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Nehemiah Part 1: Vision

Nehemiah Part 1: Vision

Friday, September 15, 2017 – Audio Recording


In 1903 on the sands of the Outer Banks, Orville and Wilbur Wright took flight for the very first time. They didn’t have to pass through any security check points…they didn’t have to worry about any checked bags fees and there was no In-Flight beverage service. The entire flight lasted 59 seconds and traveled 852 feet.

The first human flight happened in 1903, but their vision for flying began 25 years earlier in the Fall of 1878 (139 Falls ago from today). That Fall their father arrived home with an object partially concealed in his hands. As the 2 curious boys approached him, their Father tossed the object into the air. Instead of it immediately falling to the floor, the object actually flew across the room, hit the ceiling and eventually fell to the floor. This new toy was called a Helicopter.

Listen to what they said about the experience: “It was a light frame of cork and bamboo, covered with paper, which formed two screws – driven in opposite directions by rubber bands under torsion. A toy so delicate lasted only a short time in the hands of small boys, but it’s memory was abiding.

Its memory was…abiding.

When they saw the bamboo and paper helicopter fly across their living room, something inside of them snapped. It captured their imagination. Seeing the helicopter gave them a vision.

VISION is the topic of our conversation today, and for some of you it might be the topic for several months.

The definition of Vision is a preferred future. It’s a picture of what could and should be done.  Sometimes it begins with something capturing your imagination (Like the Wright Brothers), although frequently it begins as a concern which grows into a Holy Discontent.  Something about current circumstances has to change.

This is clearly what happened to Nehemiah:

Nehemiah 1:1-4 – In late autumn, in the month of Kislev, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes’ reign, I was at the fortress of Susa. Hanani, one of my brothers, came to visit me with some other men who had just arrived from Judah. I asked them about the Jews who had returned there from captivity and about how things were going in Jerusalem. 

They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.”

When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.

Background

Because of the Israelites unfaithfulness, they were invaded and deported to Babylon. (500 miles away) This took place in 586 BC.

142  years later, Nehemiah hears a report about the current conditions of the capital city of Jerusalem.  This report lodged like a splinter in his mind and he remembers the exact date and who delivered the report (vs. 1-2) Nehemiah can quote exactly what he was told: (vs. 3) “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.”

And just like the Wright Brothers in the Fall of 1878 – when Nehemiah hears the report, something snaps. Something about the description grabs his imagination. A Holy Discontent begins to boil in the heart of Nehemiah. He isn’t sure what he should do or what role he should play but he knows something must be done.

As you think about Vision I want you to think about it in 2 ways – you might say 2 sides of the same coin because they belong together:

  1. Vision for yourself
  2. Vision for what you do

Vision For Yourself

Dallas Willard says, “What you become as a person is more important than what you achieve.”

However, most of us spend the majority of our time thinking about and are anxious about sacrificing for our achievements and what will go on our final resume. Although what you do is important, it’s not as important as who you are, or who you become.

Jesus says this to a large group in Mark 8 – “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?  “For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” You can’t exchange an achievement resume for a Soul.

It’s very easy for men…especially men in America to spend their entire lives trying to increase their exterior world of achievements while the interior world of their soul shrinks. It’s much easier and more concrete to work on the exterior world (Body,  Career,  Cars,  401k) Those are things people see, and measure! Some of us might say: “I have no idea how to even work on my Soul.

If a contingent of men came in here this morning, just returning from a visit to your soul, and they gave a report about current conditions, what would they say?

What you become as a person is more important than what you achieve as a person. Do you have a vision for yourself? Do you know the current conditions in your Soul?

Vision For What You Do

What you do in life isn’t unimportant, it’s just secondary. For Nehemiah, he was a faithful  slave in Babylon, the Foreman on a building project, and was eventually the Governor of Jerusalem. That’s his resume. Nehemiah was never a Preacher or Evangelist. He was a business man, and God used Nehemiah in each of those roles.

Now if you are here this morning and you wouldn’t consider yourself a follower of Jesus Christ then I think you can still benefit from many of these leadership principles. You have the right to dream your own dreams and develop a picture of your future and pursue it.

However, if you are a follower of Jesus then you and I have sworn allegiance to the Savior. I Corinthians 6: 20 reminds us we “have been bought with a price” — and Ephesians 2:10 informs us “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

You & I are God’s workmanship, meaning we are a product of God’s vision! Repeat and let this sink all the way down. You and I are a product of God’s vision! 

Not just a product of our family – or culture – or education, but a product of God’s Vision. He has a picture of what you could and should be! And it’s our responsibility to live into His Vision, whether that’s as a slave to the King, foreman on a building project, or a governor and leader.

Whose vision do you have for what you do?

Structural Change

If you have passion for something, if something captures your imagination but it is not accompanied with structural changes in your current behavior or habits, then it’s not a vision, it’s a wish. People who only wish but don’t change come to the end of their lives saying things like: “I wonder what I could have done….”

The structural change Nehemiah makes, the structural change you and I must make, is in our habit of sitting before the LORD each day. (vs. 4) That’s the very first step. We will talk more later about habits of Spiritual Disciplines but watch this video and discuss these questions in your group: (Watch from 0:20 – 6:30)

 

Questions

1.  What you become as a person is more important than what you achieve as a person.”  Do you agree – Why or Why not?

2. Do you have a vision for yourself? Do you know the current conditions in your Soul?

3. What difference does it make knowing we are a product of God’s Vision? How do we incorporate that in what we do?

4. Consider one structural change which needs to take place in order for you to fulfill or get in line with God’s Vision.

 


Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips

Pastor, Christ Community Church
www.ironleader.org
paul@cccwnc.com

5 Characteristics of Jesus’ Leadership

5 Characteristics of Jesus’ Leadership

Last week we began looking at Jesus’ leadership by examining just one characteristic, Servant Leadership. Our text was Philippians 2:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…who took on the very nature of a servant.”

We previously talked about what it looked like to be a servant leader. Of course we know Jesus had many more excellent leadership attributes. There are a few more I want to examine this morning. Here’s my thinking – “If my attitude should be the same as that of Jesus, what are some other characteristics I should be following? If Jesus is the lead pilot, especially in Leadership, how can I align myself with his leadership?”

