15 Feb

Meant for More

There are times in life when we sense change is in the air. Such was the case for Jacob as his story is told in Genesis 30 and 31. Jacob had worked 20 years for his father-in-law. He had been a loyal and hardworking member of Laban’s team. 

Jacob had done a great job making others successful. His passion for success gave him a burning desire to do his own thing. He felt certain the time had come for him to build equity into his own future. He had developed a sense of urgency to use the gifts and talents God had given him for the purpose in which they were ultimately intended. By seeking to change, he was taking charge of his destiny and fulfilling the calling God had placed on his life.

Jacob was moving from a season of preparedness to a season of achieving his purpose. Ironically, he was motivated by his desire to return to where he had come from. In some ways, it was as if he had been running from God’s calling on his life. He couldn’t shake it. He knew deep in his heart he was meant for more than life as a herdsman working for no inheritance with his in-laws. 

Jacob had a wakeup call in Bethel. The Lord made it clear that he was misguided. He was living beneath his potential. Bethel was literally a turning point in Jacob’s life. It was there that he took charge of his life and changed the direction he was heading. The pillow of stone was turned into a pillow of purpose. 

Jacob realized he was good at his job and was making life better for everyone but himself. He was a proven growth strategist. He knew how to succeed. He had built things for others. He had worked for wages. Now was the time to work for a better future. 

There are several principles we can take away from Jacob’s approach to starting a business of his own; Jacob’s start-up principles if you will.

1. RECOGNIZE YOUR BETHEL MOMENT. Jacob recognized his Bethel Moment. God got his attention and he took it seriously. Bethel was truly monumental in his life. It was a life changing moment, a reminder of who he was created to be. If not now, when? He seized the day and never looked back. 

2. WORK HARD BUT BE SMART. Jacob worked hard. He was a loyal apprentice. He wasn’t a slacker. He brought undeniable value to the team. He used the opportunity to learn all he could in hopes of someday fulfilling his own dream. He had worked hard, now was the time to be smart.

3. BUILD EQUITY INTO YOUR LIFE. He discovered a way to build equity and save for his future. Simply clocking in for an hourly wage would not sustain him. Nonetheless, he served wholeheartedly but with a plan in mind. He realized it was better to try and fail than to try nothing and succeed.

4. GROW INTO BUSINESS. Jacob understood it was better to grow into business rather than go into business. He could have made a knee-jerk decision and let his emotions drive his approach but he remained patient, waiting for the opportune time. Timing is everything in business.

5. MAKE SMOOTH TRANSITIONS. Making a smooth transition was the key to his success. He got his house in order. He gained input on his decisions and with confidence began moving toward his goal. His family advised him to do whatever God had told him to do. Don’t delay. Make the change. He had a backdrop of support that helped him make the transition with certainty.

6. TRANSFER SKILLS. Jacob transferred his God-given aptitudes and abilities to the calling God had placed on his life. What had worked for others would work for him as well. He put what he had learned into practice, his own practice!  

7. GO WITH GOD. When God said go, Jacob went. Jacob was found listening. He was in step with God.  He was in sync with God’s desires for his life. He didn’t miss the opportunity. There was no delay, he was on his way. 

8. LEAVE AND LIVE IN PEACE. Jacob didn’t burn any bridges. If he missed God’s best it was that he left in fear. Doing so put added stress on his relationships. However, in the end, the conflict and tensions were worked out. Jacob was able to leave and live in peace as the new venture was blessed and put into place. 

Jacob took charge of his circumstances in order to make necessary changes in his life. He could have continued where he was but deep inside he knew he was meant for more. It wasn’t easy. There was plenty of risk and uncertainty but empowered by God, and mobilized by faith, he moved beyond Bethel and stepped into his calling. Stepping out changed his life and history in the process

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13 Feb

Alone in the yoke?

Consider inviting the Lord into your challenges today and watch him go to work on your behalf and improve your effectiveness. 

Test him in this. The key is not doing more. The key is doing less by allowing the Lord to lighten the load.

He said His yoke is easy. When we feel overwhelmed and burdened it is likely a sign we are unequally yoked. We are baring to much of the load. He wants to help but we have to get out of the way! 

