Your response to anything – and especially your response to God – will be determined by what you resolve in your heart and mind.
This was the second message in our series “New”, but it might be the most important.
But Samuel said, “How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me.” The LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say,’I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.” Samuel did what the LORD said.1 Samuel 16:2-4a
God sent Samuel to annoint David king. He was removing Saul from power. It was a dangerous and scary assignment and it made no sense politically or practically. Speaking against the king could bring death, but not only that, Saul looked like a king. David was an unknown kid.
Samuel was naturally afraid. Wasn’t there some other way? Samuel surely must have thought.
God’s plan was made. He wouldn’t budge because of Samuel’s fear. God never leads by popular opinion, so Samuel obeyed.
When Samuel obeyed God, EVEN THOUGH it didn’t make sense – in his mind – for him to do so, he was exhibiting his faith in God. Faith always moves without seeing or understanding. Faith is always prior to receiving the complete picture or having all the answers. Faith precedes victory.
Years ago our family traveled to our nation’s capital on vacation. I have spent considerable time in the city, as a college intern and during my political and business days. It is one of my favorite places to visit. Our boys had never been. I told them this would not be an enjoyable trip – at least not for the first few days. At nine and twelve years of age, and not being musuem people, I knew they would be bored at first and I wanted to prepare them.
I was right.
I told them, however, if they would obey me they would be glad they had been by the time we finished the trip. When we left Washington, DC, both boys were sad to say goodbye to the city. They had fallen in love with it. The twelve year old even said he wanted to attend a college there. (He later changed his mind.)
This is the way it is sometimes in our Christian walk.
Obeying God, following Him, and carrying out His plan, especially when it contradicts our own, is not always the first thing we want to do. It won’t even seem to make sense at times.
It may seem impossible.
It will likely make us afraid.
It stretches us beyond our abilities.
It might be uncomfortable.
It requires more resources than appears available.
But, as we obey God, and He works His will through our obedience, God blesses us in ways we never expected, and we begin to experience what it means “all things work for good for those who love the Lord”. (Romans 8:28)
Samuel didn’t want to go find David, but he obeyed. And, guess what? God knew what He was doing.
And, God knows what He is doing in your life too!
In what area of your life are you most having to walk by faith these days?
During times of trials and difficulty we often forget – or we never even understand- the value of brokenness.
Yes, I just wrote the previous sentence. And, I stand behind it.
Not many people would choose to be burdened with heartache or disappointment, but the way God uses suffering for good is rarely realized until after the trial has passed – often years later.
This doesn’t mean the loss from suffering doesn’t still hurt. It often does. And, some pain – such as the loss of a loved one – never disappears completely. I’m not necessarily writing about this kind of brokenness. I’ve written about those type losses in other posts – although God works in those times for good also.
I’m talking in this post about brokenness from things like the loss of a job, personal failure, the breakup of a significant relationship. The kind of brokenness, where we often played a part or someone else made decisions or choices which hurt us deeply. The kind we try to run from, forget, or hide from other people. The kind of which we might be embarrassed and people pray for us more than we list them as a “prayer request” at church.
Upon reflection, we can see how God worked even through these darkest days of life.
I was reflecting recently on some of my own times of brokenness.
Brokenness keeps one humble. Humility is highly honored by God and is an attractive quality to others. We would never ask for humility. There are no steps to rid our life of pride. Humble people have been humbled.
It teaches valuable life principles. Honestly, I have learned more from the hard times in my life than from the good. Again, these are not lessons we seek on our own, but experience – even and perhaps especially the hard experiences of life.
It brings repentance. I often forget how much I need forgiveness. Brokenness, especially when caused by my own actions, reminds me I am hopeless apart from His grace.
It encourages a fresh start. Starting over is not always as bad as it seems. It could even be a blessing we may not have sought on our own, but looking back we are so glad it came.
It invites God’s grace. Brokenness brings me to my knees. As sin increases, grace increases all the more. I long more for God’s favor and His protection. It’s never a bad thing when my heart longs heavenward.
It illustrates humanity. Brokenness reminds me frail people share the commonality of life struggles. We are in this together – all in need of God’s mercy and grace. We live in a fallen world. The only hope is Jesus.
It welcomes the heart of God. Psalm 34:18 says, “God is close to the broken-hearted.” I’m so thankful for this truth!
Has your story been shaped by brokenness?
Allow the molding energies of God’s hand to craft His masterpiece in you as you yield to His ultimate plan for your life.
There is value in brokennes.
Worry is like a plague to our body. It attacks our mind, then our heart, and over time, it can consume our overall health.
Wouldn’t it be great to never worry again?
I’m not sure this is humanly possible – although I can’t imagine either why Jesus would give a command He wouldn’t fully allow us to obey.
Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life.” How good are you at obeying that verse?
But, then again, He commanded a lot of other things I’m not perfect at either.
So, I’m still a work in progress.
I know this, however – one part of maturing as believers is to begin to eliminate worry from our life. Certainly, as we mature in our Christian life – we should, over the years, worry less.
Let me share a few things I’ve learned, which may help.
