WHEN IT’S TIME TO BOW OUT

Moses … laid his hands on him. Deuteronomy 34:9 NIV

Some subjects are hard to talk: about. Bowing out and passing the torch to someone else, is one of the most difficult. But it’s not about you-it’s about God’s kingdom! Stepping down calls for humility. The future of any work depends on it. For 40 years Moses dreamed of leading his people into the Promised Land-but it was not to be. Joshua, his successor, would be the man to fulfill that dream. How did Moses handle it? With grace and dignity: “Joshua … was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the Lord had commanded Moses” (Dt 34:9 NIV). The plan worked, the transition was smooth and the followers immediately transferred their allegiance to Joshua. Why? Because Moses had placed his hands on Joshua and prayed for God’s blessing on his leadership. That’s leadership in its finest form and final hour-when it counts most! Is this hard to do? Yes, or 7 reasons: (1) Job security-“What am I going to do next?” (2) Fear of retirement-“Me, retire?” (3) Resistance to change-“The saddle is so comfortable.” (4) Self worth -“This job is my life.” (5) Lack of confidence-“Who else can do this job like I do it?” (6) Love for the joh—-“I really love my job and the people I work with.” (7) Loss of investment-“I’ve put too much into this to let it go.” What’s the answer? Rejoice in your God-given accomplishments, bow out graciously, bless and assist your successor, then ask God “What’s next?”



GOD KNOWS YOUR NAME

When we see a flock of sheep, we see exactly that -a flock. All alike. Not so with a shepherd; to him every sheep has a story and every face a name. When we see a crowd, we see exactly that-a crowd, filling a stadium or flooding a mall. Not so with Jesus; to Him each of us has a story and every face a name. “I have written your name on my hand” (Isa 49:16 NLT). That’s awesome! Your name-written on God’s hand where He sees it constantly. Your name is on His lips. Maybe you’ve seen your name on some impressive things-like an award or diploma, or the walnut door of the executive suite. But on God’s hand and on God’s lips-quite a thought, isn’t it? That means what matters to you, matters to God. You probably think that’s true when it comes to big stuff like death, disease, sin and disaster. But what about smaller things like financial pressures that make us insecure, arguments with loved ones that leave us drained, bodies that do less while demanding more? Understand this: you are God’s child. John writes: “We really are his children” (IJn 3:1 NCV). It’s as if John knew some of us would shake our heads and say, “No, not me. Mother Teresa, maybe. Billy Graham, alright. But not me.” If those are your feelings, John adds this phrase just for you: “We really .are his children.” That means if something is important to you, it’s important to God! Try to hold on to that truth!



LORD … AND SHEPHERD

When Lloyd Douglas, author of The Robe, attended college, he lived in a boarding house. A retired wheelchair-

bound music professor resided on the first floor. Each morning Douglas would stick his head in the professor’s door and ask, “What’s the good news?” The old man would tap his tuning fork on his wheelchair and say, “That’s middle C! It was

middle C yesterday, it’ll be middle C tomorrow, and it’ll be middle C a thousand years from now. The tenor upstairs sings

flat. The piano across the hall’s out of tune, but, my friend, that’s middle C.” And don’t we all need a middle C? Haven’t

we had enough changes? Relationship changes. Job changes. Health changes. Weather changes-but the One Who ruled the earth last night is the same One Who rules it today. He never changes! David writes, “From everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Ps 90:2 NIV). Counselors may comfort us in the storm, but we need a God Who can still the storm. Friends may hold our hand at our deathbed, but ultimately we need the One Who defeated the grave. Remember the Wizard of Oz? Dorothy followed the Yellow Brick Road only to discover that the Wizard was a wimp! All smoke and mirrors. Is that the kind of God we need? No. We need One Who can place a hundred billion stars in our galaxy, and a hundred billion galaxies in our universe; a God Who, while so mind numbingly mighty, can come and touch us with the gentleness of a mother’s hand. We need both Lord and Shepherd. Both strength and tenderness- and that’s what we’ve got!



