King Solomon on mens leadership

What was Solomon’s smartest decision?

Read Time: 4 minutes

Solomon was a smart guy. He built Jerusalem’s first temple. He wrote three books of the Bible (this one, this one, and this one). He was also the wisest and wealthiest (estimates say up to $2.1 trillion 😵) King in the Old Testament. Solomon, by all accounts, was a capable decision maker. He was a guy who knew how to get things done.

But he didn’t start out this way. He was a man who grew in maturity just like the rest of us. He had to lean on the Lord and others throughout his life in order to be effective.

Which is why I like him.

I’m a big believer in stewarding the small stuff. Sweeping the edges of the floor as much as the center. I believe if you can’t be accountable for small things, then the big dreams are just that — dreams.

If you can’t be accountable for small things, then the big dreams are just that — dreams.

Solomon started with a similar posture. At the beginning of his kingly-career, he asked the Lord for wisdom instead of wealth. He stewarded a “step one” decision.

“Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” Solomon said.

His humble request set him up for a lot of success in life – and some very surprising management decisions too.

Let’s look at one now.

As wise as Solomon was, he had one particular trait that outshone the rest. If you were to ask me, it held all the rest of His wisdom together. This was a “one ring to rule them all,” type of thing.

It starts in the Sheba story – wherein a foreign Queen decides to see for herself just how smart this Solomon guy actually is. A fair question between royalty, I’m sure you’d agree.

Let’s start here:

“And when queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, their clothing, his cupbearers, and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the Lord, there was no more breath in her.”

1 Kings 10:4-5

We could spend hours talking about someone’s breath being taken away based on food and clothing. I was at Walmart the other day and I had a similar reaction. The jury is out on whether it was the Holy Spirit.

But let’s focus on the list. The Queen of Sheba (Shelby for short), was most affected by the way the King managed his house. Out of all the ways he demonstrated leadership, the most surprising one was that he had officials.

Which begs the question: why does the smartest, wealthiest, wisest man in the world need advice?

He was literally the “smartest guy in the room.”

It’s fascinating. But there is actually a very profound reason to account for why he made this decision.

The reason begins with good counsel.

Regardless of our roles or jobs in life, we are all in need of good counsel. This is true whether we are owners of a business, entry-level employees or executives in ivory towers. Placing ourselves under authority, under someone’s else’s oversight, is the quickest way to promotion, protection, and long-term success.

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers, they succeed.” Proverbs tell us. Ironically, these could very well be the words of Solomon – echoing his life to us from the pages of his personal experience.

Solomon’s posture towards people and the authority they could lend him was what made him wise. He knew what he didn’t know. Not only that, he also had the humility to let others inform his ignorance.

His posture towards authority is what made him the wisest man on earth.

Solomon’s posture towards authority is what made him the wisest man on earth.

There is a myth that promotion equals less oversight – that the higher we go up a ladder, the more decisions we can make in isolation.

This is how great men fall.

If you’re a manager, if you own your means of income, or if you oversee a venture of any size…even just your cubical, you must seek to be under authority. Even if you simply lead yourself – a profound urgency should rest in you until you’ve found the right counsel to place yourself under.

If you haven’t done so yet, start building a master list now – an inner circle of confidants that can support you both spiritually and practically.

Find other men that can Father you and inform your decisions making process. Ideally, find one man for each type of authority you have over others.

If you shepherd people, find someone to shepherd you.

If you lead in business, place yourself under the counsel of someone that knows the market better than you do.

It doesn’t matter what you do…do not rest until you find good counsel.

Failure to do so is the reason why some men’s blessings become Basheba’s. Case and point.

We all need someone who can tell us “no.” A person who can call our bluff and inform our ignorance. This side of heaven, no one outgrows the need for it. And this becomes truer the more successful we become.

The ability to accomplish a job is not the same as walking in humility. But the inverse is true. Walking in humility is what makes us capable of more capacity.

The ability to accomplish a job is not the same as walking in humility. But the inverse is true. Walking in humility is what makes us capable of capacity.

The more we understand, and the better we are at what we do, the lower we must become.

Make a list of men you can trust today.

Find God at Work

How to Get Godly Inspiration at Work – The Daniel Principle

Read Time: 5 minutes

You’re stuck. You check a few blogs. Watch a few YouTube videos; maybe even look to see how someone else has done the job — but no good ideas come to you. The lights are off in the imagination department and you can’t finish the job.

Have you been there before? Have you ever needed to get a job done, but not known how to do the work?

Welcome to the club. That’s every man.

Have you ever needed to get a job done, but not known how to do the work?

Every guy, if he’s honest, will have a time or two when he’s run out of ways to solve a problem. I’ve had plenty. But that earlier question won’t solve our challenges on the job. Even though — you probably could find some workaround — you’re resourceful.

The better question to ask is: how should a Christian guy solve his workday problems while he’s on the job?

There are lot’s of “could’s” for this question.

You could research the problem.
You could seek out creative inspiration.
You could even read a leadership book for good measure.

I bet you’ve tried a few of these and have still run up dry some times.

Me too. But there’s a better (more practical) way.

Let’s take a cue from Daniel in the Bible to see how we can solve our own modern-day work problems when we’re stuck. Here’s his short story:

But Daniel resolved in his heart that he would not defile himself with the king’s food or wine. So he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself.

Now God had granted Daniel favor and compassion from the chief official, but he said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking thinner than those of the other young men your age? You would endanger my head before the king!”

Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief official had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days. Let us be given only vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearances with those of the young men who are eating the royal food, and deal with your servants according to what you see.”

So he consented to this and tested them for ten days. And at the end of ten days, they looked healthier and better nourished than all the young men who were eating the king’s food.

