CMF eZine The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship. 24 October In His Tool Box By Dan Cartwright 0 Comment Sound corny? I thought so too when the phrase popped into my head seemingly from out of nowhere. I have heard of “In His Steps,” and “In His Service” but “In His Toolbox?” I did a search of my mental directory for slogans, mottos and phrases to see if it might be stored somewhere between "An Army Of One", "Be All You Can Be", "Just Do It", or W.W.J.D.. After all, what is a toolbox anyway? It is a collection of tools stored in a common container that allows the user to perform a variety of tasks. Who uses toolboxes? Mechanics, electricians, carpenters, plumbers, maintenance men and God—all use toolboxes. But perhaps we think of ourselves as highly trained, highly motivated and successful individuals. Who among us thinks of himself as a hammer, a pair of pliers, or a pipe wrench that can be used of God? I have to admit that in our current American culture the idea of being a useful tool in someone else's toolbox (even God’s) certainly violates the philosophies touted by motivational speakers, success gurus and all the get rich quick promoters. Then again, I am not talking about worldly success. I'm talking about being a tool in God's toolbox. Think about it. God, our creator and author of our salvation, is the master mechanic. His desire is that no one would perish and although He could deliver the salvation message Himself, He has chosen common folk like us to be the “tools” of His service. The mechanic at the local automobile repair shop would not be able to fix your car without tools. God has made it so His Church cannot serve without you, His tools. As Christians serving in the military, no matter where you are stationed, no matter what your occupation, there are those around you in need of The Savior. By God's design, you represent the Savior and Lord of the universe. The Master's desire is that we allow Him to mold us into useful tools: tools are well maintained and cared for by His love; tools that are resting in the toolbox (His Sabbath Rest), ready and available for His use on every occasion. What an honor to be gently lifted out of God's toolbox and to be used to heal, nurture, and encourage the Saints or even better yet, share the Good News with those around us! Why am I excited about being 'just a tool'? It is because of my gratitude to our Lord, knowing that He paid so dear a price for my sin. I was once separated from fellowship with Him and doomed to an eternity without Him. But now I am restored into fellowship with Him (He lives in me), and I look forward to spending eternity in His glorious presence! When I remember that My Savior and Lord one day long ago shed a drop of blood with my name on it, a crimson coin He used to purchase me out of the marketplace of sin—how could I not serve Him? One of my favorite gospel songs puts it this way: “Well... He chose me when I could not choose Him, Well... He loved me long before I knew Him, And He died for me on Calvary long before my life began - The least I can do is live for Him!” I am deliriously happy to be 'just a tool' in the Masters toolbox! I endeavor to keep myself well oiled and ready for the His use. Oh, to be so valued by God! Are you a deliriously happy tool of the Master? Sound corny? I thought so too when the phrase popped into my head seemingly from out of nowhere. I have heard of “In His Steps,” and “In His Service” but “In His Toolbox?” I did a search of my mental directory for slogans, mottos and phrases to see if it might be stored somewhere between "An Army Of One", "Be All You Can Be", "Just Do It", or W.W.J.D.. After all, what is a toolbox anyway? It is a collection of tools stored in a common container that allows the user to perform a variety of tasks. Who uses toolboxes? Mechanics, electricians, carpenters, plumbers, maintenance men and God—all use toolboxes. But perhaps we think of ourselves as highly trained, highly motivated and successful individuals. Who among us thinks of himself as a hammer, a pair of pliers, or a pipe wrench that can be used of God? I have to admit that in our current American culture the idea of being a useful tool in someone else's toolbox (even God’s) certainly violates the philosophies touted by motivational speakers, success gurus and all the get rich quick promoters. Then again, I am not talking about worldly success. I'm talking about being a tool in God's toolbox. Think about it. God, our creator and author of our salvation, is the master mechanic. His desire is that no one would perish and although He could deliver the salvation message Himself, He has chosen common folk like us to be the “tools” of His service. The mechanic at the local automobile repair shop would not be able to fix your car without tools. God has made it so His Church cannot serve without you, His tools. As Christians serving in the military, no matter where you are stationed, no matter what your occupation, there are those around you in need of The Savior. By God's design, you represent the Savior and Lord of the universe. The Master's desire is that we allow Him to mold us into useful tools: tools are well maintained and cared for by His love; tools that are resting in the toolbox (His Sabbath Rest), ready and available for His use on every occasion. What an honor to be gently lifted out of God's toolbox and to be used to heal, nurture, and encourage the Saints or even better yet, share the Good News with those around us! Why am I excited about being 'just a tool'? It is because of my gratitude to our Lord, knowing that He paid so dear a price for my sin. I was once separated from fellowship with Him and doomed to an eternity without Him. But now I am restored into fellowship with Him (He lives in me), and I look forward to spending eternity in His glorious presence! When I remember that My Savior and Lord one day long ago shed a drop of blood with my name on it, a crimson coin He used to purchase me out of the marketplace of sin—how could I not serve Him? One of my favorite gospel songs puts it this way: “Well... He chose me when I could not choose Him, Well... He loved me long before I knew Him, And He died for me on Calvary long before my life began - The least I can do is live for Him!” I am deliriously happy to be 'just a tool' in the Masters toolbox! I endeavor to keep myself well oiled and ready for the His use. Oh, to be so valued by God! Are you a deliriously happy tool of the Master? Related 7 Impactful Insights for Servant Leadership 7 Impactful insights for Servant Leadership in Business or at Home As leaders, in a business environment or at home with your children, it’s important that your leadership toolbox is full and robust so that you can access the tools that you need in any given situation. If you’re