King Solomon on mens leadership

What was Solomon’s smartest decision?

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.

How to get revelation for your business and career

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.

The Theology of Thought Leadership

There are many types of thought leaders in the world.

…Oprah

…Deepak Chopra

…the guy at the gym who just discovered plant-based protein.

Just to name a few.

And no matter your knowledge niche, there is always someone ready to give you their two cents, regardless of whether it pays to heed it.

Which leaves us with a question: In all of the noise, how do you sift out the good advice from the bad?

For leaders, this is an especially important question. Namely because whatever we consume, we clone in others.

Hebrews, the Bible’s big book on faith, gets us started. The crux of the principle we’ll look at is in verse twenty-four:

and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Hebrews 12:24

It’s a bit of an odd verse. But here’s the meat (without the Matt Redman):

Two men died.

And both in a similiar way.

Violently. Unjustly.

The difference, however, between these two men, was in their nature.

Abel’s death, as tragic as it was, could only speak to humanity’s fallen nature. There was nothing redeemable about him dying. It was evidence of eternity without God. But that’s about it.

Christ’s death, on the other hand, proclaimed the power of God. His blood (Jesus’), had better things to say about life (spoiler alert).

His blood backed him up. It gave His words weight.

Once, before his crucifixion, Jesus had this to say about it:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:10

Up until His resurrection, people had to take this kind of statement on faith. It was an extension of experiencing Him in the streets and synagogues. After the grave, however, His blood spoke a better word.

In other words, His resurrection had rhetoric. Because He spoke to what He knew.

This is important. People speak to what they know.

A person may be a bright speaker, and educated on many things, but if they don’t have or know the nature of Christ, they can only speak from a human hope. Nothing else.

You cannot speak to that which you do not know. You cannot guide where you have not gone.

In life, there will be many thought leaders, videos, and podcasts…a plethora of all kinds of content available for you to consume. Many of which are worldy, wise and well-meaning. But if their nature is that of a dead man, be prudent. They may be an expert on every kind of “dead work” under the sun…their advice will not benefit a man in the land of the living.

There is a better word. But you can work on yours here.

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what is christian masculinity?

Christian Masculinity and David’s Mighty Men

Masculinity is the possession of qualities traditionally associated with men. Which begs the question, what qualities should a Christian man consider?

I remember the first time I read about David’s mighty men. One killed a lion with his bare hands; in a pit, in the snow. Another killed a giant. Another killed 800 men with one spear. Another fought so hard, his sword became glued to his hand.

Regular guys. Typical nine-to-five stuff.

Out of the 30-plus mighty men that King David did employ, the Bible never mentioned an accountant or architect. Not even a middle-manager. Although Abishai, his commander, may have come close.
Some answers…..only Jesus knows.

As fun as these stories are, scripture makes the actions of these men seem kind of commonplace. Sure, it mentions the men are “mighty” but when everyone is slaying giants and lions and bears, Oh my! (JK… no bears), it can set the bar pretty high for anyone who is trying to understand what biblical, and dare I say “Christian” masculinity should look like.

It also doesn’t help that every other definition tends to come from advertising. So, we have our options to look up to: Advertising, advent calendars or “Other.” Check.

For my part, I’d like to propose one trait that makes a man genuinely masculine. It starts in Solomon’s book of Proverbs. Chapter 22.

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.
Proverbs 22:1

A good name.

If you could afford it, it couldn’t be bought.

Your reputation cannot be purchased. It is earned with every “next” action. This is good news. You don’t have to have an excellent name to start working towards one. Each step you take towards integrity is a step in the right direction.

Jesus expands on this idea, by telling us where to start:

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

Matthew 5:33-37

 

James, Jesus’ earthly brother, seconded his sovereign bro:

 

Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear–not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned.

James 5:12

 

“Anything more than this comes from evil.” Wow.

That’s heavy stuff.

Let’s start with the “Yes.”

More specifically, what you say “Yes” to. Your reputation and the integrity it’s known for is a string of yes’s on which you’ve followed through. The opposite is also true. Every time you refrain your “yes,” you make a statement about what you’ve said yes to as well. Confused yet?

The best way to keep your word is to know what it stands for. Ahead of time.

So, here’s a question:

Do you know where you stand on hard issues? Do you know what you’d do if you were alone in the room?

Do you even know if you’ll go to that party next Thursday?

Yes or no.

Life is full of follow-through.

The decisions we make, make us; so we owe it to ourselves to be self-aware of our choices. Fun fact: putting off a decision is still a decision by omission.

So here’s a good principal you can follow. You can call it a barometer of masculinity (or don’t).

Your knee-jerk responses should be pre-meditated. Made on your knees.

Put another way:

If prayer makes the person, meditation makes the man.
(No, not yoga. ……but no judgment. Nameste, bro.)