Daniel 1:8-16

Okay. So let’s talk biblical context first.

Here we find Daniel, recently enrolled in a new job, being made ready to serve in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar. The Bible actually says that he was supposed to “be trained for three years” before he started his new consultation gig.

But apparently, he has credentials which you might think qualify him already. Those being:

  • Gifted in All Wisdom
  • Knowledgeable
  • Quick to Understand
  • Handsome (Not sure how that’s a skillset but cool)

None of those qualities mattered, however, when it came time to do the new work he’d been assigned.

Instead, he acts on principle. Particularly towards his relationship with God.

He could’ve relied on a strong jawline and a high IQ to prepare for the job — but instead, he chose to honor his God.

He “resolved in his heart that he would not defile himself with the king’s food or wine.” This resolve was linked to the fact that Ol’ Nezzy opposed God’s people and plans. (Some theologians suspect Daniel, full of insight, knew he would have to eat off stolen silverware from God’s temple of which Babylon recently invaded…)

Knowing the King’s worldly position, Daniel decided that it would be better to honor God first, and then let that inform how he would solve his work-life woes.

From that position of honor, Daniel makes a request: “Please test your servants for ten days. Let us be given only vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearances…” he said to the King’s Chief of Staff.

His Babylonian boss relents. And the plan pays off (plus now, he has a beach body).

“And at the end of ten days, they looked healthier and better nourished than all the young men who were eating the king’s food.” the Bible says.

His decision to honor God, and then make a decision from that position, allowed him to work from a place of wisdom. That little feat of his was just the beginning of the incredible work he did in Babylon.

Neat. So how does this apply to you and me?

Consider this verse from Isaiah:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.

Isaiah 55:8

God’s thoughts and ways are naturally (or…supernaturally) wiser, smarter, and more informed than ours ever could be.

So, when you and I don’t know what to do, we’re in a good position.

We simply need to ask God for wisdom. You could offer a simple prayer like this:

“God, I need your perspective. What do you think about this problem and how would you go about solving it? What are your thoughts and ways of approaching this task?”

He already has an answer.

Next, it’s good to remember that, with God, everything is relational. We’re made to be in a relationship. This includes our work-life. To that end, part of how you can remain worshipful on the job is by honoring that relationship through the act of bringing matters directly to him; similar to our scriptural-colleague Daniel. This is how you partner with the Lord during the workday.

Better still, God made a promise to help you and I in our jobs whenever we have need:

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
James 1:5

This promise should give us peace. In Christ, there are no bad questions. Neither are there questions without wise answers.

In Christ, there are no bad questions. Neither are there questions without wise answers.

Asking for wisdom, in this way, has been my go-to for years now. And God has never failed me in my petitions. If anything, it’s fun and I look forward to asking him for help. I’d rather involve him anyhow— he has some pretty slick ways of getting things done, I’ve learned.

So, to recap, here are the three principles to help you solve problems on the job:

Work From a Place of Honor

Allow your relationship with God to come into your decision-making process. Simply acknowledging he gave you the job and doing your best to love him through the work is a good start.

Remember: God’s Ways are Not Your Ways

Remind yourself that God likely has a higher perspective than yours when it comes to your tasks at work. Give glory to God in his wisdom and thank him for his sovereignty.

Ask for Wisdom Regularly

Ask God for wisdom. He’s really, truly, happy to give you fresh insight. And not only that, he’s promised to give you as much wisdom as you want. He’s generous and there’s no takesy-backsies with him.

When you do apply these “Daniel Principles,” there is not a single problem on the job you cannot solve alongside Christ’s confidence and peace. I encourage you to try them the very next time you get the chance. You’ll be pleasantly surprised out how your outcomes differ when you work this way.

Blessings!

How to Find The Fruit of The Spirit at Work

Read Time: 6 minutes

Do you speak Christianese? It’s a unique language; with a platitude for everything under the liturgical sun. In fact, there are so many of these triune-turns-of-phrase you might consider removing the hedge of protection around them, if the Lord led. But I digress. Regardless of whether you like to hedge your bets, or prefer to bet on the Lord, there is one Christian word, in particular, that I don’t like to gamble on. Fruit.

Guard your heart, brother. We’re about to go full cornucopia on Christianese.

Christians have fruit for nearly every occasion. Good fruit. Bad fruit. Spoiled fruit, if you’re slipping spiritually (Bad Apostolic Apples). But these labels don’t get us far when it comes to understanding or articulating whether or not we can see the reality of the Holy Spirit transforming us and producing Kingdom Come.

I.e. fruit.

And stumbling blocks aside, we need to get practical about how to apply scripture where it speaks to the notion of producing fruit within our lives. Consider this juicy verse in Galatians:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,”
Galatians 5:22 NIV

I love the verse. It’s clear.

How do I know whether something looks like God was involved or not? Easy. There should be evidence of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness somewhere in the mix.

But this verse is only clear on the surface. Bare with me, as I explain.

Devotion to Christ must have an output and an outcome. Scripture calls this “fruit” but it means function. After all, if you say you’ve been loving, but can’t point to the action of that love, or the effect that love had on a person, you can’t call it fruit in good conscience, can you?

Fruit is the output of anointing and the outcome of grace.

Fruit is the output of anointing and the outcome of grace. It is a combination of the Spirit allowing you to exhibit his life, while holding to the reality that no action of goodness can grow without God’s abundant will, willing it so.

So then, if your devotion to Jesus is nothing more than zeal, of passion panting after prayer, then what benefit is your relationship with Christ to the world? It’s an important question.

Think of it this way: if we say that we have the Fruit of The Spirit (and we should), there should be more than simply the spirit of our actions. There should be influence too.

