“The ship is safest when it is in port. But that’s not what ships were made for.”
There is a time to harbor and rest. And then there is a time to set sail and face the pounding surf. It is easier to dock at the port in a static state of comfort and ease. It's crushing when the compass points you to a white-capped field of landless horizon.
Sailing is perilous, and so is the Christian life. The Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20) and Great Commandment (Matt. 22:37-39) set our rudder toward the tempest. Love takes us into open seas that require the sailor to be relentless and brave.
Are you suffering for a call God has placed on you? Has he pointed you in the direction of gale and gust?
Set your face to the wind.
For you know the harbor from which you come and the Captain who leads on. Hold fast to his promises. "Fear not." "I will never leave you." "I am with you always." He is our Refuge and Strength in times of trouble, our Harbor in the sea.
Rev. 1:17, 2:3
We've seen enough failed leadership - self-centered, corrupt, inept, greedy. Where can we see genuine leadership? Power used for others, not self?
As Christians, we are drawn to the cruciform posture of leadership. In Christ, power, authority, and influence are used in selfless ways. He exemplifies servant leadership. More than just a model for us to follow, he offers forgiveness for leaders - for all - who falter and fail.
In a follow up post from last week, here are five more of my top leadership quotes.
Is it worth all the work?
How much difference does it make?
He's discouraged as his church continues to decline.
She's frustrated by the people she helped; they returned her generosity with resentment.
He poured his heart out for a friend in need and it seemed to make no difference.
What do you do when you want to quit?
I write this as I prepare for a daunting task: confirmation camp. Three days of 7th and 8th graders at a summer camp. Swim time and campfires. Juvenile flirting and smelly boys who have yet to apply deodorant with any consistency. Somewhere in the middle of all this, my team of leaders must impart our deepest held beliefs and convictions.
Impacting the lives of young people is a great responsibility. I don't take it lightly, and I tremble a little every time.
Am I effective?
Am I making a difference?
Is there more I could do to connect with these kids?
Whenever I freak out over a big challenge, I refer back to a quote by Charles Haddon Spurgeon:
“The Christian should work as if all depended upon him, and pray as if it all depended upon God.”
"Everybody sees how you seem. Some know who you really are."
In a world of posing, posturing, and posting, we have a million ways to put up a front. From our clothes to our profiles, we present ourselves as we want people to see us. But the reality behind the mask is very different.
Who sees behind the curtain? Who knows the real you . . . and still loves you? Who knows about your blemishes and still wants to stay with you?
The first One is your God. The rest are gifts from God. The dearest friends. The parents. The spouses. The loved ones that God has placed in your life to know and love who you really are.
"Earthly goods are given to be used, not to be collected."
I often worry about having enough for tomorrow, next year, or in retirement. How much is enough?
I am in favor of prudent planning. But I have often found that accumulated wealth can be a barrier with God. Hoarding is idolatry. In our treasure, we too often find our security, trust, and consolation.
What good are my goods if they are only stored? Aren't they given to me so that I can give them away? Do I see my blessings like a classic car that is stored but never driven? Or do I put my blessings to work? "Earthly goods are given to be used, not collected."
"The task of the leader is the ability to be out of control comfortably."
The longer I lead, the more I see how chaotic leadership is. When you lead people - whether family, church, business, etc. - it is never swiftly managed. People are not simply numbers on a page, manipulated like an Excel document. Decisions are rarely cut and dry. Issues will always arise. There will always be a level of uncertainty. Life will never be fully settled. The "to do list" will never be entirely checked off.
Life contains enough chaos to keep us regularly uncomfortable. We must understand this lest we set the expectation that life is about exercising complete control over our circumstances. Life is out of control, and this is the ideal place for faith. Faith - a confidence that there is One in control, standing above and over all that seems uncontrollable.
"We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are."
Yes, I am loved for who I am, right where I am. Yes, even when my track record is hardly worthy. Yes, that's called grace.
But I dare not linger in this place. No, I cannot stay here. Change is necessary. There is a man I was made to be. Yes, there is an imprint I have not yet realized. An "image of God" to more fully reflect with each day I'm given.
There are some things I must leave behind. That's called repentance. Yes, to become the man I'm called to be. I cannot remain where I'm at.
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."
It is easy for preachers to use an abundance of words. I contend that long, boring sermons are a result of inadequate preparation. If you would ask me to preach for two hours, it would require very little work. I can expound a topic very easily if given an unlimited word count. But tell me to preach in 5 minutes. Then I must prepare. What can be said in five minutes? How can I get to its bare core? Now I must really study the topic, meditate on its meaning, and come to terms with its implications.
Many Americans find Christianity to be either too complex to access (elitism) or too simple to believe in (fundamentalism). A large part of my job is to convey the gospel's simplicity. Not to water down, nor to over-complicate. But in illuminating the gospel's core, we actually get to its profound depth. It's a bit of a riddle. The more you seek simplicity, the more sophisticated it gets. The more you dwell on the cross event, the more you find God's compassion to be a well whose floor has never been discovered.
Prayer is a conflict and wrestling with God, not simply sunning one's self in God. There is no reality without wrestling . . . Serious prayer is not a sweet devotion at the day's dawn or close, but an ingredient of the day's work.
Peter Taylor Forsyth