Devotionals For Leaders: Be Ready

Be Ready

Be ready in season and out of season. —2 Timothy 4:2

Feelings are not reliable when it comes to readiness. If we wait until we WANT to get ready, the feelings may never come. If we wait until we FEEL ready, we may never accomplish a thing. One of the marquee items for any leader is their ability and willingness to continue on regardless of how they feel. Our feelings are not always an accurate measure of our relationship with God or others for that matter. If it’s one thing leaders do and do well, it’s that they have learned to not rely on their feelings and at the same time remain reliable regardless of their feelings. Faith is what every leader must posses and it will always be required of us in our preparation and readiness training from God.

Do not become a leader who obsessively seeks for a new inspirational moment. Be the one through which those moments may come! We must be acutely aware of how easily we make our feelings gods and worship at their shrines. God gives us moments of elation to encourage us along the way and we must use it for that; to prod us onward. Our readiness is stunted when we stop at the end of the moment and refuse to move without another “word” or “answer” or “feeling” from God. Readiness doesn’t demand anything from God but yields everything to Him and especially our feelings.

Do you think the disciples felt ready for Christ to die? Do you think they felt ready for Him to ascend to Heaven so quickly after His return from the tomb? Do you think they felt ready to move into the world? I doubt they felt ready but the Lord saw things differently. Rest assured that even if you don’t feel prepared or ready for His calling, His mission, His task, or His service, that is not the issue. If He is sending you out, then you will be ready when the time is ready.

Final thought: Preparation never ends. Training is year ’round. Don’t let your feelings punctuate your life. 

Devotionals For Leaders: Choose Fruit

choose fruit

16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain… John 15:16

Jesus is the One who does the picking. God’s plan and agenda will win out. Our goal is to simply live God’s plan where we are. Far too often we think that somewhere else is better. That somewhere in another field of ministry, in another church or with another group of people, the work will be more rewarding, fulfilling or at least more tolerable. But how did you get to where you are? Was it by your own choosing? If so, then you got what you wanted. If not, then you got what God wanted for you; regardless of the way it feels or seems. The verse above says that Jesus has chosen us for certain things and tasks, that He has a certain kind of fruit our lives are to produce. Therefore He knows what climate will best suit that fruit. He will plant you where you will best produce fruit that will remain. It’s not about what you would choose to do for God but about Him choosing where you will have the best opportunity to know Him and show Him.

Oswald Chambers said:

We have no right to decide where we should be placed, or to have preconceived ideas as to what God is preparing us to do. God engineers everything; and wherever He places us, our one supreme goal should be to pour out our lives in wholehearted devotion to Him in that particular work. 

The task is not the important thing here. Jesus isn’t concerned so much with where we are or what we are doing as long as it’s what He’s called to do at that time. It’s not that He needs us to do anything for Him, anyway. The plan is for us to be obedient unto death, just like He was…even death to self. Self is one of our greatest enemies. Choosing jobs or making plans must be done but not without seeking the One who created us. He who knows us best should be consulted in any decisions concerning our future. There may be something Jesus would choose for us that we would never choose for ourselves. Then on the other hand, there may be things that we would choose to partake in that He never would choose for us. Obedience does not question why, what or where but simply awaits the “when”.

Final thought: don’t get caught up in where you are but instead be focused on the fruit God wants to produce in you and through you wherever He may take you.

Devotionals For Leaders: Dealing With Burnout

dealing with burnout

13 The next day Moses sat down to judge the people, and they stood around Moses from morning until evening. 14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw everything he was doing for them he asked, “What is this thing you’re doing for the people? Why are you alone sitting as judge, while all the people stand around you from morning until evening?”

15 Moses replied to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God.16 Whenever they have a dispute, it comes to me, and I make a decision between one man and another. I teach them God’s statutes and laws.”

17 “What you’re doing is not good,” Moses’ father-in-law said to him. 18 “You will certainly wear out both yourself and these people who are with you, because the task is too heavy for you. You can’t do it alone. Exodus 18:13-18

Many of us can find ourselves in a situation like Moses, where as the leader we undertake many responsibilities out of necessity. However, God sent Moses’ father-in-law at just the right time to help Moses see that he was on the path to burnout. What can we do to better deal with burnout and help ourselves be the best leader possible for the long term?

Burnout is a term used often for people who are stressed, have become desperately emotionally numb, lost passion about work or life, and anything remotely close to feeling out of control. It’s not a term lost among those who are high up the leadership ladder, as they run the risk of having to deal with burnout at any given time. Is this the life that God wants for us? Certainly not! Moses’ life is a great example of a leader of a nation that learned well how to avoid and deal with burnout. Here are a few things I would recommend to help you deal with any burnout in your life.

Listen to your soul.

