This morning our pastor spoke from I Samuel 17, the story of David and Goliath. Tonight, our Life Group discussed his notes and answered some discussion questions, one of which was “How do you speak to your giants?”
In our discussion a thought came to me. It’s possible, when I get really honest with myself and God, that I’m my own giant. My willingness to be content in fear may be my giant. My need to control may be my giant. My lack of grace to see people how God sees them may be my giant. In pondering how to speak to my giant, it very well could be I have to answer, “How do I speak to myself?”
What if my fear is my Goliath?
What if my pride is my Goliath?
What if my self righteousness is my Goliath?
What if the flesh and blood I’ve made my giant is only a distraction from the real one?
What if I’m Goliath?
I’m half through the autobiography of Jerry Kill, a successful college football coach known for turning around programs. One part of his personal story is a bout with kidney cancer. In the chapter recalling the bout, he gives a shoutout to his team chaplain with these words:
He is the best Christian man I know. He knows how to talk to you, how to relate to you, and he has the “it factor.” He’s a faith doctor. You have to have your medical doctors obviously, but he was a faith doctor for me.
That’s a first-hearing someone categorized as a faith doctor. Made me ask two questions:
- Who’s my faith doctor?
- Who’s faith doctor am I?
Maybe we all should ask those questions. After answering them, we could ask further ones like…
- How often do I see my faith doctor?
- What symptoms do I need to acknowledge to my faith doctor?
- How willing am I to be someone’s faith doctor?
- What fruits of the Spirit are needed to be someone’s faith doctor?
You get the gist. This chapter, by the way, was entitled Upsetting Cancer. Whatever spiritual issue you have that needs upsetting may well be worth answering these questions.
Better & Deeper!
The media, culture, and environment in which we live has sought to define love as a feeling that lives rooted deep within our emotional character. This could not be farther from the truth when understood through the focused lens of God’s Word. God defines love not in emotional terms but in commitment and covenant. God has self-defined Himself as love and rests His identity in His intention that He will never recant that commitment to humanity nor will He break His own special covenant no matter our propensities toward sinfulness or spiritual rebellion. (-The Pastor’s Wife and The Other Woman)
I started a new book last night. This quote is from a section discussing how our choices regarding our time indicate what is significant to us.
What is significant is more than what feels good. What we know we can count on, what is solid, what has been tested, what has survived fire-that is significant.
When we question our significance to God, here are three questions to ponder:
- What promises has He kept?
- How has He shown Himself to me recently?
- When was the last time He forgave me?
Turning the spotlight on the other person in the relationship, here are three questions for us:
- What promises have I made to God?
- How am I looking for God each day?
- How do I open my heart to God?
In seeking the direction and power of the Holy Spirit, the man of God must be willing to do whatever the Spirit leads him to do. This means he will probably be led out of his comfort zone.
This quote is another one from the book Uniquely Bivocational that has general meaning for anyone seeking God’s power in their lives. The chapter it is from focuses on how a pastor prepares to share a message. Yet the title, Receiving and Sharing a Word from the Lord, has application for anyone who wishes to speak into other’s lives as led by God.
Here’s how. Take the phrase “the man of God” out of the quote and replace it with the pronoun “I.” See what I mean? “…I must be willing to do whatever…and I will probably be led out of my comfort zone.”
God is limited when we refuse to be willing. God cannot do all he could if we insist on being comfortable. The god of comfort will keep us from experiencing the power of the God we profess, the God we need.
Believer, drop all the “buts” and “what ifs.” Offer your willingness. Embrace the uncomfortable. Prepare to experience God’s power unlike you ever have.
Recently-well, before “stay in place orders”-a ministry leader stopped by the office to leave some information. He was with The Bivocational and Small Church Leadership Network. Check out their website; you’ll learn some things like I did.
One of the pieces this leader left with me was a book, Uniquely Bivocational: Understanding the Life of a Pastor who has a Second Job, which I’m reading now.
For sure, there are unique things to consider about a man finding himself living this out. However, after reading chapter 8, The Need for Balance, there are general things for believers, and particularly any ministry leaders, to keep in mind. For instance, here’s the list of twelve keys to achieving balance Gilder mentions:
- Put God first in your life
- Establish priorities
- Link your calling to your calendar
- Have a clear purpose and direction for your life
- Be proactive rather than reactive
- Maintain a clear conscience
- Find an accountability partner
- Have a family council
- Find the secret of contentment
- Realize you are not superman
- Make regular deposits into your emotional bank
- Do what you do as unto the Lord
Look like a list that could help your balance?
