There is no greater time than now in our postmodern and turbulent time for a refined understanding of Christian leadership and how a person is formed spiritually in Christ. Further, leadership research has evolved to a point where we can no longer understand qualities of leadership character, but must understand also the process of "how" leaders develop into "good" and "godly" leaders. With this in mind, this book focuses on the assertion that leadership, or influence, does not arise from a concerted, directed effort, but occurs through and by way of a leaders character that is enveloped by Gods moral and virtuous character.
This formation process is not simplistic in nature. Surface level reading of Scripture might not reveal the deepest insight possible as to what is required for spiritual transformation. Instead, insight that transcends reading the Scriptures through our own cultural lens that is accomplished by way of a social-historical analysis of the first-century church is deeply needed for understanding the complexity and intricacies associated with defining leadership character and how it is formed.
Based on this form of biblical analysis this book seeks to explain how virtue is developed, the tools God uses to develop virtue, cultural barriers that prevent spiritual formation, and what form of leadership is needed in the multi-cultural world global organizations must operate in. Faulhaber explains leadership as an outcome or manifestation of [a] persons character. As such, from the Christian perspective, as a persons character becomes more Christlike, that person becomes a more effective leader. Faulhaber encourages leadership based upon love of others, rather than love of self.
Ultimately, she promotes virtuous leadership, which she argues counters modern concepts of leadership. She writes that todays society focuses upon values, which are relativistic, whereas virtue is tied to objective moral truths. Such an overwhelming experience is bound to have some impact on our lives. In view of the personal relationship God has purchased and established with me, no mere ceremony or ritual is enough to offer him; he deserves the intelligent and rational surrender of every fiber of my being to him.
Douglas Rumford makes a profound statement in his book SoulShaping. Once they are chosen, many other choices follow as a matter of course. But how are we to know that our commitment to God will be honored? All of the commitments we make should flow from the commitment God has first made to us. Once God committed himself to our highest good, his will toward us was sealed. God tells us that he is committed to all who are in Christ, and that our relationship with him will last forever.
I will be their God, and they will be my people. This is what the Lord says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar — the Lord Almighty is his name: The ultimate basis for security and significance in life relates to commitment security and to how long something will last significance.
In these six verses, God provides for his people a sense of both security and significance — a sure word that his commitment to them will never fail. In spite of the rebelliousness of the people of Judah, the Lord assured them through the prophet Jeremiah that he was committed to their ultimate good. In this covenant, God commits himself to the welfare of the house of Israel and Judah and predicts a time when they will all know him and when his law will be written on their hearts.
He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. We worry away our lives, fearing the future, discontent with the present, unable to take in the idea of dying, unable to sit still. His commitment to us empowers us to follow through on our commitment to him. Quality relationships are founded on the rock of commitment, not the shifting sand of feelings or emotions. God calls us to be people of commitment, first to him and then to others. We even hear this in his final words:. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.
But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our fathers up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes.
He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. And the Lord drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you. On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he drew up for them decrees and laws.
And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the Lord. It has heard all the words the Lord has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God.
Joshua told the people that even if they chose not to serve the Lord, they would still not be exempt from service. If we do not serve the Creator, we will unavoidably serve some part of the creation. But the gods of success, position and possessions are cruel taskmasters and never deliver the profound satisfaction they promise. God alone is the worthy object of our total commitment, and if we direct our highest commitment to anything else, we commit idolatry.
We were designed to serve God and to find our deepest satisfaction in him, but we will be half-hearted at best if we try to play by two sets of rules and serve two masters Luke In the movie City Slickers , Billy Crystal plays Mitch — a confused, dissatisfied man with a vague sense that life is passing him by.
Something about this strikes a chord deep within Mitch. His life is a mess; he feels pulled by his obligations to his family and his desire for fulfillment at his work — torn between his need for security and his longing for excitement. Like many men, Mitch is divided. His life is about too many different things. Thus, he feels it is about nothing. Believe it or not, the wise, old cowboy is parroting Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, who saw double-mindedness as the primary affliction of modern man.
