Love And Grow Like Christ In An Increasingly Dark World

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Love from roses

With this post, I am excited to share some reflections from my recent devotions and book readings over the past month. I’ve been reading the book titled, Quiet, written by Susan Cain which is about introversion. And I’ve also recently finished reading the book titled, Tortured For Christ, written by Reverend Richard Wurmbrand which is about the persecution of the Underground Church in countries closed to the gospel. Additionally, my Pastor’s current message series titled, Culture Shift, is very timely to my recent introspections. The message content in all three has seriously challenged my thoughts and hopefully my growth as a mature Christ-follower in this tumultuous day and age. With that said, my heart in this post is to share some spiritual leadership takeaways that can help you and I to love and grow like Christ in an increasingly dark world.

To begin, I’d like to go through a brief overview of the cultural climate of America from the 19th Century to the cultural climate that we now find ourselves in the 21st Century. I believe it has significant relevance for how we can love and grow as mature believers in Christ during these times and how we can have the greatest influence for God’s kingdom on earth.

The Cultural Climate Of 19th Century America – A Culture Of Character

In the 19th Century, the strength of American society rested primarily on a culture of social character. A person’s strength of character is what primarily influenced other people in society. 19th Century America was characterized by the Agricultural age, people working on farms, representatives being statesmen, popular sermons being truth-based like “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” by Jonathan Edwards, and popular books affirming the culture of character like Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan.

In Susan Cain’s, Quiet, she communicates that a culture of internal character in the 19th Century could be described with words like citizenship, duty, work, golden deeds, honor, reputation, morals, manners, and integrity. As I further study the 19th Century period, I think the primary domestic spiritual emphasis in America was a pious devotion and the major foreign spiritual antagonism to America was state religion.

The Cultural Climate Of 20th Century America – A Culture Of Personality

Contrastingly, in the 20th Century era, the strengths of internal character in the 19th century society shifted to strengths of external personality. Inner virtue of character was no longer the strength that primarily influenced people in the 20th Century, but rather the effective outer charm of personality. In the 20th Century, America was characterized by the Industrial age, people working in factories, representatives being politicians, popular sermons being prosperity-based like “Your Best Life Now” by Joel Osteen, and popular books affirming the culture of personality like How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

In her book, Susan Cain communicates that a culture of external personality could be described with words like charisma, magnetism, fascination, stunning, attractiveness, glowing, dominance, and energy. As I further study the 20th Century period, I think the primary domestic spiritual emphasis in America was the gifts of the Holy Spirit as awakened by the Azusa Street Revival and the major foreign spiritual antagonism to America was social fascism and atheistic communism.

The Cultural Climate Of 21st Century America – A Culture Of Self-Love

Unfortunately, in the 21st Century, I believe another shift in our American society is taking place and it is a shift from a culture of external personality to a culture of self-love. In the 21st Century, America will be characterized by the Information age, people working on computers, representatives becoming autocrats, popular sermons “itching the ears” of hearers, and popular books affirming a culture of self-love.

This 21st Century culture of self-love can be described with words like selfie, proud, boastful, radical, fanatical, hoarder, heretical, terror, hater, and survivalist. As I further ponder the implications of the 21st Century society, I believe the primary domestic spiritual emphasis in America will be the fruits of the Holy Spirit developed through heightened persecution.  For the Christ-follower, our response to any form of personal persecution provides a litmus test for distinguishing between selfless love for others and selfish love for oneself. In a dark and depraved society, having the genuine fruits of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) will be the only way to effectively live as a Christ-follower in the 21st Century when the major foreign and domestic spiritual antagonism to America will be religious fascism and increasing social depravity.

If we dare to objectively survey the current cultural landscape in 21st Century America, we can clearly see the culture of external personality giving way to a culture of self-love which has significant implications for you and I living as Christians in this day and age. Facebook, LinkedIn, SnapChat, InstaGram, iPods, iPads, and iPhones have given everyone the opportunity to share their iThoughts, iBeliefs, and iOpinions with the whole world. In this type of iFocused culture, the spiritual stakes are high because everyone has an easy and free platform to propagate their individual agendas with their only governor being the mental, emotional, and spiritual state of the individual person. On top of that, the rapid advancement of religious fascism overseas and within America along with the advancement of depraved social lifestyles pose major foreign and domestic spiritual antagonisms that seriously impact the fabric of our society – making it an extremely dark and wicked culture such as it was in the days of Noah. Isn’t it interesting that Hollywood produced a major feature film this year titled Noah?

