Do You Sabbath?

Do you take the time to enjoy a Sabbath? I am going to guess that you don’t. Even among those who follow Christ, taking the time to rest, be still, and be quiet is approached with a stigma. Those who do not keep busy are seen as: Lazy Wasting time Letting the world get ahead Not being productive Old fashioned Legalistic If I truly believe that my identity is not tied to the things I accomplish, then I’d be willing to stop accomplishing for Sabbath. When identity is confused with productivity, it is difficult to trust that God is pleased with you when you rest. Through this lens, Sabbath is seen as an inconvenience. Here are Jesus’ words on intentionally pausing: Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” – Mark 2:27-28 In order to justify our busy lifestyles, the tendency in looking at these verses is to focus on “not man for the Sabbath.” These are Jesus’ words to the religious leaders about finding one’s worth in legalistically following rules rather than the good things of God. Let’s not overlook the beginning of that statement – “The Sabbath was made for man.” Our ability to intentionally stop is a gift. It is necessary for us to function as we were designed. Slaves don’t get a chance to rest. Sabbath is an expression of our freedom. Sabbath is not a time of nothingness, but a time of connection. It is a time for us to be reminded that God’s love is not based on the world’s...

Make Yourself Available

  The ability to ask open-ended questions and listen with presence is a skill. Good questions have power, not just to garner information, but to change perspective and build influence. Everyone has relationships in which influence must be built and maintained: spouses, children, leaders, teams, students, etc. Questions are a necessary component to growth in all of these areas. All too often, attempts to build influence become prescription. Telling another person what they need or should do without giving them a chance to evaluate or explain. Another mistake is to continually tell people what you need from them. This sends the implicit message that the other person, whether it is spouse, child, employee, or volunteer, is there to serve you. Now you have stolen joy from the relationship and created obligation. Both of these are attempts to build influence that are centered in self and the need to maintain control. Recently, a client was having trouble finding a way to effectively maintain connection with a leader without seemingly like they were meddling. In this situation, the person being led reacted very negatively to feeling like they were being managed. One solution to this problem was to ask a simple question: What do you need from me? With these words you can demonstrate compassion and a desire to serve the other by putting their needs alongside your own. Asking this question communicates your availability without bruising the other’s ego. They may be more likely to ask for help if they know that it is not a sign of weakness to need help. Additionally, this question places ownership for the circumstance or task on the other person’s shoulders, where it...

Five Characteristics of a Healthy Team

Regardless of the context, good leadership is not a lone wolf activity. It takes a team or community of people to lead well. On some level, all people who lead are aware of this, yet there are a variety of factors that inhibit the development of leadership teams. Insecurity is high on that list, as are issues of control and a need for approval from others. Developing quality leadership teams takes intentionality and discipline. Here are five necessary characteristics that I have observed in healthy teams (and missing from unhealthy teams) with whom I have worked. Don’t let familiarity detract from their value to transform your leadership culture, for they are also vetted out by experience. Competence: Of course it goes without saying that we want people who are effective at their facet of the task. What does a particular role require a person to be good at? What determines effectiveness? Character: Leading together is a relational activity. It requires trustworthiness and adherence to standards. When we are exposed and vulnerable it is invaluable to know that we won’t be taken advantage of. What personal goals does the person leading have? How much oversight is required to ensure things get done? How honest does the person evaluate their self? Commitment: It is always hoped that a person has a commitment to more than a paycheck or accolades. But, commitment goes beyond loyalty to a task or vision. What is the commitment to balance? How open to growth and transition is the person? Setting up to lead for the long term. Chemistry: This may be the hardest to ascertain initially. Will you and others enjoy working with this person? Is...

Right or Wrong

The Bible is replete with stories of those who did what was right in their own eyes. Adam and Eve head this list that would then be followed by almost every other biblical character. Abraham and Sarah. Jacob. The Israelite nation. Peter. To name just a few. When we do what is right in our own eyes, the flip side of the coin is that we do what is evil in the eyes of the Lord. No where is this pattern illustrated more clearly than in the book of Judges. Over and over we read the phrase like this from 3:12a, Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, Doing what is right in our own eyes is a product seeking wholeness apart from God. Attempting to find our worth – our identity – apart from our Creator, we will do whatever it takes to sustain that false sense of self. Identity forms our filter for decision-making. Our identity forms the lens through which we see the world and our place in it. In Christ or out, we make decisions that support our identity. Giving us a sense of worth and providing a covering for our shame. So for instance, if your sense of wholeness is related to being married or even in a committed relationship, then if you are single you are going to make decisions that lead to finding a partner. If you are married, then your decisions will be filtered through what is going to keep my spouse happy with me. Identity forms the lens of our values. What is right and what is...

Help Our Way

The parable that follows is one that I stumbled upon recently. (I could find no attribution.) You may have read it before, but I challenge you to read it through the lens of your present circumstance and prayers. A terrible storm came into a town and local officials sent out an emergency warning that the riverbanks would soon overflow and flood the nearby homes. They ordered everyone in the town to evacuate immediately. A faithful Christian man heard the warning and decided to stay, saying to himself, “I will trust God and if I am in danger, then God will save me.” The neighbors came by his house and said to him, “We’re leaving and there is room for you in our car, please come with us!” But the man declined. “I have faith that God will save me.” As the man stood on his porch watching the water rise up the steps, a man in a canoe paddled by and called to him, “Hurry and come into my canoe, the waters are rising quickly!” But the man again said, “No thanks, God will save me.” The floodwaters rose higher pouring water into his living room and the man had to retreat to the second floor. A police motorboat came by and saw him at the window. “We will come up and rescue you!” they shouted. But the man refused, waving them off saying, “Use your time to save someone else! I have faith that God will save me!” The flood waters rose higher and higher and the man had to climb up to his rooftop. A helicopter spotted him...

An Unfortunately True Story

A recent conversation with a hurting pastor prompts me to share this story from my experience… Almost a decade ago, I was an associate pastor with a lot of responsibility at a large and very fast growing church, and at the same time my marriage was in a bad place. For my part, I was trying squeeze out of my marital relationship a sense of affirmation and worth. For my wife’s part, she was struggling with issues of trust, responding to masculinity, and a general apathy to the idea of being married. Due to my need to prove my worth, I was working very hard to right the course of the relationship. The lie that I was believing was that if I just tried harder, the results would be different. So I set up opportunities to pray, do Bible studies, go to a conference, and offered to see a counselor. All with no response. I was frustrated, angry, miserable, and feeling rejected. My wife, too, was not in a good place through all this. It is in this context that I reached out to one of the elders at the church in which I served. Because of my people pleaser tendencies, this was a level of vulnerability that was unusual for me. I was desperate. This man was someone I considered a friend, so I told him some of what was going on, how I needed help as a husband, and I also asked if his wife would consider being more intentional in her relationship with my wife to help her process what was going on in her personal...

Gain Perspective. Live Well.

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