Category Archives: Leadrship

Heroes of Faith- Gideon

 

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The book of Judges records Israel’s continuous apostasy (state of ungodliness) and struggles to obey and follow God’s ways.

In this period, the nation of Israel repeatedly went through a four-step cycle:  Rebellion/Sin-Retribution/Servitude- Repentance/Sorrow and then Restoration/Salvation. In the first stage of the cycle Israelites forsook God, sinned and followed Baal. In the second stage, God punished them for their sin (by sending enemies, drought, diseases). Then in the next step they suffered greatly; and when they cried to God in repentance, God listened and answer them by sending a judge/deliverer to bring them salvation and restore them to prosperity path. The appointment of Gideon, as a judge to Israel, was a response to Israel’s repentance after a prolonged impoverishment and suffering in the hands of their Midianite enemies.

The call, and faith of Gideon is an encouragement today as we seek to be used of God.

Read here for what heroes are known for. 

Gleanings from the Calling and Mission of Gideon:

  1. God in His wisdom chooses to use weak vessels to display His strength

When we read of Gideon in Hebrews 11 we are tempted to think that Gideon began as a hero of faith. This is untrue. When God called Gideon he was a man full of weaknesses and inadequacies. He was not a superhero but a very ordinary man. He struggled to believe that God could use him and his background to accomplish his purposes.

But Lord,” Gideon asked, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” (Judges 6:15).

According to Gideon, God’s calling was beyond his ability; in fact, in his self-assessment he claims not to have influence over his family, leave alone mobilizing the entire tribe.

God often chooses the “weak of this world” to accomplish great things for his glory (1 Cor. 1:26-29). Gideon was a man who frequently needed signs and assurances from God in order to be firm. But God saw potential in him and called him a man of valor/mighty warrior (Jdg.6:12).

He chose Gideon and gave him His promise- “The Lord said to him, ‘I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man” (Jdg. 6:16).

He chose Gideon and empowered him with His Spirit (Jdg. 6:34). Through this Gideon was helped to overcome his fears and wavering faith. God’s Spirit worked on him and changed him to bring about the needed courage and faith.

This is an encouragement for us not to despise our small beginnings because through it  what God is able to achieve something bigger and greater.

Your inadequacies cannot limit God from using you for his noble purposes. An ungodly life is the only hindrance that can make God’s power and life not flow through us.

What are those things that make you feel inadequate? Could it be age (as it was to Jeremiah), eloquence (Moses)… Remember He is God who makes his power manifest in weakness (2 Cor. 12:10). Trust in his power.

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  1. God does not need numbers to accomplish his purposes, (Jdgs 8:1-10)-

In the fight against Midianites and its coalitions, Gideon marshaled his troops and they numbered 32,000 in total against a total of 135,000 Midianite soldiers (Jdg. 8:10). You don’t need to be a military expert to know that there was a colossal problem here. Humanly speaking warfare, like politics, is a game of numbers and so Gideon needed to up his game. But instead of increasing the numbers God told Gideon to downsize it!

The first elimination method employed was that all that tremble with fear should go back home. A total of 22,000 men left. Certainly, the journey is not for the fainthearted.

Mosaic Law offered military exemptions for several classes of people- including those who had just build a home, who had just planted a vineyard and have not enjoyed its fruit, those engaged to be married, and the fainthearted (Deut. 20:5-8).

Only ten thousand recruits remained. But in God’s terms they were still many.

In the second round of elimination, they were taken down to the river. And Gideon was to separate those who lapped the water with their tongues and those who knelt down to drink. Three hundred men lapped water with their hands. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.

The Lord approved the 300 men that lapped the water with their hands to be enlisted for the battle. The rest were summarily dismissed to return home. Thinning of his army needed faith and courage.

It was now 300 vs. 135,000men. The numbers were not adding up. Gideon might have feared and so needed some encouragement. The Lord told him to visit the enemies’ camp secretly at night. There he found people conversing about a dream that the interpretation was to the effect that the Lord had handed over Midian to Gideon. This bolstered his strength and caused him to worship God (Jdg. 7:15).

In a quick and decisive victory, the 300 men routed Israel’s enemies because God fought for them. The Lord confused and caused Israel’s enemies to turn against each other with their swords.