The sickness, according to Kierkegaard, is really a failure to achieve an integrated life, a life that is focused on one thing. Many of those who followed Jesus were merely curious. Others were convinced of the truth of what he was teaching, but only a few were fully and personally committed to him.
When his uncommitted followers began to leave him in response to his difficult sayings, Jesus turned to the 12 and asked if they wanted to leave with the others. Although it is doubtful that they understood the Lord better than those who were leaving, they realized that once having committed themselves to him, there was no turning back John 6: Failure to do so leads to misery and a lack of effectiveness in ministry. Woe to those weak and timid souls who are divided between God and their world!
They want and they do not want. They are torn by desire and remorse at the same time…. They have a horror of evil and a shame of good. They have the pains of virtue without tasting its sweet consolations. O how wretched they are. Have you assessed how that commitment has been played out in your life? In what ways has your level of commitment to the Lord been conditioned by your understanding of what he is doing in your life?
The call to commitment is a call to constant vigilance in maintaining and understanding the standards of that commitment. No matter what distractions a godly leader may encounter, he or she needs to maintain his or her focus on serving the Lord. How on earth do leaders establish and retain committed followers?
How, in some cases, do we get ourselves committed enough to pay the high price of success? God knows how, and the prophet Habakkuk models an essential truth about God-focused commitment:. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. What a refreshing statement! Many leaders would love to have followers who are this committed to the cause.
In fact, many leaders would love to have this level of commitment to their own cause. In Habakkuk chapter 2, God explained his justice and his majesty to the prophet. In the absence of a life-consuming ideal, asking for the level of commitment Habakkuk expressed is absurd. Leaders must identify what it is within their organization that is genuinely worthy of commitment. Until leaders complete this definition, they sound rather shallow even talking about it. What does commitment look like in a leader, and how can we practice it?
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? Jesus spoke these words to his disciples, but they still call us to action today. Through these living words, Jesus makes it clear that he requires total commitment of his followers. He said that unless one commits everything, one loses everything.
For the Christian leader, that commitment must remain strong until the end of our earthly walk. Inspirational and motivational speaker Og Mandino expands on the necessity of strong, long-term commitment. Discouraged, and facing the thought of returning home to his very poor family empty-handed, Solano claimed he had picked up about , rocks and was quitting. I think he [Solano] must have known a happiness that went beyond the financial.
He had set his course; the odds were against him; he had persevered; he had won. He had not only done what he had set out to do — which is a reward in itself — but he had done it in the face of failure and obscurity. But he also knew that anything less than a total commitment to achieving the prize would not suffice.
Chesterton, The Collected Works of G. George Marlin San Francisco: Ignatius, , 4: Emily Morison Beck Boston: Little, Brown, , p. Harper Collins, , p. Bantam Books, , pp. The following is a modified transcript of the audio teaching by Dr. Ken Boa from the leadership series on the subject of courage and risk taking. Pilate was merciful until it became risky. The fact is courage is a powerful quality that animates all the other virtues in your life because to have the courage of your convictions and to follow through requires then a measure of risk in this world, particularly if your convictions are based upon revelation.
That is a tremendous risk for man to take because to obey God means that we treasure the unseen. The things that are seen are temporary. The things that are unseen will endure forever. I want us to turn first to a central passage in scripture for courage and risk taking. In Joshua 1, God encourages Joshua before the conquest of the Promised Land and He repeatedly gives him this word of comfort and encouragement to be strong and courageous.
This has to do with the transition of leadership from Moses to Joshua. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.
This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! I want you to notice some things that God gives him here on this verge. These are people who were not really well equipped. They were a people who were nomadic shepherds and for them to go against this kind of opposition would require and enormous amount of courage.
There are 3 things God gave him in this text. God reminds Joshua how He had been faithful in keeping covenant and in keeping His promises with His people from the very beginning. Yet your success will not rest indeed on a military strategy or even on a well-trained army but your success will rest on the faithfulness of My promises.
