MEN- 4 Common forms of Leadership among Christian Men


    In nearly 20 years of ministry and marriage, I have observed a lot of different forms of spiritual leadership among Christian men. At some point in the journey, even the most spiritual of men will embody each of these forms. Truth be told, I will embody each of these forms at various times every week! However, it should be our goal to strive toward greater leadership at the Lord equips and trains us for the calling He has set before us as men.
4 Common forms of Leadership among Christian Men
1. The Abdicated Leader- “I don’t want to lead.”
The word abdicate literally means “to renounces one’s throne.”  The throne carries honor, but it also carries responsibility.  Sadly, there are many men who abdicate their role as a leader because they do not want to carry the burden of leadership for their marriage and family.
Picture of the Problem- A Leadership Vacuum:  Wherever there is a vacuum, something will eventually fill the void.  The reality for many families is that where the man has abdicated his role, many women have had to step up as spiritual leaders in the home.  Even more devastating is how media, negative peer influences, other men, and even gangs can fill the void that a man who has abdicated his leadership leaves behind.
2. The Impotent Leader- “I don’t feel I can lead.”
This man wants to lead, but feels powerless to do so.  Perhaps a negative self-image, a lack of a role model, or a more domineering member of the family has made this man feel unable to fulfill his role as a spiritual leader.  
Picture of the Problem- A Leadership Doormat:  The impotent leader will quickly become the house doormat if he is not able to assume his leadership role.  This will ultimately cause him to disengage from the family and resign to let someone else lead.
3. The Ill-Equipped Leader“I don’t know how to lead.” 
This man wants to lead and feels empowered, but has not been equipped with the tools to lead his family spiritually and emotionally.  In this form, either the man or his marriage and family will be frustrated and may even run into conflict due to the inability to navigate the leadership dynamics skillfully.
Picture of the Solution- A Leadership GPS:  Men need the tools and equipping to be spiritual leaders.  Thankfully, God has given us the Scriptures, the church, and the perfect example in Jesus Christ.  One of the wisest things that a man can do as a spiritual leader is to enlist a mentor who can help guide him in his leadership journey.
4. The Spiritual Leader“I am ready, willing and able to lead.
The Spiritual leader is the man who is God-directed, Christ-empowered and Bible equipped in his leadership.  He is by no means perfect, but he leads from a heart of service, humility, confidence and courage.  The spiritual leader guides his family to grow closer to Christ, by first modeling it and second, charting a course to lead his family in the ways of the Lord.
    There is no perfect spiritual leader other than Jesus Christ.  All we can do is trust in the Lord and depend upon Him to motivate, empower and equip us for every step of the leadership journey.

More than YOU can handle: Hudson Taylor


God will OFTEN give you more than YOU can handle.

“We were so utterly burdened beyond our own strength that we despaired of life itself… that was to make us rely not on ourselves, but on God who raises the dead.” 2 Corinthians 1:8b,9b
    When reality hits, it hits hard.  The truth is, that in life, whether you are a Christian or not, there will be seasons in which you will be burdened beyond your own capacity and strength to handle the burden.  The saying,“God will never give you more than YOU can handle” is not helpful and not true.  When you are faced with unbearable pain and affliction, the worst thing you can do is to try to convince yourself that YOU are strong enough.  When you are faced with an overwhelming challenge or task, the last thing you should believe is that YOU are up to it.  This is, in fact, the opposite of the Gospel confession itself.  The correct understanding is this- “God will never give you more than HE can handle… and HE can raise the dead, HE can do all things, HE can do the impossible!”  So with God, no burden is too great, no obstacle is too big, no pain is too unbearable, no challenge is too difficult.  He is God and He is with you!

Hudson Taylor- 1865

    In 1865, the great missionary to China, Hudson Taylor recounted being faced with the incredible calling and burden to bring the Gospel to central China and he wondered before the Lord how God might lead him to such an overwhelming task.  He writes that while walking along a shore in Brighton, a thought from the Lord came as he wrote, “Why if we are obeying the Lord, the responsibility rests with Him, not with us! Thou, Lord, Thou shalt have all the burden! At thy bidding, as Thy servant I go forward, leaving results with Thee.” With this gospel perspective, Taylor surrendered his burden to the Lord and God used him to begin a Gospel work in China that resulted in the mighty spread of Gospel throughout China and around the world. Historian Ruth Tucker described the impact of Hudson Taylor’s life… 
“No other missionary in the nineteen centuries since the Apostle Paul has had a wider vision and has carried out a more systematized plan of evangelizing a broad geographical area than Hudson Taylor.”
    God will OFTEN give you more than YOU can handle.  He does this, so that you will not boast or depend on your own strength, but boast and depend upon His. “Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth.  For in these things I delight,’ declares the Lord.”  Jeremiah 9:23-24

