IL 11/4/22: Learning to Turn

IL 11/4/22: Learning to Turn

(Audio Transcription Below)

Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Ruth Barton 

“Many of us are choosing to live lives that do not set us up to pay attention. We long for a word from the Lord, but somehow we have been suckered into believing that the pace we keep is what leadership requires. If we are aware of such a longing, we need to ask ourselves – Do I have enough margin in my schedule to be able to turn aside and pay attention….Could it be because I am moving so fast that I do not have time to turn aside and look?

For many of us – this is our idea of success…that brief moment (and it is SO BRIEF!) when we have everything spinning and nothing falling and breaking. We all know, this moment of success does not last and we return to racing back and forth to keep our lives or other lives from falling down and breaking apart.

“We have been suckered into believing that the pace we keep is what leadership requires.” -Barton

Learning to Turn: Exodus 3:1-4 

Notice Order: There is a cause & effect between Moses’ willingness to pay attention and God’s willingness to speak! Moses stopped, paid attention, & turned aside – then the Lord spoke.

Kids learn that when you are on fire, you must Stop, Drop, & Roll.

So, when something is burning in your soul or in your life – when something is happening and you long for a word from the Lord… you must: Stop, Pay Attention & Turn Aside – Then the Lord speaks. 

Example: Elijah – I Kings 19:9-18 

Background: Elijah was a prophet. In I Kings 19 — Elijah was coming off a season of great emotional intensity – great highs & deep lows. Elijah was so exhausted he decided to run away – (Ever been on I-40 and see Barstow CA….tempted to drive away from your problems) Elijah was on the run because the leadership of Israel made a vow to put him to death. Elijah was exhausted and afraid – so he ran away and hid in a cave. In this lonely cave, God spoke to Elijah. 

Even though Elijah was a great prophet – the intensity of his service warped his view of reality – he severely over-estimated himself and under-estimated the sovereignty of God. (intensity of life, intensity of service, intensity of Plate spinning –warps your vision!) Elijah had come to believe he was necessary and if he didn’t survive there would be no one to carry on. He desperately needed time to “Turn Aside” – to re-orient himself to God! 

What Elijah learns when he turns to listen to God – when his life was on fire…..was very humbling. 

  • God is not worried. God has a plan. – which is why I think God spoke in a whisper following all these natural disasters: A Hurricane force wind, earthquake, fire – God Whispers – “Elijah, I’m not worried…even in the midst of what you see as the great disasters: hurricanes, cultural collapse, political upheaval – – I’m completely in control.” 
  • God has His people – (vs. 18) 7000 faithful remain – “Elijah you are not the only one. 
  • (Most Humbling) – “I already have your replacement” – Elijah, You may be done but I am not DONE! My work isn’t riding on you! 

Application: For both Moses and Elijah – the “turning aside” – the solitude of a desert or a cave….was the place they were reoriented to God’s presence and God’s plan. 

How do we Learn to Turn: The Common Rule 

  • See Common Rule Handout 
  • Rule of Life: TGC link on Handout 
  • Common Rule Video:

Quotes: “Is it possible living in systems of habits that are perfectly designed to produce this kind of (anxiety filled) life. The Modern World is a Habit forming Machine! – We need to design a better way for you to live” — Practice Paying Attention – A Rule of Life that allows you to reorient to God’s presence and God’s Plan 

My suggestion: The modern world is a habit-forming machine. What bad habits has it formed into your life? What 1 practice of paying attention could I incorporate? 

Moses: Moses’ world was also a habit-forming machine. Moses grew up in the Palace of Pharaoh. He grew up believing real change happened through HIS personal passion and power. (For 40 years these values formed Moses’ soul).

Moses had the right vision: Freeing the Hebrews from slavery but he had the wrong method. Moses method was to insert himself between the Egyptian & slave or slave & slave….there was no space for God! (That’s many of us – there is no real space for God). We insert ourselves rather than have God insert us into situations. It took 40 years of Desert Solitude for Moses to get rewired. To have God insert him rather than Moses insert himself. Therefore: It takes a lot of practice – you don’t learn it in 10 minutes! 

KEY: One reason why is all this transformation necessary for Moses: The best guide for any journey is one who has made the journey themselves. Part of what qualified Moses to lead the people out of their bondage was that he had already been on his own journey out of bondage and into freedom. 

Exodus 6:9 – “Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses (Why?) because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.” The world of slavery was also a habit-forming machine – their brokenness didn’t allow them to hear God! So they needed a guide who understood Moses knew what brokenness was like and how to find God – so he will be an excellent guide. 

  • Exhortation to Leaders: People are exhausted, afraid, locked into all kinds of slavery. Dads – your children are immersed in a habit-forming world…YOU CAN BE THE GUIDE TO A BETTER WAY TO LIVE – you can help people find God. 
  • But you must first Turn Aside and See the Lord 


1. How would you describe the pace of your life right now? How might that pace be warping reality…or what have you bought into that might not be right? 

2. The modern world is a habit-forming machine. What bad habits has it formed into your life? What 1 practice of paying attention could I incorporate? 

3. Who might be helped by you becoming more spiritually healthy? 

Iron Leadership Materials:

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