How then, do we know we’re working with God, and that he is present within the labor we do during the day? This is a blog about work, after all.

Here are a few work-worthy examples:

If you say you have the fruit of love, then your capitalism will create more opportunity.

If you say you have the fruit of joy, then you’ll do your work in such a way that it provokes others to excellence and encouragement.

If you say you have the fruit of peace, you won’t panic when markets crash or customers get upset.

If you say you have the fruit of patience, then your business dealings will be long-suffering.

If you say you have the fruit of goodness, then your strategy will multiply merit.

If you say you have the fruit of self-control, then your budgets will be in the black.

If you say you have the fruit of kindness, then your customer service will be world class.

If you say you have the fruit of faithfulness, you’ll stay the course with your KPIs.

Fruit is functional. It’s produced for consumption. It brings life. It brings provision too. Ultimately, it is evidence that intimacy with God exists in a particular part of your life.

Too often, work is a part of life which gets overlooked, spiritually speaking. This vineyard bares little fruit. But ironically, the reason is often because work is so binary to begin with. Or at least we’re told it’s supposed to be that way. Get in. Get Out. Work in. Paycheck out.

But the world revolves around work. For most of us, it takes up at least a third of the day. Sometimes more.

So sadly, most of us take a task-oriented approach to work instead of a fruit-oriented one. We might work hard, but it hardly has any effect on the Kingdom. Which is a shame. But it’s not something you need to be ashamed of. The reality is most Christians don’t know how to balance their faith within the function of what they do. But the good news is, it’s actually a lot simpler then we make it.

Sound too good to be true? Here’s a simple exercise and example to help you efforts be…more…fruitful. 🥁

Start by listing out a couple of tasks or situations that need the fruit of the Spirit. Perhaps it’s a team project, a presentation which is due, or a deadline you need to meet soon. Task-wise, you likely already know what needs to be done.

So set the “measurables” aside for now.

Instead, take a moment and pray through your list and ask God for wisdom for how he would do the work. Write down what comes to your mind or what God speaks to your spirit. He will show you how to approach the work in such a way that it bares good fruit while still getting the actual work done.

I got this tactic straight from James 1:5, if you’re interested.

To wrap up, here’s a fun story of how I applied the tactic while working on a national project for a Fortune 500:

To set the scene, I was on a new team and my Managing Director was under a lot of pressure from the executive suite. Not only did they need to get a high-pressure job done, but they would also need to prove they could lead the team well too.

As a team, we’d brainstormed and planned this project well, but none of that mattered to upper management. They wanted evidence, in short order, that the team was excelling – particularly because it was such a high-profile client. To make matters worse, they didn’t want a presentation or sit-down-discussion of the details – just an instant access update of how we were performing.

“They’re flying in. They want to see something first thing in the morning.” we learned.

The news made the whole team nervous. How in the world were we supposed to prepare a presentation – especially when they didn’t want to have a normal meeting? To make matters worse, it was the afternoon when we found out about the surprise visit.

But I knew what the Bible says. God is happy to generously give wisdom to whomever will ask, and he’ll give it without any reproach at all. He loves to help out.

So I mediated on what to do.

Instantly, I was given an idea for a strategic surprise.

That evening I decided to make up a presentation that would cover an entire wall of the office. It would be overwhelming in its effect.

So after everyone left for the day, I got started on my divinely assigned project.

I spent hours, without telling anyone, creating a paper-narrative that showed the work we’d done, the ideas we had, and even a draft of deliverables for the project. The effect was unprecedented. Unable to deny.

The next day, I woke up early and got to the office a few hours before I knew anyone would be there. Armed with only stacked chairs for a ladder and large pot of coffee, I worked as quickly as possible to put everything up before my boss came in with the executive team. I almost didn’t finish in time.

But the outcome was priceless.

My boss came into the office with the executives, completely unaware of the night’s work. So when their boss saw the huge presentation for the client, they were extremely impressed, and of course, my manager was able to take credit for leading such a forward-thinking project.

The look on my boss’s face was priceless too. Later on, they told me that they could’ve cried due to the relief and joy they felt at the work that had been done. This was re-emphasized many times by happy exclamations of “I love my team!” throughout the day.

Better yet, was the long-term effect this action had on the company, my boss, the team, and my career.

We ended up getting the client for years which benefited the company. My boss was publicly esteemed by their peers, which built bilateral trust, the team’s morale went up, and I believe this action was one of the many things which led to the various promotions I received while working at that company. The fruit of love, joy, and peace was everywhere. You could point to the places where it occurred.

This is just one example of when the Lord met me in my work and fruit was produced as an outcome. Perhaps what I like most about this story the most, however, is that it yielded the kind of fruit anyone can speak to, not just the Christianese.

How to get revelation for your business and career

Read Time: 5 minutes

Who doesn’t want to do great things? Perhaps you want to build a business, have a successful career, or make a new idea come into fruition. Any one of those desires can be noble and God-honoring. 

But if you want to do great things, or bring anything worthwhile into the world, then there is a principle you will need to apply first in order to make it so. 

This principle is part spiritual, and part systematic. Part application. Part appeal.

Let’s look at reality first, though.

Most men dream, though they may never call it as such, of doing something meaningful, and even, dare I say it – intrinsically personal with their lives. 

But not for long. 

Most will pick up their dream or big idea for awhile, then get busy and lay it down. Or if they don’t abandon their pursuit completely, then they look at the lives of men who are not, perhaps, particularly spiritual, and wonder at how they can do so well in whatever it is they do. 

This observation creates a problem.

