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We Thank God, But God Thanks Us, His Leaders?

Filed under: Leadership — Pastor David Nov 1, 2013 @ 10:05 am

“I hold and believe that I am God’s creature, that is, that He has given me and constantly sustains my body, soul, and life, my members great and small, all my senses, my reason and understanding, and the like…Besides, He makes all creation help provide the benefits and necessities of life… none of us has life—or anything else that has been mentioned here or can be mentioned—from ourselves, nor can we by ourselves preserve any of them, however small and unimportant. All this is comprehended in the word ―Creator.”  Martin Luther 1529


This is the season that we reflect on all for which we are thankful for and express that thanks to God. We consider the vastness of what we owe Him as our Creator and Savior and it overwhelms us. We cry out like E.V. Hill declared, “I’ve gotta praise Jesus. All that I am He made me, all that I have He gave me, all that I know He taught me.”    What has deeply impacted me, personally, is that our God not only in His person and work calls to us for thanksgiving, He, Himself, also gives thanksgiving. He thanks us! He does not have to do that since He is the source and first cause of all things!  But, amazingly, He will soon be handing out honors to His people when we come to the great Judgment Seat of Christ, rewarding them in many ways.

Calvin Coolidge wisely observed, “No man is honored for what they receive, but for what they give.”

Six crowns of gold will be dispensed to the laborers and servants of the living God. The crowns given to the overcomers are for various aspects of our service to God. 1- The Crown of Life is given to those who persevere under duress and temptation (James 1:12, Rev. 2:10). 2- The Crown of Rejoicing is for the ones who influence others to follow Christ, they are fishers of men (Matt. 4:19, 1 Thess 2:19). 3- The Imperishable Crown (1 Cor 9:24-27) is given to those who run the whole race and never get distracted or deterred. They run every day with focus, sacrifice, obedience, and faithfulness. “Consistency you are a rare jewel”.  4- The Crown of Righteousness is given to those who long for and earnestly look for Christ’s second coming (2 Tim 4:7-8). These are constantly saying, “Maybe He is coming today. I must be ready. I must prepare for that moment.” 5- The Crown of Glory is given to leaders who do their job in an honorable way, they are examples of what they teach. (1 Pet. 5:4) 6- The Golden Crown for all overcomers is given to all who appear before the throne of God in heaven. (Rev.4:4)  These crowns, we will then throw down before the throne in gratitude and worship because we will fully realize none of the honors bestowed on us are due to our own ability and wisdom, they are all from Him who sits on the throne. (Rev. 4:10-11)

These honors and moments of God’s lavish gratitude give focus to our lives. These are what God treasures in our leadership. How many of the six will you receive as a leader? God will thank you one day for your service. He will acknowledge the fine job you have done. He will lift you before the throngs and crowds of heaven and will say, “Well done! Good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in a few things now I will give you greater things.” Matt 25:21-23, Luke 19:16-19.

Here is a major mistake… living for the approval of men. Paul wrote that if we live to please men we will not please God (Gal. 1:10). Jim Elliot also articulated it well, “He is no fool who loses what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Living for the power, possessions, pleasures, and praises of this world is to lose that crown. C.S. Lewis wisely concluded, “Live for earth you lose heaven. Live for heaven and you get earth thrown in.” John, Jesus’ best friend wrote, “Watch yourselves so that you do not lose what you have accomplished but that you may receive the full reward”(2 John 8). This is serious business. It is so easy to lose the crown and thanks of God. Carelessness, ignorance, distraction, depression, etc. can all come in like a stormy day and wash away all that we  have worked for. When the pressure is on we can quit the calling we have received, the ministry, the task of multiplying our lives in others, the vision of reaching the harvest fields of this world, the Great Commandment and Great Commission of our Lord (Matt. 22:37-40, 28:18-20).

But God is not forgetful or negligent to remember your labor and love. Read Heb. 6:10. “God is not unjust to forget your work and the love which you have shown to His Name, I having ministered and am still ministering to the saints.” Wow! God will thank you for the hard work and love you have shown for His Name, His harvest, His Kingdom, His people, and those who need to be trained and mentored.

What this has meant to me is beyond words. Firstly, I am overwhelmed to realize that God is going to thank us for our work and love. We have nothing and we can give nothing but that we  first received it from Him. We love Him because He first loved us. How can we, then, be thanked for our love? This is the generous and loving nature of our God and King. He will thank us in His grace, giving us lavish amounts of what we do not deserve and what we cannot earn! Even our honors are gifts of His grace!

Secondly, He is an example of how we should thank those who work with us. If He is so generous in giving lavish amounts of praise and gratitude to us, we should be all the more generous to our fellow workers. Let’s lavishly thank the workers in our churches and ministry. They deserve it from us for they are truly helping us to accomplish what we could never do alone. Their willingness and teamwork are what is making the impossible happen. Let’s honor and applaud them. Let’s give them public and private credit. Bring them in front of the church or organization and tell everyone what they have done, what difference they have made in the church.  Do something that says, “We honor you and are thankful for what you have done.”