Watch this video of the Blue Angels. They are 18 inches apart, flying between 400-700 mph. All taking their light patterns from the lead pilot. So, as I am moving through my life, sometimes at great speed, what do I need to do to stay in formation with Jesus?

5 Characteristics of Jesus’ Leadership

1. Jesus was Disciplined in Prayer

Read Mark 1:32-38

That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.”

Jesus makes prayer a priority. He gets up early and does the opposite of what we would have expected.

Mark 9:28-29

After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

Apparently the disciples thought they could do things on their own. When they wing it, they lose power.

Luke 11:1-2

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples…..{followed by the Lord’s Prayer}”

This is the only recorded instance of the disciples asking Jesus to teach them something. Of all things, they asked for prayer! Because things change through prayer.

Mark 14:32-38

And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Understandably Jesus’ own flesh was wanting to resist the cross (“Take this cup from me”). Yet Jesus gains strength in prayer. The disciples sleep and are soon swept away.

Here is an illustration involving Charles Spurgeon known as the “Boiler Room”:

“Five college students were spending a Sunday in London, so they went to hear the famed C.H. Spurgeon preach. Waiting for the doors to open, the students were greeted by a man who asked, “Gentlemen, let me show you around. Would you like to see the heating plant of this church?” They were not particularly interested, for it was a hot day in July. But they didn’t want to offend the stranger, so they consented. The young men were taken down a stairway, a door was quietly opened, and their guide whispered, “This is our heating plant.” Surprised, the students saw 700 people bowed in prayer, seeking a blessing on the service that was soon to begin in the auditorium above. Softly closing the door, the gentleman then introduced himself. It was Charles Spurgeon.”

If there is one place to be aligned to Jesus, it is prayer. How is your Boiler Room with God? Or do you just wing it?

2. Jesus Led Himself Well: He Learned Self-Control

Proverbs 25:28

“Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.”

Jesus understood if he was going to lead others well, he had to lead himself first! One area of breakdown and all would be ruined. Just like a wall amde for flood protection. If only one part of the wall is not up to strength, the flood will still prevail.

Jesus time and time again shows us his self discipline. He fasted for 40 days, he constantly withdrew to solitude with his father, and he repeatedly walked away from recognition. After all, many of the people wanted to make him king!

John 6:14

“After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they said, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.”

How are your walls of Self-Leadership?

3. Jesus was Laser Focused on his Vision

John 17:4 says, “I have brought you glory on earth,” (my definition of Glory – the visible explosion of the infinitely great attributes of God), “I have completed the work you gave me to do. I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world.”Isn’t that surprising? There are so many more still unreached. .In his humanity, even Jesus’ role was limited.

1 Corinthians 12:27

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

What’s your part? You might have more than one role. Husband, Father,  Churchman, Work? Some roles might have you in the lead, and some roles you might be in support position.

Whatever it is, do you live with a sense of purpose? That you are on Mission? Do you know your part? Are you in alignment with Jesus?

4. Distractions Were Part of the Mission

Jesus handled distractions with grace.

A paraphrased example from Mark 5, the Bleeding Woman: A large crowd followed and pressed around Jesus because he was going to heal a Father’s daughter. A woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” The woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole story. Jesus did not treat her like a detour or a distraction.

Here is another instance from Mark 10: Jesus was passing through Jericho with his disciples & a large crowd. As they were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus, was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” Once again, he was not a distraction.

How do you handle people or events that aren’t part of your agenda for the day? Do you treat them like distractions? Jesus didn’t, and saved lives in the process.

5. Jesus Built a Team, Needed a Team, and Gave his Mission Away to a Team

Jesus doesn’t intend your life to be a solo mission. He built a small team of 12 disciples and larger support team who helped him in his ministry. John the Baptist was the first team member!

Jesus eventually gave his mission away to the team that he built. We see this in Matthew 28 and the great commission. Read Acts 2:12-14 This is one of my favorite scenes! The Holy Spirit had just fallen on the Apostles and they were preaching the Gospel in several different languages. After all the commotion, Peter stepped up as the leader, just as Jesus intended.

And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.” But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.”

To stay aligned with Jesus, it will take a team. Do you have a spiritual team around you, or do you fly solo? Who are you leading?

Questions

  1. Prayer: What’s the temperature in your Prayer Boiler Room?
  2. Self Control – Proverbs 25:28 – “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.” What are the weak spots in your wall?
  3. Laser Focused Vision: Do you live with a sense of purpose, that you are on mission. Do you know your part, are you in alignment with Jesus?
  4. Distractions: How do you handle people or events that aren’t part of your agenda for the day? Do you treat them like distractions?
  5. Team: To stay aligned with Jesus, you need a team. Do you have a spiritual team around you or do you fly solo? Who are you leading?

Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips Signiture

 

 

 

Paul Phillips
Pastor, Christ Community Church
www.ironleader.org
paul@cccwnc.com

 

 

 

 

Jesus the Humble Servant – Leadership Lesson

Jesus the Humble Servant – Leadership Lesson

On January 13, 1982, 74 passengers and 5 crew boarded Air Florida Flight 90 from DC to Fort Lauderdale. They boarded the plane during a snowstorm. The pilot failed to de-ice the wings and moments after take-off the plane plunged into the icy Potomac River. Only 5 people survived. It certainly wasn’t the worst airplane disaster but it gripped national attention to the servant leadership of one man. This man was known as “The Man in the Water.”

Balding, probably in his 50s, an extravagant mustache. He was seen clinging with five other survivors to the tail section of the airplane. This man was described by Usher and Windsor as appearing alert and in control. Every time they lowered a lifeline and floating right to him, he passed it on to another of the passengers. “In a mass casualty, you’ll find people like him,” said Windsor, “But I’ve never seen one with that commitment.” When the helicopter came back for him the man had gone under.

Still, he could never have imagined such a capacity in himself. Only minutes before his character was tested, he was sitting in the ordinary plane among the ordinary passengers.

For at some moment in the water he must have realized that he would not live if he continued to hand over the rope and ring to others. He had to know it, no matter how gradual the effect of the cold. In his judgment he had no choice. When the helicopter took off with what was to be the last survivor, he watched everything in the world move away from him, and he deliberately let it happen.

