Advent: In The Shadow of Herod

“Christ Jesus…Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Philippians 2:5-7)

Do we really have any idea what true power is?

During this second Advent week, I have been reflecting upon the miracle of the sovereign God of the universe emptying himself of his power and position and becoming incarnated in a tiny, powerless baby in Bethlehem.  December 25, we celebrate that event.  The birth of the Christ child – God with us.
I was reminded of this one night this week as I shared an experience with a business leader.  I have shared this before, so my apologies if you have heard it.

About 10 years ago, I was attending a Spiritual Director’s conference in Colorado Springs.  It was held in the Navigators conference centre.  The Navigators are a discipleship ministry.  The writings of their founder, Dawson Trotman, were influential in my faith development, so I visited his grave site which is located on the property.  The gravesite sits upon a high ridge overlooking a valley.  As I reflected upon the spiritual influence of this man, I noticed a shadow passed over me.  I looked up to see a U.S. Airforce Stealth Bomber in a low pass as it headed towards a mountain in the distance where other aircraft were circling.  I realized I was looking at Cheyenne Mountain.  It is the location of the NORAD defense command.  Cheyenne Mountain is a hollowed-out mountain bunker, secured behind multiple blast doors, from which all the branches of the entire U.S. military can be commanded.  During the 9-11 crisis in New York City, Cheyenne Mountain is where President George Bush was taken for safety.   In short, the retreat centre in which I was studying Christian spiritual formation was sitting about 3 miles away from the mountain fortress command centre for the most powerful military force in human history.  What a striking juxtaposition – the very symbol of worldly power just a few valleys away from a centre dedicated to pursuing eternal truth.

So, what is true power?

If you were to travel to Bethlehem today and stand in the city of Christ’s birth, you could look southeast and see about 3 miles away, the remains of another mountain fortress.  It is the Herodian.  The Herodian was the military fortress of Herod the Great who ruled Palestine in the time of Jesus.  If Egypt were to attack, the Herodian is where Herod would retreat for safety.  It was the Cheyenne Mountain of the 1st Century.  I am told that in the early morning when the sun comes up, the shadow of the Herodian fortress falls upon Bethlehem.  So, Jesus was literally born in the shadow of worldly power.

Herod built dozens of spectacular buildings which are now in ruins.  His personal wealth was many times the GDP of the whole nation of Palestine.  Yet, most people have never heard of him.  The child born in his shadow never owned property lived most of his life barely above poverty – yet he changed the world and almost everyone on earth knows his name.

So, what is true power?

True power is not in the things of this world.  True power is found in the things that the world calls weak.  True power is found in the shadows of the strong.  This Christmas give thanks that the creator of the universe itself identifies with us in our weakness, our failures.   Give thanks that through the birth of a tiny babe, he provides a path for us to know, serve and enjoy the most powerful force in the universe – God the Father.

“Like a stone on the surface of a still river,
Driving the ripples on forever,
Redemption rips through the surface of time
In the cry of a tiny babe”
(Bruce Cockburn – Cry of a Tiny Babe)


John Wiseman –  Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca
[This devotional may be freely shared with others.  We ask that you include the above attribution and website address when sending to others.]

Advent Is A Time of Waiting

“But the angel said to him: ‘Do not be afraid Zechariah; your prayer has been heard.  Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John.'” (Luke 1:13)

Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent.  What is the focus of the Advent season?  Primarily, Advent is a time of waiting.  As children, we wait to see what presents are under the tree.  As adults, we wait for the needed Christmas break from the demands of business.  Zechariah waited his whole life for the birth of his son John.  As Christians, we wait for the celebration of the central historical event of our faith – the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But the waiting itself can be instructive.  I suggest there are two aspects of waiting that we should all reflect on during our “Advent” waiting in the next few weeks.

1) The aspect of Preparation

These are experiences where, for a period of time, God puts us into a time of preparation for a later ministry or service or vocation that he will call us to.  At the time, we may not even be aware that we are being prepared.  But later, with hindsight looking back, we may recognize these times.  This aspect usually begins with the sense that what you are currently doing is not what you are destined for.  Some of you may be in a time of preparation right now for some future focus that God has for you.