So what?

Gideon’s story shows that God is not limited by numbers. God can wage his battles and win. Moses had assured the Jews that if they obey the Lord, one soldier could chase a thousand or two soldiers would “put ten thousand to flight” (Deut. 32:30). In this regard, all that Gideon needed was 27 soldiers to defeat the whole Midianite army of 135,000 men, but God gave him 300.

In history, God has always worked with few people to accomplish great things… Therefore it is not about what you have or don’t have but about what God can do with the small you have or even don’t have.

For us, it is possible to deceptively think that when I have more of this and that I will be able to be an effective/successful servant or make a greater impact for God-we think, when I have a six-figure bank statement, good communication skills, another degree, or more experience. Gideon did not need additional army because when we are in God’s side we certainly win. God’s presence is what we need.

Again, to be able to accomplish God’s mission God’s way some downsizing is necessary. What are the things (in your life) that you need to downsize today?

Our faith in God wavers when we start comparing God with our circumstance/resources we have (it often looks intimidating: 300 vs 135,000). Rather, we need to believe. Mathematically speaking things may not add up in your case but wait on God to solve the equation for you. Gideon learned that one with God is majority. Gideon believed and that is why he is listed among the heroes of faith. He believed in God who can turn impossibilities to possibilities.

Whenever God call us to task that we think is beyond us, we must be careful to look to God and not on ourselves. God does not need numbers because nothing is impossible with God. God asked Abraham, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Gen. 18:14); “for nothing shall be impossible with God,” (Lk. 1:37). Job discovered that God could do everything (Job 42:2); Jeremiah admitted that there’s nothing too hard for God (Jer. 32:17). Jesus told his disciples “with God all things are possible” (Matt.19:26).

  1. God wants us to give Him glory in all things-

God pointed out to Gideon that he had too many men for God to deliver Midian into his hands. God downsized Gideon’s army so that through what is achieved, God is glorified. Not one would boastfully say, ‘my strength/hand/skill/connection/weapon saved me’. But that they would exclaim, ‘the Lord has done it!’

God handed over them victory without much struggle. The Israel’s force only blew horns, broke jars, and shouted causing the enemy to kill each other in their confusion. Through reduction of Gideon’s army, God’s role in the victory became clear with only 300 men.

The war was won not because they had a great military leader, powerful arsenal, or numerical strength but because- God was with Gideon, the Holy Spirit’s empowered him, and the fact that Gideon obeyed God’s word.

God ensures that the situation nears impossibility so that when He acts his power is manifest and consequently he receives all the glory.

Our lives, families, relationships, jobs, education should glorify God alone. In every endeavor we should acknowledge His power and Spirit’s enablement (Zech. 4:6).

Indeed as David admitted, “No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his strength” (Ps. 33:16). Victory and glory belongs to God.

Victories that are won because of faith bring glory to God because nobody can explain how they happen.

THE LEADER AS SERVANT

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There is voluminous literature out there on leadership. Some of the leadership principles and values propagated in these books are Bible-based while others are research based. It is also worth noting that some of these values and principles on each side of the divide have points of convergence and points of divergence (this is for another day).

But the Bible provides rich metaphors that depict the nature of spiritual leadership that is to be exercised in and by the church. Believers in Christ are to embody these biblical values as foundational values for their actions, reactions, and convictions. In this short write-up let’s focus on one leadership motif presented in the Bible: servant.

Leader as Servant

A leader is a servant.

The servant motif traces way back to the OT whereby priests, prophets and kings were seen as servants of God. Like the nation of Israel, they were God’s vessels in which he accomplished his divine purposes on earth.

In the New Testament Jesus referred himself as God’s servant. He came to serve, and to save the lost. He exemplified service by washing the feet of his disciples; performing a typical work of a slave (Lk. 22:27; Jn. 13:4-11). He served the poor, the sick, the despised, and embraced the social outcasts of the society.

A leader who is a servant goes right to where people are. It models leadership from below. Jesus exemplified humility, obedience, and servanthood through his incarnation “but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness “-the kenosis concept (Phil. 2:7-8).