-Roger Rosenblatt

Just imagine, every time the life ring is dropped, you hand it off to someone you don’t know…serving them but putting your own life at risk.

Thankfully, none of us will have to endure this kind of test. However, every day as leaders we face much smaller yet still important tests of our character. We enter ordinary offices (or) families with ordinary people and then suddenly something goes wrong. Things don’t work out the way you hoped. Someone has to make a sacrifice.

How you react at that moment defines your leadership style. When you’re sitting on the plane or sitting here this morning, you can say whatever you want about your leadership style, but it’s at moments like these; when circumstances force you to display your leadership. That’s when everyone finds out your true leadership character. What characteristic or adjective describes your leadership style?

Jesus’ leadership is best described as “servant leadership”

Jesus’ servant leadership is best summed up by Paul in Philippines 2:3-8.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus….taking on the very nature of a servant.”

“Vainglory” vs. “Humility”: (It’s a Heavy Weight Fight)

In one corner, is vainglory.

(Greek: keno-doxia – empty-praise)

My definition is pride hiding behind virtue.

Jesus tackles vainglory in the sermon on the mount. Turn to Matthew 6:1-18. “Beware” is Jesus’ warning. Don’t be deceived into thinking God applauds your life when you are really living for the applause of others.

3 Gauges to Examine

 1. Giving to the Needy (Matthew 6:2-4)

Jesus illustrates the absurd with the absurd (vs. 2) “When giving to the needy…sound no trumpet before you.” Imagine passing around the offering basket today and as it’s comes down your row, you scramble through your purse in order to pull out your checkbook and trumpet! (Da…ta..da !!) “Thank you! I just dropped in my check.” It’s ridiculous. Yep, and it’s also just as ridiculous to give to needy people in a way which draws attention to yourself.

Jesus offers a solution: “When you give, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” When you give with one hand, don’t pat yourself on the back with your other one. Don’t seek applause from others, don’t even seek applause from yourself.

“Giving to the needy” is not just limited to giving money. It could be about giving your time or talent, but you’re still looking for applause.

Preaching in India was a unique experience for me. For safety reasons they had me wait outside in a truck until it was time for me to come on. When it was time, I preached to a crowd of about 2000 people, but immediately after I was done, for the same safety reasons, they took me away. I walked off the stage, got in a truck, and they drove me away. I was in the back seat of the truck with two guys I had never seen before. Also neither of them spoke English. For an hour we drove through the dark back to the hotel. As a pastor who is so used to getting instant feedback from my congregation, I couldn’t help but keep asking myself, “how’d I do?” I realized how much I hungered for applause. In this case, it would never come.

Jesus tells us to give and not expect applause from others.

2. Prayer (6:5-15)

In the Jewish culture there were set hours each day for prayer. Some people would purposely time it so they would be at a busy intersection when it was time to pray. “O man, how did I end up here at this busy intersection, where everyone can see me pray? Oh well.”

Do you ever pray, and at the end of your prayer you hope someone is impressed with you? Do you see how ridiculous this is? The primary purpose in prayer is to make God’s name great. “Hallowed be your name.” Yet, you use prayer to make your name great. Its vainglory hiding behind virtue.

3. Fasting (6:16-18)

Jesus is observing people using fasting as a way to draw attention to themselves. And again, there has to be laughter here. “Don’t look gloomy – don’t disfigure your face.”

Pharisees fasted twice a week and apparently some wanted to make sure other people knew that they were in the spiritually elite club. They didn’t verbally say anything, but they walked around with gloomy, tired, disfigured faces, in the hopes that someone would ask:

  • “Hey, are you OK?”
  • “Oh surrrre……why do you ask?”
  • “Well, you don’t look so good”
  • “No, I’m fine…well…maybe it’s because I’m FASTING!” “But don’t tell anyone because this is just between me & God”

We all understand what Jesus is trying to uncover. Bragging while hiding behind a virtue. Bragging behind a false humility is so common, it actually has a name now: Humblebrag.

It happens often in the Christian community. It usually contains the word “Bless”

So blessed to be watching the sunset from my balcony in Hawaii.

Pastor’s tweet: “I am truly humbled you follow my tweets. I pray they enrich your life and strengthen your ministry. God bless all 200,000 of you!”

Do you practice your life with Jesus in a way you hope is noticed and applauded by others? Or if not, do you applaud yourself? That’s Vainglory.

In the Other Corner: Servant Leadership.

Jesus became the perfect example of humility when he took on the very nature of a servant.

Humility is not thinking of less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.

In 1 Peter 5:5, we are told to “clothe yourselves with humility.” The word “clothe” means to “tie it on”, or “make a knot”, like you would tie an apron. It’s a command to action. Humility is not something you wait for to grow, it doesn’t grow naturally, it must be cultivated. Peter’s instructions are informed by his personal encounters with Jesus. So when Peter says, “Tie humility around your waist like an apron” he must have been thinking of The Last Supper.

Recall Peter and the other 11 disciples in the upper room. As they enter, each one walks right past the foot washing station. As Jesus is trying to discuss with them his coming suffering and death, a long standing dispute breaks out among the disciples: Who will be the greatest? This must have been so painful to watch. As all 12 men are taking hits from the helium tank of pride and puffing themselves up, where is Jesus?

(John 13) Jesus gets up from the table, lays aside his own garments and ties on the towel of a servant. One by one he washes the bloated feet of the disciples. The Creator bends down to serve his own creation.

A day later he hangs on a Cross, handing the ring of life to us while he dies. That is servant leadership.

Questions:

1. The Man in the Water – Where are the places in your ordinary life that your character is tested? What’s challenging about handing the life ring to others rather than taking it yourself?

2. “Vainglory” – Pride hiding behind Virtue. Why is it difficult to detect pride in yourself? Discuss the challenges of living a virtuous life without living for the applause of others. Discuss how men humblebrag.

3. “Humility” – Not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less and less.” Humility is not something you wait for to grow. It doesn’t grow naturally. It must be cultivated. – How do you cultivate Humility?

Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips Signiture

 

 

 

Paul Phillips
Pastor, Christ Community Church
www.ironleader.org
paul@cccwnc.com

 

 

The Particular Temptations of Young Men – Tim Challies

The Particular Temptations of Young Men – Tim Challies

Whether you are raising a young man or you are one , this is an insightful read from Tim Challies. Read the full blog post here. 

