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Titus’ Toughness Test

Titus’ Toughness Test

Wrestling’s ultimate toughness test, the Battle Royale. In order to get our mind set and blood pumping, let’s watch.

Now we all know, at least I hope we do, that wrestling is staged, but nothing could be more staged than this goofiness. I love the guy in the arena with his hands on head, thinking ‘how could this happen?’

Leadership, especially spiritual leadership, is like this Battle Royal. Opponents come at you from every side.

As a leader, you know how this works. Something difficult needs to get done. Perhaps a confrontational conversation, a challenging task, a project that you know will be a heavy lift. You need to lead people in a new direction, but the very same people might not want to go. Whatever the challenge, you know it will take someone with toughness, perseverance, and emotional maturity. Not a snowflake! There are only a few people who you can count on.

For Paul, Titus was one of those people. Titus was tough, so Titus got the difficult assignments. Are you tough? Not as a bully, but as a someone who can take a stand, navigate difficult conversations, and deal with difficult people? If God needs a leader to take a difficult assignment, are you ready to go?

Here is some background on Titus: Titus was Greek. He was an early convert to Christianity under the teaching of Paul. Titus, like Timothy, became one of Paul’s most trusted companions and co-workers. It seems like Titus drew most of the toughest assignments given by Paul.

Test #1. Standing Against the Cultural Tide

Galatians 2:1-5 – In about 50 AD the Gospel was just beginning to spread from Jerusalem, from the Jews to the Gentiles. Incorporating different cultures and ethnicities was wonderful, but it (not surprisingly) created conflict. The first Christians we all originally Jews. Many of them believed that if Greeks or Gentiles were to belong to the church, they would not only have to accept Jesus, but were also required to accept Jewish cultural practices (i.e. – Circumcision). For more than 2,000 years the people of God had been circumcised, but now under a New Covenant, it was rightly argued that circumcision was no longer required. The matter was a tremendously contentious issue for the early church. (See Acts 15)

“I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me…but even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in— who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you”

Galatians 2

In Galatians 2, Paul is recalling the time he took Titus (an uncircumcised Greek convert) to go to Jerusalem to meet with the early church leaders. Titus was the token uncircumcised Gentile, which meant the authenticity of his faith would be scrutinized and questioned by forceful, combative “False Brothers” (vs. 4). Yes, Paul was standing with Titus, but imagine the tone of the questions, the racially charged comments, and the religious arguments Titus had to withstand. Titus had to be tough to stand as the token Gentile in the early church, he couldn’t “yield in submission even for a moment” (vs. 5)

I want you to feel that cultural pressure.

This is Ruby Bridges. It’s 1960 in New Orleans, the first day of integration.

Ruby was the first one and had to stand alone, Titus had to do the same.

Leadership can be lonely. Sometimes you will have to stand alone. Are there places you feel alone? How well do you handle that kind of pressure?

2. Peacemaker – Standing in Difficult Conversations

2 Corinthians 2:4 – Most Bible scholars think The Apostle Paul wrote 4 letters to the church at Corinth. We only have 2 (the 2nd & 4th). Paul’s relationship to the church at Corinth was complicated. He had established the church on one of his missionary journeys but soon after he left, the church began to go sideways. Corinth was a raucous seaport, full of people with strong opinions and not much discipline.

After Paul leaves Corinth

  • They reject Paul’s teaching and begin to question his authority
  • Sexual immorality becomes common, as well as abuse of the Lord’s Supper, showing off in the worship service, and lawsuits among believers
  • Paul has to make an emergency second trip back to Corinth, which he describes as “painful” He follows this painful trip with a Severe Letter referred to in II Corinthians 2:4

“I wrote you out of great distress & anguish of heart, with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.”

2 Corinthians 2:4

Paul needed someone to deliver this severe letter of rebukes and corrections, stay there to absorb the blow back, and then navigate a way forward. Who does Paul send for this tough assignment? Titus! (O Joy!)

In Matthew 5 ,Jesus says: “Blessed are the Peacemakers…” Peacemakers are not Doormats, they are not PeaceFakers. They are not people who never making waves. No, they are tough negotiators who stand in between people, speak the truth, and find a way forward. This takes a great deal of toughness and emotional maturity.