When the gap between execution and exasperation gets big enough, which is to say, the potential to succeed is less than the will to work, then good ideas or innovative businesses never become a reality. 

But make no mistake, this has nothing to do with motivation. Hard work won’t get this train to its destination.

There is a spiritual component at play.

Consider this steak and shake:

I fed you with milk, not with meat; for you weren’t yet ready. Indeed, not even now are you ready,
1 Corinthians 3:2

With slight frustration, we find Paul, coming back to a people he’s already taught, about things which have previously been discussed, and ideas which should already have been implemented.

These adults need baby food. A Gerber God.

Now, on some level, one might expect a little more patience from the Apostle. Who doesn’t needs to be told truth more than once. After all, even Peter is known to have said “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have…” (1 Peter 1:12)

But Paul’s pain has to do with the latter part of his post; the meat of the matter. These Christians he’s addressing wanted “meat,” a heftier spiritual protein; yet they were unwilling to care for – or nurture their basic spiritual awareness and understanding when he wasn’t around. We know this because of the way in which he (Paul) responds. They wanted revelation without responsibility.

So what does this have to do with business and career? Often in life, God will happily give us a dream, albeit in the form of an innovative idea, job pursuit, or business venture. In our excitement, we take that idea and make it bigger, grander, or more pronounced. We’ll expand it to a place only day-dreams dare go; and there we are content to stay with our cloud of career. Happy, blissful, unaccomplished.

We’ll stay put in this blissful ignorance until something from outside “pops” our business-minded bubble. This often looks like a competing company doing better than ours, poor personal performance, or a previous idea you had having been executed by someone else. 

At this point, most of us wonder what we did wrong. Or worse, why we can’t get more spiritual revelation in how to succeed.

To understand how we can overcome this ambition killer, let’s look first at a common business practice, and then compare it to its spiritual beatitude.

Whenever you pursue a business venture or new job role of some kind, there are two things to always consider:

  1. Market Expectation
  2. Vertical-driven Opportunity 

It doesn’t matter if you have an entry level job, a humble small business, or hold the reins of a Fortune 500, one thing remains constant: 

There is already an outside expectation set about whatever value you think you bring. And you don’t get to define this expectation. Ever. 

It’s not because you aren’t capable of better thinking than the consumer or bossman either; it’s simply reality. The reality is there are already market drivers, or at a minimum, mental models (cognitive assumptions and biases) about how your business should perform and your job should be conducted. Maybe that’s unfair, but it’s the truth.

The implications, for that matter, can’t be overstated. A business will fail if it tries to move too quickly into a novel idea or innovation – without thoughtful consideration of what the market already expects from a similar product or service. Similarly, a well-meaning employee will fail at his job if he ignores the minimum responsibilities of his role in favor of his own ideas or conclusions (even if they’re good ones!). 

After all, you can’t rewrite the playbook until you know how the game is played.

You can’t rewrite the playbook until you know how the game is played.

Next, we can consider opportunity. When we think about opportunity, whether in the form of personal promotion at work, or new revenues from a niche, there has to be a prerequisite understanding of who is being served (boss, colleague, consumer) and what your opportunity might provide for them. 

Perhaps that’s not a revelation. 

But revelation is typically where we get it wrong as Christians. So let’s look at the spiritual side of this discussion.

Revelation is worthless, absolutely worthless, if personal stewardship is not first sovereign in the mind of the man who wants to do something great with his life. 

You could cook up the biggest business idea ever conceived, or worship and fast till your blue in the face, but if you’re not first stewarding the minimum expectations of your faith, and listening to the thresholds of your consumers or constituents, then your plans will never succeed – at least not in the way you dreamed it might. 

Why might you ask? Because there is nothing to graduate to. 

Revelation, whether it be in the form of business acumen or job expertise, is given to those who first steward the baseline expectations. The simple things. The minimum requirements, responsibilities, and revenues of which they’ve already been untrusted. There is nothing else to expect or graduate to without this first principle being applied.

Stewardship leads to revelation.

Consumer expectation leads to industry innovation.

This is the power of Jesus’ Parable of The Steward.

As I’m sure you’re aware, in the scriptural story, a manager gave his employees (stewards) varying amounts of income to invest while he was away. He didn’t give the amounts based on competency or character, simply his own sense of delight and delegation. 

But pay attention to the attitude of the poor steward. 

He takes the money (think opportunity), and actually considers a future with it, but when he finds himself unable to grapple with all the unknowns, he buries the potential he’s been given. 

His master is furious. 

“You could’ve at least put it in the bank!”’ He says upon his return.

In other words, “Why not do the minimum if you can’t see a path to momentum?”

Here’s the practical bit for us as men: 

You’re right. If you try and predict future outcomes, or bet on the best of your ideas, without first focusing on what the market and the manager already expects, then you will fail. You will be putting the cart before the horse. And you can’t win that way. The men that win, in life, in business, or in any other personal pursuit, are not so focused on seeking revelation that they are unwilling to steward the expectations already in place.

Maybe this sounds boring, but consider it a business-beatitude. 

If you want divine insight in business or career, then you must first ask yourself what you are willing to steward in order to receive revelation.

How to be a responsible Christian man

How to “hack” responsibility you don’t enjoy as a Christian man

Read Time: 4 minutes

“Be responsible.” is a slap-on-the-wrist-statement for most men.

It’s normally used as a rebuke for not getting the job done like someone thinks we should.

…not that you aren’t responsible.

You probably are…

But the act of responsibility, which is the obligation to do something or care for someone, is not just part of your job or work-role in life. For the Christian man, responsibly is much heavier, heavenly, and high above the simple work we do.

But let’s start with a reality check.

