Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, (James 1:2 (ESV)).
When faced with the difficulties life throws at us it is easy to turn to a natural response of anger, discouragement, confusion, despair or a combination of all other these. Easily life can cause a person to struggle emotionally, physically and spiritually. James gives a peculiar instruction when he tells us to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,” (James 1:2 (ESV)).
Count it all joy?? Are you kidding me?? Yet that is exactly what it says! Count it ALL JOY! What is James talking about? The word count is an interesting word it is (ἡγέομαι) hēgéomai which literally means to lead or go before, go first, or lead the way. Metaphorically, to lead out before the mind. In other words it means to lead your mind in the direction it needs to go! Toward Joy!
How? James 1 gives a great foundation for how the believer faces life and still maintains joy. It is only possible if you apply James 1 to your life!
(Please take a moment and comment on the devotional or any other post on this blog. Your feedback is appreciated! Thanks!)
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5 (ESV))
When we face difficult challenges, trials, or even life in general, we need assistance to help us navigate the journey! It is comforting to know that we don’t have to face life dependant upon our own wisdom, knowledge, or understanding. Why? Because God has an unlimited amount available to us! The only requirement attached to this great treasury is that we ask! Why do we have to ask? When we ask, it means that we trust that He knows how to take care of our lives and situations the best. Remember Solomon when he said: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. (Proverbs 3:5–7 (ESV)) The wisdom that God gives is: …first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. (James 3:17 (ESV))
When we depend on God’s wisdom rather than our own, we find peace which passes all understanding. Why? The pressure is on Him not on us!
Every leader feels the need at one time or another for a tranistion to take place in their organization. Whether it is a church or a business, each of them require the leader to factor in the human dynamics that accompany this kind of change. Developing a transitional strategy will take into account ten specific areas which often cause people to resist change.
People often resist change because:
- They have inadequate skills for functioning in the change.
- They feel like they are “left in the dark” and are left feeling uncertain about what is coming next.
- They lack the understanding of why the change benefits them and the rest of the organization.
- They are reluctant to stop doing what they have always done.
- They are reluctant to learn new skills, behaviors, or structures.
- They are unable to let go of the past in a healthy way.
- Poor planning or implementation of the change which creates confusion and resentment.
- Unclear expectations about what is required to succed in the new structure.
- Fear that the change will not succeed.
- Inadequate support to help those involved to succeed.
If a leader takes the time to address these challenges and develop a strategy for meeting the needs of those involved in the change, they will find that transitions become easier to manage.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” Jeremiah 31:3 (ESV)
What a wonderful promise! God has, does, and always will love us with an everlasting love! It’s the kind of love that cannot be bought or sold, earned or bartered for. It’s a love which God grants because of His unmerited favor on your life!
Because He loves you, He will also be faithful to you. No matter what! He has never failed you and He won’t fail today or tomorrow. Throughout eternity he is going to always be faithful to you! Thank God He will never leave you or forsake you!
Leaders must possess many traits that will assist them in their leadership position. But if you were to narrow them down to three specific traits that are nonnegotiable for a leader to be defined as a success, they would be:
- Competency: Defined as having the necessary ability or knowledge to do something successfully, competency is not something that naturally is inherent in every leader. It is often developed through personal study, application and experience. A leader who is constantly developing their competency is a leader who will find their leadership to be effective for the long-term. Anytime you quit learning is the day you quit becoming an effective leader!
- Character: Defined as the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual; strength and originality in a person’s nature; or a person’s good reputation. Character is developed through defined standards that the leader is going to live by. Standards that are committed to personally will be the standards that will mark their leadership. Too often the leader’s lapse in character becomes the defining characteristic that will be who they are perceived to be the rest of their leadership. Above all, guard your character, it is the most important leadership quality you have!
- Concern: This not the type of concern that happens in the moment you say something to make you feel like you care about the other person, but genuine concern goes beyond mere words. Concern can be defined as relating to; to effect or involve; to regard it as important enough to do something. Therefore genuine concern goes beyond just saying the words, it involves action which meets the needs of others. A leader who genuinely cares about those he leads will do whatever it takes to make sure they are taken care of!
“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.”
Hebrews 10:35–36 (ESV)
This is an incredible promise to the believer who trusts and serves God with all their heart. That we have a great reward waiting for us in eternity. Spending an eternity with Him! The hope and joy that this instills into the life of the believer should not only be their foundation, but the most contagious of all their traits.
But this promise also comes with specific conditions of which a true follower of Christ must display, confidence (or faith) and endurance (or persistence). Confidence means that we have faith and trust in God with our lives and endurance means that we will persistently press on in our relationship with Him, faithfully following His will. When these conditions are met in our lives, heaven is truly ours!