Servanthood is an attitude of the heart. It takes humility, a selfless spirit and a transformed heart for a leader to be a servant. This attitude was in Christ. Therefore, Jesus becomes our example. He redefines what greatness is (Mk. 9:35).

Those who lead should lead by serving. They should not by serving their own interest but the interests of the people they oversee. Those who fail to meet this threshold should never be considered leaders.

Read here for an example of servant leadership.

Read here for another Bible metaphor on leadership.

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THE LEADER AS SHEPHERD

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There is voluminous literature out there on leadership. Some of the leadership principles and values propagated in these books are Bible-based while others are research based. It is also worth noting that some of these values and principles on each side of the divide have points of convergence and points of divergence (this is for another day).

But the Bible provides rich metaphors that depict the nature of spiritual leadership that is to be exercised in and by the church. Believers in Christ are to embody these biblical values as foundational values for their actions, reactions, and convictions. In this short write-up let’s focus on the shepherd leadership motif as presented in the Bible.

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Leader as Shepherd

A leader is a shepherd. And as a shepherd, he has a flock under his care.

But more importantly, it should be noted that this is a communicable attribute from the divine. The shepherd motif presented in the Bible is derived from the character of God.

In the Bible God is revealed as the good Shepherd who leads, feeds, disciplines, and protects his flock (Ps. 23; 100:3; Isa. 10:1-11). Specifically, the sheep in Psalms 23 admits that his Shepherd: satisfies him-makes him lie down in green pastures and quiet waters, restores his soul, guides him, protects, comforts and disciplines him.

Jesus referred himself as the good shepherd (Jn. 10:11,14). He showed through his incarnate life that a good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A good shepherd does not abandon the sheep and run away when he sees a wolf coming. Instead, he protects. He does not allow the flock to be scattered. He gathers and embraces. A good shepherd knows his sheep and his sheep knows him. He always leads from the front. He has good interest of the sheep/followers at heart.

By implication, those who serve on behalf of God, at any leadership position, are also referred to as shepherds (Jer. 23:1-4; Ezek. 34:2-10). They are supposed to shepherd after God; to shepherd in the likeness of God. Shepherds should not be preoccupied with taking care of their own (self) interests but the interests of the flock. Good shepherds strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind the broken, bring back the straying sheep, seek the lost, and rule gently.

Leadership is a noble thing. Jesus commissioned Peter, and by extension the other disciples and believers today, to feed his flock (Jn. 21:15-19); with an ultimate promise of a reward. Apostle Peter later wrote that when the Chief Shepherd appears he shall reward, with unfading crown of glory, all those who have taken good care of his flock  (1 Pet. 5:2-4).  A good shepherd like Jesus leads, directs, nurtures, heals, and guards even sacrificing his life if need be for the sheep.

And so any leadership position should be seen as an opportunity to shepherd God’s people; “not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock (1 Pet. 5:3).

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Hearing God’s Voice: Discerning God’s Will

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“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” (Isa. 30:21)

Perhaps you have heard people say God spoke to them and you wonder how that happens.  It does happen, God speaks even today!  God has not left us in the wilderness of life without direction.

He may not communicate through a burning bush the way he did to Moses several centuries ago but he certainly does speak and guide those who look up to Him for guidance and direction. David said of God, “You have made known to me the path of life…” (Ps. 16:11). It is therefore believer’s duty to discern God’s voice amidst many noises.

Below are ways in which God guides or communicates to His chosen ones. We can hear Him through:

  1. His Word

Clearly, God has revealed Himself through his holy Word.

It is through the Bible that we know who God is. In the Old Testament, He revealed himself, among many other ways, through visions and dreams (he can also today) but he now reveals himself through His written word. The Bible also reveals God and his word as trustworthy Guide.

The word of God reveals the heart of God for the nations; the necessity of loving one’s neighbor and more importantly the human story of redemption.

David affirmed, “your word is the lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Ps 119:105)

In His Word, God has also made known his will and purposes to every generation. We therefore need to read and study it. Scriptures can speak directly or indirectly to our circumstance, thus providing required guidance. It gives answers on how we need to live as Christians and relate to the external world. God’s requirements and will has been clearly revealed throughout the Bible. For example, we don’t need to scratch our heads on some issues that have already been clearly revealed; through his word we know it is not God’s will to marry an unbeliever (2 Cor. 6:14) or to revenge against our enemies (Matt 5:44).