The second thing that God does is He commands Joshua to meditate on His word. You cannot really take risks of obedience if your mind is not being renewed in this world. If you are not embracing an eternal perspective in this temporal world your mind will be conformed to the world system and you will not be able to go against the current culture. To obey God means that you go against the current of the culture. It is often counter cultural, counter intuitive, for us to follow these things that He commands us to do for our good. You will not be a different man. You will be a man who is conformed not transformed.
He says; I want you to be a man of wisdom and encouragement and that you gain your insight and wisdom and stability and shalom from the word. Besides the fact that God keeps His promises and is faithful and beside the fact that He has given us this word, this treasury so that you can begin and continue to renew your mind, He promises to be personally present with Joshua. In that promise He says; I, Myself, will go with you. You read this book and you discover the reality and He guides him along the way. My point is that we have the same 3 sources of courage in our lives today.
He has given you a history in your life as well when you review what He has done. God really is faithful to keep His promises when we look back. Secondly, God has invited us to also be men of the word so we have an eternal perspective in this temporal world. We do not go it alone. Those sources of encouragement are summarized again in Joshua 1: I want us to turn to a passage that embeds this idea of courage in the character of God and it is Hebrews 6: There is, as you know in this world no such thing as a sure thing.
In this world nothing appears to be certain. We cannot really control the outcome of a single day. When we think we are in control we have only bought an illusion. Paul Tourney used an analogy about the idea of life as sometimes like a trapeze act where you can swing on the bar. You can exercise and build muscle all you want but if you want to excel, what do you have to do? You have to let go of the bar. The point is you have to let go with nothing beneath you and reach out for the next trapeze bar.
The fact is that a turtle never moves forward until he sticks his neck out. You have to move forward and you have to take some risks. The first reason why His promises are certain is the unchanging character of His purpose. In verse 16 He talks about His promises to Abraham and He swore since there was nothing greater for Him to swear by, He swore by Himself. There is no higher authority. So He basically swears by Himself.
In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
First of all, God does not break His promises. His character is immutable which means it will not change. He will not be in a good mood or a bad mood in the sense of vacillating. His character and integrity will not change. His immutable character and promises flow out of His unchanging character and become the two things then that this text invites us to see that gives us real stability. Now as inhabitants of this world it takes still real courage to risk everything on the promises of God. At least if you hope in the promises of this world you have something tangible and visible that gives you the illusion of bolstering confidence.
So it says in Romans 8: But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. One hundred out of people will die on this planet. We realize not only the brevity of this earthly sojourn but we also recognize there are powerful evidences that would cause us to see that embracing Christ is not a leap in the dark but a step in the light. That book deals with the reality that there is very good evidence for us to believe.
The book starts with a skeptical stance and assumes that a person is not even sure you can know anything. It talks about the whole issue of reality and what the natural world teaches. Frankly when it comes to taking risks most of us are curiously irrational. I just think about the fact that millions of people buy lottery tickets even though we are 3 times more likely to be struck by lightening but we continue to do that.
Remember the movie Bruce Almighty? He finally turns them into e-mail requests and hits select all and says yes! Imagine if all your prayer requests were answered the way you want them. They are all outraged. There are many unintended consequences. The fact is we do all kinds of things, spend money on extreme and improbable odds and blithely ignore the relatively shorter odds that concern our health and well being whether it has to do with various habits like smoking and drinking or whatever. When it comes to risk we are often idiots. This reminds me of the parachute packers during WWII.
They had to repack parachutes once a month to make sure they would work. They would have to sign a card and put it in the parachute pocket that they had packed. They would be required to randomly pick three of their chutes and use them themselves during the month. There are some risks that are going to be calculated and some are foolish. I want us to turn to Numbers14, which is one of the saddest parts in the scriptures because it causes us to realize that we can make some very bad decisions.
