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Tag Archives: Abraham

Clean Pain and Dirty Pain

Examples of dirty pain are found throughout Scripture. The Israelites wander for forty years in the desert due to their unbelief. Jonah finds himself in a stormy sea as he runs from God’s will. Abraham experiences years of pain after birthing Ishmael rather than wait on God. Much of our dirty pain in leadership comes from a failure to wait and listen to wise counsel. Hasty staff hires, half-formed plans, sloppy meetings, a turbulent spirit due to a failure to set boundaries, rushed sermons – are a few examples. We don’t learn in dirty pain because we are defending, denying, and avoiding.  It is the pain of repeating the same mistakes.  I know it well. Examples of clean pain are also found throughout Scripture. Jesus struggles with the Father’s will in Gethsemane.  Paul’s pleads to remove a thorn in the flesh. Abraham climbs a mountain to obey God and sacrifice his son. Clean pain. Read more.

Ishmael

I preached yesterday on Abraham and Sarah’s impatient decision to move ahead of God as they waited for His promise of Issac (Gen. 16:1-4). It is hard to pass judgment on them since I have birthed many an “Ishmael” in my life. Sarah skillfully develops a plan that had worked well for other “ministries” of their day. The only problem is that it was not God’s plan for them! Strategic planning, goal setting, determining our priorities and our “to do” lists are all essential leadership skills. Yet I am also aware how easy it is to use my goals and plans to eliminate the mystery and mess that come with following our living, “wild” God.  So I developed this little “Ishmael Test” out of my pondering that I shared with our church family yesterday: 1. Am I afraid to ask God what His will is in this situation? 2. Am I uncomfortable exploring my hidden. Read more.