The Lord’s yoke is to be carried by two! All too often we find ourselves alone in the yoke. It is a choice we make not a demand that is made. We are designed to walk with Him in the rows He has called us to till.

Invite him in and work becomes worship.

Our platform becomes a place for Jesus to go to work!

“Now I will take the load from your shoulders; I will free your hands from their heavy tasks.” Psalm 81:6 NLT

 

03 Feb

A failing pursuit of fortune and fame

The problem wasn’t succcess. The problem was too much success. King Saul had been chosen to be the first King of his nation, yet despite his position of power, his influence waned as he became more interested in fame and fortune than he was walking in the presence of the Lord. His desire to be recognized as a notable people pleaser, skewed his thinking and ultimately left him tormented by fear and jealousy.

Presented with a giant problem, Goliath, Saul began to lose mojo among the troops. Almost as if to provide entertainment to the troops, Saul accepts an offer by a ruddy shepherd boy to take down the taunting Philistine tyrant. Much to everyone’s surprise, the kid pulls it off. The crowd stood stunned but no one was more so than King Saul.

Before long the local boy was rising in popularity. His name was showing up in pop culture. Songs were being written and sung about him. As these tunes tickled Saul’s ears his heart turned dark. Rather than appreciating David’s success, he resented it. The headline read, “Saul has killed thousands and David his ten thousands.” The polling numbers were off and Saul couldn’t stand it. 

Saul’s appreciation and admiration quickly turned from envy to jealousy. The fear of losing power became more important than maintaining influence. Overwhelmed and tormented by his loss in popularity, the people pleasing, fame-seeking King became a raving madman. So obsessed with the headlines, Saul lost his ability to reason and lead effectively. Saul had chosen his own way and as a result, the Lord left him to himself. 

As Saul’s leadership dwindled and declined, everything David did turned to gold. It was not of his own doing but simply because David recognized the source of his strength and to whom credit was due. Credit belonged to the King of Kings not the man sitting in a position of power.

Saul banned David from his presence and worked on his own suffering public image by appearing to offer David a prestigious role in the military. It was a scam and full blown conspiracy to take David out. 

Whether by divine intervention, intuition or insight, we do not know, but one thing is for certain, David was selective and literally picked his battles and won! This drove Saul even more insane! Sadly, of his own choice, we learn that David remained Saul’s enemy for the rest of his life. As Saul grew more fearful of David’s success, David grew more and more famous. Why? Simply put, one was a man after the hearts of men. The other was a man in pursuit of the heart of God.

 We would do well to examine our own hearts. What motivates us? Are we seeking the limelight? Are we driven to be known or to make Him known? It is one thing to appreciate and admire the successes of others. It is all together different to see our envy shift to jealousy. If we aren’t careful, bitterness and hate take root and before we know it, we are delusional and tormented by the evil that has filled our hearts. It becomes all about us. Our influence crumbles as we fight to hold onto a position secured only by popularity and people pleasing. 

Help us Lord to be people so set on pursuing your heart and your ways that we desire your presence more than any fame or fortune that comes our way.

21 Jan

Boaz Points!

Boaz possessed more than just a cool name. Boaz had earned an incredible reputation as a man who understood the keys to success and significance. 

Boaz was a man of wealth and influence. It is a rare feat to accomplish one or the other but to be recognized for both is very rare indeed.

What was it about this man that allowed him to operate with such success in life and work?

We gain insight to his modus operandi as we catch up with him at the beginning of his work day. We don’t find Boaz high in an ivory tower or tucked away in his corner office hiding behind a computer screen. No, we find Boaz up early greeting his team in the field. 

No doubt, Boaz cared about profit but he also cared about people. He realized that when work has meaning, people stop working for a paycheck and start working on purpose. 

It is clear that Boaz loved his team and they loved him. He started the day not by running to the coffee pot or jumping head long into spreadsheets. He realized people really were his greatest asset and he wanted them to know he knew the reason for his success. No wonder he greeted them first thing with a blessing and they responded to him with more of the same. He wanted results but he knew results were better when rooted in meaningful relationships.

