Devotionals For Leaders: By Invitation Only

07 - 10 - 2015

“Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19b

They went back to work with the family. It’s just what you did when you didn’t cut it. After years of studying and training, the rabbi sent them packing back to the family trade. The fishermen found in Matthew 4 were not cut out to be rabbi.

As they are going about their daily routines of mending nets, clearing them of rubbish, they simply do what they were “good enough” to do. They weren’t smart enough or “clean” enough to be considered rabbi material, so there they were doing the only thing they were “qualified” to do. Enter Jesus.

Jesus comes walking along and simply extends an invitation for them to follow Him. Without any hesitation, they leave their family and their family trades to do what they had dreamt of doing since they were little Jewish boys: be a rabbi!

Whether you know it or not, you were created to serve God. You were made by Him and for Him. And even though the rest of the world may not believe you cut it, He believes in you! You may be the last in the class. You may have failed too many times to count, but Jesus still calls you to come and learn from Him. To follow Him. To change the world.

On that glorious day, Jesus walked close enough for them to hear Him extend the invitation of a lifetime. They took Him up on it. I don’t know about you but I sure like to be invited. There’s nothing worse than the feeling that you’re not wanted or welcome. These guys were the outcasts of their time, the rejects, if you will. But here they are now with an invitation from the very Son of God!

How incredible is it when we realize that God has extended a personal invitation to each of us to join Him in His world and His work? Just as God has called you, believes in you and has entrusted things and people into your care, would you extend the same invitation on behalf of the Son of God? Would you be the voice in the storm of rejection and failure that says you’re still wanted and welcome? The fact of the matter may very well be that more people would be willing to join us and God if they simply felt invited. 

Spend some time praying about the people that God wants you to invite into a journey with you and Him. Pray about the people that God wants you to extend the invitation to do life together.

Final thought: Sometimes all it takes is an invitation to change a life.

Advertisements

Devotionals For Leaders: god of feelings. God Of Faith.

god of feelings pic

We walk by faith, not by sight. —2 Corinthians 5:7

There is no other way for a Christian to live than by faith. Yet time after time, we try to live in another way. Whether it’s by sight, or by feelings, or by the counsel of others, we seek to circumvent faith. God will not have it! Faith is required for all those who are called by His name. Hebrews 11:6 makes this abundantly clear:

 Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.

What have you been seeking after lately? Maybe you have been praying for a new sense of direction? Or seeking a new mountaintop experience? Or maybe you have just come to a place where the desire for the work is just not satisfying any longer? Regardless of where you are, God is still there even though you may not sense Him. God calls for us to use a different kind of sense…and uncommon sense called faith. God delights when His children continue to trust Him, knowing His heart, faithfulness and trustworthiness to do all He said he would do, even when they grow tired and weary. Faith is not always easy and this is what God is driving home to you. However, according to the Hebrews 11: 6 verse, faith is always rewarded.

Faith cannot be rooted in feelings for if it were so, your faith would be different each and every day! Faith must be rooted in something that is immutable, unchanging, which alone is God. God is reliable, unlike our feelings and we have to learn to trust even though we do not feel like it. We have to see God come through time and again regardless of how our feelings are. This “absence” of God is merely an absence of feeling God. For many of us, our feelings are our god.

We want to feel good about decisions and life and we wait for those feelings to come. Yet God wants us to know He is good and to trust Him that even though we may not feel good, He is good. This is the essence of faith: God is here, always, unchanging, reliable, and able to do all He said and all He has called you to do. The sooner you can have faith in that, the sooner your feelings will begin to change.  Feelings try to keep you where you are or take you to a place where you once were. Faith always calls you forward; it never allows you to remain where you are.

Leaders must learn to walk by faith. They must be visionaries, not only casting vision but casting themselves into the vision. Faith is throwing oneself overboard like Peter but only at His command. Faith is not stupidity but serious obedience. God is not going to expect you to have faith in Him for something immoral, harmful or ignoble but He will call you to faith to right all of those wrongs. God’s call to faith is for matters and issues of mercy, justice and love and leaders must learn to crawl before walking. Taking simple steps toward issues of conscious and heart demonstrate our faith in God and His power to work through us to bring the world back to Him. Much faith is required.

Sometimes God wants us to stay right where we are doing what we are doing. Yet our feelings want to take us to a place that is more thrilling or exciting. God doesn’t reward us based on the thrill of our adventure but on our “faith”-fulness. The hard decision may be to not move at all until God calls us. Once again like Peter in the boat we need to say: “Lord, if it’s You, command me to come to You…” (Matthew 14:28). Otherwise, don’t seek after new and better feelings…seek the Lord!

Final thought: feelings are not god but trusting in God will bring the right feelings. Faith is best demonstrated when I don’t feel like it but act in obedience to God’s call.

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: 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: 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.