Being Wounded

Being Wounded

Amy CarmichaelMore than half a century ago, Amy Carmichael wrote these words…

Hast thou no wound?
No wound? No scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And pierced are the feet the follow Me;
But thine are whole: can he have followed far
Who has no wound nor scar?

A teacher once told me, “You can recognize leaders by their limp.”

His point: those most effective in ministry are most often those who have been wounded at some time in their lives.

Sometimes these wounds come from others, sometimes they’re the result of our own dumb decisions. But the best leaders are the best leaders because they are survivors.

In fact, they’re more than survivors. They’re overcomers.

No one likes being wounded, and no one enjoys suffering. But this is the part of the process of becoming like Christ.

If you’ve been in ministry very long, no doubt you’ve been hurt a time or two. God can, and will, heal your hurts. And he will use them to help him use you in more effective service.

Therefore, since Christ has suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. (1 Peter 4:1)

The Clock and the Calendar

In his sermon “Better Odds” Andy Stanley makes a great statement. He’s talking about waiting on God, and he says something along these lines:

We look at the clock; God looks at the calendar.

One of the most difficult lessons for believers to learn is to wait on God. By nature we’re not patient, and our culture offers little encouragement to develop the habit. We want, we need, we think we deserve everything now.

Remember that Sarah waited until she was old for the son she had always dreamed about; Moses waited for 40 years on the backside of the desert for God’s call; Joseph languished in prison for 15 years before God vindicated him.

Even Paul spent 17 years in preparation before he began the ministry that God called him to on the road to Damascus.

But you can be sure that each of these saints would say it was worth the wait. It always is.

There are, no doubt, a number of things that you are waiting for, too: victory, healing, peace, growth, reconciliation, success.

Today I encourage you to remember one thing: God is on his way.

Sometimes the night seems to last forever. Sometimes his silence seems permanent. That’s because we look at the clock while he looks at the calendar.

Solomon wrote…

God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

We cannot see the whole scope of God’s work, but the scope exists. And we may not see the big picture, but there is one currently in development.

Today might be just another day of waiting for you, but here’s how you can make it better: Take your eyes off the clock and turn them toward Jesus. Spend this time in his presence, waiting in expectation rather than desperation.

God is at work in your work in life, making all things beautiful in their time.

It Takes a Team to Win

It Takes a Team

Harvey HaddixOn May 26, 1959, Pittsburgh Pirate pitcher Harvey Haddix accomplished something no one else in baseball has accomplished: He pitched 12 perfect innings in a game against the Milwaukee Braves.

It was enough to set a record, but it wasn’t enough to get a win.

The score was tied at zero in the bottom of the 13th when the Braves’ lead-off hitter reached first on an error. Two batters later, Joe Adcock knocked in the winning run.

The Braves took the game, 1-0. And Haddix took the loss.

The Pirates had men on base all afternoon — more than a dozen altogether — but they couldn’t manage to get anyone across home plate. And so, with no help from the offense, Haddix’s brilliant record-setting performance wound up on the LOSS side of the ledger.

Today many leaders are convinced if they themselves can maintain a certain level of brilliance, it will be enough to guarantee the success they’re looking for. While brilliance will certainly never work against you, neither can it take the place of teamwork.

You’re not enough by yourself. Whatever it is you’re hoping to accomplish, you can’t do it alone. You need a team.

Solomon wrote…

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up… Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:10, 12)

I encourage you today to remind those on your team that you’re committed to doing your part, that you’ve got their back, and you’re thankful that they’ve got yours.

The Perfect Leader

The Perfect Leader

John Ruskin said, “The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.”

How is your work transforming you?

Since the ministry is not without its difficulties, some who serve in the local church let the long-hours, low pay, unseen results, and undeserved criticism make them bitter and disillusioned. It’s a tough temptation to resist, but there’s a better way to respond to difficulties.