Scriptures are also able to make us  make us wise unto salvation. We carry out God’s will when we accept and obey His Word.

  1. Circumstance/Life-changing Experience(s)

God allows and disallows various circumstances in our lives. There are no lucks or coincidences in what God does. He uses happenings in areas such as family, finance, job, relationships, education, and/or health to teach us.

Circumstances can also present to us dilemmatic situations that entail open and closed doors.

Also, every situation in our lives happens for a purpose. If the circumstance was an evil intended against us, then we can be sure that God will work it out to bring something good out of it (Gen 50:20; Rom 8:28) for he has good plans for us (Jer. 29:11).

Therefore we need to discern God’s working in various circumstances we go through. It could be for the purpose of our character formation, to challenge us to have faith in God or to manifest His great power in us or to demonstrate the sufficiency of His grace. Some circumstances may come to teach us obedience, to trust, and to rejoice in God. Be teachable in such moments!

The point is, we need not to miss what God is accomplishing and teaching us through our hard times (times of pain, uncertainty, loss, failure etc). You pain is valid; and through it, God is accomplishing something bigger and greater for your good.

  1. Holy Spirit-

Jesus instructed that the Holy Spirit will guide believers into all truth (Jn. 16:13). The Spirit of God, our Guide, reminds us of all truth; illuminates the word of God, and gives assuring inner peace when we are in right direction (Isa. 26:3).

He prompts, impresses, and stirs our hearts thus enabling us follow God’s leading and make right and wise decisions. His working is evident in the book of Acts when he guided Philip, Paul, the church, and apostles.

But it requires that we walk by the Spirit; keep in step with the leading of the Holy Spirit; and be controlled /filled with the Holy Spirit and not wine (Eph. 5: 18; Gal. 5:16, 25).

  1. Godly Counsel

God also uses people around us to advice, teach or shape us. An iron sharpens an iron. That is why fellowship and relationships are important in the life of every believer in Christ. God can teach us great truths on joy patience, faithfulness, self-control by listening to other people’s stories, especially godly people.

The word of God encourages us to seek advice, obtain guidance (Prov. 20:18).

But we ought to exercise care upon seeking counsel; it should be from godly people not from anyone. Godly people are people who are in constant walk with God and are able to discern God’s voice like Eli (1 Sam. 3:9); people who in their walk of faith have matured. Their role is not to determine/dictate God’s will for you but to present God-perspective, biblical insight, and objective approach to your situation.

After all, you are the best person to determine God’s will for your life; not your friends or mentors.

  1. Example of Christ

When seeking guidance, consider the example Christ has given us. Turn to the gospel and examine the life and teachings of Jesus Christ; “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being” (Heb. 1:1). Incarnation of Jesus reveals the Father and the life of Jesus (not just his death) provides us with redemption and an example to follow. Bringing Christ perspective into our situation can bring clarity on the issues involved. Consider using the WWJD approach.

  1. Prayer

We can also discern God’s will through prayer.

The worth of prayer is based on God’s promise to listen; it is what turns prayer from being a monologue to dialogue.

Prayer has other sub-components like adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. After we have prayed we wait, listen and believe (1Jn. 5:14-15). Prayer time helps us search our heart and realign our will to God’s will. It provides an opportunity to confess of sin that hinders doing God’s will (Ps. 66:18). Godly people across history have always sought God’s guidance through prayer.

Prayer is the wisest thing to do when we want to hear God.

Read Here for Hindrances to Discerning God’s guidance. 

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Hindrances to Discerning God’s Guidance

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The Word of God promises that God will guide us in the way we should go.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go, I will counsel you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8)

While we firmly uphold this promise, we need to take note of some hindrances in discerning God’s guidance in our lives. They are:

  1. Unholy life

Sin separates. It creates enmity between God and man; and in human relationships. A sinful heart does not delight itself in seeking God’s will because God’s guidance involves walking in the paths of righteousness (Ps. 23:3). Sin is a hindrance to surrender, and embracing God’s sovereign rule over our lives.

