Tag Archive | pride

A Wise Leader (Part 1)

© Depositphotos.com/ robertprzybysz

© Depositphotos.com/
robertprzybysz

This is a multi-part blog based on my experience of learning to ask for, receive and accept feedback.

Love and truth form a good leader; sound leadership is founded on loving integrity. Proverbs 20:28 (The Message)

I’m involved in a two-year leadership program at my church. It’s been both challenging and rewarding as we learn about leadership characteristics, church history and movements, and ultimately, what it means to be a Christ follower leading with a servant’s heart. We also break into smaller discipleship groups and talk specifically about what God is doing in our lives, how He’s teaching, loving and caring for us, as well as using us to show His love and compassion to others. Each week we set ourselves aside and soak up what the speaker has to say, what God wants us to hear and how we can move more freely in what He wants us to do. It’s truly a great opportunity to come alongside others who want to be living fully in God’s presence specifically in an area of leadership, wherever that may be.

Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. Proverbs 15:31 (NIV)

A few weeks ago we heard a talk about feedback versus criticism (delivered by my wonderful husband, Craig, by the way). I admit this has been a very difficult place for me. I hear through the lens of criticism most of the time. I’ve realized over the last two years that I do not trust many people and even those I trust most, I am still hesitant with in certain situations and with certain topics. I don’t expect others to think the best of me. I also expect to be sacrificed for the sake of others.

God’s love, and the way we are to love each other, is a sacrificial love. It’s a love that gives, serves and even dies for another. But this sacrificial love requires a willingness on the part of the one sacrificing. It is a choice to put yourself in front of an issue and take a stand understanding the risk versus someone taking a step back or no step at all and putting you out in front to take the brunt of the problem.

What I’ve come to understand and am learning to accept is that God is my protection regardless if I’m “sacrificed” by my own choice or the decision of others. Regardless of what comes at me or what I’m thrown into, God has my back. He loves me unconditionally and I am safe, accepted, protected, and loved simply because I trust Him to do so. He is the One through whom all blessings flow, all good things come and He will never leave me to figure things out on my own. He’s in it with me. I just need to trust and obey.

So, back to the point of my message … feedback and criticism.

We were tasked with sending out a review to people who are over, under and next to us. In other words, those who we answer to in our work or volunteering, those we work or serve alongside and those who answer to us in some role or have experienced us as leaders. This can include at work, at church, in ministry, volunteering, family and even friends. (i.e., my husband and I are part of a small group and we’ve organized many functions together. They know how I operate in a group setting working together to accomplish a common goal.)

After I sent the survey, the first thing I did was make a list of every negative thing people could say so that nothing would surprise me. This way, maybe it wouldn’t hurt so bad to actually hear what a failure I’ve been. The next thing was to go through the list of rated questions and rate myself. I don’t know that I would actually recommend doing either of these things, but it’s just the truth of what I did at the time.

We received our responses this week. In my next blogs I’d like to share a few things I learned about myself and others through this process. For now, I wonder if you’d be willing to consider a few questions yourself.

Something to Consider…

  1. Do you understand the difference between feedback and criticism? Here is a simple definition of each:

Criticism – to find or point out fault

Feedback – to give evaluative or corrective information

Criticism tells you what you did wrong. Feedback helps you move forward. In The 360 Degree Leader, John Maxwell addresses this topic. I highly encourage you to check out this book if you are interested in growing as a leader.

  1. How well do you do at giving and receiving feedback? Do you dread hearing what others have to say about your quality of work or your ability to respond and interact with others? Or do you welcome counsel and advice about how to improve your skills both practically and relationally?
  2. How might God want to grow you in this area? How might God want to use you to help others grow in this area?

 

Why Go to Church?

IMG_1781“He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.” Luke 4:16a

“Jesus then left that place and went into the region of Judea and across the Jordan. Again crowds of people came to him, and as was his custom, he taught them.” Mark 10:1

I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with Christians about why we go to church. Or better yet, why people don’t want to go to church. Conversations that honestly surprise me. I don’t expect people who don’t know Jesus to want to go to church. But when they decide to seek Jesus, when they decide they want to at least get some information about knowing Jesus, people often decide to go to church. So if those who don’t know Jesus go to church to find Him, why don’t those who know Him go there to experience His presence as well? Why don’t those who know Him go there to help others find Him?

Going to church is not a salvation issue. Let me repeat, not going to church will not send you to hell if you know Jesus and have faith in His saving grace.

