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.

The Theology of Thought Leadership

Read Time: 2 minutes

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.

Did you enjoy this post? Learn more about what it means to live with Power, Love and Soundness of Mind by getting this once-per-week devotional study:

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.

Why Christian consumerism is harmful

Chocolate Crosses for $6.99

Read Time: 1 minute

Not long ago, I went to the store to buy some Easter candy for my wife. I love that she enjoys the little things. As I skimmed the aisle for some Christ-centered Cadbury, I was struck by this box of chocolate crosses. Competitively priced for $6.99.

That’s $3.49 per cocoa crucifix. A bargain.

What struck me, in particular, was that the cross was consumable. All the torture was taken out of it. It was perfectly packaged, ready for me to enjoy.

I could enjoy two crosses if I wanted to.

It’s unnerving. If only for the fact that it makes me reflect on what I consume. There are many parts of Christ’s life of which I could partake. And in the right context, they would bring life to me. Often times though, it’s the opposite. I consume Christian *things* for lack of preparation. I have a meal without Jesus at the table, so to speak. Fast-food faith.

I’m provoked by Jesus’ own words about what to eat.

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.

John 6:53

No discounts. No bit-sized beatitudes. Only Christ, fully consumed.

Jesus had a divine diet as well. When tempted, he simply said, “Man does not live by bread alone.” He didn’t need to take an easier way out.

Because it wouldn’t be easier. It would be evasive (if only to the Father).

There is an open invitation at His table; to enjoy his presence and power. Christ really will enrich every part of our life. Even simple things. But there are no chocolate crosses in the Christian life.

We take up our cross and follow him – undiscounted and undeserved.

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

But this has a great one!

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