3. A Picture of Crete

Titus 1:5, 10-14 – At some point Paul and Titus visited the island of Crete, just off the coast of mainland Greece. Crete had a terrible reputation. Greek mythology stated that Zeus was born on the island. Zeus had a reputation for seducing woman and lying in order to get his way. This mythology reflected the culture.

One of the Greek words for “liar” was: “kretizo” which means: to be a Cretan. In the opening chapter we see Paul immediately addressing character issues. (1:2) “God, who never lies”. The God of the Bible is totally different from Zeus, God never lies and those who serve him in leadership roles must also have godly character (Listed in 1:6-8). However, finding or developing these types of leaders will be a tough task.

(Notice verses 12-13a) I love the honesty of Paul’s last statement. A Cretan prophet says they (Cretans) are liars, lazy & evil. Paul’s response? Yep!

One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true.

After Paul visits several of the harbor towns in the island of Crete and does his evangelistic outreaches, he needs to leave behind someone to stand against the corrupt culture, to silence the deceivers and empty talkers, and to develop & install godly leaders in these new house churches. Who you going to call? Titus! (or theGhostbusters) How would you like this assignment as a leader?

This is totally different from Titus’ trip to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, Titus was the uncircumcised Greek outsider, now he’s in his own culture. He fits in with the language, customs, and traditions yet, because of the Gospel, he is an outsider in his own culture. Most of us face this kind of pressure. How to live in our own culture yet, because of the Gospel, be an outsider. This will take a tough person.

Questions:

  1. Leadership can be lonely. At times you will have to stand alone. Are there places you feel alone? How well do you handle that kind of pressure?
  2. Peacemaking is not the same as PeaceFaking. Standing in between a conflict, stating the truth, and navigating a way forward take a great deal of emotional maturity. How skilled are you in navigating conflict?
  3. What are some of the most difficult cultural challenges you face as a leader within your own culture? The American culture, your business culture, your family culture?

 

Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips Signiture

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

David: Two Ways Not to Respond to Evil – Leadership Lesson

David: Two Ways Not to Respond to Evil – Leadership Lesson

(This Leadership Lesson was lead by Sam Kennedy)

This year we are working our way through the Bible and highlighting certain leaders. We ended last semester with Moses as he lead the people of God out of slavery and Egypt. Following Moses, we looked at Joshua, the military general who lead them into the Promised Land.

Last week, we looked at a leader who is really remembered for his disobedience: Saul. Because Saul lost the fight against his own sin—because he listened to his own voice instead of God’s, he became a failure. 

Continuing on the theme of self-leadership, we’re looking at Saul’s successor David and his leadership as a king and a father.

Maybe you’ve heard the term: “don’t be that guy.” Here is a funny example of how to not be “that guy.”

Today, we will be looking at examples of David’s reactions to evil and suffering. These are not examples you want to follow. In other words, “Don’t be that guy!”

Side note: What you do in the Dark, doesn’t stay in the Dark.

Remember the Bathsheba incident? David lustfully takes her and has sex with her. In an attempt to cover up his sin of adultery, he murders her husband Uriah the Hittite by sending him to the front lines.

The consequences of David’s sin do not stop there. Over time, his sins of adultery and murder get repeated in his kids. This principle is especially seen in our kids today. The inferior life of a man is reflected in his children. God created children to be sponges; we all learn from modeling ourselves by other men’s examples. Whether you know it or not, whether you have children or not, younger men are looking to you! What you really love, what you really value, they see it, and they learn it.

Don’t be that Guy #1: Don’t Blow Up

In 2 Samuel 13 David’s firstborn son Amnon rapes his half sister Tamar. Tamar is the only baby sister of David’s son Absalom. Absalom loves his sister, but his response to this heartbreaking tragedy is not a healthy one.

For Absalom’s response, read 2 Samuel 13:20-22. After two “FULL YEARS”, Absalom murders his brother, which then begins to unravel the entire kingdom as he eventually tries to take the throne away from his father.

 What the blow up looks like (in your life):

You’re hotheaded. You get blinded by emotion. Pain, anger, sadness. You believe you’re the only one who can see things clearly. You go Jack Bauer mode and take matters into your own hands. You’ve lost the ability to hear other people or points of view.

But how did Absalom get this way? It is largely because of the silence of his father.

