Stewards of the Mysteries of God

Today’s picture is from a lesson to the Unit 5 Innovative Entrepreneur class. It was drawn to deconstruct a chapter on the leadership from Chief Hanna’s book Mastering Self: to Lead Self and Others.

In 1 Corinthians chapter 4, Paul helps us understand the responsibility and power of leadership.  As I read through today’s chapter, Chief Hanna’s principles on the power of leadership continued to surface in Paul’s life.  

Challenge: See if you can draw any similarities from Paul’s account and the image above as you read through the chapter.  If you find any that you’d like to share, or any other scripture that comes to mind, put them in the comments.  

I’ve included some takeaways from the reading below along with some other scripture that came to mind when reading it.

Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.- 1Corinthians 4:1-2

A follower of Christ is a steward of the truth.  The mysteries of God have been revealed plainly to us in the New Testament. (John 14:26)  The steward’s job is to protect the truth from perversion and proclaim it unfettered. (2Timothy 1:14, Romans 1:16)  The Word of God saves souls so I can see why it is important to steward it well, (James 1:21) but what does it mean to be a faithful steward?

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. – 1 Corinthians 4:3-5

Perhaps the first step in being faithful is to recognize who we are to be faithful to. We are not men pleasers but God pleasers. (Ephesians 6:6-8)  We are slaves of God and we seek our Master’s glory.  We trust his Word and are not ashamed of it.  God is the only one fit to judge.  Comparison is empty if left to us.  Only One can compare rightly.  The Sprit compares us to God’s word.  This is a personal gift to help us each individually.  In the same way, we should not try to unwrap a friend’s birthday gift, we should not attempt to unwrap the Spirit’s gift of comparing others to the Word.  We only need protect the Word and proclaim it. 

And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you. – 1 Corinthians 4:6-8

Perhaps the second step in being faithful is to admit our position.  We own nothing but that which God has given us.  God has given us everything to steward for His glory.  

For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. 1Corinthians 9-13

Paul’s proper view of himself places him at the bottom which gives him the personal power to minister, save souls, and bring glory to God.

I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church. Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness? – 1 Corinthians 4:14-21

Paul’s example is faithfulness.  Words would not do, therefore Paul sent Timothy as a reminder of the power of a life.  Wisdom is not knowing things.  Wisdom is shown in a life lived well. (James 3:13)  Paul warns that he will inspect lives and discern the presence or absence of the power of God.

Be Strong

Today’s reading gives us the patterns of a Godly man.  Paul is exhorting Timothy to “be strong” (v1), but Paul doesn’t stop there.  He gives us relatable examples of what it means to “be strong”.  

Paul gives us the example of the teacher, the soldier, the athlete, and the farmer, then he commissions Timothy to  “think over what [he said]”.  The examples are not long and exhaustive but Paul promises Timothy that “the Lord will give [him] understanding in everything” if he thinks over it.  (2Timothy 2:7)  

A wise man once said, “better to read little and think much than to read much and think little.”  Today’s journal entry includes some thoughts and reflections on these short powerful examples.  I would love if you would share some of yours in the comments or on facebook.   

The Teacher.  Christ instructed us to teach His commandments to all nations and modeled this for us through discipleship. (Matthew 28:20) . Discipleship is a chain.  Position yourself in the chain, between someone who will disciple you and who you can disciple.  Those you disciple should be carefully selected people who are faithful and trustworthy to carry on the chain.  (2Timothy 2:2)

The Soldier.  We are at war.  The soldier is not confused about work-life balance.  The two are integrated and his purpose is singular.  Full of integrity, his life is whole and complete.  There are no situations in which he changes modes or leaves something behind.  There is no clocking out.  A soldier at war is always on active duty.  He does not concern himself with things of the world.  His eye is single in the battle and pleasing his commander.  (2Timothy 2:3-4)

The Athlete.  It is a given that athletics require effort.  Even though some athletes have incredible natural abilities, fans tend to cheer on an underdog who gives it his all over the more skilled athlete who doesn’t.  Fans tend to gravitate to athletes who are ok with giving it their all and being beaten, even if it means everyone knows they could not have done any better or given an ounce more effort.  An athlete looks at the cost of defeat and competes anyways.  Humble athletes are fun to watch.  Still, even though effort is a given for athletics, no matter the effort expended, if the athlete breaks the rules he is disqualified.  (2Timothy 2:5)  

The Farmer.  The farmer is hard working.  This word is from a Greek verb meaning ‘to labor to the point of exhaustion.’  Day in, day out the farmer works amidst circumstances outside their control.  The farmer can not control the water, the bugs, the temperature, the sun, the clouds, or the shifting seasons, yet he works to the point of exhaustion in hopes that he might reap a harvest.  A farmer is truly seasoned in the art of sowing to the LORD and trusting Him with the harvest.  (2Timothy 2:6)

May we all continue to think over the Scripture and trust in the LORD to give us understanding.