Spiritual Implications For Christ-followers Living In 21st Century America

In this wicked and depraved culture, the people who will have the greatest influence during these perilous times will be genuine followers of Christ who are baptized and anointed by the Holy Spirit. Personality alone won’t cut it in the dark places of 21st Century society where we are now finding ourselves in America, and neither will character for that matter. Personality power and character power can be self-generated; however, anything of self-generated power will not last in the days ahead. The only power that will have any enduring strength in a very dark and wicked culture will be true spiritual power grounded in a genuine faith in Christ. True spiritual power is far different and superior to personality power and character power because it can never be self-generated. It can only be generated through a genuine faith in Christ that is fully surrendered to the Holy Spirit regardless of the personal cost.

Unfortunately though, for many sons and daughters of the Most High King, particularly in our highly blessed nation of America, we mistakenly think that having a genuine faith in Christ and true spiritual power from the Holy Spirit means that we get a chalice of glory, but not a cup of shame, we get a robe of many colors, but not a mantle of mockery, we get the role of leader, but not the role of foot washer, we get the crown of life, but not the cross of death.

The Paradox Of True Spiritual Power In Christ

To think this way is truly unfortunate because the life of a genuine Christ-follower empowered by the Holy Spirit with true spiritual power on earth is characterized by the same spiritual paradox of Christ’s own life while He lived on earth. When Jesus walked the earth, He was indeed our Sovereign King, but He was also our Suffering Savior. As Christ- followers, our lives on earth gain true spiritual power as we are shaped and molded into Christ-likeness by sharing in His reign as a child of our Most High King, but by also sharing in His obedience as a follower of our Suffering Savior. In Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus tells His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny Himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

Christians in other countries where the gospel is illegal have a keen understanding for what it means to take up their cross and follow Jesus, even unto death if it be in His will. As a result, they gain true spiritual power by serving Jesus as their Sovereign King and their Suffering Savior through the daily persecution they experience.

Two Spiritual Principles That Shape The Life Of Every Genuine Christ-follower

In his book, Spiritual Leadership, J. Oswald Sanders teaches that there are two spiritual principles in the kingdom of God that shape the life of every genuine Christ-follower: the Sovereign principle and the Suffering principle. To be a genuine Christ follower, there is no way around these two spiritual principles. James and John, the apostles of Jesus, learned this directly from Jesus.

In Mark 10:35-45, the bible tells us, “Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, ‘Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.’  36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?”  37 They said to Him, ‘Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory.’

38 But Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’

The New Living Translation reads like this: “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink? Are you able to be baptized with the baptism of suffering I must be baptized with?”

The Suffering Principle In The Kingdom Of God

39 “Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!” Then Jesus told them, ‘You will indeed drink from my bitter cup and be baptized with my baptism of suffering.”

The Sovereign Principle In The Kingdom Of God

“But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. God has prepared those places for the ones He has chosen.”

James and John wanted the glory of Christ – sitting at His right and left – but not the suffering of Christ. They wanted the power of Christ – do for us whatever we ask – but not the shame of Christ – nail scarred hands. At that moment, they wanted their will to be done in their life, but not His will to be done in their life. How often do you and I approach God in the same manner as James and John did in that moment? Like James and John, we want Jesus to make us happy, make us important, and give us whatever we ask for; however, Jesus will have nothing of this form of Christianity because He is more concerned with developing our personal Christ-likeness rather than our personal comforts.

The Sovereign Principle And The Suffering Principle Are A Holy Combination

The holy combination of the Sovereign principle and the Suffering principle forms the foundation for how Jesus develops His followers into His likeness so that we can have true spiritual power that loves others selflessly and rocks our dark world for Him. These two principles are further highlighted in the scripture verses of John 15:16 and 1 Peter 4:12-18.

In John 15:16, Jesus says, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.”

