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.

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.

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.

Four Steps - Christian Integrity for Men

Nonnegotiable ~ The 4 Daily Principles Every Man Needs To Be Successful

Read Time: 4 minutes

Integrity is a target. Our principles, the arrows.

Integrity tends to be one of those things we think about after we’ve done something wrong. The absence of air. We know we need it. And we know great leaders have it. But for most of us, integrity is in the ether.

In Church, we’ve limited it to lying, timeliness and being responsible.

As an example, If a guy returns a library book before it’s past due while going the speed limit on the highway and also listens to Bethel Worship (radio version), we’d say he has integrity. If he goes 75 in a 65, well…we have issues.

Which isn’t wrong, per say, but there is a better question to ask. Our beliefs shape our behaviors, after all.

In order to shape our behavior, we can ask ourselves:

What principles govern my behavior?

It’s an important question because it’s different for every guy.

When you know which behaviors behoove your success, you’re more likely to stick to them where you’re at a crossroads. It also means your name will carry value. Because it’s backed by something concrete.

Proverbs says it like this:

Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.
Proverbs 29:18

When you have a set of standards, you are, in reality, creating a vision for your future. You are also, by definition, saying no to any alternate realities that present themselves for your approval.

So, are you living in reality? If so, which one?

Every man needs non-negotiables; A set of standards that he will not move on.

I call these standards “Tenants”. They change with my season in life and they keep me centered throughout the day.

Here are the ones I have now:

Here’s how it works. There are four parts:

1. My Daily Question
2. My Tenants
3. My Truth
4. My Verses

Decisions of character, should always be made in advance.

Together, they keep my decisions centered throughout the day. And in effect, my name has value because of the things I value.

First, I have a daily question. Right now, I want to know whether I’m practicing righteousness.

Righteousness is a weird word.

You either think of the 80s or the Old Testament. So I did a study and saw that it’s both a position of my relationship in Christ, and an aspect of Christlikeness that I should practice. So, I’m working on it. The question was different a few months back, when I was aiming for maturity in a different topic.

If I have an opportunity to go against the standard I’ve set for myself, the question comes up quickly in my mind and reinforces my behavior. I ask myself the question nearly every day.

Next are My Tenants. Right now I have three. I could have more – if I have a specific goal, for instance. But I like to keep it lean.

I’ll speak to the last one, “I want to be a faithful husband.”

My wife and I recently bought a new car. I’d been in need of a new one for awhile and it was a long-anticipated purchase. So I was starry-eyed about the different options I had available to me.

At the dealership, we picked a car and sat down for financing.

When they presented the monthly payment, it was fair, but $75 dollars higher than we’d decided on earlier. In reality, we could’ve afforded a car payment that was twice as expensive. But as a team, we decide where our money is best spent. So I said “No” to their terms and explained to the dealer what our priorities were.

He pushed. I stayed non-negotiable.

He asked if I could meet in the middle. I said no.

And they met my terms. Which was great. What made me the happiest though, was that I stuck to my tenant “I want to be a faithful husband.”

In a different reality, I could’ve left her out of the decision – or justified the purchase because “I earned it” or any other selfish ideal. But she and I are one now. We make decisions together and I’m better for it. Having that tenant in my head meant that I felt no pressure from the sales guy in that moment.

My word to myself, is my bond.

Last, I have “My Truth.” And no, I don’t mean some absence of the absolute.
My Truth is a point of personal integrity. A fact that is true of me.

In this case, it’s:

“I am a man, who if on a stage, has no hidden sin habit.”

This is something I’m personally sensitive to. I enjoy public speaking and I want to do more of it. I’ve also known a few men that have fallen hard because they had a public platform and private pain-point. Eventually, the two collided. To support me, I have a friend that calls me regularly to ask how things are. I think of it as an oil change. Regularly maintenance (accountability) keep the engine running well and issue free.

I also have a verse or two that support my tenants. They glue my goals and God together. You don’t necessarily need one of these, but I think scripture is wonderfully practical.

Tenants are a powerful way of deciding what kind of man you want to be. They help you lead yourself. They also make decisions easy when you’re presented with a reality that is an alternative to what you’ve already said is most important to you. Consider making a list today of your own tenants. You’ll be happy you did.

what is christian masculinity?

Christian Masculinity and David’s Mighty Men

Read Time: 4 minutes

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.

How to find purpose and fulfillment through work and job

How to find purpose and fulfillment in your job

Read Time: 4 minutes

Jobs can be draining. I’m sure that’s no surprise to you.

They take up a third of our day (if not more) and require our constant effort to keep. No doubt, if you’re reading this, you are grateful for your work, but perhaps you never saw yourself working the grind you have. Or at least, not for so long. If this sounds like you, you’d be in the majority. Nearly 53% of gainfully employed guys (and girls) wish they had a different hustle.

