Following the leader

The fear of leadership is not a lonely place. When entering this group you find many here. Some have grown old and wasted away in this room. Others merely visit from time to time. I am praying to be the latter.

I know that often I find that my fear of leadership is often in trying to make it something it is not.

Solomon simplified it in 1 Kings 3:8-9. “And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”

When leadership is put in its proper perspective it is less complicated, less heavy, and eventually less fearful.

I am struggling with all of it, and therefore some things I need to remind myself.

Solomon helps me realize three things that help with my fears.

Solomon showed me that it’s not my plan, it’s not my purpose, and it’s not my people.

I don’t have to know the steps. God’s got those.

I don’t have to know the outcome. God’s got that as well.

I’m not even ultimately responsible for the people. Yep! God’s business too.

Leadership simplified is just taking people where they need to go.

The fear is that I won’t do it right, that I will end up taking them to the wrong place, or that I will ruin the lives of those who follow.

If I believe that God has a plan, then I can merely align myself with it.

If I believe that God has a purpose, I can trust what my eyes don’t see in this season.

If I believe that people belong to God and that He is just using me for His purpose and plan, then I can keep pointing them in the direction He would have me point.

When I was a little girl and the teacher chose me for line leader, I walked according to the teacher’s plan, headed in the way of her purpose, and lead her people. As long as I kept my eyes on the one who put me in the position of leadership in the first place all was well. It was only when I got distracted, thought my way was better or paid more attention to the ones behind me instead of the one in front of me that I failed to lead people where they needed to go.

The path is not much different if I just follow my Leader.

Lord, help me to be comfortable in trusting your plan. Help me walk in the way of your purpose. Help me understand that anyone behind me belongs to you.

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A simple lesson in place value

I am a homeschool mom. This expands to so much more than grammar and mathematics.

Here’s a little thing about me that you might have picked up on by now.

I teach.

If God had directed or one day directs our family to educate our children in a different fashion, I will still be a homeschool mom.

I cannot get away from teachable moments. I am wired to find what we can learn from each season in which we find ourselves.

That being the case let me teach you a simple lesson.

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The things I won’t be packing

We sat in my kitchen talking about when my house will sell. We were trying to determine when that will be and whether or not the newest set of circumstances will achieve our long-awaited results.

Both of us “do-ers,” my sister-in-law and I discussed going into the bedrooms and packing boxes. After all, what else were we going to do with our nervous waiting?

We even discussed all of the boxes that are stacked in my mother-in-law’s house. I told her how WK and I have no desire to unpack and keep all of the things in those boxes.

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It is not punishment

I am waiting for a house to sell.

I have been obeying for over a year. So it must be that I have messed up something.

I’ve been obeying for over a year. So it must be that I am paying for my self-righteous past.

I’ve been waiting for over a year. So it must mean that I am not believing enough, praying enough, reading my Bible enough, serving, enough, or loving enough.

Maybe you are waiting too.

You are waiting for a promise. It must be all the cheating you did in college that keeps you from deserving a God who keeps His promise to you.

You are waiting for a healing. You must need to attend church or pray more.

You are hurting from a broken relationship. You don’t even know if working on it will restore it or shatter you into a million pieces. It must be that abortion when no one held you while you cried and offered you ANY other way.

You are in the middle of a thankless and soul-deteriorating call. It must be all of your selfishness or years that you turned to yourself instead of Him.

You are parenting a child who bends over backward to make you feel as ugly, useless, and evil (yep, she called you that). It must be all the times you didn’t obey your own parents or the times you judged another without knowing their story.

You face anxiety that greets you each morning holding its pillow of suffocation over the breath of your life. It must be the faith you lack. Certainly, if you believed like Susie, God would take this torment from you.

BUT…

I believe in grace.

I believe that I am forgiven.

I believe that all of this is about Him and not about me.

I believe that God redeems all things and doesn’t hold my sins against me.

SO…

Which do I really believe? What wins out in my heart and my head when it is quiet and I am stuck with my circumstances?

What if it’s not about punishment?

That’s right! I said it.

What if it’s not about punishment?

What if it’s for something else entirely?

I am going to be brave here and say it out loud.

“It’s not for my punishment. It’s for HIS presence.”

WAIT…

My waiting isn’t about what I am doing. It’s about what he’s doing.

Your promise is not about what you used to do. It’s about what he has planned to do.

Your relationship is not about a secret sin eating away at your heart. It’s about your need for the ONE relationship that can carry you through any darkness.

Your soul-killing tasks are not about you getting them right or wrong. It is about him trusting you to finish what He has placed in front of you.

Your little fighter is not a fighter because you don’t parent well. It’s about him giving you the task of parenting a soul worth fighting for.

Your anxiety is not because you don’t have enough faith. It is because you use that faith just to get out of bed.

All of these things are the things that bring us to him. They push us to our need.

Because God will never allow us to stay in a place where we don’t need him.

This thing in front of you. It’s not for your punishment. It’s for his presence.

Stay close to him. Let him hold you. Listen to him speaking in the pain. He’s there, and that’s the whole point.

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More than fables or fairy tales

As a child growing up my family had a book called, “The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes” by Kenneth N Taylor. You can find the version we had on eBay and Amazon these days. Even though they have a 2002 version selling today, it is very different than the one we had as children.

This book gathered very realistic oil paintings of Bible stories from artists over the years. The pictures looked more like photographs than the pastel cartoons that the other Bible story books we had. It was a lot of dark, warm colors that were in stark contrast to the fairy-tale-like stories I saw elsewhere.

The main point of the book was to give realistic illustrations and ask real questions about the account in scripture. It pulled no punches. I can still close my eyes and see the picture of the ground opening up to swallow the Israelites who did not follow what God had said (Numbers 26) or the ones with people escaping the death of snake bites by looking at the bronze pole God allowed to be their salvation (Numbers 21).

Old Testament is brutal at times, but there was grace in it too.

Each picture had 3-4 thought-provoking questions about the scene. One such painting had the story of Abraham sacrificing Issac. The question that will always remember was, “Do you see the lamb? Do you see the lamb hiding in the thicket?”

Now before you start thinking about how this must have scared me as a small child. Let me reassure you. Before coming to know Christ I was very sanguine and am still quite morbid, so it was right up my alley. It did something else too (the thing intended by my mother and aunt who found it in the first place). It made it more realistic.

Even today I view scripture differently. I can see the melodramatic escapades of the Hebrews. Or the real fear in the eyes of Peter as He is sinking into the sea he had just walked on. I still read passages and find myself asking real, hard, and truth-digging questions.

Now the question arises, when did we relegate the power of scripture to fables or fairy tales?

Maybe with our pastel story books we have viewed them that way a bit.

But for those who grew up in the church and could really picture the giant fall or the lame man rise, I ask, When did it begin to be just be a story?

When did we start reading these for the morals instead of for the powerful work of God?

When did we start reading the Bible like it was about us instead of about Him?

When did we start to water it down into fables for good people or fairy tales for people who don’t live in the hard circumstances we are trudging through?

I pray we can shift our focus, because it is a God who calmed seas that can help our difficult circumstances. It is a God who came for the Jew and the Gentile who can help us understand racial reconciliation and refugee help. It is a God-man who cried over the death of a friend.

Father, help us see your word with new eyes and teach it to each other with the bold power you began it.

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