THE NEED FOR APPRECIATION

After 30 years of marriage his wife was ready to throw in the towel. “I have had it, living with you. You never tell me you love me anymore.” The husband replied, “I told you I loved you when we got married-if I change my mind I’ll let you know.” Too many leaders expect their followers to run on autopilot, like the hard-hearted husband. They don’t understand that people thrive on appreciation. They need it. Sometimes Christian organizations are the worst: “You’re working for the Lord and He’ll reward you.” Yes, we’re all working for that final pat on the back in the sky, but God expects us to pat others on the back along the way. Paul writes: “Encourage one another and build each other up.”

Some people don’t need encouragement. They’re so strong and so busy that attempts at praising them would be nothing more to them than a pesky gnat flying around their face. They’d brush it off with a look of confusion. There are also people who view praise with suspicion because others have taken advantage of them. With them, all you need to do is cultivate kindness. But most of us do need encouragement-and lots of it. Phillis Theroux writes, “One of the commodities in life that most people can’t get enough of is compliments. The ego is never so intact that one can’t find a hole in which to plug a little praise.

Compliments by their very nature are highly bio-degradable and tend to dissolve hours or days after we receive them-which is why we can always use another.”



THE NEED FOR APPRECIATION

After 30 years of marriage his wife was ready to throw in the towel. “I have had it, living with you. You never tell me you love me anymore.” The husband replied, “I told you I loved you when we got married-if I change my mind I’ll let you know.” Too many leaders expect their followers to run on autopilot, like the hard-hearted husband. They don’t understand that people thrive on appreciation. They need it. Sometimes Christian organizations are the worst: “You’re working for the Lord and He’ll reward you.” Yes, we’re all working for that final pat on the back in the sky, but God expects us to pat others on the back along the way. Paul writes: “Encourage one another and build each other up.”

Some people don’t need encouragement. They’re so strong and so busy that attempts at praising them would be nothing more to them than a pesky gnat flying around their face. They’d brush it off with a look of confusion. There are also people who view praise with suspicion because others have taken advantage of them. With them, all you need to do is cultivate kindness. But most of us do need encouragement-and lots of it. Phillis Theroux writes, “One of the commodities in life that most people can’t get enough of is compliments. The ego is never so intact that one can’t find a hole in which to plug a little praise.

Compliments by their very nature are highly bio-degradable and tend to dissolve hours or days after we receive them-which is why we can always use another.”



DAD, BE MORE OPEN AND AFFECTIONATE!

During a leadership seminar on attitudes, a man told Dr. John Maxwell the following story: “From my earliest recollections I do not remember a compliment from my father. His father also thought it unmanly to express affection or even appreciation. My grandfather was a perfectionist who worked hard and expected everyone else to do the same, without any encouragement. And since he was neither positive nor relational, he had a constant turnover in his employees. Because of my background it has been very difficult for me to nurture or encourage my family. This critical and negative attitude has hindered me in life. I’ve raised five children and tried to live as a Christian before them. Sadly, it’s easier for them to recognize my love for God, than my love for them. They’re starved for affection and approval. The tragedy is, they’ve received my bad attitude trait and now I see them passing it down to my precious grandchildren. Never before have I been so aware of ‘catching an attitude.’ Obviously, this wrong attitude has been passed along for five generations. So, it’s time to stop it! Today I make a conscious decision to change. This will not be done overnight,

but it will be done. It will not be accomplished easily, but by God’s grace it will be accomplished!” God told Gideon to tear down his father’s altar and build a proper kind of altar [attitude]. Dad, it’s time to tear down your old attitudes and ways of relating, and start building attitudes that bless your children and honor God.



DAVID’S FIVE “I WILLS”

 

I will sing of mercy and judgment. Psalm 101:1

Notice the five “I wills” of David in Psalm 101:

(1) “I will sing of mercy and judgment ” (v. 1). When dealing with others, some of us are all mercy and no justice; others are all justice and no mercy. God requires both.

(2) “I will behave myself wisely” (v.2). People are more impacted by your behavior than by your beliefs. Your children may not always follow your advice, but count on it, they’ll follow your footsteps. Those not persuaded by your theology, can still be won by your love and lifestyle.

(3) “I will walk within my house with a perfect heart” (v.2). Charity begins at home. If your family thinks you’re joyless and judgmental, you’ll never attract them to Christ. David prayed, “How I need you help, especially in my own home, where I long to act as I should” (Ps 1Ol:2 TLB).