Prayer and meditation on the Word are how we understand our position to Christ, and in direct correlation, our position(s) towards other people. It’s how our go-to-responses are made. So we study to “show ourselves approved” as Timothy says. If you know someone that has a reputation for good decisions you can guarantee they’ve spent time pre-mediating those choices. More than likely, they’ve studied scripture too.

Other than knowing where you stand on issues, there are other benefits as well.

When a name has a reputation, it also has influence. In my opinion, it’s the only way to gain influence in the long run. But many men would try other ways…the world is full of guys that lift weights till the cows come home, who try and manipulate women or earn more at any cost. Men who lie to get what they want. Men that…you get the picture.

Guys who are true to themselves, but not true to their word.

So let’s be clear, getting what you want in life does not earn you a Man Card. And if you’re religious, there is no credit score for Christendom either. “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” a wise Rabbi once said.

You could have everything, and have nothing to lean on. Which, by the way, is what happens when we don’t have a reputation for keeping our word.

You could be the poorest man on the planet, but if people count on you, you'd have more influence than most. Click to Tweet

So let your “Yes” be “Yes” and your “No,” be “No.”
And know what your “No” stands for.

It’s how mighty men are made.

Why the bible doesn't talk about politics

Why the Bible is silent on social issues

Assualt Weapons, Women’s Rights, Genocide and Illegal immigration. Take your pick. They were all social issues during the late A.D. just like they are today. If not more. And the Bible, oddly, was just as silent then on ways to approach the world’s political problems. If it is so enlightened, why did it never speak to the moment? Could it not have a chapter or two devoted to the abolition of slavery? Or sexual equality? Perhaps it could simply start with no state-appointed murder (e.g. crosses). Seems like a reasonable place to begin.

It can leave a Christian without answers for the times they are in.

The Word didn’t leave us any verses on Walls, Taxes or Marriage(unless you read The Messaaage). So, we are left to squirm. Or argue. Or vote.

For the record, those all have their place. But it’s better to be honest.

The jury is out on the details a lot of the time. And holy hand-grenades(hermeneutics) only do so much damage to a culture wall.

If someone did ask you why the Bible didn’t challenge the status quo of hot topics(or Hot Topic for that matter), what would you say? You could debate context. You could point to cultural differences between ancient Mesopotamia, Roman aristocracy or Jewish culture. You could even say the old ways were the right ways.

But which old ways are right ways? Hammurabi, the “Babylonian 10 Commandments” is 300 years older than the 10 Commandments. It had amendments for minimum wage, the presumption of innocence and social class. What gives Moses? It seems like a missed opportunity.

Which is why the Bible is so profound.

The Bible doesn’t have a goal towards government. So, we should stop apologizing for or appending to its main message. Christ. It doesn’t tackle social issues head-on because it doesn’t want us to turn The Lamb into levitical law. It delivered us from that once already.

We don’t need a new Exodus – or an 11th commandment to judge against.

Jesus, for that matter, does not need social justice warriors. This is, in part, where early Israel got the Messiah wrong. They preferred a President to a Priest. They expected a political outcome to a prophetic promise. The whole point of Christ’s life on earth was that you can’t legislate a loving relationship (without a prenup. <- that’s a joke.)

The Bible doesn’t come up short on social issues. Social issues come up short on people. Christ leaves the ninety-nine to find the one. He expects the same attitude from us. “Regard no one according to the flesh.” Scripture says. The entire goal of scripture is to point us to him. No apology needs to be made for the Bible’s silence on things that the Bible, and for that matter, God, don’t value.

Back to that 11th commandment – Jesus had one thing to say when he was asked about the Law, and you could some up all of it (all 613 commandments) in one phrase:

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Which, by the way, is harder than memorizing 613 commandments. Without the Holy Spirit, of course.

Every time we take up a social cause without Christ, we become an Israelite in the wilderness. We might as well sacrifice a goat for the sins of a constitutional amendment…or jay-walking. It’s just as effective.

For that matter, there is a reason the commandments are summed up in love. God is love. And loving well only comes from knowing Him. Social justice, social engineering, the common good, are all plugging a burst dam with pipe cleaners and putty(Just so long as the labor is legal.#drumroll). I digress. The Bible knows this. It doesn’t want us to get sidetracked on things that don’t bring change.

When we turn “Christ the Man” into “Christ the System”, we crucify Him again, and remove the good news from the gospel.

Be understanding towards the person who cuts you off before you care about an abuse of capitalism. Buy the person that used hate speech a gift card to their favorite restaurant instead of trying to legislate their silence. Pay it forward in the parking lot before you “pay someone a visit.” Love your enemies, as Jesus once said. Pray for your persecutor.

Free yourself from awkward answers. You don’t need to give an answer(except this one) for what is in the Bible. Christ is its constitution.

God himself does not give answers. He gives himself. – Frederick Buechner

Not convinced? Don’t take my word for it.

Take a look at the early life of Saul. Verses 6-9 are the milk to my Cheerios.

I don't like "pop ups" without a purpose.

But this has a great one!

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