Most of us aren’t averse to more responsibility. We’re averse to responsibility pulling us away from the work we are passionate about.

Most of us aren’t averse to more responsibility. We’re averse to responsibility pulling us away from the work we’re passionate about.

We’re perfectly fine with a responsibility that we’re interested in.

Because it doesn’t feel “responsible.” It feels like ownership or creativity.

But we’ve all been faced with work we rather not do. And the truth is there will never be a point in life where we won’t have at least a few tasks that we don’t feel up to…well…doing.

There‘s good news, though, for anyone who’s up to the task of godly work. You can “hack” your knee-jerk reaction to new or more responsibility.

Start by meditating on this colossal, Church-of-Colossae scripture:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:23-24

Whatever you do, however you do it, and whomever you do it for, doesn’t matter. It’s all rolled up into a greater sense of reverence for the Almighty himself.

After all, so is your inheritance and reward.

So start by doing all your work as “unto the Lord,”

Not men.
Not managers.
Not any other moil of the day.

After all, God is not a taskmaster; though he is a Master of Tasks. In other words, He knows the best way for you to work alongside him.

Think of it this way: if God is your greatest passion then the responsibilities you would normally shy away from will just look like another opportunity to spend time with Abba.

In light of this, it’s best to eagerly pursue those responsibilities which you may dislike. They’re all an opportunity to have a working relationship with the Lord. Which by the way, is how your calling is discovered and purpose is fulfilled.

But granted, this mindset is easier discussed than executed; at least at first. Bolts rarely break without a wrench turn or two.

Our enemy knows this as well. And he will try and steal away this righteous thinking pattern (The Mind of Christ) from you.

He does this by attempting to make you anxious or stressed about a task, or by trying to make you forget that God already indwells you.

If he wins, responsibility will make you feel anxious.

Because you feel you’re doing it alone.

But you aren’t actually alone.

You’re in hot pursuit.

You passionately pursue the Almighty.
You passionately pursue the Kingdom.
You passionately pursue the work.

Responsibility just happens to be part of the fun.

God gave King Saul a similiar perspective when it came to his daily duty:

“Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. Now when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you.”
1 Samuel 10:6-7

Most of us have experienced a “Lord rushed” moment – a time when we were turned into another man. “Born again” as the scriptures say.

But after that, most of us are left to fend for ourselves.

We know we’re saved – no issues there, but the question lingers: what does a new man do with his new life or the responsibilities that come with it?

He could try and “be” a good Christian.

He could wear Christian things or watch Christian media.

He could even get a fish-symbol bumper sticker to make sure the world really knew he’d changed his tune.

Somehow, though, those changes don’t stick, or worse, they bring the stress mentioned earlier.

So we try harder.
Or work harder.
Or if we’re really desperate, worship harder.

We do all of this to try and stem the tide of how we feel over how we function during the day.

But the solution is not to try harder; to buck up and eat our broccoli, or try and swallow responsibility like a pill the Divine Physician might fill for us. We’ll just get sick of (or stressed in) our work.

No. The Lord is much kinder than that.

He knows that responsibility and the recognition of “Kingdom Come” are always linked together.

Which is why he gives you the same freedom in your work as he did Saul. It’s an open offer: “…do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you.

Take it or leave it as you wish.

Whether by wrench, or worksheet, or endless paperwork you cannot see the end of, the best course of action you can take is to put your hands towards something worthwhile; regardless of how you feel about the work itself.

The Lord, if you let Him, will turn you into a man who continues to look and work more like Christ. This is the benefit of sonship.

A Christian Father and Son

The Myth of Work Life Balance

Read Time: 3 minutes

Twice in the last week, I’ve been asked about work-life balance. Most recently, with a close friend over pancakes; early in the morning before either of our work days began.

“How do you balance work with the rest of your life?” he said.

The question always comes with a bit of background.

Perhaps it’s a worry that work is taking up too much time, or that it’s somehow taking place of some other more important priority. The reasons are endless. And for most well-meaning men it’s something that comes up a lot – at least eight hours a day.

But the premise is the problem. Not the question.

So we need to start with the misconception.

There is no work and then life. No distinction of duty. No segregation of cause.

Now before you call the Twitter police, let me explain.

To do that, we’ll need to zoom out. Way, way out.

Heaven’s perspective, in fact.

All of us are called, in Christ, to seek first the Kingdom.

Consider the words of Jesus:

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:33

Which may seem a bit vague, but it’s a big deal.

All of “these things,” such as time management, get in line behind our pursuit of Kingdom come; which is to say, the practical things God wants to do during the day. This includes the things we give priority (Full Chapter Here).

But this can get confusing.

After all, haven’t we been taught the priority should be:

God,
then Family,
then Work?

That sure sounds good. But there’s nothing particularly biblical about this priority-pyramid. That’s not to say it’s not well meaning. No doubt, it’s meant to be. Just not scriptural.

In fact, it creates some mental roadblocks for us. For starters, it creates a mentality that if you simply do your devotions, before coffee, kids or career, then you’ve covered the priority of God in your life for the day.

But the Divine is not a devotional. Nor do we set that relationship aside once we’ve done our due-diligence of prayer.

We “prayer without ceasing” as Paul, the Thessalonian-theologian said; involving the Almighty in all aspects of the day.

So let’s take off the top of the pyramid. Weave it through the day instead.

Next, we have the family. Who can argue with family?

Here again, we have a priority that, on the surface, looks good but shows that we have a more fundamental issue that needs to be solved.