We don’t get to choose our assignments. We don’t get to pick our roles. We don’t get to say who sits on the right and the left in the kingdom of God. These matters of choice are left solely to the sovereign will of Almighty God the Father. He alone chooses, He alone qualifies, and He alone empowers each person with true spiritual power that bears lasting fruit.

And 1 Peter 4:12-13 says, “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing His glory when it is revealed to all the world.

No Genuine Christ-follower Is Exempt From Growth Through Suffering

By highlighting these verses and also speaking of the sufferings experienced by persecuted Christians, I am not implying that we will all experience the same kind of physical sufferings as our brothers and sisters in the Underground Church. However, I am implying that none of us are exempt from being developed into Christ-likeness through suffering. While it’s not likely in America that we will suffer physical crucifixion like Christ did and many modern day martyrs of our faith in the Underground Church around the world, it is certain that we will all learn obedience by the things we suffer just as Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemane – the crucifixion of our will to His will through yieldedness and submission to the Holy Spirit on a daily basis.

Romans 8:17-18 states, “And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share His suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.”

The good news is this: there is nothing we can give, no cost to great, and no suffering too painful that can compare to the glory that will be revealed in us and through us as children of our Most High Reigning King and obedient followers of our All-Loving Suffering Savior.

Crushed Christians Reward Others With The Love Of Christ   

In the book, Tortured For Christ, Reverend Richard Wurmbrand writes that “when you crush a flower, it rewards you with the pleasant smell of its aroma.” And he further shares that likewise, when we are crushed as Christians, our lives should reward others with the love of Christ. As we desire to be used greatly by God, my prayer is that we can embrace the great crushing of our wills to His will so that we can be His noble vessels to share His great love and compassion to a lost and hurting world around us.

To God’s glory, have a blessed “Make It Happen” day!

Love And Grow Like Christ In An Increasingly Dark World Copyright 2014, The Make It Happen Learning Institute. You have permission to reprint the leadership article, Love And Grow Like Christ In An Increasingly Dark World, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission. All other rights reserved.

Ministry Heart And Mind

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Scripture

2 Timothy 4:5 “But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.” NLT

Observation

In this verse, the Apostle Paul is encouraging his son in the Lord, Timothy, to carry out the work of the ministry that God had given him. As an uncommon mentor, Paul knew that fulfilling the work of the ministry would include days of suffering for the Lord; therefore, he wanted to make sure that Timothy, his uncommon protégé, was appropriately prepared in his heart and properly focused in his mind for the challenges he would face in the ministry.

Application

To carry out the ministry that God has given me is not easy because it includes the baptism of suffering that all spiritual leaders must go through to become like Jesus and it requires me to keep a focused mind in every situation I encounter on the ministry journey. Loving God with my whole heart, mind, soul, and strength helps me embrace the fellowship of Christ’s suffering as a minister of the Gospel. Loving others as myself helps me keep a clear ministry mind in every situation. In doing this with the help and grace of the Lord, I plan to effectively carry out the ministry God has given me in telling others about the Good News of the Gospel.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I praise You for You are gracious, merciful, compassionate, and faithful! You know every detail of my life and ministry to others. As You lead me and guide me on every step of the ministry journey, I place my complete trust in You to mold me, shape me, teach me, and keep me as an effective minister of Your grace, truth, and love! Help strengthen my faith in all sufferings and focus my mind in every situation. I love You Jesus! Amen!

Ministry Heart And Mind Copyright 2013, Gary J. Borgstede.  You have permission to reprint the personal devotion, Ministry Heart And Mind, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

Building Leaders In The Kingdom Of God – Part Two

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PraisingWhen we study the New Testament, we find that Spiritual Leadership combines two cups of leadership in the kingdom of God: a Spiritual Cup and a Leadership Cup. The Spiritual Cup entails exemplary living as a born-again child of God and the Leadership Cup entails the equipping of God’s people to do His work. As spiritual leaders in God’s kingdom, we are to become more like Jesus in exemplary living every day as we do what He has called us to do in the equipping of His people to do His work.