You are not a bad person for not going to church. However, you are a sinner. And I’m a sinner. And in Christ we are washed cleaned clothed in His righteousness and are adopted into the family of God as His child.

So if you are a Christian and you battle with why you should go to church, let me offer this one perspective and hopefully you will find it to be an encouragement to begin or continue going to church.

We have an opportunity to know God and experience His presence. Jesus promises that when two or more gather together, there He is as well. (Matthew 18) So when we come together at church, as the church, we join in unity with others to love and worship God and experience His presence. Yes, we can meet other places but understand that the gathering of God’s people is His church so you may already be doing the very thing you think you don’t want to do. And when we gather and God is present, there is joy and blessing found in His presence. Do you need a little joy in your life? Go to church with the expectation of experiencing God’s presence and joy.

We also have the opportunity to love others who love Jesus. Just like you go to visit your family at their homes for various reasons at various times because you love them, we can gather together and spend time with our spiritual family. Each person who knows Jesus is your brother or sister in Christ. Do brothers and sisters sometimes hurt each other? Of course they do. People who go to church are no different. Sometimes there are pains and hurts, but in Christ, the goal is restoration and reconciliation. The hope is that those difficulties can be overcome because God is our perfect Father who works out our relationships. He helps us understand what it means to love our families the way He loves us. Do you need some hope for your family and relationships? Go to church with an expectation of help to love and hope that it will be better.

And we have the opportunity to love those who are wanting to know Jesus and looking for a family of their own. You can be the one to introduce them to Jesus. Do you need to be at church to do this? No. Hopefully, you are introducing people to Jesus all the time because you display Him through your words and actions. They know the truth about Him because of who He is in you. Do you let Him show? Do you want others to know Him? Do you want to be encouraged by the hearts of those seeking Jesus so that you can remember why it matters? Go to church with a heart set on Christ so you can see others through His eyes.

There is one issue of salvation: Do you know the Lord Jesus Christ?

Then there are issues of the heart. Is church an issue of your heart? Ask Jesus to be the ultimate authority on whether or not you go.

“Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.” Matthew 4:25

We have the opportunity to gather together to hear the teachings of Jesus from someone anointed with the Holy Spirit to preach and teach His Word. People came from all over traveling great distances on foot so they could be in the presence of Jesus. You can give whatever reasons you want not to go, but Jesus went, so I go, too. He is the one whose example I want to follow.

That’s Not How It Works

grass and sunset“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins… But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved… For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.Ephesians 2:1a, 4-5, 8-9

I love the commercial with the older woman who “posts” her events to her wall … not her Facebook wall, but the actual wall in her home. She puts up notes and pictures and has friends over to see them. When her friend calls her out on something, she unfriends her while she’s sitting in her living room.

This same friend is befuddled and tells her very clearly, “That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works.”

While many people do “get” how Facebook works, many people like to make up their own ideas about Jesus.

Here are a few ways people misunderstand how God works:

  1. It doesn’t really matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.

God is the Sovereign Creator, Ruler of all. He either is or He isn’t. He can’t be for some and not others which means what He says goes for all people. Your sincere acknowledgement of Him is key in your relationship with Him.

  1. You can pick and choose what you want to believe from the Bible.

The Bible is God’s inspired word, His testimony about Himself, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. You can’t pick and choose what you want to believe. If you told a story about your own life and someone said part of it wasn’t true, they’d be wrong and be calling you a liar or you would actually be a liar. Is God trustworthy or is He a liar? He can’t be both.

  1. God sends people to hell.

Jesus came for all who need a Savior. God doesn’t send people to hell. We end up there based on our own choices and God actually makes it possible for you to be saved from the consequences of those choices. You have free will to choose not to go to hell. You don’t want to be a robot to God and God is clearly not a vending machine so the only thing left is a relationship which is found through faith in Jesus. We all sin and fall short. The only thing that keeps you from God is believing you don’t need Him.

What misconceptions have you heard from others and you think, “That’s not how it works.” Are you a good enough friend to tell them?

Maybe you’re the one with questions needing a help section on just what faith in Christ is all about. How does it work? Why does it matter?

The good news is that God is not only willing to communicate with you, He is very clear in His answers.