2. Self will

In the Lord’s Prayer, we are commanded to pray, “Your kingdom come and your will be done…”

God’s will is what we should constantly desire to accomplish or to be accomplished in the world just as it is in heaven. But as a prerogative, we first need to dethrone our own/self will for God’s will to prevail. It is illogical to expect God to be your guide when all you’re doing is holding up tightly to your own will. God is not there to rubber-stamp your ways/will; He is there to guide those whose hearts are fully surrendered to his will.

Therefore, as individuals, we need to overcome the desire to doing things ‘my way’ and let God have his own way in our agendas. Naturally, human will and its way of doing things is conditioned by culture, past experience, and tradition. Dethroning our self will need courage for it to bring forth surrender and humility. An attitude of surrender makes us cede ground/control so as to allow Spirit’s guidance. In order to overcome self-will we need a total surrender and desire to follow God’s path; the way of wisdom and righteousness.

God delights in guiding those whose hearts are loyal to Him and have surrendered their will.

 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.” (Prov 3:5-7)

3. Influence of others-

Being surrounded by a network of people is something good. The value of friendships and relationships can’t be overestimated.

But it matters what type of friends surround you.

Friends come in all shapes and forms. Some friends, in their pride, pretend to know every solution to your predicaments. These ‘professional’ experts in every life-matter can land you into a big trouble because all they have to offer is limited to their experience, convenience, knowledge and predictions. I’m talking about the self-proclaimed ‘professors’ of love/ marriages/health in your life who claim to have power to discern every aspect and detail of your life. Beware of them!

Some friends can massage your ego by telling you what your itching ears want to hear. They can suppress or compromise truth to sustain their friendship with you. They can be economical with truth; or lack courage to confront a situation truthfully. They can also pressure you to make certain decisions.

As a result they become a hindrance towards your discernment of God’s leading in your life. The point is not that you do away with friends, but that you be cautious whom you listen to. They should be godly; friends who walk by faith; people who are able to discern God’s move in your life and offer biblical solutions.

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of God, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Ps. 1:1-2)

4. Ignorance of God’s word

God has given us his holy Word to be our sure guide. It is our life-manual. We consult it when we are in the crossroads of life. It teaches us, corrects us, directs us, rebukes us and leads us in the righteous path. God’s will is revealed in his Word.

But there is a big problem if you are ignorant on what is written in there. Ignorance of God’s word deprives us of having a Christian worldview that in turn influences our actions, reactions, decision, emotions, convictions, affections and how we interpret the world/reality around us.

Ignorance of God’s word makes it hard to discern God’s way or leading in our lives.

5. Busyness of life

Discernment of God’s leading often comes when we spent time off our busy schedules and to have a time of reflection and solitude. From time to time we need to get out of our activity-packed schedules and seek to hear the small still voice of God.

6. Impatience

Sometimes an answer to a prayer can ‘delay’. This will certainly need patience; a fruit of the Holy Spirit. God is not in a hurry; He was, He is, and He shall be. He does things at his appointed time; and his timing even in answering our prayers is the best. Those who wait upon the Lord shall be rewarded and strengthened.

Impatience can breed a fertile ground for self-will. Impatience over God’s promise made Abraham and Sarah in their sunset years to doubt God and execute a back-up plan/plan B to address their childlessness situation.

Discerning God’s guidance may take time, and more time; so developing this fruit of the Spirit is necessary.

7. Fleshly desires– (related to the first one)

Not all of our desires are evil; some can be good.

In Galatians 5:16-21, desires of the flesh act in contrast to the ways of the Spirit. In discerning God’s guidance we need to beware of the lust of the eye, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (Gen 3; Matt 4:1-11; 1 Jn 2:15); we are not immune to temptations in these areas. You want to discern God’s guidance? keep in step with the Spirit of God by living a holy life.

He will guide You!

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Read here on Hearing God’s Voice and Discerning His will

HEROES AND HEROISM

What are heroes remembered for?

History is filled with people that are deemed to be heroes/heroines. But do all of them meet the threshold of heroism? What is it that really characterizes lives of true heroes?

In the Bible, the Book of Hebrews 11 records heroes of faith; people who stood out for what they believed in. Their qualities and accomplishments outlived them; and their lives became celebrated beyond their lifetimes.