The Spiritual Cup Of Exemplary Living – Who We Become in Christ

In 1 Timothy 4:11-13, Paul tells Timothy, “Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them. Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them.” The Spiritual Cup of spiritual leadership pours into others from who we are in Christ. We live as an example to others by the power of the Holy Spirit that lives inside us. Through Christ in us, we become more like Him as the Holy Spirit teaches us all things and leads us into all truth.

The Leadership Cup Of Equipping Others – What We Do In Christ

In Ephesians 4:11-13, Paul tells the believers in Ephesus, “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do His work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.” The Leadership Cup of spiritual leadership pours into others from what we do in Christ. We equip others to do God’s work in the earth as His ambassadors on the earth. While Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords sitting at the right hand of the Father, it has always been God’s plan to empower His creation to carry out His will on earth by His authority given to redeemed men and women in Christ.

As spiritual leaders in the kingdom of God, who we become in Christ and what we do in Christ are equally important. In fact, we find this spiritual leadership pattern in the kingdom of God represented in Christ all throughout the Bible by the person of Jesus and the principles of Jesus. To be an impactful spiritual leader in God’s kingdom, we must not only know Jesus personally, but we must also do what He says to do by living out His principles such as:

  • Give and it shall be given to you
  • Lose your life to save your life
  • Serve others to be the greatest
  • Pray for those who persecute you
  • Forgive and be forgiven

In John 14:15-17, Jesus tells His disciples, “If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn’t looking for Him and doesn’t recognize Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you.” Spiritual leaders in the kingdom of God know Jesus and obey Him because the Holy Spirit lives inside us and teaches us how to live out His principles in life.

The Imperative For Developing Spiritual Leaders

As a young leader, the COO of our organization told me early in my professional life that I had to prepare myself to grow and lead in an environment with significant growth.  Additionally, I was encouraged that if I heeded that instruction, I too would enjoy the opportunity of personally growing the same way within the organization. In response to that instruction, I continued developing myself as a leader within the organization.

As a result, in 10 short years I went from being a Director of 3 teams, to an Administrator of a Clinic Division, to a VP of a consolidated Hospital and Clinic Division, to an SVP of a Central Business Office operation for 7 Hospitals and more than 700 Physicians, to a Chief Operating Officer of 7 different operating divisions. From the age of 30 to the age of 40, my leadership responsibilities grew from leading 45 people to leading over 1,000 people in my direct sphere of leadership influence because I was willing to learn, grow, and develop as a leader as well as equip others to learn, grow, and develop as leaders.

The reason I share this story is because the kingdom of God is experiencing significant growth in these last days and we must appropriately prepare ourselves as spiritual leaders in God’s kingdom if we intend to effectively steward the harvest of souls entrusted to us by the Lord. This means that spiritual leaders have to become better leaders and must effectively equip more leaders for the work of the ministry in God’s kingdom. The stakes are high and if we are not prepared for the growth, we will be at significant risk of ministry overload and personal burnout, even as spiritual leaders in God’s kingdom.

The Development Process For Spiritual Leaders

In order to effectively develop spiritual leaders in God’s kingdom for sustainability in their personal and professional lives, spiritual leaders must have a Personal Excellence Plan derived from a written Life Plan and a Professional Excellence Plan derived from a written Business Plan. The Personal Excellence Plan focuses on important leadership development aspects of the leader’s personal life such as the character development of the leader and the chemistry development of the leader within his or her team. The Professional Excellence Plan focuses on important leadership development aspects of the leader’s professional life such as the culture development of the leader and the competency development of the leader within his or her team.

A Personal Excellence Plan Supports Character Development And Chemistry Development In A Spiritual Leaders’s Personal Life

The Character Development of a leader builds the Spiritual Cup of a leader on a personal level. A good Personal Excellence Plan seeks to answer Spiritual Cup questions such as: 

  1. Who are you becoming when no one is looking?
  2. How are you becoming more like Christ each day in your personal life?

The Chemistry Development of a leader builds the Leadership Cup of a leader on a personal level. A good Personal Excellence Plan seeks to answer Leadership Cup questions such as:

  1. What are your personal leadership gifts and talents given to you by God?
  2. How will you personally use your gifts and talents to glorify God and benefit others?