 

What God means to accomplish in young men are rarely great deeds that are visible to the public, but the invisible construction of a foundation of godly character that will serve them for the rest of their lives.

-Tim Challies

 

“Daniel: Who’s on top?” – Leadership Lesson – Spence Hackney

“Daniel: Who’s on top?” – Leadership Lesson – Spence Hackney

Spence Hackney did an excellent job leading us through the life of Daniel and learning from his leadership. Take a look at his lesson below:

Daniel: Who’s on Top?

For context, it would be wise to familiarize yourself with the first half of the book of Daniel (chapters 1-6).

In bullet form, here is what happens in the first half of Daniel:

  • Daniel witnesses the fall of Jerusalem
  • Daniel is taken to Babylon
  • Daniel has the gift of interpreting dreams, and hears God
  • Daniel encounters 3 Kings in his life
    1. Nebuchadnezzar – He dreams of  a statue of bronze, iron, gold and clay that would be destroyed. The dream symbolized Nebuchadnezzr’s fragile kingdom. In response, he builds a gold version and makes the people worship it in an attempt to symbolize that his kingdom would live forever. He disagrees with God’s word even though he knows his power.
    2. Belshazzar – He throws an enormous party and serves wine using the cups from the temple in Jerusalem. A floating hand mysteriously appears and writes on the wall in response. Belshazzar is killed that night.
    3. Darius – He makes a law that the people could only pray to him and to no other god. Daniel gets thrown into the lion’s den over this. God miraculously saves him.

Nebuchadnezzar and the other two kings were in love with themselves. They loved the power. They loved the wealth. The loved the women. They would do anything to get it. I think that Nebuchadnezzar would have had a guy like this around his palace somewhere:

Ridiculous, right? I don’t think any of us would employ someone to tell us we’re #1 before we go to work every day. But let me tell you a personal story that may help you see that it isn’t all that far fetched. This is a story of failure in my life that came as a result of believing I was #1. I wrongly believed I was on top.

First, a little background. In 2012, I went to India to work with Alpha Ministries. It rocked my life. I saw the church planters who were willing to lose everything and endure grueling torture and hardships to take the gospel over the next mountain. I felt like I was in the presence of spiritual giants. I knew what they were doing mattered and I wanted in. However, they shuttled me around in a van with the curtains drawn for fear someone would attack us, so it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t ever going to be as effective as they were on the ground. However, to grow their ministry—take the gospel further—Alpha needed prayer and financial resources and God made it clear to Tara and I that our role would be to provide both. And that we were to do it by expanding our small web design business. I’d been doing web design and digital marketing for over a decade, but had kept it pretty small. God revealed, however, that if I would scale the business up we could support ministries like Alpha in substantial ways. So, in January 2013, Proclaim Interactive was born. Since then he has grown it 25-35% a year and from 2 employees to 11. And I have to give God all the glory—He did it!

But recently it started to feel like I did it…

Last month I had a huge deal implode that I had been working on for over 6 months. The details aren’t important, but just know it would have redefined Proclaim and my own life in a big way. I was certain it was from God and then, it unexpectedly blew up in a heartbreaking way. I was dejected and crushed. I couldn’t understand what went wrong.

When I started reading Daniel a few weeks ago I saw parallels between the book and what I was living through. I could identify with how Daniel felt—dejected and crushed—as he was led away from the ruined walls of Jerusalem. Reading Daniel’s story helped me tremendously to get my life back into the correct orientation, as study of the Word often does. You see, my core problem is that God was no longer on top in my life. I had started to think of myself as #1. I had started to worship the gift and not the Giver. John Piper says that the ultimate deep sin is loving anything more than God. I had done it. Even if I would have said He was on top, I was living and thinking like I loved a whole number of other things more than Him.

As I repented and prayed through the situation, it became clear that I had slipped in several key areas:

  1. I was proud. I had great pride in what I had done. but the truth was, I hadn’t built Proclaim, God had. Likewise it was His to do with as He pleased.
  2. I also had substantial confidence in my own abilities. I thought of myself as wise and had begun to think of myself as the “secret sauce” that was going to make everything work out.
  3. I had quit depending on the Lord’s guidance. Even if I looked to Him for the overall direction, I’d stopped depending on Him to walk me through the details. I thought I could handle it.

I needed to confess these things. Confession is the key to humility. I had to confess my pride (and a couple of other sins as well) before God and let Him deal with it as He saw fit. Afterward, it felt like He had done “spiritual surgery” on me.

So, as I am speaking to you this morning please understand my heart. I’ve recently blown it spiritually, but I’ve been forgiven and restored. My desire is that by being transparent about my failure, you’ll avoid it in your own life.

Let’s look at the real teacher here to learn how to keep God on top.

Benefit of Making God #1 – Hearing His Voice

Before we go further we need to stop here and say “so what.” How does putting God first practically help us? I know the Bible says to, so we should do it, but is there any practical benefit to doing this? Does it change our lives here on earth and for all eternity in heaven?

I think that the answer is plainly seen in Daniel’s life. You see, Daniel had the ability to hear God. The kings, the most powerful men in all the land, had to come to Daniel to hear what the Lord was saying. Daniel heard from God personally in many ways. He was normally able to hear God’s voice and direction without the need for a preacher or prophet to tell him.

Daniel could hear the Lord personally and directly because he put God first. Loving God more than anything else and putting Him first allows us to hear God because it restores a right relationship. We intrinsically know this is the case. If we have a relationship that is out of whack it’s really hard to truly “hear” the other person. I remember as a boy thinking that I was “hot snot” when I was 15. I was a better driver than my Dad. I was smarter than him. I knew what girls wanted better than he did. I had a cooler car than his big old suburban. I was pretty sure I was superior in every way. I remember him trying to talk to me and I would completely tune him out. Why? Because our relationship was all turned around. (Now, when I was 16 I wrecked the car, bombed calculus and got dumped by the girl, so the situation sort of corrected itself!) And frankly, I think that’s sort of what God has done that to me in the past few weeks, corrected my situation. And though I wouldn’t have admitted it at first, now I’m grateful. I’d rather have a right relationship with God than anything else. I’ll trade everything else I have to hear his voice!

