“AN AGGRESSIVE PURSUIT OF UNITY”

When a church or any movement is experiencing revival, they will inevitably feel the attack of the enemy. The devil hates it when God’s people begin moving in a Holy, anointed progression. He will strategically plan a way to try and stop what is going on. The problem is, there’s not a lot he can do. We are the church, and Jesus said the gates of hell could not prevail against it. So, what can the enemy do to hinder it? He can only do what he has always done, and that is to try and destroy us from the inside out. He can’t defeat us, but we can bring defeat to each other. Our unity is what helps bring revival, and when we cease from being united, we will eventually be defeated.

We need to be aware of how the enemy is going to attack. He will try and cause division between the members. Hurt feelings, gossip, and sowing discord is the only successful strategy the enemy has. When one brother gets offended at another, and a sister begins to harbor feelings about another sister, the attack is on. We cannot afford to start fighting each other. That’s what the enemy wants us to do. We have to understand what is going on and turn our fighting toward the enemy and not each other.

None of us are perfect, and at times we’re going to say things we don’t mean. We all have bad days and mood swings. But let us work hard on protecting the unity of our church or group. Learn to forgive and work hard on putting things in the past. If you feel like someone has an issue with you, stop waiting on the other one to make the first move and go ahead, make it yourself. Put aside your agenda, keep your problems off social media, and protect the body of Christ.

We need each other.
We desperately need to build up one another.
We need to choose love over everything.
Give your brother or sister the benefit of the doubt.
Stop chasing rumors and aggressively pursue unity.

“BE THAT ONE”

One of the most important things you can do is also one of the hardest to achieve. Be quiet. Being right doesn’t always mean being loud. The loudest one in an argument is not necessarily the winner. I’ve also discovered that helping someone doesn’t mean you give them tons of advice. Sometimes listening to someone is more important than talking. Don’t get me wrong, having something to say is valuable, but what you say, how you say it, and how long you say it is an excellent act of wisdom.

I think you will find in the Gospels, that even though Jesus spent a lot of time teaching, He also spent a considerable amount of time listening. Nobody had more to say than Him, but we find Him sitting down with people and listening to them. He taught His disciples, but He also let them talk as well — what an incredible example for all leaders to follow. You don’t just lead people by talking; you can also influence them by listening.

So, practice it and achieve it. Let it be a goal of yours to listen more the next time you’re in a conversation with someone needing help. Be slow to speak, but in a hurry to listen. Somebody needs someone to talk to. Be that one.

“WHERE ARE YOU GOING?”

To lead means precisely that; you lead, guide, direct, and point. You take someone or several where they can’t get to without your directing them. What an incredible responsibility and load for a leader to carry. If you think about it, a leader can only take you in one of two directions. Forward or backward. The leader can either move you ahead or turn you around and take you back in the direction of where you’ve already been. To make the ones you lead better, the leader has to direct them forward. Real Increase is in progress, not digression. Even though moving people ahead can sometimes be uncomfortable, it’s imperative.

I think it’s also essential when an individual or a group chooses a leader; they need someone that will take them where they haven’t been. It can be devastating for a company, church, or any organization to appoint a leader that takes them in the direction of their past. The past should only be a reminder, not a destination. You need someone that can see and lead you beyond the point you are currently. A leader needs to hear your desires and have a plan to get you there. And I can promise you, that place is somewhere you’ve never been or seen.

So, leaders, if you’re going to lead, then move them forward. If you need a leader, make sure the one you choose is looking ahead of you, not behind you.

“STUCK BETWEEN CONVICTION AND EDUCATION”

I had a conversation with a young lady that recently graduated and is a therapist. She has such a strong passion for this field and has a heart to help hurting people. She has spent several years in school, furthering her education and qualifications to fulfill her burden for this type of work. I applaud her and others that work in such a needed area in our world. She asked me about something the other day that I felt like I should write about. She had a situation come up where she found herself caught between her education and her conviction. As her pastor, she contacted me, wanting to know if she was being displeasing to God by some of the things she wasn’t able to say as a therapist. I knew I couldn’t ask too many details because of confidentiality, but I understood the situation and why she would be worried. She said, as a Christian, I knew what I believed and what this person should hear, but as a therapist, I wasn’t able to say it. She asked, will God judge me for that?

The person she was helping had been mistreated because of a lifestyle decision they made many years ago. I understood where she was coming from, and I assured her that no matter if we disagree with someone’s lifestyle choices, no one should be mistreated or abused. I also told her that our responsibility to those who don’t know Jesus is to love and not judge. So many are bound by things, and they need freedom, not someone blaming for why they’re imprisoned. I also think some judgmental Christians, (I know that’s an oxymoron), have caused compassionate Christians to have a bad name. Compassion doesn’t mean compromise. The last thing I told her was, you never know the impact you can make on this person by showing them, love. Romans 5:5 tells us; Now hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. There is an incredible love of God that comes from people that are filled with the Holy Spirit. There is a difference.

I wanted to write about this because I know others are in similar conditions. Maybe some that are wanting to go into a particular field, but are afraid they can’t stand on what they believe. The advice I gave this young lady, I believe, can fit with others that might be struggling with some of the same things. I think it would also be good if we had some open communication on this subject. We need Christians working with hurting people, no matter what choices they have made. If you’re stuck between education and conviction, feel free to comment at the end of this blog, or ask a question. I am praying for you, and we need more people like you to make a difference in this world. I know the enemy would love to stop you from allowing God to be a part of any equation in people’s lives. But you know that only in the name of Jesus can chains of sin be broken. I know you can’t jeopardize your job, so I am praying for you to be able to let your light shine in the midst of these challenges.

