Early on in my Arrow journey, I realized that an undeniable idol of accomplishment resided with prominence in my life. At some point my thinking became twisted and I equated the depth of God’s love for me with the significance of my accomplishments for him. I never would have verbalized that because it is an obvious lie. However, as a result of my Arrow experience: directed prayer and Scripture reading, reflection, and the guidance of wise, caring people God brought into my life, I began to see both the lie and the truth with new clarity.
What are your “big rocks” for this next season?
Guest Post – Rev. Phil Styles serves as Lead Pastor at United Baptist Church in Minto, NB. He’s also a graduate of the Arrow Leadership Program. In the fifteen plus years I’ve known Phil, I’ve always been encouraged and challenged by his joy – whatever the circumstances. He lives and leads with a joy that’s contagious – and we wanted to share his insights with you…
Consider this verse: “You love justice and hate evil. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else” (Psalm 45:7 NLT).
Now, read it again. Joy is powerful. Nehemiah says the joy of the LORD is your strength. Why do you think we need God’s joy? Let me ask it another way. What do you put in a frying pan if you want to cook eggs? Oil. When you put oil a frying pan nothing sticks to it. Likewise, we have an anointing of joy so that negativity doesn’t stick to us. It slides off!
Why the oily language? Because leaders often face negative comments or even attacks. It also happens at school, at work, at church and even in our families. Here are three insights for letting negativity slide off and for living with joy:
- Consider 2 Kings 2:23-24 where Elisha was being dishonored by some young men. They were calling him “baldy”. He prayed. Bears came out and mauled the 42 tormentors. What’s the lesson? When people dishonor you, God will take care of it. He made you! He gave you a purpose of value and dignity. And when you’re oiled up with God’s joy, the negativity doesn’t stick and justice is served by God. If you love justice, as Psalm 47:7 says, then leave it to God. Let the negative words slide off!
- What if someone close is negative about you? The application is the same – don’t let it stick to you. God has given you a purpose and you need to stick to that! As foster parents, we’ve had hurting children say painful words, like “You’re the worst parent ever!” At first, it stung – deeply. Then I learned a helpful acronym: QTIP = Quit Taking It Personally. When I got my understanding in the right place, I could bring grace and joy into complex moments. Many times, negative attacks are aimed at us, but are not about us. “QTIP”
- Hate evil. Jesus hated evil. But He brought us a message of great joy! Accusations would come and he let them slide off. But beware! When you’re tempted to join into counter gossip or back-biting, you end up being greased in the toxin of negativity. That toxin corrodes any anointing of joy we may have. Hate that evil! Jesus had purpose in his hate of evil.
Scripture says, “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Suffering? Endurable. Shame? Scorn it. Rewards? Guaranteed. How? With joy!
I’ve learned through time to let negative words slide off and to cling to God’s joy. I will not give negativity authority over me. I choose God’s joy! I choose God’s purpose for me, with joy. Choose God’s joy!
Pray, “Lord I love justice and hate evil. Anoint me with your oil of joy!” More Holy Spirit, more!
Please comment and share how you seek to live and lead with joy.
Fear comes in all shapes and sizes. Heights, public speaking, snakes, spiders, the dark, flying and dying are all common fears.
We can all relate to the feeling, power and impact of fear. It’s a very common theme in the Bible. Most of the ‘big names’ in God’s story struggled with fear. Even Paul, the great and bold missionary wrote about “…conflicts on the outside, fears within.” (2Corinthians 7:5)
For Christian leaders, there are some common and specific fears connected to the role of leadership. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of man, and fear of success are just a few. The spectrum of symptoms can include: Continue Reading
If the evil one were to target an area of your life to seek your downfall, what area do you think he would target?
Adapted from the theme in C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, this question opens the door to a conversation around vulnerabilities and spiritual battle. It reminds mentees that there is indeed a spiritual battle underway. It also reminds leaders that they are strategic high value targets for the “…roaring lion who roams around looking for someone to devour.” (1Peter 5:8)
This question is also helpful in gauging a mentee’s self-awareness. Are they aware of their weak spots and vulnerabilities? Were you aware of these areas?
Finally, this question will foster a mentoring conversation focused around current temptations and a proactive response to cultivating health and protection around a mentee’s vulnerabilities.
As your mentee responds, listen for whether they are appropriately sensitive to the reality of the evil one’s on-going schemes. Are they naïve or paranoid? Are they alert and holding a healthy perspective around the evil one and their position in Christ?
Are their current temptations and struggles that need to be addressed? How are they seeking to be alert and to proactively cultivate health around their weak spots and vulnerabilities? What practical ideas or help could you suggest to help your mentee guard and grow in these areas?
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…” 1Peter 5:8-9
The statistics on physical health are staggering. Here are just a few:
- More than 35% of American adults are obese, another third are overweight and the numbers are climbing (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)
- 31% of Canadian children are overweight or obese (Statistics Canada)
- A Duke Divinity School study found that clergy are the most overweight profession with a 40% obesity rate
- Only 15% of Americans regularly engage in vigorous physical activity for twenty minutes a day at least three times a week, despite the fact that the Journal of the American Medical Association notes that “regular exercise acts like a vaccine on the immune system.”
- In the USA, obesity counts for more than 200,000 deaths per year, $147 billion annually in medical costs and obesity/physical inactivity is close to overtaking smoking as the most preventable cause of death. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Harvard School of Public Health)
So what do statistics on physical health have to do with Christian leadership? Continue Reading