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Confident Humility


I’ve been thinking a lot about humility recently.  What is humility? How can you know if you’re humble?  And especially what role does confidence play in humility?

Number 12:3 tells us that Moses was one of the humblest men to ever walk the earth and yet when you read through the life of Moses, you can’t help but notice the extraordinary confidence he possessed in leading God’s people.

It took tremendous confidence for Moses to stand before the most powerful man of his day (Pharaoh) and demand that he “Let my people go!” It took tremendous confidence for Moses to lead the children of Israel down a blind canyon to the Red Sea with Pharaoh and his entire army in hot pursuit. It took tremendous confidence for Moses to gather the Levites and order them to go and slay their brothers who were sinning wickedly at the foot of Mt. Sinai.

I think that the key to reconciling the confidence of a man like Moses with what the Scripture clearly says about his humility is by understanding where Moses’ confidence was placed.  He certainly was not confident in his own abilities.  In fact, God practically had to wrestle Him into going on this rescue mission to the Israelites.  His confidence certainly wasn’t in his leadership skills or his public speaking skills.  No, Moses confidence was squarely placed in the fact that he knew God and that he trusted God’s words.

Moses lived a life of “confident humility”.  He was not confident in himself or his own wisdom, but he was supremely confident in God and His Word.  I think this is one of the primary keys to growing in humility.  To grow in humility does not mean that we are constantly second guessing ourselves, or throwing dust and ashes upon our heads.  To grow in humility means that we are shrinking in our confidence in ourselves and growing in our confidence in God and His Word. That’s what it means to live a life like Moses, a life of confident humility.

February 07 2011 | Blog | 2 Comments »

Motivation & Innovation

Wow, this is a pretty profound look at what actually motivates people in their work lives:

  • Autonomy
  • Mastery
  • Purpose

HT: Vitamin Z

February 04 2011 | Blog | Comments Off on Motivation & Innovation

What is a Leader?

leadershipI’ve been thinking a lot about leadership lately and specifically the question of what is a leader.  This is a many-faceted answer, so I don’t intend to give an all consuming definition in this post but I have been chewing on something for a few months that has been helpful to me in thinking through what a leader is.

Several years ago I lead a mission trip to Baja, CA.  We built a Sunday School room, conducted several VBS programs and held night services, so it was a pretty busy time.  As I was planning for the trip I realized that there were more tasks to be accomplished than we had people to accomplish them, so I was greatly tempted to assign myself an area of responsibility (i.e. running VBS) in addition to leading the team.  Thankfully I resisted the temptation, found the right people to do the jobs and allowed myself the luxury of simply leading the team.

When we arrived in Baja I realized that there were a thousand things that I either hadn’t been aware of or hadn’t thought of which needed significant attention.  Fortunately, because I hadn’t assigned myself any major tasks (other than leading), I was able to give attention to all of the various obstacles that came up and the trip was a big success.

So, what is a leader?  In a word, “available.”  Part of the job of leadership is simply being available to deal with unexpected situations, crisis, and people.  But in order to be available leaders must be very careful not to overschedule their days or overcommit themselves to the point where they are no longer available.  In short, leaders must build in “margin” to their lives which allows them to be available so that they can lead.

October 11 2010 | Blog | Comments Off on What is a Leader?

Leaders Alongside

Some excellent thoughts from J.A. Motyer on leadership in the local church.

Philippians 1:1 – “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons.”

How is leadership to be exercised?  What is the relationship between leaders and led?  The one word with provides the answer: ‘…the saints’, writes Paul, ‘…with the bishops and deacons.’  The strong natural leader chooses the easy path of being out front, taking for granted that all will follow; the low-profile leader ‘plays it cool’, submerges his own identity and takes the risk that the tail will soon wag the dog.  The more demanding exercise, the sterner discipline and the more rewarding way are found in companionate leadership, the saints with the overseers and deacons.

This kind of leadership has many facets.  It involves realizing that leader and led share the same Christian experience: both are sinners saved by the same precious blood, always and without distinction wholly dependent on the same patient mercy of God.  It involves putting first whatever creates and maintains the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  It means that leaders see themselves first as members of the body, and only then as ministers…It involves open relationships in which the leaders do not scheme to get their own way or play off one against another, but act with transparent integrity…It is the leadership of those who are content to stand among the saints as those who serve.