familiar with the concept of Situational Leadership, then you’ll understand practical application of the “when and how” to apply certain leadership tools. If the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, then your protégés will potentially learn how to lead by responding to your continuous example of anger and rigidity. While we can agree that there are situations when the hammer is required (as your child is chasing the ball towards the traffic-filled street, when a military regiment is required to move quickly, or when a potential safety mishap is to be averted), it is not the preferred tool to be employed in all situations. Where do we first begin to learn to lead? Sometimes we learn without even knowing that we’re learning. Our parents, guardians, and teachers were our first examples that we learned from and you can take the good attributes from them, and throw away the not-so-good attributes from them. As a leader, I’m continuously evaluating myself for effectiveness and often reflect on what should be intuitive and ask myself simple questions for those that have others within their sphere of care such as parents, pastors, or business leaders. If you call yourself a Christian, and if you have direct or indirect leadership of others, you have to consider the following questions: “How would Jesus lead in this situation?” What does the Servant Leader’s toolbox look like? “A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” Luke 22:24-27 ESV 1. Love How important is it to have love in your toolbox? It’s so important, that Jesus highlights this as the greatest over all of the commandments. “And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.’” Matthew 22:37-40 But how are we to lead others from a position of love? Love compels us to do things that are often out of the ordinary, or are beyond the capacities or expectations of our role. In the business environment, this might pertain to a situation where a person needs to leave work, for one reason or another for what is only revealed as a pressing personal issue. However, the deadline is rapidly approaching and that person is one of the only people that can answer the data call. What do you do? Do you decide that the needs of the business are greater than the needs of the employee, or do you let love lead and excuse the person knowing that the data call will be critically impacted? As a parent, this is easier as we love our children as parents do but as a business leader, this might be an uncomfortable area for you as you learn to love your subordinates. Keep love at the ready in your leadership toolbox and relationships will be deeply rooted in trust and respect, and work productivity can flourish as a result. “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 ESV 2. Lead With (or from) Weakness We want our subordinates or protégés to see us as confident and strong leaders, exuding qualities and traits from which they can emulate. Any signs of weakness can reduce their respect for you, as they become disappointed as the chinks in your armor are revealed, right? Wrong! Studies have shown that in a work environment, subordinates are more likely to respond to a personable and human boss that can admit and take ownership of his or her mistakes publicly and with humility. This fosters an environment of inclusion and productivity is directly impacted in a positive manner. “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV  https://hbr.org/2014/05/the-best-leaders-are-humble-leaders 3. Empathize From the time that we are children, God has blessed us with a natural ability to care for one another, on an internal and often subconscious level. We are all connected through this internal bond that can be associated with the “mother’s instinct” where “mama bear or papa bear” are revealed when their cubs are found to be in dangerous situations. We place ourselves in the paws of our cubs, or the feet of others as we empathize with them in their given situation, whatever that may be. “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Romans 12:9-13 But how are we to lead with empathy? We have deadlines to meet and requirements to uphold. Adults are adults and professionals are expected to carry their own weight. We’re not running daycare centers (well, maybe we are but you get the point). Does empathy and compassion have any room in a production or military environment? Should it? Let’s “take-it-to-the-book” and see what our leadership examples have shown us: “And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:42-45 As we serve others, we’re to do so from a position of empathy, where regardless of the business requirements, establishing and fostering the human element, as with a “family first” regimen, workers are more likely to support the infrastructure and provide quality workmanship and pride in delivered product as a result. 4. Sympathize Empathy and sympathy go hand-in-hand. Jesus compels us to address each other’s needs and carry the burdens of others on a personal level. Where we’re stumbling and find ourselves in a position of need, we’re required to help each other through whatever circumstances those may be. “But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?” John 3:17 ESV But how are we to lead from a position of sympathy? We can’t be expected to physically help out everybody in our shop through situations of need, can we? Everybody arrives to work with their own sets of struggles that they’re working through, how can I help them all and still be a productive leader? The answer may be simple, and may not require much time but for the body of the workforce, as leaders we have one crucial sympathetic tool in our toolbox, and that is the power of prayer! Pray for your coworkers, your students, your flock, your soldiers, and your children. With a sympathetic ear, hear their trials and pray for them individually and collectively. “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4 5. Wisdom The Bible tells us that if we’re to seek with our whole hearts, then we’ll find our answers there, within the text. Wisdom and discernment not only assist us in making critical ethical and moral decisions, but if we rely on wisdom before we react, then our ability to lead others through every situation becomes more predictable, credible, and sustainable. “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” Proverbs 3:13-18 ESV As somebody that serves their followership by leading with wisdom in their toolbox, we then create an environment of approachability and an open forum for creativity and ideas to flow freely through the workplace. This methodology impacts a culture and the work culture that you create through your leadership traits then permeates through all functions and elements of the business, or church, or battleground, or household. 