Yes, I’m reading this book as designed. But I’m finding that much of it could be generally applied to anyone desiring to live as God would have them-Uniquely.
Easter Sunday morning, I led a set of worship songs through Facebook Live on our church’s Facebook page. Here is a link to it on youtube.
As we walk daily through COVID-19, at times it seems minute by minute, we observe leadership. Regardless of the outcomes and personal opinions of decisions, we are learning what choices mean to leadership.
After finishing Harvey Kanter’s book Choosing to Lead, I’d encourage all leaders of any position to use your downtime in the next few weeks to dialogue with it. He addresses several practical and vital aspects of leadership such as communication, optimism, values, curiosity, humility, and decisiveness. His definitions are experientially based; his directions are growth oriented. His encouragement is that many people have position to lead but have yet to actually choose to do it, and pursue doing it well. Kanter doesn’t claim to have all the answers; maybe that’s why his thoughts are worth considering. His words model his values based on his choices. Below are a dozen highlights.
- I am not my resume.
- Leaders keep seeking answers until they find them…asking questions is paramount to leading well.
- When a leader is seen “doing what needs to be done,” a precedent is established for the team that you need to jump in and take action, not wait for someone else to act.
- Your ability to learn through the unexpected will grow your leadership capacity…the kind of leader you are shows up in adversity.
- Your ability to grow is in direct correlation to your level of curiosity and inquisitiveness. Your orientation towards learning will either stretch you to expand your thinking or constrain you to live in a static world.
- A confident leader is one who recognizes the best qualities in others without being threatened.
- We like to work with people we can believe in. We tend to believe in people who genuinely believe in themselves.
- Leading people in sharing their views, risking that they may be misunderstood or that their view may not be appreciated by others, is a critical leadership skill.
- Trying things new and unfamiliar stimulates subconscience problem-solving, forcing you to see things from a new point of view.
- Actions are the truest reflection of values.
- Accountability requires vulnerability.
- The smartest people surround themselves with even smarter people.
Occasionally someone will say to me, “How about you pray for me? Your connection is better than mine.”
We both understand the thought, but reality is it ain’t true. Just because one person may practice praying more than another doesn’t mean their connection is better. For a really clear illustration of that, check out Jesus’ teaching in Luke 18:9-14. Frequency of praying doesn’t assume better.
Does that mean we shouldn’t bother praying regularly? SMH. It means we should take advantage of the access God graciously gives everyone. My connection ain’t better than yours. No ones is. Well, except Jesus. Why? Because of Jesus’ resurrection. That’s right. One of the many impacts of his resurrection for all people is direct access to his Father through him. His sacrifice gave everyone equal access. His job right now is to sit by his Father to intercede on your behalf.
So if you’re tempted to believe the lie that you don’t have equal access and maybe give yourself an out for praying, why not tell Jesus, “How about you pray for me? Your connection is better than mine.”
Harvey Kanter’s recent book on leadership, Choosing to Lead, is my current read. If you want a practical, straightforward, fairly quick read on leadership, give this book a look.
I just finished chapter 13 entitled Decisiveness. Two thumbs up. His main illustration is a familiar one, the 2009 event of Flight 1549 leaving LaGuardia and crash landing in the Hudson River-a scrutinized decision by Captain Sully Sullenberger. Here’s an excerpt from the chapter:
The entire scenario from the first bird strike to the initial impact of a water landing took just under 3 1/2 minutes to play out. Relying on their training to save everyone on board, the response of Captain Sully and his crew was to act decisively. In a much later interview Sullenberger said, “…he worked sometimes wordlessly with his first officer, Jeff Skiles, in dividing urgent chores despite never having flown together before… ‘We were able to collaborate wordlessly,’ Sullenberger said, ‘I didn’t have time to direct his every action… You have to deal with the most time critical things first… Situational awareness is the ability to see the entirety of the forest, but knowing at any given moment which tree is the most important one.'”
When I read that, one word struck me-wordlessly. Both of these men brought all of themselves to the situation resulting in a terrific outcome-wordlessly.
Sounds pretty unrealistic to expect all our relationships to reach such a high level. But here’s what’s not unrealistic-working to show up ready to be that for others whom God has put me in relationship. I cannot control how they show up. But I am completely responsible for bringing all of myself, ready to respond wordlessly.