Lastly, make today count!  Focus and persevere. Do today what you know will earn that reward and thanks from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Use today to the best of your ability.

Father, I thank You for Your generosity and wisdom in giving such generous gifts to us, Your servants. I am overwhelmed that You would even thank us for what we have done to serve You. Heaven is enough and too much already. But that is the awesomeness of Your generosity and kindness. May today, I and those reading this, live to honor You in all we do and say and in every way we can today. In Jesus Name, thank You! Amen.

Compassion: What Moves a Leader to Action

Filed under: Leadership — Pastor David Aug 23, 2013 @ 12:50 pm

“Lord, break my heart with what breaks Yours.”  Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision

What moves leaders to help others? What is it in the leader that causes him or her to sacrifice so much, go to such extremes (as many would consider it), and to fight so hard to overcome enormous odds to help someone? Is it the honor they may receive, or the financial gain they will make, or is it the power they feel when helping others? Maybe there are some who do good for those ends, however, the leader called by God, is usually the one who helps others because they feel a very deep compassion for the hurting, the helpless, and the forgotten. They have a soft heart and tenderness for the bruised and broken hearted. This burden has been given to them…by God, from HIS very heart!

I have run into the professional leaders of our time (medical doctors, psychologists, counselors, and what not) who work for the government or some institution that pays them well. It would be supposed that these men and women would be soft hearted for the hurting since they deal with them every day. But shockingly, we have met cynical and proud leaders who fail to care for the very ones under their power. They neglect their real needs and deliberately make decisions that make it hard for the one who is hurting to live or cope with their pain. I asked myself why? Why do they act indifferently to these who are powerless and poor? Why are they not motivated to really help them or understand them? They treat these vulnerable lives as “just another number” among so many others. They give little regard for their pain and seemed to have forgotten how they were led and motivated to help solve that pain! Government social workers, nurses, doctors get tired and forgetful of the need to act compassionately. This is called, “compassion fatigue.” It can happen to us when we have been overexposed to too many hurting people… all demanding and complaining and requesting that their need is important. In this situation, we come to learn and find out that deep down… we are really quite shallow.

How do we keep that edge of compassion before us? Jesus saw the world of His day and was moved with compassion over and over. His love and tenderness never stopped caring for the hurting and the damaged men and women, children,  and precious babies of His world. His love was strong to the last drop. While being crucified, He was being beaten and rejected and still He prayed, “Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.” He was more concerned about those abusing Him than He was for Himself. What love is there?!  That is the type of Leader I want to follow and that is the kind of leader this world is looking for.

The weary souls of men cannot go to the educated doctors for compassion. They cannot find true care in the provided institutions this government has given them. The world is tragically empty of soft hearted leaders. The sad reality is, that they are not only heard hearted, but can be hard headed as well!  If they are contested will they resign that job and give it to a more qualified person, i.e. someone who does care? The answer is NO! They surprisingly will fight to stay in that position to maintain their income and feelings of power.  Like the religious leaders in Jesus day who crucified Christ, they were in love with their power and control so much that no one would be allowed to replace them.

What type of leader will you be? One with compassion or one with control issues? Our world is fainting from unresolved and ongoing pain and hurt just like in Jesus’ day. We have a chance to be leaders who stand apart from the leaders of our day by being full of a greatly needed quality compassion. We must not motivated by the money we make nor the honor we may receive, nor the perks of any kind! We must be moved by what moved Jesus, the love of God!

Christ saw men and women as treasures created in the marvelous image of God. He saw the special makeup of each person as created to be loved and cared for. People were each uniquely crafted with certain gifts and talents so that they could express a life of honoring God and serving mankind. They were all precious and valuable. No one is a number to God. Jesus did not die for numbers but for people with eternal worth. The image of God is what separates us from all other forms of creation (there are 2.4 million other forms of life out there).  Only humans can know and enjoy a genuine relationship with God! Only humans can fellowship with their eternal creator. And here is the kicker, the Creator wants to fellowship with us. He knows we are hurting and He really does care!

To be a compassionate leader we only need to express that love each day that we lead. It is His love and we are His channels. It is not our love for which we can take credit for as if we are being incredible people, but it is His love that flows through us. By this we never weary of pouring out to others when we are the mere channels of His love to them. Each day we receive it, and each day we give a freshly renewed resource of human compassion. The world is weary and looking for someone who cares for them. Can we be those leaders?