It often appears that we want a God with some wiggle room, but instead we have a God who is merciful in our failings. We want a God who dismisses our sin as simple choices of lifestyle or personalities. After all, He’s the one who created us this way. But instead, we have a God who asks us to participate in the life He’s given us according to His ways. He asks us to sacrifice our own ways for His. He creates us and then asks us to let Him transform us into a new creation through a second birth. We are born into sin. All of us. And every person has a transformation waiting for them if only they would come and let God work in their lives. And this work only comes through the grace offered in faith through Jesus Christ.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

This is how it works.

Searching for some answers to your difficult questions regarding the Christian faith? Check out Alpha and find a course near you!

Time Well Spent

It’s been a while since I’ve written…well, since I’ve written a post. I’ve actually been doing quite a bit of writing the past two months. I am almost finished with my third Bible Study!

Living in the Light of God’s Love: Walk This Way is based on the book of 1 John. I knew this book was about love, but I originally saw it as God’s love for us. After digging in and doing a bit of research and study, I realized it’s as much about our love for Him and each other. The key verse that caught my attention is “Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:6.

How did Jesus walk?

He spent time in fellowship with His disciples and anyone who wanted to know His truth. He spoke His truth and shined His light into every situation.

He was obedient to His Father always doing and only doing those things His Father was doing. God can be in everything you do whether it’s praying for healing or taking a nap.

He was humble, so humble. I think of all He faced while here for 33 short years: resentment, mocking, scorn, anger, hatred, temptation and of course, physical suffering and death on a cross. And these challenges didn’t only come from those you would expect to hate Him but from His own family and those who claimed to know and love God.  Our own pride is often a bigger problem than anything else that can come at us.

He knew God’s Word. Yes, He is God’s Word but still, He studied it, knew it and used it. We are to do the same. And through reading the Bible and participating in studies such as this one, we grown in wisdom and our understanding of Him.

And finally, He prayed. He drew close to His loving Father and lived a life of purpose for Him. Can anything else we do here on this earth even compare with living a life of purpose for our God?

These are the five disciplines we will be discussing during this study: Fellowship, Obedience, Humility, Meditation and Prayer.

I would love to have you join me for the study this summer. Workbooks are $10 and we meet in Ramsey, MN in both the morning and evening. You can either register or just purchase the workbook online through Northgate Church.

I’m in the process of the final edits and I am completely blessed as I read through the material one more time remembering all God has done and revealed to me this spring!

Say What?

“Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it.” Mark  7:36 (NIV)

I was reading Mark 7 the other day as part of my morning devotions. Jesus taught on inner purity, what makes a person clean or unclean, and had cast out a demon from a girl. He then went on to heal many people and everyone was amazed.

So why would He want them to kept quiet? Why not tell everyone what He had done?

As I mulled over this awhile, I continued to read the rest of the verse. “But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it.” Mark 7:36b

Isn’t that just like us! He tells them not to talk and the first thing they do is go out and open their mouths.

Have you ever been caught in that situation? You are having a conversation with a friend, co-worker or maybe a spouse and you’ve been asked to not share the information with others. Often, it may not be asked out-right but you know based on the sensitive information that your confidentiality is implied and expected. Yet, you find yourself with someone who either doesn’t know the person or who, of course, you trust and you spill the beans.

Maybe you want others to know how concerned you are for your friend. Maybe you want someone to comfort you in your difficult relationship. Or maybe you live through the stories of others you know, good or bad. Even our prayer requests can reveal too much information about someone else.

There is another side to this scenario with Jesus. In Matthew 28, after Jesus has been crucified, died and buried, He is raised from the dead. His last words to His disciples before He ascends into heaven are “GO TELL!”

“(Jesus said) ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.’” Matthew 28:19-20a (NIV)

And here we are again, Jesus says tell and so many times we don’t. We are afraid of the consequences of speaking about Jesus. We hold so tight to the fear of rejection and the rules of the world that when given the opportunity to share Jesus, we fold. He opens the door and we close it.

Fortunately, the disciples did go and tell. That’s why we are here today seeking Jesus. If they had not told, what would be our state? I know what mine would be. It wasn’t that long ago that I was living like I didn’t know Jesus. But now I know, so I tell.

Something to Consider…

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?'” Romans 10:14

Do your words bring glory to God? Do they reveal the true nature of the One who saved you?

As you consider what you are willing to talk about and what you aren’t, ask God to show you how to bring your words into alignment with His will.

We don’t always understand why we should or shouldn’t talk, but obedience doesn’t call for understanding first and complying second. Let God lead your words.