A Professional Excellence Plan Supports Culture Development And Competency Development In A Spiritual Leader’s Professional Life

The Culture Development of a leader builds the Spiritual Cup of a leader on a professional level. A good Professional Excellence Plan seeks to answer Spiritual Cup questions such as:

  1. What type of team are you helping the organization to become when no one is looking?
  2. How are you helping the organization to become more like the kingdom of God?

The Competency Development of a leader builds the Leadership Cup of a leader on a professional level. A good Professional Excellence Plan seeks to answer Leadership Cup questions such as:

  1. What are your leadership commitments and responsibilities in the organization?
  2. How will you fulfill your leadership commitments and responsibilities as a kingdom ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ in your organization?

To be sustainable spiritual leaders in our personal and professional lives, we must continually fill our spiritual cup (who we are in Christ) and our leadership cup (what we do in Christ) in the areas of character development, culture development, chemistry development, and competency development. Otherwise, empty cups will lead to empty spiritual leaders.

To His glory, have a blessed “Make It Happen” day!

Building Leaders In The Kingdom Of God – Part Two Copyright 2013, The Make It Happen Learning Institute.  You have permission to reprint the leadership article, Building Leaders In The Kingdom Of God – Part Two, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

Building Leaders In The Kingdom Of God – Part One

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Praising GodOne day on the streets of our city, a young man about the age of 20 was asked this question by an interviewer: “What is a leader?”  The young man thought about it for a minute and responded, “I think it’s a little more than a gallon…”

Well, I don’t think this is exactly the definition that the interviewer had in mind. The shortest definition for leadership that I’ve ever heard is that “leadership is influence” taught by John Maxwell. Great military leader, Bernard Montgomery, defined leadership as “the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose, and the character which inspires confidence.”

The Leadership Mandate From God

Regardless of whether or not you and I know the definition of leadership, in the kingdom of God, we are all natural born leaders because God created us in His image and He has given all of us a mandate to lead. Genesis 1:27-28 affirms our leadership mandate stating, “God created human beings in His own image. In the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.’”

It is clear from the biblical account of creation that men and women are natural born leaders. However, to be a spiritual leader in the kingdom of God, it takes more than just God’s mandate to lead. Spiritual leaders in the kingdom of God are also anointed by the Holy Spirit to lead and they are appointed to lead in spiritual service by God alone.  J. Oswald Sanders says this about spiritual leadership, “Spiritual leaders are not elected, appointed, or created by synods or church assemblies. God alone makes them.” In John 15:16 Jesus told His disciples, “You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit.”

The Difference Between Natural Leadership And Spiritual Leadership

According to Mr. Sanders, there is a significant difference between natural leadership and spiritual leadership. Many of the differences are highlighted below:

  • Natural Leaders are self-confident              
  • Spiritual Leaders are confident in God
  • Natural leaders know men                          
  • Spiritual leaders know God
  • Natural leaders make their own decisions                       
  • Spiritual leaders seek God’s will
  • Natural leaders are ambitious                    
  • Spiritual leaders are humble
  • Natural leaders create methods                 
  • Spiritual leaders follow God’s example
  • Natural leaders enjoy command                              
  • Spiritual leaders delight in obedience to God
  • Natural leaders seek personal reward                                 
  • Spiritual leaders love God and others
  • Natural leaders are independent                            
  • Spiritual leaders are dependent on God

Regarding the process by which God qualifies spiritual leaders to lead in His kingdom, Mr. Sanders writes, “Often truly authoritative leadership falls on someone who years earlier dedicated themselves to practice the discipline of seeking first the kingdom of God. Then, as that person matures, God confers a leadership role, and the Spirit of God goes to work through him. When God’s searching eye finds a person qualified to lead, God anoints that person with the Holy Spirit and calls him to a special ministry.”

The Outward Physical Expression Of Inside Spiritual Growth

After my return home as a prodigal son back into my heavenly Father’s arms, the Lord began to privately develop my spiritual leadership as I intimately pursued Him in close personal relationship. However, during that time, to the casual observer of my physical activities on the outside, I may have seemed like just another Type A over-achiever; but, on the inside, God was doing a deep restorative work in my soul, preparing me for true spiritual leadership and service in His kingdom. People who knew me during those days might recall how much weight I lost and all of the physical training that I was doing in preparation for an Ironman triathlon. It took 3 years of training for the Ironman and most of that time, I didn’t tell many people that I was even training for an Ironman.