I want us to think about the context of Numbers This is the transitional point in the career of Israel, the conquest of the land. Remember the generation of the exodus was supposed to become the generation of the conquest. They were being led out by Moses, being prepared in the wilderness and they were going to go in and conquer the land. They were murmuring, griping and complaining quite a bit during those first two years in the wilderness. It was one thing for them to murmur, gripe and complain but it was another thing entirely to disbelieve God.
When they chose to do that in Numbers 13 and 14 this is the pivotal point in the book because that generation of the exodus lost their opportunity to be the generation of the conquest. That was a sad thing. In fact what was going to take place as a result of their disbelief was that they would be consigned literally to kill time for 38 more years.
It was a great tragic moment. You recall when Joshua and Caleb, the 2 spies who believed God, warned the people not to rebel against God. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them. They failed to believe God despite the fact that God was miraculously leading them in the wilderness.
They had the pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night that He had miraculously promised them. This is the generation that saw the parting of the water. Again in that movie, Bruce Almighty, he parts his soup. What I liked about that movie for all its flaws, it does tell us a couple things. The tragedy and irony is that they said our children will perish and who conquered the land?
It was their children. They literally spent 38 years killing time. What happens when you kill time? They perished one after another until everybody 20 years old and upward perished in the wilderness except for 3 people; Moses, Joshua and Caleb. In seeking to avoid what appears to be pain associated with obedience to God you will bring greater pain upon yourself. As a result of their lack of courage they missed out and as a result of our lack of fortitude and courage we too can miss out on opportunities He calls us to.
I do believe obeying God and obeying principles of scripture will require significant risk because to trust God is to pursue the invisible over the visible. It is my belief that ultimately God will honor that and cause us to be a people that combine these things together. We also have had the gospel preached to us. This book was not written for our information but our transformation. It was not written to inform us but to transform us. We apply it and embed it in our lives.
I believe therefore that we are called to take steps in faith to trust in His presence.
In another text, Ezekiel 28, we see an interesting sort of risk prophets engaged in consistently. In this kind of risk they would go against the kings. They were powerful men often in the context of their success and the prophets would tell them they were doing something that was ultimately going to lead to their own destruction. Ezekiel 27 describes the glory that was Tyre. And they will draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom and defile your splendor. They will bring you down to the pit and you will die the death of those who are slain in the heart of the seas.
You will die the death of the uncircumcised by the hands of strangers, for I have spoken! I believe that great conviction requires great truth. When you combine real truth with conviction then you have the power of courage. Jesus took a huge risk in John 2: It describes how when it came time for the Passover He went up to Jerusalem. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken. This was a huge risk taking adventure here for Him to take a bunch of ropes and turn them into a scourge and then to chase these people out of the temple.
This was a profitable business and there were thousands of people who were buying and selling. He was taking the risk of rejection by the crowds. He risked them taking Him aside and killing Him. He risked misunderstanding and any number of things. Again as I see it here, I see a man who takes calculated risks and we are also called to take calculated risks. One businessman put it this way; having the faith to attempt something new or different even though it might be hard or lead to failure maintains that risk is not recklessness.
Recklessness involves little or no forethought. In contrast those who take risks are aware that they face enormous obstacles to achievement yet the rewards seem well worth the effort. We make adjustments, we learn from our errors; we learn from our mistakes and we go on from there. As we have all admitted in this room we typically learn a great deal more from our mistakes any way than we do from our successes. They teach us more about ourselves, more about reality in any case. That pain often does that. He can take that and He can transform that and make it the substance of our own growth.
But every year you grow, you will find me bigger. The more mature in the faith we are, the bigger God will be for us. As our vision of God becomes clearer and we understand his enormity, we learn to rest in him. We grow in our ability to depend completely on him and know that with a God as competent as the God we find in the pages of Scripture, the universe in which we find ourselves is truly a safe place for us. At least, this is as it ought to be.
Reality, for far too many of us, is quite the opposite. In spite of this large and competent God who cares for us and promises to never abandon us, we often find ourselves beset by worry, anxiety and fear. It is only the most mature leader who understands that as we come to rely on God, we find rest in this world.
