It was a year ago yesterday that my blog had its most views – 82 in one day, which still seems like an enormous number to me. I had only posted a few things and my ego was immediately gratified. I felt as if I was well on my way to becoming a new kind of leader, a 21st century, Fast Company-Twitter-feed kind, who used social media to expand his influence and gain huge advantages at work. It was all a snare, a fiction I couldn’t live up to, and it hurt me deeply in the actual performance of my job.
This year feels different because writing, which has felt like a chore in the past, is laying a fresh foundation for something awaiting me in the future, as opposed to being an indicator that I’ve achieved something in the present. What the enemy intended for evil, God is using for good in my life and in the lives of others, through the redemption of my motives and the realignment of my desires.
If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself;
but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding.
Fear of The Lord teaches wisdom;
humility precedes honor. (Proverbs 15:32-33 NLT)
And you must love The Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5 NLT)
How do you love God with all your strength? Strength measures one of two things: external power or internal fortitude. Personally my physical strength doesn’t amount to much, but one way I honor God with that strength is remaining committed to exercise and staying fit, and any time I’ve run on the treadmill longer than I thought possible was like a prayer of thanks.
As a rule, people don’t know just how strong they are (or aren’t) until they find themselves in the midst of a crisis. In my career I have seen way too many people who claimed that they couldn’t concentrate on their work – or even come to work – because of their personal issues, and all too often they end up adding unemployment to their list of problems. As a leader, what is my responsibility to help other people find or develop their inner strength? It doesn’t require belief in God to see that strength of character and strength under pressure are essential tools for coping with life, and that people who lack them will never fulfill their potential because they’re always running away from or folding under adversity.
We love and honor God both when we use what strength He gives us, and when we acknowledge those times when our own strength is insufficient. There have been many times in my career when I felt like I lacked the strength to accomplish a task, or have a difficult conversation, or overcome a failure. Help was always there, but ego often kept me from asking for it, both from other people and from God, who knows our limits and invites us to allow Him to be our source of strength when our own strength falters; rather than chiding us for weakness, He blesses our reliance on Him.
The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. (Psalms 118:14 NLT)
In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall. (2 Samuel 22:30 NLT)
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13 NLT)
What I really wanted for Christmas was a device that would read my thoughts and organize them into coherent sentences for me, sparing me the trouble of having to write them myself. My fingers usually can’t keep up with my brain, whether I’m hand-writing or typing, which is why I often avoid writing. I want to change that in 2013, and it seemed like looking back on last year would be a good way to find inspiration. Here are some of the big ideas that resonated with me the most, copied in no particular order from various things I wrote over the course of 2012:
God wants me to spend my time helping people grow & prosper, not checking email.
Fear & timidity are signs that I am not trusting God enough with my circumstances (see 2 Timothy 1:7).
Hand-written thank you notes have a profound impact on the people who receive them, it’s been fun & rewarding to write them.
“Accordingly, the practical aim of the one who takes obedience seriously is not to obey, but to become the kind of person who easily and routinely does obey as a result of devotion to Jesus and consequently of taking him as Lord, teacher and friend. The practical aim is to know him, to be devoted to him, in this inclusive manner.” – Dallas Willard
Jesus dying for the world is more than just for the world, but it’s also for me as a person…He died to set ME free, and so when I think about freedom in Christ I have to remember what a high price was paid for it.
How can I be anxious about work when I consider 2 amazing facts: 1) the Creator of the universe loves me and wants to be the most important person in my life, and 2) He blessed me with gifts, talents, skills & passions so that I could actually do stuff for Him.