The struggle, my brother, is real.

To this point, many men wonder if jumping ship on a job and moving to the wilderness would require more faith.

Not you of course…but other guys.

And it’s a fair question. Wouldn’t a more unique life provide a greater sense of adventure than a cubicle or hardhat would? Perhaps becoming a missionary in Mozambique or some other far away place would do the trick.

But adventure is not a calling. And neither is “the struggle.”

Said another way: flight and faith never produce the same outcomes. Even though at times, they may appear to contain the same amount of risk.

This begs the question:

“What is our purpose in life?”

It’s a simple question. But it can be especially uncomfortable if you don’t enjoy where you work. Can someone really know their purpose (or experience it) within the working day?

Yes, they can. But it will require an attitude adjustment. Career-chiropractry is in order.

Our purpose, or the reason for which we exist, is separate from what we do. Mutually exclusive, even.

Often times, we try to find identity in what we do, but that makes the “purpose question” all the harder to answer. Especially if the glove doesn’t fit in our current career path…no offense if you wear gloves for a living.

Our reason for being is singular. It is to know the Lord.

In His goodness. In His grandeur. In His love.

Now, one of the many ways we get to know him is through our career. What we do during the day. In this sense, our work and our job is the manual labor of communion. It is our “Yes!” to His invitation of doing “all things unto the Lord.”

Finding fulfillment, on the other hand, is not the same as having a purpose.

Fulfillment, both the feeling and acquiring of it, move from season to season. So does our relationship with the Lord. Ideally, it will grow richer and more nuanced throughout the years.

When we look back through our lives, we want to be able to say “That was the Lord.” Or “Lord! look what we did together.”

These are the markers of fulfillment. The notches in our purpose post.

If you ask a man who has walked with Christ a long time, what the most fulfilling parts of his life have been, he will recall times when “He felt close to the Lord” or had personal stories of the provision or miracles God had provided to him. He both walked and worked with his Creator.

Similarly, there is a correlation between, Christ, career, and calling.

When we “get saved,” our affections change. Which is to say, we have a new north star to follow. If we feel fulfilled and are satisfied with where we are, it is because we have markers of relationship in our past. Memories with our Maker.

Many men feel unfulfilled, though they would never say it, because they are waiting for five o’ clock. Their time with the Lord is outside of working hours. Segregated to Sunday. They’ve made have no memories with Him within the working day.

Since this practical communion is absent from the day, so is the feeling of fulfillment.

So, I’ll just say it:

We’ve all been told a lie.

The lie says we must enjoy every aspect of what we do in order to feel connected to it. Like a holy grail grind…Grail of the Grind. Er, perfect job. You get the point. Of course, it is not true.

Fulfillment is a bi-product of relationship. Specifically, with Jesus.

Work is a social experience. It’s meant to be done with the one who invented it, to begin with.

“I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” Paul said.

Paul learned the benefit of working with the Lord. In his case, he’d learned it while in custody. He took initiative under imprisonment.

But we see evidence of this attitude throughout his whole life. Whether he was making tents, lecturing, in prison, or preaching the gospel, his fulfillment was connected to his faith. He knew that if he showed up, he could expect to see the Lord there as well.

We can always expect to see God “punch in” before we start the day. It’s one of his many promises.

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly,” Jesus said. This abundance that He brings is a reality that is larger than the job we hold or the amount of money we get paid. It’s true, you should work together with him on the dreams he’s given you. That is part of it.

But fulfillment is by no means linked to what it is you do. Life is the container of our affections, desires, and promises. So long as we desire to keep Him involved, then we will see our dreams, and the promises He’s made become a reality in our lives.

“Seek first the Kingdom” someone once said.

King Solomon on mens leadership

What was Solomon’s smartest decision?

Read Time: 3 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 (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 that way. He was a man that grew 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. If I can’t be accountable to myself for small things, then the big dreams are just that. Dreams.

Solomon started with a similar posture. At the beginning of his king-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?” said Solomon.

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

One we’ll look at now.

As wise as Solomon was, there is one particular trait of his that outshone the rest. If you were to ask me, it held all the rest of His wisdom together. A “one ring to rule them all” situation.

It starts in the Sheba story – when a foreign Queen decides to see for herself just how smart of a guy Solomon 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 he managed his house. Out of all the ways he did this, the most surprising one was that he had officials.

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 a very good and profound reason.

Regardless of our role, we are all in need of good counsel. It’s 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. These could very well be the words of Solomon – echoing his life to us in 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.

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, you must seek out 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 yet, start building a master list now – an inner circle of confidants that can support you 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.

It’s the reason 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. It’s 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 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.

Yanny vs Laurel - Leadership Principle

Yanny or Laurel – A *secret* leadership principle

Read Time: 3 minutes

Like many of you, I’d rest my laurels on “yanny” not being the word said in the latest video craze. But some people would disagree. They’d disagree with me three times, in fact. Which is odd because we both heard the same message – and came to widely different conclusions.