Tell Him About It

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (NIV)

One of the hardest things to do is admit I was wrong. There are times I didn’t see it as wrong and there are others when I knew my action or reaction was hurtful, disrespectful or simply not the best thing to do. I replied out of anger or self-righteousness when I really had no compassion or understanding. I put my wants and desires first, even before God.

God’s Word says we all sin, we’ve all fallen short of God’s glory. When we act like we don’t sin or think what we do doesn’t really matter, we deceive ourselves. Not only that, but by believing we don’t do anything wrong, we call God a liar.

You may think, “I’ve never called God a liar.”

Everything we say falls into three categories: it’s true, it’s a lie and we know it, or it’s a lie and we don’t know it. If we don’t believe God is telling the truth, then we call Him a liar.

1 John 1:10 says if we really think God is lying; no part of His Word has any place in our lives. We can’t pick and choose what we want to believe and dismiss the rest. God’s Word says we’ve ALL sinned, that includes you and me. God’s Word is either true or not and we shouldn’t live by a lie.

My daughters often ask questions about the Bible. They don’t understand what certain Scripture means in general or what it means for them. For a very long time, I felt the same way and still do on occasion. What I tell them is that I believe it’s all true and I ask God to show me how it’s true. I pray for His wisdom and understanding because in my own mind, I don’t and can’t really understand. Sometimes, I simply don’t want to understand because the truth can be really difficult to accept.

It’s hard to admit our sin, our shortcomings, our flat-out disobedience and selfish behavior. What if when we acknowledge what we’ve done, our family and friends get angry and leave us? It is possible. But hopefully, our family and friends love us for who we are and not what we do. Hopefully, they will forgive and love us all the more for being a person of honesty and integrity, wanting to make things right.

Regardless of what the people in our lives do, when we confess our sins to God, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins. He doesn’t leave us; He loves us. He doesn’t relive what we’ve done, holding it over our heads; He takes it away. He sent His Son, Jesus, to do just this. Through our faith in Him, our sins no longer exists. God sees us new.

Something to Consider…

God is for you, loves you, and is waiting for you to be honest with Him regarding every part of your life.

Is there is a situation, behavior or attitude that keeps you at a distance from God or others? Choose to tell Him about it. The truth is He already knows but by talking to Him about it, you choose to be open to what He has to say about it.

Confess it to God. Ask Him to help you understand how to handle the situation or change the behavior or attitude. He will forgive you and help you live out His right ways.

Today, What Will You Choose?

“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.’” Hebrews 3:12-15

This is one of my favorite passages. It is a great reminder that Today, this day,  I need to listen to God and be open to what He wants to say to me, do in me and do through me. When I give into sin, I have turned from God. Will I choose to be open to Him showing me the truth of my sin or will I harden my heart to Him?

There are many days when I feel like I struggle, running from one thing to another, not really sure of what I’ve accomplished or am trying to accomplish. I get tied up in my responsibilities and expectations and begin to turn inward thinking of what I want, don’t have and deserve. This includes respect from others, acknowledgement and appreciation for what I do, and time to just relax and chill out.

We all want to know that what we do matters and rest is necessary. But when these thoughts affect our attitudes and how we interact with others, a wall begins to be built. Or maybe better yet, a tower with each of us at the top. “I know better, understand more and work harder” become the thoughts of the day. “I deserve a break.”

The truth is regardless of the respect, acknowledgement and appreciation we receive from others, God knows what we do and He knows our heart condition at the time. People are not perfect; that includes you and me. If we choose to serve people with an expectation from them, we will be disappointed. But, if we choose to keep our hearts set on Jesus and serve God by serving others, we know His approval is all we need. He knows better and understands more than we ever can.

I have experienced the peace and rest of God in the most chaotic and emotionally trying times of my life. It did not come from chilling out, zoning out or ignoring His call. It is the peace that comes only from being in the center of His will, doing what His voice has called me to do. When we harden our hearts to His voice, no earthly rest can restore and renew our spirits the way His does.

Something to Consider…

It is very easy to get caught up in everything this world has to offer and the busyness of life and miss the small, still, quiet voice of God. Have you stopped to listen for His voice? Have you heard His voice but dismissed it, denied it or ignored it?

You cannot harden your heart to God and enter His rest. His rest comes when you let Him into your heart. He will not break through your wall or tear down your tower without your permission. But He will help you remove each brick you’ve put in place if you ask. This is His desire; for you to know His peace and rest.

Choose Today to stop and listen. Allow Him to soften your heart to His Word and Truth. Ask for and receive the peace and rest that only He can offer through His Son, Jesus Christ.