Leadership vs. Christian Leadership

Christianity can be lonely. Our convictions can exile us from friends and family. Our standards may cost us our jobs, and can therefore feel very unrewarding to us. As people who should refuse to back down from truth, we will be persecuted. It seems that Sachin H. Jain, writing for the Harvard Business Review sees that the same could be said about leaders leading change in a large organization. In his article titled Coping Techniques for Lonely Change Leaders he acknowledges that when doing what is right for an organization involves changing that organization, there is little gratification, and “often can be a lonely existence” (Jain).  He suggests that to avoid demise one must 1.) Maintain conviction 2.) Avoid haters, 3.) Cultivate a support system, and 4.) Celebrate success.  I’d say each coping technique can be tweaked a bit to wonderfully encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ who feel like they are fighting a losing battle of the faith. They should maintain conviction by being constantly refreshed by the Word of God (Psalm 119:105). They should avoid haters in the sense that they should not cast their pearls before swine (Matt 7:6) or be unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14). They should cultivate a support system by dedicating themselves to a biblically solid church family (Hebrews 10:25). They should celebrate in every circumstance for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (1 Thess. 5:16-18).

Sachin closes by saying, “Yet the work is sometimes frustrating — with rewards that often are not apparent. Building the personal reserve to cope with and manage through the inevitable challenges that one will encounter in these settings will be the difference between making merely an incremental mark and leading lasting change.” What joy and peace we have; though we can resonate with the first statement, a second statement for us can look very different.  We have a different purpose and hope. We can say, “Yet the work is sometimes frustrating — with rewards that often are not apparent. With confident faith in the goodness of God and peace rooted in his sovereignty, the ability to cope with and manage the inevitable challenges that one will encounter in these settings will be the difference between merely living life, and living an abundant life for the glory and honor of the God we so dearly love.”

Peace Within the Gray

PWTGAre you in a gray area? You know, in one of those situation where God hasn’t said stop, but He also hasn’t said go? Though he clearly hasn’t said yes, He definitely hasn’t said no. Do you feel like you’ve been in this or at this for far too long, that it is far too painful, and that you are far too fragile to be able to stay here? Where is the solution? The door isn’t locked, but it isn’t really open either. Do you beg God for an answer? Any answer! Do you cry out to Him for the next step, or for assurance or confidence to do something other than just pray and pray and pray and pray?

Yeah, me too.

And I’ve heard it painfully expressed from so many people lately. Friendships, marriages, careers, and future plans are all in these drab, gray areas.

With my heavy heart thinking of my burdens and the burdens of so many around me, I went to the one place of true comfort, the only source of peace-God’s word. I needed to read and see that He hears me, and that He cares, and that He is doing something now or is going to do something soon. I needed that assurance and that comfort that there is a purpose for where I am at now, and that God can grant peace even in the gray area if I trust in Him.

Among other truths, I ended up being wonderfully encouraged by this compilation of verses all about God hearing us. As I read through them my anxious heart started to feel more at ease, and I noticed something. Twelve of the verses listed came from Psalms, many of which came from David. They sounded so confident. They sounded so sure. It made me wonder, did David really know gray areas?  Was his life mostly easy? Would he be able to comfort someone stuck in a rut?

So I looked up a chronology of David’s life and saw gray upon gray upon gray! I forget that this giant slaying, song writing, legendary man after God’s own heart, lived a very difficult life. Read the list! He was exiled from Saul for 9 years, endured a three year famine, involved in wars, committed horrendous sins of his own, and then saw his own family commit equally horrendous offensive sins, he was tormented during most of his son Absalom’s life, exiled again when he was 65 because of that very son, and many other untold heartaches I am sure.

Yet, this is the man who says all these things about God answering, and delivering, and listening, and saving, and being merciful, and being steadfast, and being gracious and good and loving.  How? And if he can, how can you and I?

Where I landed is that David did (and you and I should do) two main things. He looked back and he looked forward. When I say that “he looked back” I mean that he went through enough in life that he could reflect on and see God’s hand and faithfulness in each circumstance.  He could have confidence that God would not abandon him now because he clearly saw how God did not abandon him in the past.  And he looked WAY back, to the pages of scripture to know God’s character and who He is. And the second thing David models to us, is that He looks forward. He trusts God future plan of perfection. He knows that eventually (even if it is nine years later, or in eternity) God is going to bring resolution, and it will be in His perfect timing and His perfect way.

In order to, like David, have peace in the gray areas you must take time to cleanse your heart of cynicism and search for God. You must trust his Word and his goodness by praying and reading Scripture. That is the only way your heart will change. Yes, this is work. It takes time. It might be hard at first. It might feel like the cliché Sunday School answer. But you CANNOT have peace apart from God and his word. And you cannot know God apart from spending deliberate time with Him. As C.S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity, “God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” So stop just thinking that peace or holiness or contentment is just going to come. It isn’t. It takes work. But the end result of peace is completely worth it-so do it. Look forward and know that you are not going to be in this situation forever; don’t waste this time. Look forward and trust God is working, and that He will work ALL things together for good. You want to grow and be better, and wiser, and more loving, and more patient because of this time. Life is full of ebbing and flowing, and after this trial will come another one, so learn to have peace now so that you can have it in every circumstance. Your gray area, it will be redeemed one way or another. Until that comes-cling to truth that God is present and faithful and loving and has a purpose-search Him to know.

Monday Morning Munch No. 100 – Getting Vulnerable

Reflecting the Son

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Maybe because today marks post No. 100 for Monday Morning Munches, I feel insecure about posting something. I think somewhere in my brain I feel that it’s too significant a milestone to mess up with a lackluster blog that’s perhaps thrown together with human reasoning.

You see, over the last few weeks the Lord has revealed so much to me about me. Primarily that there is a disconnect between what I know in my head and what my heart believes and lives out. Major Lesson: Regardless of all my knowledge, I don’t actually know much of anything (which is why I’m fearful of posting anything on here right now). Here’s the short story:

I love theology, I love studying it and reading books about it. I love wrestling with Scriptures and listening to sermons and discussing the things of God with people smarter than me. I love learning.

The problem…

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