A Leader’s job is meant to inspire and drive execution; it is not about driving people to exasperation and exhaustion. Proverbs 28:3 gives a great example of what a leader is not supposed to do: A rule who oppresses the poor is like a driving rain that leaves no crops. While this verse refers to a ruler, it applies to leadership as well. If we drive people to the point of oppression, there will be nothing left. We will not get results and we will lose people in the process. Leadership is about pulling people through tough circumstances, not pushing them into impossible expectations.
Everything in our lives can be considered a learning experience if we approach it the right way. It is ok to fail and it is ok to acknowledge to God that we need Him because we are imperfect and lack wisdom. Proverbs 1:7 says, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Only a fool would think they are ok without God’s influence and leading in their lives. Let us not be fools. Let us accept God’s wisdom and discipline to make us who we were created to be.
Humility requires a true perspective of ourselves. Paul asks us to be true servants and humbly put others before ourselves as though they are better than us. This is regardless of how they may act. In Philippians 2:3 Paul says, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain, but in humility consider others better than yourself. Sadly, “common courtesy” is not very common. But through the example of Christ and the help of the Holy Spirit, we can love and respect others and treat them as we would like to be treated.
When we let a “little” sin into our lives, it is the same as allowing a lot. In 1 Corinthians 5:6 Paul says, Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? There is no such things as a little sin. Sin is sin and it works its way into who we are. Let us be mindful of what and who we allow into our lives.
Today we read Jesus’ prayer to God just before the end of His ministry here on earth. As I read the prayer, I could not help feel a sense of honor that Jesus prayed for me and all future believers in the last part of His prayer. In John 17:20-21 Jesus specifically says, 20 My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. Jesus’ desire was that we all become one body of believers. There is power in unity. His desire was not for us to become a gang, but a loving and encouraging body that cares for each other and as a group can care for others in need. Our body of believers should form a hospital, not a country club. We are here for the sick, not the privileged. Let us always remember this.
Jesus recognized spiritual immaturity in some of His disciples, and yet he used a child to describe how we should become. Matthew 18:3 says, And he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus doesn’t want us to become childish. Instead he wants us to be childlike with sincere and humble hearts.
In Jesus’ day the Gentiles, right or wrong, they were considered no more likely than dogs to receive God’s blessing. In today’s reading a Canaanite woman (Gentile) came asking for a miracle from Jesus. Matthew 15:25-28 was their interaction, 25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. 26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” 28 Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour. While this interaction may seem very derogatory, it was the view at the time. But the woman was willing to take her perceived status in the society for the sake of healing her daughter. For us, we are no more than dogs in comparison to what God expects us to be. But when we humble ourselves and realize we deserve little more than crumbs off the Master’s table, we receive so much more.
When we think we can do it all alone, that is when we are closest to failure. Proverbs 18:12 say, Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor. We cannot do it alone. We need the help of the Holy Spirit in our lives and the help of trusted friends to keep us accountable. When we humble ourselves to know we need help, this is when we find honor.
Have you ever met someone who would rather argue than accept responsibility for their actions? Proverbs 12:12 says, A mocker resents correction; he will not consult the wise. We should all be humble enough to accept correction. None of us are perfect and none of us have a complete perspective. We should be willing to accept correction and advice from trusted advisers and people we know have our best interest in mind.
Today’s reading in Act 6 is a short one, but it is important for two reasons: 1) It introduces Stephen, who we will read more about tomorrow in chapter 7, and 2) it addresses one of the key responsibilities we should have as a body of believers, which is to take care of those in need. In this particular case we are talking about widows, but this applies in many areas. The “Church” is responsible for taking care of people in need, not government. When we wait for the government to step in and provide, we are allowing them to step into all areas of our lives. If the church spent less money on building physical “temples”, we could spend more time and money taking care of widows, single moms, the sick, and the elderly more effectively. I would rather see tithes and offerings going to those in need rather than into new spaces that are used only one or two days a week. I am not against building or buying space that fits the needs of safe and sheltered worship, just against edifices that resemble museum more than gathering places for humble believers who exhibit a hearts of servants.