Boaz was observant. If he had been a shepherd he would have smelt like sheep. He tended to his flock and he was aware of their needs. There is no surprise that he would recognize a new face in a crowd of day laborers.  When he did, he turned to the team leader and inquired about the new hire. Boaz soon learned the pretty girl, named Ruth, was a hard worker who had survived incredibly hard times. Despite her personal challenges, she also possessed a heart to serve others. Her values lined up with his values. He knew instantly that she had come to the right place and was meant for more. 

Looking beyond the working relationship, Boaz sensed a deeper need in the life of Ruth. He turned to his team and they knew what he was about to say. They had gotten use to using their work to make a difference in the lives of others. Keeping to script, Boaz told his team, “You know what to do. Let’s share what we have with those in need. Leave some of the harvest behind for those who have fallen on hard times.”  

No one complained. No one wondered if Boaz was cutting into their incentive plan. It is fair to say they were eager and excited to help. They had learned how to live and work on purpose from the best of the best. Boaz set the example and his team willingly followed. Boaz wouldn’t forget them when it came time to hand out bonuses. 

It is important to note that Boaz wasn’t into handouts. He was careful not to rob Ruth of her dignity.  She still had to do her part. She had to pick up on the opportunity that was provided. Boaz understood the difference in a hand up and a handout. As a result, Ruth returned home with excitement. She was energized by how God had orchestrated her entire day. God had used a gracious and kind business man to meet her needs. She had no idea how God was about to turn her trail of tragedy into unexpected triumph!

As she shared highlights from her day with her dead husband’s mother, we gain a key insight as to why Boaz was so successful. Upon hearing the news, Naomi proclaimed, “May the Lord bless the one who helped you! May the Lord bless him for his kindness.” 

Clearly, Boaz was a living testimony to the fact that those who bless others will themselves be blessed. By blessing others the Lord poured out blessings on Boaz. You can’t out give God and he certainly has a soft spot for widows and orphans. 

Boaz had learned to find the one the Lord would have bless on a daily basis. On this day he scored double “BOAZ” points. He gained two blessings for the price of one! 

Modern business leaders can learn a lot from Boaz. At the core, Boaz serves as a model for how to live and work on purpose. His life and work had meaning. His business was focused on the triple bottom line; profits, people and purpose. 

Certainly, profit is essential for any business. But when a business truly recognizes people are its greatest asset and when those people find purpose in their work, profits have a way of exceeding expectations. Simply put, take care of people and profits will take care of themselves. 

We need only to look to Boaz to discover that success and significance are possible. When we get it right, success and significance lead to great satisfaction in life and work. 

Top 10 insights from the Boaz Business Model as presented in the book of Ruth, chapter two.

  1. Walk among them
  2. Be an encourager 
  3. Be observant
  4. Ask questions
  5. Be kind and caring
  6. Give back
  7. Recognize the good in others
  8. Find the one everyday
  9. Know the difference between a handout and a hand up
  10. Live and work on purpose 

 

20 Jan

Lacks and Locks

The strength of Samson is legendary. He was given a highly unusual gift. So long as his locks grew long, his strength would be supernatural. His key to success in life and work were simple, don’t cut your hair.

Early on the scriptures indicate that the Spirit of the Lord was on the boy. This should come as no surprise given his parents had dedicated him to the Lord from the start. They had been without child and God granted them not only a blessing but a blessing that was truly gifted.

Samson soon discovered his superman like traits. He once ripped a lion apart with his bare hands. He took on 30 men and sent them to an early grave. He captured 300 foxes, tied a torch to pairs of tails and released them to burn down the fields, vineyards and olive groves of the pesky Philistines. Let’s just say Samson had a reputation and there was no need for him to carry a big stick. In fact, when the Philistines came for restitution, he killed another 1,000 with the jawbone of a donkey. Despite his toughness, like a lot of men, women were his weakness. More than once he would have qualified for the TV show, Men Behaving Badly. But it was sweet Delilah that ultimately soured his future.

Samson began to take his gifting and calling for granted. He started to compromise his standards. Isolated and alone, he played with sin and was lulled to sleep by a beautiful betrayer. It is a lesson for all of us, sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay. 

Samson became an over confident, conceited and compromising leader. His riddles and rhymes ultimately were his ruin. The secret to his success was out and before he knew it, his head was shaved, his eyes were gouged out and a life meant for victory was squander and left only to grind grain in the prison of its captors. 

