Tag: Spiritual

Four Leadership Lessons From Nehemiah

I came across an interesting blog post the other day titled, “Four Leadership Lessons From Nehemiah“.

I would like to add a disclaimer before I get into the meat of this post.  I have not checked out the church from whose blog I read this.  While I normally do that, I didn’t feel these points were impacted by theology.  

  1.  Leadership Is Providential – While I agree with the Patterson’s point on this, I struggle with it too.  I believe God ordains each of us for our work, but by simply saying leadership is providential, it makes it seem as if leadership doesn’t fall into our lap, God hasn’t ordained it.  Sometimes God provides us the skills and the calling, and sometimes I believe God expects us to develop those skills.  I think this goes along with point number three.
  2. Leadership is Spiritual Hard Work – Perhaps a better way to say this is “Leadership should be spiritual hard work.”  In fact, I am not sure the discussion behind this point supported the point as well as I expected it to, though the point still holds true.  Good, godly leaders are not just leading, but they are supporting those they lead in prayer.  If it were only that, it would be simple and easy.  Good godly leaders also consider those they are leading to be more than employees or “followers”.  In fact, just like the Bible tells us in Romans 12:15, we should, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”  You should consider those you lead, especially those you have direct influence over, to be a significant part of your life.
  3. Leaders Use Projects to Build People – This is a powerful point that I would not have gotten on my own reading Nehemiah.  All too often in today’s world, this principle is thought of backwards.  People are thought of as a means to complete a project, but that is not how it should be.  We can see other examples in the Bible of this as well, the one most coming to mind is the disciples.  The interesting truth behind this, which isn’t stated, is that by using projects to build people, the people you lead will then complete the projects better.  By placing the growth of those you lead above the projects they are assigned to, you ultimately end up with better, stronger people doing better, stronger work.  This can be a slipperly slope though, as one can fall into the trap of attempting to grow people so that projects will be done better, which ultimately fails as the leader’s heart is not really on their people.
  4. Leaders Persevere – I loved the quote from Mark Dever in this section of the article.  Mark states, “A godly leader keeps leading.”  What else is there?  If God has put leading others on your heart, then leading is what you do.  Trials come.  Challenges happen.  Projects are completed.  Jobs are finished.  Even so, leaders keep leading.

One of my long-term goals is to be the best leader possible, and these four principles are certainly ones to keep in mind, especially #2 and #3.  It seems to me that the greatest task a leader has is using their influence as a leader to build up the people they lead.  As I see it, the foundation of this is both the second and third points from above.

Who Deserves All the Praise and Glory?

Who deserves all the praise and glory?  God, right?  Do we deserve any of it?  NO!  Why is it that we feel we do then?  Why do we always seek to claim praise and glory?  Aside from our sinful nature, it is because we are comparing ourselves to other humans, and in that instant we might have done something in our lives better than another human.

Now, let me ask: Have you ever felt really good about how something turned out, only to later find you totally messed it up?  What happened?  All too often we aren’t good enough to understand what good is.  It reminded me of these three examples:

  • A friend of mine had a son who was the best in the state of Kentucky at one point for his discipline of martial arts.  He told us once that when someone gets to black belt, they begin to realize that they have only started to understand karate.  What?  Black belts are experts, right?  NO!  They are people who finally have enough knowledge to see how little they know.
  • When I first took up photography, I really thought I had a natural eye.  I thought that even though I wasn’t as good as the great photographers, I could compete.  As a means of seeking affirmation of my greatness, I posted some pictures on a photography forum full of professionals.  The resounding sound I heard was something like, “You aren’t even to the point we can help you yet.  You need to learn the basics.”  This infuriated me.  After all, I could plainly see that I was taking high-quality shots!  It is only now, years and years later, that I see how poor my work was then.
  • I have played chess much of my life, but it was only after I was an adult that I really took it up.  A friend of mine at that time, a guy I worked with, purchased a dedicated handheld chess machine.  We would play this on the highest level, because obviously we were that good.  Of course, the machine would beat us terribly!  The funny thing was we thought the machine was cheating!  Why?  Because we weren’t even good enough to understand how the machine was checkmating us!  It was only sometime later that we realized how foolish we had been.

So how does this apply to us?  If we think we have done something good or praiseworthy, it is only because we have yet to gain the maturity to understand how far from good we are.  There is only one example of good – that is God.  If we think we have done something good, it is because we are only comparing ourselves to other broken, imperfect humans.  Once we gain that maturity, it is then that we see the only one who deserves our praise and glory is God, and we would be best if we humbly avoided praise for our good deeds, for they are nothing in comparison to what He did for us.

What Are You Wearing?

As I was reading through Matthew chapter 22 some time back, I realized there is more to the message there than I had understood in the past.  I feel this is powerful stuff for Christians to understand.  Pull up a chair and let’s go through this.

Matthew 22: 2 “The kingdom of heaven (note: this is talking about the kingdom of heaven.  We should pay attention.) may be compared to a king (the king is representative of the Father) who gave a wedding feast for his son (the Son, Jesus). 3 And he (the Father) sent out his slaves (His prophets) to call those who had been invited (the Hebrew people) to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. 4 Again he (the Father) sent out other slaves (His prophets) saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered (I can’t help but to wonder if this is a reference to sacrifices) and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.”‘ 5 But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business (these two were placing the things of the world before the Father), 6 and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them (this is the Hebrew people killing the prophets). 7 But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire (Perhaps this is speaking of the Hebrew people who go to hell.). 8 Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ (This is taking the good news to the world.) 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.

11 “But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, (This would be the person who might have accepted Christ in word but with no heart-felt change.) 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Once again, hell.) 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Everyone can be saved, but not everyone is; however, I wonder if this is more restrictive.  For example, is the man who isn’t dressed for the wedding the person who at the end will share all they did for God, to which God will respond, “I never knew you.”?)

I believe there are many people sitting in church pews today who will not reside in heaven for eternity.  They are the casual Christian who might be able to point to the good works they did (lead a committee, teach Sunday School, or even serve as a deacon or pastor), but in reality they never made a heart-felt change; they never committed to Jesus as their King.

So the question we should ask ourselves is what are we wearing?  Are we not dressed at all for a wedding?  Perhaps we are in acceptable wedding clothes but not in our best.  I think being invited to this banquet would be an occasion to wear our best.  Or are you wearing your best “wedding clothes”?

I do want to be careful – I don’t believe acceptance to heaven has anything to do with works.  It is only by the acceptance of the sacrifice of the Lamb.  Yet, acceptance of that sacrifice means we turn our allegiance from the world to the real King.  By allegiance I don’t mean simply words saying we accept Christ.  Is that really allegiance?  I mean serving the King!

Now, this begs the question: Who do you serve?