Mother Teresa prayed, “I love the darkness”, for that is where the pain and sorrow of this world meets the love of Jesus. She felt and she felt deeply for the hurting of this world and never fatigued to share the compassion of Christ with others. We must not seek to get away from the pain of this world but embrace it and run to it. We are like the firemen who are trained to respond to danger by running to it while those not so trained can run away from the danger. We are prepared by Jesus and His love to run to pain and sorrow and give the weary soul a drink of cool water. Our hearts are soft and tender while our minds are strong and powerful, always thinking of strategies and ways to help the weak.

Compassion is never out of date, never wrong in a given moment, and never not needed. As long as we live in this broken world, we will need leaders of compassion. Will you be one of them?

Father, You are described as the God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our afflictions so that we may comfort others who also have afflictions. Grant us the eternal resource of this divine compassion so that we may be like Your blessed Son. How beautiful He is to us in our weakness and sorrow. Make us to be leaders like Him. It is in Jesus Name we pray it. Amen.

Responding to Loss

Filed under: Leadership — Pastor David Aug 2, 2013 @ 3:46 pm

“Help LORD for the godly man ceases to be, for the faithful disappear from the sons of men…” David the King 1000 BC

One of the more painful experiences we face as leaders is the loss of an effective leader. The experts say that Psalm 12 was written by King David when the prophet Samuel died. Death is a great robber that depletes the world of great leaders. As someone has said, “What is common about all the great men of the past? They are all dead.” Sadly, this is the reality. Greatness and expertise does qualify the best to keep on living. Neither does holiness and godly character. The power of healing did not keep the apostles alive and does not keep other great men with us as well. So death is a thief that takes from us effective and skilled leaders.  What a huge hole they leave behind.

I wish we only had to face death, but there are other robbers that come in the night. Namely, sin of some form takes away a leader from his leadership. Immorality, greed, lust for power, pride, inappropriate behavior in some form cause the leader to be disqualified and removed from leadership. Here is what Paul calls “a castaway.” This too is a hard fact to face. It stirs not only sorrow but frustration and anger  and fear among our followers. The leaders left behind have to work hard in damage control for the next several months and sometimes even years to regain the trust that was lost by the failure of one leader. Then the remaining leaders try to calm the fears of the people and assure them  that the remaining leader will not do the same and fail at their post.

There is also those who feel led to leave our ministry and do something else. They may be called to another ministry or retirement. It is a loss nonetheless. It is a bit easier to deal with for we say a bitter and sweet goodbye mixed. It does not have the residue of doubt in it, but we still have an empty chair at our ministry table.

There are many ways we can lose a good and even great leader. How shall we respond? The stages of grief may be well known to you but now they are experienced by you. First shock and a stunned realization that the person is gone. Then comes denial and isolation. We say to ourselves, “This did not really happen.” Following these feelings come anger. The shock wears off and now we feel the pain and the hurt. We can enter a cycle of resentment then guilt for that resentment. That guilt makes us all the more angry. Next we begin second guessing ourselves and start what is called “bargaining.” This is when we think we could have done something  differently for better outcomes. We could have done this or said this, and maybe that would have changed this situation. Then we enter the depression zone where we feel sadness and regret. This sadness lingers for a while. Grieving is now taking place. There is no time limit to this process and there is no one way to deal with this process.

Amy Carmichael has written a poem that has summarized the strategies we use … read and ponder this brilliant and insightful piece…

He said, “I will forget the dying faces;
The empty places—
They shall be filled again;
O voices mourning deep within me, cease.”
Vain, vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in forgetting lieth peace.

He said, “I will crowd action upon action,
The strife of faction
Shall stir my spirit to flame;
O tears that drown the fire of manhood, cease.”
Vain, vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in endeavour lieth peace.

He said, “I will withdraw me and be quiet,
Why meddle in life’s riot?
Shut be my door to pain.
Desire, thou dost befool me, thou shalt cease.”
Vain, vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in aloofness lieth peace.

He said, “I will submit; I am defeated;
God hath depleted
My life of its rich gain.
O futile murmurings; why will ye not cease?”
Vain, vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in submission lieth peace.

He said, “I will accept the breaking sorrow
Which God to-morrow
Will to His son explain.”
Then did the turmoil deep within him cease.
Not vain the word, not vain;
For in acceptance lieth peace.

The final stage of grief is acceptance. I love the many ways Amy Carmichael has shown we get there. Trying the forget, staying busy, withdrawing, even submitting, but none of these allow our soul to rest. Only in acceptance of this breaking sorrow that God has destined for tomorrow will have its explanation. We must accept His timing and sovereignty that has allowed this loss to come into our leadership.  One day it will be clear why He allowed this to happen to us.  We patiently wait on Him and hold our hearts with courage to wait until He explains it to us (even if He never does, we are okay to wait till heaven.)

O Father, we trust you and know that one day You will explain these losses to us. Right now they do not make sense and yet we rest in Your loving and good hands that holds us up as we feel the deep loses of life. Use these losses to form in us the character of Your very Son, and in His Name we ask it. Amen

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