A good biblical example of this would be Moses.  Although he was given the education of an Egyptian prince, he fled Egypt at the age of 40 and spent his next 40 years living in the wilderness with the Midianites – tending sheep.  How often he must have wondered if this was to be his lot in life.   With his royal education as an Egyptian prince, was he to die an outcast and a shepherd?  Little did he know that he was in God’s waiting room of preparation.  He was learning the ways of the desert so that late in life, at the age of 80, he could be used to lead God’s people out of Egypt into the desert, the very same conditions that he had been living in for the previous 40 years.

Just as Moses could not have possibly understood God’s grand plan for his life while in the Sinai desert, so there are “desert” times in our lives where we must wait upon His timing and plan to be revealed. The important thing is to live faithfully in the moment and do the best you can at what you are doing and wait upon God’s timing for the future.

2) The aspect of Timing

This aspect is illustrated by Abraham’s life story.  In Hebrews 11 we are told he had the promise that God would make him a great nation, he did not question it.  What was hard for him was the long delay in time before the fulfillment of the promise.

In a similar way, we know that God desires the best for us, he has promised to guide us, and listen to our prayers – we understand that.  But when our prayers go unanswered, or a difficult situation remains unresolved for a long time, or we are chafing under a difficult business situation that we are praying will change – then we can quickly grow weary of waiting upon God’s timing.  At times we can become fearful or even question our faith.  May I refer you to Abraham and Zechariah?

For 25 years Abraham waited for the birth of Isaac to fulfill God’s.  For their whole married lives, Zechariah and Elisabeth prayed for a child until the angel Gabriel announced to Zechariah that his prayer had been heard and that Elisabeth would give birth to John the Baptist who would prepare the way for the Lord. Keep those time frames in mind the next time you feel that God is taking a long time in answering your prayers.

Such is the rhythm of Advent.  Waiting, for the incarnation – the best promise that God has not abandoned us and has a plan for us.

Reflect:

  • What future activity or focus may God be preparing you for?
  • During your 2018 Forum Christmas gathering – share how waiting to celebrate the Incarnation helps you to wait upon other concerns in your life.

John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca

Leadership Attributes: Self Leadership

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2Timothy 2:15)

Continuing with our devotional series on Leadership Attributes this Monday, we look at the counter-intuitive truth that the Leaders primary task is “Self-Leadership”.

Although most of us think the majority of a leader’s time should be spent on leading ‘down’, to our subordinates – that is a misconception.  Leadership research has shown that “the management of self should occupy at least 50% of our time and the best of our ability.”1 My first reaction upon reading this was ‘no way!  I felt self-leadership should not consume that much time.  But as I read the research and considered the self-leadership activities and the consequences of not practicing them, I began to realize that to NOT give a priority of time to self-leadership was to risk ship-wrecking my leadership effectiveness.

I suggest there are 4 key self-leadership activities:

  1. The Self as Coach:
    We are familiar with business or life coaches who are skilled at asking probing questions and guiding us in our thinking and activities. But what about your own ability to self-coach?  The following reflections do not need a professional coach:

    • Am I clear on my intentions? – you may hide your true motivations from a business coach, but it is more difficult to fool yourself. Are your intentions driven by pure and honourable motives or are they being driven by less than pure sources?
    • What are my triggers? – being mindful of what things can trigger you. Are you easily angered by other’s questions?  Do you withhold information from your team due to insecurity?  What situations make you become defensive?  Becoming aware of these triggers will boost respect for your leadership.
    • Do I truly listen to others? Or do I check out early as I am just waiting for the other to finish so I can communicate my opinion?
  2. Am I clear on my values?
    One business leader shared with me once that he received some great advice from a mentor just before joining a major international company. The advice went something like this, “You must become clear on your own values and decide before you join how far you are willing to go as the corporation attempts to mold you to their own culture.”  Good self-leadership is being clear on your values beforehand so that you are not making decisions on the fly as to how far you will bend them to suit a situation.  Unclear values are easily bent or watered down.
  1. Leaning back on the dinosaur’s tail.
    This is a great concept in Coaching circles. The huge tail of the Tyrannosaurus
    provides balance and stability to the dinosaur.  Consider and draw upon your ‘dinosaur tail’ leadership learnings.  Past experience, wisdom gained over the years, the total accumulation of lessons learned through mistakes, pain as well as successes can provide mature stability to your leadership.
  2. Self Confidence.
    No team wants to follow a leader that lacks self-confidence. Engage in reflections that build your self-confidence.:

    • Am I sure of my calling as a Christian?
    • Is my pace sustainable? An unsustainable pace can lead to stress, health issues and even susceptibility to addictions or moral failure.  All of which are destroyers of self-confidence.
    • Have I dealt with unconfessed sin in my life? (Nothing destroys self-confidence in a leader faster than unconfessed sin).
    • Am I aware of my ‘shadow’ issues? Those weaknesses or blind spots that are the shadow side of your strengths.  For example, the decisive leader who sometimes fails to consult, or the empathic leader who sometimes fails to act decisively etc.  When people react to your shadow side, it can challenge your self-confidence if you are not aware that ALL leaders have shadow issues that can be dealt with once they are brought to self-awareness.

As you begin to invest time in self-leadership activities, I believe you will be better able to achieve the challenge that Paul presented to his mentee – Timothy.  To present yourself to God as one whose leadership is approved!

1 Bill Hybels Courageous Leadership, p. 183


John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca

Leadership Attributes: Vision

Then I said to them, ‘You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire.  Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace…they replied, ‘Let us start rebuilding’ So they began this good work.” (Nehemiah 2:17,18)

Continuing with our devotional series on Leadership Attributes this Monday, we look at the Leader as vision caster.  Vision is a huge area of interest in leadership studies.  In one online business journal alone, a search for ‘leadership vision’ returns over 7500 hits!  I would like to focus upon one crucial aspect of vision casting which most leaders miss.  The ability to cast vision that is not only compelling to themselves but also resonates with the aspirations of those they lead.  In short, a shared vision.

This concept was articulated succinctly in an article in the Harvard Business Review:

“So how do new leaders develop [vision]? First, of course, they must resolve to carve out time from urgent but endless operational matters. But even more important, as leaders spend more time looking ahead, they must not put too much stock in their own prescience. This point needs to be underscored because, somehow, through all the talk over the years about the importance of vision, many leaders have reached the unfortunate conclusion that they as individuals must be visionaries. With leadership development experts urging them along, they’ve taken to posing as emissaries from the future, delivering the news of how their markets and organizations will be transformed.

Bad idea! This is not what constituents want. Yes, leaders must ask, “What’s new? What’s next? What’s better?”—but they can’t present answers that are only theirs. Constituents want visions of the future that reflect their own aspirations. They want to hear how their dreams will come true and their hopes will be fulfilled. We draw this conclusion from our most recent analysis of nearly one million responses to our leadership assessment, “The Leadership Practices Inventory.” The data tell us that what leaders struggle with most is communicating an image of the future that draws others in—that speaks to what others see and feel.”  (“To Lead, Create a Shared Vision” HBR – Jan 2009, Kouzes and Posner)

Kouzes and Posner emphasize this key aspect of the Leader’s Vision –  It must not only seem compelling to you, but it must capture the aspirations of those you lead as well.

Nehemiah understood this and it shows in how he articulated his compelling vision from God to travel to Jerusalem and fortify the Holy city that had fallen into disrepair.

In communicating his vision, he did not use language like, “God has called me to do this” or “I am on a mission won’t you join me?”  Rather, his language throughout the book is consistently the language of a shared vision.  He states, “You see the trouble we are in..”, “Let us rebuild the wall, and we will no longer be in disgrace.”