I first started training with 14 miles of outdoor riding, then training for the two-day 75 mile MS Tour Ride, then a back-to-back ADA century ride, then run training for my first half marathon, then a full marathon, then my first sprint triathlon, then an Olympic triathlon, then a half Ironman triahthlon, then a second half Ironman triathlon, and then the full Ironman triathlon. Then two and a half years later, the 3,000 mile Race Across America – the world’s toughest bicycle race.

You might ask yourself, what in the world was he doing all that for? I can imagine that many people may have thought that I was trying to find an identity outside of Christ through over-achieving activities. I can truly understand how some might think that to be true of me during that time in my life. And to state the obvious, it does take a lot of effort to do an Ironman triathlon and ride a bike across America. However, for me it was more than just the effort and the rewards attached to those significant physical achievements in my life. By the sufficiency of God’s grace freely given to me through my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I can say with purity of heart and a clean conscience before the Lord that I had nothing to prove or anything to earn by such physical pursuits. The truth is that all of my physical training at that time was simply an outward expression of my spiritual training on the inside as I sought to love Jesus with my whole heart, mind, soul, and strength, learned how to walk more closely with Him, and diligently pursued His kingdom.  

The Mirror Between Physical Disciplines And Spiritual Disciplines

While people could easily see my physical training on the outside at that time, unless you knew me well, most people couldn’t see my spiritual training on the inside during that same time. I was not only training in the physical realm through the pursuit and practice of physical disciplines, I was also training in the spiritual realm through the pursuit and practice of spiritual disciplines beginning with my water baptism, then my freedom weekend retreat, my daily prayer meetings with God, my daily devotions in the word of God, my writing of hundreds of bible verses on note cards to memorize in prayer, my weekly praise and worship to God with tears and weeping, my faithful participation in small group no matter what, my completion of the Biblical Foundations class, my faithful serving in the parking lot every other weekend, my leading of small group every week, my engagement in the prison ministry at Rayburn Correctional Center, my 1 day, 3 day, 5 day, 7 day, 10 day, and 21 day fasts, my mission trip to South Africa, my daily prostration on the altar of God as a living sacrifice crying out to God to know me, search me, and change me from the inside out.

The Spiritual Leadership Development Sharpening Process

What was God doing in me during that time? Through the process of developing the physical disciplines necessary to complete an Ironman triathlon and the simultaneous pursuit of the spiritual disciplines necessary for growing in Christ, I was learning the principle of Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another.” Throughout the three years of training for Ironman, I did not train alone, but rather trained with one of my best friends in life. Committed to run the race of life together, we both trained for Ironman, sharpening one another, so that we could both strongly cross the finish line. And we did. Additionally, I can tell you that during those physical training days with my friend, I was also being sharpened spiritually with the help of my awesome Pastors. In their good hands, I was being taught how to pursue God and live for Him as a spiritual leader in His kingdom. I now stand today with a healthy fear of the Lord, amazed at His faithfulness in my life, and humbled by His grace to give me the opportunity to be a spiritual leader in His kingdom…a tremendous privilege I do not take lightly.

I share this personal story to emphasize that spiritual leadership development only happens through the diligent pursuit of a real personal relationship with God and other spiritual leaders in His kingdom. Must you complete an Ironman to become an impactful spiritual leader in God’s kingdom? Certainly not! But you must love Jesus with your whole heart, mind, soul, and strength as well as seek first His kingdom and all of His righteousness in your life. As Christ followers, none of us are exempt from pursuing and practicing the spiritual disciplines necessary to grow us as spiritual leaders in God’s kingdom. If we truly desire for the Lord to mature us, qualify us, appoint us, and anoint us as impactful spiritual leaders in His kingdom, nothing less than loving God with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength will do.

To His glory, have a blessed “Make It Happen” day!

Building Leaders In The Kingdom Of God– Part One Copyright 2013, The Make It Happen Learning Institute.  You have permission to reprint the leadership article, Building Leaders In The Kingdom Of God – Part One , in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

Take A Stand

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Scripture

2 Kings 23:3 “Then the king stood by a pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people took a stand for the covenant.”

