Following Jesus is not first doing things for Jesus; it is first listening to him speak, and then doing what he says. Peter, James and John were the cream of Jesus’ leadership team. Yet when Jesus was transfigured before them, Peter was unable to resist making plans to maximize this exciting new open door. Fortunately, a voice from heaven shut him up, commanding him to listen to Jesus (Matthew 17:5)! It is easy to lead FOR God without listening TO him. The word listen or hear is found more than 1500 times in the Bible. That is why the most important question every one of us must ask throughout our days is: “God, how are you coming to me, what might you want to say?” In this podcast, I give specific examples of how I regularly apply this question to different areas of my life and discernment process. I apply it to: How I. Read more.
Looking over our shoulder to more “successful” ministries is one of the most frequent sources of pain for leaders. It is also one of the great temptations that hinder us from faithfully following Jesus. We can learn a lot from the pattern of John the Baptist’s leadership as he responded to the news that he was losing people to the “new, big thing” happening around him (John 3:26-30). Content leaders affirm: 1. I am content. I am exactly where I am supposed to be. “A person can receive only what is given him from heaven.” Yes, God gives gifts and abilities that we want to steward well. But each place of service, employment, success, or failure (a lot of God’s closest servants seem to suffer martyrdom) is under God’s sovereignty. It is tempting to strive, manipulate, and anxiously toil to push doors open that God does not have for us. But we want to. Read more.
How we respond to the limits Jesus intentionally places before us is a core issue for every leader. The feeding of the 5000 (actually the 10,000-20,000 when we include women and children) offers us an opportunity for transformation – if we patiently allow this revelation of Jesus to penetrate us. It is the only miracle, except for the resurrection, found in all four gospels. This summer God has invited me to patiently listen to Him through the John 6:1-15 account. The following are four of the insights I continue to ponder: Jesus intentionally places limits before us to mature our faith. One third of the account concerns itself with Jesus testing and growing their faith. He placed them in an impossible situation. What is an impossible leadership challenge before you today? Jesus is more than enough. Andrew said: “Here is a boy with 5 small barley loaves and 2 small fish, but how far. Read more.
The Desert Fathers in the 3rd to the 5th century, following the tradition of Elijah, Moses, and John the Baptist, fled to the silence of the desert to purify their hearts in order to see God. Ultimately, they sought to save the world, and the church, from idolatry. Their wisdom has endured almost 2000 years. The next time you are criticized or slandered, remember these words from Abba John: “One day when he was sitting in front of the church, the brethren were consulting him about their thoughts. One of the old men who saw it became a prey to jealousy and said to him, ‘John, your vessel is full of poison.’ Abba John said to him, ‘That is very true, abba; and you have said that when you see only the outside, but if you were able to see the inside, too, what would you say then?’ How very true.
Prayer is carrying people, paralyzed by life, to the healing waters of the love of Jesus. We meet a man in John 5, paralyzed and suffering for 38 years, who has been unable to get to the healing waters of the pool. Fred Craddock notes that, perhaps, this was because able-bodied people with headaches, sunburn, and fever blisters continually beat the lame, the blind, and the paralyzed to the pool. What kind of community would allow someone to suffer 38 years without once helping him to the head of the line? At our NLF staff meeting last week, we symbolically created the “pool” through placing a blanket in the middle of a circle. We then invited individual staff to step into the “center of the pool,” representing people paralyzed by life. The rest of us in the circle then picked up the edges of the cloth blanket and gently ruffled it, “troubling the waters.” We. Read more.