biblical leadership: owning stuff

Category : God, Jeremiah, living a life of faith, taking action

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“Does it make you a king to have more and more cedar?” (Jeremiah 22:15)

Most of us don’t want cedar.  What would we do with it anyway?  I’m not even sure you can sell it on Amazon.  But during the time of Jeremiah, cedar was hugely important.  It was the sign of wealth, power, and affluence.  It was the Rolls Royce of building materials.

And God is calling out Shallum son of Josiah.

Shallum wanted to prove his “greatness” by building a palace to himself filled with cedar.  It would be like you or I building a house out of marble.  Sure it’s nice, but does it really matter?  That’s the question God is asking.  You see, God doesn’t measure greatness by how nice your house is, or what kind of car you drive.  God measures greatness by different standards.  He measures your greatness by your heart and by your actions.

In short, it’s who you are that matters, not what you have.

It is all too easy to confuse the trappings of office with true leadership.  We think that just because someone has a corner office, a big desk, and an impressive title that they are a leader.  But that’s not how God measures leadership.  Biblical leadership isn’t defined by how much stuff you have.  It’s defined by your heart.  It’s defined by who you are and what you do.

In short, it's who you are that matters, not what you have.

Biblical leadership is about self-sacrifice.  It’s about doing something with what you have.  It has nothing to do with looking like a leader.

The next time you are tempted to buy something because it makes you look important, remember that biblical leadership isn’t about nice stuff, it’s about the core of who you are.  You don’t want to find yourself in the same position as Shallum son of Josiah.

This is part of an ongoing series on Biblical Leadership.

biblical leadership: that you my king should die for me

Category : Jesus, bible, choice, faith, living a life of faith, revolutionary, taking action

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Leadership.  Each of us has an opinion about what makes a leader.  Some people will argue that leadership is all about your genetics – it’s what you’re born with.  Others will argue that leadership is something you can learn.  Or maybe that it’s about the situation you are in.  While we can’t always articulate what leadership really is, we tend to give the old cliche “I know it when I see it.”

But what does the Bible have to say about leadership?  Is there such a thing as Biblical leadership?  The short answer is “yes.”  The Bible makes a strong case for what leadership should look like.  And it looks a lot like sacrifice.

Does that surprise you?

It should.

Because it goes against almost everything we’re told about leadership today.  Most leaders have people who are willing to die for them.  That’s the whole idea behind the Secret Service or a body guard.  The idea is that the leader is so important that he (or she) can not die.  Therefore someone else must be willing to sacrifice their own life to protect the leader.  In other words we die for the King.

In the Bible, however, leadership looks a whole lot like the King dying for us.

The Newsboys capture this in the song You Are My King.  The song says, “Amazing love how can it be?  That you, my King, should die for me

The world tells us that we need to lay down our lives for our King.  That our lives are less important than the King’s.  Yet the Bible is the reverse.  The King should lay down his life for us, the servants.  Jesus had everything he needed.  He didn’t need to die for us.  He chose to die for us.  The one person who should not have to suffer chose to suffer.  To save people who don’t want to be saved.  That, my friends, really is Amazing Love.  That is revolution.

Don’t be fooled though.  Biblical leadership isn’t something reserved for an “elite few.”  It’s supposed to be lived out by everyone who has a relationship with Jesus.  It happens when you live out a life of faith.  When you chose to sacrifice to protect someone weaker than yourself.  When you chose to give something up so that someone else can have something more.  When you lay your own life down, and pick up the cross that God hands you.  That’s living out a life of faith.  That’s Biblical leadership.

That’s a revolution.

Where are you supposed to take leadership in your life?  Who are you to lay your life down for?  Who are you to sacrifice for?  Your wife?  Your boyfriend?  Your kids?  A stranger?

Where will you display Biblical leadership?

king of the hill

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Category : David, bible, choice, different, faith

 

I am very much an individualist. 

All of my favorite games, movies and history stories involve the lone hero fighting the forces of evil (Chuck Norris I’m looking at you).  To be honest I hate the idea that I need community to live a healthy, productive life.  I don’t want to have to submit my life to other people – I want to be king of the hill. 

But if I want to live out a life of faith, I need to look at everything the Bible says about my life, not just the things I’m interested in hearing.  That’s why I find the Bible’s comments on authority so challenging.  It directly confronts the way I want to live my life.

Yet should I be surprised?  Look at what happens in the world around us.

Since 2000 we’ve been told by one political party that our current president is an idiot.  Comedians re-tell that same joke as if no one has ever heard it.  Companies publish calendars and cards illustrating “Bushisms.”  In response, we’re told that the other political party hates their country.  And hopes that things will be miserable for millions of Americans just to improve their election chances.  

Of course it’s not just politics where this happens.  It’s at home too.  A 12 year old boy was suspended from school for wearing a mohawk to support the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.  His response was essentially: “I’d rather be suspended than cut my hair.”  His parents supported his decision. 

Now maybe Bush isn’t the smartest President we’ve ever had.  And maybe one party really does believe in redistribution of wealth.  And maybe the school over reacted with a boy’s enthusiasm for his favorite team.

But is this mocking authority how we’re called to live? 

We  seem to “stick it to the Man” because we can.  And so we cheer for the defiance of a 12 year old.  And laugh at the Bush is stupid jokes.  And nod knowingly that one party wants to take from the rich and give to the poor. 

I don’t pretend to understand everything about how the Bible portrays authority.  Maybe I don’t even know most of it.  But how can we hope to learn what it means to be obedient, when as a society we intentionally mock those in authority?

Right now we find ourselves in a global economic crisis.  And we’re told that we need to trust our leaders.  But why should we when we’ve been told for 8 years that the president is an idiot?  When we mock authority, how can we suddenly turn that attitude off when suddenly we need to trust authority?

The answer is, we can’t. 

There’s a moment when Saul is standing alone in a cave “using the facilities” so to speak.  David, the man who Saul is trying to kill, is hiding in the cave. Saul had been searching for them for a long time.  It would be so easy for David to end his life on the run by killing Saul. At least that’s what David’s men think.  

But David believes Saul was chosen by God, and therefore has all of God’s authority.  So instead of killing him, David cuts off a piece of his robe.  Saul leaves without knowing how close to death he was.  As Saul walks back to his soldiers, his protection, David appears, saying, “I could have killed you, but I didn’t because God chose you to be king.”

David knew that if he started ignoring God’s authority because it was convenient, he’d be walking down a dangerous path.  He respected Saul’s authority so much that he’d rather live a life on the run, then counter what God might be doing through Saul.  He knew he couldn’t turn his obedience on and off.  That’s a very different place to be than how we seem to be living.

Like I said, the Bible’s view of authority is difficult for me to grasp.  Especially as someone who prides himself on individualism.  I do know that with the election in a few days, this is something we all need to wrestle with.  No matter who wins the presidency, serious problems face this country and the world.  And I don’t want to reject authority simply because I don’t like it.  I’m committed to God, no matter where that leads me.

I want God to be my king of the hill.

 

absolute power & leadership

Category : Jesus, bible, love, taking action

      

“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power” (John 13:3)

So what do you do when you have ultimate power?  When you have literally been given “all things”?

Well, if you’re Jesus you serve. 

John tells us that when Jesus knew he could do anything he wanted, he chose to serve his friends.  He chose to get on his knees and wash the feet of his disciples.  I wonder how I would respond if I had that kind of power?