Good Leaders Accept Help

“O, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and tongue….please send someone else.”  Exodus 4:10 & 13

Moses, probably the greatest leader in the Old Testament recognized his limitations.  He admitted that he was not good at everything.  He asked God to remove the burden of leadership from him.  Instead, God directs him to a helper, someone with the gift he lacks.

“Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite?  I know that he can speak well. … He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth …” Exodus 4:14-15

Later on, Moses encounters a different problem — time management.  As leader, he is dealing with so many small problems, he can’t get to the bigger ones.  This time, it is his father-in-law, Jethro who gives the advice to delegate.

“Look for able men from all he people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe;  and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.  And let them judge the people at all times.  Every great matter they shall decide themselves.  So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you.”  Exodus 18:21-22

Likewise, in the book of Acts, the twelve apostles found they could not meet all the needs of the growing church.  Some widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food.

“Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

We can’t expect our leaders to go it alone.  Good leaders recognize the spiritual gifts of others and they learn to delegate and train.  Maybe the greatest talent of good leaders is to recognize and cultivate the skills of the people around them.

I can see this in my own life.  Leadership is not my strongest spiritual gift, but I have found myself in situations when I am called to lead.  When this happens I know that I need someone with the gift of administration as a strong #2 — I see the goal, but not always the steps that need to be taken to get there.  I also need people with the gift of service — the ones who can just see a task that needs doing, and jump it to take care of it.  For me, leadership is all about assembling the right team–a group who can work together and accomplish great things.

What about you?  What can you do well, and what do you need to delegate?  I’ll be writing more about this in an upcoming post on spiritual gifts.

 

What Am I Here For?

The very first talk on a Lutheran Via de Cristo weekend is called “Ideal.”  The premise of the talk is that everyone has an ideal in life;  a goal they are aiming toward.  It’s this goal that gives life meaning.

Now, we can have a good ideal (living to serve others) or a bad one (the one who dies with the most expensive “toys” wins).  We can have a realistic ideal (owning our own home or business) or an unrealistic ideal (becoming the queen of England). We can devote ourselves to a false ideal (such as a political party or candidate) and be devastated when it proves to be disappointing.  The big problem is we often fool ourselves and fail to recognize and admit what our ideal really is.  For example, I may tell myself I am working 60 hours a week in order to support my family (a laudable goal) when what I actually desire is just more money to spend on luxuries, or the admiration of others.

The talk ends with some practical advice I’m going to share with you.  Examine your checkbook and your calendar.  Look hard at how you are spending your money and your time.  Remember, we all find the money and the time to do the things we really want to do.  So, does your stewardship of these things reveal an ideal worthy of a disciple of Christ?  Or does it show you something else?  What is your true ideal?

 

Where Are You Spending Your Time?

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Blessed Interruptions

“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Okay, I freely admit I am bad at this.  I think it’s part of my slightly anxious personality to need a plan;  it gives me a sense of control.  If my plan is interrupted, it throws my whole day off. I feel rushed and flustered. I have to continually remind myself that I am retired–if circumstances intervene, I can do that chore or errand or make that phone call tomorrow!

If you read through the gospels, you will find that Jesus was constantly interrupted.  His teaching was interrupted by the men who lowered their friend down through the roof in hopes Jesus would heal him (He did);  His sleep was interrupted when the disciples begged Him to get up and save them from the storm that was threatening their boat (He did); His journey was interrupted by a blind man who called out to Him (He stopped);  He was interrupted by children (He blessed them).

My plans for today, this week, this year or even the rest of my life are trivial compared to the plans of Jesus, but He never failed to put people first.  In fact, He made people part of His plan;  every interaction was an opportunity to share God’s love and explain God’s plan.  That’s the plan that’s really important.

 

It’s Ok to Say No

“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.'” 1 Corinthians 12:21

One thing it’s hard for us to learn, and especially for women, I think, is it’s ok to say “no” sometimes.  If you are a people-pleaser, like I am, you want to say “yes” so people will like you.  You don’t want to let people down.  Our culture also tells us we can have it all and do it all:  we can be wives and mothers, CEO’s and caretakers, and creative artists all at the same time.  Frankly, it’s not true, and it can be a set up for failure.