The book of Hebrews says that Christ was made perfect through his sufferings. This is not referring to Christ’s sinless perfection; he had already achieved that. In this context, “perfect” refers to how he fully realized his potential — how he fully accomplished the mission that God had given him.

How was this accomplished? Through suffering. His suffering brought many to salvation.

And it was only right that God — who made everything and for whom everything was made — should bring his many children into glory. Through the suffering of Jesus, God made him a perfect leader, one fit to bring them into their salvation. (Hebrews 2:10 NLT)

Your work may involve difficulty and hardship. Like Christ, your suffering can make you a perfect leader — it can enable you to fully realize your potential and fully accomplish God’s plan for your life.

Remember that the greatest reward for your work is not a pat on the back or an increase in pay.

The greatest reward is the transformation of who you are into the likeness of Christ… and the opportunity to hear the ultimate words of approval: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Leonard Bernstein

Are You Willing to Play Harmony?

“There are plenty of people who want to be first violinists, but to find someone willing to play second chair — in any section of the orchestra — is a problem. But without a second, there is no harmony.” — Leonard Bernstein

Leaders, quite naturally, feel most comfortable leading. It’s where we’re gifted. There’s a certain fulfillment that comes with taking charge of a project, developing a strategy, putting a team together, and seeing it through to completion.

A problem that many organizations face, however, comes when you have to deal with those “special” few leaders who can’t — or won’t — do anything but lead. As in: If I’m not in charge, I’m not there.

The best leaders understand — and embrace — the idea that sometimes your contribution to a project is not to call the plays, but to help the play-caller executethe plays.

Or, as Mr. Bernstein might say, there are times when — no matter how gifted a leader you may be — it’s your job to play second chair, and to add a little harmony to the outcome.

When you find yourself involved in work in which first chair is already in place, don’t quit the band, don’t stage a coup, don’t pack your bags and go home.

Instead, seize the opportunity to be the kind of second chair you wish you had in every project you pursue.

You’ll be amazed at what you can learn about playing melody when you discipline yourself to play harmony once in a while.

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…(Colossians 3:23)

The Power of Influence

In The Secret Message of Jesus, author Brian McLaren tells a story that illustrates the long-term power of influence.

It began with a call he received one day from a man he didn’t know, saying he was the father of Scott Crabb.

Brian thought for a few moments and remembered Scott as a teenager he counseled at church camp years earlier, when Brian was still in college.

He said, “As I recall, I taught him to play four or five chords on the guitar — C, F, G, and A minor.”

“That’s why I’m calling,” Scott’s dad replied. “You told my son something else.”

Brian said, “I used to tell people if they really want to learn to play, buy a guitar but don’t ever put it in the case. Leave it out, and they’re more likely to pick it up and play it when they sit in front of the TV or whatever.”

Mr. Crabb said, “Yes, that’s what you said. And that’s exactly what Scott did. He went on to major in classical guitar in college. In fact, he received a master’s degree in guitar performance. During his studies, Master Segovia heard him play and invited him to be one of his last students.”

Brian writes…

A smile spread across my face. To think that a teenager I had helped become interested in guitar had gone on to become a student of the greatest classical guitarist ever!

Mr. Crabb ended the conversation saying, “Last week my son had his master recital. Master Segovia was there. As you can imagine, I was deeply proud, and I thought back over the years and remembered you. I decided to look you up and tell you that one of your students went far. You got Master Crabb started in his profession.” [Adapted from The Secret Message of Jesus by Brian McLaren, page 76]

The details we rarely discover…

The difference in Brian’s story and most of our stories is that Brian got the call; he heard the results of his work. Most often we don’t.

It’s great when we see people we’ve led to Christ enter the ministry, or we see them living successful lives, happily married, with strong families.

Typically, however, you don’t the get the update. You won’t know the full story of the power of influence you’ve had until you get to heaven.

On earth, it’s usually the last influential person in line that gets the credit. But God sees the whole process; he recognizes the role you play in the lives of others.

