Leaders: Some Rise and Some Fall

 

thumbs upIf you take a causal walk down the self-help aisle of most book stores, you find shelves stocked full of books on leadership.  A common principle in many of these books is the need to study the lives of leaders.

To accomplish this, you can thumb through the pages of the Bible where you will discover a long list of leaders.  Some them are polished and practical; others are hopeless and hapless; but, the stories are fair a fair and balanced account that opens the door that reveals the skeletons in their closets.

Two of the better-known leaders are Saul and David.  Saul, the first king of Israel, could whip most anyone, but his ego got the best of him.  Samuel, the priest, issued a stern rebuke and no-holds-barred reprimand to King Saul: Now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee (I Samuel 13:14).

The man after God’s own heart was David, and he knew the key of his strength would be a dependence on God.  David said: You are my rock and my fortress; Therefore, for Your name’s sake, lead me and guide me (Psalm 31:3).

Like David, we can and should, look to God for strength and guidance:

  • Psalm 5:8: Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; make Your way straight before my face.
  • Psalm 25:5: Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day.
  • Psalm 23:2-3: He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
  • Psalm 143:10: Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness.

When you begin to trust in the goodness of God, you hear the rhythm and cadence of His voice and begin to walk in step with Him—He leads; you follow.

Solomon said, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Are you a King Saul who continually tried to prop himself up with his own wisdom; or, are you a David who found a life of blessings by trusting God and letting Him direct his paths?

Who has your ear? Whose voice are you hearing?  Which path in life are you walking? Are you following God’s lead?

Words of a Particular Kind

154451011How long would it take you to make a summary statement of your life?  How many words do you think it would take?

Robert Frost said he could sum up everything he had learned about life in three words: “It goes on.”  There’s a lot of truth to what Frost said, but it’s also true that what you say can determine how far you go in life and how your life “goes on.”

Mother Teresa was more concerned with the nature of your words than she was with the number of them: “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”  David, like Mother Teresa, was well aware of the power of the spoken word, and he prayed: “May my words and my thoughts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my sheltering rock and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14).”

When I think about David’s prayer, I’m left with a couple of questions:

  • Are my words and thoughts acceptable to God?
  • If not, what can I do to make them more acceptable?

Joshua gave the answer to these questions, when he said: “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 (Joshua 1:8).”

When you think about your words and thoughts, I encourage you to contrast them to the principles of God’s Word in general, and these words of Paul in Particular: “Don’t let even one rotten word seep out of your mouths. Instead, offer only fresh words that build others up when they need it most. That way your good words will communicate grace to those who hear them (Ephesians 4:29 ~The Voice).”

Hoarding The Holy

 

stack-of-books1Be honest, do you live a “keep-it-just-in-case” life?  If so, you probably think of yourself as thrifty, but this rent-more-storage- mentality can come at a high price.

Because some people are so reluctant to depart with anything, their life is a huge, messy, and disorganized existence.  The International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Foundation calls attention to this troublesome lifestyle by calling it hoarding and listing three criteria that defines it:

  1. A person collects and keeps a lot of items, even things that appear useless or of little value to most people, and
  2. These items clutter the living spaces and keep the person from using their rooms as they were intended, and
  3. These items cause distress or problems in day-to-day activities.

There is a classification of non-typical hoarders who are referred to as Bibliotaphs.  Their compulsion is to cache or hoard books, and they may even keep them under the security of lock and key.

From a Biblical perspective, the Bibliotaph can be thought of as being healthy. This is true in the limited sense of the Bible being memorized or hidden in your heart.  David confessed to being a Bibliotaph, and Joshua encouraged people to practice it as a discipline:

  • Psalm 119:9-11: How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!  Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
  • Joshua 1:8: 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 good success.

Clinging to the world’s goods will never fill the void in your soul, so avoid them and add God’s blessings instead.  Solomon gave this piece of advice that’s worth hoarding:

My son, do not forget my teaching. Let your heart keep my words.  For they will add to you many days and years of life and peace.  Do not let kindness and truth leave you. Tie them around your neck. Write them upon your heart.  So you will find favor and good understanding in the eyes of God and man.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not trust in your own understanding.  Agree with Him in all your ways, and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:1-6 NLV)