Lost Arts: Spiritual Practices- A Wedding and a Honeymoon


Lost Arts: Spiritual Practices- A Wedding and a Honeymoon

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites.  For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners so that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.  And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
 Matthew 6:5-6
In Matthew 6:1-18, Jesus teaches his disciples about 3 key spiritual practices of a disciple- 1) Giving 2) Praying and 3) Fasting.  In each of these lessons, Jesus uses the same pattern to communicate right thinking on the matter.  This could be described in 4 key words that Jesus uses in each of these lessons.
1.  When:  “when you give,” “when our pray,” “when you fast…”  In each instance, the use of the word “when” presumes that every disciple will be actively engaged in spiritual practices.  Jesus considered giving, praying and fasting to be a normal way of life for His disciples.
2.  Hypocrites:  The way of the hypocrite is in sharp contrast to the way of a disciple.  A hypocrite does not practice spiritual disciplines to gain intimacy with God, but to gain acclaim from men.  This self-serving approach to spiritual practices will not bring intimacy with God and will not produce any eternal fruit.  Eventually, it will end in punishment.
3.  Secret:  Instead of publicly practicing spiritual disciplines to be praised by men, we should secretly practice these things to abide with Christ.  God does not require a spectacle to get His attention.  A simple, quiet approach with God is enough.  He is God after all.
4.  Reward:  Jesus makes it clear that both the hypocrite and the disciple will receive a reward for their spiritual practices.  The reward for the hypocrite is immediate but fleeting, shallow and empty.  It is the “earthly treasure” that Jesus describes in Matthew 6:19.  The reward for the disciple is a heavenly treasure, one that will last forever and is of infinite value.
     The conclusion for the disciple is that one must regularly apply spiritual practices with a personal desire to abide in Christ, not abound in cheers.  This does not mean that a disciple ought to be secretive in his spiritual practices for the sake of secrecy, but private for the sake of intimacy with the Lord.  
      Take for instance the contrast between a wedding and a honeymoon.  A wedding is a public display and declaration of a husband and wife’s love for one another.  The honeymoon is a personal and private time of intimacy and celebration of that same love and relationship.  Similarly, in our covenant relationship with God, there are public moments of faith like a wedding- Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, good works, sharing a testimony, or public prayer.  There are also many private moments of devotion like a honeymoon- Giving, prayer, fasting and solitude.  The public should not outweigh the private, but rather the private should fuel the public.  When a husband is privately intimate with his wife, he should also be publicly affectionate with her too.  When a wife is publicly affectional of her husband, she should be privately intimate as well.  To have one without the other will lead to dysfunction in a marriage and dysfunction in a disciple.  A disciple should strive to draw near to God in private and declare his love for God in public.  In this way, God is glorified in the wedding and honeymoon moments of our relationship with Him.

How to Respond When People Come Against You


How to Respond When People Come Against You (2 Chronicles 20)

a great multitude is coming against you.” (2 Chronicles 20:2) 
     Ever felt like the whole world has turned against you?  Even a small contingent can feel like a multitude when you are feeling down and weak in life and ministry.  When the young leader of Israel, Jehoshaphat, learned of an impending attack from a formidable army, he was overcome by fear and knew he was in a world of trouble.  Trouble would turn into triumph however, and in Jehoshaphat’s response, you can discover how to respond when people come against you.
1.  Let fear drive you to unashamedly seek God. (v.3)
 The only antidote to a crippling fear of man is seeking the face of God.  When you are ashamed by your fear, be unashamed of your faith.  
2.  Invite others to pray and fast with you in desperation. (v. 3-4)
 There are no awards for lonely martyrs.  God has put people in your life to walk with you in the dark valleys.  When you invite others to pray and fast with you in your moment of desperation, you invite God’s light to shine through an array of windows. 
3.  Pray and remind God of His power, His promises and His compassion for His people. (v. 6-11)
 One of the more peculiar habits of people who have a heart for God is their insistence on reminding God of His goodness.  When your prayers are focused on God’s power, God’s promises and God’s compassion for His people, you will find yourself aligned to receive these things in your own life and circumstances.
4.  Recognize your utter powerlessness and lack of wisdom and keep your eyes on God alone. (v.12)
 When you come to the end of your rope, you discover you have nothing left to hold onto but God.  God is most powerfully able to work in you when you come to Him in humility and confess, “I can’t figure this out on my own.”
5.  Bring your family together for prayer, Bible study and worship. (v.13)
 Difficult circumstances should foster solidarity within your family.  Even the “little ones” can be a source of strength when you worship the Lord and remind one another of His faithfulness.  When you invite your family, and other families into your seasons of desperation, you may be surprised by who speaks up with a word of encouragement and the strength that is found in your times together.
6.  Move forward with faith and praise God. (v. 20-29)
 As praise and singing went before the army of Israel, so too must faith and worship lead you forward.  You may not know how God is going to save the day, but praise Him for it anyway.  
    As you go out every morning with a song of praise, you will return each night with a testimony of grace.  God will bring the victory.  God will lead you out of the valley of the shadow of death into the valley of blessing (“Beracah”).  He will give you rest as you rest in Him.  You do not need to fight those who come against you, the battle belongs to the Lord.  Instead, keep your eyes on Him and He will lead you in His ways.