All people who lead others or carry organizational responsibility find more than enough reasons to worry — deadlines, financial pressures, market instability and other pressures you fill in your own blanks here make stomachs churn and account for many a sleepless night. But Jesus cautions us against worrying about anything — even the food we eat or the clothes we wear:.
Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. In this passage, Jesus gives his disciples and us six reasons for trusting in God rather than worrying.
First, the same God who gives us the greater gift of life will certainly supply the lesser gifts of food and clothing. In typical Jewish fashion, Jesus reasons from the greater to the lesser: If God can be trusted to take care of big things, can we also trust him with the small details?
God never begins something he does not plan to see through to completion. Second, the God who cares for birds will care for his people. After all, humans are of much greater value than any bird. They are industrious yet carefree. Without the benefit of barns they manage to find food each day. We have been given the ability to manipulate our environment. To grow crops, raise animals and preserve food. How much less, then, we should worry. Worry is kind of like a rocking chair. The same God who so wonderfully clothes the flowers of the field is responsible to care for them. A field of wild flowers sprinkled across a bed of fresh spring grass is a remarkable sight indeed.
If God is so generous with something as transitory as kindling for the fire, what do you suppose he will do for us? God will never treat us as orphans who need to fend for themselves. Failure to grasp this will lead inevitably to worry and failure in our moral lives. In fact, it is not an overstatement to say that the most important thing about us is what comes to mind when we think of God, as A.
That our idea of God correspond as nearly as possible to the true being of God is of immense importance to us. Compared with our actual thoughts about Him, our [doctrinal] statements are of little consequence. Our real idea of God may lie buried under the rubbish of conventional religious notions and may require an intelligent and vigorous search before it is finally unearthed and exposed for what it is. Only after an ordeal of painful self-probing are we likely to discover what we actually believe about God. A right conception of God is basic not only to systematic theology but to practical Christian living as well.
It is to worship what the foundation is to the temple; where it is inadequate or out of plumb the whole structure must sooner or later collapse. I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God.
If we view God as a cosmic killjoy, we will likely be plagued with guilt and shame over every sinful thought or angry moment. If God is seen as some kind of doting grandfather who turns a blind eye at our shortcomings, we will be likely to excuse our wrong actions. If we think God is looking for a good bargain, we will expect him to come through for us when we have done something good for him.
Our quality of life will always rise and fall on our view of God and our expectations of him. Once we come to know God as the faithful Father he is, worry simply does not make sense. Sixth, when we worry about tomorrow we miss out on today. Jesus recognizes that our days will be filled with trouble. We simply cannot afford the luxury of worrying, casting our eyes on future affliction. Each day will demand our best attention. As leaders who want to reach our generation for Christ, we need to lead in a way that allows others to see our faith in God. One way we can do that is by depending on God in the face of our daily pressures.
Remember that those you lead will see how you respond to such pressures and will follow your actions. Those who have not placed their faith in God often live only for the moment. Their peace of mind or anxiety is tied to their circumstances. But those whose faith is secure in the One who is secure are able to live above the worries of this world. As Dallas Willard points out:. People who are ignorant of God…live to eat and drink and dress. By contrast, those who understand Jesus and his Father know that provision has been made for them. Their confidence has been confirmed by their experience.
They soon enough have a track record to prove it. This is not to say that believers in Christ will be exempt from the usual troubles of this world. Worry-free does not mean trouble-free. Sometimes it may be our faith which actually brings on troubles as we navigate our way through a world that insists on flying upside-down. Still, in spite of our circumstances, those who depend on God will find out for themselves the truth the psalmist discovered long ago: We live in a time when all forms of external authority are being challenged in favor of subjective, inner authority.
The quest for autonomy rather than accountability has become rampant.
Yet the Scriptures tell us that an autonomous mindset is a mark of foolishness, since it ignores our fundamental need for dependence on God. Jeremiah struggled with occupational hazards faced by many effective leaders. He preached and counseled and urged his followers to turn from sin and to practice righteousness.
