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Look up! Look up often!

Paul wrote to Timothy, his mentoree and spiritual son because the latter was facing some huge challenges, his health was weakening probably due to the stress; and both his personality and youth were liabilities it seemed at a time like this!

If I was Timothy; I would wish Paul returned back quickly to set things right. We all hope someone can appear to make things better. Churchlife! seeks to be an instrument toward that end – whether it is helping pastors and leaders navigate team dynamics, pressing issues, raising leaders or clarifying goals and setting strategies.

However, no matter how hard we try; the very real limits are found in two things: our hearts, and our vision.

If our hearts are worn down or filled with negativity or fear; no amount of planning and working would change much. Many great men and women will say honestly that they do not consider themselves the smartest or fastest; but they will readily admit to one thing: they have set their heart to the task and it means so much, they won’t back down.

How does one get such a heart?

It comes from the second: our vision.

All of us leaders know that it isn’t about hammering out some nice-sounding statement that a vision is birthed. Indeed, Oswald Chambers used to say,

“When God gives a man a vision, he takes him down to the valley; and hammers him into the shape of the vision” (adapted).

The vision that Paul cast before Timothy was that of his own life. Paul recounts for Timothy his own history and God’s unlikely call and amazing transformation of his life. He writes with such conviction that it crescendos with a doxology ~

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever, Amen. {1 Tim 1v17}

Then Paul pulls Timothy up from his spiritual slack, urging him to fight the good fight.

Faced with loud, contentious voices; issues that won’t resolve easily, maybe even personal attacks, all leaders can crumble within.  What gives us strength is recounting God’s call and gracious equipping – and trusting that even now, even this, God will be King, eternal, immortal ! Although he is invisible to our physical eye; God can become consuming in our spiritual sight and loom larger than all our present troubles.

And when we sit and wait, our trust growing deeper – God will assert His kingship and lead us down the path to take. This is the best shield and defense for the leader called by God.

 

When it boils down to ‘me’.

With our eyes firmly in front of us, our natural gaze is outward, and ahead. We are born and raised to look out. What is going on outside of us therefore becomes the focus of our attention. We are led by what we see. Can this be the reason Jesus exhorts us to mind what we set eyes on, for it enters us and often takes root deep within us.

The eye is the lamp of the body. if your eye are good, your body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness…“~ Matt 6v22

These words are spoke in relation to the truth that whatever we set our heart on becomes our treasure; and that we were created to need a Master, and it will always have to be just one master. There is a clear connection between what we set our eyes on, what occupies our heart, and thus what we are truly serving.

What we focus on – becomes our priority – becomes our God.

This does not apply just to the prohibitive things we mustn’t allow our eyes to wander to, the temptations that lurk everywhere. Dealing with temptation is a needful part of the faith life.

But it isn’t just temptations that can rock us. Often, as leaders who feel the responsibility for others, we can be deeply affected by what we see too: frustration, a lack of zeal, sloth, division, problems of life… .

This is why in the end leadership boils down to ‘me’: we need to ask this question often: “what has my attention now?”.

In our typical problem-solving mode, what has our attention are often problems, issues, difficulties. Is it any wonder that leadership is such a tiresome thing?

We cannot escape from the reality that there are issues and challenges to work at; but we need to have a way of seeing them that will not burn us up! We need to ruthlessly deal with –

a/ wrong ideas. you may have heard common semi-truths such as “God helps those who help themselves”, “the buck stops here”, “if it’s going to be, it’s up to me”. These ideas have some kernel of truth but that’s all they have. In fact, the come from a very humanist standpoint and though they sound noble, they effectively edge the Sovereign God out of the picture.

b/ bad habits. we are when stripped to bare essentials, creatures of habits. Most of us have bad habits that simply do not help us to stay God-ward in orientation. We may fritter away time, indulge in gossip, refuse to rein in our emotions and our thoughts (often very right to us).

These cloud us and hinder us from developing healthy, God-ward perceptual capacities.

One of the best ways to develop spiritual sight is to ask questions, such as,

i. where is God in this?

ii. why am i reacting / responding like this?

Asking such questions and waiting for the answers to surface require time, discipline and solitude. But these are questions that pierce the fog and invite the rays of the sun to shine.

In that sense, it does boil down to ‘me’ – but a ‘me’ in God’s hands, before God in prayer, waiting on God for answers, knowing God carries the burden with us. This ‘me’ that is is thus led by God is better able to see, discern and decide – better a leader.

Link: A story of learning to see better: I fly away!

http://jennihh.blogspot.sg/2013/05/i-fly-awayliterally.html