Nehemiah states his vision in a way that ties into the aspirations of all Israel.  He does not describe a project that he would like to lead.  He paints the picture of a disgraceful problem that he knew all Israel would like to address.  Thus, the vision became a shared one and prompted a positive response.
As you think of the vision that you have for your company.  What parts of that vision do you think resonates most with the aspirations of your staff, your customers?  Is it reflected in the language that you use to motivate?

Shifting language to promote a shared vision is not easy.  But as you think through how to shift your own vision language, it is instructive to note that leaders throughout scripture utilized language that naturally led to buy-in from the people they were called upon by God to lead.


John Wiseman –  Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca
[This devotional may be freely shared with others.  We ask that you include the above attribution and website address when sending to others.]

Leadership Attributes: Humility

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you..” (Romans 12:3)

As Corpath serves business leaders, our Monday Meditation focus over the next number of weeks will be upon leadership attributes – where does biblical truth intersect with business best practice as we seek to be the best leaders that we can be?

Today we will explore the attribute of humility.  Last Thursday, I attended the Alberta Human Resource Institute Executive supper at which a panel explored the topic of “2019 Trends in Human Resources.”  The panel consisted of 4 V.P.’s of HR for large enterprise Canadian companies.  One of the questions put forward to the panel caught my attention.  It was, “What are the key characteristics of CEO/Senior Corporate leaders which enhance employee engagement and organizational effectiveness.”  Keeping in mind that the panel consisted of professionals whose main focus was upon the people practices of their organizations, I leaned forward to hear their responses.  Here are the two 2 attributes that the panel participants mentioned:

  1. Courage – Senior leaders who articulate values about valuing people, integrity or any of a number of key themes that most corporations put in their value statements are most effective when they have the courage to uphold those values in spite of pressure. When a leader expresses values but abandons them under pressure from the board, market profits and other factors – they quickly lose the respect of their employees and damage their leadership.  As I heard each panelist share stories of this attribute, I was reminded of C.S. Lewis’ comment in Mere Christianity that courage is the root of all the Christian values.  Lewis pointed out that, “Pontius Pilate was merciful until it became risky…”  If a value is abandoned in the face of pressure.  If it is not courageously defended under pressure, it simply becomes a hollow statement upon the wall that no one believes.  This can create cynicism within the organization.
  2. Humility – A book could be written on this attribute. As our Romans passage notes, this can be explained simply by stating ‘don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought.’  The panel characterized the effective leader of humility as being able to relate to the lowest employee in the organization as well as the top managers and executives.  Communicating value and respect to all employees was key in developing an engaged and productive staff. This is not as simple as it seems.  If an employee feels you are just checking a box by listening to them and not truly engaging them and respecting their role and expressing appreciation for their work – conversations will come across as insincere or even manipulative. I worked for a number of years for a large enterprise whose CEO felt it was beneath him to even talk to the rank and file employees.  No one respected his leadership – nor was he able to inspire anyone to be engaged or productive for the company.  His arrogance eventually led to his replacement by the board. Exercising humility is not being a milk-toast.  Seeking first to hear and understand others before pushing your own agenda brings great strength to your leadership.

Many other topics were discussed during the supper panel – but I was struck that 4 Human Resource professionals all agreed upon Courage and Humility as essential to being an effective Senior leader within their organizations.

Reflect:

  • Which of your corporate values would be most vulnerable to the pressure of market forces?  If challenged on a value, reflect on how you would respond and why.
  • How often do you engage with the most junior employees in your business? Reflect on how you might encourage them on how their work connects to and furthers the larger vision and goals of the business.

John Wiseman  – Corpath Forums – http://www.corpath.ca

A Business Leader’s Prayer

Sometimes as business leaders we are so caught up in the demands of business that we become, “..wholly occupied by the world’s passing show…”  as John Baillie puts it.  I urge you to include the prayer below in your devotions this week as a way of refocusing your attention each day.

Help me, O Lord God, not to let my thoughts today be wholly occupied by the world’s passing show.

