Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Good Leaders are Humble

I’m taking a graduate class from Liberty and we are focusing a lot on leadership.  I’ve been thinking about leaders I have known and which ones were most effective.  I’ve tried to think about what a good leader should be like.

One big trait that needs to be present in a good leader is humility.  Humility is not understood or admired by our culture.  Our culture doesn’t want a leader to look weak.  Being humble and helping others is seen as a sign of weakness.  Most leaders view themselves as being there to be served.  They think they will lose the respect of their subordinates and their superiors if they stoop down to help others.

We say we appreciate humility in others but we rarely want it for ourselves.  After all, humility is not what gets us ahead in life.  We like humble people because they don’t threaten our position.  They are safe to be around. 

Humility is not the result of low self-esteem.  If you think about Jesus, he didn’t feel inferior.  Jesus never struggled with insecurity.  Jesus was our model for humility. 

True humility comes from inner security.  Genuinely humble people are aware of their gifts, their training, their experience, and all the attributes that make them successful at what they do.  That humble assessment gives them the security they need to be humble. 

Humble people are so concerned with the needs of others that they don’t even notice themselves.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  Philippians 2:3-4


Saturday, September 25, 2010

What’s your thorn

I was involved in a conversation this week about learning disabilities.  We talked about some famous people who had learning disabilities like Alexander Graham Bell, Albert Einstein, George Patton, etc.  We talked about how these people changed the world.  Then a statement was made something like – think what they could have done it they hadn’t had a learning disability.

I want to tie that idea into what I was reading this morning in 2 Corinthians 12.  Paul talks about his thorn in the flesh.  No one really knows what this was but we know that Paul prayed repeatedly for God to take it away and yet God didn’t. 

Here are verses 7 – 10.

“there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

It seems pretty apparent here that Paul believes that his thorn in flesh was to keep him dependent on God.  It was to keep him humble and keep him focused.  It was to remind him that he wasn’t in control of his life.  It was to force him to his knees in prayer. 

The end of this passage talks about Christ’s power being made perfect in our weaknesses.  This is how we can thank God for the problems in our lives.  Like Paul, each of us has something in our lives that we wish we didn’t have.  Something that forces us to trust God.  We need to be thankful for those thorns.  They keep us from being prideful and arrogant.  They force is to lean on God’s grace and power.

What would Paul have been like without his “thorn?”  No one can really say but it is possible that he wouldn’t have been the great apostle and missionary that he was.  It is possible that he wouldn’t have gone in his missionary journeys.  It is possible that he could have become self-reliant rather than totally dependent on God.  Remember, all of these are guesses.  The point is God allowed Paul to have this “thorn” for a reason.  Paul focused on God and his grace and because of that God used him in a mighty way.

Now, how does all that tie back into our discussion on learning disabilities?  Each child is a unique creation by God.  Each one was created exactly according to God’s plan.  Each one is loved by God and has a purpose in life. 

As a parent of a child with a learning disability, it is easy to pray for God to take that away.  What is hard is accepting that she is that way because God created her to be that way.  Accepting that God doesn’t make mistakes and that her disability is there for a reason.  That reason may be unbeknownst to me but is known by God.

Her learning disability is a part of who she is.  It will affect what she does and who she becomes.  I believe that God has given that to her so that he can mold her into exactly who He wants her to be.  So that she can accomplish His purposes for her life.

I believe that His ways are better than my ways.

8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
       neither are your ways my ways,"
       declares the LORD.

9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
       so are my ways higher than your ways
       and my thoughts than your thoughts.”   (Isaiah 55:8-9)

So what is your “thorn?”  Is it a learning disability, an illness, an injury?  Is it unemployment, a family conflict, a bad habit? 

It doesn’t really matter what it is, it is there to keep you humble.  It is there to force you to rely on God and experience His power.  It is there so you can experience his peace and his grace.

It is also there so that you remember Christ’s thorns.  He, who was God, willingly went to the cross for you.  He paid for your sin.  He wore the crown of thorns and had blood running down his face for you.  He endured all of that so that you could experience forgiveness and grace.

Be thankful for your thorns and for the Savior who loves you enough to let you have them.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Spiritual Discipline

We are studying spiritual disciplines at school this year.  The school has assigned a different discipline to each month.  We look at them as a faculty and we emphasize those with our students each month.

So I got to thinking, what is discipline.  Discipline is something that no one likes but that everyone admires in someone else.  Discipline is hard work done for the sake of excellence. 

It takes discipline to study for a test.  It takes discipline to exercise each day.  (please don’t go there right now!)  It takes discipline to eat correctly. 

Athletes exert discipline in their practice.  Musicians discipline themselves to practice.  It is as they practice that they get better at their sport or their music.

Do you know anyone who you really respect for their scripture memory or their walk with God.  That just didn’t happen.  It came with discipline. 

Paul tells Timothy “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness;”  (1 Timothy 4:7)

Godliness is different than athletics or music.  No one may know about our disciplining ourselves in godliness.  It is usually done in secret and has no public performance.  It’s just between you and God.