As he prodded, Jeremiah lived with opposition and persecution, and one wonders whether Jeremiah ever asked himself the question that confronts many leaders today: It rarely is for a leader, because change is intrinsic to the nature of leadership. And that led to the second hazard: No one has ever found a way to improve anything without changing it in some way.
Our second dilemma could be phrased: The resentment of opposition can turn followers into opponents. Jeremiah knew that what he was doing was right and necessary, and he continued pushing for change even though he took a beating for it. He was attacked by kings, priests, false prophets and, most painfully, his friends Jeremiah How does a leader survive such hardships and still maintain his integrity? That leader must come to depend on God above anything else.
That leader must, like Jeremiah, remember:. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Nevertheless, these verses, placed as they are in the middle of this short book, are words of hope and not of despair. They remind us that our only real hope is in the character and promises of God. He is always good to those who seek him and who put their hope in him. Everything God asks us to do is for our ultimate good, and everything he tells us to avoid is harmful to us, even when we may think otherwise. I remember my first visit to Old Faithful in Yellowstone National park.
Rings of Japanese and German tourists surrounded the geyser, their video cameras trained like weapons on the famous hole in the ground. A large digital clock stood beside the spot, predicting twenty-four minutes before the eruption. My wife and I passed the countdown in the dining room of Old Faithful Inn overlooking the geyser. When the digital clock reached one minute, we, along with every other diner, left our seats and rushed to the windows to see the big, wet event. I noticed immediately, as if on signal, a crew of busboys and waiters descended on the tables to refill water glasses and clear away dirty dishes.
When the geyser went off, we tourists oohed and aahed and clicked our cameras; a few spontaneously applauded. But, glancing back over my shoulder, I saw that not a single waiter or busboy — not even those who had finished their chores — looked out the huge windows. Old Faithful, grown entirely too familiar, had lost its power to impress them.
It seems faithfulness often goes unappreciated — especially the faithfulness of God. His presence is so regular, so commonplace, that we tend to overlook the very quality that separates him from all other gods.
If we choose the former, we will tend to look away from God and look to ourselves. Instead of leaning on the Rock, we will lean on a broken reed 2 Kings Faith is a universal experience — everyone, including the atheist, lives by faith. The issue is not whether we will trust in a belief system or trust in people or things, but whether we are placing our trust in that which is reliable or untrustworthy. Faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed. The prophet Jeremiah provides us with a look at two conflicting sources of personal dependence:.
He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah draws a sharp contrast between those who depend on human strength and those who depend on the living God. He makes it clear that we cannot look to both as our supreme basis of trust; we will either put our hope in the promises and power of people, or we will look beyond human capability to the person and promises of God. When we make people the basis of our confidence we experience rejection and disappointment again and again.
But when God becomes the ultimate source of our confidence, we are never let down. Willy Loman personifies failure and broken dreams as he spends his life chasing the ever-illusive dream of being an irresistibly successful salesman. He lives in denial, tossed back and forth between the notion that tomorrow will bring great success and the heart-wrenching desperation of feeling utterly worthless. He continually tortures himself with the belief that if he just tries harder, believes in himself more, persists long enough, he will find success.
His biggest mistake is the belief that success will fulfill his deepest longings. If only Willy Loman could have found the courage to face the pain of failure and his emptiness, perhaps he might have realized that he was pursuing the wrong dream.
In the end, he commits suicide. His son, Biff, comes to see the truth his dad could not face:. There were a lot of nice days. He had the wrong dreams.
He never knew who he was. Those who put more confidence in themselves or in other people than in God will find bitterness and disappointment in the end. They may appear to prosper for a season, but the journey will not get them to their desired goals. But those who transfer their trust from themselves or the promises of others to the Lord will discover that their lives are deeply rooted in well-watered soil. Zerubbabel must have felt overwhelmed. His task was so huge he needed a prophet of God to give him perspective. The Babylonians had destroyed Jerusalem and its temple 70 years before, and now Zerubbabel was in charge of the group that had come back to rebuild it.