In isolation, it communicates to our kids and spouse that there is a divide between community and career. But there shouldn’t be…

Growing up, I was always happy that my Dad didn’t wait for “Take Your Kid to School Day” to involve me in his life. He had me working on the car when I was barely twice as tall as the wrench he handed me. He also insisted on me helping out around the shop occasionally too. This didn’t just teach me work ethic, it showed me there wasn’t “work time” and “son time.” Simply life, and the time within it.

Now it may not be practical to bring family members to work, but you do well by everyone when you go beyond “Sorry, this is my job. The way life is.” No need to apologize. Pull family into your function, and function into your faith.

This is true of life’s emergencies too.

I had a mentor, many years ago, who was the owner of a successful surgical practice. He was a man of faith, well known in his community and he had a wonderful family too. He told me something very insightful about being successful in all camps.

“Pierce,” he said.

“Whatever deserves your time is your priority.” speaking of at-risk situations.

“If I have an emergency at work, and I don’t take care of it, it does affect my family. If I simply said family over everything, and then didn’t take care of what kept a roof over their heads, then I am not caring for my family.”

Of course, this mindset requires discernment. You can’t use a job to isolate or escape. But the principle is true.

Life is a matter of stewardship. Not segregation.

Life is a matter of stewardship. Not segregation.

In all things, we should strive to conform our priorities into something that models Christlikeness and Kingdom come. When we move away from segregation and into stewardship, we start to see that the Lord is in all and through all. This, in turn, allows us to think and pray about things holistically, and not simply as tiers of responsibility.

The result is less guilt, and more God, during the day.

the gift of leadership

The gift of leadership (and how to give it)

Read Time: 3 minutes

Leadership is a bit of a buzzword. The word has been branded, sanded and refined a million different ways so that anyone with enough energy can attribute an action, any action, to a leader-initiated one.

Thought leaders. Servant leaders. Leaders of men. If you don’t feel particularly competent in one type of leadership, no problem; there is probably another version you can try on for size without much difficulty. Maxell’s Law of the Lid won’t even slow you down. Now anyone can hide behind a “leader label.”

Part of the problem is principles. We know what good leadership looks like, so it’s easy to package it up nicely and put a bow on the whole ordeal for others to see. But once the wrapping is off, we don’t actually know what’s underneath. In other words, we can fake leadership really well.

The other issue is motivation. Sometimes we want leadership as a means to an end. Leaders get paid more. They’re seen more. They’re in high demand. So there are many reasons why one would want to be in leadership. Unfortunately, personal drivers don’t put others first. And eventually, this will put any leader-to-be back at the beginning.

So why lead at all? Where will it get you? Better yet, where will it get others who might win from your windfall of better judgment? You can start by setting all the leadership principles, techniques and convictions you have aside. Not because they’re not important, but because they won’t do you any good until you know what’s leading you. In other words, you have to know what you’re willing to follow for the long-term.

If you want to lead well, you need a crystal clear idea. An idea you’re willing to get behind. An idea that will keep you up at night, and require the help of other people to execute. Until you have an idea you’re willing to submit to and sacrifice for, your principles and techniques will only buy time. Eventually, people will pick up on the absence of substance driving you.

Which begs the question: What ideas do you follow?

Good leaders follow great ideas.

They get behind them. They protect them. They learn to let them lead. Sometimes they create them too.

The benefits of good ideas abound. For starters, when the big idea isn’t “you” the idea will end up with a life of its own. This is a force-multiplier. If you have identified the idea, but it lives with other people, then you have a higher likelihood of achieving the goals that drive it.

Perhaps that sounds simple, but the difference between your personal identity and a personified idea is huge.

One can leave with you. The other doesn’t.

This is important because growing teams only get behind things that stick around.

Call it a survival mechanism.
Call it existential urgency.

Just don’t call the shots.

When you don’t let ideas lead, leadership principles aren’t effective. And any principle that’s linked to people will always assume that something bigger is at stake than any one person doing the leading. So set yourself up to win, and put yourself behind a winning idea.

If we’re honest, the reason we rely more on principles than on ideas is because we’re insecure about our own leadership ability. It’s easy to learn the mechanics of leadership. We can learn how the pieces fit together without even having a reason to lead. In other words…

We know we need to lead well,
because we’ve been told to lead well,
but we don’t have a reason to lead well.

There is nothing in the background driving our reason.

Once we’re aware of this, we can do the hard work of leading; which is finding the right idea to get behind.

So what is a good, leader-worthy idea?

A good idea is:

Bigger than you.
Better than the current situation.
Best with other people.

A good idea exists in spite of people, but it also benefits people.

This where most breakdowns of organizational leadership occur. Most leaders know “how” to lead, but they don’t know “why” they are leading. It is much, much harder to identify the idea than to organize an ideology.

Anyone can memorize a methodology. Few can identify a meaningful reason.

So do the hard work of leading. Once you’ve done the work of crafting the idea, making it clear and consistent, your principles will have power. Your techniques will take on an initiative of their own. This is the best gift you can give your team.

Anointed Man

How to get practical, nine-to-five anointing

Read Time: 4 minutes

Anointing is a big word. A black hole even. It’s elusive, powerful, and hard to put your finger on. But it exists. And everyone else seems to know what it looks like.

Most of the time those people are on stages. They sound good. They look sharp. They’re separated from the common man too. Which makes “it” seem even harder to nail down. But the truth is, anointing is useful, practical and needed to do your daily work effectively.

So what is anointing? And what effect, if any, does it have on a Christian man during the day?

Let’s start with the origin.

Anointing was first and foremost, used by shepherds to protect their sheep. Similar to Jesus with you.

Historically, the shepherd would pour olive oil over a sheep’s head and around their ears. This protected the animal from bugs and outside elements that could harm – or even kill it. So it was protection and provision; provided by the sheep’s master. An outcome of association.