Here is a list of the advice I gave on this subject. You are more than welcome to add to it.

1. Be caring because no one deserves to be mistreated for lifestyle decisions that I might not agree with.

2. Our responsibility to those who don’t know Jesus is to love and not judge.

3. Being compassionate doesn’t mean you’re compromising.

4. You never know the impact you can make on someone’s life when you show the love of God.

“PRAYED, PLANNED, AND PREPARED”

If you prayed for it and you planned for it, then you better be ready for it. Don’t ask God to give you something that you aren’t preparing for when it happens. If it’s personal, then take on that responsibility, you need to have yourself ready. Reading, training, seeking counsel, and the list goes on. It’s just what you have to do when it’s personal. Whether it’s your health, your education, your job, or even your ministry, investing time in what you want will pay off when it comes to pass. My advice is to be ready for the opening. When the opportunity happens, you need to be ready to go. There are some things you’ll not be able to do once the door opens, and if you try and go back, you’ll end up frustrated. Prepare now so you can enjoy walking through what will eventually open.

If you’re a leader, this requires another level of preparation. You not only have to be ready personally, but you have to make sure your team is ready too. It will start with a vision, and people love seeing what you want and anticipate happening. But the vision only gets you mentally ready for what is going to happen. The vision gives your team a target for both mind and body. The team has to feel good about what’s coming, but they also have to be ready for it. That’s on you, the leader. They can never accomplish what you haven’t prepared them for. So, think outside yourself and make sure you have your team ready. The only thing worse than personal frustration is when the ones you lead don’t feel prepared and are discouraged with a lack of leadership.

You prayed, and you planned, but are you prepared?

“LEARNING AND LEADING”

We’re watching the season begin to change here in Tennessee. The leaves are starting to turn and the evenings are getting darker sooner. It’s changing, and some like it, while others are not too fond of it. Seasons not only change where we live, but also where we lead, and when it happens, not everyone is happy with it.

As a leader, I want to be the best that I possibly can, but I’ve learned that I can’t lead anyone in a season that I haven’t been through myself. Sometimes we have to live through a season so we will know how to lead through it. It’s easier to guide people when you’re in a season where you know what to expect. The element of surprise should happen when you’re through a season, not leading people through it.

You might just be in that place. God could be allowing you to go through this season to prepare you for who you will be leading the next time it comes around. I would encourage you not to let frustration keep you from learning the things you need to know to help you remember how to get through it. This time is for learning, the next time is for leading, and you can’t lead where you’ve never been.

LEADERSHIP CHECKLIST

I have spent this week writing about leadership. It’s a subject that I love reading and talking about. To finish up this week, I would like to ask every leader a few questions.

1. Are you willing to admit when you’re wrong?

2. How do you respond to criticism?

3. Is it ok if someone has a better idea than you on your team?

4. How would your followers rate your communication to them?

5. What do you do after you cast vision?

6. Do your actions reflect what you say?

7. Do your followers feel valued by you?

8. Did you grow as a leader last year?

9. What things do you need to work on this year to be a better leader?

10. How have you allowed disappointments to affect your leadership?

11. What are you currently reading?

12. What is your greatest frustration?

13. Do you have people that you allow to speak into your life?

14. Are you reactive or proactive?

15. Do you get proper rest?

THE DISCIPLINED LEADER

We are all emotional and as leaders, we have all faced situations that challenge our own emotions. We are not exempt from feeling anger or even extreme sadness. The problem comes when we start allowing ourselves to lead by those emotions. In those difficult times, we must be committed to the principles of true, Godly leadership. Reacting too soon could create an even bigger problem than the one at hand. Emotional leaders tend to cause their followers to not want to approach them for fear of how they might respond. As leaders, we should promote and practice an atmosphere of accessibility, transparency, and calm. I know this is not easy, especially when dealing with someone who tries your patience. As difficult as it may be, God could be allowing this to test your leadership. You can’t grow in your leadership until you learn to rise above your adversity. Commit to leading by discipline instead of emotions.

THE PRIVILEGE OF LEADING

Leaders must never forget that it is a privilege to be asked to lead. It is not an entitlement, it is a blessing and one of the greatest blessings is to have people who are willing to follow. No matter how big your dreams and goals are, you’ll never get there without people who believe in you and are willing to go where you’re taking them. Whether you are a worship leader, teacher, student pastor or lead pastor, you should strive to inspire those that are with you. Remember…they don’t have to follow you. Manipulation and guilt tripping are the signs of a dictator, not a true leader. Whatever area people are talented in, they want to use that talent to make a difference and they want to be led by a leader who encourages them and challenges them to be better. This is a great responsibility for every leader. Embrace the privilege of leadership. You should love what you’re leading, but love who you are leading even more.

“POSITION OR POSSESSION”

If you hold a position in your church, ask yourself this question.

WHY DO I DO WHAT I DO?

I find many times that people become more possessive of what they do rather than being passionate about why they’re doing it. Having a title doesn’t mean it’s your domain and you should treat it as a blessing, not your kingdom. When your agenda is larger than your burden, you’re in it for the wrong reason. It is a privilege to lead and you should treat those who have chosen to follow you with great respect and love. You’re not doing the church any favors by hanging on to a position because you need the glory of a title, in fact, you could be hurting it. The church can only grow when we have leaders who understand the blessing in leading and the responsibility of unity within the body. Whatever you do for God must be bigger than you and not about you.