The Message of Philippians– J.A. Motyer

August 02 2010 | Blog | Comments Off on Leaders Alongside

Dealing with Disappointment in the Church

Kevin DeYoung has a great three part series (1, 2, 3) on Dealing with Disappointment in the Church over at his blog.  He gives some wonderful practical advice to church leaders and to church members on how to relate to one another.  Here are some of the key points.

First, leaders should ask:

  1. Do we have some mechanism for personally knowing our sheep?
  2. Do we have some way of knowing when people are not showing up at church?
  3. Are we confronting cliquishness in our church?
  4. Are there easy, identifiable ways for the shy, the non go-getters, and the more culturally reserved to get involved and be known by others?
  5. Is it at least possible that we are more at fault than we think?
  6. Have we made promises we didn’t deliver on?
  7. Are these critics generally critical?

And church members should ask:

  1. Did I ever ask for help?
  2. Have I overlooked opportunities to fit in and get to know people?
  3. Is it realistic for the leaders to give to every person in this church the kind of care I expect?
  4. If I really wanted to be loved and noticed why did I stop showing up?
  5. Am I willing to consider that I may be at fault more than I realize?
  6. Is it possible I’ve overlooked ways the body has cared for me because I was hoping a different part of the body would care for me?
  7. In general have I found this church and these leaders to be unloving and unsupportive?

DeYoung wraps up the series with this convicting challenge:

For both sheep and shepherds the indispensable requirements for living together are love and humility. Love to treat others as we want to be treated. Humility to consider how we may be at fault. Disappointment in the church is bound to happen. But it doesn’t have to destroy the unity of the body. The Lord can use our hurts to make all of us slower to speak and quicker to listen.

HT: Justin Taylor

April 15 2010 | Blog | Comments Off on Dealing with Disappointment in the Church

10 Things I’ve Learned About Leadership

I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership recently.  Just yesterday I came across this list of “10 Things I have Learned During Nearly 50 Years in Leadership” by Chuck Swindoll, which I found really helpful.

1) It’s lonely to lead. Leadership involves tough decisions. The tougher the decision, the lonelier it is.

2) It’s dangerous to succeed. I’m most concerned for those who aren’t even 30 and are very gifted and successful. Sometimes God uses someone right out of youth, but usually he uses leaders who have been crushed.

3) It’s hardest at home. No one ever told me this in Seminary.

4) It’s essential to be real. If there’s one realm where phoniness is common, it’s among leaders. Stay real.

5) It’s painful to obey. The Lord will direct you to do some things that won’t be your choice. Invariably you will give up what you want to do for the cross.

6) Brokenness and failure are necessary.

7) Attitude is more important than actions. Your family may not have told you: some of you are hard to be around. A bad attitude overshadows good actions.

8 ) Integrity eclipses image. Today we highlight image. But it’s what you’re doing behind the scenes.

9) God’s way is better than my way.

10) Christlikeness begins and ends with humility.

HT: Vitamin Z

October 15 2009 | Blog | Comments Off on 10 Things I’ve Learned About Leadership

“Margin” Book Review

36820_1_ftc_dp The first time I heard about the concept of margin I was talking to another pastor about his associate pastor.  He explained that his associate pastor was always stressed out because he left no “margin” in his schedule.  I was curious about what that meant, so I asked.  He went on to explain that this associate would schedule his day down to the minute and would then get frustrated when one appointment took longer than he had expected.  He would spend the rest of the day feeling behind because he hadn’t built in any “margin.”