6. Active Listening Have you ever heard the expression about having two ears and one mouth for a reason? Active listening can aid in your servant leadership attributes by allowing your responses to be in alignment with the needs of the persons or body that you’re serving. Listening is a vitally important tool to have in our leadership toolbox as it’s one of the first things that we’re taught as children. “Pay attention” or “listen to me” are words that I heard often in my early childhood and leadership development. We want our protégés to hear, and practically apply our instructions in order to accomplish tasks. And with that reasoning in mind, we’re to offer them the same benefit by actively listening to their needs, hearing and affirming their circumstances (empathy and/or sympathy), and enacting a course of action to assist in the resolution of their needs. “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;” James 1:19 ESV 7. Offer Sage Advice You know what they say about advice and opinions? Everybody has an opinion and with regards to advice, you’ll want to consider the source. As leaders, we are the source! So for those to consider, listen to and follow your advice, you’ll want to establish credibility by lovingly offering sage advice to your employees, soldiers, protégés, or children. The apostle Paul offers: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29 To have the above tools for your toolbox and the knowledge of each is just one element to the entirety of your leadership strategy. The other elements of your leadership strategy arrive during your “boots-on-ground” real world practical application of tool usage in your work, home, church, or military environments. The ability to incorporate critical thinking skills and discern the tools to employ in dynamic and fluid environments will help to sharpen you as a leader, and benefit greatly those in your charge. Until next time, think of ways where you can be of service to those that you lead. Shalom. The Gap: Where Do Leaders Fail? The Gap: Where Do Leaders Fail? 8 Tools to Leadership Success Knowing the landscape of what becomes well rounded leadership is only half the battle. In most cases, we fight ourselves and our cultural upbringing along the way. As a result, there can be gaps, or chinks in our armor. Our backgrounds and experiences can help or hinder in our abilities to lead others. Have you ever completed a SWOT analysis 1 on yourself? If you have, you know that the “W” is for Weaknesses. While we’d like to assume that we make very little mistakes and take calculated and well thought out mitigated risks, the truth of the matter is that upwards of 40 percent of leaders fail 2 within the first 18 months and have a gap in their toolbox in at least one of the following areas. What are your weaknesses? How do you know?  SWOT Analysis: acronym (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) is a simple but useful framework for analyzing your organization's strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and threats that you face. It helps you focus on your strengths, minimize threats, and take the greatest possible advantage of opportunities available to you.  Staffing Talk: http://staffingtalk.com/40-percent-new-leaders-fail-within-first-18-months 1. Organization — Understand Where You Fit! Knowing the landscape of the organization is also a large part of your leadership effectiveness. I call it “swimming through the muck.” In a large corporation, knowing your organizational structure, especially if you’re a “small fish in a big pond,” is paramount to being effective in your role. In some businesses, there are business areas, mission areas, business units, and then the “enterprise” corporate level Leadership Team. “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” (Proverbs 18:15 ESV) Knowing where you fit, and understanding your customer base, and who you support in your role are of vital importance in your ability to be an effective leader. In leadership, having the wisdom of placement, and knowing “who’s who in the zoo” assists in your abilities to lead others. Proverbs 3:13-18 (ESV) says: “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace....” 2. Be Concise The ability to provide specific direction to your subordinates will prevent them from floundering and wasting time. It also helps to keep up morale! Studies have shown that subordinates are more productive, and effective in a mission driven environment however if that mission is unclear, then they’re left potentially aimless and working in other directions rather than those which are intended. The “Commanders Intent” needs to be clear and concise. In addition to a clear vision or mission statement, subordinates need to have an “action plan” that shows them how to support the mission or vision within their role. The action plan, and what can be a workable list can also aid in evaluating individual performance against requirements. Set your team up for success! In your walk as a Christian, how do you know the direction that God has for you? Have you studied His word and discerned your followership? What role in your personal leadership development does God play? Have you considered His word as you exemplify your own leadership role? “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 ESV) 3. Equip Your Team As you’ve clearly communicated your intent, or the intent of the organization with regards to the vision and mission, have you set your subordinates up for success by equipping them with the tools, equipment, and accesses that they’ll require in order to perform effectively in their role? What do they need in order to carry out the mission? Will they require training, special certifications, gear or supplies to begin the mission? Once equipped, have you thought about how they’re to be sustained in their work environment? While Napoleon said, “An Army marches on its stomach,” Jesus says: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4 ESV) 4. Be Ethical This should go without saying but you’d be surprised (or maybe not) at the business decisions of corporate leaders, military leaders, and the like. One of the biggest career killers in senior military leadership is in fraternization, or sexual harassment. In the corporate world, the darkness is often brought to the light when the unethical train begins to run freely down the tracks. Make a decision already! But do it ethically. There’s a time where you have to take your emotion out of the equation and consider ethical decision making reasoning approaches to weigh the potential outputs of your decision. Are you running through the ethical decision making approaches, for the tough ethical dilemmas of teleological (costs vs. benefits), ontological (rules, rights, justice) and deontological (virtues) reasoning? The Lord will guide in your ethical decision making. Are you listening before you act? “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21 ESV) 5. Embrace the Culture Through Diversity, Equality, and Tolerance One of the greatest benefits that we have as leaders, whether in a corporate business environment or out on the battlefield, is diversity of the labor pool! Age, ethnicity, education, technical background, and the like can help to add value to a robust team of performers! Be careful to check your cultural biases at the door for God does the greatest things with the most unlikely people. “And David said to Saul, ‘Let no man's heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.’” (1 Samuel 17:32 ESV) So put off your first impressions and give everybody a fair shake. Assess, assign, monitor, trust, and reinforce and your teams will perform like pistons in a vehicle: powerful and moving in a manner that advances the mission. 