It’s a Small World…

Have you ever been in a conversation with a friend or co-worker and used this expression “it’s a small world”? I am referring to the intricate web of human connections that are a part of all of our lives. I believe that God in his own timing connects each of us with other people according to his plan for a purpose.

As I look into the personal letter written by Paul to Philemon I see how God used their relationship (their connection) to not only help change the life of Onesimus but also as an example for us of Paul’s passion for the lost and his influence as a leader.

Onesimus, a runaway slave from the house of Philemon is hiding out in Rome and through God’s design connects into Paul’s life that at the time is imprisoned and becomes a Christian. Knowing that Onesimus needed to right himself with Philemon Paul sends him back to Colosse with this personal letter urging Philemon to forgive Onesimus and to welcome him as a brother in Christ.

“I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of Love”(vs. 9), this appeal as leaders should be the focus of how we should not only lead but in how train new leaders… in love. How better received is an appeal in love than a command or order from those who lead. In Paul’s words to Philemon we get a sense of respect and appreciation for the work that he has done and for the future work ahead of them.

As leaders we need to look back at 1 Corinthians 13 and be reminded of what leading in love requires. Leading requires patience, leading requires kindness, leading requires being humble and leading requires being truthful. As leaders when we come to the table with an attitude of love for others and for our creator we will be used to help build His kingdom.

Steve.

Qualities of a Good Leader.

“I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s Holy people”… Jude has compassion for the people, he wanted to rejoice with them about the salvation that they shared together, yet he wanted to be open and honest with them sharing stories from their past as reminders of how the Lord dealt with those who did not follow him. I think this also serves as a reminder of how God continues to provide for those who follow him faithfully.

I like the transition made from verse 16 to 17, after Jude finishes describing who we need to be on the watch for he begins to encourage us by telling us we need to be building ourselves up in our most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit. We must keep ourselves in God’s love as we wait on His return. When we walk with other Christians (this is who Jude is speaking to) we can surround each other with a love that helps build our faith and we can become accountable to each other.

I believe that we see a few important qualities of leadership in the life of Jude in these few short words that he writes. We have an openness and honesty that leads us to trust him as he speaks about the past and how he trusts that God will be with them. Jude seems very confident and optimistic in his words to the people, he gives us a call to preserve to carry on loving the Lord. Jude encourages us to have empathy for and show mercy to those who speaks against us; I see it as loving our enemies.

“Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear – hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh”.

Steve.

Jude… A Servant of Christ

Jude, also known as Judas, or Judah is who writes this short epistle that gives us a brief but pointed exposition on how we must contend for the faith. Jude communicates with his fellow believers the need to be “on our toes” watching for and dealing with the false teachers that infiltrate our churches. The first verse identifies for us who he his, “a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James”, not to be confused with the person of Judas Iscariot

Have you ever identified yourself as a servant of Christ? The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines a servant as a “Person totally responsible to and dependent upon another person.” How much of our lives are totally dependent on Christ? Are we fully submitting to the responsibility we have in doing the will of Christ? These are some big questions that ultimately define who we are.

It wasn’t until after the resurrection that Jude and his brother James became servants of Christ. For me it seems so easy to think that someone so closely connected to Jesus would not have been a believer. Although we don’t get a lot of background information on Jude we begin to understand his story just a little bit.

It is amazing to me how in a couple of verses of scripture we can discover a testimony of hope for the lost, even those who may be in our own families. Was it the ministry and life of his older brother James that became a seed for the life that Jude was to have in Christ? Was it Mary and Joseph’s persistence as parents that spurred on the spiritual growth in His life?

Whatever happened in the life of Jude his identity in Christ is what led him to write this epistle. It was through the death and resurrection of his (half) brother that had him traveling from place to place sharing the gospel. We need to be in the same place as Jude, as servants of Christ our identity needs to be in Him, our strength needs to come through Him.

Steve.

Moses and Joshua – Mentoring Team Dynamics

It is said that Joshua was around 85 years old at the time when the Israelites crossed the Jordan River. He died at the age of 110, which means he led the Israelites for about 25 years. I have to ask myself this question, what did he do for the first 85 years before he became the successor to one of the greatest leaders in biblical history? The answer I would suggest is that he was being mentored by one of the greatest leaders in biblical history.

As we read through the story of the exodus we begin to see the process of mentoring and leadership development that formed Joshua into the leader God called him to be. We are first introduced to Joshua as Moses tasks him as commander of the army that was to destroy the Amalekites, then we don’t see or hear much of Joshua until later when he arrives on the scene with Moses at the base of the mount of Sinai.