After reading Margin by Richard A. Swenson I’m beginning to see that this concept of leaving space in one’s life applies not only to one’s schedule, but to finances, emotions, and rest as well.  The term “margin” refers to “the space between ourselves and our limits.”  Swenson writes, “When you reach the limits of your resources or abilities, you have no margin left.”  Swenson’s theory is that each person has a maximum capacity of 100% whether it be time, finances, emotions, etc.  Because we only have so much capacity we put ourselves into very dangerous positions when we live our lives at this 100% figure.  The reason for this danger is that when you plan to use all of your capacity, you have no room for the unexpected.  For example, if you budget so that every single penny is spent by the end of the month you have no “margin” for the unexpected car repair, the emergency room visit, etc.  The same is true with our time.  If you budget your time so that every single minute is spent, you have no room for the unexpected talk that you daughter wants to have or the friend who just needs a few minutes of your time and a listening ear.  Swenson writes:

We must have some room to breathe.  We need freedom to think and permission to heal.  Our relationships are being starved to death by velocity.  No one has the time to listen, let alone love.  Our children lay wounded on the ground, run over by our high-speed good intentions.

The solution to the dilemma of living at out limits is “margin”.

Margin is best described as a self-help book.  It definitely incorporates Christian themes, but it is not an overtly biblical book.  This is not to say that Margin is not a helpful book, but it would have been much richer had the author operated out of a biblical world view rather than a psychological world view.

The biblical terminology for what Swenson describes as “margin” is Sabbath.  God created 6 days for work and on the 7th day He rested.  In today’s society hard working men and women are in desperate need of rest (Sabbath).  We must accept our own limitations and to incorporate the discipline of being still.

I enjoyed reading Margin very much.  It is a book full of practical advice on issues ranging from time management to finances.  As long as you approach Margin as a source of very good advice, you will be blessed and will hopefully be challenged enough to create margin in your life and to finally rest.

July 08 2009 | Blog | 1 Comment »

Seth Godin on Tribes

Seth Godin is a marketing guru who I like to read (I know, how random is that!), if for no other reason than that he is a clear thinker.  Seth knows how to write and how to communicate in a way that is compelling and interesting.  This is one of his speeches (17 minutes), from a recent conference, on the concept of tribes.

HT: What’s Best Next

Why tribes, not money or factories, will change the world: Seth Godin on– Watch more Videos at Vodpod.

June 02 2009 | Blog | 2 Comments »

Quotes on My Mind

Here are some quotes that I’ve been thinking about lately.
“Don’t be a wandering generality, be a meaningful specific.” – Seth Godin

“Brave people think things through and ask, “Is this the best way to do this?” Cowards, on the other hand, always say “It can’t be done.” – The Children’s Treasury of Virtues

February 12 2009 | Blog | Comments Off on Quotes on My Mind

Unity from the Top Down

Yesterday I preached on the 133rd Psalm and the topic of unity. As with any sermon, you’re never able to say everything that is on your mind, so I’d like to take a moment and comment on one aspect of unity that I wasn’t able to mention yesterday.

Verses 2-3 of Psalm 133 contain two pictures of the blessing of unity. The first of these pictures is of the anointing of Aaron to the priesthood. Verse 2 says, “It [Unity] is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!” The pictures is of this blessing of unity beginning at the top of Aaron’s head and making its way down throughout his entire body and ending up on the fringes of his robes. The second picture is of the abundant water supply of Mt. Hermon falling upon the barren mountain of Zion. “It [Unity]is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion!” As I mentioned yesterday the image is of the water of Mount Hermon, located far in the north, making its way down through the entire country and nourishing Mount Zion in Jerusalem. In both images the imagery is of the blessing of unity coming down from the top to the bottom, in fact the same Hebrew word is used in verses 2 & 3. In verse 2 it translates “running down” and in verse 3 it translates “falls.”

Both of these images point to an important spiritual truth: Unity in the church begins at the top and it flows down throughout the body. When the leadership in a church are united that unity will naturally spread throughout the whole body. When the leadership in a church is full of factions and divisions the church will be full of factions and divisions. The old saying is true, “Like Shepherd, like sheep.” There is a tremendous responsibility on the part of the pastors and elders of a church to be united. This does not mean that we always agree with one another all the time or that we simply acquiesce to the majority opinion, but it does mean that we dwell together in unity around the common foundation of the gospel. It means that we always think the best of each other, giving each other the benefit of the doubt and that even when we disagree we still walk away as brothers. Unity in the church begins at the top and it flows down throughout the body. I am tremendously privliged to serve in a church where the leadership models this Psalm 133 form of unity.

August 13 2007 | Blog | 1 Comment »

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