Samson failed to realize that his problem was not that his hair had left his head but rather the Lord had left his side. Samson had forgotten the giver of the gift was the true source of his strength. Without the Lord, his hair meant nothing. 

Samson went from being the man everyone feared to the man everyone made fun of. He was the laughing stock of the town. But in his sadness, Samson remembered the Lord. His heart turned back to his creator. He repented and the Lord renewed his mind, and although it be ever so slowly, the Lord renewed his strength.

While his captors grew lacks, Samson grew locks. As the stubble grew, so did his strength. It was subtle and slow but the man that was, was making a comeback. We see the heart of the man when he prays to the Lord, “O God, please strengthen me one more time.” No one wants their life to be wasted. Like so many of us, Samson wondered if he had simply gone beyond the point of recovery. He wanted his life to matter, even if it were just one last time.

They never saw it coming. The blind and battered “has been” was about to get the last laugh. Before his enemies knew it, Samson brought down the house. They never knew what hit them. It cost him his life but Samson’s prayer was answered as he pushed back the pillars of support. The roof came down and the walls came tumbling in. Thousands were wiped out, including all the enemy’s leaders, in one final push!  Samson went out in a blaze of glory! Samson ended strong!

Samson was far from perfect. He grew proud and flippant. We can almost see him playing with his curly locks, smiling with an ornery grin. “If only they knew,” he must have been thinking. Unfortunately, eventually they did discover the secret to his success and Samson paid the ultimately price for his lapse in judgement.

What can we learn from Samson’s life?

  1. Don’t compromise your standards.
  2. Don’t play with sin.
  3. Isolation leads to idleness which leads to idolatry.
  4. Don’t take your gifts and calling for granted.
  5. Beware of being lulled to sleep and inactive.
  6. Realize the absence of the Lord’s presence in your life.
  7. Remember God’s call on your life
  8. Repent and return to the Lord. 
  9. God will renew your mind. 
  10. You will regain your strength. You will end strong despite what you may have done because God isn’t finished with you yet! 

 

15 Jan

Get Going Gideon!

Sometimes we just need a little nudge. Things seem right to us but we aren’t sure if we can go with our gut. Is it God or the pizza that is stirring our desires?

God gave Gideon a big assignment but Gideon wasn’t so sure God was the one making the call that was being made on his life. 

We can learn a lot from Gideon.  He was cautious and careful as he sought clarity but when he gained confidence he moved ahead courageously.

The point of Gideon’s story is not whether we are testing or doubting God. At the heart of Gideon’s story is a man who desires to be obedient and wanted God’s best. 

Clearly, God encourages us to seek wisdom. He wants us to ask for guidance and to take it! Whether God speaks through a fleece or through His word, circumstances, nature or others, it is His prerogative  to speak when and how He chooses.  Fleece or no fleece is not the question. The question is whether or not we will be found listening!

All too often we equate comfort with God’s calling. When in reality the men God uses are faced with a load of uncertainty. One thing is for certain, without faith, it is impossible to please God.

During times of intense decision making, faith pushes us and hope pulls as God’s love guides through uncertainty.

Fear is there too doing all it can to hold us back from God’s best. Worry steps in and pushes back trying to squelch our courage. The enemy whispers lies of self doubt and confusion. He knows if we step out in faith, the battle is lost and God wins again!

The next time you are faced with a heavy decision, don’t fret. Don’t worry. Take your concern to the Lord. Share your desires with Him and listen, wait and expect Him to respond. He knows you are a man after His heart. You are seeking His wisdom and advice. Trust His timing. Enjoy being in His presence with eyes to see and ears to hear. If God has something to say, He will get through, even if it involves a little dew and a fleece!

Scripture is always a great place to start when trying to determine God’s  will. Much of what we need to know is already there waiting to be learned. A few passages that serve as encouragement for the inquiring heart includes; Psalm 23, Proverbs 3:5-6, I Corinthians 13, Hebrews 11:6, Psalm 37:4, Proverbs 29:18 and Jeremiah 29:11. 

Give God a shout! It’s time to get going Gideon!

 

 

11 Jan

Only thing worse

“The only thing worse than lying to others is lying to yourself. What we come to believe is often far from the truth. Check your sources and be honest with yourself. Deception is real and often fatal.”