Loren Cunningham, the man who founded Youth with a Mission (YWAM) and the Mercy Ships, was a man who clearly and personally heard God. You can read his story in “Is that Really You, God?” and see how God spoke to him as YWAM was forming. It’s fascinating. Whenever Loren Cunningham talks about hearing from God he says that it starts with “Acknowledging the Lordship,” which is college educated language for “Putting God on Top.” It’s that simple. If the Lord isn’t on top, you’re not likely to hear from Him reliably.

So how do we keep Him on top? Let’s see how Daniel did so that he could hear from the Lord:

Expect that failure may be required

Daniel’s story begins with failure. Jerusalem had finally fallen to Babylon. God made it clear that this was because the Israelites had cheated on Him by loving other gods. God’s people are scattered as slaves and outcasts throughout the surrounding lands. Daniel ends up in Babylon because he was deported from his home as a sort of royal servant.

I’ve had a whole bunch of failures in life, the most recent was the failed deal I spoke about. They were all heartbreaking. I am sure that Daniel was heartbroken over God’s people’s inability to obey God. However, there was amazing benefits to witnessing this failure first hand.

Failure gives us a real understanding of the misery of living outside of Christ.

I propose that it is Daniel’s eyewitness account of the failure of the Jews to love God and put Him first that defines Daniel’s life. Above all else Daniel did one thing exceedingly well. He loved God more than anything else. Period. End of story. Daniel didn’t want anything more than he wanted a relationship with God. He had seen first hand what happened when a country falls in love with something else. He had lived through the destruction. He had seen the blood on the ground. He had seen the starving babies in the mother’s arms. He had a real, visceral, tactile understanding of what it looked like to fall in love with something besides God.

Failure maintains humility because you understand that it can happen to you

Failure means you have the opportunity to give Christ the glory when He carries you through it. Christ is most glorified when He helps me, not when I help Him.

Put God first in the little things as well as the big things

This all started for Daniel because he didn’t want to violate God’s rules by eating the king’s “rich food.” I can totally see myself justifying this. “But God, I didn’t have any choice, it was all there was to eat…”

My pride started with little things. These were good things too…not evil. It was the percentage increase in this year’s P&L over last years. It was being able to give my old Jon boat to a friend. It was getting to donate significantly to Alpha. These grew into me thinking that I was pretty wise. It grew into me putting my wisdom on a pedestal and worshiping it.

Little things grow into big things.

Little things indicate that your attitude is wrong.

Little things are practice for when the big things come.

Daniel acknowledged that everything he had came from God

Daniel never tried to interpret dream without God. He stated repeatedly that God was the source of his power.

For myself, my wisdom became my power. I started to think that I earned what I had by making good decisions. Where did my wisdom come from? God’s word. Any power I had came from God.

Maybe, like me, you struggle with pride. If you need to confess it, now is the time. If you think that you are humble, ask God to search your life. Ask God to show you what you love more than Him and confess it.

  • Proverbs 18:12 Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.
  • Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
  • Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
  • James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
  • I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I was recently convicted that men are terrible at sharing the truth about what they’re dealing with. When someone asks “how’s it going” I almost always respond with “awesome!” Many of us walk around thinking that everyone else has it all together and that we don’t, so we keep our problems all to ourselves. But this isolates us from the body of Christ. I’ve been working on being honest with those close to me and I hope you’ll do the same.

 

-Spence Hackney

Questions

  1. Who is “on top” in your life right now? Is there anything that gets more love than God?
  2. What are the “little” things in your life that may be indicating that God is not on top?
  3. What failures in your life have given you humility before God?
  4. Do you publicly acknowledge that your abilities and knowledge come from God?
  5. Do you hear God’s voice clearly and personally?

 

Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips Signiture

 

 

 

Paul Phillips
Pastor, Christ Community Church
www.ironleader.org
paul@cccwnc.com

Solomon’s Wisdom: Beginning With the End in Mind – Leadership Lesson

Solomon’s Wisdom: Beginning With the End in Mind – Leadership Lesson

For today’s lesson, we will have a guest lecturer. He happens to be the smartest person who ever lived. It might be good to confess up front that it’s often hard to be in the room with the smartest person, especially if they look down on you. (view video below)

Today we are learning from someone much smarter than a rocket scientist or a brain surgeon, and thankfully he doesn’t look down. Instead, he writes down all the mistakes he made, so you and I can avoid wasting our lives investing in emptiness.

Our guest speaker is Solomon. His wisdom comes from the book of Ecclesiastes. The book is jammed with great leadership advice, but today let me offer just a few highlights from chapters 1 and 2.

Solomon tells us: Begin with the end in mind!

(Read Ecclesiastes 1:2-3) The word “Vanity” is used 38 times in the book. “Vanity” means “Vapor”. If all you do is live your life “under the sun” then it’s vanity. Its like chasing a soap bubble. Its shiny, but even if you catch it, it ends up being empty.

Solomon has some vivid descriptions throughout the book:

Read Ecclesiastes 1:5 – Life under the sun is like a giant treadmill. You work, you sweat, but you don’t get anywhere.

Read Ecclesiastes 1:4 and Ecclesiastes 1:11 – Generations come and go, like waves on a sea shore thinking they are leaving their mark. But they actually recede quickly and nobody remembers them. In one hundred years, very few people on planet earth will ever know you existed.

Not long ago, I assisted in cleaning out a 90 year old woman’s house who had recently died. In just a couple of days, all of the furnishings were donated to the Rescue Mission, the inside was painted, and the house was sold. It was as if the woman never existed.

By the time you finish the opening poem in the book (verses 2-11), it’s so depressing that you are desperately searching for a bottle of Prozac! Yet, Solomon is very smart. Over and over in his book he presses the reader up against the brevity of life, the futility of wisdom, the emptiness of pleasure, and the meaninglessness of work. It’s like he is singing the repetitive chorus of “Vanity, Vanity!”

Solomon is demolishing in order to rebuild. He’s demolishing an empty way of thinking. Once we stop pretending that what is mortal is enough for us, only then do we have the capacity for the eternal. The depressing conclusion to the poem is designed to draw you into an awareness of and dependence on someone beyond the sun.