Reading quote reference: Mastering Self: To Lead Self and Others by Chief Hanna

A Lesson on Leadership

Today’s reading: Luke 21, Psalm 69

I had always thought of the Widow’s Mite (Luke 21:1-4) as a lesson on giving but through a recent study I’ve come to believe it is actually a warning of the implications of false leadership, specifically self-righteous, legalistic religious systems and their false leaders.  A good thing to know how to spot and avoid (Psalm 1) and a good thing to help us refine our beliefs on true leadership. 

When taken in context this account is surrounded by diatribes of false teachers.  (Luke 20:47, Luke 21:5-36)  In addition to the lack of the subject matter of giving in the surrounding scripture, is the lack of any principle taught on giving in this passage.  Jesus neither condemns the rich for their giving nor commends the widows for hers.  In my estimation, Jesus never said He was pleased with the widows giving, nor did he even imply it.  

On the contrary, we know that Jesus did not approve of the religious system that was receiving the gifts and from that we can even go as far as to assume he may not have been pleased with the fact that this widow was being separated from her last coin on account of it.  All throughout scripture, God’s Word protects and provides for widows, it never leaves them destitute.  (Exodus 22:22, Psalm 146:9, Proverbs 15:25, Isaiah 1:17, Isaiah 10: 1-4, Jeremiah 49:11, James 1:27)

The word rich used here is ‘plousios’ and means those who have enough. The word poor used in verse two is ‘penichors’, meaning someone who is needy but not destitute. The second mention of the widow being poor in verse three after she is seen giving all she had, is a different word ‘ptochos’ meaning someone who has nothing and has been reduced to begging.

The lesson, in my estimation, is this: the widow’s involvement in this false religious system has cost her everything.  The warning; false leaders and their systems prey on the weak and pry from them what little possessions they have.  Why give this warning?  Perhaps, this will help us identify these systems so we can avoid them and not be party to them.

Another identifying characteristic of these systems is in the preceding two verses. The leaders of these systems create them so that they can accumulate what they desire; influence, position, power, money, etc. at the expense of the weak. (Luke 20-46-47)  They are systems designed to serve the leader. 

Contrasting false from true: real leaders do two things.

  1. They serve those they lead and
  2. they lead by example.  

(Mark 10: 42-45, Philippians 2:3, Matthew 17,12, 1Timothy 4:12, 1Peter 5:1-3, Hebrews 13:7)

Here is a lesson of the cost of false leadership, a warning to false leaders and an aid to help us discern true from false leaders.  In a culture that has so much to say about leadership, God’s word helps us understand the truth and protects us.  Praise God!

 

Study resource: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Luke 18-24

Painting by James Tissot (French, 1836-1902)

Non Sibi

Today’s Startup School class is about lean philosophy in business but I always try to infuse a principle on leadership in to every lesson. As I was preparing to teach this morning I looked to Mr. Hanna’s book Mastering Self: to Lead Self and Others for some inspiration and came across non sibi.

“Non sibi” is latin for “Not for self”. A great origin point for any Christian pilgrimage. Leadership is often mistakingly associated with a person who gets all they want. A CEO with more money than most and freedom to do what ever they want. Sometimes leadership is mistakingly associated with someone who “hustles harder” and wills their desired future state in to existence. Often that desired future state revolved squared around them. This is not leadership.

I was taught a good lesson for testing non sibi whenever one may find themselves in a leadership position. Motives for aspiring to leadership can often be a tricky thing to discern. But by focusing on our actions, what we do, we can work our way backward through what we believe. What we believe is often linked to what motivates.

Rights and Privileges vs. Responsibilities and Obligations

Leaders often find themselves with several rights and privileges though the best ones seldom enact these and when they do it is for others non sibi. Instead leaders who hold to non sibi will look for opportunities to press in to responsibilities and obligations. So the test is this. Do you find yourself looking forward to the rights and privileges or working now, not waiting, to press in to responsibilities and obligations. Answering this question honestly can help us understand if what we are doing is really about others or if deep down its actually about ourselves. Some may deceive others but God knows all.

God you tell us that we are here to serve. Help us to be other focused. Amen.

 

A Nation’s Leader

Psalm 72 is a beautiful prayer for a nation. It’s focus is primarily on its leader. In its recipe for a prosperous nation we find a leader who knows the truth from lies and acts in truth and righteousness, a leader who brings up other strong leaders, a system that brings peace to the people and a people who fear the LORD. On the other hand, we see in scripture how a nation and people who turn from God are handed over to confusion, not being able to discern the truth from lies, they pursue emptiness and the nation declines.