Remember that our end goal is to know God intimately.

“[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope]”  Philippians 3:10 Amplified Version


Monday, September 20, 2010

More thoughts on prayer

I am continuing to think about the discipline of prayer.  Here are some of my thoughts today …

God is never too busy, never sleeps, never ignores me, never turns His back on me, never has His mind so occupied with running the universe that He will not hear me. 

I need to remember that an answer to prayer doesn’t mean He will solve my problems the way I want them to be solved.  But He does hear my requests and He does respond with solutions – sometimes those solutions are quite surprising.  These solutions not only address my concerns but deepen my faith in HIs wisdom and love.  They strengthen my confidence in His sovereignty.

God wants good things for me.  God wants to bless me.  However, He can’t do that at the expense of His holiness. He may choose to deny my request for one blessing, if that refusal makes the way for a greater blessing.

The goal in prayer is not just to make my daily life easier or better or more enjoyable, but it is to lead me to intimacy with Christ.  Seek intimacy with Christ and I will have everything I really need in life – including things I didn’t even know I needed.

(Notice the key word above is need not want.)

Have a great night.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

More Ideas on Prayer

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:4-7)

To make it simple, Paul said worry about nothing.  Pray about everything.

God’s not saying “Don’t worry.  Be happy.”  He’s not saying that I am not supposed to care.  He’s saying as I care, turn those cares over to Him.  Trust Him to take care of it.  He knows that troubles will come my way.  It is His desire that I turn those troubles over to Him.  Determine now how I am going to face the next crisis. 

If I am worried, then I need to pray.  If after praying I am still worried, then I need to pray some more.  I need to pray until I feel the peace of God ruling my heart and mind. 

Worrying is wrestling with problems on my own.  Sometimes the hardest part is leaving my problem with God.  I’ve prayed about it but waiting for God to answer is sometimes hard.  I want to fix it myself.  Giving up control over the problem it tough. 

1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells me to pray without ceasing.  I need to start my day with prayer.  I need to pray throughout the day.  I need to pray at each break.  I need to pray at lunch.  I need to pray before class and before meetings.  Pray when I am disappointed.  Pray when I am frustrated.  Pray when I get surprised.  Pray in the midst of bad news.  Pray in good times.  Pray about everything and all the time.

My heavenly Father loves me.  He wants the best for me.  He wants me to trust Him and lean on Him.  He wants me to bring everything to him. 


Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Graduate school is killing me.  I work on papers every night.  That has eaten up the time I usually use to write my blog.  I finish my degree by Christmas.  Then I feel like I will get my life back. Prayer is probably a topic I really need to think about and study.  I need all the prayer I can get!

Prayer is simply talking to God.  It can be audible or silent.  It is collaborating with God in order to accomplish His goals in your life.  This is something I sometimes forget.  It is not to get God to do what I want but to change my heart towards what He wants.

When praying, I should be seeking God’s will for my life.  My prayers should be God-centered.  Even with praying for others or confessing sin, it should come from a heart that longs for God and His will.  Prayer time should also include time for listening.  I need to hear from God.

Prayer is not a bargaining session.  It’s not magical.  I can’t manipulate God.  When I reduce prayer to a cheap marketing scheme I insult a holy and righteous God.  Prayer is not a get-rich-quick scheme.  Prayer is not giving God a wish list like I would a genie.  Prayer is not to be painful.  I should enjoy spending time with God.  Prayer should not involve meaningless repetition. I am not trying to impress God with my spirituality or works.  I am to seek His plan for my life and then adjust my will to match His.

Well, that’s about it for tonight.  More thoughts on prayer coming soon.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Leadership Principles from the life of Moses

I’ve been working on a paper on the life of Moses and what leadership principles we can gain from his life.  Here’s my rough copy.  Take a look and let me know what you think.

This paper on the life of Moses will reveal how God worked in him to develop him into an effective leader. Moses was born when the Israelites were living in slavery in Egypt. The Pharaoh was afraid that the Israelite population was growing too large and so he ordered all the male children to be killed. Moses’ mother places him in a basket and leaves him in the reeds along the river banks. Pharaoh’s daughter finds him and adopts him. Therefore, Moses’ gets raised in Pharaoh’s house.

As Moses grows up, he becomes distressed over the treatment of his people by the Egyptians. One day Moses sees an Egyptian beating one of the Hebrew men and he becomes so angry that kills the Egyptian. Moses flees Egypt to the desert and lives there for forty years.

The first principle of leadership is that God places a desire in a person’s heart to lead. Moses felt an emotional attachment to the Hebrew man even though he had been raised in Pharaoh’s palace. Moses’ desire to help the Israelites was placed in his heart by God.

Moses spends his next forty years in the wilderness. He had lots of time to think, reflect on his life, and pray. God hears the cries of his people in slavery in Egypt. He chooses Moses to be the one who will go to Egypt and deliver his people from Pharaoh. When God spoke to Moses from the burning bush, Moses was ready to hear him. Oftentimes leaders today are too busy to take time alone with God. Without the quietness, you can’t hear God speak.