The end of the matter” (Read Ecclesiastes 12:13-14) You see, there is life after our brief lives under the sun. Each one of us will, one day, stand before God who will judge how we lived. So it actually matters how you live. It is not all vanity! “Fear God and keep his commandments . . . this is the whole duty of man.” We must live our lives with the end in mind.

Pleasure as a Goal is Vanity

We can see by the way Solomon outlines the rest of his letter that he is anticipating push back. So, he begins by answering the skeptic who falsely believes that there can be ultimate meaning and satisfaction in personal pleasure.

Here us the motto for the one who desires personal pleasure: “Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure.”This sounds like the immortal words from the 80’s rock band, The Cars. It is like Solomon is saying “Let the Good Times Roll.” In chapter 2, there are 5 stops on Solomon’s “Let the Good Times Roll” tour.

Stop 1 – Entertainment

(Read Ecclesiastes 2:2 and Ecclesiastes 2:8)

Here is a wealthy king at a grand party, surrounded by treasure chests full of gold and silver, encircled by beautiful women, entertained by the best musicians, the envy of everyone. You can hear people saying, “He’s got it made”.

Yet, Solomon’s conclusion in Ecclesiastes 2:11 says the end of the entertainment rainbow held not a pot of gold, but instead emptiness.

In 1985, Neil Postman wrote a landmark book titled: Amusing Ourselves to Death. In the book, Postman makes the case that the future of our society will look less like George Orwell’s vision in his book: 1984 and more like Aldous Huxley’s vision in his book: Brave New World. Postman argued that the public will not be oppressed by the State (Orwell – vision) instead the public will be oppressed by their addiction to amusement.

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture. Huxley stated: Those who fear State control have “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.”

You know what Solomon would have said to Neil Postman: “There is nothing new under the sun.” People have been trying to amuse themselves to death for 1000’s of years. It has always terminated in “Vanity”.

Here is a story from my saddest counseling session. There was a newly married couple with a lot of tension. The beautiful young girl was trying to save the marriage, but the guy wouldn’t give up his video games. Later, I found out they got a divorce, but he got to keep playing video games.

Stop 2 – Wine

(Read Ecclesiastes 1:3)

If entertainment alone doesn’t work, then let’s add alcohol. Let’s use whatever substance or pill that will anesthetize us from the pain in
this world.

A few of you might remember the old beer commercial slogans: “It doesn’t get any better than this.” That’s what Solomon believed. The commercial practically plagiarizes Ecclesiastes 2:3.

Stop 3 – Work

Solomon was gifted as intellectually as he was monetarily, so he puts his intellect and money to work with an almost God-like creativity.

(Read Ecclesiastes 2:4-7)

Notice the maximum use of personal pronouns: “I made, I built, for myself, I made myself, I made myself…….AND (vs. 7) When he can’t get enough done by himself, for himself, he buys and owns people to make them work for him.

Stops 4 & 5 – Wealth and Women

To get a picture of his wealth and women I want to read a description of Solomon’s life from I Kings 10 & 11:

“Then the king made a great throne inlaid with ivory and overlaid with fine gold. The throne had six steps. On both sides of the seat were armrests, with a lion standing beside each of them. Twelve lions stood on the six steps, one at either end of each step. Nothing like it had ever been…All King Solomon’s goblets were gold….. Nothing was made of silver, because silver was considered of little value in Solomon’s days..Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. The whole world sought audience with Solomon – Solomon loved many foreign women..He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines”

Entertainment, Wine, Work, Wealth, Women – Solomon had it all. If he were alive today he would be a regular face on the cover on Fortune magazine. Our culture would be drooling, saying: “If only I could live like him.”

But what us the end result? When the preacher reaches the end of the “Let the Good Time Roll” tour, what does he conclude?

Answers:

  • Vanity – Ecclesiastes 2:11
  • Hate – Ecclesiastes 2:18
  • Despair – Ecclesiastes 2:20

On February 2, 2014, Oscar winning actor Philip Seymor Hoffman failed to pick up his three children. They went to check on him in his $10,000 month rented apartment in New York City and they found him lying on his bathroom floor in boxers and a t-shirt. He had a needle stuck in his arm, dead at 46. In a haunting quote from an interview in 2013, Hoffman said, “There is no pleasure that I haven’t actually made myself sick on.”

If all there is, is what’s under the sun, if there isn’t something or someone bigger, someone above the sun… then Solomon tells us it all terminates in vanity, hatred, despair, and even death.

Solomon’s despair is not intended to be the last stop on the tour. No, he is kindly using despair to draw us out of ourselves and into dependence on God. He’s demolishing false hopes in order to rebuild on an eternal foundation. Only when we stop pretending that what is created is enough, only then will be have the capacity for the creator.

Conclusion

Read Ecclesiastes 2:24-26. Please notice that these things are not taken away when you enter into a relationship with God. These are all good things that actually come from the hand of God!

24 There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, 25 for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? 26 For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind. 

Ecclesiastes 2:24-26 ESV

But (vs. 25), they are not to be consumed “apart from Him.” They are to be enjoyed according to his boundaries. If you use them for your chief end and not his, you make yourself sick on every pleasure. It’s Vanity.

Questions:

1. Why is it important to keeping the end in mind every day? How do you do it?

2. Of the 5 stops on the “Let the Good Times Roll” tour – Entertainment, Wine, Work, Wealth & Women: Which stop is the most tempting for You?

3. This morning you have had a counseling session with the smartest business leader in the world: What one thing to you want to take away?

Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips Signiture

 

 

 

Paul Phillips

Pastor, Christ Community Church
www.ironleader.org
paul@cccwnc.com

Saul’s Disobedience and its Consequences – Leadership Lesson

Saul’s Disobedience and its Consequences – Leadership Lesson

As we begin our first lesson in 2017. Let’s review where we left off in 2016:

  • Moses: Leads the people of God out of Egypt and Slavery
  • Joshua: Military general who leads them into the Promised Land
  • Judges: Gideon (Judges 2:11-12 – Read) “The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. They abandoned the Lord….instead they went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them.” **They preferred to follow the ways of the world around them rather than be Obedient to God. **This disobedience set up a sad spiral which ended: Judges 21:25“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

So – When you turn from Judges to Samuel (the last Judge), you could say Israel was looking for a leader. The leader they chose, was Saul.