As Paul said…

The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. (2 Corinthians 3:8)

Today you’ll have the chance to be such an influence in the life of another. And even though you may never hear how the story ends, the difference will be made.

The seed you plant will grow.

The plant you water will grow.

The lives you touch, even in a small way, will be changed.

Marie Byrd Land

Two Steps to Taking Charge

It’s amazing that even today, surrounded as we are by satellite technology, there are places on planet Earth that remain unexplored and uncharted.

And, even more amazing, places that remain unclaimed.

Such as Marie Byrd Land, named in honor of the Admiral’s wife. It’s located in West Antarctica, and covers an area of 620,000 square miles — that’s more than twice the size of Texas. Though it has been partially explored, no sovereign nation has laid claim to it.

I guess that means it’s up for grabs. If you’re looking for a new place to call home, keep it in mind. Especially if you like a mild summer. Average temperature in July is right around 14° Fahrenheit. Winter is a bit cooler, they say.

Far more significant than Marie Byrd Land, I can think of yet another territory that remains unexplored, uncharted, and even unclaimed.

It’s the week that lies ahead. Your week. Whenever you like, you can claim it as your own and make of it what you want.

As each new Monday comes your way, a new world of opportunity opens up. Just as we begin the new year with a new resolve to accomplish greater things, we can begin each new week with new resolutions and new plans.

Adding and subtracting.

As you stake your claim for the seven days, consider how these two questions might help you chart your course.

a.) What is one thing I need to subtract from my life? Which sin … which self-defeating behavior … which destructive attitude shall I get serious about leaving behind, once and for all — starting this week?

b.) What is one thing  I need to add to my life? Which new approach of faith … which new step of obedience … which brand new attitude do I need to begin to demonstrate — starting this week?

We lay claim on our lives by doing with intention the best things, and making every effort to abandon the worst things. Adding one and subtracting the other each and every week is a good place to start.

Make this week your week: yours to claim, yours to own, yours to live.

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

John Wooden

Legend or Critic?

Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden was once asked his opinion of former Indiana coach Bobby Knight. Wooden would only respond…

“I think Bob Knight is an outstanding teacher of the game of basketball, but I don’t approve of his methods. But I’m not a judge, and I’m not judging Bob Knight. There is so much bad in the best of us and so much good in the worst of us, it hardly behooves me to talk about the rest of us.”

I think he understood what Henry Kaiser once said, “When your work speaks for itself, don’t interrupt.”

Wooden, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 99, has shown us what a legend looks like.

He was not only a gentlemen on the court, he also set records that may never be broken. His 10 national championships, his 88 game winning streak, his phenomenal winning percentage, the players he groomed for stardom in the NBA — this is his legacy; he had no reason to add the title of “outspoken critic” to the list.


In your life and mine, in your work and mine, there are a number of potential (even so-called “valid”) targets of our own outspoken criticism.

If we’re not careful, they can take up all of our time and attention.

And if we’re not careful, we can be sidetracked into thinking that our opinions are more important than our actions.

It’s what you do that ultimately makes a difference. Talk isn’t enough. Opinions aren’t enough. Criticism, no matter how on-target or how well-articulated, is never enough.

You prove who you are by the way that you live.

Paul asked…

So why do you condemn another Christian? Why do you look down on another Christian? Remember, each of us will stand personally before the judgment seat of God. (Romans 14:10)

Let’s strive, then, toward leaving a legacy built not upon our estimation of others, but upon our own measurable accomplishments.

Criticize less, do more.

That’s what a legend looks like.

Encourage One Another Daily

Who Needs Encouragement

Truett CathyTruett Cathy (founder of Chic-fil-A) once said, “How do you identify someone who needs encouragement? Answer: That person is breathing.”

You can be sure that every person you encounter today will benefit from a good word. You may not be able to solve their problems, but you can give them a little extra fuel for their journey.