In your loving kindness you have given me the power to lift my mind to contemplate the unseen and eternal; help me not to remain content only with what I see and feel, here and now. Instead, grant that each day may do something to strengthen my grasp of the unseen world and my sense of the reality of that world.  And so, as the end of my earthly life draws ever nearer, bind my heart to the holy interests of that unseen world, so that I may not grow to be a part of these fleeting earthly surroundings,  but instead grow more and more ready for the life of the world to come.

O Lord, you see and know all things. Give me grace, I pray, to know you so well and to see you so clearly that in knowing you I may know myself as completely as you know me, and in seeing you I may see myself as I really am before you.

Give me today a clear vision of my life in time as it appears in your eternity.

Show me my own smallness and your infinite greatness.

Show me my own sin and your perfect righteousness.

Show me my own lack of love and your exceeding love.

 

Yet in your mercy show me also how, small as I am, I can take refuge in your greatness; how, sinful as I am, I may lean upon your righteousness.  And how, loveless as I am, I may hide myself in your forgiving love.  Help me today to keep my thoughts centered on the life and death of Jesus Christ my Lord, so that I may see all things in the light of the redemption which you have granted me in his name.  AMEN

Truth Is Essential

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35 NIV)

I have been following the meditation series of Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California the last while.  For this week’s devotional thought I would include a posting from Pastor Warren on the eternal nature of God’s Word.  Rick states:

“The Bible is the most despised, derided, denied, disputed, dissected, and debated book in all of history. This Bible has been under attack for centuries — for everything you can imagine.

Yet the Bible is still the most read, most published, and most translated book in the world. And, most importantly, it’s still changing the lives of those who apply what it teaches.

One of the reasons I believe the Bible is God’s Word is that it has survived so many attacks throughout history.

Despite all the attacks throughout history, today the Bible is the greatest single source of culture. It’s the greatest single source for music, art, and architecture. If you take the Bible out of culture, you would destroy most of the major music, artwork, and architecture of the past 2,000 years. Even much of our English language is rooted in the King James Bible.

The Bible has flourished in spite of unrelenting attacks during the past 2,000 years. Jesus said in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (NIV). The only item on the planet that will last is the Word of God. Everything else will burn up because truth is eternal.

Voltaire, the famous French philosopher, was a brilliant atheist. He wrote a number of tracts deriding the Bible. He once made a very bold statement: “One hundred years from today the Bible will be a forgotten book.”

Today, everyone has forgotten that quote — but not the Bible! After Voltaire died, for nearly 100 years, his homestead was used as the book depository for the French Bible Society.  They sold Bibles out of his house! It’s now a museum. People have forgotten Voltaire.  Nobody forgets the Bible.

No matter what attacks come the Bible’s way, it always survives — and it always will. You can depend on that.”

REFLECT:

  • Does your perspective on life reflect the knowledge that this earth will one day pass away? How would your life change if you focused your life on the one thing that will never pass away?
  • Ask God for the courage to stand up to those who oppose God’s Word with grace, gentleness, and wisdom

This devotional used by permission from the Daily Hope radio series at www.rickwarren.org
[This devotional may be freely shared with others.  We ask that you include the above attribution and website address when sending to others.]

The ‘Replacement’ Approach to Temptation

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to humanity. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” ( 1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV)

I come to this scripture with some fundamental assumptions. First, as the passage says, we all face the temptation to sin. Second, we all have sin inside us and give in to it periodically. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)

So my perpetual fascination with today’s passage in 1 Corinthians 10 is not that we all face temptation – but the promise that God will provide a way out for us so that we can stand up under it. What is the mysterious way out? Is there some divine method of distraction or preventative measure that I have been missing? What is this passage referring to? I would like to suggest that Paul is referring to the ‘replacement’ approach to temptation. I was first introduced to this concept in the 1970’s by a sermon illustration told by Erwin Lutzer, the Pastor of Moody Memorial Church in Chicago.

