Monday, January 28, 2013

"Trust" as a Dirty Word

The Lord of the Rings is one of my favorite works in the literary world. There are so many wonderful things I could talk about, but there is one particular scene that seems particularly relevant.

“But it does not seem that I can trust anyone,' said Frodo.

Sam looked at him unhappily. 'It all depends on what you want,' put in Merry. 'You can trust us to stick with you through thick and thin--to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours--closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo.”

This is one of the most touching scenes of friendship in this epic story. It also perfectly illustrates why people have difficulty trusting leaders.

How can you trust someone who gives you nothing to trust? Why would you trust someone who is not willing to enter the ring and fight alongside you? How can we, as leaders, expect people to trust us if we are not willing to be there for them? Aubrey Malphurs sums it up quite clearly when he says, “Leaders cannot expect followers to trust them simply because they occupy a position of leadership within the church or any other organization.”
Trust requires a track record. Earning someone’s trust requires us to get in the fight and be willing to get messy. I believe it is largely since we have moved away from knowing the people we lead, caring about their lives and struggles beyond what they can do for us, that we have started struggling to earn people’s trust. Just like Merry, we have to be willing to be there for someone through thick and thin.
Are you investing in your followers? Are you walking with them through the good and bad?

Invest in someone!!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Happy vs. Holy

"It's just time for me to start doing what makes me happy...."

We use this phrase all the time. We end marriages, friendships, jobs, and responsibilities all because, "It's time for me to be happy."

I have been on the receiving end of this on several occasions, but I have also said it myself. The fact is, this line of thinking has the power to destroy our lives.

Just stick with me here.

The truth is, God didn't come for our happiness, but our holiness. Happiness is cheap. Holiness leads to everlasting joy.

Happiness is manipulated by anything from prescription medication to chocolate to "retail therapy." Joy is what enables a family who has just lost their daughter to get up the next morning and say, "God is good." Joy doesn't mask the difficulties of life, but it remembers the one who gives life!

In a culture driven by self-gratification, and self-interest, the struggle between being happy and being holy is never easy. How is holiness ever to win out?

It is not until we begin to understand the cheapness of our happiness, in comparison to the holy joy of Christ, that we will ever be able to chose holiness.

I don't write all this pretending that I have it all figured out. Some of the most frustrating times of my life have been when I had to chose between happiness and holiness. I've walked away from relationships, jobs, or opportunities not because it made me happy (on the contrary, I was usually a wreck), but because Christ called me to seek holiness.

When I start talking like this, the first thing people usually say is something like, "Well God doesn't sound very good then. He just wants me to be miserable."

It's exactly the opposite!!

In John 10:10, Jesus says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."

Jesus wants us to have an abundant life!!

God doesn't seek our misery. It's because of his great love for us that he seeks our holiness. We see this at the beginning of humanity with Eve in the garden. She had a choice between eating the fruit, which would make her happy by fulfilling her fleshly desires, or seeking holiness by following God's command. God's command was not meant to make Eve miserable or suck the fun out of her life! On the contrary! By Eve pursuing her happiness, it lead to her death and separation from God, instead of life!

The battle of happiness versus holiness is never easy. It's only by fixing our eyes on Christ that we can hope to prevail.

2013 is still fresh and new. Commit to refocusing on Jesus. Don't come up with a list of resolutions or ways you'll improve yourself. Fix your eyes on the creator and sustainer of everything, and remember that he came that you may have life!