  • Romans 1:18-32 – Turning away from God, being handed over
  • Isaiah 1:21-31 – Outcomes: systematic ruin of economy and justice
  • Isaiah 3:2-6 – Outcomes: weak leaders
  • 2 Timothy 3:1-7 – Outcomes: false believers
  • 2 Timothy 4:3-4 – Outcomes: false religion
  • Deuteronomy 28 – Compare and contrast

May we be the salt of the earth and preserve the old ways.

Originally published on BibleJournal.net from September 21, 2016’s reading: 2 Samuel 17; 2 Corinthians 10; Ezekiel 24; Psalm 72

Dealing with failure

Originally published on BibleJournal.net

Today’s reading: Numbers 27; Psalms 70–71; Isaiah 17–18; 1 Peter 5

May 18th, 2016

Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the Lord be not as sheep which have no shepherd. – Numbers 27:16–17

Dealing with failureWhenever I read these phrases about ‘going out and coming in before them’ in the Bible my heart longs to be a leader. I love. I thirst to serve and help others. Yet my desire brings about failure. Repeatedly. Today I pain for those I have failed along the way as we went out and came in.

Yesterday marked a failed attempt to restore a previous failure for me. This morning I sought advice from a stronger and better leader of what to do now. The chapter was titled ‘Dealing with failure’, from Mastering Self: To Lead Self and Others by Donald G Hanna. I was looking for a next step. Here is what I found.

Chief Hanna teaches that leaders fail for three basic reasons: relationship, commission and omission.

“Leadership is demanding of time, priority, and emotional energy. A tendency persists to neglect prayer, Bible study, spouse, and children. Relationships become strained or deteriorate with residual failure. Relationship failure occurs due to improper relations with God, family, superiors, or others. Commission failure results directly from wrong decisions, actions, and priorities. It results indirectly from wrong values, beliefs, attitude, and thinking. Omission failure results from failing to decide or do what should be decided or done. It often involves overlooking in lieu of overseeing, i.e., failure to exercise authority in oversight obligation. Procrastination and rationalization enhance omission failure.”

Chief Hanna goes on to say that, “three biblical steps are necessary to respond to a personal failure or wrong:

  1. admit the failure or wrong without rationalizing or blaming,
  2. seek forgiveness from the person wronged by your failure, and
  3. take remedial action if the failure or wrong can be restored.”

Praise God for a system of forgiveness. Oh how I rely on Him. Chief Hanna’s perspective on the causes of failure leave me with much work to do. How are you doing with your leadership?

God would you help me lead. God may You abide in me and I in You. This is my only hope. Amen.

Leadership and Love

Originally published on BibleJournal.net

Today’s reading: Exodus 34; John 13; Proverbs 10; Ephesians 3

March 23rd, 2016

Leadership

Whenever the topic of leadership comes up I like to pass on a simple truth I was taught. I call them the two things. They are simple to understand. Simple to remember. Simple to see why these two things are it. Still they are not so simple to enact without fail. They take sacrifice at the most fundamental level. Self. They take us out of ourselves. Away from us. Away from this world. They leave us with less self and more others. A good friend of mine taught me what leaders do. Leaders do two things:

  1. Leaders lead by example
  2. Leaders serve those they lead

Search your experiences and you will hopefully find a leader in your life who does these two things well. One thing to mention here is that anyone can lead. Power is not needed to lead. Authority is not needed to lead. Though power and authority will accrete to those who follow these two things. Do you want to be a leader? Are you doing these two things?

Leadership and Love

Love, the Fulfillment of the Law

Here I just want to share a collection of verses that point to the importance of love and close with a few verses I encourage everyone to memorize. They are verses you have likely heard several times, but please do not let that cause you to pass over this encouragement without prayerfully considering memorizing them. Once memorized you can meditate on them throughout the day and call them to service as the ultimate checklist against what Jesus has called you to do in any situation. Running late in the check out line; run through the list. In the throws of a tough conversation; run through the list. Frustrated, worried, concerned, angry, scared, upset… go through the list, one by one and make sure you align with God’s word. 

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. – Ecclesiastes 12:13

If ye love me, keep my commandments. – John 14:15

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. – John 13:34–35

Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. Romans – 13:10

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

– 1 Corinthians 13:4–7

God would you give us understanding that we may keep your law and obey it with all our hearts? Would you turn our hearts toward Your statutes and not toward selfish gain? Would You turn our eyes away from worthless things and preserve our lives according to Your word? Thank you. Amen.