There is no doubt that as a leader, there are going to be many voices in your head. From the constituents to employees to your family, everyone wants a piece of your time, a part of your life. It is imperative that you listen to your own soul. What does your soul need? How can you nurture your soul and feed your soul so that you can be the best you possible? Burnout comes because leaders fail to take care of their souls. They become caught up in activity and fail to take time to grow who they are. As a leader, taking care of your soul needs to be first priority because everything else will flow from that. In other words, what brings a spark to your eye? What makes you want to dance? What puts a pep in your step? What minsters to the deepest part of you? Answering questions like these and being able to live out of a place like this will help you go a long way in dealing with burnout.

Listen to your family/friends and wise counsel.

Moses didn’t play the “I’m the leader, God’s chosen” card when his father-in-law offered him some great advice. Instead, Moses being the great leader he was, listened and heeded the advice. It’s really important to pay attention to the people God places in your life that love you and care about you as a person…not as the “leader”. Listening to them, especially when they begin to give you hints that you are not doing well emotionally or spiritually is vitally important. They know you well, so listen to what they have to say. Burnout happens quickly when we disengage from those closest to us. to deal with burnout, schedule time with family and friends often.

Listen to what God says.

Take a sabbath frequently. In fact, sabbath is meant to be a once-a-week kind of thing, right? God knew what He was doing when He gave us the model for our lives by commanding us to remember the sabbath and keep it holy. That means keep it different and unique; not like a work day but a rest day. Sabbath is not meant to just be a day to have recreation but to re-created. If you want to effectively deal with burnout in your life, maintaining a consistent practice of sabbath is a must.

Listen to what your body says.

Our bodies have built in responders to stress and burnout. These indicators can be anything from fatigue, nervous reactions, sleepiness, irritability, lack of passion, no excitement, loss of appetite, crying or depression. The list could go on but you get the point. When your body starts acting differently, it’s important to pay attention. It may be that more sleep would help but this is just an indication that your body is not “resting” during sleep. Vitamins, medication, or even more sleep is not necessarily the answer. The right answer may be to step back or step out of some roles and lesson the amount of stress.

Listen to the future.

What do you need to hear from yourself and from God about the future? God intends for you to be around until He completes His task and work in you. If burning out is not God’s intention, then God has a future plan for you. How can you best prepare and be ready for the future? How can you deal with burnout now so that you can better burn then? There is something awaiting you and God wants you to be able to embrace it with all you have. Don’t cheat tomorrow by burning out today. Many leaders get burned out because the flames of today create so much smoke they can’t see their way out. Make sure you celebrate often and acknowledge the successes of now because that is what will propel you into the future. Take time often to dream about the future and let those dreams inspire you and keep the fire going.

Listen to Jethro.

Surround yourself with great leaders who can do things to assist you. A leader is not a know-it-all nor a doer-of-it-all, even though they may think otherwise. Jethro was wise and courageous enough to tell God’s man he needed to appoint some other people to help. This may be the advice you need most: surround yourself with competent people who will lift you up and help you carry the heavy load. If you are dealing with burnout, it’s time to get help. Don’t pretend that you don’t need it. Instead, look around and see how God has already equipped you with the right people in the right places. They may need a little prodding and teaching but they can do it if you as a leader will let go and let God be God.

Devotionals For Leaders: Avoiding Burnout

burnout

Meanwhile, Moses was shepherding the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. Then the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire within a bush. As Moses looked, he saw that the bush was on fire but was not consumed. So Moses thought: I must go over and look at this remarkable sight. Why isn’t the bush burning up? Exodus 3:1-3

It’s easy for us to get caught up in what we want to do for God. We can dream our dreams and make our plans and those things can become our driving force. We can become so caught up in what we want to do for God that we miss God Himself. This is a huge danger for the leader.

As leaders it’s vitally important to remember that God has entrusted visions and dreams to us. But we must submit them back to God. We cannot allow the vision or dream to consume or overwhelm us. Our ideas of how things can or should be accomplished can become all-consuming and eventually lead to burnout. This is not God’s desire: that anyone should “burnout” for Him. How does God get glory from a person who is no longer able to serve or who no longer is able to contribute?

Remember the burning bush that God used to communicate to Moses? It says the bush “burned but was not consumed.” What can we learn from this bush to help us avoid burnout and fulfill God’s dreams for our lives?

1) Be rooted in God.

This bush was planted on “holy” ground. It became holy unto the Lord when the Lord inhabited it. The same is true for us. We can easily take roots and identity in our “work” which is not what God intends. Our roots and identity need to be in God alone. When the Lord enters into a heart, He is the One who makes us holy and crafts us for His work. Our task is to simply grow in Him first and foremost. Don’t become caught up in burning for God…grow in God. Then when the time is right God will set you afire.

2) Be available to God.

Sure there were other bushes around but God chose this one. God has chosen you for certain tasks and jobs. Don’t try to do what God has called others to do. And don’t just assume that because something needs to be done that you are the one to do it. As leaders this is very difficult. It’s really important to not overload ourselves with tasks and things that God has not “called” us to do. In so doing, we are not available to do the things that God HAS called us to do. Busyness crowds out availability. This bush burned because it was consumed with God. When we as leaders are more consumed with God than stuff or schedules, or even our own ideas of timetables and plans, we will burn and not burnout. A servant simply waits in availability until the Master says “do”.

