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Posts from the ‘Meanderings’ Category

Gentle and Humble Leadership


The trap of religion is that what appears to be
beneficial, quickly becomes burdensome.  In fact, the reality that religion is cumbersome is the very proof for it’s existence. What is religion? It is: lists of things to do, rituals to follow, rules to keep, and involves formulaic ways of doing things. As spiritual beings, we are drawn to religion.  As sinful people we are drawn to religion instead of the person of Jesus. The insidious trap of religion continues to ensnare people today as it did so many years ago when Jesus walked the earth. Religion robs people – since it never stops demanding more from the participant. Its nature is to busy people with vain obedience to its commands in order to superimpose a pious spirituality.

In Matthew 11:28, Jesus provides the alternative to religion: himself.
Here he gives a great invitation to tired and weary people; people like you and I. He says to the crowd he was preaching to,”Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”  In today’s terminology, Jesus is saying,”stop your fruitless and worthless religion and instead, come to me.” After this, Jesus says, quite remarkably, ”Take my yoke on you and learn of me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” In stark comparison to the religious teachers and leaders of his day, Jesus was someone who was gentle and humble of heart. His yoke, or teaching was one that provided rest for people. His rule was easy and light.

So, how do we learn of Jesus today? How do we become a gentle and humble leader? In order for this to happen, we must have a relationship to Jesus Christ. One cannot be a gentle and humble leader if he or she is not connected to Christ. As we live our life sourced out of abiding in Christ, then our life will provide rest for people who are weary of religion. One great example of a gentle and humble leader is Mother Teresa. She gave her life in devotion to God by caring for the least of the least on the streets of Calcutta. It is she who said,

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

Mother Teresa worked among the poor yet sat and gave counsel to kings. By the time she was 69, she had received the Nobel Peace prize for her work and had met with with many world leaders. Her gentle and humble leadership came out of a close relationship with Christ.

Next, we must have a grace – orientation to life When we come face to face with the reality that we have been chosen by God, adopted into his family with no self-effort on which to boast, then and only then, do we navigate life extending grace to others. God’s grace manifested in our life sets us free and releases others. A grace -orientated life filled with gentleness and humility draws people to Christ and not man-made religion.

Our identity must come out of ‘being’ and not ‘doing’.  In American culture, our value is dominated by ‘doing.’  Yet, God values us simply for who we are.  He created us to enjoy him.  We enjoy him by depending on Jesus through the Holy Spirit for life. This is the ‘yoke’ of Christ; relationship with him. Christ’s yoke is indeed an easy one.  It simply involves coming to him. As we seek to be gentle and humble leaders we must learn of Christ and accept his rest.  Once we have experienced this rest, we can lead others to find true rest in Christ alone.

Finally, gentle and humble leaders don’t keep spiritual scorecards. People find rest in Jesus. As Christians, we should be leading people to find true rest in Christ, not making sure that they satisfy our checklists or attend our spiritual programs. Gentle and humble leaders don’t keep spiritual scorecards. They don’t have long lists of ‘spiritual’ activities for people to check off. Love God and love thy neighbor sum up all the commands. Watch out for leaders who have long lists, or who have a heavy ‘yoke’. If we are to be like Jesus, then our own yoke must be easy and light, since we are teaching his teachings, and becoming like him.

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Lamentations to Return


Text: Lamentations 3:37-44 and other ‘return’ messages preached by the prophets

I wrote the song ‘Returning’ as I reflected on the messages of the prophets of the Old Testament. Their message, though despised so many years ago, is still timeless today as it still beckons people to return to the Lord.  Reading through the prophets has opened my eyes to the patience of God and yet his consistent character of mercy in judgment.  Clearly, when the Lord announces judgement on his people it is the last thing that he wants to do; it is the ultimatum for a stubborn and proud people. Tracing the steps of my own life, I see so clearly where I turn away from God in willful disobedience and forsake not only his love for me but also his grace.  Lovingly, God intrudes on my actions and thoughts outside of his desire for me and brings me back to dependency; a trust exclusively found in him.

The verse in Lamentations has unique significance in my own personal prayer life as I seek the Lord in prayer.  Often times it is a struggle to devote time to prayer and really pray.  I can pray throughout the day – and I do, but I notice a difference when I really pour out my heart and pray with complete attention and direction.  Sometimes the difficulty in my absent prayer life results from disobedience.  These are times when I know I should approach God but am reluctant to do so due to sin.  I am comforted in these times when I take the step to return back to the Lord in confession and repentance.  For in those times of returning I am drawn back to the heart of the Father and his love for me.

Returning

Verse 1:

You are everything, you are my delight

You are my song, in the night.

You have encompassed me

Yet I have turned away, forsaken your love,

Unfailing love.

Pre-Chorus:

And like a father, you come break my world in two.

And like a child I come running back to you.

 Chorus:

And I am returning to you.

 Verse 2:

When it seems that you, have covered up your face,

In a cloud, a darkened cloud.

And all the prayers I pray

Cannot e’r get through.

What must I do, what must I do?

What Are You Known For?

As we live life to a certain extent, we become known for who we are and what we have become as individuals.  Essentially, this can be summed up in one word: reputation.  Our reputation, in a bottom line equation, is derived from what we are known for. Shifting back to the Bible, I am drawn to remark on a little passage found in Romans 16:19 that has profound depth to me today as someone who works with churches and ministry organizations.

In finishing his letter to the Romans, Paul says this, “Your obedience is known to all and thus I rejoice over you. But I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil” (Romans 16:19).  What surprises me is that he captures the true essence of their reputation as one of obedience.  What also surprises me is what he said their reputation was not. Their reputation as a city-wide fellowship was not based on excellent church music, children’s programming, pulpit ministry, or outreach.  Instead, he commends the Roman believer’s reputation as true obedience to God.

Once, while in a roundtable discussion in seminary talking about worship and what a church should look for in a worship pastor, the discussion was centered on external qualities. Most in the round table suggested that a church needs a christian rock star, an energizer who can rouse the crowd to expressive enthusiasm for Christ. When I was called on to contribute to the discussion, I stated that worship was obedience – nothing more and nothing less. Therefore, the role of a worship leader is less about musical singing and more about encouraging and teaching life-long, personal and corporate obedience to Christ. After I finished, most nodded their heads in agreement and then further discussed the qualities of a good christian ‘rock’ star.

The hardest thing about obedience is that is not that attractive, it is usually not flashy.  But, it is what God loves!  Obedience is not attractive to the world – but it is what God searches to and fro throughout the earth to find!  When we are known for our obedience, like the Romans Paul was writing to, then those who are our spiritual fathers and mothers can rejoice in us because we are walking in the way of Christ. Then we will be known for our imitation of Christ – the one who perfectly obeyed the Father.

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