leadership

 
 

Strong and Courageous: Leading Well (Part 4)

“Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:1-9

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What God’s asking Joshua to do here, isn’t all about moral support for a leader, it’s about asking Joshua to trust Him . To let go of fear, and let Him take it’s place. Fear comes when we don’t trust God. That’s how perfect love casts out all fear. Where there’s perfect love, there’s perfect trust. I wonder if Joshua was scared. He’s painted as a strong leader, unafraid, ready to do anything God would ask; like Moses. But he must have had his doubts. With Moses dead, he must have been wondering what God was up to. When God said, “Moses died, you’re taking over”, and I don’t imagine there was a lot of gusto on his part. He probably felt like a deflated party balloon. Going to see the promise land one minute and the next being told the leader of the whole mission had died and he was in charge. Everything is different when you have a whole lot more people looking up to you. He saw what these people were capable of. What if they didn’t like him? What if he failed? What about the enemies? The danger? What about war? They can’t just waltz in there an expect them to give up their land without a fight? So now he’s an army general? Even better. A new leader, responsible for land, lives, lunch, and large groups of snickering people. 

And God says: “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.”

God is telling him that he’s gonna be with him, just like Moses. His role-model. Who was so close to the glory of God his face shone so no one could look upon it. This guy was legend. His faith and leadership were legend, because of his trust in God. And God’s giving him the same thing? Wow. Ultimate confidence boost. Now Joshua may have been a fearless person who was so tight with God he just trusted him without hesitation. But I believe these words by God were said to him for a specific reason. Maybe because he had begun to take responsibility on himself for the people’s well-being or because he felt so inadequate to carry out such a task.

God replies: “Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. “

But maybe we still worry about messing something up and in response to that God answers: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

He said something similar to that before. Before, he said “I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.” He reminds us that he is with us now, and will be with us in the future. There is nowhere we can go where he will not be there with us.  Looking over these encouraging words I was inspired to write a prayer I feel Joshua would say in the face of his circumstances. This prayer is something I desire to say in my own life, an act of surrender and recognition of how powerful God is. Maybe you need to remind yourself of these things as well. I think it should go something like this :

“Lord, I can’t be strong or courageous on my own. I can’t help but be frightened or dismayed by all that has happened recently. But you’ve promised you would be with me before. And you promised that you are with me now, and will still be with me no matter where I go or how old I get. Knowing that is the only way I could ever be strong and courageous when faced with what’s before me. Lord, I can’t lead these people. But you can, because their your people. I can’t take care of the land; but you can, because you’ve made it and chosen to give it to your people. I can’t give these people food, but you can, because you’re the great Provider. You’ve done it in the past and you’re just a capable now. I can’t win a war, but you can, because you’ll fight for your people. Lord, I can’t be strong, but you are. I can’t be courageous, but you can. Whatever you want to do with what I have to offer, take it. You’ve reminded me that I can’t do anything without you. I can’t be strong. I can’t be courageous. I can’t lead people. I can’t provide. But you can. And not through anything that I have done, but all because of what you have done and will continue to do. Trust casts out all fear. Where there is perfect love, there is perfect trust. So lead on Lord. Take everything I have and use it for your glory. Let them see your power and your might. Let everyone be utterly astounded by how great you are.”

If we would only take action instead of questioning God and letting our minds fill with doubts about our own abilities. They are justified doubts if we were required to do everything on our own; but we’re not. God will never call you to do or face something that you are improperly equipped for. He knows you better than you know yourself; and he also knows himself. He is stronger than we are, but so often we try to carry our burdens alone. He is wiser than we are, but we so often use feeble logic and reasoning to solve our problems. He is more courageous than we are, but, again, we look at our own small ounce of courage and maybe try to take a leap of faith. But we find our courage depleting fast, to the point where we have nearly none at all, and the leap is more like a wobble from one foot to the other in the wrong direction. Leadership isn’t about us being strong and courageous in the face of trouble. It’s about trusting him with our whole heart and letting him do the rest. And sometimes, the strength and courage come in when we take a leap of faith, not trusting our on footing, but expecting a free-fall before being caught in the arms of the Almighty God. “Be strong and courageous” is all about trusting him and letting him do the rest. And leadership requires much more of that than any skills we have we have to offer.

Categories: Bible, Faith, God, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, leadership, Uncategorized, words | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments
 
 

People Pleasing: Leading Well (Part 3)

1 Samuel 15:24

                      “Saul gave in and confessed…“I’ve sinned. I’ve trampled roughshod over                                                           God’s Word and your instructions. I cared more about pleasing the people.                                      I let them tell me what to do.”

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People are very influential beings, and often very selfish. They think about what  they want, when they want it, and they use people in order to get it. Words can be as sharp as a double edge sword or as smooth as butter, leading people to their downfall. God placed kings to be examples of good leaders, designed to bring peace and prosperity their domain, if they sought after what the Lord would have them to do, and stayed in that will. He also placed certain kings to be examples of discipline and downfall, to show what would happen to the people if they strayed from him, to let them know how helpless and purely mortal they were. Riches and stone towers cannot protect people from everything. Even kings were ruined, sometimes inside their lavish homes. Some kings were evil and caused the people pain, but the people brought it upon themselves because they wanted a king, and were not content with God’s power and leading alone. Saul was the first king, made king because of this desire of the people.