Moses has also learned humility and honesty during his time in the desert. God tells Moses to approach Pharaoh and ask for the release of his people. He also tells Moses that Pharaoh is not going to let them go on his first request. He tells Moses that if Pharaoh doesn’t let them go then He will stretch out His hand and strike Egypt with all His wonders. God tells Moses that after He stretches out His hand against Pharaoh, then Pharaoh will let them go. (Exodus 3) After receiving all his instructions from God, Moses still has a few questions. He asks God what to do if they won’t listen to him. God then has Moses pick up a serpent by the tail and it turns into a rod. Good leaders ask questions and then act on the answers. It took a great deal of faith for Moses to pick up a serpent by the tail. God gives Moses a few other signs he can use to show Pharaoh that Moses is speaking for God.

The next thing Moses does is question God’s calling on his life. He gives the excuse that he doesn’t speak well. God responds with the idea that it doesn’t matter who you are, I am with you. Moses really struggled with feeling inferior. He compared himself to others, including his brother, Aaron. Moses’ questioning angers God. God tells Moses that Aaron can go with him and be the spokesman to the people. There are two leadership principles to look at in this section. The first is when God calls you to a task; he will equip you for that task. The other is if a leader has a known weakness, then find someone who can help in that area. A leader should be surrounded by people who complement his weaknesses and who share the same vision.

Moses is eighty years old when he and his eighty-three year old brother, Aaron, go into Egypt on a rescue mission. Moses and Aaron approach Pharaoh and tell him to let the Israelites go. As God predicted, Pharaoh says no. God then begins what is known as the 10 plagues that strike Egypt. The first five plagues are actually done with the rod by Aaron. God tells Moses what to tell Aaron to do. Aaron does it and Moses watches. The sixth plague Moses and Aaron work together on. The last four plagues Moses completes while Aaron watches. God uses Aaron during this time to help build Moses’ self-confidence. From now on, Moses takes the lead in everything. Leadership principle seen here is leaders sometimes have to be grown and groomed for leadership. When developing a leader, be patient but have a plan for growth.

The tenth plague finally breaks Pharaoh and he agrees to let the Israelites go. The Bible says they have been in bondage for 430 years. The Israelites start to leave but Pharaoh changes his mind and the Egyptian army is chasing them and they get stuck in front of the Red Sea. They have nowhere to go. Moses steps up, believes God, and parts the Red Sea. The Israelites cross on dry ground and then Moses stretches his hand out over the Red Sea and the waters come back and drown the army. In Exodus 14:13, Moses speaks with calmness in the midst of the crisis. “And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever.” Good leaders take charge in a crisis and are a calming presence.

Exodus chapter 15 is about the celebration that followed their successful escape. Good leaders celebrate the victories with their people. Good leaders also recognize God’s hand of protection. God decides to take the Israelites on a journey that will take them a long time to complete. God is testing their patience and their faithfulness. The Israelites are barely gone from Egypt when they start to complain. They complain about food and God supplies manna for them. Then they complain about water and Moses strikes the rock. Again, God provides for their needs as water flows from the rock. Good leaders don’t let whiners and complainers frustrate them. Also, good leaders trust God to provide for them.

During their time in the wilderness, God wanted to see if His people would keep His laws and commandments. So God calls Moses to come to the top of Mount Sinai and meet with Him. No one else is permitted to come. God tells Moses what the Ten Commandments are going to be. Moses delivers that news to the people and then goes back up on the mountain for forty days and nights. During this time, God writes the commandments on stone tablets. He also gives Moses some specific directions for building the tabernacle. During this time, the people grow impatient and start complaining again. Then they build the golden calf. God’s becomes furious and wants to wipe them out. Moses pleads to God on their behalf. Moses comes down the mountain and sees the golden calf and now he becomes furious. Moses breaks the stone tablets. Then he destroys the golden calf. Moses speaks to the people and tells them to choose a side to stand on. God kills everyone who doesn’t choose to stand on his side. Moses goes back up the mountain and gets replacement tablets. While Moses is up on the mountain this time, God passes by him and allows Moses to see His back. The leadership principles here include God desires intimacy from his people but especially those who lead. Leaders must take some time to separate themselves from the crowd. Leaders are watched and analyzed by the public. Leaders must stand for what is right even if everyone else is on the other side.

The saddest part of the story of Moses is that he was not allowed to enter the Promised Land. The Bible says that the reason Moses could not enter the promised land was because he struck the rock when God to him to speak to the rock to bring forth water. Striking the rock was disobedience to a specific command by God. The leadership principle here is when God gives you a specific command, do exactly what you are told. Disobedience causes people to miss out on blessings.



Bradley, M. (2008). Lessons from the story of Moses., retrieved from

Maxwell, J. & Elmore, T. (Eds.). (2007). The maxwell leadership bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.