“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
You would think that if I were to join you in a discussion about leadership we would talk about the important how to’s. Like how to recruit more, or how to manage difficult people, or how to teach the Bible with more authority. All those questions are important, but the most vital place to start is found in the quiet place, when no one is around, and it is at the very heart of the woman who leads.
1. Check your motivation.
What is your motivation for serving God? Unfortunately, we have all been exposed to leaders who serve to gain the attention of the Pastor; those who have an extreme desire to feel important and needed. When you boil down all the extraneous stuff of leadership, why do you love Jesus? Why has your love for Him caused you to serve others? Perhaps you serve simply out of a heart of gratitude.
I love Jesus because He saved me. Literally, saved me from myself. He picked me up and gave me another chance. He told me that I am His special possession. He chooses to use me and change me day by day. He never lets me go, never lets me down, and never leaves me alone. I am His and He is mine!
When we remember why we first loved Him, our motivation will come from a place of passion for God, and a desire to see others have what we have been given. Grace, redemption, a second chance, an opportunity to grow and excel beyond our wildest dreams. When our motivation stems from love, we won’t want to rule over people to be seen as “the boss”, we will truly serve.
Matthew 23:11 reminds us that “The greatest among you must be a servant.” (NLT) When you serve others, you naturally become a leader. The world tells us to climb the ladder, to one-up the next guy, to have the last word. In the world’s economy this makes sense, but in God’s economy, serving equals leading.
When you become a leader, sideshow distractions will abound. How do you maintain focus on what really matters? How do you guard your heart when everything in you feels offended? How do you outgrow the need for self preservation?
2. Practice being unoffendable.
When you work with people how do you become unoffendable? If you ask God to help you not be offended, guess what? An opportunity for offense will not be far away. You will be tested to determine, do you mean the words you say and the prayers you pray?
How do you pass the test of offense? First, go back to step one, and get your motives right, and second, you will have to remind yourself that people are not the enemy. The enemy is the enemy and he seeks to neutralize you, to make you ineffective, and to paralyze you in your leadership. You will need to give up your need to be right, to let things go, and to get a tough skin. For the sake of the Kingdom and the cause within you, you will need to become downright tenacious about giving up your rights. Daily.
This is why Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:31 says, “I die daily”. It’s not fun, pretty, or pleasant, but for the sake of the cause within you, when lives are at stake and futures hang in the balance, it is worth it!
When I was growing up in church, my Pastor always said, “It is better to be kind than right”, and I have found that this is always a good rule.
You will need to fix your eyes on Jesus. Make Hebrews 12 your own personal training manual. For the sake of space, I will simply highlight a few verses here:
"…Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever…
When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!…So don’t feel sorry for yourselves…
God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children…for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God….
So don’t sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it!… Work at getting along with each other and with God…” Hebrews 12:1-17 (The Message)
3. Give space for grace (for yourself and for others).
We need to be the kind of people who will not make excuses. No excuses for opting out, no excuses for falling short, and no excuses for blowing it. Notice, I’m not saying we won’t occasionally fall short or make a mistake. I’m saying we own up to it. Hold yourself to the highest possible standard of authenticity in the way you serve. No one, not even God expects perfection, but He does expect honesty, sincerity and truth.
As human beings, our first natural response when we mess up is to blame those closest to us, and those serving alongside us. (Remember Eve?) Don’t make excuses when you don’t measure up. Admit to yourself and to those you are accountable to, “I’m learning, I don’t know it all and I made a mistake. I am growing, and I’ll do better the next time around.” And then do better!
Don’t beat yourself up over it. Just be honest and keep moving forward. I believe that those who make the most mistakes are also the ones with the greatest potential for amazing leadership. It’s when we cover up our mistakes, when we live in denial of our own humanity, that we stop growing. Let’s be leaders who can receive grace and who can freely give grace.
When others around us make mistakes, let’s allow them the freedom to grow by encouraging and lifting instead of reminding them of their failure or threatening them by keeping them down until they “learn their lesson”. Jesus doesn’t treat us that way, so how dare we offer less than Christ offered us!