Unfortunately, Saul continued the sad spiral of disobedience. This clip is a good example of the childishness of blatant disobedience:

The greatest challenge in leadership is Self-Leadership. The hardest person to lea is the person you stare at in the mirror every morning. We all have preferences, impulses, and desires. They strongly influence our leadership. (We want ice cream!) But Christian Leadership requires obedience to God’s preferences, impulses, and desires above your own! The failure of obedience can have heavy consequences, much more than being taken to your room.

1. Fatal Beginning: I Samuel 8:4-7 (Read)

The Elders (the Leaders) uncoupled themselves from God’s leadership.
They decided instead to obey their own desires – their voice/their
desires will be King. (This is a repeat of Genesis 3 when desires become King)

Samuel’s Warning (1 Samuel 8:10-18)

God warns his people through the prophet Samuel that the leader they elect will bring trials upon them. The phrase “He will take” is repeated in verses 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17.

He will take:

  • Your sons
  • Your daughters
  • The best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards
  • A tenth of your grain
  • Your male and female servants, and your donkeys
  • A tenth of your flocks…and you shall be his slaves.

This is important: Whenever you uncouple your life from God and listen to another voice, that voice takes. He will take.

John 10:10 – “I have come that they may have life, and to have it to the full…the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy…(i.e. to take).

Samuel 8:18 – Just hold on to that, there will be a day when you cry out and the LORD will not answer!

People’s Response (1 Samuel 8:19-20)

Even after God’s warning, the people respond – “No, we don’t want God as our King, we want what we want, we want to be like everyone else. Just like the kid in the movie, “We want ice cream!”

The LORD’s Response (1 Samuel 8:22)

Verse 22 is such a scary and sobering voice. The Lord said to Samuel: “Obey their voice.” Let them lead. “Make them a king.” Give them a king in their own image. One who is emotionally immature, a king who will easily uncouple himself from God’s instruction.

2. Saul’s Downward Spiral of Leadership

It is worth noticing in 1 Samuel 9:1-2 that Saul is wealthy, handsome, and tall. These are all of the external qualities the world is looking for in a leader. Yet, it is not those qualities which make great leaders.

Saul’s 1st Leadership Test – Chapter 13

Samuel (representing God’s voice) tells Saul to go to Gilgal and prepare to fight against the Philistines. Saul is instructed to wait 7 days for Samuel to arrive. When Samuel arrives, he is supposed to give an offering (seeking the Lord’s favor in battle) and give instruction to Saul.

So here is the real leadership test. It is not the fight against the enemy (Philistines), the real fight is against himself. Will Saul obey they voice of the Lord or will he “eat the ice cream?”

Question: As a leader, are you willing to be led by God’s Word, even when you have to wait? Even when it looks like things are falling apart and people are abandoning you? Even when everyone else is doing business another way? When those things happen, who’s voice do you obey? This is a constant challenge!

Read 1 Samuel 13:8-11 – This is oh so painful. So familiar to times in my own life! In verse 10, if he had just waited a little. In verse 11, he is skilled in blame shifting. He says “I saw,” meaning that he follows what he sees, not God’s instructions. He blames the people, then Samuel, and then the Philistines. Everyone gets thrown under the bus, except Saul! In verse 12, he says “So I forced myself”. In other words: it was difficult to go against God’s word, but I forced myself. Saul uncouples himself from God’s Word.

Back to the key point, your biggest enemy is yourself!

A Second Similar Test – Chapter 15

Who’s word will Saul obey? Samuel gives Saul specific instructions to destroy the wicket Amalekites. “Saul, go to war and don’t bring anything back.”

Saul’s response is in 1 Samuel 15:9. Saul keeps the king (Agag) and the best of the livestock alive. Verse 12 tells us that after the battle, Saul sets up a monument to himself. His voice, his desires are king. 1 Samuel 15:19-21 display so many poor leadership traits: Blame shifting, the fear of man, and a disconnect between his leadership and those he leads.

Here’s an illustration: Long ago, when my son Zachary was little, I saw there was a broken pot in our house. I asked my wife if she broke the pot. She said no. At this point, I knew it was Zachary so I asked him, “Did you break the pot?” “No,” he said. A few seconds went by, and then he said, “…but my foot did.” We blame shift so easily, but good leaders take responsibility for themselves and their people.

1 Samuel 15:23b is the LORD’s response. “Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you from being king.”

Chapter 18

Following David’s defeat of Goliath (Read vs. 6-9), Saul’s emotionally immaturity intensifies. Saul’s childish response is so incredibly unattractive. He drifts further from God. Saul is uncoupled from God’s word and is slowly being destroyed.

Chapter 28

Saul is nearing the end of his reign. He is now completely uncoupled from God’s voice and under great pressure from the Philistines.

Read 1 Samuel 28:5-6. Saul doesn’t cry out to repent, he doesn’t cry out for a restored relationship with God. No, he cries out for rescue. He is only concerned about himself. Recall 1 Samuel 8:18. God did not answer him in that day.

Read 1 Samuel 28:7 . Saul, who once forced himself to go against God’s Word now easily consults a Medium, a Necromancer.

Leaders, please listen. Sin, when left unchecked, grows. When you uncouple yourself from God’s word, it may seem like a small thing in the beginning. But when left unchecked, it is catastrophic.

Chapter 31

Saul commits suicide. John 10:10. The enemy wins. Saul’s total destruction. The failure of obedience can have some heavy consequences. Saul loses himself, his sons, and a nation.

Questions

1. If your greatest enemy is yourself (self leadership), then what area of Self-leadership do you need to focus on in 2017? Do you have a real plan to work on that area?

2. Saul was:

  • A blame-shifter
  • Afraid of what others thought
  • Refused to take personal responsibility for personal mistakes
  • Emotionally Immature (Jealous of David’s victory).

In your mind, which one of these is the most unattractive leadership quality? Why?

3. How does God’s Word affect your everyday leadership style and decision making?

Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips Signiture
Paul Phillips
Pastor, Christ Community Church
paul@cccwnc.com

 

 

Adam in the Garden – Leadership Lesson

Adam in the Garden – Leadership Lesson

Sometimes videos capture exactly what you want to communicate: This is one of those videos – As you will see it’s not really about Leadership – yet I could spend several weeks focusing on some of the take away lines for what I am trying to accomplish in Iron Leadership.

