Strikes and layoffs are never planned. No one is exempt. The recent pandemic showed us how fast life can change. I live in the hills of Los Angeles, and our home was in jeopardy a few years ago when what was then the largest fire in LA history, the LaTuna Canyon fire, came up out of nowhere and raged one block from my home. Uncertainty due to disasters, health issues, and constant disruptions seem to have become everyday occurrences. The recent devastation in Maui, HI, is one recent unimaginable tragedy. As leaders, we constantly hold our breath, wondering what will be next. But disruptions force us to pause and reflect on how to lead and help others find God’s peace and restoration when chaos happens.
As we begin to reflect on what we are most thankful for, let’s look at those disruptive occurrences and look for the opportunities in them. Here are three leadership qualities I’ve found to be helpful to bring light and hope.
First, leaders need to be ready, and being ready means spiritually prepared.
Matthew 6:19, 20 tells us not to store up earthly treasures. So don’t pile up the unneeded. This scripture speaks of physical things that can be eaten by moths or stolen, but what about fear, stress, and depressive thoughts? They can steal more from you than physical things. Remember to store up heavenly treasures. Eternal wealth and security start with a prepared soul and a relationship that is fortified with prayer and God’s Word. So hide it in your heart where it can’t be stolen. (more…)
“Busy” doesn’t mean “productive.” In our desire to get more, be more, and do more, are we becoming the walking dead? Are we seeing life as meaningless and irrelevant?
Each day becomes a blur as we wake up worn out and trying to pack something more into our already over-loaded schedules. It reminds me of Bob Fosse’s classic scenes that repeat over and over in the movie, All That Jazz. The frazzled, overworked, and depressed choreographer looks in the mirror each morning, pumping himself up and saying, “It’s showtime!” Sadly, many feel the same today as they’re running on empty, looking for a way out and reaching for their pocket “crack” –their cell phone– to find answers and hope.
Are you one of the “walking dead,” trying to balance it all?
When Moses led the Children of Israel out of Egypt, it not only took convincing the Pharoah, but the Jewish people themselves. We read in the Bible about the plagues God sent, but have you ever pondered the amount of convincing Moses needed to do to get the Jews to pack up and leave? How fed up did they really feel with where they lived and what they endured? Similarly, what’s our reaction when life’s muck hits us between the eyes? Are we ready to get off the treadmill and trust the ever-present and living God and let Him move us to a better place?
Are the present-day disasters, wars, terrorism, immigration issues, and political turmoil getting our attention?
Once the Jews were freed from Egypt’s control, it then took 40 years of wandering to root out their past habits and build up their trust in God again. He had to continually prove Himself to them. Did God consider those years necessary? In His grace and mercy, He willingly waited for them to mature. Unfortunately, we often don’t jump out of life’s disruptions instantly, either. Most of the time, we get sucked into our daily grind and can’t break out. We get used to the misery and instead of turning to God, we just whine. Perhaps we ignore the pain because, well… we’re busy, and making changes is just too time consuming. But God promises in His Word that when we’re ready, He’s ready with “a peace that passes all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7.) But we have to choose. Are you courageous enough to do the often painful, but necessary work to get there? How badly do you want to get out?
Here are some suggestions of where to begin:
Use your smartphone and get smart. Schedule your personal time with Jesus at least four or more times a week and make it a priority. One to three times a week won’t cut it. Research has proven that four or more times will positively change your life. It’s why I wrote my devotional, Hope 4 Today: Stay Connected to God in a Distracted Culture, based on a four-day format.
Get serious about how you spend your free time. Be mindful of how much time you’re spending on black hole apps, games, and social media platforms that are sucking the air out of your life. Statistics reveal that the average global user is on TikTok 3.5 hours a day and 4.5 hours a day on Facebook. Get radical. Delete apps on your primary screen that are not essential. Smartphones also have a feature that monitors how much time you’re spending on them. Use it and stop falling into the vortex.
Focus on caring for others and not just collecting friends. Freeing your eyes from being face-planted on your digital device allows you more time to see those around you. Build real relationships and not just ones on social media platforms. Try volunteering for something you feel passionate about. You’d be surprised how it will reward personal growth and friendships that really matter.