What characterizes the lives of heroes?

1. Heroes are men and women known for their faith– They are people who walk not by what is seen but unseen. They believe. They believe in people’s potential beyond the present. They do not have the word “impossible” in their vocabulary. Besides, they are able to provide leadership that takes people from known to unknown.

2. Heroes have a Source of inspiration– Heroes derive their inspiration beyond themselves. Many find sustainable strength and encouragement not from people or what they get but from God and His word. God is their partner.

3. Heroes live for a purpose greater than themselves– True heroes are selfless. They have learned to conquer the self. They lay down their lives for the sake of many. They forfeit their prerogatives and rights to be able to look at the welfare of many. They are givers, not takers.

Their sphere of their influence is beyond their nuclear family, extended family, tribe, country, race, socio-economic or political distinctions. They see God’s image in all people. That is why they are celebrated by people from various walks of life.

4. Have eternal perspective of things– One jewel that all heroes have is hope. They look forward to something better. To them, the best is yet to come. They have a vision of this life and the life to come. Their hope cannot be eclipsed by temporary circumstances. In addition, they do not enjoy the present at the expense of tomorrow; their lives are shaped by the vision of what is to come.

5. Heroes stand for truth and justice– Truth is always something unpopular and in most cases suppressed. But heroes are always on the side of truth. They preach the truth and courageously advocate/defend the truth without seeking people’s approval. Besides, they fearlessly challenge established structures that are founded on falsehood. As a result many heroes aren’t honored or celebrated in their lifetimes.

6. Heroes are men and women of conviction– They are people who passionately live for a particular cause. They have a singular affection for a certain cause or need; and that is where they focus their energies on. They redefine and set new norms and standards.. Their consuming passion is often met with stiff resistance and hostility. And so sometimes they are killed because of what they adamantly stand for or dream. Often, they are defined not by the number of years they live but by the difference they made (in the lives of people) within the (few) years they live.

7. Heroes are men and women of integrity– They are figures of great repute in their societies. They do what they say and say what they do.

8. Like stars, heroes shine brighter in darkness– Heroes stand out from among the majority. Where there is hatred they demonstrate love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

9. They are future-oriented– They are not consumed with past narratives of failure, disappointments, and grudges. They have a big windscreen/windshield and a small rear view mirror. They shape the future in a new and greater way.

10. Heroes are ordinary human beings– Heroes are not superhuman, they are people like you and me; but they choose to rise above the occasion. They refuse to settle on mediocrity and average. They choose to be part of a solution than to be part of a problem. They do small things in a big and different way.

Be a hero.

ONE MORE NIGHT WITH THE FROGS

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God’s command to Pharaoh during the Exodus was crystal-clear, “Let my people go, so that they may worship me”. But this was met with stiff opposition and resistance from the Egyptian ruler. As a result, God through a series of plagues ensured that His agenda prevails and his people are liberated from oppression to a life of worship and freedom in God.

Plague after plague, Pharaoh was still unyielding and would not let the people go.

The second plague that Moses unleashed was that of frogs. The whole country was plagued with frogs. Disgusting ah! Frogs filled everywhere and all over the place- in bedrooms, kitchen etc and everywhere in the land. And remember they would not kill them because Egyptians regarded frogs as having divine power/gods.

Pharaoh’s magicians did their best to get rid of the frogs but instead of averting the disaster they made it even worse. As a final resort, Pharaoh summoned Moses and his brother Aaron to pray to their God to take away the frogs. Definitely, Pharaoh wasn’t interested in the God of the Hebrews but only in His power and help to clear up the mess!

Moses and Aaron appeared before Pharaoh. But Moses said, “I leave to you the honor of setting the time for me to pray and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs, except for those that remain in the Nile”-Exodus 8:10.

The question that Moses raised was, “when?”

Tomorrow,” pharaoh said. (Exodus 8:10a)

This was a crazy and unexpected answer, right? Why did he prefer to spend one more night with frogs? Anyway, Moses replied, “It will be as you say, so that you may know there is no one like the Lord our God” Exodus 8:10b.