As a man or woman in leadership, many eyes are upon you. Don’t be swayed by it. Go back to the basics and love Jesus, fix your eyes on Him and be a person of grace! When you serve from a place of authentic love, you position yourself for great success. God made no mistake when He called you. You are divinely purposed to lead the charge in your family, in your neighborhood, in your job, and in your church.
Relationships are vital to life. They are especially vital in the house of God. God created us to not be alone. He created male and female, and the church needs both to be whole. We do not have to feel alone or do Kingdom work by ourselves. C5 women value the men of the house. We are not complete without them!
When women learn to stop shrinking back, stop hiding their light under a bushel, and embrace who they were created to be and serve from their strengths, there is no stopping them!
I’ve heard it said that men plan wars, but women plan weddings. Women look for connections with the generations in mind. Men fight for the future they believe in. Women find it natural to build relationships. We desperately need both to play their parts for the church to be complete.
It doesn't matter how old you are or whether you are a physical mother or not. There is always someone younger than you who needs a mother figure in there life. But if you've never seen it done, how to become a Mother of the House
2. A Mom doesn’t just look, she sees. Beyond the surface, into the heart of the child.
Beyond tattoos and piercings, and into the eyes. Beyond the pain and the hurt, and into
the heart. Every church needs moms who will look around, who will see beyond the
natural, who will look beyond the problems in people’s lives, and just love them like a
mother would. We live in an orphaned generation. Who will bestow the spirit of
adoption, and invite people into family if not us?
3. A Mom loves beyond reason. She doesn’t give up when tough times come. She has the
tenacity to love, even when her child doesn’t love her back.
4. A Mom always remembers the kids are watching. She acts like a spiritually mature
woman of God. Even on Facebook.
2 Corinthians 12:9 reminds those who are unsure, “But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and [b]show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may [c]pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!” (Amplified)
His grace is sufficient for you when you feel like you aren't qualified. His power is made perfect in your weakness, when you’re not sure you know what you’re doing. You don’t have to be perfect, you have to be willing. His grace and power are available upon your decision to embrace it.
Why not ask God to stretch your capacity, to give you influence to change someone's life today.
I am a firm believer that there has been no greater hour for the worldwide church than right now! There are things happening in the spiritual and in the natural realm that our forefathers only dreamed of. Dreams that Africa would be declared a Christian Continent, that Europe would be awakening to the good news of the gospel once more, and that America would be longing for reconciliation, righteousness, redemption and revival.
Men and women stand on an even playing field when delivering the gospel message. It was Jesus himself who was the great equalizer and elevator to the cause of women's freedom from oppression and the understanding that women have a distinct calling and destiny written upon their lives, just as men do. Whatever God has put in your heart to achieve to advance the Kingdom of God can be done! It's a miraculous time to be alive.
I see what is happening. I see young people rising. I see generations accepting the call of Christ and going places I could never go. I see creatives being unleashed on the planet to do what I could never do. I cheer them on! Instead of fighting feelings of jealousy, I generously serve their passions; their vision. As an older leader, that is my calling. That is part of my calling, that is.
However, I must be aware. The enemy of my soul would seek to have me diminish my capability with thoughts of inability. I'm too old. I'm past my prime. I have nothing more to give than to cheer on the younger. I can't keep up with all their new ways of doing things. The enemy seeks to silence me. To have me turn off the creative flow in my brain and accept that it is finished. Time to hang it up. Time to retire. No more influence, no more passion, no more fight.
But here's the truth.
The younger generations cannot be fully who they are designed to be without the older. We need a power-packed combination of all generations who can work together, using all our strengths, all our skills, and accomplish together, things that have not yet been seen upon the earth!
When Joshua was over 100 years old, the Lord said to him, "You've had a good, long life, but there is a lot of land still to be taken." Joshua 13:1 (Message) No excuses, Joshua! Get up and move ahead!
