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Food for the Soul

Food for the Soul, devotionals to help you in your busy life, written by NEWIM board members and staff. 

Filtering by Tag: Christian leadership

Owning Responsibility as a Leader

Kim Johnson

  • (Adapted from Equip.org)

"And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord" (2 Chronicles 20:3-4).

When Jehoshaphat became king of Judah, he assumed responsibility – the duty and obligation to lead the people and manage the resources of the nation. There were challenges of course. The biggest came when an army comprised of warriors from three countries made plans to attack Judah.  As the leader of that nation, Jehoshaphat had a choice. He could run, he could hide or he could show up – and show up he did.

As leaders, we face this same challenge, sometimes on a daily basis. It can come from anywhere and from just about anyone, even from someone in our inner circle. The test is not found so much in the trial, but in how we respond and what we allow to result from it. There are things that can sometimes be out of our control, but we choose how we react when faced with unpleasant issues. 

How we elect to respond in the face of a crisis says much about our leadership. Accepting the responsibility of being a leader is the one thing a leader cannot delegate. We can share the vision, assign duties, authorize decisions, and manage volunteers. When it comes to the bottom line, however, the “buck stops here.” It is ours to own and the excellence of our leadership depends upon our willingness to continue to step up. It doesn’t matter if we stand alone, we still must stand.

  • Dropouts:        Leaders who give up and fail to take responsibility
  • Cop-outs:        Leaders who make excuses for why they are not responsible
  • Hold-outs:       Leaders who waiver too long to take responsibility
  • All-outs:         Leaders who own the responsibility and take action (Jehoshaphat).

                                                                  The Maxwell Leadership Bible

A Good Ending

Kim Johnson

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.
                                                                                       —2 Kings 2:9 (NIV)

Of all the prophets there was never one more prolific than Elijah. He had raised the dead, spoken fire down from heaven and revealed a devastating drought coming from God. Many in that time probably thought there would never be another man of God like him, but we know that wasn’t the case. Moses was a strong leader who was replaced by Joshua. David was a man after God’s own heart yet Solomon completed the job his father was prevented from doing. Time after time we see God replacing a mighty leader with a successor who was doubly gifted. It was His will and His plan that was important, not necessarily the person in charge of it. Those leaders were not irreplaceable. God has limitless options at his fingertips to accomplish His plan and He will achieve His purpose.

One of the biggest pitfalls of being a leader is to believe we are indispensable in our role. The trap is set when we begin to do all the work ourselves, even if it is out of necessity. When this continually happens, pride can creep in and create the misconception that no one else can do the job as well. By hanging on too long we risk missing the privilege of partnering with God in planning our replacement. It is not a matter of if, but when God determines it is time to bring another leader on board. By failing to recognize the need for a succession plan, we become the problem rather than the solution. Ultimately it is His ministry that suffers.

The measure of a successful spiritual leader is not always the length of their service. No matter how long we lead, the serving is significant because it is for His glory not ours. Following God’s leading includes being prepared, even when that means it is time to pass the torch. He is trustworthy in everything, including His timing. The best thing we can do in our ministry is set ourselves up—for a good ending.

“Outstanding leaders pass the torch with fire blazing. Mediocre leaders pass a dimly lit torch. Poor leaders drop the torch making it difficult if not impossible to pick up again.”

                                                       —Reed Markham

How Do I Look?

Kim Johnson

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they
may see you good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

                                                                        Matthew 5:16 (NIV)

Everyone knows the fairy tale of the pretty princess with the evil step-mother who stood before her magic looking glass every day. She asked the same question over and over again wanting the same answer every time. Her desire was that her reflection be the best.

As leaders, we want the same thing but for a different reason. Because we are not just leaders but believers too, the way we live, relate to others and lead is a direct reflection on Christ whose name we carry. This fact is very real to us in our ministry, but what about the other areas of our lives? What do others see as we drive down the street? When we are standing in a long check-out line, how is our reflection then? Does our image mirror God’s character to our neighbors?

Our reflection is extremely important in the way we live our lives. If we are unforgiving, we could be discouraging someone from seeking forgiveness from our Father. We could show such disrespect in our worship that those around us could lose their respect for Him as well. Even the way we handle the position of leadership could negatively impact another’s attitude toward the authority of God. Are we greedy for the limelight? Do we micro-manage our volunteers? Do we want the last say just because we want the power? 

God’s Word indicates that glorifying our Father is essential and we can’t leave it to chance. Our nature is constantly impacted by the broken world in which we live. We need to diligently stand before the mirror of the Holy Spirit and ask daily, “How do I look?” This allows Him to examine our motives and reveal any inconsistency in our lives. The reality is our light is always shining. It is our responsibility to make sure it does not scald and injure, but is sincere and inviting in reflecting the glory of the Lord we serve.

 “...ask yourself, “Who’s getting the glory in this ministry?” You see, if we do ministry
OUR way, it won’t be for His glory, because our ways are not His ways.”

                                                                                                     Charles Swindoll

 

Love without Limits

Kim Johnson

“. . . and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing”
                                                                                    1 Corinthians 13:2b (NIV).

Many years ago, a friend and I took a day trip to Beverly Hills. Famous for its lavish boutiques and wealthy residents, we just wanted to have a nice lunch and do some window shopping. As we made our way along one particular street, we couldn’t resist stepping into a women’s clothing store that looked inviting. As we browsed, I noticed the sales person greet a gal who was just entering. She whisked her to a brunch table full of goodies and then immediately took her to the fitting room. At first I didn’t think too much about it. There were absolutely no price tags on anything so I was confident nothing was in my price range. But after the same scenario a couple more times, I realized the sales people had not even said hello when my friend and I walked in. To be honest, the fact we were ignored still makes me smile even now. Since then however, that experience has gotten a lot of mileage in my life from the Holy Spirit.

Being in leadership can sometimes create a cocoon for us. With our team and/or our friends securely around us, it is not difficult to become insulated. Whether or not it is on purpose, we may ignore someone who is new or who appears to fit somewhere outside our comfy bubble. At times I’ve not been immune to this. Not my finest hour, but one which the Holy Spirit makes sure doesn’t go unnoticed. The memory of my Beverly Hills experience continues to be a good reminder that love is not optional.

We are human and there are times love is not an instinctive response. That does not mean we can allow our fallen nature to get the best of us, however. God’s Word tells us: “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love” (2 John 1:6, NIV). The choice is not in how we love but in how we obey.

“God teaches us to love by putting unlovely people around us. It takes no character to love people who are lovely and lovely to you.”
                                                                                                Rick Warren

New Year, New Reveal

Kim Johnson

 

“Watch me,” he told them. “Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp,do exactly as I do. When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, “For the Lord and for Gideon.”  
                                                                   —Judges 7:17-18 (NIV)

As leaders looking forward to this new year of 2016, we no doubt have a vision for what is ahead. Yet having the idea in our mind is only a small part of our leadership responsibility. The most important aspect of this vision is communicating it to the team. 

Gideon knew what the Lord was asking him to do and even though he probably had doubts, when the time came he threw his full weight into the mission. He was able to use his influence to clearly convey what needed to be done and then he did it with his army.

The best way to persuade those under our leadership is not by just sharing the dream in words, but by showing them what we are hoping to do. It all comes down to what they understand. If they don’t grasp it, they will never get on board. Paint your big picture clearly when you are ready to move forward in the direction God is leading.

Good leaders must communicate vision clearly, creatively and continually. However, vision doesn’t come alive until the leader models it.
                                                                                             —John C. Maxwell