Why did Pharaoh opt for a future date/time? This is a question I want us to look at briefly. You will note that Pharaoh’s problem was deeper than procrastination. It was a heart-problem; something that we all as Christians should beware of by diligently guarding our hearts.

Why was Pharaoh comfortable to spend one more night with the frogs?

He had a heart that did not delight in yielding to God’s voice Pharaoh had no bent or inclination toward God’s word or voice. He treated God’s messengers with contempt. He was only interested in building his kingdom through slavery. As a result the word of the Lord, through Moses and Aaron, fell in deaf hears. You can call this expression stubbornness or other names but in essence it is pride and disobedience. Pharaoh would simply not obey God or humble himself. But God knew when and where to strike.

He had a hard heart– Severally, it is recorded that Pharaoh hardened his heart (Ex. 8:15,32;9:7,34-35;13:15). In response, God also hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Ex. 4:21; 7:3; 9:12; 10:1,20,27; 11:10; 14:4,8,17). His heart was a hard nut to crack; but not with God. For God says, “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29)

What hardens one’s heart? For sure, sin does. The habit of sinning and suppressing truth makes ones heart to be hard and insensitive to God and his word. It deadens one’s conscience. A sinful and hard heart is blind to God’s doing and promptings. Pharaoh’s hard heart readily embraced suffering through the plagues than to obey God.

He had an unbelieving heart- Pharaoh simply trusted his own power and the power of magic. He only wanted to hear about God when there was a problem. Perhaps “tomorrow” was still convenient for him because he would have more time to explore other alternative solutions through magic and sorcery.

More importantly for us today, how can we guard our hearts, the wellspring of life (Prov. 4:23), with due diligence?

Hebrew 3: 12-13 warns, “See, to it brothers, that none of you has a sinful heart that turns from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

Be constantly connected to the true Vine (Jn. 15), and with fellow brethren/church for encouragement and counsel. Guard your heart every “Today“.  See to it that sin does not set in and find a permanent lodging in your heart. Do it daily. For, God desires a broken/repentant heart, a teachable spirit, and a heart that obeys his voice.

Read here for hindrances to hearing/yielding to God’s guidance. 

WHAT THE LIFE OF MOTHER TERESA REMINDS THE CHURCH IN AFRICA

mother Teresa

Mother Teresa of Calcutta has been canonized, formally declared a saint, by the Roman Catholic Church on 4th September 19 years after her death. Mother Teresa (1910-1997) founded the Missionaries of Charity,  that requires its members to subscribe to four vows: chastity, poverty, obedience, and to give “wholehearted free services to the poorest of the poor”. The award winning figure, a Catholic nun, has been hailed by many for what she stood for and for the impact she made in the lives of many poor people in India.

In my opinion, the life and work of Mother Teresa (MT) has a lot to remind the Body of Christ today.

  1. Ministry of the church to the poor– Mother Teresa’s life is a reminder of the biblical mandate that the church has toward the poor. Not only to the poor but also to refugees, sick, strangers, migrants, orphans and widows. To all those that are vulnerable to any form of suffering and exploitation. In her we see, true love at work. She sacrificially served “the poorest of the poor”. Her legacy of service to the people of Calcutta remains exceptional. Ministry to the poor is a worthy cause for the church today; the early church practiced it (Acts 6). The apostles, both to the Jews and Gentiles, put special emphasis on the plight of the poor as they preached the gospel: …They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do– Gal 2:9b-10.
  2. Incarnational Ministry– MT was totally sold out to the work among the poor. Her model takes after Jesus’ incarnation model of “coming down” to where people are. It is not easy to effect change when we stay aloof from people’s realities. With compassion, she literally went down to the people and suffered with them. She left her comfort and all her prerogatives to live and serve among the poor. Teresa was not a mother but became a mother to many.
  3. Leadership from below– I must say that we live in a world that strongly believes that for one to bring change (in the society) you have to be at the top. And so many people struggle to “be leaders” so that they can use their positions to right wrongs and straighten the crooked. But like Jesus, Mother Teresa’s life shows that the opposite is true, possible, and effective! You can lead from the bottom. Mother Teresa led by serving and served by leading.
  4. Simplicity– Trapped by materialistic culture around you? Mother Teresa’s life story is a down-to-earth life and lifestyle. Her life revolved around sharing and giving. She gave her life to selflessly serve God’s people. I wonder what Mother Teresa would say about the prosperity “gospel” that has become so prevalent today. But I guess, like Apostle Paul, she would perhaps say it is “no gospel at all”.
  5. Fervent spirituality– Her zeal and perseverance to serve “the poor of the poorest” was certainly informed by her intimate relationship with God. She must have learned her incarnational approach and what it means to surrender from Jesus. Her devotion to God and commitment to God’s people shows that the gospel is livable. Mother Teresa’s life is a good example of what a life surrendered to the hands of Jesus is able to achieve. Fervent spirituality will definitely lead to action.