So,  we have to be good stewards of our time as well as our money.  One time to say no, is if we’re ask to do something that is clearly outside of our skill set.  For example, I’m not detail oriented, so if I’m asked to be the church treasurer or organize a big fundraiser, I need to say no.  That is the choice that will work to everyone’s benefit!

There may be seasons in our lives when we’re overwhelmed with responsibilities at home or at work.  When I was a mother of two very young children, I chose to be on the Altar Guild instead of serving on the Church Council.  An hour of alone time setting up communion was just what I needed, and all the time I had to give.  Saying no for a while, doesn’t mean saying no forever.  The time came when I went back to “active duty.”

Another important thing to remember about saying no, is it gives somebody else a chance to say yes.  There may be another member of the body who has just the right combination of talents to do the work you can’t.  Others will never get a chance to stretch and grow if you think you have to do it all.

Finally, when you take on a challenging task  that stretches you (and you should do this at times), pick something that matches your abilities, and ask for help if you need it.  We are all one body and we’re meant to work together to accomplish God’s work.

New Month/New Theme

Well, I had a different theme in mind for this month, but after reading Kate’s post yesterday, I decided she raised some important questions that the Lutheran Ladies need to address.  What are our spiritual gifts?  How do we employ them?  What activities inspire creativity?  What does it mean to rest? How do we lead balanced lives? How do I become a good steward of the time and gifts with which I have been blessed.  I think we can incorporate all of these ideas under the umbrella of “spending time.”

Time is one of the gifts God has given us, but we only have so much. Eventually, for every human, time will run out.  It’s an issue we all struggle with in a society that gives us so many options.  You’ve all heard the question, “what’s on your bucket list?”  ….in other words, what are the things you need to do or accomplish to make your life meaningful.

Kate’s post “Free Time” asked for input from our authors and readers.  I hope each of you will give her some ideas this month, drawn from your own experience.  Tell us all about your gifts, how you discovered them, and how you have used them to become the person God intended you to be.

God loves you and so do I!  Happy blogging and reading!

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What is a God Pleasing Sacrifice?

“And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”  Hebrews 13:16

 

There’s an old saying I’ve heard many times in Christian circles –if the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.  When I get together with some of the women of our church, we usually spend time complaining about how busy we are.  Of course, we’re busy doing good things like teaching Sunday School, preparing for Bible study, cooking for fellowship dinners, serving in community organizations — but still, it can become overwhelming.  We lose sight of why we are doing those good things (for the glory of God, as Kate told us in Sacrifice and Love) and they just become items on a ‘to do’ list we need to check off.

 

We can also become so busy we miss the small, yet important things we can do spontaneously every day.  We become too distracted to really listen to our husband, child or friend.  We don’t have time to send a card or note to someone who is ill or a shut-in.  We keep meaning to invite that lonely person to dinner, but never get around to it.  We have good intentions, but you know what they say about that!

 

In Hosea 6:6, God tells us, “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”

God doesn’t just want our time, He wants our life. Michele talked about that in the post, Living Sacrifice.  He doesn’t want us to become so caught up with the chores of the church that we neglect His people.  He wants us to read the Bible in order to know Him, not to memorize verses or historical facts.

 

Now I know some of you are thinking, somebody has to do these things!  You’re not alone.  Martha said the same thing in Chapter 10 of the book of Luke.  Do you remember what Jesus told her?

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful…”Luke 10:41-42.

 

We need to be good stewards of our time and talent.  We need to spend time every morning offering the day to God.  Martin Luther did.  Read this quote:

 

If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day. I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer. –Martin Luther

 

Maybe I can’t live up to this standard, but I can start the day with prayer, asking God to prioritize my time, and use my day in accordance with His plan not mine.  I can pray before I volunteer, and try to listen for direction.  I can stop worrying so much and trust God.  What about you?  What is your plan to become a God-pleasing sacrifice?  Send us your thoughts.