Don’t be that Guy #2: Don’t freeze up

This is one of the most frustrating sentences in all of the Bible. After the horrific rape of Tamar, she is now a desolate woman. – 2 Sam 13:21 – “When King David hear these things he was very angry.”

What? Is that it?!

In the Dead Sea Scrolls, some later manuscripts make an addition to this verse. You may see an asterisk or note at the bottom of your Bible that says, “…he was very angry, but he would not punish his son Amnon, because he loved him, since he was his firstborn.”

Davids response is totally passive. David gets played by his kids like a Nintendo. They are spoiled and do whatever they want. After the murder of Amnon, Absalom runs away. David’s people beg him to go out to Absalom and bring him back, but David just sits on his duff.

What the freeze up looks like (in your life):

The “freeze up”— you see a problem, you feel strong emotion. Maybe it’s righteous emotion, but you freeze. The voice in your head says, “I can’t do anything, I can’t say anything, It’s too hard, I’ll just make it worse.” You find 1000 ways to justify not acting. and because you do nothing, the problem keeps growing.

Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his famous letter from the Birmingham jail to a group of southern pastors who claimed to care about the rights of African Americans but refused to speak out. They advised Dr. King to be patient—to retreat.

This is his answer to them:

We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God…we must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”

Men— we don’t deal with emotions well. The Bible is clear that we are weak-framed, dusty people. But we do see throughout the Bible a third way. The solution we have is simple.

 The Solution: Be A Man

We have two “don’t be that guy” moments in this chapter. Two false pictures of masculinity.

  1. Masculinity is not being aggressive (The Blow Up)
  2. Masculinity is not being passive (The Freeze Up)

Elizabeth Elliot, wife of Christian Martyr Jim Elliot wrote this in her book, The Mark of a Man:

“this is the distilled essence of masculinity – initiation.”

Manhood means initiation, authority means sacrifice.

I’d like to offer a slight correction to this statement. In Christ, we see the essence of masculinity is being a cross-bearing initiator.

God is this the initiator. This is the distilled essence f masculinity: initiation. All creation responds to his initiation. It is the only thing creation can do. He calls men to take the first step into hard situations.

God moves into the world, bearing a cross, moving towards difficulty. Relieving others of their burdens and being a servant. As men, we are called to do the same

Questions:

  1. Who were the men who modeled masculinity for you? What was healthy or unhealthy about the picture of manhood they gave you?
  2. Who are you serving as a model for? Who (at home, at work, at church) is looking up to you?
  3. Do you blow up or freeze up? Where do you see these responses most often (at home, at work, with friends?)
  4. “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.” Where have you been “appallingly silent”? Where can you be a co-worker with God for truth and justice this week?
  5. What crosses will you have to bear in order to take initiative for what’s right?
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

 

 

How I Work: An Interview with Trevin Wax – TGC

How I Work: An Interview with Trevin Wax – TGC

Iron Leaders, for the next few weeks leading up to 2017, I am going to send you some articles on time management or productivity.  The Lord teaches us to number our days and that our days are like a mist so we want to use our time wisely.  I hope you benefit from these articles and prepare to get the most out of 2017. Read How I Work: An Interview with Trevin Wax

Paul Phillips Signiture

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

Moses: Skill and Emotional Maturity

Moses: Skill and Emotional Maturity

On January 15, 2009, Sully Sullenberger took US Airways Flight 1549 departing from NY to Charlotte. The plane struck a large flock of birds, which took out both engines and forced him to land with 155 passengers in the Hudson River. What was most remarkable to me was the emotional control exercised by the pilot and air traffic controller.

At this critical leadership moment, Skill and Emotional Maturity were both exercised.

  • Skill: Have I practiced and exercised discipline so when the
    moment arrives, I posses the skill to do what it takes to lead?
    Leadership is not something you are born with. It comes with
    practice.
  • Emotional Maturity: What’s happening outside, and what’s happening
    inside? What is outside of my control (externally) & what’s happening within my control (Internally: mind, emotions, spirit). Just keep checking: outside, inside, outside, inside.

With Skill and Emotional Maturity in mind, let’s revisit the life of Moses. Its 1500 BC and its been about 400 years since Joseph was Pharaoh’s right hand man. Those years clouded the memory of the Egyptians. Joseph’s ancestors, the Israelites, become slaves trapped in Egypt.