6. Empowerment This brings us to empowerment. Empowerment is one of the most beneficial tools that you can ever carry in your leadership toolbox. Not only is it liberating for the subordinate, but it also encourages them to undertake acts of leadership implied or specified in their newly empowered role! Empowerment gives your subordinates confidence to make decisions on their own, and to potentially lead others as they develop into young leaders themselves. Giving a subordinate an element of autonomy greatly assists in their inherent development and maturity in the work force. If you find that a subordinate is constantly questioning your decisions or leadership motives, perhaps making them a “trusted agent” by empowering them and including them in the solution decision making process is the answer. Jesus says: “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:19-20 ESV) 7. Empathy Self-check: is the hammer the biggest and most utilized tool in your leadership toolbox? If so, you may be missing out on some critical developmental opportunities not only for yourself, but for those that you mentor. Leading with empathy doesn’t make you soft, it makes you approachable and human. Have you ever had a boss or mentor that led by fear? How effective were they and how effective were you in your capacity to complete assigned tasks? Empathy will encourage your subordinates to be open and honest in a trusted environment without fear of repercussion and will improve and enhance workplace morale. Having an empathetic boss, or being an empathetic leader reflects Christ in areas where perhaps those attributes are lacking. Not only are you charged with the knowledge of the walk, but the enactment of the walk. In one Biblical example, the Apostle Paul compels us to: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15 ESV) 8. Identity First and foremost we must never forget, that our identity does not lie within our vocational position. While our working role is that of a corporate or military leader, our identity is not found there. Our identity is not in the clothes that we wear, the watch on our wrist, the car that we drive, our golf swing, our experiences, our mistakes, our successes, or other places where we place our value. Our identity is only to be found as a true and loving child of the one true living God. From that, and only that standpoint, can we begin to shape our thoughts, our actions, and our decisions to go forth and embody the attributes of Christ and display for those with whom we come into contact. As leaders, we are held to a higher regard, which encompasses greater responsibilities, to exude leadership and to lead by example. As Christ believers and followers, we must consider and give credence to the Lord of Lords, the one who puts breath in our lungs each and every second of every moment of every day. Shalom. The Greatest Work in The World! By Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe | 1972 There are many good things that a man can do in the world today. But I have a conviction that the greatest work any of us can do is to help lead people to Jesus Christ. You do not have to be a “full-time Christian worker” to be a soul-winner. In fact, many of our greatest soul-winners are dedicated men and women who hold “ordinary” occupations, but who use every opportunity to witness for Christ. We use the word “soul-winner” so often, and yet I wonder if we really know what it means? Perhaps it would be helpful to us if we discovered from the Bible just what a soul-winner is and what he is supposed to do. As I was studying this subject, I was interested to find many pictures of the soul-winner in the Bible; and I want to share some of these pictures with you. The soul-winner is a shepherd. “Let him know that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (James 5:20). James is speaking particularly about Christians who may stray from the truth, but his words also apply to the lost. If it is important for us to guide wandering believers back into God’s way, how much more important it is to guide unbelievers! We are shepherds, out seeking the wandering sheep. “All we like sheep have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6). If the lost sheep is left to himself, he will die; and if the lost soul is left to himself, he will perish forever. Here is one reason society is in a mess: people have strayed from the truth. It was a gradual thing. First men questioned God’s truth; then they criticized it; then they ignored it; then they laughed at it. The world would rather believe lies than face God’s truth, in spite of the fact that these lies are leading men to death. Jesus told the story about the shepherd who went out into the wilderness to find the lost sheep. What a beautiful picture of the soul-winner! “But none of the ransomed ever knew How deep were the waters crossed, Nor how black was the night that the Lord went through, E’er He found His sheep that was lost.” The most important characteristic for a shepherd is love. The Good Shepherd so loved us that He laid down His life for the sheep. Do we love lost souls enough to search them out and share the Good News with them? Or are we so wrapped up in our own plans that we do not have time to think about the other person? We are supposed to be shepherds who help to guide the wandering back into the fold. The soul-winner is a hunter. Proverbs 11:30 says, “He that winneth souls is wise.” That word “winneth” has the idea of “catching, as a hunter catches an animal.” We are supposed to “capture” souls! In many ways, the lost sinner is just like an animal. Jesus said to Saul of Tarsus, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 9:5). What is a goad? It is the sharp stick that the farmer uses to prod his lazy animals. God was “prodding” Saul; He was treating Saul like a stubborn animal! The lost sinner is just like a stubborn animal: he wants