How do you offer encouragement? Here are a handful of suggestions.

Remember that you can’t give encouragement when you’re talking about yourself. Especially when you’re talking about your problems. Sometimes we try to give others a little perspective on their problems by telling them how bad ours are. It doesn’t help.

Point out what they’re doing right. They probably already know what isn’t working, and they probably already know what they’re doing wrong. Tell them what is working. Tell them something good about themselves. Don’t worry, they won’t get big-headed about it.

Tell them what you see for them in the future. Tell them how things can be. Remind them of what God can do, how he can transform any situation for his glory, how he can transform any person into the image of Christ, how he can use anyone to accomplish his purpose.

Give them an example. An example other than yourself, that is. Tell them about a friend who had a similar problem and was able to overcome it. Or how a business leader dealt with adversity. Or how another Christian’s perseverance ultimately paid off. Tell them a story that will give them hope.

Offer to help them fine-tune their strategy. When you say, “If you ever want feedback on anything, I’m here to give it,” they will probably come to you for feedback — if they sense your sincerity. It is then that you can ever-so-gently point out the things they’re doing wrong. It is then that you can help them improve their approach and correct their mistakes.

Just remember: first, they need encouragement.

Isaiah said…

Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. Say to those with an anxious heart, “Take courage, fear not. Behold your God will come with vengeance; the recompense of God will come, but he will save you.” (Isaiah 35:3-4)

Connie Mack

How Worry Affects Leadership

Connie Mack will always be remembered as one of the greatest personalities in baseball.

After coaching the Philadelphia A’s for 50 years, he retired in 1950 at the age of 87 as the winningest manager in history.

Books could be written, and probably already have been, on the management techniques of Connie Mack. Leaders have a lot to learn from his example.

One management technique: he refused to worry.

Early in his career, when he realized how worry was threatening to destroy his ability to lead — especially worries over past defeats — he forced himself to get so busy preparing to win today’s game that he didn’t have time to worry about yesterday’s losses.

He summed up it by saying, “You can’t grind grain with water that has already gone down the creek.” This colloquialism is probably lost on most of us, but it is Mack’s way of saying what Paul said …

But I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Philippians 3:13-14)

It works.

The act of preparing today keeps your mind off yesterday’s regrets and away from tomorrow’s uncertainties.

So give your attention to what is really pressing this day … and press on.

Noisy Problems

Noisy Problems

Noisy ProblemsThere’s a story about a farmer who called a restaurant owner, asking if he was interested in making a deal on some frog legs.

“I can bring you hundreds,” he said. “There’s a creek behind my house that’s full of them. They drive me crazy night and day.”

They negotiated a price for a hundred frogs, and the farmer went home.

A few days later he called the restaurant owner and cancelled the contract.

“Turns out there weren’t hundreds of frogs in that pond. There were just two. But those two frogs sure were making a lot of noise.”

The same can be said about our problems.

And our critics, too.

There may not be that many of them, but they sure are loud.

Successful leaders learn to ignore the croaking of the critics. They also learn to ignore the derisive ribits of this problem and that.

They learn, instead, to focus on the promises of God:

“Lo, I am with you always…No weapon that is formed against you will prosper…though I walk through the shadow of the valley death, I fear no evil, for thou art with me.”

If you’ll listen, you’ll find that God’s promises — the ones spoken in his still, small voice — can ultimately drown out the noise generated by the cares and concerns of this world.

Inspirational Leadership

Inspirational Leadership

We tend to equate leadership with authority. We measure the extent of our leadership by the number of people we can tell what to do.

Leadership is more than this. It’s not about hierarchy, it’s about influence. For this reason, you can be a leader no matter which rung of the ladder you’re currently standing on.

John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

Today as you deal with those in your organization above you and below you, remember that your challenge as a leader is, through your words and your example, to inspire others to take another step toward excellence in their work and in their spiritual lives.

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)