When Solomon first built the temple, he had the optimal situation — nearly unlimited resources and a motivated workforce. Zerubbabel now faced strong opposition, a demoralized workforce and limited resources. Work hard and smart. Zerubbabel had to make tough decisions, wrestle with personnel problems, sit in long meetings, listen to grievances — everything other leaders do.
We can now join in the prayer of Blaise Pascal: Leaders are responsible to manage their resources well and to lead their people effectively. In an effort to help us do that R. Sproul reminds us of the absolute dependence of God as demonstrated in his promise to Abraham:. Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away…. When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces.
Legal counselors are some of the highest paid executives in business because they protect us from each other. But Sproul reminds his reader that there is One on whom we can always depend. Commenting on this passage, he wrote:. The meaning of the drama is clear: May My infinite character become finite, My immortal essence suffer mortality.
May the impossible become possible if I lie.
All that He is stands behind His promise. He has no mother. The temple is not sacred enough to confirm the oath of God. He must swear by His own integrity, using His divine nature as an everlasting guarantee. In spite of the great and wonderful promises, in spite of the centuries of proven faithfulness, in spite of mounting evidence, empirical and anecdotal, demonstrating the folly of trusting in ourselves, people still reject the faithfulness of God. Perhaps because of their status, leaders are more acutely prone to lean on their own understanding. But God calls each of us — especially those of us in positions of leadership — to lean on him.
Such trust is difficult. It will demand a constant vigilance.
We will need to regularly review and renew our commitment, but if we train ourselves to trust in the only One who is worthy of our dependence, we may find, as Lucy in Narnia found, that our God is bigger than we ever imagined. Mounce, Matthew Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, , p.
HarperSanFrancisco, , p. Penguin Books, , pp. NavPress, , p. Sproul, One Holy Passion Nashville: Thomas Nelson, , pp. We make our plans, but it is God who controls the outcome. We make our plans, but we understand that, if the Lord wills, we shall live let alone do this or that James 4: I don't mean by humility, doubt of his power. But really great men have a curious feeling that the greatness is not of them, but through them.
And they see something divine in every other man and are endlessly, foolishly, incredibly merciful. These things are not our possession; they are gifts from God and we will ultimately give an account for what we do with what we have been given. Everything in us strains against this notion, for to accept this as fact is to be humbled. And humility naturally leads to submission.
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Humility, submission and obedience go together. This is one reason why we have the Bible. In the pages of Scripture we find many examples of humility. From them we can gain insight and assistance as we endeavor to be the kind of leaders God desires and our world so desperately needs. Let us first examine the supreme biblical example of humility: Here we find an important principle in Scripture: The cross comes before the crown; the person who seeks honor will ultimately be humiliated, but the person who humbles himself will later be honored Matt.
When I finally achieve humility, I get proud of myself. My humility cries out for recognition. Humility is terribly fragile. Part of the reason for this elusiveness is that humility has a difficult time co-existing with self-awareness. True humility comes when we are consumed with awareness of Another. The key to humility is to get your eyes off yourself and onto the one from whom and for whom and through whom all things are cf. The church in Philippi was experiencing some tension, and in Philippians 2, Paul tells us that one of the keys to unity in the church is being focused on the same thing.
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others as better than yourselves. Each of you should not look only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
The more we love Jesus, the more we have a capacity to love one another. Then, and only then, can there exist a united sense of purpose. Then we can refrain from manipulation or self-serving actions. Then we can serve others selflessly. These are not easy things to do. Jesus was able to serve others without regard for receiving service in return because he was so completely secure in his identity. We see this clearly in John 13 where Jesus performs the visual parable of washing the feet of the disciples. The Scriptures tell us that he understood three things before he assumed the role of a lowly servant and began to wash the feet of the disciples: Jesus understood where he had come from, that all things had been given to him and where his final destiny would lead Him John In other words, he understood his true identity, true dignity and true significance.