Moses’ 1st 40 Years (Read Exodus 1:8-14)

The Israelite population became a concern for Pharaoh so he ordered all the male babies to be thrown into the Nile River. Moses was placed in a basket and found by the daughter of Pharaoh. She decided to adopt him, so for 40 years Moses grew up in the royalty and power of Egypt (Acts 7:22).

Moses sat at the feet of Pharaoh, the leader of a powerful nation. Moses was being groomed for leadership, developing skills on how to lead a nation. Lock that piece of information in your mind.

Turning Point (Read Exodus 2:11-15)

Moses had the right idea. He had compassion for his people and wanted social justice. This is the beginning of a Vision. A vision usually begins with a dissatisfaction with current circumstances and a picture of what could and should be done. This is important for younger leaders trying to discern God’s will.

Question: What do you see that stirs up dissatisfaction? What gives you a picture of what could and should be done to make it better?

That’s the good part about Moses’ leadership, but we also see some pretty significant problems. Moses lacks Emotional Maturity, Spiritual Maturity, and Wisdom.

Emotional Maturity

This is critical because from a worldly perspective Moses was primed and ready for worldly leadership. He was able to take matters in his own hands! He had received the best education, he was in great physical shape, and he had the most powerful mentor. Yet, he was not emotionally ready for what God has in mind.

You can have a Doctorate in Leadership, be in great physical shape, and have excellent mentors yet still be emotionally immature. That one liability will greatly limit your effectiveness as a Leader.
High IQ – Low EQ. If you are old enough, you have seen this!

Moses had an anger problem. He knew what he was doing was wrong (considering he buried him in the sand). Yet, he can’t exercise emotional self control in this critical moment.

Example: Titus 2:6 – “Encourage the young men to be self-controlled.” Guys, just conquer this one thing and everything else will fall into place. Angry responses often add to problems. When dealing with a problem don’t create another problem by your response.

Spiritual Maturity

Moses isn’t spiritually ready to be used by God. We see that Moses has a good desire; a desire for justice and freedom. But he has a disastrous method. God actually wants to use Moses to accomplish this rescue mission, just not with Moses’ method. Moses’ method was to take matters into his own hands. There is no space between Moses’ Assessment and Moses’ Action.

Think about it: Moses was facing a 400 year old problem. He would be fighting against a powerful Egyptian military. This is a God Sized problem, but Moses foolishly decides he alone is the solution. Here is the best he could accomplish – He killed one soldier and rescued
zero slaves. That was a bad plan.

Miscalculation

Paraphrasing Exodus 2:14 – “Who died and made you King?” Since Moses had done something to protect the slaves he thought they would eagerly respond to his leadership.  Moses made a terrible miscalculation. Moses completely underestimated how difficult it would be for people in a 400 year old pattern to change. You can easily think of times where you completely miscalculated how difficult it would be to change a family, a business, a church, or even yourself!

Moses’ 2nd 40 Years: Moses Moves Into the Desert

From the world’s point of view, Moses looked like a finished product. He had the right degree, the best training and he was in top physical form, but he is no shaped to be used by God. It took Moses 40 years to grow into the vision God had designed for him.

40 years later, Moses has learned humility (Exodus 3:10-12). Notice that Moses says he is unfit to go, but God reminds him that this rescue mission is not about Moses, but about the LORD.

Please notice the contrast of how much man can accomplish by himself vs. a man under God’s leadership (Exodus 14:10-14 & Exodus 14: 26-29). One man on his own kills one man and rescues zero. One man led by God defeats the most powerful army on the planet and rescues an entire nation.

Leading to: Moses’ 3rd 40 Years

During his first 40 years, Moses developed the skill to lead a nation. During his second 40 years, Moses developed the knowledge of living in the desert. During the third 40 years, Moses lead a nation through a desert.

God can redeem all your time for his purposes.

Questions:

1. In order to raise your leadership capacity: What area needs to most work? IQ – Wisdom/Skill (or) EQ – Emotional health?

2. Vision: Vision usually begins with a dissatisfaction with current circumstances & a picture of what could and should be done, a preferred future. Do you operate with a Vision? How do you determine when you should move forward, without taking matters into your own hands?

3. Do you have a set time and place where you meet with God?

 

Friends and Brothers,

 

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