Fast forward, and many ancient cultures would use anointing as a way of saying that a leader was set apart for a particular type of work. A king would be anointed with oil on his head. A priest might be as well. It was a sign that God was with a person for doing a holy task.

So anointing is both a sign and a signature. A mark of acceptance as well as a unique event. It is designed to support a leader and the things he needs to do.

Enter Christ.

“The Anointed One.” in literal translation.

He is a person – not a magic potion.

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22

You are already anointed, as it stands, but it is an outcome, or a foundation rather, of the presence of Jesus in your life.

This presence has a unique effect on your life – if you abide in it.

As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit–just as it has taught you, remain in him.
1 John 2:27

Anointing signifies calling. It’s a pretty simple litmus test. Ask yourself: Would you believe someone is “called” if nothing set them apart? Doubtful.

Which is why you’ve been given a deposit.

First Christ sets you apart. Then capability.

They’re linked; joined at the triune hip.

So your growth then, within the work you do during the day, is a matter of priorities.

Not putting the cart making before the horse maker, so to speak.

This priority is for a good reason.

“…as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real…” scripture says.

His anointing will give you what you need to both remain in him and deliver the work you do during the day.

Take Bezalel, for example. This guy had talent for days.

The Lord said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you…”
Exodus 31:1-6

Ol’ Bezzy was filled with the spirit. For what? Not songs on Sunday morning. Not Bible Study on Wednesday. Not even a mission trip to Beliz.

He was given intelligence, and knowledge for craftsmanship (widdling included? Some questions only Jesus knows…).

These practical and creative assets were a gift. Given to him for the purpose of giving glory to God through every kind of hands-on work you can imagine. How cool?

So to recap…

You, yes you, are already anointed because you abide in Christ, and because he has his “seal of ownership” on you. That’s good news. From here, you only have to worry about your own conformity getting in the way.

Conformity kills anointing.

Simply because docility exalts another God. When you react to the day, instead of resurrecting it, work ends up worshiping the wrong God. So conform to Christ. He holds the task at hand.

The best way to get out of the habit of doing reactive work is by asking the Lord for wisdom. His anointing will teach you about all things.

Check.

Although to be fair, the context of 1 John 2:27’s verse could be understood as only what it means to live out a transformed life. No problem, that’s also true.

There is an additional promise which you can take ahold of since you are, in fact, “sealed.” as the Bible says.

If any of you needs wisdom to know what you should do, you should ask God, and he will give it to you. God is generous to everyone and doesn’t find fault with them.
James 1:5

If you need to be equipped to do more, see more, or be more (insert thing) God will generously give you what you need to accomplish the work. He is for you, after all.

So the difference then, between you and the guy on the TV, is likely very simple. He is in the habit of asking.​

What is the best audiobook devotional for Christian men?

Read Time: 4 minutes

What is the best audiobook devotional for Christian men?

Well…not many exist.

Which makes the good Christian audio devotionals for men all the harder to find.

Especially for biblical study.

You see, with an audiobook, you get a voice recording of devotional text that you listen to – rather than read. And since it is a word-for-word version of the written devotional, you engage your mind – and spirit, in a new way. First there’s scripture, then meditation.

You also get the benefit of being able to listen to an audiobook on a MP3 player, smartphone, or in your car (if it streams audio)

…which is what sets this new men’s devotional study apart in a big way.

Personally, I think it’s important that the narrator is a Christian and professes their faith in Christ as well.

Perhaps I’m old fashioned, but I think those things make a difference in the genuineness of the content.

Some things you can “sense,” if you know what I mean…

Why have an audiobook devotional study for men?

These days many men live from their cars, work from their phone, and learn from other types of media such as podcasts and sermons. Which is why the audiobook format is so popular. It is a portable way to learn and grow spiritually through hearing the Bible.

No doubt, traditional Christian devotionals are a great way to grow closer to God and learn about specific a Bible topic. But sometimes it’s hard to stop and read a paper book.

And not just because life is busy either.

What is the best audiobook devotional for Christian men?

Bestselling Christian Mens Devotional
Power Love Sound Mind Ranking

So yes, I am partial. Power Love Sound Mind has been fun to create. And it’s been humbling to watch the ebook version achieve a nice ranking as well. It has ministered to many men. Which, to be honest, was a big reason why we created the audiobook. I wanted to make the Mind of Christ as approachable as possible.

A lot of hard work and production detail went into creating this devotional as an audiobook version. Philip Andrew Hodges, the audiobook’s narrator (not to mention Ted Dekker’s and twenty other books), has a fantastic voice, and his conviction comes through crystal clear in the stereo audio.

In fact, one of the unseen details that makes this devotional audio quality SO GOOD is the equipment he used in production. This ain’t your grandma’s bible study mic set up. No tin-can preaching here.

All fifty-two weeks of this men’s devotional were recorded on a Heil PR40 microphone and PreSonus AR8 board.

Sound like techy-talk? In simple terms, it’s best-in-class audio sound.

The Heil PR 40 has a new dynamic microphone technology which is designed for sophisticated recording and commercial broadcasts. It actually produces the widest frequency range available in a dynamic microphone, which you’ll appreciate in the way it captures Phillip’s voice.

“But what about the content?” you may ask.

Great question. I’d be asking the same thing.

The audiobook follows the same content structure and framework that the ebook version does (you can still get it FREE btw). There is a reason it’s been so well received. Power, Love, Sound Mind is a biblical study about the Mind of Christ. And it’s designed, written, and organized for men.

What makes it a “Christian” Men’s Devotional?

Well, I’m kind of partial to the term “soul strategy.” I think it gets to the heart of the matter. Plus, the book is written (and narrated) in “Manguage.” Brass-tacks, black-coffee-and-no-cream, practical language.

