One of my favorite theologians, “Dr.” George Bailey from Bedford Falls, said once that his three favorite sounds in the world are anchor chains, plane motors, and train whistles. Dr. Bailey always had a passion for travel and adventure.
Growing up in sunny Florida, I developed a list of top three favorite smells. Yes, its weird, I know. Those scents are: the magnolia, the gardenia, and the orange blossom. The orange blossom being ranked #1 and the magnolia ranked #3. Its a highly technical ranking system.
If you have never experienced origin past an orange grove in full bloom, you are missing out. The scent of the blossoms is literally overwhelming.
As beautiful as that smell can be, it is only an foreshadowing of the experience one can have in going into the backyard on a cold December day (70-80 degrees) and selecting the perfect orange to eat on the spot. That is an unforgettable moment.
As leaders, it seems we are perpetually on the journey from bloom to fruit. Meaning, God gives us a scent of His direction, and we,…in Him, to Him, and through Him, (Romans 11)…are led to see His vision come to “fruition.”
Proverbs 12:12b is a leadership verse worthy of body art! It says: “The ROOT of the RIGHTEOUS bears FRUIT”
Before I go further, let me say that I am presupposing you understand Christ as our eternal reward and our heart’s true treasure. He is our goal and destination. Now that we have that out in the open, we can talk about the work of leadership and the Christian life.
The end result of our leading, coaching, and doing, therefore, is to bear fruit that points back to the Father. Let’s “unchurchify” that by saying that what we do with the fruit we bear should echo back to the point of origination. The result of your successful leadership should point back to journey Christ laid out for you. The harvest should herald the hand of the maker. That maker would not be you. If you think anything has originated with you, you are a fool. I said it, but the Bible backs me up! :) (Proverbs 26:12)
As leaders, therefore, we are on the journey to fruitful, God-given successes. As believers we are on a journey to exhibit peace, patience, kindness, love, and the rest. As it is in our followship, so it will be in our leadership.
Get your hands dirty today. Cultivate vision, water the people on your team, prune away processes that cause drag on the organization. Make your work an act of worship that points back to Him.
As a leader, all eyes will be on you in a time of great crisis. I like to say that “my leadership ability is directly related to my ability to absorb bad news.” Unfortunately, because I am a human being and not a robot (or a Vulcan), I spark when calamity comes to grind me down. In those times, I need to be prepared, yes, fortified with data that will inform my behavior. Proverbs 18.11 helps me prepare:
“A rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his imagination.”
Calamity takes many forms, lets spend a few moments on the notion of financial ruin. Crisis in this area of life has literally driven people over the edge in order to end it all. Notice two words in Proverbs 18:11: “his” and “imagination.” The writer casts the rich man inside a secure city of his own design! He creates a vivid picture of the “wealth-worshipper”bowing down inside an imaginary citadel, seeing his “securities” in his mind alone. The futility of the image now brings the “God-worshipper” or “Christ follower” into sharp contrast.
Instead of trusting in the flimsy fortifications of financial gain, we have a fortress made out of a stronger stuff! Psalm 46 gives us a crystal clear song of faith to sing in the middle of a storm declaring God as our fortress and strength.
His fortifications trump financial gain and loss, cancer and health, anxiety in its many forms, and the very fear of death itself.
As a Christ-follower, as a leader, lead from that place. That place of unsurpassed strength and might comes not only in understanding the imagery of being inside his walls, but also understanding that being in Him really means He is the wall itself and nothing “formed against” you will prevail. He’s got you covered…
One of the unique privileges of of being a husband is hanging curtains. Over the years, I have had the chance to hang curtains and curtain rods all over Texas. Yes, that’s an exaggeration. But I’ve done it so much that I have actually become awesome at it. That’s not an exaggeration. (insert alpha male roar here)
I recently found myself back on the ladder again last week. As I did the prep work, my youngest daughter Avonlea (4yrs) decided she would help. So, picture it: I have the right tools in the right spot on the floor. The ladder in just the right position. And as a bonus, I had offspring to hand me stuff.
The moment we started to get to work, I had one of those God-moments in which time stops, and He begins to teach me something. I noticed that everytime I asked Avonlea to hand me something, she would reach as high as she could, and strain to get it into my hands. I would inevitably have to come down the ladder a few steps to get the screw or the pencil she had for me. I would reach down and carefully take the item from her little hand and then ascend the ladder to continue.
As a leader, I can often make a big mistake in assuming that I am the one on the ladder doing the work. Yes, I can puff and fret about my workload. Conversely, I can be overly proud of an accomplishment. All the time, the Lord is looking down at me from the ladder and smiling. He can read the situation from his vantage point much better than I can.
David’s sin brought him to a place where he finally began to get the bigger picture. He tries to express the sentiment in Psalm 39.4-5.
“Oh Lord, make me know the end of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind is a breath! Surely a man goes about as a shadow!
If you’ve been around Christianity long enough, you’ve probably have heard somebody say that “Christianity is the only faith system in the world in which the seeker doesn’t reach up to meet God, instead he reaches down to meet us where we are.” David’s words about our place in time and our relationship to an eternal God, make it painfully clear that our best efforts to reach Him will only amount to us straining upward toward him like kids. Its a good image for us to remember.
As a leader, are you struggling to find your way up a ladder? Do you have anxiety about outcomes and deliverables? Are your eyes so fixed on the next step that you forget the larger landscape of your relationship to God?
Instead of worry, choose waiting. Instead of working, choose watching. Look up to the God of the universe, plug into His plans, and watch him smile and work.
(also, when hanging curtains, don’t take the drill up on the ladder with you…It might find its way down on top of your offspring’s head…that didn’t happen…as far as you know…I’m just saying…)
I have confirmed an exciting theory in recent weeks. After being on a break from cable for over a year and a half, we “plugged in” once again and I was proved correct! What is this theory? Well, I have determined (and now proved through extensive scientific research) that at least one of the the movies in the Back to The Future Trilogy is perpetually playing in the ether somewhere. It brings me a certain level of junior high joy knowing it could be just a channel away…
While trolling through Proverbs 24, I came upon two verses that are artfully linked and remind us as leaders that our future is a gift to be treasured.
19 Fret not because of evil doers, and be not envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out.
13-14 My son, eat honey, for it is good. and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.
The big question for us in leadership is whether you can handle the axiom that we are not in control of your future.
I mean, that’s really it right? If your plans are launched at just the right trajectory, does it really mean you’ll hit the mark? Just because your “life plan” is on paper in a file someplace, does it guarantee it will play out just that?
But what of vision? Of course vision is a leadership imperative. But if your vision is not informed by the greater vision of a Godward, wisdom-filled life, get ready to start “working it” to make it happen. So, lets remember we can’t earn a future, its a gift. It is a gift given by God.
God’s got you in the play for a specific role. Only He knows how the scenes progress. As we hope in him, and taste his satisfying wisdom, our future becomes His. Have hope!
(See also Jeremiah 29.11)