his own way, and yet he does not realize that his own way leads to death. Just as it takes love to be a shepherd, so it takes skill to be a hunter. It takes skill to “capture” lost souls. The hunter is careful not to frighten the animal. He is very careful not to permit his scent to be carried to the animal. I wish more Christians were that wise! Too often unsaved people “get the scent” from the church and know all the things that are going wrong! We Christians must be very careful not to get in the way of the wind, but to let the “wind of the Spirit” blow as He desires. Hunters will use different approaches in capturing animals. Many different kinds of traps are mentioned in the Bible, because you cannot use the same approach with different animals. Too often you and I use the same approach with every lost person, and we wonder why we often fail. It takes skill to be a hunter, and it takes skill to be a successful soul-winner. The soul-winner is a fisherman. “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Christ called four fishermen to be disciples—Peter, Andrew, James, and John. And remember that fishing was not their hobby; it was their life’s work. To them, catching fish was not fun: it was a matter of life or death! Do you know why Jesus called four fishermen? Because fishermen know how to stick with the job and get it done. You will rarely see a fisherman sitting around doing nothing. He is either casting his nets, or cleaning his nets, or repairing his nets. He is always wrapped up in fishing. So it is with the soul-winner: he is always involved in witnessing—and he stays at it! The most important thing about a fisherman is his ability to stick with it, because fishing can be a very difficult and disappointing vocation. Too often, we “fishers of men” give up too soon. When the going gets tough, we decide to head for shore and give up fishing for a while. We sit around and discuss fishing instead of heading out to the depths to let down the nets! One preacher has suggested that most Christians have ceased to be fishers of men. Instead, they are owners of beautiful aquariums, and they spend most of their time moving the fish from one tank to another! In Bible days, fishermen had three methods of fishing: hooks, spears, and nets. Peter let the hook down and caught the fish that contained the money for the taxes. If you plan to use a hook, be sure you have the right kind of bait, and be sure you stay alert so you know when the fish is there! It takes real skill and patience to use the spear, but this is a good way to get fish. Just keep your eye on the one you want, and spear him! But the best way is the net, because you can catch more fish that way. It requires several men to use the nets; soul-winners must learn how to work together. To be sure, not every “fish” will be a good one. Jesus warns us that the net will contain all kinds of fish, some good and some bad (Matthew 13:47-50); but the presence of the bad fish is no reason for us to reject the good fish. Not every fish we catch for the Lord will be a true believer, but many of them will; and the more we try to catch, the bigger will be the percentage of true believers. If we are going to bring souls to Christ, we must be like the fishermen that Jesus called: we must have persistence. Only God can give the catch, no matter how hard we may toil. And let’s remember that only God knows how big the catch is! Let’s not get so wrapped up in numbers that we forget how important one individual soul is to Jesus Christ. The soul-winner is a harvester. Jesus tells us to “look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35-38). It takes all kinds of workers to have a harvest: people to plow, people to sow and water, people to fight weeds, and people to reap the grain. But all of them are a part of the harvest! This is why soul-winners are compared to harvesters: we need to practice cooperation. Not compromise, but cooperation, a willingness to work together. There is no end to what God will do for the Christian who does not care who gets the credit. The important thing out in the field is not competing for attention, but reaping the harvest. We are laborers together, and each one must help the other. God has given us some marvelous tools for harvesting the grain: radio, television, literature, cassettes, computers, and a host of other tools. We are not to use these tools to impress each other, but to gather in the harvest. I fear that too often we harvesters are using the sickles on each other instead of on the grain! It is discouraging to see how one Christian attacks another Christian, or one worker criticizes another worker; and all the time the harvest is going to waste. One of the basic laws of the harvest is partnership: one sows, another reaps, but God gives the increase. The soul-winner is an ambassador. “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Imagine! We are God’s ambassadors! This certainly puts dignity into this business of winning souls! Instead of apologizing when we witness for Christ or make a visit in a home, we ought to act like dedicated dignitaries, sent by God—because that is exactly what we are! “As my Father hath sent Me, so send I you” (John 20:21). As ambassadors, we have been chosen and commissioned; and our task is not to preach ourselves, but to represent the One Who sent us. “We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord” (2 Corinthians 4:5). We represent Him, and we carry His message of peace. When an ambassador is sent to a foreign country, all his needs are met by his government, and he is protected by their armies. So with us: God has promised to meet all our needs, and His protection is our assurance of victory. All that the government asks is that the ambassador be faithful, and that is what God asks of us. God is not at war with the world, but the world is at war with God. Our task as ambassadors is to tell the world that God loves sinners, Christ died for sinners, and that men can be reconciled to God. One of these days, God will declare war on the world; but before that happens, He will call His ambassadors home! While we are waiting, let’s be faithful ambassadors, representing Jesus Christ in the way we live and the words we speak. The soul winner is a fireman. “And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire” (Jude 23). “Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” (Zechariah 3:2). The lost soul does not have to die to be in the fire; he is in the fire of condemnation right now! “He that believeth not is condemned already” (John 3:18). Lost people are already living in the “suburbs of hell,” yet they think their life is wonderful! Our task is to pull them out of the fire, because they are unable to save themselves. In other words, soul-winning requires urgency. Perhaps this is why many