Although we have only a few details into the “ 85 year mentorship program” of Joshua we do get a glimpse into how the Lord teaches us some important leadership lessons and the value of mentoring. Joshua had the opportunity to work alongside Moses being involved in the day-to-day leadership of the people. Moses gave Joshua the roles and responsibilities that helped shape him into the leader God planned for him to be. Numbers 27:15-21 describes the commissioning of Joshua by Moses, giving him some of his authority over Israel, Joshua was “filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses laid his hands on him”. (Deut 34:9)

Did Joshua have an advantage over us today as leaders during the mentoring process with Moses? I don’t think so, it may have been in a different time and place but I think that we all have our own unique growth experiences as leaders. In fact I think we may even have an advantage in most cases, we have the stories and examples written for us in the Bible. We can learn from downfalls and victories that are written of all the great leaders and teachers throughout the Old and New Testaments.

I am thankful for all the mentors that God has placed in my life, I am thankful that I have people in my life that have been able to speak freely and honestly into my growth as a Christian leader, a husband, a father and a friend.

Steve.

Obedience & Faith

As I read into the life of Joshua, I begin to understand the significance of the example of obedience he had in listening to and acting upon the will of the Lord. I begin to think about the incredible amount of faith that Joshua had as a leader in following the Lords instructions. Joshua’s obedience in faithfully following the Lord was an example that encouraged, instilled confidence and built loyalty in the people as they journeyed together. Chapter 1:16-18 gives us a glimpse of the trust that the people had not only in Joshua but also in the Lord to lead them to the land He promised to them.

Obedience, faith, and dependence on God I believe are what made Joshua one of Israel’s strongest leaders. I tend to want to paint a perfect picture of Joshua as a leader but as I continue to read I am reminded that even the best can fall. When Joshua fell short of full dependence on the Lord the picture I paint starts to become dark and clouded, it becomes hard look beyond the failure.

Today through the sacrifice of his son for our sins, God has provided each of us a choice to accept his love and a way to come before him to be forgiven. When we respond to His amazing gift of love and grace it allows us to bring before Him every one of our shortfalls. When we fail to be obedient to His word, as we confess our tendencies of dependence in others or ourselves He can use us just as he used Joshua. We all can be leaders that inspire and encourage when we live out a faith that fully depends on God.

Steve.

Deception, Honor & Integrity

Joshua chapter 9

What do we do in the face of decision as leaders? I have to think back to decisions I have made as a leader and examine them in the light of this passage. Did I rely on my own understanding or the physical evidence that pointed to what I thought would give me a solid foundation for a good decision?

One of the things that I focused on after reading this passage was the fact that Joshua and the other leaders had fallen into the ruse of the Gibeonite travellers. I stayed in this place trying to dig deeper into an understanding of why they were blind to the deception before them. After some time of reflection I began to question my own process of decision, I now understand more that it is because my sinful nature that I often do rely on my own strength or the strengths of others on my team to make decisions. This passage is a great reminder that we need to bring everything before God as we lead in the decisions in all areas of life.

As leaders I believe that we need to also focus on how Joshua and the other leaders responded to the cries of the whole assembly to destroy them. They stayed true to their word, even though it would have been easy for them to destroy the Gibeonite people. They had made an oath before the Lord that they would not destroy them. Joshua and the other leaders were men of honor and integrity, holding true to their oath was a powerful example of true leadership to the people of Israel.

This reminds me of a leadership principle from John MacArthur in his book Called to Lead. He gives us this principle… “A leader empowers by example”, When we seek God’s guidance in this area He is able to reveal through us His perfect example allowing us to be better leaders.

Be Strong and Couragoeus.

Joshua 1:6-9

“6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Be Strong and courageous. Three times in the first 10 verses of chapter 1 in the book of Joshua God repeats these words to his servant. I remember back to some of those painstakingly long high school english classes that eventually taught me that if you want to get a point across in a presentation you must repeat your main point of action at least twice or even three times to help people “get it”.

Joshua 1:6-9 is an incredible encouragement and reminder of knowing that God is walking beside me in my journey. I see this piece of scripture laying down a solid foundation for a life in leadership. As a leader and follower of Christ I have to be spending time in His word, “…meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything it” (v.8), this was his command to Joshua and I believe this is true for all of us today as well. Today for me working in a new environment where spending time in the word and praying is encouraged and if I can say required has allowed me to begin building on that solid foundation. It has not been easy and I have to be honest it has not been day and night everyday, but God has created in me a fresh desire to want more. There may be times ahead of me where I will be discouraged maybe even terrified as Joshua may have been but by faith I know that God is with me wherever I go.