Great Leaders – like Wolves caused a “Trophic Cascade”. Introducing something at top of the food chain which creates change all the way through the food chain, all the way to the bottom. They don’t personally change everything. Instead, they start a chain reaction which changes everything.

Great Leaders – like Wolves put things to death, yet that action leads to giving life to many others.

Leaders – like Wolves of Yellowstone have been absent for 70 years. Things were deteriorating because of their absence.

Great Leaders – like Wolves change patterns of behavior. They cause things to regenerate, and the growth is remarkable!

When Great Leaders – like Wolves, when introduced in small numbers can transform not just the ecosystem but also its physical geography. Wolves changed the Rivers! – A few Wolves changed a massive amount of landscape. This is my hope for Iron Leadership: Introducing just a few men into our culture, city, and churches can create a “Trophic Cascade”. Nothing is more needed as our culture rapidly deteriorates!

“To act like men” by: Equipping men to be better leaders in their own personal lives, their homes, their work, their churches and city for the sake of God’s Glory.”

Stated Purpose of Iron Leadership

This phrase: “Act like men” is lifted from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. The Apostle Paul closes his long and difficult letter with this phrase. The letter was difficult because the church at Corinth was a disorderly crowd (Politics, Power Struggles, Sexual Immorality, Lawsuits, and troubled marriages just to name a few reasons…Sounds like a fun church to lead!) — Although Paul addressed these challenges in the letter, he knows that when the letter is finished being read – the leaders in the church will not only have to face these issues head on, they will have to face PEOPLE head on. This will be an enormous leadership challenge. Paul knows the the challenge will require leaders to “Act like Men” – (An/drid/zo/mai) in the Greek.

One word in the Greek, no explanation. Paul assumes his readers will know that for some, it’s time to stop being children, it’s time to grow up, grow a spine, and step into God’s intended role: to be leaders.

Today, you’ll realize this phrase “Act like Men” is no longer politically correct. In a recent article from Princeton University, the Ivy League school banned the word “Man” from its vocabulary.

Here are suggested gender-neutral alternatives from the article:

Man Alternatives

 

So at Iron Leadership, we are swimming against the cultural tide as we learn how to “Act like men”. We believe the best place to learn how to act like men is by reading the Bible, examining the lives of men in the Bible (Good and Bad), and by being around other men.

This year we are going to walk through the entire Bible and examine leadership from different men: From Adam to Jesus, and later the Apostle Paul.

Adam’s Position as Leader

The Wolves video is perfect for this morning because Adam initiates a “Trophic Cascade” of epic proportions. His failure of Leadership initiated a cascade which has affected all of human history.

First, let me establish that Humanity (Male & Female) was given leadership over Creation. Creation is intended to thrive under man’s leadership (I realize humanity’s leadership is imperfect) but mankind is not equal to the rest of creation – we are unique & given unique responsibilities . We don’t worship the creation, we rule over it. This is important.

Biblical leadership is established in Genesis 1:26-28: “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over [all creatures]. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over [every living creature]”

Male and Female are created in the image of God and given the task of ruling. Bearing the image of God is to represent the authority of God. We serve as vice-regents over the creation.

Second, it was God’s good design to give unique leadership to Adam – Something not always affirmed, even in Christian circles. Here are 4 ways we see the unique leadership of Adam:

  1. The order of creation: Adam was created before Eve. This forms the foundation for the order of human relationships.
  2. The naming of woman: Adam was given the honor and responsibility of naming his wife. (Genesis 2:23). In the Bible, the person who names something is always the one who has authority over it. In creation, God named the night and the day, the expanse, the earth, and the waters. By naming them he showed his authority. Authority does not mean oppression or dictatorship!
  3. The primary accountability: God held Adam primarily accountable for the Fall. While Adam and Eve hid from God, God called “to the man and said to him, ‘Adam, Where are you?’” (Genesis 3:9). God called to Adam alone – he is the leader – it’s God’s Chain of Command. Notice that Satan reversed this order, approaching Eve before Adam in an attempt to disrupt the God-given design of leadership. Satan is always turning God’s plans upside down.
  4. The representation of the human race: Adam had a special role in representing the human race. Though Eve was the first to be tempted to sin, it was Adam who was considered most responsible for their combined disobedience. I Corinthians 15:22: “as in Adam all men die…” Adam is given the responsibility for causing the “Trophic Cascade” – not Eve
  5. Adam represents Christ in a marriage: Ephesians 5:23 – “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” Adam is designed to model Christ’s leadership of the church in his family.
  6. The need for a Second Adam: Genesis 3:15 begins to hint at the need for a “Second Adam” – a second man who can come into the world and crush Satan and reverse the effects of the first Adam. I Corinthians 15:22: “as in Adam all men die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” Christ is the second Adam, not the second Eve.

I Corinthians 15:45-49: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

Jesus is the “last Adam” who initiates an eternal “Trophic Cascade” which reverses the effects of the first Adam.

The Second Adam is a HUGE topic that we can’t fully get into right now. But this does further add to the point that men were designed for unique leadership.

Adam’s Failure as a Leader

Read Genesis 3:1-6. Adam, what happened? Here are just a few areas where Adam failed as a leader.

  • Apathy / Severe Complacency: Adam stands nearby yet does not act. The world is about to fall apart and he doesn’t do anything.
  • Self Absorption: He may be just too into what he is doing to notice or care what’s going on around him.
  • Fear: Adam has never had to confront, challenge, stand up to anything, so he may be afraid. As a result, his fear paralyzes him.

Whatever the reason – it was a failure of Leadership. It wasn’t Satan’s fault, Eve’s fault, or God’s fault. It was Adam’s – and he began a “Trophic Cascade” which we still experience the effect of today.

Questions

  1. What has the greatest negative effect on your personal leadership: Apathy, Complacency, Self-Absorption, Fear….something else? Why or How?
  2. Are you convinced you were Divinely designed to exercise leadership? What is your biggest   leadership challenge in the coming year?

Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips
Pastor, Christ Community Church
paul@cccwnc.com