Devotionals For Leaders: Where? What?

Devotionals For Leaders (2)

It was by faith Abraham obeyed God’s call to go to another place God promised to give him. He left his own country, not knowing where he was to go. Hebrews 11:8

Obedience Is The Key.

Where do I need to be and what do I need to do? I have struggled with those questions often throughout my time on earth. You may have too. They are very important questions. However, I’m finding this to be true over and over again; God is more concerned about my obedience than my location.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that God has specific places for specific people. This does not negate the fact that God carries those people there. He sends those people there. He somehow manages to get those people there as would be the case for Jonah and the great fish.

Who I Am? vs. Where I Am?

The issue with God is not can He use me where I am or where He’s taking me. The issue is who I become along the way and through the situations. God’s greatest ambition is conformity to that of His Son. There is none who was or is more obedient than Jesus. Obedience is a benchmark of Jesus, even obedience unto death on a cross (Philippians 2).

God seems to have a greater concern about developing me into a certain person than taking me to a certain place. How does He do this? No other way than through the revelation of Himself. So often, I want God to reveal His plan instead of Himself. I want to know the in’s and out’s, the details, the lowdown but God does not cave into my desires. He instead fulfills me with Himself. For me to become all that God wants, I have to stop looking ahead and start looking up.

Which Way Do I Go?

Abraham went out not knowing where He was going but He knew Who he was going with. He was going with God. I wonder how many times I have gone without God…knowing where I was going but oblivious that God was not with me? The knowing of the Christian walk is not to a place but with a Person, the person of Jesus Christ. As we walk with Him we become. We move forward at times but we move inward all the time. Obedience is an inward job and the only way to accomplish it is to obey.

Maybe God is not sending me anywhere except to Himself? Maybe that’s the ultimate destination?

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Am I Missing The Mission?

AM I

Where there is no revelation [or prophetic vision], the people cast off restraint… —Proverbs 29:18

Carrots?

A vision is given to drive me beyond myself. Pushing and compelling, a vision holds a proverbial “carrot’ just out of my reach. The vision is meant to force me to know God and know myself and keep the priorities right: God first. It’s impossible to have a  real vision from God until I have a real vision of God Himself. Until I see Him clearly, every other “vision” is about self.

My efforts and exercise of faith cannot be found in my own strength but only in Christ. Placing my faith, hope, trust and love in Christ alone will keep the vision right in front of me and continue to compel me to the greater things God has for me and wants to do through me. When God gives a vision of Himself, I will see myself clearly as Isaiah (Isaiah 6) did and proclaim “Woe is me! I am undone”! It is then that I will hear God’s voice and know what it is He wants me to do. It may not even be a direct command per se but simply overhearing God’s heart and desires as I have seen Him.

Knowing Is Not Enough!

Even knowing the vision is not enough. I can know Who God is and what God wants (through His word), but until I understand that the vision God gives is not meant to just be a mission for me to accomplish but meant to also accomplish something within me, I will fail. Jonah is a great example of this as He was God’s selected prophet to go to Ninevah. Yet Jonah chose to try to escape the mission God was trying to work in his own heart by thinking that God would just send someone else or perhaps just save the people because He was a God who was “slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness” anyway.

I can clearly see from Jonah’s example that God is not content to give me a vision for someone else. The vision is meant for me; to work in me. The vision is to help me see that I have my own sin to grapple with whether it is in forms of racism, elitism, or just being a “complainer” all of which Jonah seems to suffer, or some other innate spiritual malady. Moral alignment is not all God is looking for. God is looking for people to love Him and obey Him out of love not a sense of duty.

Beyond Me.

God doesn’t put things within my reach…They are just beyond me. This is not taunting by God but compelling me to continue to seek His face, His wisdom, His goals and not my own. When the vision itself becomes the goal, I can become perfectionistic and fail to remember that God is the One I need to chase after. God is the One perfecting me and the vision. He is not concerned so much about the vision, as though it rested solely upon me. He wants me to KNOW Him. He is most concerned that I have the right vision of Him, knowing that He alone is the One I am reaching for. When God alone is my goal, I will practice discipline and restraint because of Who He says I CAN be and become all He MADE me to be. The right vision will give me the right mission and if that vision is anything other than God, I am missing the mission.

Devotionals For Leaders: Certainly Uncertainty

TRAVEL

Where did we ever get the idea that following Jesus was safe? Definitely not from reading the scripture! Person after person in the Bible not only had their faith tested but many of them lost their lives because of that very faith. No, following Jesus is not safe and that’s for certain.

Nor is following Jesus predictable. We can try to figure out God’s next move but to our own chagrin. We try to guesstimate based on our previous experiences and God does something new and completely different. God will not be boxed in, nor will He be predictable. Our God is really edgy and on the wild side to be honest. You can be certain about that.

When it comes down to it, if you want a safe predictable life, then Jesus is not the God you want to choose. With Jesus, the one thing you can be certain of is uncertainty. God will not disclose to you everything He knows but that which you need to know at the right time. He may not even disclose anything for that matter. His point? That you would know Him and trust Him, not what else you know.