Christians avoid trying to win souls: it is a bit risky to put your hands in the fire! Certainly soul-winners get “burned” occasionally but it’s worth a few scars to rescue somebody from eternal fire. Sometimes the situation gets a bit “hot,” but we must keep right on witnessing, because God may use us to snatch some precious soul out of the burning. And God has promised to be with us when we go through the fire, so there is really nothing to fear. The next time you look at a lost soul, remember that he is already in the fire of sin and judgment. The worst is yet to come! Sin has so numbered him that he does not even feel the pains in his soul, and this is what makes his situation so tragic. Oh, the urgency of it! We must reach into the fire and help to pull them out! As those angels took hold of Lot and pulled him to safety out of Sodom, so we must lovingly snatch the brands out of the burning, before it is too late. The soul-winner is a witness. “If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; if thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not He that pondereth the heart consider it? And He that keepeth thy soul, doth not He know it? And shall He not render to every man according to his works?” (Proverbs 24:11-12). The picture here takes us back to an Old Testament Jewish village. Here is a man who has been condemned to die. The elders are taking him outside the village to stone him to death, and you see the man as they go by. And you know that the man does not deserve to die! You have the one piece of evidence that will save his life! What are you going to do? Some of us might say: “Well, I don’t want to get involved.” Or, “It’s too late to do anything now.” Or, “Who am I to tell others what to do?” God says, “Excuses! Excuses that will cost a man his life!” As soul-winners, you and I must be witnesses who have honest concern. It must burden us that men and women are being dragged off to judgment! It must concern us that we have the one message of life that can save them! The time has come for us to stop making excuses! Christ has left us here to be His witnesses, and our witness is the only thing that can save sinners from eternal death! What does it take to be an effective soul-winner? It takes the love of a shepherd, the skill of a hunter, the cooperation of a harvester, the dignity of an ambassador, the urgency of a fireman, and the heart concern of a witness. Let’s ask God to make us the kind of Christians that He can use to win others to Christ. Winning souls is the greatest work in the world—the most rewarding work in the world—the work that God blesses and that brings Him glory for all eternity! ______________ “Copyright © Moody Church Media. Used with Permission. www.moodymedia.org” Operation: Clear the Scatter Operation: Clear the Scatter, 4 Tips for Effective Organizational Leadership Do you ever have those days where it seems that all you’ve done since you walked in the door is put out fires? Whether at work or in your home life, there are those days where it seems that you don’t get the chance to catch up and breathe! Have you ever had entire weeks like that? Has it ever (or is it now) become the work environment that you live in as your Modis Operandi? When faced with a few moments of quiet time (uh…what’s that?), are you able to climb out of the proverbial hole and get ahead of the tasks at hand? Military leaders are groomed from an early age to “improvise, adapt, and overcome” as the dynamic and fluid environment that they perform and excel in regularly dictates. But what about business leaders that are thrown into a fast paced and rigorous work environment without ever having been exposed to that kind of workflow? How do they cope? What do they do when burnout sets in (because it will)? Here are 4 tools that can help to ease the burden. They might take some time to implement completely before you can see a change in your workload and your stress levels, and it takes daily intentional activities, but there is light is at the end of the tunnel! Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6 ESV) 1. Prepare for Battle How you begin your day is probably one of the most important social and psychological exercises that you may or may not give intentional credence towards. So let’s back up a little bit. Are you getting enough sleep? I probably don’t have to remind you but studies show that we need at least eight hours of sleep per night in order to obtain and maintain a healthy balance. In the next sections below, we’ll discuss some schedule management tools that will help you if you’re a “night owl” or just can’t seem to get to sleep before midnight. When your alarm goes off in the morning, what do you do? Do you hit snooze so many times that you oversleep? If you do, you know that leaping out of bed, brushing your teeth (let’s hope) and throwing a half toasted bagel in your mouth as you scramble out the door is not the best way to start your day. Beginning your day in “late mode” does not put you in the most beneficial frame of mind, and if you’re beginning your day that way, chaos can only ensue and the other drivers on the road will get to feel your wrath as you wrestle through traffic with a chaotic mindset. Safe? Probably not. As challenging as it may be, give yourself plenty of time to get up, out of bed and into the shower so that you’re not having to rush out the door in the morning. If you like to hit the snooze button, set your alarm for 10 minutes earlier than you have to get up. That way you can still hit snooze and get up on time. A better activity is to be able to sit down and eat your breakfast before you leave the house but let’s be real here…self-improvement and habit changing activities take baby steps! If possible, spend some quiet time with God. Daily devotionals only take about 5 – 10 minutes as you can read while you eat, ponder and sit in the message, and pray for a fruitful day. Sitting with the Lord at the beginning of your day will help to set the stage of calmness as you then begin to assess your daily schedule. If sitting quietly with the Lord and reading a daily devotional over breakfast is too challenging for you to implement at first, consider driving to work with the radio off, or with some Christian music and then pray while you drive (with your eyes open, please). The Lord loves to engage with you at any time of the day, in any situation and you don’t need to be in a certain posture in order for the Lord to hear your prayer. Just talk, He’s listening! Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2 ESV) 2. Get Organized If you’re one of those people that has a hard time cleaning your room, I know that the concept of organization can be scary and maybe causes you some anxiety. You’ve managed to “make it work” your entire life so what’s the big deal if your desk/car/kitchen are a little messy, what does that have to do with your quality of work? I call it “swimming through the muck”. The “messy-ness” of your life, believe it or not, does have bleed-over into your organizational thinking and prioritization, and can have an impact on the overall workmanship of your products. Not to worry, we’ll eat this elephant one bite at a time and believe it or not the tasks of organization are not very daunting. You may even find that the process is relatively simple, easy to follow, and liberating. A. Start with your computer. Does your desktop look like the sea of lost files? Is your desktop filled with different types of files that are used for different reasons? Have you completely blocked out the desktop theme so you don’t even see the peaceful picture anymore? If so, is the “search” functionality your favorite friend? Believe it or not, there are ways to improve upon your file management system. i. Create folders! Organize your files by subject, or function such as: Supplies, Finance, HR, Training, Draft Documents, etc. In doing so, you’ll begin to learn how best to compartmentalize your mind so that when you need to find the latest files to work from, you won’t need to stress out or search, you’ll know right where to go! ii. Use your calendar! This may seem to be common sense but segregate your day by what’s on your calendar, and work the items that are on your calendar for that timeslot only. Now you might be saying…”that won’t work in my workplace”, but I’ll show you how it can when we discuss prioritization and Critical Chain Project Management. iii. Prioritize your tasks! Put out the quick “fires” but then build time into your calendar to catch up on the items that you’ve been avoiding. Use that time on your calendar for configuration management of your files, or to finalize documents, or to respond to emails. Be intentional and be consistent and most importantly, do it! a). Critical Chain Project Management allows you to identify the highest priority items, and then segregate them, and where possible, work those items ONLY. This means you might have to turn off your phone and set up your out-of-office reply. Segregate yourself as you are on the “Critical Path” burning down tasks that are critical to the success of the delivery. Others need to be aware of the Critical Chain and where they can help you to be segregated. You might need to delegate many things and empower others in your organization to do some tasks that you normally would do, during the time that you’re segregated working on prioritized critical tasks. I know this can be hard to do for us control freaks, but that’s an issue for another article. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV) B. Make lists! You’d be surprised how a simple checklist can help you to manage the tasks at hand, especially when they seemingly become overwhelming. Using your day planner, in conjunction with your calendar, or even just a piece of regular old paper, write out your tasks that you need to accomplish, as framed by the subject area of your calendar. Don’t overdo it and keep your lists compartmentalized to the task that you’re working based on what you’ve placed on your calendar for that timeframe. Once you complete the task, check it off of your list! Making lists eases your mind because it takes the scatter out of your mind and puts it on the paper, which then becomes manageable and less daunting. Why stay awake at night wondering what to do the next day with the multitude of overwhelming tasks running around your brain? Take a couple of minutes to get the tasks out of your head, and onto the manageable paper. 3. Turn Off Social Media This should be a “no-brainer”. If you’re that OCD person that can’t avoid the pressure to not address the blinking light on your phone, then put your phone in a drawer, or keep it out of sight as you focus on the critical path. Turn off all alerts, visible and audible so that you’re not tempted by the never-ending persistence of the blinking light. If there’s an emergency, your family can call your place of business on a separate line. This must be an intentional and disciplined approach if you aspire to clear the scatter effectively. 4. Be Still and Know Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! (Psalm 37:7 ESV) At the beginning of the day, and all throughout the day we have to breathe. We can’t be effective leaders if we’re constantly running at a highly chaotic pace. If you’re functioning in that mode continuously, it’s not healthy for you, or for your peers and subordinates as you create and place undue pressures on them. Manage your workload accordingly, and you’ll make for a more harmonious leader that can help others to manage their workloads efficiently and effectively. Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! (Psalm 46:10 ESV) In doing so, God wants you to slow down and be still, and know that He is God. Your identity is not in the ability to meet the deadline. Your identity is not in the salary that you make nor in the car that you drive. Your identity is not found within the stripes on your sleeve or the device on your collar. Your identity, first and foremost is as a loving child of the one true living God. The almighty creator that first breathed life into you and continues to be the very breath that fills your lungs on a daily basis. Be still in that, feel the overwhelming love and rest in the peace that is promised eternity, that which is found in Christ Jesus. Shalom. Lead by Example Lead by Example Why is leading by example so important? 6 Attributes to Consider While Walking in Leadership Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:2-5 We hear it all the time: “Lead By Example” but do we ever take the time to conduct a self-check to ensure that we have an understanding of the breadth and depth of the application? What makes leading by example so important to the hierarchal health of the organization? In order to answer the questions, we’ll need to break down the approach through the lens of others. Firstly, we need to consider the “whys” in order to understand why leading by example is important to our flock, our subordinates, our children and our followership. Then we need to understand the application of the “whys” so that we can fill the gaps. 1. Modeled Traits How do our children first begin to learn? From the time that we are babies, naturally we begin to behave in ways that we learn from our environment. Some things are inherent and God-given. Have you ever watched an infant stretch and yawn? How do they know how to do that? They just do, they didn’t have to model your behavior in order to learn how to do those things. But what about other learned habits and traits, where do they first learn how to behave and how is their journey of personality and character development shaped? It’s shaped through your behaviors and your habits. When you get angry, they cry. When you are happy and playful, they respond in kind (usually). They learn how to treat others and how to make decisions by your example and your tutelage. Plan accordingly and be aware of the weight of your role. Jesus compels us to model His behavior, as this is pleasing to the Lord as evidenced through scripture: “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?” 