Monthly Archives: October 2019

Balance in Leadership

Almost every character trait needs to be in balance with another character trait and it is wisdom that holds the two in perfect tension with each other. Confidence is a great character trait that is essential for good leaders, but without humility it will move over the line to arrogance. Decisiveness is another character trait that all good leaders posses but without cautiousness it becomes recklessness. Growing to become a very good leader of people is difficult because of the balance needed in a number of areas, and that balance is tough to maintain. The balance and wisdom needed requires a lot of very accurate self-evaluation, self-examination. Positive self-evaluation is nearly impossible without some other people in our life giving us input on how we are doing. As a leader one of the greatest challenges I have is finding people who can give me the input into my life that I need. Some are just to nice and gentle to communicate hard information, others are to mean and judgmental, and some just aren’t observant enough to see beneath the surface of my actions and words to see character. I have discovered over the years those who are good counselors for me as I pursue maturity and leadership excellence. I value them and work at maintaining a relationship that allows me to gain wisdom from them in a relaxed and informal atmosphere rather than from an official evaluation. Writing is the key for me as I use what I hear from others together with my own conclusions concerning my behavior and leadership. Writing stirs my reflective thinking, and it also helps me make changes in myself that stick. The strong desire to grow, to get better is what drives it all, but again balance is required. Without a level of contentment in who I am there becomes an obsession that results in reactive judgments that are not accurate. A slow, steady growth in leadership excellence is my goal.

Pain

I did something to my neck today, I don’t what or when, but tonight it is hurting so bad. It is the kind of pain that makes you nauseous and dizzy. When I hold perfectly still it doesn’t hurt much, but the minute I move at all I feel like I am being stabbed in the neck. I am hoping that it is better after a nights sleep, but I am afraid every time I move that the pain will wake me up. I am hoping that the ibuprofen I took will help, help a lot. I am working very hard right now not to be a whiner and not to spiral down in my thinking as this pain continues. I have always considered myself pretty tough when it comes to pain but tonight I am feeling like a wimp. So I am reading my Bible, praying for everybody in JBC, reading a good book, and memorizing Bible verses. I wonder how I would act and talk if this present pain level was God’s new normal for me. It could be, you never know. So as you pray for me, don’t pray that God takes away my pain and makes everything good as new, instead pray that God gives me His strength and that I think right and don’t ever let myself settle into any kind of self pity. The more pain we can bear up under the faster we will grow in character

Giving

As we consider what disciplines we can do to help in our pursuit of character maturity and the health of our soul, a very important one is giving a portion of our money to our church, to various ministries, and to people with genuine needs.

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

The most important command to each of us is to love God, but if we love the world we can’t love God. Our intimacy and closeness with God is the foundation of a healthy and growing inner person, and nothing messes with our relationship with God as much as our money and our stuff. It is very subtle and most don’t see it happening in their life until they are totally apathetic in seeking God and growing spiritually, and then we don’t care. When we get to that state God will usually cause a crisis in our life that will suck away a bunch of our money and/or stuff, and our joy goes away as well. The story that Jesus tells of the prodigal son is a perfect illustration of this journey that many make away from our Father.

Giving away a portion of our income is God’s plan to inoculate us against the disease of worldliness. Most believers in Jesus don’t give much, if anything to God because they think they need it. When we don’t give to God He blows our money away.

Haggai 1:9 You look for much, but behold, it comes to little; when you bring it home, I blow it away.

But when we give systematically, by commitment, and sacrificially God blesses us, that is we will have enough for our needs, and He will give us great joy.

When Patty and I were first married and trying to make a go of it on the dairy, an older couple in our church counseled us to always give sacrificially to our church no matter how tight our finances were. They made a big impression on us and over the last 50 years of married life we have been faithful to give no matter what.

At this point in my life having turned 71 years old yesterday, I am very convinced that the high level of joy in my life and the blessings of God in every area of my life is because I have worked hard to keep Him first place in my life above anything else.

Growing or Stunted part 3

If I want to press on to maturity, to proactively choose to do what will result in a healthy soul and Christ like character, what do I do? If I were your coach I would say to you, “devote one hour every day without fail to feeding your soul”. Spend 15 minutes every day reading the Bible systematically, which means you have a plan. There are a number of good plans available. I highly recommend the “Bible Project” reading plan. Just Google “Bible Project” and sign up for the reading plan and the video presentations, they are super, the plan gets you through the Bible in one year.