Observation

In this passage of Scripture, the Bible records that Josiah, the king of Judah at that time, made a covenant before the Lord to follow Him with all of his heart and all of his soul in obedience to the commands of the Lord written in the word of God.  When King Josiah publicly made this heart and soul commitment to follow the Lord and obey the word of God, Jewish history records that all the people turned to the Lord and took a stand for their covenant relationship with Him.

Application

As leaders in our community, we have tremendous leadership influence to significantly impact our community and our nation much like King Josiah had tremendous leadership influence to significantly impact his community and nation. When we are willing to publicly come forth as leaders of righteousness in the kingdom of God and follow the Lord with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind, the Lord gives us great ability to make real positive lasting impacts in our community and nation.  Because people take notice when leaders lead with a genuine heart strong after God, the hearts of others are softened toward the Lord and their spines are strengthened to take a stand for their covenant relationship with Him.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I praise You for You are Jehovah Tsidkenu, the Lord our Righteousness!  Thank You Lord for exchanging Your righteousness for my unrighteousness at the Cross so that I could become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus! As I commit my heart, soul, strength, and mind to follow after You as a leader of righteousness in Your kingdom, give me the discipline to obey You and the spine to do what You ask me to do. I love You Jesus! Amen!

Take A Stand Copyright 2011, Gary J. Borgstede.  You have permission to reprint the personal devotion, Take A Stand, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

The Make It Happen Moment ® Special Election

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Noah's Ark

Noah’s Ark

Quote: “Spiritual leaders are not elected, appointed, or created by synods or church assemblies. God alone makes them!” – J. Oswald Sanders

One morning my brother-in-law was mowing the lawn and saw his little 5-year-old boy, Jacob, standing on the neighbor’s patio in front of their patio glass door peering inside their house.  As my brother-in-law quietly walked over to see what Jacob was doing, he could hear the neighbor’s large dog inside the house barking loudly at Jacob.  Surprisingly, Jacob was not afraid of the barking dog. Instead, with his fire engine red hair, he was bent over staring squarely at the disgruntled dog – behind the glass door no matter – and saying, “You want a piece of me. You want a piece of me…”  Something tells me that my nephew is not only a very funny little boy, but also a future leader in the making!

When we look at the great spiritual leaders of the Bible like Noah, Elijah, and Paul, to name a few, there is one thing I observe that they all had in common.  Each of them were willing to stand strong in the face of adversity to complete the leadership assignment that God had specifically called each one of them to accomplish for Him. I believe the reason they were able to do this is not because of any natural courage they possessed as leaders, but rather because of their faith in God to supernaturally protect them, empower them, and provide for them everything they needed to fulfill God’s special call on their lives.  Each one of them possessed a supernatural courage that only comes from personally knowing God, obeying Him, and knowing that He was for them regardless of the adverse situations they had to face. If this was not so, Noah would have never been able to continue building the ark in the face of community ridicule, Elijah would have run scared from the prophets of Baal, and Paul would have wallowed in self pity as a shackled prisoner in chains. 

I’ve heard it said that just because a person stands in a garage, it doesn’t make them a car. Well, the same is true of spiritual leaders. Just because someone has a leadership position given by men, it doesn’t make them a spiritual leader anointed by God.  Spiritual leaders are specially elected and qualified by God alone through the purifying tests and trials of each person’s specific faith walk and supernatural calling in God.  Psalms 75:6-7 states, “For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.” Additionally, the Lord makes it clear in His Word that He establishes all positions of authority including spiritual authority. 1 Chronicles 29:11-12 of The Living Bible states, “Everything in the heavens and earth is Yours, O Lord, and this is Your Kingdom. We adore You as being in control of everything. Riches and honor come from You alone, and You are the Ruler of all mankind; Your hand controls power and might, and it is at Your discretion that men are made great and given strength.” Therefore, with a spirit of faith and humility, be the spiritual leader that God specifically makes you to be as He qualifies you completely to fulfill His special call and leadership assignment on your life!

The Make It Happen Servant Leadership Value: “Make It Happen” People Are Led By Servant Leaders!

Have a blessed “Make It Happen” day!