You see, it’s a trade-off. You can pray or you can worry, but you can never do both at the same time. Which would you rather do? Seems to be a reasonable trade. How amazing is it the Creator of sunsets wants to have a conversation with me? Worry seems to be a cheap substitute in this regard.
Do wise things.
As a believer, sin is always going to cause my inner conscience to feel guilty – which usually translates quickly into other emotions, such as doubt, anxiety and worry. When I know I’m doing the best I can do my heart is freed of needless worry.
Of course, I’d recommend the Bible. I think followers of Christ should read it everyday. It’s where we find the hope, faith and trust spelled out for us by God Himself. But we should read things, which speak of truth and bring encouragement. For some people this may mean turning off the news and reading. In our home we opted not to have a television in our living room. We have to “go” watch TV. It’s not that television is necessarily bad, but I just don’t seem to find much which really encourages me these days. I try to read at least one chapter of a Christian book everyday, in addition to my Bible reading. The point is when we fill our minds with good things it crowds out some of the bad things.
Choose your thoughts carefully.
The Apostle Paul said to think about these things – “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy.” (Philippians 4:8) I always ask myself: Why worry about what I can’t control? Why worry about what might happen when I can choose to think about good things which are happening? And, lots of good things occur everyday – when I choose to think about them.
This really is the key to worrying less. The more I trust – the less I worry. I can step up my faith, because I know God is on His throne. He has a plan and He will do what is best. Every time! And, listen, the key to trusting Him more is simple – spend more time with Him. Like any healthy relationship it grows stronger with time and effort. The more you know God the more you will love and trust Him.
Here’s to a worrying less lifestyle! Who’s with me?
Age and maturity has helped me better discern what I can do and should do based on my strengths, weaknesses, passions and dreams. It’s freeing when we become more certain in who God has wired us to be and who He has not.
Still, I’ve equally learned – through many different seasons – there are often more opportunities than time in life – even God-honoring, seemingly good opportunities. I have recently had to say no to some great opportunities. These were things I would have clearly thought had to be “God appointed”. They were things I wanted to do. But, as much as they lined with my strengths, passions, and dreams, I said “no” to them.
How do you know when to say no to what looks like a good thing — perhaps initially even like a “God thing”?
God’s calling on my life says no.
This trumps all the others. This applies to many decisions, but let me use my vocation as an example. I do not believe I’m called to a place as much as I’m called to a Person — the Person of Jesus Christ. I believe God often gives tremendous latitude in where we serve. There are seasons of life, however, where I know He has positioned me in a place “for such a time as this”. There are things He has called me to complete “at such a times as this” God always has a right to change my assignment, but when He has made the assignment clear the decisions of yes and no should become easier.
My heart doesn’t line up with this decision.
If I can get no “peace” about saying “yes” it’s time to wait or say no. This requires consistent prayer and wrestling with the decision, but the more I pray the more confident I become in sensing God’s specific will for my life and in this decision.
When it distracts from what God has called me to do.
I can’t do everything or be everywhere. I can only do what I can do. There is nothing wrong with taking assignments just because I want to do them. If, however, it is going to get in the way of my ultimate calling – the right answer – the often difficult, but brave answer – is to say no.
When my personal strengths and interests don’t match the opportunity and I don’t sense an urgency from God.
I have learned situational or physical limitations aren’t a factor if God is in the mix. He can part waters if they are in the way, so I can do things outside of my strengths, but in my life God seems to usually work within the experiences and gifting He has granted me. Why would He waste the investments He has already made in me? Therefore, apart from a sense God is challenging me in a direction outside my gifting, I can rest within the place where He has been preparing me and say no to those He has not.
Discerning the heart of the decision is critical and requires a consistent, close, seeking the heart of God relationship with the Father. I realize it’s much easier to write this post than to live this post, but hopefully this will help you as you too wrestle with the seemingly good, even sometimes seemingly God opportunities.
I wish I had used this paradigm earlier in life, because it would have saved me some heartache.
What “good thing/s” do you need to say “no” to during this season of your life?
There are many courageous leaders in our world today. Certainly coming to mind are the military and emergency personnel who serve faithfully everyday.
It takes courage to be an organizational leader also. And, I see many courageous leaders, as evidenced by the strong organizations that thrive even during difficult economic times.
But, what does it mean when we talk about courage and leadership? Every leader I know wants to be considered brave, strong, courageous.
Who are the truly courageous organizational leaders among us?
I have a few thoughts. I wish I always lived up to all of them.
Doesn’t bail on the team when things get difficult. Courageous leaders remain steadfast when others are departing.
Not afraid to make big requests of others. They make big asks of people, but are willing to pull equal weight to accomplish them.
Willing to take the first move into unproven territory. Courageous leaders are pursuing the unproven by willingly taking risks.
Moves forward by faith. Even when the outcome is unclear, courage helps these leaders face conflicts others tend to avoid. Uncharted waters are the courageous leader’s playground.