We must learn common leadership principles, but power is released as we become true to our God-given personalities–Harold Myra
Every leader is a unique individual! I know that is not a ground breaking statement, but it is a necessary principle that each leader needs to grasp. Too often we attempt to make ourselves a copy of a great leader that we want to emulate only to find that we fall short of their success. Why? Because we are not them!
Certainly development and growth is a necessity in the life of the leader and the way to do that is through observation and application of general principles we see in others. However, to simply copy another leaders style of leadership will not guarantee success. Every principle we learn must be processed through our own individual personalities and strengths.
God created the world with such incredible diversity and that diversity is exactly how God wants our churches, businesses, and positions to be handled. Never blindly mimicking another leader, but striving to be who God created you to be and develop your strengths and talents. You will find that “hitting your sweet spot” in leadership comes much easier by being you!
The need for relationship in leadership positions is often a neglected component that many leaders feel they do not have time for. The busyness of the tasks of which they fill their days with have often pushed out the all important task of building relationship. Whether it is with their team, their customers, their family, or in my case, in the area of ministry…their congregants. Too often the all important responsibility to get to know those who we work for, work with, or minister to can easily be swallowed up with tasks that could easily be delegated to others within the organization or church.
Over the years, as I have observed pastors and leaders, I have noticed a trend. Many leaders are so concerned with the success that is determined by numbers, they often find themselves isolated from the people they serve. This isolation puts the leader in danger of depression, anxiety, burnout, and being relationally starved. Those who find themselves isolated must find a way to reverse the trend. How?
1. Adjust your schedule to allow for relationships–Add in time for impromptu relationship building
2. Delegate responsibilities that others can fill–free up your time to make contacts through phone calls, emails, cards, and visits.
3. Make your time spent with family and friends your highest priority–these are the most important earthly relationships you have, make sure you spend quality time with them.
It is my prayer that I will continue to learn what to delegate in my ministry so that the all important responsibility to know people and have relationship with them will be the hallmark of my leadership and ministry. The greatest success anyone can have is quality relationships!
What are you doing to build relationships?
Happy New Year! 2012! Each new year comes with the anticipation of new directions, new opportunities, new challenges, and a renewed look at the priorities of life. Each new year is like pressing a reset button in my life as I begin to contemplate and dream about the possibilities of what could be in the coming year. This anticipation always gives me great energy when I begin a new year. This year is no different.
Yet I cannot ignore that fact that with the possibilities and opportunities that will be available for the coming year, will also bring challenges that must be met and dealt with along the way. While dreaming can create a tremendous amount of anticipation for what is ahead, I cannot ignore the preparation that is necessary to meet those challenges which accompany the dream. That is why I must take an honest evaluation of my personal disciplines and prepare my heart and mind for the task ahead. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves.”
It is easy for us to dream, it is difficult to discipline ourselves to meet the challenges that lie ahead. We can crash and burn when the challenges become overwhelming, or we can rise to the occasion with knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. Too many potentially great leaders have crashed and burned because they did not take the time to learn, understand, and apply wisdom to the challenge. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 2, that we must make our “ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.” (Prov 2.2-6 ESV)
Do whatever it takes to get knowledge, understanding and wisdom, and you will find the challenges will become less threatening to the dream in your heart!
What are you doing to prepare for the new year?
Last Sunday I made mention of the passage of scripture in Matthew 6.33 where it says to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Since that message, this scripture has been rolling through my mind.
Verse 33 is the main point in a collection of passages on worry. But it is more than receiving things of this world that we are in need of to relieve our stresses. Rather there is a higher priority that is emphasized here. The priority of seeking God, His kingdom, and His righteousness. Therefore, we don’t seek the things of this world (even though God knows that we have needs), but if we put Him as a priority in our lives, he takes care of the rest.
Behind this scripture is an underlining desire that God has in His relationship with us. For Jesus is encouraging us to have a relationship that is close with the Father while at the same time, God’s heart’s desire is to have close communion with each and everyone of us. Jesus demonstrated this desire when He chose the apostles and it was said of him that He “appointed the twelve so they might be with Him…” (Mk 3.14 ESV). To be with Him, isn’t that God’s desire for all of us! What an incredible thought…the God of the universe longs to be with us!
How? Ps. 145.18 says “the Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (ESV). All you have to do is make your call to Him and He will draw close to you. What an incredible promise has been made to all mankind.
May we have the faith to believe that God longs to have relationship with us and then diligently seek Him with all our hearts. To make that our priority will bring about the relationship that our hearts long for…a relationship with our creator.
Let your legacy be that of Enoch’s…that you walked with and pleased God.