We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. -Augustine


Visionary Leadership

Recently I ate dinner at a restaurant overlooking one of our nation’s cities. The cityscape at dusk was beautiful, particularly as the setting sun created a kaleidoscope of designs that reflected off the glass into the water. But there was something wrong. The reflection of the colors in the water was beautiful but the architecture of the buildings was drab at the very best. There was no uniqueness nor substance. All was metal and glass. The city planners had failed to provide a vision for their city, leaving little or no aesthetic appreciation for the beholder.

In his excellent book, Visionary Leadership, Robert Dilts asks what has happened to visionary leadership today. He gives examples of situations in which “visionary leadership is missing,” questioning whether such leadership is a thing of the past:

“Where are the leaders who could dream great dreams–of national railways to link a nation, of national parks to preserve nature for posterity . . . of a life of prosperity for all willing to work for it? In the place of visions that inspire hope, there is only the quick fix: a tax cut here, a corporate bailout there . . . most often nothing but empty words . . . that make a mockery of the very real need for visionary leadership” (p. 6-7).

As Christians, we recognize that “visions that inspire hope” often come after trial and hardship. Romans 5 promises that “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame” (Romans 5:3b-4a). If you want a vision of hope, be prepared for a rough journey–but rest assured that the end will not disappoint.

Published in: on June 28, 2011 at 12:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Industry

“The man Jeroboam was very able, and when Solomon saw that the young man was industrious he gave him charge over all the forced labor of the house of Joseph.”

(I Kings 11:28)

Where can I find industrious young men today? I find it difficult to find someone to simply mow my lawn during the weeks that I am traveling. Many who were once extremely hard working and industrious have become apathetic.

As a young boy, I remember going door to door throughout the neighborhood to find work in order to make some extra money. During the winter I shoveled sidewalks and driveways, and when spring arrived I washed dirty windows and cleaned out basements. During the summer I weeded and cut grass, and in the fall there were plenty of leaves to rake.

When I wasn’t doing odd jobs, the rest of my day was spent outside. My friends and I never tired of playing a game of basketball, baseball, or football (nothing organized-we did just fine organizing games ourselves), and during those scorching summer days, I could be found fishing down by the river or catching crayfish in a nearby stream.

Nowadays it’s hard to find young people outdoors or taking initiative to do something productive. Have the amusements of our culture taken our children captive? If you do happen to see an industrious young person taking initiative, please reward them generously and encourage them to continue in their efforts. Jeroboam was noticed by Solomon and as a result of his industrious pursuits, he was promoted as the director of forced labor. Little did he know that this position would also serve as the preparation for him to become the next King of Israel.

“Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings . . .” Or perhaps he may become a king!

* The book that inspired Ronald Reagan to become President of the US was That Printer of Udell’s. For younger children I recommend reading Basil: Honesty and Industry.

Published in: on June 16, 2011 at 12:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Costly Career Goals, Part 2

Recently we talked about building the foundation of our family first
before pursuing costly career goals. Today I would like to challenge us
all with the opposite thought. You see, sometimes we use our family as a
crutch not to move forward by faith. There are times when God calls us
to do something that may not appear to be in the best interest of our
family.

In Numbers 14, the children of Israel faced what many young couples face
today–relocation. God was moving Israel from their secure life in Egypt
(though enslaved!), to the wilderness. Note their first line of defense,
and reason why they shouldn’t have to relocate –“Our wives and our
little one’s will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go
back to Egypt?” The enticement of security is a cancer to faith and
often we as men will use our family as an excuse not to follow the
promptings of God.

Is God calling you to relocate? Is God calling you to do something
meaningful for His Kingdom but you’re just not sure if it will be best
for your family? How is one to know?

If you read further in Numbers 14 as well as Deuteronomy 1, you will
find the answer–“But my servant Caleb, because he has a different
spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which
he went, and his descendants shall possess it.” To know God’s will is to
know God! To follow Him fully…to pursue Him passionately. I love John
Piper’s thoughts on this: “That God is most glorified when we are most
satisfied in Him.”

Do you have a different spirit as did Caleb? Do not be afraid of the
wilderness. You may not be able to enjoy the leeks of Egypt on the
journey, but while others draw back thinking they are protecting their
family, you will reap an everlasting inheritance–for generations to
come.

Published in: on June 14, 2011 at 12:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Costly Career Goals

In I Kings 17:34 there is an obscure Scripture that beckons our attention. Out of the blue, the following verse appears: “In his days, Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the Word of the LORD, which he spoke by Joshua the son of nun.” Now what are we to make of that?

This is why I love the Scriptures. There is always hidden treasure for those who are willing to seek…for they will find! So let’s have a closer examination of this verse. First we find that Hiel pursued a career opportunity that cost him the lives of his oldest and youngest sons.

We also learn that Hiel’s two sons die as a result of something spoken by Joshua. The natural next step is to then go to the book of Joshua and see if we can find anything that relates to this passage. Sure enough, in Joshua chapter 6, verses 26 & 27 we find an oath that forbids anyone from rebuilding Jericho or its gates. And whoever does attempt to do so will do so at the cost of their firstborn and youngest child. Ah, the mystery is solved.

So what can we learn from this unusual Scripture? First, we need to know the content of the Word of God before we pursue our career goals. We need to seek God’s counsel and the wise counsel of others before we move forward. We need to be willing to trust the direction we will take with God and others. Now there’s a fine balance here between faith and folly. Certainly if we sense God is leading us to do something and others don’t see it, we need to obey God rather than man. If however, the wise counsel of others and the Word of God aligns against us, we need to beware before moving forward because our decisions may indeed cost us our family.

If we’re going to rebuild the foundations of anything in life, let’s first start with the rebuilding of our family.

Published in: on June 9, 2011 at 12:14 am  Leave a Comment