The Voyage

Voyage

Dietmar Lichota on Flickr

Today I want to simply offer up a Puritan prayer from the book The Valley of Vision, which is a wonderful collection of Puritan prayers. I usually read one a day–and I find that the richness of the language and how these Puritan brothers viewed God, usually stirs my soul to a greater love for Christ. I also find that often there are leadership gems hidden in the thoughts and purposes of these prayers. Below is from pages 202-203 and simply entitled Voyage. Enjoy!

Voyage

O Lord of the oceans,

My little bark sails on a restless sea,
Grant that Jesus may sit at the helm and steer me safely;
Suffer no adverse currents to divert my heavenward course;
Let not my faith be wrecked amid storms and shoals;
Bring me to harbor with flying pennants,
hull unbreached, cargo unspoiled.
I ask great things,
expect great things,
shall receive great things.
I venture on Thee wholly, fully,
my wind, sunshine, anchor, defence.
The voyage is long, the waves high, the storms pitiless,
but my helm is held steady,
thy Word secures sage passage,
the grace wafts me onward,
my haven is guaranteed.
This day will bring me nearer home,
Grant me holy consistency in every transaction,
my peace flowing as a running tide,
my righteousness as every chasing wave.
Help me to live circumspectly,
with skill to convert every care into prayer,
Halo my path with gentleness and love,
smooth every asperity of temper,
let me not forget how easy it is to occasion grief;
may I strive to bind up every wound,
and pour oil on all troubled waters.
May this world this day be happier and better because I live.
Let my mast before me be the Saviour’s cross,
and every oncoming wave the fountain in his side.
Help me, protect me in the moving sea until I reach the shore of unceasing praise.

One More Leadership Lesson from the Boston Marathon

Here is a picture of the elite men’s winner of this year’s Boston Marathon. His name is Robert Cheruiyot from Kenya. His time was a new course record. There is one more aspect of marathon running that strikes me as having parallels to Christ-centered leadership. The issue is that of nutrition. It is a well established fact that nutrition plays a huge role in the life of an athlete in performing well. For years carbo-loading has also been a well established practice for long distance running–or any endurance event. It matters how you eat before a race and it matters how you maintain your nutrition during a race. I just read an article about the most common mistakes for marathon runners–and one of them is not considering proper pre race nutrition. You don’t want to eat an exotic meal the night before a race. It will definitely mess with your digestive system resulting in some unwanted race time consequences. Not only do you want to build up and maintain a regular eating regimen for best results–but you also want to build the same race day habits that will serve you best. So eating the same types of things at about the same time will help your body regulate what you need during the race. You also want to combine the right combination of water, sports drink, and other foods or gels during the race to maintain needed calories during the race. As the other posts have suggested all of this really matters if you want to finish and do well.

Nutrition is important for leadership too. What you take in will come out. I recently saw an out of context quote by Andy Stanley that said he did not believe there were any real differences between secular leadership and Christian leadership. Now to be fair to Andy I’m sure he was taking aim at the false dichotomy that people can create between the two–mainly not employing best corporate practices in the church that will aid in leading and managing the church. And I imagine if you pressed Andy he would readily agree that there are some differences–even Scripture notes them (Matthew 20:20-28). I would strongly suggest one huge difference is where you are drawing your “nourishment” for leading. If we are not “drinking deeply daily” from the truth of God’s Word then we only have ourselves as a reservoir for practicing our skills. And I have found that I will quickly slip into all kinds of bad practices when that is true. So it is imperative that a Christ-centered leader be in the Word individually and corporately to lead well and to ultimately point people to the face of Christ. It wont do to “binge” every now and then–or always eat “sweets”–or only eat what is easy and likeable. We must digest all of God’s Word over time and do so in daily chunks. And we must gather with other like minded pilgrims to be under the teaching of God’s Word so that the ally of community keeps us from false teaching and practices. This will absolutely impact who we are becoming as a leader and how we lead. It will make the difference in finishing well and finishing at all. Lead well!

Leadership Out on a Limb

DSCN3484This is a picture of my daughter while we were on a family hike several years ago in Rocky Mountain National Park. We were on the Deer Mountain trail when we came across this dead tree. It had probably been struck by lightning. It was an easy climber so both kids wanted to hop up and have their picture taken. But it also reminded me of the nature of faith. In a previous post I talked about the essence of faith being belief in the absolute goodness and presence of God. And I mentioned that when we begin to doubt these character qualities we begin down the path of a hard heart.

Crisis challenges faith.

God promises in the Bible that there will be times when our faith will be challenged, even tested by God Himself. Not only does our belief in God’s goodness and presence come under fire, but I think there are some unique aspects to this in the life of a leader. These next few statements may not be unique to leaders alone, but leaders may experience them in unique ways.

Three things come to mind that also come under fire when crisis meets faith for a leader.

First, our love for Christ is challenged. If Christ really loved me why would He let this happen to me? We intellectually know the answer, but our heart screams something different. Romans 8:31 and following tells us clearly that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. And the clear proof of that reality is the sacrificial death of Christ–whom God the Father delivered over on our behalf.

Second, our calling as leaders can come into question in the midst of a faith challenge. Maybe I am headed down the wrong path? It shouldn’t be this hard. I never singed on for this. God’s will should be smoother than this. Yet best I can tell, circumstances alone are never an indication of the rightness or wrongness of God’s call on our lives. Calling in the Bible is always an invitation–a summons to join God somewhere for some purpose. There are at least three biblical invitations we can be sure of– to salvation, to submission, and to service. Oh, and I think there is a fourth that is relevant here–the invitation to suffering. The apostle Paul assumed it–it was part and parcel of being an “in Christ” person.

Third, a crisis of faith will possibly challenge our love for people or a person. Many crises are a result of people and their ability to wound us. As leaders, will we still love those we are called to lead, care for, and influence? If God demonstrated His own love for us while we were still sinners–can we do less?

Is God good?

Is God really present in my circumstances today?

In this current crisis?

My response will determine my ability to love Christ, my ability to love those whom God has placed around me, and my ability to keep chasing His call for my life.

What have been some of your leadership experiences regarding testing?