3) Be set apart for God.

This bush was the one God chose to use to speak to Moses. We don’t really know why or if there was any particular reason other than God chose to. The last point is to be set apart for God’s use so that God can use you when He is ready. The word “holy” essentially means that: to be set apart. Even though it has the idea of purity and righteous, it’s core definition means to be set aside for a particular use. God wants us to consecrate ourselves and to be set apart for His use. When we begin to set aside time, carve away our schedules, and even seek to be alone and away from others, we will begin to burn for God from a deeper place. Our passion becomes for God and not the “things” of God. Our love becomes for Him and not just ourselves looking good by accomplishing things for Him.

Final thought: God wants you to burn but not burnout for Him. Don’t replace activity for God for intimacy with God.

Devotionals For Leaders: Shine On!

shine on

We all, with unveiled face, beholding…the glory of the Lord… —2 Corinthians 3:18

Moses spent time with God and because of such time, his face was visibly transformed. He came out of God’s presence aglow. There was such a radiance from his face that he wore a veil. Recently I have heard that the veil was worn so that the people would not see when the light would begin to fade. Initially I thought it was because the light was so bright that the people couldn’t bear to look at his face. But this recent thought of hiding it so that the people would not know it faded is interesting. A couple of reasons why this is important from a leadership standpoint.

The people need to know the leader spends time with God. Of course the people could see Moses routinely go into the cloud and sometimes remain for weeks. But having this veil on his face was a remainder each day that Moses was off the mountain that the glory of God was with him. The leader needs to radiate God’s glory among the people daily, which only happens when the leader is spending regular time in prayer and scripture, face-to-face with God.

The leader needs to be reminded that God is the worker/doer of all that happens. As a leader it is tempting to try to get people to notice and solicit the praise of man. But God is the one who deserves and should receive the glory. When the veil was off of Moses, people could see that the “man” was back but with the veil, they all knew God was with him and empowering him to do all that was being done.

Moses wasn’t trying to muster up the glory of God on his face. He was simply spending time with God and the glory of God naturally shone on his face. The same will be true for you. Just do what you do but spend time with God first. Seek Him and His glory first and then all things will be added to you. The glory of God doesn’t come by conjuring up spiritual disciplines or practices but by spending time alone with God on a regular basis.

Oswald Chambers said:

Allow nothing to keep you from looking with strong determination into the face of God regarding yourself and your doctrine. And every time you preach make sure you look God in the face about the message first, then the glory will remain through all of it. A Christian servant is one who perpetually looks into the face of God and then goes forth to talk to others. The ministry of Christ is characterized by an abiding glory of which the servant is totally unaware— “…Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him” (Exodus 34:29).

Engaging God face-to-face is the only way to know God deeply and intimately. God intends for you shine on for His glory but it will require His glory to shine on you.

Final thought: When you spend time with God, it will show and everyone will know. The same is true if you don’t: it will show and everyone will know.

Devotionals For Leaders: Here And Now

here and now header

Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? —John 14:9

Jesus is with you here and now. He’s in the room with you, in the car with you, in the office with you, as He is in the church with you. He’s in the argument with you, in the struggle with you, in the misunderstanding with you, as well as in the shining moments of success. The point is that He’s never not with you. You live as that’s not the case though. You tend to look at circumstances and allow that to form your belief instead of looking at His promises and allowing that to form your actions in circumstances. If you really believed He was with you everywhere, right here and now, you would act differently, think differently and treat others differently. You yourself would simply be different.

Somehow you forget that the promises of God require faith. It takes faith to believe He is with you when you can’t readily see his hand at work. It takes faith to believe that he is working all things out for your good, when you have just been rejected or abandoned by someone you love dearly. It takes faith to accept that in the end God will make all things right and until then His grace is sufficient because He is with you right here and now. Faith is the element that’s missing, not Jesus. He is here. He is now. Where is your faith?

Oswald Chambers said:

If I believe in Jesus and His attributes, am I living up to my belief? Am I allowing anything to disturb my heart, or am I allowing any questions to come in which are unsound or unbalanced? I have to get to the point of the absolute and unquestionable relationship that takes everything exactly as it comes from Him. God never guides us at some time in the future, but always here and now. Realize that the Lord is here now, and the freedom you receive is immediate.

You may think you know Jesus but do you really? You are seeking Him as though He wasn’t with you, as though He forgot His promise or lied and left you on your own. He did not. He is with you, right here. Right now. And if you will take just a few moments and quiet your heart, you will realize that to be true. Don’t look for a monumental event to happen in order to believe in His presence. Maybe that event is your faith alone?

Final thought: Jesus said He will never leave you nor forsake you. Not now. Not ever. Believe it and act on it.