He knew who he was, why he had come and where he was going. Likewise, you and I, as new creations in Christ, can have the same security. We have transferred our trust from ourselves to him, and in so doing we receive the abundant life he promised us John We are no longer in the line of Adam; we are in the line of Christ Rom. The significance of this may escape us, but this means nothing less than that we have come forth from God John 1: It means that every spiritual blessing has been given to us Eph. It means that our eternal destiny is at home in heaven Phil. One of the motifs of C.
I recently read a book called The Question of God by Dr. Lewis in terms of God and religion. From a biblical and theistic perspective, we understand that this longing is really something that is God-given Eccl. They are not the thing itself; they point beyond themselves, like signs, to the thing we long for. As pilgrims, aliens and strangers in this world, we must realize that we long for something this world cannot provide or sustain.
Once you admit that, then you will understand that the most foolish thing we can do is put all the freight of our desires upon a world that was not designed to sustain them. If you look to the world for fulfillment, it will let you down every time. There is always something that is not quite enough, and we long for more. We long for a security, a significance, a satisfaction that this world simply cannot provide. Your attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross! Exaltation follows the humility:. Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
From this beautiful passage we learn three things about our Lord that model for us the essence of true humility. Instead, he took the form of a servant. Richard Foster, in his book Celebration of Discipline , writes: In other words, the true test of humility comes when you are treated like a servant. A servant is often to be taken for granted, overlooked, unnoticed.
A servant gives up the right to be in charge of whom they serve, when they serve and how long they serve. Everything in us screams out against service like this, especially if this service is rendered in secret. Our society has trained us well in the art of assertiveness, and we fear anything that even remotely resembles passivity. The notion of being taken advantage of is abhorrent to us, and we most fear becoming like the old comic strip character, Casper Milquetoast, a walking doormat with no assurance or strength. On the contrary, humility, biblically speaking, actually comes from disciplined strength and others-centered power.
It is only through our willingness to serve that we may avoid manipulating people to get our needs met. We understand that we serve one who always sees and who has promised to reward us in eternity Eph. The second thing we see in this passage is that Jesus demonstrated his humility through obedience to the Father. God longs to bless and reward his people, but it is essential that we be willing to turn to him and repent of our unfaithfulness and disobedience.
God actually enjoys bestowing benefits on those who turn to him in dependence and trust. Jesus waited for his Father to lift him up. Although he was perfectly God and perfectly human at the same time John 1: After he began his ministry, he demonstrated humble service to others in the miracles he performed, as well as in his instructions to his disciples.
And now, seated in power at the right hand of God, he intercedes on our behalf Acts 5: As the perfect model for godly leadership, Jesus set the perfect example of humility. The Bible does not contain any physical descriptions of Jesus. However, there is an interesting passage where Jesus tells us what his character was like.
This is nothing new. People have been hurried and harried since the Fall, no doubt, and far too often, religious leaders hinder, rather then help, people in their search for peace and rest. In fact, since we are completely helpless in our pursuit, Jesus offers to give his followers rest and peace John Of course, this is only a comfort once we realize how little control we have.
There is tremendous instability and uncertainty in this world. There are any number of things that could happen in the course of the day — most of them are completely out of our control. If we buy into only that which we see and hear, we will become weary and burdened, because the anxieties, the uncertainties, the tensions of life can impose themselves upon us and make us anxious and fretful. But the offer of rest for our weary souls is open only to those who will come to him and learn from him: In the ancient Middle-east they would train an animal by yoking it with a stronger animal.
The other would be built up and trained so, eventually, it could take its full load. This is not loyalty to some code; this is dedication to a Person. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. His mission statements from Luke Anyone can claim to be a servant, but Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, was treated as one and never complained about it. Jesus Christ, the most powerful man ever to walk on the face of the earth, was also the most humble man who ever lived. His agenda was never to promote himself, but to please his Father by loving and serving others.