Makes hard decisions regarding people. Leaders with courage entrust others with genuine responsibilities. They empower people even before they completely prove themselves. They invest in people others are willing to dismiss — But they are also willing to acknowledge when a team member is no longer a good fit for the team and — as graciously as possible — move forward without them.
Protects the God-given vision. In the midst of criticism, hard economic times, and setbacks courageous leaders stay the course. They know God has called them to something bigger than today and they hold fast to His plans for their life and the people they lead.
Implements needed changes. Change is never easy. It’s why most of us avoid it, but even when they are uncomfortable or not immediately popular, leaders with courage push forward to lead change with diligence. They challenge the status-quo with which others have grown contented.
Thanks to all the courageous leaders who are leading well! You are making a difference!
Anything you’d add to my list?
Four principles we explored from this parable:
1. Storms will come – they come to all of us.
2. The way you respond to storms depends on the strength of your foundation.
3. You won’t really know the strength of your foundation until it’s tested.
4. The time to build your foundation is now.
Sermon from 7.19.15
I have been writing about the times of crisis — especially from the viewpoint of leadership. My hope is that if you are in crisis-mode right now you are beginning to see the end of the tunnel. I pray God brings you through this time quickly.
It’s important to know what to do AFTER the time of crisis has passed. Many of us miss these important steps.
Rejoice. Be thankful the crisis is over and a time of peace has come. I have many times prayed fervently during the hard times, but forsaken my “God-time” when everything is going well. Don’t follow my example in this.
Share. The Bible is clear that we are to use our struggles to help others in theirs. Often because of fear or embarrassment we don’t allow people to see our past hurts. This denies God the opportunity to use the experiences He has given us for His glory. (Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-7)
Prepare. If you have lived long enough you know that seasons of crisis come many times in life. During the quiet times — when all is going reasonably well — is when we should be preparing for harder times.
Rest. To borrow from the Cheers theme song, “Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot.” Many people never enjoy the peaceful times because they are too paranoid about the next crisis that may or may not even occur. We should prepare for times of trouble, but we should never live in a state of worry. Worry is a sin. And, it’s never helpful. After a crisis, rest. Recover. Rejuvenate.
Grow. I have grown spiritually more during the hard times than in the easy times of my life. Crisis-mode teaches us valuable insight into the character and heart of God. Use the down times to evaluate your relationship with God, your life, and see how the two connect. Work on the places you are out of sync with God’s will for your life. Work on your skills as a leader. Become a better person. Some of the strongest character is developed only through times of crisis.
It would be nice if you never needed these posts. My sense is, if your life is anything like mine, that some of you will. Maybe even today. I’m praying for you if this is your current situation.
In my last post I shared 5 things not to do in times of crisis. I am writing this with the leader in mind, but I suspect they may be life applicable regardless of the crisis.
As stated, I began with the negative, because in my experience that’s where most people begin when crisis occurs. (Read: 5 Things NOT To Do In Times of Crisis) We often tend to run in the opposite direction from where we should run. Some of the worst decisions I have observed people make (including me) are during the crisis-mode times of life.
Obviously knowing what to do in these times is equally important. How you respond and what you do will greatly determine future realities after the crisis has subsided.
Stay. I love Seth Godin’s book “The Dip” where he explains how important it is to know when to quit and that time may come. At the beginning of the crisis is not the time. Until you have been able to evaluate the crisis from every angle and you clearly know there is no way out, stay the course. Godin’s book also talks about how those who succeed learn to push through the hard times. Stay in it long enough to know which time it is for you. I share this from very hard personal experience. We sold a business — walking away simply to start over — and looking back we may have recovered had we suffered through it a little longer.
Stand. Stick to your moral convictions and the vision you have for your life. Don’t allow the crisis to keep you from doing the right things, even if those choices seem to be the quickest solutions. Stand with the moral and personal convictions you had before the crisis began. You’ll be glad you did when the crisis is no longer a crisis.
Glean. Learn from others who have gone through similar crises. Someone else’s past situation may not be identical to yours, but the emotional and decision-making process they went through probably will be. Most people after a crisis can tell you things they wish they had done differently. And, most leaders who have led for any significant period of time have either endured through a crisis or, even if they failed miserably, learned valuable lessons they would do for the next crisis.
Examine. I said in my last post not to do this immediately. We tend as leaders to quickly want to blame someone — mostly ourselves. This is never a helpful process initially, but at some point you’ll need to ascertain how you got in the crisis in the first place. If it was a matter of bad decisions, how can you keep from making those same mistakes again? If you keep finding yourself in the same crisis, shouldn’t that tell you something? Sometimes the answer will simply be because we live in a messed-up world or things were out of our control. Don’t be afraid of that answer, but don’t default to it either. We all make mistakes and we have to own them.
Learn. Allow every crisis to teach you something about God, yourself and others. If you have this ambition and mindset you will be surprised how different your approach to suffering through it and dealing with it emotionally will be. God is always willing to use the hard times to teach us important principles about life, ourselves, and ultimately about Him.
I’ve got one more list to come about the times of crisis. And, It’s the one all of us in crisis want to get to eventually. Next post I will share 5 things to do after a crisis.