(4) “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes” (v.3). Get real. Television is on 7 hours a day in most homes. So ask yourself: “What am I exposing myself and my family to?” What you tolerate, you’ve no right to complain about! You say you’ve no time to read God’s Word and pray. No, the truth is, you don’t have a strong enough desire to.

(5) “I will early destroy all the wicked” (v.8). The Living Bible states, “I will not tolerate anyone who secretly slanders his neighbors; I will not permit conceit and pride. I will make the godly of the land my heroes, and invite them to my home” (Ps 101:5-6 TLB).

Those are 5 “I wills” you should live by.



HAVE YOU FOUND YOUR CALLING? (2)

When God calls you to do something, His call comes in several ways: (1) You feel “moved.” There’s a moment of certainty when God puts His hand upon you, nudging you toward a particular need, usually an unmet one. You know it in

your “knower.” (2) It’s confirmed by others. People will discern that God’s at work in your life. People who know you well, watch; they volunteer comments such as, “You’re at your best when you … ” “You shine when you’re doing that.” (3) You’ll be gifted to do it. There are times when a person starts off with seemingly no specific capacities at all, but this is rare. With a call comes giftedness-that special empowerment God gives to the “callee.” When you’re in your calling you soar in spite of obstacles. And people tend to stand back in amazement. Ever seen Joni Eareckson Tada speaking to an auditorium full of people in wheelchairs? The whole place comes alive when she rolls up to the microphone in her wheelchair. (4) You’ll see results! You’ll change things, touch lives and glorify God. St. Patrick had a dream in which the Irish people were saying, “We appeal to you, Holy Servant Boy, to come and walk among us.” And Patrick responded. He combed the Irish countryside preaching to chiefs and kings. An entire nation began its journey toward Christianity. Now, you may not be called to do that, but you’re called to do something for God. So, find your calling and fulfill it!



HAVE YOU FOUND YOUR CALLING? (1)

Have you read about two builders named Bezalel and Oholiab? God speaks about them: “I have chosen Bezalel … and … filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts … Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab … to help him” (Ex 31:2-6 NIV). And there are other examples where God’s call was not “religious” in a formal

sense, like Nehemiah the wall builder, Daniel the government man in Babylon, Luke the first century physician. So consider this: your job could be your calling! When you demonstrate Christian character there, and use your income to fulfill God’s purposes on earth, you are as called as any minister.

And your past doesn’t disqualify you. Paul wrote, “I was … a blasphemer … and a violent man” (1Ti 1:13 NIV). Happily, God doesn’t consult our past to determine our future. Further- more, God will call you to a job that looks too big for you. Why? So you’ll never forget where your strength and success come from. Calls are not classified ads; you don’t volunteer, you respond! God speaks, He persistently nudges you. In Chariots of Fire, Eric Liddell says, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” All your human accolades and accomplishments will eventually leave you empty. Lasting pleasure, the kind only God provides, comes from knowing you are doing what He’s told you to do. Eventually Eric Liddell became a missionary; so your call can begin one place then take you to another. Whenever you know you’re doing what God has called you to do-you experience a lasting pleasure that simply can’t be found anywhere else!



“OLDER BROTHER” ATTITUDES!

There were two prodigals! The younger brother was guilty of the sins of the flesh; the older was guilty of the sins of the spirit (attitude). When Jesus’ parable closes it’s the older brother, the second prodigal, standing outside the father’s house. When we focus only on our own interests we become like the older brother. We nurture attitudes of jealousy and selfishness. Understand this: Christians who possess no greater cause than themselves, are usually not as happy or fulfilled as those who don’t know Christ yet have a purpose greater than themselves. This older brother attitude has 3 possible results:

(1) It’s possible to be a son yet refuse to act like a brother. Outwardly the older brother was correct, but look at his resentful attitude. A wrong relationship with your brother and sister in Christ always results in a strained relationship with your Heavenly Father.

(2) It’s possible to serve God faithfully yet not be in sync with His will. The elder brother had no idea why their father would rejoice over a disobedient son’s return. Self-centered, judgmental people never “get it.”

(3) It’s possible to be an heir to all your father possesses yet have less joy and liberty than one who possesses nothing. The hired servants were happier than the older brother. They ate, laughed and celebrated while he stood outside demanding his rights. The older brother attitude robbed him of the blessings of his father, the love of his brother, and the joy of the servants. And an older brother attitude will block the flow of God’s blessing in your life too.




 

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