Posted in Faith, Personal Development

Turning 50!

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The year 1967 is a very special year to me. It is the year of my birth, and last weekend I celebrated my 50th birthday. I always enjoy my birthday, because it is a chance to reflect on my life and see God’s faithfulness interwoven throughout my days.

This year was especially meaningful. My husband organized a party at a local pizza place, and we invited our family and friends to join us. We were blessed with more people than we anticipated, along with some surprise arrivals. It was thrilling to be surrounded by such a loving and supportive group. Some people have known me for many years, other people are more recent friends, but each one has a special place in my heart.

I soaked in the sweet camaraderie of the evening, and pondered the gift of life. The fabulous evening punctuated my resolve: I don’t want to waste this precious gift on meaningless pursuits or to secure my own comfort. Instead, I desire to focus my attention on a few things that really matter.

Jesus. My Savior and Lord is absolutely everything to me. I dedicated my life to Him at the age of 13 (which was a long time ago). It is easy to settle into a spiritual comfort zone, but I don’t want that. I want to love and serve and know Him with all that I am. I want to passionately follow Jesus Christ in joyful obedience, and live as a bright light for Him. I want to be in the habit of saying “yes” to Him, and step out in faith to do whatever He asks of me.

Relationships. I dearly love my family and friends. I am also wired to be task oriented and goal oriented. I like structure and organization. I like to check off my to-do list, preferably in order. Tasks and achievements bring peace to my mind. Unfortunately they can interfere with relationships. However, connecting with loved ones nourishes my soul. I want to engage in the sacred, messy work of building and restoring my relationships.

Growth. The older I get, the less I know. I won’t presume that I have ever arrived. Rather, I submit to the process of life-long learning. I want to become more like Jesus, allowing the Holy Spirit to transform me into His likeness. I want to continue to heal from the effects of childhood and more recent traumas. I want to develop the skills of being a better servant leader in myself and others.

Service. I don’t want to be guilty of being enraged by all the injustices in the world and not doing something about it. I can’t sit on the sidelines while people are hurting. I must invest in improving the lives of those who are disadvantaged or marginalized, the “least of these” who are so important to Jesus.

I just had the privilege of celebrating 50 years of life. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. But I can live each day I am given with intention.

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy (Ephesians 4:21-24).

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of life. May I not take it for granted. Help me to identify what really matters, and then live with intention. I know I cannot do this by my own strength and abilities. May I thrive through Your Spirit, as You empower me to make each day count. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

 

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Posted in Character, Servant Leadership

What Do Your Actions Say?

Last week I was sick with laryngitis. In addition to a steroid shot, the doctor prescribed lots of honey and lemon, plus no talking until my throat felt better. The time of “forced” silence challenged me to find other ways to communicate apart from speaking. It also gave me pause to ponder what I say with my actions.

I like to consider myself a servant leader, one who uses the influence granted to me in order to serve others and equip them to answer God’s call. I enjoy learning and teaching and speaking about servant leadership. But if you take away all my words, how well do I actually practice it?

There are areas in leadership that require more than saying the correct words. My actions must solidly support them, as well.

Integrity
This is all about having my words and actions match. Am I consistent in character and principles everywhere I go? Do I back down from doing the right thing when I encounter resistance? Do people trust me with confidential information, knowing I won’t share it with others to gain an advantage?

Humility
A secure leader is comfortable in the background, allowing others to take credit for success. How important is it that I am recognized as “the leader”? How readily do I give credit to others and praise them for a job well done? Do I respectfully consider people’s ideas even when they disagree with mine?

Service
A leader is never above service. Am I willing to lend a helping hand, even when it’s not a part of my job description? When I serve others, are there any strings attached? Is my ambition focused on finding better ways to serve others and make them successful?

Love
The foundation of all I do as a leader must be love. Do I genuinely care about the welfare of others working with me? Do I take an interest in their personal lives? How well do I actively listen to others? Do I tend to ask questions to learn more about people, or do I quickly offer advice and anecdotes?

We have been called to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). To do that requires much more than words.

Take some time to consider, what do your actions say?