The NEXT Generation for Leadership
There is a need in the church to prepare the next generation for leadership. Scripture is full of leadership lessons that should be shared with the next generation. There are many leadership lessons that can be gleaned from the life of Joseph. When we study his life, we see that preparation for leadership began long before he ascended to second in command in Egypt. There are some lessons on the way to riding in the second chariot that were essential for Joseph to grasp in order for him to be elevated to a position of power. Many young adults are at a place where they can dream big and make decisions that will lead them towards success, but they should learn the lessons early.
We learn that attitude is important. Attitude can be more important than your ability. It is more important than your experience and your age. There are companies that operate with the philosophy that we hire people with good attitudes and teach them what they need to know to do their jobs. The difference between partly cloudy and mostly sunny is your attitude. Do your job even when others aren’t doing theirs.
Joseph’s life teaches that discouragement is often the devil’s weapon of choice to get you to suppress the greatness within. People will hate on your future when they are unhappy with their present. Don’t adjust your dreams to please your haters. How often do we stunt the growth of the church trying to please haters? Despite his dream, Joseph still respected his father. When his father called, he answered. And when his father sent, he went. Vision doesn’t give you the right to be mean and disrespectful to others. Don’t allow your potential or your position to lead you down the path of forsaking your values.
Part of the true beauty of the love of God that is reflected in the sacrifice of Jesus is the fact that God loved us when we were difficult to love. Romans 5:6-11 teaches us that God loved us when we were weak (v 6). We were helpless. We were powerless. Morally, we were at a point when we could not do anything for ourselves. It was at that time that it was the right time for Christ to die. The death of Christ happened at a time when mankind could see his wretchedness. Christ died behalf of the ungodly. He stood in our stead and took our place. Christ didn’t wait until we got our stuff together to die for us. It was in our ungodliness that the time was right. It was when we needed the most help that God helped us.
God loved us when we were sinners (v. 7-8). It is extremely difficult to get someone to die for a righteous person. And every now and then, someone will be willing to die for the good person. A righteous person is one who does what the law or justice requires. The good man goes beyond what is required and does as much as he can. When Christ died for us humanity was neither righteous nor good. We were sinners. Yet still, God shows us His love for us. God continuously establishes His love in that the death of Christ remains as the most striking manifestation of love. Its effectiveness continues to this day.
God loved us when we were enemies (9-11). It’s one thing to love the helpless. It’s one thing to love sinners. It is another level of love to love your enemies. Jesus didn’t just make a sacrifice for those who were not thinking about Him. He made a sacrifice for those who, when they thought about Him, had thoughts of hatred towards Him. He loved those who wanted Him dead. He loved those who shouted, “Crucify Him!” God loved us even when we didn’t like Him.
God loved us when we were weak. He loved us when we were ungodly. He loved us when we were sinners. He loved us when we were His enemies. How much more does He love us now that we are His people! Thank God for His unconditional love!
Connecting God and Family
The theme of our 5th Annual Family Conference is “Connecting God and Family.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9 emphasizes the importance of making sure that the family is connected to God. This connection to God is rooted in our love for God. This love leads parents to obey the commands of God. They are to be internalized, motivated by a deep, all-encompassing love for God. Once the Word is internalized by parents, parents can then instill the Word of God in their children. This instilling of the Word is done through everyday teachable moments. When God’s word is in the hearts of parents, it comes out of the mouths of parents as they talk with their children. The Word of God is to be a sweet aroma that fills the house and the hearts of a Christian family.
There are a variety of ways that a family can be filled with the Word of God.
Stand With God
In this political season, it is important to remember that we government and God conflict, the people of God stand with God. Not everything that is legal exemplifies that righteousness of God. Therefore, the people of God must be committed to being the light of the world that shines in the midst of darkness. As the people of God, we cannot allow what that laws of man permit to supplant, surpass or supersede what the perfect law of liberty demands.
When we examine the word of God, in the conflict between religion and politics, we see God demonstrating His power through the conflict. Throughout scripture, when government conflicts with God and the people of God stand with God, then the people of God have the power to influence and change the laws and decrees of man. The body of Christ is often guilty of divorcing itself from the world around it. We are the salt of the world. Salt only has an impact if it touches that which it seeks to influence. If salt never touches your food, then you never taste salt in your food. It doesn’t matter that you are eating at a table with a salt shaker on it. If the salt just stays in the shaker, then the salt has absolutely no impact on the food you are eating.
In Acts 5:28, after being given strict orders not to teach about Jesus, the apostles filled Jerusalem with their teaching. It’s good to preach from the pulpit, but you won’t fill the city with the gospel message by just preaching from the pulpit. At some point, the message has to go out through the members if the city will be filled with the message of the gospel. If the church never touches the world (doesn’t vote, aren’t involved in our neighborhood associations, don’t go to city council meetings, aren’t at the school board & PTA meetings, never run for office on local, state and national levels) then don’t be surprised when you don’t see any Christian influence in the decisions and laws that are made. The only way you can influence it is to touch it. Joseph, Ester, Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-nego, and Daniel were people of God in powerful positions within heathen governments who made a difference among the heathens and influenced the laws of man to the glory of God.
When congress conflicts with the cross, not only do we stand with the cross. We should also take a more active role in seeking to influence government in a way that impacts the laws that are being passed on all levels of government. We obey God rather than men and encourage those who represent “We the people of the United States” to do the same. However, if they do or if they don’t, there will come a time when even those in government must answer to God.
A Lifestyle Change
While most of us would like to avoid them, there are times when we have to have difficult conversations with people. It may be a conversation with a family member, friend, co-worker, teacher, supervisor, or with a fellow Christian. The very thought of having to have a hard conversation with someone often produces a bit of anxiety. Here are five things to keep in mind when you have to have a difficult conversation.
Pray. Prayer reduced anxiety (see Philippians 4:6). When you know that you are going to have to have a hard conversation pray prior to having the conversation. Pray that the words of your mouth and the mediation of your heart will be pleasing to God. Pray that the other person will receive what you have to say with open ears and a receptive heart. It may be necessary that you pray even while you are having the conversation.
Practice. Rehearse what you plan to say the way in which you should say it. Own your feelings and opinions by using “I” statements. For example, instead of saying, “You need to stop yelling.” Try “I would appreciate it if not raise your voice when you are talking to me. It seems like you are yelling.” How you say what you say is just as important as the words you say. It is often helpful to write out what you will say and read over it to see how it sounds.
Be Present. It is important to be on top of your gain when having difficult conversations. Try to schedule a time to speak with a person. Pick a time when you are not rushed, sleepy or hungry. Make sure you get an understanding of what a person means by what he or she says prior to responding.
Reflect. After the conversation, review how you did. Were things resolved? Was there something that you said that could have been said differently? Do you need to apologize for anything that was said or done during the conversation?
Resolve. Once the conversation is over, decide that you are going to keep your conversation confidential. If there wasn’t effective resolution, only involve those people who can help the situation. Avoid replaying the hurt over and over in your mind. It is difficult to heal when you continue to reopen the wounds.
Minister Ross' creativity, wisdom, and insight have inspired community, church and corporate audiences throughout the United States.