Could God be saying the same thing to you today? Maybe you have had a good life, maybe you have accomplished great feats of glory for the Lord. Or perhaps you have regrets. You weren't bold enough. You didn't bravely step out enough. God says, THERE IS STILL MORE LAND TO BE TAKEN!!!
In the next chapter of Joshua we get a glimpse of old Caleb. He declared, "I'm as strong as I was the day Moses sent me out. (45 years earlier.) I'm as strong as ever in battle, whether coming or going. So give me this hill country that God promised me." Joshua 14:12 (Message) Caleb was 85 years old! Can't you just see him, fist in the air, "GIVE ME THIS HILL COUNTRY!" There was still fight in him. He wasn't finished!
We dare not give up before our time is up! There is more territory the Lord has promised us, and He is giving us the strength to go get it! His promises have no expiration date on them. What has he promised to you that you have relinquished to the next generation? I want to see my city saved. My city belongs to the Lord. He said ask of me and I will give you the nations, first, I ask God for my city! (Fist in the air,) "GIVE ME THIS CITY!"
If I become silenced out of fear of being too old, out of date, no longer able, laughable, or feeble, handing the vision off to the next generation, I'm fooling myself. They are not ready! They are in the preparation stages, needing desperately to see a generation who will not give up. God still needs me! God still needs you to pick up the sword and boldly show the younger generation what it looks like to take ground. Let there be no gaps in leadership because we chose to quit early.
"The [uncompromisingly] righteous shall flourish like the palm tree [be long-lived, stately, upright, useful, and fruitful]; they shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon [majestic, stable, durable, and incorruptible]. Planted in the house of the Lord, they shall flourish in the courts of our God. [Growing in grace] they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap [of spiritual vitality] and [rich in the] verdure [of trust, love, and contentment].
[They are living memorials] to show that the Lord is upright and faithful to His promises; He is my Rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him." Psalm 92:12-15 (Amplified)
You are not past your prime. You are in your prime. When you are a righteous follower of Christ, this promise is for you! You will continue to grow in grace and not be stagnant. You shall be full of vitality. You are a living memorial to the faithfulness of God! God still speaks. God is ready to use you again. So the next time the enemy tempts you with words of discouragement, telling you that you are past your prime, remind yourself that you are just getting started!
I am beginning to see that my life leaks. Whether by intention or by default, what is in me comes out onto those around me. Impartation is going to happen whether I am aware of the process or not.
What do you want leaking out of you? Make a list! If your funeral was tomorrow, what would you want people to say rubbed off on them in your lifetime? Joy? Peace? Love? Or maybe faith? The power to hope beyond reason? What you want to pass on, must be in you first!
If there has been one thing revealed through the recent Supreme Court rulings, is that people have opinions. When they heatedly express those opinions, a lot more than the opinion is put on display. Heart, passion, sometimes venom, often times compassion. It can get real ugly real quick. Even when people don't mean to, they leak!!
Galatians 5:22-26, "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another."
So right there in black and white, God has outlined exactly what He expects to leak from our lives. I rarely measure up, but at least He has given me something to shoot for! I'm grateful for that.
We simply must have the Holy Spirit in us, and activated at all times or we fall back to the familiar, the common, and the comfortable. (Which, let's face it, isn't the best.) But when the Holy Spirit is allowed to freely work within us, He convicts us of attitudes that are less than pretty. He directs us in the way of love. He reveals His plan even in the midst of chaos.
So ask Him today. In the words of the song by Bryan and Katie Torwalt, "Holy Spirit you are welcome here! Come flood this place (my heart), and fill the atmosphere. Your glory God is what our hearts long for, To be overcome by your presence, Lord!"
And don't worry about your desperation or try to hide it. God is not scared of your emotions. In fact, He is drawn to desperation. So go ahead, get desperate for a move of the Holy Spirit in your life! A day is coming, indeed, it may already be here, where we simply cannot live without His Spirit for one minute! He is our breath, our life, and our only hope.
When you get full of Him, you will never have to worry that Your Life Leaks.