He told the story of a young man who entered the Illinois State Science Fair. These annual events would bring together high school students from all over the state who would attempt to solve the science project theme of that particular year. The project of that year was to completely remove all of the air from a milk bottle. The judges slowly went from table to table and reviewed each entrant’s project solution. Some were quite large – requiring two tables for the vacuum apparatus to ensure that no air would be left in the bottle. Three finalists were identified, and in preparation for the award of the winner, they were on stage behind tables upon which their solutions were hidden under a sheet.

The first finalist pulled off his sheet, started his vacuum pump and according to the judges timing, sucked all of the air out of the milk bottle within 3 minutes. The second finalist pulled off her sheet and started her apparatus, which, using better pumps and hoses, was able to eliminate all the air in the bottle in 2 minutes and 15 seconds. When the crowd’s attention turned to the third and final project, everyone noted that the sheet covered a solution that was quite small in comparison to the other two. The small boy pulled off the sheet to reveal a plain open milk bottle and a pitcher of water. He simply poured the water into the milk bottle, thus eliminating all the air. He finished in 4 seconds flat. The crowd sat in stunned silence for a second, then cheered as the judges pronounced the third finalist the winner because of his simple and fast solution to the challenge.

What this simple story shows is that the easiest method to eliminate the presence of something is by replacing it with something else!

So it goes with the very human challenge we face with temptation. I think we can all testify to the futility of desperately gritting our teeth and trying to resist bad behaviour. This is analogous to the high school students who developed complicated apparatus to suck air from the milk bottle. Even the apostle Paul confesses to struggling with that futile approach to temptation. “…the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:19)

But the way out that God provides is the opportunity to fill our minds with the positive fruits of the Spirit and his Scripture so that the temptation is replaced and eliminated. The more you immerse your mind in Scripture, prayer and worship, focusing upon spiritual things and the presence of Christ in your life – the less room you make available for temptation of any sort to take root.

REFLECT:

  • When you are tempted, what is your default reaction? Do you grit your teeth and pour all your energy into resisting? What is your success rate with that approach?
  • Try the ‘replacement’ approach to temptation. Whatever temptation that presses in on you, rather than resisting, why not immediately focus upon a short scripture passage or go immediately to your daily prayer list and pray through it? Claim God’s promise that when you are tempted, He is right at your side providing spiritual companionship, providing a way out, so that the temptation will melt away as you focus on Him.

John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca

[This devotional may be freely shared with others.  We ask that you include the above attribution and website address when sending to others.]

Where Do You Need Courage Today?

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Our devotional today is provided by Steve Brown of Arrow Leadership

Almost every leader needs courage in some area of his or her life. Do you need courage to boldly speak up or to be quiet and listen? To faithfully step forward, patiently wait or graciously step back? To say, “yes”, “no”, or “not now”? To dream, try a new idea or stop something? To risk, obey or keep pressing on? To take a stand or to invite help? To reach out or to confront?

Whatever your need today, it’s hard to underestimate the importance of courage. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “Courage isn’t simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point… [even Pontius Pilate was merciful until it became risky] ”

But what is courage actually – particularly spiritual courage?

Here’s one definition I’ve been working on: Spiritual courage is choosing to follow Jesus even when you are shaking inside or out.

I suspect Ananias’ knees were knocking when he followed God’s direction to reach out to a blinded Saul in Acts 9. I think we are safe to assume that Esther’s heart was beating extra fast as she entered the king’s hall to plead for her people. I bet Nathan’s mouth was dry and palms clammy when he launched into his rebuke of David. Spiritual courage isn’t about eliminating feelings of fear. Instead, spiritual courage is, by God’s grace, choosing to trust and obey God in the face of fear.

I’m also reminded of Peter and John’s remarkable courage after being jailed and brought before the Sadducees in Acts 4. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter and John didn’t back down. Instead, they continued to boldly declare the gospel. I love how Acts 4:13 records the reaction of the Sadducees, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished, and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”

Be encouraged by the accessibility of Peter and John’s credentials for remarkable courage. They had been filled with the Holy Spirit, and they had been with Jesus. These two factors were, and are, the difference-makers for living out spiritual courage.

