this way! It works! Why should we change?”

In the final days of 2014, what do you need to let go? Whether it is old-bad or old-good, invite Jesus to show you what you should release.

In with the New

Our Lord specializes in new beginnings.

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

The Lord gives us new life.

…Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

And He transforms us to make us more like Jesus.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2).

What joy and hope there is in knowing God is at work in you!

As we count down to 2015, what new thing does the Lord want to do in your life?

Posted in Character, Faith

His Plans Are Good

 

God’s plans are good.

Plain and simple. When all is said and done, the truth remains.

His plans are good.

Unanswered questions. Things don’t make sense. Relationships remain broken despite efforts to mend them. Emotions are raw, difficult to restrain.

His plans are good.

Hardship and disappointment. Your plans run into obstacles. Set backs surround you. Failure mocks you. The enemy of your soul looms heavy in darkness.

His plans are good.

Challenges and struggles. Your body hurts. Health eludes you. You fight for strength. You believe God for a miracle. Still the answer remains unseen.

His plans are good.

Dreams are unraveling. Direction is unclear. No sight of a happy ending. This isn’t what you imagined. You keep walking. You navigate the unknown. Step by step by step.

His plans are good.

Pressure
Persecution
Pain
Chaos
Survival
Why me?
Why now?
Where is hope?

His plans are good.

Our God loves you with a faithful love that endures forever. Absolutely nothing can separate you from His love.

You see this moment. God sees throughout all time.

He is weaving the threads of your life into a intricate masterpiece He designed. Past, present, future. Every detail skillful crafted for your good and His glory.

His plans are good.

This is not the end. Your life is still unfolding. Take courage, my friend.

His plans are good.