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Category: Fall/Winter 2017 – Nehemiah

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

An Introduction to Iron Leadership – Trophic Cascades

An Introduction to Iron Leadership – Trophic Cascades

Friday, September 1, 2017 – Audio Recording

 

The stated purpose of Iron Leadership is “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.

This phrase: “Act like men” is lifted from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. This phrase comes at the close of the Apostle Paul’s long and difficult letter. It’s difficult because the people in the church at Corinth were a disorderly bunch. (Politics in the church: cliques of people who like one preacher over another, Pride & Power Struggles, Sexual Immorality, Lawsuits, Troubled Marriages & Disorder in the Worship service.)

I love this brief Bio of people who make up the church:

I Cor 6:9 – “Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. …And that is what some of you were.”

This sounds like a fun church to lead in, doesn’t it?

Although Paul addressed these challenges in the letter he knows when the letter is finished being read – some leaders in the church will have to face these issues and these people head on. This will be an enormous leadership challenge. Paul knows the challenge will require leaders to “Act like Men” (greek: (An-drid-zo-mai) 

Its just one word in the Greek with 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.

So at Iron Leadership we are learning how to “Act like men.” We believe the best place to learn how to act like men by reading the Bible, examining the lives of men in the Bible & by being around other men.

Now what we are doing here is just entry level – introduction and reminders – so if you are struggling a particular area or need more help in any way, you need to ask for help. That’s one great leadership characteristic…not always easy for men. There are great leaders in this church and in your lives that can help.

Content for 2017-2018

Fall-Winter 2017: Nehemiah

This was the first leader we looked at 6 years ago. I want to revisit him as a leader. Nehemiah is one of my favorite character studies (and one of the most accessible) because there are no overt miracles: no parting of the Red Sea, no visit by an angel, Nehemiah never walks on water. Instead, Nehemiah was a man who had a passion, who worked hard, prayed, encountered criticism, and made difficult leadership decisions. Nehemiah was a regular guy who caught a divine glimpse of what could and should be, then he went after it with all his heart. His story is not much different than ours.

Winter-Spring 2018: Interior Life of a Leader

You could also say, The Soul of the Leader. One particular concern I have (for myself especially) is that leadership compels you to work with other people, which requires a great deal of energy: Emotional, Mental, Physical, Spiritual, and Financial. This can make it very easy to neglect your soul – your interior life.

Proverbs 4:23 – “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

Or, “because the source of your life lows from it.” Leadership flows from your heart and your soul.

Take this illustration for example: When you’re on a plan and are instructed to put on an oxygen mask, you have to put your own on first. If you try to help others without looking after your own life source, you will very quickly be no help to anybody.

Trophic Cascades

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 want to focus on a few of the “take away” lines which give definition to what we are trying to accomplish in Iron Leadership.

Leaders are like the Wolves of Yellowstone. The wolves were absent for 70 years. Because of that, things were deteriorating.

“Everything rises and falls on Leadership – everything.”
– John Maxwell

If you see a great organization, business, family, church – you will find great leadership.

Great leaders, like wolves are introduced into an environment and cause a “Trophic Cascade.” Introducing something at top of the food chain creates change and tumbles all the way through the food chain, all the way to the bottom.

Here is the keyWolves & Great Leaders – They don’t personally change everything. Instead, they start a chain reaction which changes everything.

Of course the greatest Tropic Cascade in all of human history happened on the first Christmas morning when Jesus Christ was introduced into a dark world. I love how John describes Jesus’ entrance into the World: John 1: 9 – “True light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.”

There is a difference that we must point out: What’s the single biggest difference between the Trophic Cascade described in the video, and the Trophic Cascade that Jesus brings? The Answer: Jesus’ Trophic Cascade is from the bottom up, not the top down.

Great leaders, like wolves put things to death, yet that action leads to giving life to many others. To be a great leader the first think you must be able to put things to death in your own life.

Colossians 3:5 – “Put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry…”

Romans 8:13 – “If by the Spirit Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live…”

To be an effective leader of others, you must be an effective leader of yourself. As a leader – you will be asking people to “put to death” certain things in their life. You must lead by example.

To be an effective leader of others….you must be an effective leader of yourself. As a leader – you will be asking people to “put to death”

certain things in their life…you must lead by example.

Great leaders create leadership opportunities for others: The presence of the Wolves gave rise to the work of the Beavers: “Beavers – are Eco-system Engineers.” What a great phrase: “eco-system engineer.”

I don’t think it’s a stretch to conclude from reading Genesis 1:28 – God’s charge to mankind to “Subdue and Rule over the earth” was a charge to us to be His “Eco-engineers” of this world.

Questions:

  1. Trophic Cascade: Top Down vs. Bottom Up. What difference does it make?
  2. “Put to Death…” – Is there one thing you can identify in yourself which needs to be put to death in order for you to be a more effective leader?
  3. As an “Eco-engineer” of your family, work, or team, what’s one of your leadership challenges? How well do you do in allowing others to be “Eco-Engineers”? Under your leadership, do you micro-manage your family and work environment?

Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips

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