People want a common sense kind of life, one that makes sense to them and others. But God doesn’t promise a life that makes sense…just ask Job! What God does promise us is a life that makes us trust, love, forgive, believe, hope, and give Him glory. Oswald Chambers said:

The spiritual life is the life of a child. We are not uncertain of God, just uncertain of what He is going to do next. If our certainty is only in our beliefs, we develop a sense of self-righteousness, become overly critical, and are limited by the view that our beliefs are complete and settled. But when we have the right relationship with God, life is full of spontaneous, joyful uncertainty and expectancy.

As leaders it’s important to realize that you don’t know it all and to be ok with that. Leading doesn’t mean you have to know how it all plays out. It means that you are the first one to step out into the glorious uncertainty. God doesn’t call us to safety first or common sense living. He calls us to the life of uncertainty where we are completely certain of Him.

John the Baptist even had to grapple with this, being locked in jail for preaching against the king’s immorality. From prison, John sends his disciples to Jesus wondering if He was the One or if they should look for another. Jesus sent them back telling that He was the One that scriptures said would come. But what Jesus didn’t say was that He was the One who would deliver John from prison. Jesus didn’t do what others may have thought He would have/should have done. Jesus and John were cousins, sharing in the same line of work. Joh even baptized Jesus for goodness sake! Yet in that certain uncertainty, John knew from the beginning of his ministry that following Jesus would be dangerous. He knew that it could eventually cost him his life. And it did.

Jesus doesn’t promise you an easy path. He doesn’t promise to be a God you can box in or act in the ways you want Him too. He DOES promise to never leave you. He DOES promise to always take the bad or ugly or difficult or hard and transform it into something beautiful. He’s asking you to trust Him with the certain uncertainty because He’s not once ever failed and He’s certainly not gonna start now.

Final thought: following Jesus is certainly not always easy but it’s certainly an adventure you will not ever regret. If you want a safe, easy, predictable life, choose another god. If you want an abundant life, follow on.

Devotionals For Leaders: Make A Splash!

underwater header

When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment…and plunged into the sea. —John 21:7

Jump! Are you willing to take that final step off the platform and into the pool? Are you desiring to springboard into the deeper waters of faith and obedience?

Peter in this case could not wait for the slow boat to arrive at shore. Instead, taking his shirt, with full abandon of the boat, fish and all that he had returned to after his denial, Peter launches heart-strong toward Christ. What is it that you are waiting for? What is it that you have returned to because you have felt the sting of your own denial? What is it that you feel unworthy to do?

Jesus has followed-up on His beloved disciples. They have gone back to fishing and returned to the life they knew before His calling. Little did they know that there was something greater awaiting them in the future. Peter, never the one to remain sedentary, jumps into the water to rush ahead to meet Christ. What can we learn as leaders from this quick incident?

Leaders are going to make mistakes.

Peter is a perfect example of a leader who longs to please Jesus, serve His cause and still fail. Leaders are human…even spiritual ones. Peter is however re-instated by Jesus as a leader for the church and God used Him in great ways regardless of his past mistakes. Don’t let the fear of failing keep you from moving ahead. Your past can be a springboard the Lord uses to launch you into a completely new direction!

Leaders take initiative.

Regardless of the outcome, leaders must step-up and step-out. Many times throughout his life, Peter put his foot in his mouth; but everyone knew exactly where Peter stood (on his tongue…a bad joke, I know!) Peter, ever the leader, jumps off the boat and swims to shore to meet the Lord. It’s important that leaders take the steps toward reconciliation and relational mending. Jesus modeled this ultimately by His coming to bring us back to God. And it is Jesus who first initiates a renewed relationship with Peter after the resurrection (Mark 16:7).

In this case, Peter shows his desire to be close to the Lord and have that sweet fellowship renewed. Leaders have to place a high regard and importance on relationships and always be moving toward unity and love. Even after their breakfast, Peter is not questioned on his ability but his love for the Lord. Leaders must place love for the Lord and people as their highest callings and take initiatives to cultivate those kind of relationships.

Leaders take risks.

Safety is not the role for the leader. He must be wiling to dive into the great unknown. Peter’s dive into the water here is symbolic of a baptism. He is abandoning this way of life for good. Peter has left it before but returned to it once more after his denial and then the Lord’s subsequent death. This jumping into the water paints the picture of leaving the past behind and moving ever closer to the Lord.

Jesus and Peter have a discussion after the breakfast about Peter’s love and new commissioning into service. Jesus asks Peter first: do you love me more than these? These things to which you have returned? These people that never denied? These things in which you take comfort? Peter, are you really willing to love me more than anything? Are you really willing to risk it all? Peter humbly says yes. He understands the risk being placed on him. Jesus was willing to risk on Peter once again. He will take the risk on you, also.

Leaders lead.

Shortly after reaching shore, Peter is commissioned by Christ to lead and teach people. Christ was now truly making Peter a “fisher of men” and Peter was adopting that role. Having abandoned the Lord three times, Peter is now admonished three times to fulfill leadership within the church.  And Peter does. He leads and lives out his calling. Where is God calling you to lead? What are you going to have to leave behind? What role of leadership do you need to respond to?

Final thought: When you see the Lord, don’t hesitate or wait…jump! Be obedient to His calling and your life will make a splash!