Below, I leave you with some quotes attributed to Mother Teresa.

We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop. Mother Teresa

Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness. Mother Teresa

Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love. Mother Teresa

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one. Mother Teresa

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway

Mother Teresa

Leadership Motifs from the Bible

There is voluminous literature out there on leadership. Some of the leadership principles and values propagated in these books are Bible-based while others are research based. It is also worth noting that some of these values and principles on each side of the divide have points of convergence and points of divergence (this is for another day).

But the Bible provides rich metaphors that depict the nature of spiritual leadership that is to be exercised in and by the church. Believers in Christ are to embody these biblical values as foundational values for their actions, reactions, and convictions. In this short write-up let’s focus on two leadership motifs presented in the Bible: shepherd and servant.

#1 Shepherd

A leader is a shepherd. And as a shepherd, he has a flock under his care.

But more importantly, it should be noted that this is a communicable attribute from the divine. The shepherd motif presented in the Bible is derived from the character of God.

In the Bible God is revealed as the good Shepherd who leads, feeds, disciplines, and protects his flock (Ps. 23; 100:3; Isa. 10:1-11). Specifically, the sheep in Psalms 23 admits that his Shepherd: satisfies him-makes him lie down in green pastures and quiet waters, restores his soul, guides him, protects, comforts and disciplines him.

Jesus referred himself as the good shepherd (Jn. 10:11,14). He showed through his incarnate life that a good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A good shepherd does not abandon the sheep and run away when he sees a wolf coming. He protects. He does not allow the flock to be scattered. He gathers and embraces. A good shepherd knows his sheep and his sheep knows him. He always leads from the front. He has good interest of the sheep in his heart.

By implication, those who serve on behalf of God, at any leadership position, are also referred to as shepherds (Jer. 23:1-4; Ezek. 34:2-10). They are supposed to shepherd after God; to shepherd in the likeness of God. Shepherds should not be preoccupied with taking care of their own (self) interests but the interests of the flock. Good shepherds strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind the broken, bring back the straying sheep, seek the lost, and rule gently.

Jesus commissioned Peter, and by extension the other disciples and believers today, to feed his flock (Jn. 21:15-19). But it is a commission with a reward. Apostle Peter later wrote that when the Chief Shepherd appears, He shall reward those who have taken good care of his flock with unfading crown of glory (1 Pet. 5:2-4).  A good shepherd like Jesus leads, directs, nurtures, heals, and guards even sacrificing his life if need be for the sheep.

And so any leadership position should be seen as an opportunity to shepherd God’s people; “not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock (1 Pet. 5:3).

#2 Servant

A leader is a servant.

The servant motif traces way back to the OT whereby priests, prophets and kings were seen as servants of God. Like the nation of Israel, they were God’s vessels in which he accomplished  his divine purposes on earth.

In the New Testament Jesus referred himself as God’s servant. He came to serve, and to save the lost. He exemplified service by washing the feet of his disciples; performing a typical work of a slave (Lk. 22:27; Jn. 13:4-11).

Jesus exemplified humility, obedience, and servanthood through his incarnation “but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness “-the kenosis concept (Phil. 2:7-8).

Servanthood is an attitude of the heart. It takes humility, a selfless spirit and a transformed heart for one to be a servant. This attitude was in Christ. Therefore, Jesus becomes our example. He redefines what greatness is (Mk. 9:35).

Therefore those who lead should lead by serving as Jesus did.

Remember that leaders after God’s own heart are shepherds and servants.