It’s also important to remember that spiritual courage isn’t a solo endeavour. If spiritual courage is choosing to follow Jesus, then we can know that we are not alone. Jesus is with us and is even ahead of us. He’s leading, guiding, providing and protecting.

REFLECT:

  • Where do you need courage today? This month? Ask God for it. Know that God is faithful, for you and with you. Remember God’s faithfulness in the past. Abide and depend on the Holy Spirit. Choose to trust and follow Him in your specific area of need.
  • Whom could you give courage to today? Reach out. Pray. Write a note. Make a phone call. Come alongside. There are people all around you who need encouragement in the face of life’s challenges.

Copyright © 2018 Arrow Leadership

John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca

[This devotional may be freely shared with others.  We ask that you include the above attribution and website address when sending to others.]

 

Forget Your Perfect Offering

October 01, 2018

This week’s devotional meditation comes from Business Coach David Irvine:

“Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen

Every leader has cracks, imperfections in their personality. Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, Gandhi, John F Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela – all had cracks. All the great contributors of our time had flaws. Why? Because they were bad leaders? No. Because cracks come with being human.

I often speculate that some of these great leaders would never have made it in the age of the internet, where their imperfections would be magnified and scrutinized in social media. They may never have stood a chance of earning credibility or making an impact.

With modern news access, especially in an economy when fear sells, the rarity is the reality, and the reality is the rarity. One murder in a million, amplified in the news reels, suddenly makes a whole city feel afraid. The action of one employee, magnified by social media posts, can color the perception of an entire organization. If we aren’t careful and judge the many by the one, the behavior of a single person can taint an entire race. If we fail to understand the context and the means by which news is fed to us, we run the risk of naïve prejudice when we turn on our devices. It is both difficult and essential to a civil, sustainable society to expose ourselves to competing perspectives and exercise our freedom to choose – to “screen in and screen out.”

So how do you work with the flaws in yourself and others?

Here are three strategies to deal with the imperfect offerings we will inevitably bring to the world in our leadership:

  1. Be sincere. Sincere is derived from the Latin ‘sine’ meaning without, and ‘cera’, meaning wax. According to one popular explanation, dishonest sculptors in ancient Rome and Greece would cover flaws in their work with wax to deceive the viewer; therefore, a sculpture “without wax” would mean honesty in its imperfection. Sincerity means being honest with yourself and aware of the impact your behavior has on those around you. It’s about being open to seeing your inevitable cracks. You don’t need to shine a light on all your defects in public, but honesty and realness in the spirit of acceptance and a commitment to grow and change goes a long way.
  2. Start with the person in the mirror. It is human nature to see the flaws in others more readily than it is to see them within ourselves. Those in the public eye who risk daring greatly in the arena of critics, provide us with a great opportunity to look at ourselves before pointing the finger. Whenever you see arrogance, unethical behavior, or any other crack in a public figure, resist the human impulse to judge and instead take a close look at these potential blind spots within yourself. Get some feedback from trusted people in your life and listen carefully to what they tell you. Get some coaching. Grant yourself and others some grace. Reflect upon the notion that our judgement of others is often a defense against looking at our own flaws and a lack of courage to change.
  3. Find your gifts in the cracks. It’s within our flaws that the light of consciousness is able to see its way in and its way out. It is within our wounds that we are often able to use our gifts to make the world a better place. True authentic leadership is fueled by a voyage that takes us inward toward the hardest realities of our lives. To attain the capacity to influence in today’s changing and demanding world, along with the depth to lead with a strong authentic presence requires an inner journey, a journey to one’s heart, a journey to what I call the “Other Everest.”

Remember – no one is perfect, and it is through the cracks or imperfections that the light shines upon our gifts!


© 2018 by David Irvine. Permission to reprint is granted.
For information on how David can bring value to your organization, contact david@davidirvine.com

[This devotional may be freely shared with others.  We ask that you include the above attribution and website address when sending to others.]