1 Timothy 3:1-7. As parents of young children, we’re thrust into the office of overseer, whether we’re prepared for it or not and the child will flourish and naturally follow your example. In leadership, whether explicit or implicit, all eyes are on you, constantly measuring whether or not you’re to be trusted, and whether or not you’re worthy of a followership. Think about how you gauge a good leader. What attributes do they possess that you respond to and want to follow? How do you behave if your boss or church pastor is not practicing what they preach? How do you view that leader and how does that effect your perception of the organization? Your decisions and behaviors have a direct impact on the lives, perceptions, and character development of your followership. While those are the “whys”, what do they imply (in our leadership behavior)? 2. Responsibility Where we’re responsible for the well-being of others, we have a greater level of responsibility, not only for the “care and feeding” of those within our sphere of influence, but for continuous improvement and professional (and often personal) development of those within our care. Having and understanding our roles as leaders, having responsibility for others causes us to place the needs of others before our own. “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 3. Sacrifice Placing the needs of others before our own will ultimately lead to times of self-sacrifice. We have to give of ourselves for the betterment of others. In the new-baby example, we sacrifice many things as new parents, primarily our sleep as we adjust to the new “baby-schedule”. As leaders in the military, business, or church we sacrifice our time as we pour into our subordinates, protégés, or our flock. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11 4. Integrity The definition of integrity is: “The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.” You may have also heard the application of integrity as “doing the right thing, even when nobody is looking.” Either definition gives you a moral and ethical framework and compass for which to gauge your decisions and your activities. Acting with integrity is important in the eyes of your followership as it creates and nurtures trust within your relationship and can foster as a culture of trust within your organization. Having integrity in your actions, and being trustworthy to your subordinates creates an open and healthy work environment for your people. “My lips will not speak falsehood, and my tongue will not utter deceit. Far be it from me to say that you are right; till I die I will not put away my integrity from me. I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go; my heart does not reproach me for any of my days.” Job 27:4-6 5. Consistency Above all, we need to remain consistent. Consistency provides a safe-haven within a messy and inconsistent world. Where you’re consistent in your behaviors as a leader, your followership will benefit. If you’ve displayed that you’re approachable, methodical, intentional, and deliberate then your followership will know where they stand with you, and can be made to feel comfortable to confide in you during times of indecision or workplace conflict. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 6. Continuous Improvement How do you measure up? They say that a true scholar never stops learning. I’ll say the same of a true student of leadership, in that we never stop improving or adding tools to our leadership toolbox. Whether you lead at home, as a parent, or you lead in your church ministry, your role at work, or just in general as the “leader” within your sphere of influence as somebody that people trust to make decisions; we never stagnate, we never stop improving ourselves as the landscape of leadership is an often fluid and dynamic environment. The ways we lead in the military, don’t always transition to the ways we lead in our homes, or in our civilian work occupation, or in our church ministry leadership role. Understanding situational leadership implies a well-rounded approach so in that, we need to stay relevant and up to date with the traditions of leadership so that we can continue to lead effectively in our roles. What courses are you enrolled in for this year? How are you improving in your role? “About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,” Hebrews 5:11-12 Shalom. Let Us Engage and Run Together Let's Engage and Run Together … & let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus… (Hebrews 12:1-2) Let’s Engage & Run TOGETHER!… because it’s time for a reproducible approach to discipleship. Continuous/combat operations, frequent deployments & personnel turbulence require simple ideas, simple tools, low overhead activities, and personal initiative. Let’s tailor how we follow Christ & how we train others so it works in any environment. The enemy of our souls is looking to devour isolated soldiers/seamen/airmen & families … many get at most an hour a week of spiritual input and think they have no need for more! As we Engage & Run TOGETHER we can include them in small groups, draw them to Christ, and train them to Engage & Run Together wherever they go. Perhaps initiated by a CMF leader or a Chaplain, small groups organize and direct themselves in cooperation with Chaplains/Pastors, … and CMF leaders. The key idea is that each participant should see, live, and learn these seven reproducibles well enough to begin reproducing them at his/her next duty station: Inductive Bible Study Conversational Prayer Scripture Memory & Meditation Excellence in all Things Grow Together Pray and Plan Lead by Example Future articles will briefly discuss these aspects of a self-reproducing integrated life of faith. For an E&RT overview briefing & further descriptions see http://ow.ly/qCfk30e12lm While a curriculum is something you start, follow for a while, and finish, E&RT is a framework, a philosophy of ministry, a set of basic tools and attitudes …something to be taught by example, lived individually and in small groups; a way to help us and those we lead to press on toward the mark. After Bible Study of three sets of foundational verses and the seven reproducibles, subsequent study topics should be pray-and-planned by the group in coordination with Chaplains/Pastors and leaders. Comments are closed.