This verse was written after he had blown his last chance at being a God-fearing king. He has heard the news that he is to be replaced, and that the Spirit of God would no longer dwell in him. God was tired of having the being in which he dwelled, consistently pursuing the wrong things. So, God said, “Enough”. It was that “last straw” that got my attention. It was his confession that got me thinking. His last chance at proving himself a godly king ended because he tried too hard to please people, and not hard enough to please God. Many times, the downfall of a leader is another person, or in this case more than one person. When we try to please them, instead of pleasing God, it creates problems. Our focus comes off of what God’s will is for something and onto what will make the most people happy. Often times, the things God calls us to do don’t make very many people happy, but that is where it becomes important to choose him over popular opinion.

I’m a people pleaser. I love people. I want them to like me. If they don’t, I think there is something wrong with me personally. I don’t stop to think that maybe they are the ones who need to do something different, instead, I try to change myself. Now, that doesn’t mean I go off and become someone I’m not, but I take their opinion of me personally, when their opinions aren’t personal to me at all.  It’s hard to be task oriented when you focus too much on the people involved. It’s hard to be people oriented  when you focus too much on the task at hand. There has to be a balance. Because if there is no balance, either nothing gets done or people get their feelings hurt, and sometimes, some of both.  Saul in this verse, not only paid too much attention to pleasing a crowd, but he got so caught up in pleasing the crowd, that he went in the wrong direction completely. God was angry because he specifically asked Saul to do an important task and Saul said “no”.  So God said “no” to his being king any longer. Leaders are entrusted with an important task, and straying from that task in order to please others is just as bad as saying “no” to the face of a holy God. There is no respect, no fear, where there rightfully should be, and God’s command isn’t something we need to rebel against like an immature teenager. At the very end of the chapter, 1 Samuel 15: 35, reads “…God was sorry he ever made Saul king in the first place.” I would hate to have God be sorry that he ever entrusted me with a task as great as the one he has given me.

We are not defined by what people think of us, we are defined, and always should be defined, by what God thinks of us, because his opinion matters so much more than any other person on this planet. “Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray—not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God. And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it.” 1 Timothy 2:8-10.  We are not here to please ourselves or to please others, but solely for the glorification of our God and one true King. Leading well requires us to forget about pleasing people, and instead make it our aim to please God in everything we do.

Categories: christianity, Faith, Kings, leadership, people, perfection, Uncategorized, words | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

The Following: Leading Well (Part 2)

Proverbs 14:28 (MSG)

28 The mark of a good leader is loyal followers;
leadership is nothing without a following.

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This is the second lesson that God is teaching me regarding leadership. The verse really speaks for itself, you are not a good leader if you have no followers. It makes a lot of sense, you don’t to talk to people you don’t want to hear speak. You don’t hang out with people you don’t like. You don’t follow people who don’t lead well. Because this next year, everything will be new to me, I will see how many people follow me.

I will post things about Youth camp later this summer, but I wanted to shine a light on the commitment that I made to my youth group while I was there. Each night, we would have a worship session and then the speaker would stand up and give the message. That night, the message centered on this question, will you be able to walk across a graduation and have people say about you, I can follow her because he/she follows Christ. He/She constantly seeks after what God desires of him/her and I know that he/she is going to be on the right track, I know I can follow him/her because of their relationship and closeness with Christ.

My youth pastor posed this question, and what I heard was a call for leaders to rise up in the youth group. I stood. It is a big responsibility to have an entire youth group looking up to you and watching your actions to see if Christ is evident in your life, but for a while I could hear God calling me to do something more with my youth ministry. The teens in the youth group were being poured into, but it was hard to tell if they were pouring anything out. It was time to start a revolution, beginning with me, because I was willing to let God use me to change the church attitude both in myself and in others. I asked for accountability, because if I’m leading, not only do I need people following but people alongside me to point out things in my life and bluntly tell me; Mackenzie, if you carry this on any longer, you are going to be leading people into sin.

I’ve been gone for most of the summer, and I haven’t had a chance to notice if my commitment had produced any followers. I may not ever see the people who seek after Christ because my relationship with him changed them. I hope I will be able to look back across the graduation stage and look back at people who have followed me as I followed Christ and know that even as I step out into the real world, I will continue after what he asks of me with all I am, no matter the cost.

I want to be able to lead the people at my school this next year and the people in my youth group this summer and for the rest of my high school years, and if I notice that I have no followers, I know it’s time to back off and let someone else do the leading, while I follow.  With Christ at the center of everything I do, I want to lead people to walk in his ways, and get up people out of the pew and onto the road. If you always live your spiritual life in one place with no risks, you’ve never really lived at all. And besides, I need some followers. You can’t lead if no one is following.

Categories: Change, christianity, Church, communication, encouragement, Faith, God, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, leadership, learning, life, people, purpose, School, students, summer, teens, Trust, Uncategorized, words, youth group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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