Finally, reach out and share your story and the life-giving message of Jesus. Many are hurting today, are caught up in the tornadic whirlwind, and need help to get out. They’re looking for answers and solutions searching for happiness not realizing that it’s the joy of knowing Jesus that their soul is craving. He alone can resurrect the walking dead. He alone restores life.
It is “showtime.” It’s time to show the world that God is with them amid the chaos. He restores that which has been taken, even what the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:23).
Our culture is volatile. Just observe what often happens when a car accident occurs. In our present era of social media, it happens so easily for unintended or accidental incidents to “go viral.” Out come the cell phones. With social media, what might have been a simple local incident fifty years ago, can now incite a passionate global response. We were created by a passionate God to be passionate people. Jesus definitely was. We often refer to His life, death, and resurrection as “the Passion of Christ.”
What happens when our passions are not understood and they incite a wrong response?
I am reminded how often I have almost hit the car in front of me because it suddenly stopped, only for me to eventually realize there was something was in the road I couldn’t originally see. Perhaps it was an animal running across the road or debris that was in the way. The only thing I could see was my coffee cup or purse go flying in my car as I came to an abrupt stop. And I confess… my verbal responses haven’t always been pleasant ones! Similarly, social and political issues most often happen when we aren’t present. And our screens usually only show one perspective and not the whole picture. Yet, because of our human passion, we respond with an instant reaction that can ignite others’ views like a wildfire causing unrest and destruction.
Passionate responses cause disruptions.
In Luke 12:49, Jesus revealed His human nature and the burden of living in our broken world. He was both fully God and fully human and He was passionate to save us. He knew He would be “baptized” in suffering and wished He could just get on with it – be “kindled.” Yet God’s passion for us wouldn’t let Him until all that needed to be fulfilled in prophecy was done. It required Jesus to wait and walk the walk and talk the talk and trust in God’s perfect timing. And, I might add, it wasn’t easy. It required that He bring truth, and the truth is volatile. His passion would bring division. The truth of Jesus brought would pit one against the other – families would be divided because of their inability to see clearly who He was and God’s plan.
Our humanness limits our sight.
Jesus continually spoke clearly but He had to also use stories and ask questions that brought clarity and understanding because the hard truth stopped people. His mission was to enlighten us on God’s plan for our redemption. God saw what had to be done from the inciting incident of sin in the Garden. He knew how to solve the problem because He’s God. Yet, from our blind perspective, we only saw the punishment and not God’s redemptive plan for us. Our “car” (freedom) has been forced to stop and our personal stuff is flying. For those who have allowed themselves to believe in the truth of Jesus and whose eyes have been opened, we see differently.
We don’t have to know “the why” because God sees the why.
Instead of confusion and fear when challenges happen, we’re able to relax in the uncertainty and it’s unnatural. We weren’t at the inciting incident of sin in the Garden of Eden, but we don’t have to be. The Word of God is enough to trust that He’s got us. He sees us when we find ourselves suddenly stopped in our career or in life.
But we must choose.
We can become confused and frustrated when life’s disruptions happen, or choose the “peace that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). The difference? Confident rest. There’s a clarity and assurance that permeates our being, knowing that in the unknown and “the wait,” God’s perfect will is ideal, and His vision for us is best when we let Him control our gas petals.
In Luke 12:57-59, Jesus challenged those who were listening to pay attention to the time they were living in. It was the most significant time that had ever happened on Earth. He had come to save us. Today, we even document time as before Christ (BC) and after Christ’s death (AD) because His life, death, and resurrection stopped the clock and then restarted it.
The times we’re living in seem to change at light speed with unintended incidents – stops that we never could have anticipated, but still manage to disrupt our lives. Yet, God never changes. His plans will be accomplished even if they unfortunately divide families and cause disruptive “fires.” Jesus knew He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Jesus was confident in what He had been called to do on Earth by His Father. He willingly and passionately completed His mission, even if it incited division and disruption.
Are you willing to trust God’s plan and perspective for your life even if causes a fire?