So, here is how it works:

Power. Love. Soundness of mind. These three pillars build up the “Mind of Christ” within you.

When one of them is weak, your spirit man suffers. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

This devotional will help you grow in spiritual strength by doing one (and only one) power-packed excerpt per week. Each one focus on one of these pillars. With the new, one-of-a-kind framework, you’ll make progress by covering your bases once a month.

A month? Yes, a month. In a month, you will cover all three pillars. You’ll do this 52 times. At the end of a year, you’ll be a stronger Christian man. But best of all, you’ll recognize the Mind of Christ within you.

What version of the Bible does this study use?

Four. The NIV is referenced in the majority, but so is the ESV, and the KJV. The Message is used once. I know…”it’s a paraphrase.”

I don’t disagree, but it broke down a hard topic towards the middle of the book.

I’m sure you can appreciate that. At the end of the day, I like to get out of the way, and let the scripture do the heavy lifting.

How long does it take to listen to each devotional audiobook track?

Not long. It’s made for guys on the go. No Kumbaya’s are included. Most weeks take about two minutes a listen. The Weekly Application is the hard part. After all, what good is hearing the word and doing nothing about it?

Here is a sample of Week 13. There are fifty-two more just like it (minus the music).

Ready to get your copy of the audiobook?

Hop over to Audible and get it today!

A Leadership Principle From King Jehoshaphat

Read Time: 4 minutes

Kings and careers and leaders and jobs are all appointed. Every role at work is a gift from God as well. Which means, when a situation at work arises that feels foreign, stressful, or threatening, we do not have to worry. There is a good outcome waiting for us. There is an invitation to experience the Almighty too. This was certainly true in the life of King Jehoshaphat.

Jehoshaphat (Yehoshafat in Hebrew. Pronounced yo-so-fat….awkward), was one of Israel’s greatest leaders, reigning from 873 – 848 BC. He was king under a divided monarchy and constantly had to balance his leadership role with the pressures of outside influence. His work began at the ripe old age of 35.

His legacy of leadership, is perhaps most notable, when he, and the rest of Judah, are about to be put under siege. Long story short, an entire alliance of foreign nations had plotted against him. The plan was to conquer Judah in all-out war. If we haven’t all been there before…

There are a few things a smart-and-savvy king might do with this information.

He might increase military spending.

He might try and out-strategize the opponent.

He might draft a larger army, to have more people on his side.

Jehoshaphat did none of these things.

Instead, he worships.

Directly in conflict, in the valley of the battle – where anyone else would be mentally preparing to fight. He worships. The cojones on this guy…

…you know the rest of the story.

These rogue nations, on the way to take him out, disagree and destroy each other instead. They didn’t even “run it by the board members.” They march to their own demise instead, killing each other along the way.

In the aftermath, Jehoshaphat is left with only one job.

He has to pick up the plunder.

A far cry from what the nation had expected earlier that day.

After this “battle,” the valley is also given a new name. The Valley of Beracah. Which translates to: the valley of blessing.

Incredible.

The battlefield had become a blessing. The hindrance was now holy.

In Christ, there is a blessing in the valley. A means in a meaningless situation.

In Christ, there is a blessing in the valley. A means in a meaningless situation. In this account, the benefit nearly overwhelmed the soldiers. After the battle, It took three days for Judah’s army to pick up the “equipment, clothing, and items of value” that were left over. Which is important. The ground of war was covered in the gratitude of worship.

Now, remember, this whole thing started with leadership. Humility in the heat of battle. Jehoshaphat’s original prayer was “…we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” How familiar that prayer sounds. Many of us do not know what to do either when we’re backed into a corner.

There is good news though.

God does not need your equipment, clothes, or valuable talent – the things that you might think would accomplish a good outcome. When He steps into a situation, be it an office argument, a delayed project, or some stressful work environment, He will provide the practical means to move forward. He’ll fill your valley. You may not even want to leave.

So then, there is a principle for all of us. Leaders know their marching orders. They understand that their position, whether high or low, is a matter of inheritance. There are no kings which the Lord does not appoint, after all.

This is true for your job and the role within it as well. Whether you think that you are well equipped, or have no idea what to do, the posture, for you, remains the same.

Worship is the tip of the spear. It’s what you lead with. It’s how you face the work and obstacles ahead of you. Jehoshaphat knew this too. Consider his sergeant-level-strategy, right before battle:

After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

“Give thanks to the Lord,
for his love endures forever.”
2 Chronicles 20:21

Why did he praise the Lord for love? Why not strength, authority, or power?

One reason.

The Lord’s love is practical.

It has a goal in mind.

Love is the best weapon of war there is. Every battle can be won by it. Every situation will conform to it. It’s your best bet when you do not know what to do. But you’ll have a hard time recognizing it if you aren’t already worshiping him.

Consider this truth in the context of Psalms:

“He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing love to his anointed, to David and to his descendants forever.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭18:50‬ 

“He gives his king.” Note the “his king” part. Why is this important? Roles, especially leadership roles, belong to God. Your role, in Christ, is anointed. It belongs to him. Which means, the Lord will look after you. He will give you great victories during the day. You’ll be left with nothing to do – except pick up the plunder of his provision. A very good place to be.

By the by, that phrase translates the same whether you read this translation, this translation, or…even…this translation.

So next time, when you do not know what to do, or you feel the world (or even just the nine-to-five) is against you, use worship as your primary tool to overcome conflict. It sets your sights on the right authority and reminds you that your position is inherited. You might be surprised by how situations change as they react to the Lord’s love.

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But this has a great one!

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