A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. (2 Timothy 2:24 NLT)
What I love and appreciate so much about Biblical wisdom is that it’s usually not complicated. It may be challenging or counter-intuitive or controversial, but it’s rarely obtuse. Paul packed a ton of practical advice into this single sentence, saving Timothy the trouble of having to attend leadership seminars.
Pay close attention to leaders who consistently do the following:
*) engage in & promote healthy conflict within the team, building a culture of openness and trust
*) coach, correct & discipline others without being a jerk or a creep, establishing legitimate and secure authority
*) share, rather than horde, knowledge, freely giving of themselves
*) maintain a cool exterior during difficult conversations, modeling grace and respect
I hope to someday write a sentence that impactful.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8 NLT)
How much time is spent thinking about what is false, and disgraceful, and wrong, and distorted, and disdainful? How often do we dwell on the terrible and uninspiring? We can’t control much of what goes on around us, but we do get to choose the way we respond to and reflect upon our circumstances.
If your default position is negativity, the people around you will likely either copy you (because they’ve found a kindred spirit) or avoid you (for obvious reasons). Much of what Paul wrote was written in prison. It would have been easy for him to focus on stern warnings and a bleak outlook. Instead he took a longer view, celebrated what was praiseworthy & encouraged us to do the same.
Life and work will contain missteps and outright defeats. You can let them kill your spirit or you can embrace them & make them part of your narrative.
As leaders it’s important that we tell our own story. If we’re not well versed at telling our personal stories, we risk someone else owning – and telling – them for us, at which point they cease to be ours, and may even become unrecognizable to us. Explaining “why” you did something is important, but don’t underestimate the power of the “how.”
Have you prayed for a member of your team who is struggling? Have you prayed prior to starting a project or making a presentation? If not, why not? God cares about every aspect of our lives, not just what we do (or even don’t do) on Sunday mornings or during certain days of the year, so I would challenge you to go out on this skinny branch and see if He won’t be faithful in this.
My prayer through these devotionals is that you will see this intersection of work & faith in a new way, and challenge yourself to let your faith shape how you do your job, as well as what kind of leader you have the potential to become. Thank you for taking time to delve into this with me!
With this newest post I’m finally getting to the last day of content from my original five-day series of devotionals. I think I’ll get two more day’s worth of content out of it.
I saved the best for last: Jesus. I hope you’ve found this series beneficial, and that these final installments give you a perspective on Jesus you’ve not had before.
Jesus is one of history’s most unconventional leaders. He emerged from out of nowhere. He had no MBA. He didn’t attend any leadership seminars. He defied conventional wisdom & the status quo. He sought out the marginalized. His team was not comprised of society’s best and brightest. And yet this man changed the world in a way no one had before or has since or ever will. There’s a reason more has been written about Jesus than any other person who’s ever lived.
“Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. Crowds of sick people—blind, lame, or paralyzed—lay on the porches. One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, ‘Would you like to get well?’ ‘I can’t, sir,’ the sick man said, ‘for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.’ Jesus told him, ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!’ Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath, so the Jewish leaders objected. They said to the man who was cured, ‘You can’t work on the Sabbath! The law doesn’t allow you to carry that sleeping mat!’ But he replied, ‘The man who healed me told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’’ ‘Who said such a thing as that?’ they demanded. The man didn’t know, for Jesus had disappeared into the crowd. But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, ‘Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.’ Then the man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him. So the Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules. But Jesus replied, ‘My Father is always working, and so am I.’ So the Jewish leaders tried all the harder to find a way to kill him. For he not only broke the Sabbath, he called God his Father, thereby making himself equal with God. So Jesus explained, ‘I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.'” (John 5:1-3, 5-19 NLT)
Some final reflections from Proverbs:
“Lazy people don’t even cook the game they catch, but the diligent make use of everything they find.” (Proverbs 12:27 NLT)
“The Lord detests the use of dishonest scales, but he delights in accurate weights.” (Proverbs 11:1 NLT)
“Lazy people irritate their employers, like vinegar to the teeth or smoke in the eyes.”(Proverbs 10:26 NLT)
Do you work with anyone that’s all smoke & no fire? How do you figuratively or literally light a fire under them?
Is there wisdom apart from God? I think the answer is yes. What’s the point, then, of pursuing God and His ways? We all know intuitively that human wisdom only takes us so far because it becomes inevitably corrupted by our human selfishness, weaknesses & failings. Our hearts are always engaged in our decision-making process, and too often we find that we don’t trust our own judgment with regards to emotions (with good reason). If we need guidance, a good place to start is with He who knows us better than we know ourselves.
“A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense. Thieves are jealous of each other’s loot, but the godly are well rooted and bear their own fruit. The wicked are trapped by their own words, but the godly escape such trouble. Wise words bring many benefits, and hard work brings rewards. Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.” (Proverbs 12:11-15 NLT)
“People who accept discipline are on the pathway to life, but those who ignore correction will go astray.” (Proverbs 10:17 NLT)
“The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”(Proverbs 11:25 NLT)