Then spend 15 minutes memorizing key Bible verses, it is amazing how much you will be able to memorize well in just 15 minutes each day. Memorizing and meditating on God’s Word is the most powerful spiritual discipline there is. I highly recommend the App “Bible Memory”, I have memorized over 500 verses since I began using that great tool.

Then spend 15 minutes in focused prayer to God. Focused means you aren’t doing anything else, just talking to God. If you are going to stay focused for 15 minutes without your mind wandering you will need a prayer journal or notebook to write prayers in, and names of people you are praying for and answers to prayer. A prayer notebook is absolutely essential for those who are really serious about being a prayer warrior for God.

And then spend 15 minutes reading in a good book. There are so many really good books available today that will give you real wisdom in any area that you are seeking wisdom in.

One hour a day, every day, without fail, and you will grow steadily more a more like Christ in character. Most won’t do it, it is to hard, it takes to much effort and sacrifice from television or computer games.

Growing or Stunted part 2

When we are babies and young children our physical growth and health is a result of others in our life taking care of us, but when we become adults we choose more and more what we eat, how much we exercise, how much we rest, how overweight we are etc, our physical health is our responsibility. We use how we feel at any given time as a motivation to lose weight, exercise, or go to the doctor. We feel healthy, energized, alive, strong or we feel sick, and tired.

In the same way our growth in character, our inner person, and our spiritual life is a result of others in our life when we are children. I use the term “well parented” for young people who I see with good, godly character, and an obvious spiritual maturity. But as we become adults the responsibility for our character growth, the condition of our soul, and our relationship with God is more and more a result of the choices we make, and the discipline that we exert.

Hebrews 6:1 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity,

Hebrews 5:12-14 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the Word of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

So, how are you doing? How healthy is your soul? How intimate is your relationship with God? How do you feel, healthy or unhealthy? There are several key evaluators we can use to determine our health spiritually, one is our joy level. Psalms 16:11 says, “In the presence of God is fullness of joy”. The biggest misconception in the world today is that our joy comes from circumstances, if I can somehow have a trouble free, stress free, pain free life then I would be happy. Real joy comes only from God, and the absence of joy ought to be a strong motivation to change some things. Another key evaluator of our maturity is the health of our relationships with other people in our life. It is easy to blame others for relational conflicts, but spiritually healthy people whose character is growing have healthy relationships even with difficult, hard to love people.

So, the question again, “How are you doing?” And the most important question, “What are you going to do about it?”

I knew a person who had severe emphysema from smoking and pulled an oxygen bottle with them wherever they went wearing a mask, but they refused to quit smoking and would remove the mask a few minutes at a time in order to puff on a cigarette.

I see a lot of unhappy people running around in today’s world whose life is full of relational conflicts who just keep doing what they are doing, hoping that something will change, and somehow they will find joy and relational peace and love, but don’t do anything to help grow towards being a spiritually healthy person. It was sad to see the person with emphysema continuing to self-destruct their own health, but it is even sadder to see spiritually unhealthy people continue to self-destruct their own soul.

What can you do? Tomorrow.

Growing or Stunted

What we see and experience in life physically is a picture of the spiritual world which we most often don’t understand at all. One of the clear, obvious, and easy to understand illustrations of real life is that from the moment of conception we all are in a constant state of growth. Our inner person , our heart began as we did, a single celled embryo, there was no character, but life, its trials, and it’s pressures cause us, the real us on the inside to grow in character. The purpose of life is to grow up physically and spiritually.

Basketball

The other night I watched the Portland Trailblazers play their first game of the NBA season and they lost, but they looked pretty good. Tonight I am watching the Golden State Warriors play the Clippers. So far the Clippers are stomping the Warriors, but it is still the first quarter. I played basketball in high school and in college for two years then lots of years of church league basketball. My boys played all through high school and college and did well. I didn’t miss very many games in the 8 years that they played, sitting in the stands, yelling, cheering, praying, and covering my eyes at times. I was never very good at basketball, to slow and to short, but I enjoyed playing, and I always played as hard as I could, pretty sure that the team I was on would win every game. I remember the last basketball game I played in, I was 50 years old and we were Dads playing the sons and when it was over I thought to myself, I am not doing that again, and I didn’t.

In the New Testament the Apostle Paul uses sports a number of times to illustrate living the Christian life. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 he says that we as followers of Jesus should put forth the same effort in living our life as servants of Jesus that an athlete does to win. Also that we should exercise the same level of self control to grow in our character that an athlete does to win. I worked as hard as I could in a game to win, and I practiced hard as well. I need to always be diligent, self controlled, and passionate about the days I have been given and make every day count.