Edited by The Make It Happen Moment ® Editorial Team

The Make It Happen Moment ® Special Election Copyright 2010, The Make It Happen Learning Institute.  You have permission to reprint The Make It Happen Moment ® Special Election, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

Be Encouraged To Pray In The Marketplace

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See You At The Office

In July of 2011, I had the distinct privilege and honor to launch the inaugural year of the annual See You At The Office marketplace prayer campaign.  For 5 days during the week of July 14th, I prayed and fasted for God’s sovereign hand to move upon marketplace leaders so that we might have Holy Spirit boldness and courage to be the salt and light of the kingdom of God in the marketplace.  Additionally, I had the awesome privilege of praying with several marketplace leaders during this week for our nation, our companies, and our team members.

While the inaugural year of the See You At The Office marketplace prayer movement was a seemingly insignificant event on the stage of national and world affairs, I know that the Bible says in James 5:16 (NLT) that “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results”; therefore, what may seem like insignificant little prayers can actually produce huge and powerful results in the kingdom of God because God hears the prayer of righteous people (Proverbs 15:29). With loyal hearts expressed towards Him, God shows Himself strong on the behalf of His people (2 Chronicles 16:9).  In fact, through prayer and fasting over the See You At The Office prayer week, I heard God speak to me in His still small voice encouraging me to not despise the day of small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10 NLT) because He was attentive to my obedience and He would be responsible for the long-term results.

Don’t Let Fear Stop You From Praying In The Marketplace

To pray in the marketplace during the annual See You At The Office marketplace prayer campaign, I fully understand can be a little intimidating, especially given the modern-day undercurrents of political correctness in our society which seek to silence the voice of God’s people.  However, as current day leaders of righteousness and grace in the kingdom of God, we can take great comfort from the real life examples of many heroes of faith in the Bible whom had to also face many of the same kinds of challenges, fears, and societal intimidations. In fact, one such real life example of a legendary hero of faith having to face intense spiritual intimidation and opposition to his courageous, disciplined life of prayer can be found in the book of Daniel.

Affirmation To Pray During See You At The Office

On the last day of praying and fasting during the 2011 See You At The Office prayer week, the Lord gave me tremendous affirmation regarding the courage to pray in the marketplace. As I was waking up on that Friday morning, the Lord began to speak to me about Daniel’s courage to pray even in the midst of seemingly impossible circumstances.  Daniel’s true story can be read in Daniel 6:1-28 of the Bible.

In reading this account about Daniel, it struck me that Daniel’s courage to pray when others told him that he couldn’t pray actually ended with a world-wide revival initiated by the king.  Furthermore, it was striking to me that the opposition tried to use the law of the Medes and Persians to stop Daniel from praying.  The reason this has significance is because it was the evil spirit of Persia that was fighting the angel of the Lord in the spiritual realm for 21 days when Daniel was later praying and fasting for his nation as recorded in Daniel 10:12-14 of the Bible.

When God’s People Pray, God Hears Our Prayers And Shows Himself Strong

Through these passages, I believe the same wicked spirit of Persia that was opposing Daniel, could be the same evil spirit that is still trying to intimidate God’s people today from exercising their freedom to pray in the marketplace.  However, when marketplace leaders demonstrate the courage of Daniel to humble ourselves and pray for our nation, our companies, and our team members each year during the annual See You At The Office marketplace prayer campaign, I believe the evil spirit of Persia will be defeated in the spiritual realm as in Daniel’s day AND the results will be the same as they were for Daniel – worldwide revival in the marketplace – the domain of modern day kings. God is good and He is great!

Thank You For Praying With Me During See You At The Office

So let me say a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who joins with me in faith and prayer each year for the See You At The Office marketplace prayer campaign!  I look forward to praying with everyone who desires to join me as we humble ourselves before God and courageously pray for our nations, our companies, and our teams in the marketplace.

To His glory, have a blessed “Make It Happen” day and I will See You At The Office!

The Courage To Pray Copyright 2011, The Make It Happen Learning Institute.  You have permission to reprint the leadership article, The Courage To Pray, in its entirety only, and forward to your colleagues and friends, provided the copyright notice remains part of the reprint and transmission.  All other rights reserved.

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