Case and point:

Teams do this every day. They have the same leader but hear different stories. So, everyone draws their own conclusions about how to act. Inevitably, this means that a team will review their goals regularly to see just how wrong everyone’s assumptions were. Not your team of course…but other teams, for sure.

The accountable leader, on the other hand, is told to improve their communication skills. A slap on the wrist.

…a repercussion for a rebuttal. Ha.

Who hasn’t seen a job description with “excellent communication skills required” written somewhere in the list of desired traits for a new hire? Do these people exist or is it just a copy-paste reaction that is supposed to accommodate a certain role? Who knows. Needless to say, we have an enunciation epidemic.

There is something we can do it about it though. We can shift the skill we lead with.

Communication is a secondary leadership trait. Not a primary one.

Let me explain. I like you, have been around accomplished “leaders” who were fantastic communicators. They were more polished than President Macron in a congressional curfuffle. But their actions sucked(pardon my French).

There was no spit to their shine.

Good communication with a bad outcome will leave a team confused and untrusting. Said enough way: Passion, that’s not linked with productivity, will have diminished returns for each and every misspoken word. You can count on it.

So what is someone in leadership to do?

The pressure to communicate meaningfully can be enormous. And without a doubt, it is important. The good news is there is a leadership trait that is better than communication…and (believe it or not) it’s better at communicating too.

It’s initiative.

Initiative trumps communication. #leadership Click to Tweet

It trumps good communication. Bad communication. Somewhere-in-betweenication.

Which is good to hear.

If you don’t feel your grammar or gabble skills are up to par, you’re in luck. People watch what you do more than what you say. Teams that are unsure of what to do will look to you to take the first step in what to do. So take the first step. It says more.

Think of it this way:

Communication is a tactic.

Initiative is an outcome.

Initiative is a line drawn in the sand. You can’t talk your way out of it.

It says more than a speech ever could about the problems, challenges (and adventures) you think a team should care for.

Taking initiative, for that matter, is much harder. You can’t hide behind a decision like you can with good diction. Which is why we have weak leaders.

I love what James, the brother of Jesus, has to say:

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

James 1:22

and this:

“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

James 3:1

If we really want to lead well, and we really want to be accountable for good outcomes, we have to take the first step.

We are the first out of the boat. Not the first to talk about it (High five to my buddy Peter).

Take some time today to reflect on the grey areas of communication in your family, church team or work environment. What actions can you take to clear up the confusion? The benefit for you is better outcomes. The advantage to those you serve is a better understanding of what actually matters.

On other note, which word did you hear? There are, by this time, millions of different answers.

Tell me yours (and the reason why) below.

The difference between christian leaders and mangers

The difference between a Manager and Leader (Christian Version)

Read Time: 2 minutes

Managers ask “What is measurable?” Leaders ask “What is meaningful?” Christ is asking both.

I’m not a big fan of titles. Or anything you can hide behind, for that matter. Which brings me to a conversation I had about the difference between management and leadership.

I have a friend who is a great manager. He also happens to be a good leader. But you can definitely have one without the other. You can kick your car keys down the road if you want to.

Most of us fall into one of two camps. Those that delegate and those that dream. You need both in every team. Delegation without a destination is pointless. People will ask “What am I working towards?” A dream without a playbook is a nightmare. Teams want a vision with a map.

So, we need both. Check.

But how do we grow in both? How do we take initiative past the point of title – regardless of the role we have?

We ask ourselves the two M’s (I ask them to myself every day.)

They are:

  1. What is Measurable?
  2. What is Meaningful?

Let’s start with Measurable. Everything you do should have an outcome. Start with a deliverable. The package in the mail. What will it be and how it will it get there? Work backward to move forward.

Michael Hyatt has a solid approach – if you’re interested. But you can do it with anything. The best managers do it with everything.

And now, Meaningful. What is the existential element you’re working towards? The thing you’d bring up at chili-cookoff “just because.” If you don’t have a “why,” make one. If people work for you, be sure to give them one too.

The Christian life calls us to ask both questions.

Let’s take a look at what James, Brother of Jesus, had to say.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.

James 2:14-18

James had a good sense of what stewardship meant. For him, the cross and cause go hand-in-hand. It’s true for us also. We cannot separate what we do from where we’re going. So we live love-centric. We don’t profit without it, as you know.

Sure, you can be a good manager. You could also be a good leader. With a little accountability, you can be both. The benefit, to you, is greater awareness for where you and your team are going.

Take a few minutes at the beginning of every day to ask the Holy Spirit what the meaningful and measurable should be for you and your team. You’ll see more fruit (functional faith) and enjoy the refreshing jolt of vision you get for the mundane parts of life.

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

But this has a great one!

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