All posts in Leadership

When God Throws Your Plans Out The Window.

sun tzu

The Art of Spiritual War

Sun Tzu’s Principle #1

“The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom.”

 ——————————————————————————————————————-

Biblical corollaries

Luke 22:42:  “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (NIV)

Matthew 6:9 & 10:  “This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (NIV)

State the principle in your own words

“It’s all about him, not me.”

 Application to living a more Godly life

We need to be willing to let go of our plans if God interrupts them and embrace His will ahead of our own. I was again reminded of this fact as I sought to get with a friend I had made through correspondence three years earlier, but had never met face-to-face.  He is a well-know personality and I thought it might be fun to bring a few men I coach along with me.  As I made plans to do this I had an inner check in my heart that the best scenario would be to stick with a one-on-one meeting to promote a deeper level of conversation between me and my new friend – but I ignored it. I didn’t want to make the trip alone, so I worked hard to bring my original plan to fruition.  The more resistance I met, the harder I tried to make it happen.  After a lot of effort I was still frustrated because I just couldn’t work out the schedule for anyone to come with me. So I finally gave in to my inner conviction to go it alone.  In the end, the solo time with my friend went very well and upon reflection, I knew we could never have enjoyed such open conversation if I had carted several others along with me. God’s way was better than mine.

What will you do differently as a result of this study – so what?

Next time I will pay more attention to the inner promptings from God’s Spirit and retreat more quickly from trying to make my plans come about.  I will learn to listen more closely to my heart and learn from this experience. 

Short personal prayer of commitment

Heavenly Father, please forgive me for being insensitive to your Spirit’s leading.  Please help me to recognize your hand more quickly when you are working out something different than I am trying to accomplish. I promise to seek you first, knowing that your will is far superior to mine.

Summary re-statement of Sun Tzu’s principle

If we are more interested in fulfilling God’s objectives than realizing our own plans, we will achieve far better results.

Whatever Happened To The Light?

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.”

~ Abraham Lincoln

The light was there first and then came the darkness. We have lost our way and wander in darkness. Unless we seek out the light we will be lost. But where do we go to find the light and how can it be restored so we can all walk in the light continuously and habitually?

The first step is to realize that we ourselves are not the light. That is not to say that we cannot have light within us or that we do not have any good in us at all. But our natural propensity is not to seek out the light but rather we love the darkness more than the light. You see light exposes darkness and we all have some dark secrets and behavior that we would rather not have exposed.

Let Your Light Shine

Let Your Light Shine

When we are committed to bring the light to those in darkness, we will face adversity. I was raised in a very strict and conservative environment. There is nothing wrong with that and I am not ashamed of it. But my mistake in that early stage of life was to think that those in darkness were somehow not as good as me… and I definitely gave off that vibe. This was very unhelpful in my relationships and alienated me from those who needed what I had access to. So the second step is to realize that we are just mirrors who can reflect the light but in substance we are no better than those in darkness. We are all really the same. If we do not grasp this immediately, we are destined to lose contact with those we seek to serve. Someone has said it best when he said, ”We are just beggars seeking to show other beggars where we have found bread.”

The light can be found only on a spiritual plane. It is not the way of the world and the world generally does not operate according to the light. Again, we see many good things in the world and they are useful to us, but we should not be deceived into thinking that the world is friendly to the light. Its systems are dramatically opposed to the light and they will undermine our journey to the light if we do not stay vigilant.

Let’s take the notion of love as an example. I love my wife and she is precious to me. But that does not mean I always act in love toward her in every situation. In fact, most times I act in my own self-interest and not hers. I don’t mean to behave in this way nor is it my design, but I naturally slip into this pattern if I am not constantly vigilant.

The third step is to realize that our combined light shines brighter than we can ever shine alone. By that I mean that we should associate with others who have the same values, encourage one another and hold one another accountable to operate in a certain way. Community is essential to light-bearers. We cannot fight this battle on our own and if we try to do so, we will fail. Seek out those who walk in the light.

Be a mirror reflecting The Light to those in darkness

Be a mirror reflecting The Light to those in darkness

Lastly we have an obligation to take the light to those in darkness. Most people who walk habitually in the darkness do not consciously understand their plight and will not naturally seek out the light on their own. I have been fortunate to have a series of very committed and wise friends in my life that brought the light to me. At times it was painful when they revealed my darkness to me. They had to be persistent and patient with me and teach me how to be a light-bearer over many years. I can easily slip off the path if I do not stay alert and practice habits that will keep me in the light. The light of others exposed my darkness …many times without them saying a word. The comparison of my behavior to theirs was often enough to help me see my error. Will you join me in seeking to be a light in a dark world?

   “As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.”        ~ Carl Jung

Padawan

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” ~ Shannon L. Alder

“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” Philippians 4:9 (KJV)

“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2 (KJV)
MULTIPLICATION

Multiplication is just a very fast and efficient form of addition. If you want to leave your mark in life, this is one math fact which you will want to embrace, because multiplication is the best way to ensure your legacy. It is though the lives of others you invest in as a mentor, that you can have your greatest impact.

We sometimes call a person being mentored – a disciple. A disciple is a person who follows a leader and they do something more; a disciple reproduces themself in the lives of others who come after them. So we have two important aspects of discipleship; copy and multiply. These two ideas can change your life and even change the world! If you don’t multiply your beliefs, practices and experience in the lives of others, they will soon be lost.

Do you remember the Star Wars movies? They tell about a religious sect called the Jedi who had a very strict system of training their understudies called “Padawans.” Their whole plan went wrong when they failed to properly mentor and govern one from among their own ranks and he became their nemesis. Darth Vader was a disciple … but of the wrong leader. He became the Dark Lord of the universe as a direct result of ineffective discipleship by the Jedi. I am not saying that if you do not properly disciple those under you, they will bring the universe to ruin – but it is something to think about. What could you be doing right now to properly guide those who look to you for leadership?

The philosophy of reproducing ourself through others relates to raising our children as well as training our employees and the impact we have on any others who may be looking to us for leadership. It is a universal truth that we will reap what we have sown.

I have been blessed to have a series of great men who have invested in my life to guide me when I needed it. It has not always been easy to receive their input but because the relationships were built on love and trust, there was a solid foundation making it easier. We all need to be looking around us for someone we can invest in and for someone to invest in us – it flows both ways. I never met a successful leader who did not have a series of mentors helping them and I never met a wise man who did not seek to mentor others. The choice is yours to take this admonition seriously; copy and multiply. That is the best way any of us can leave a lasting legacy and assure our long-term success.

Essential Insight – “Multiplication is the only math that really adds up.”

Expectations

This picture came to my inbox today and got me thinking about “Expectations.” I once saw an interview of Warren Buffet and his longtime partner (who no one has ever heard of) Charlie Munger. The question was asked of them how they got along so well for so many years? They glanced at each other and without hesitation Charlie said,” We have very low expectations of one another.” Wow! There is an insight that everyone needs to understand!

As we approach Christmas, what does this truth mean to us? First it means that God has low expectations of you and me. When God became a man (Jesus Christ), he was willing to sacrifice everything and humble himself in the hope that we would respond to his free gift of love but he had no assurance we would. He had high hopes but low expectations of our desire to reconnect with him as our savior and creator. He gives with no expectation of a return on his investment. He even offers to pay the price of our admission to heaven for free. All we need to do is believe in him.

Secondly, we need to lower our expectations of God. Not because he cannot deliver but because when he does deliver it is always out of love and not because we demand it. We also need to understand that as God, he knows best and therefore does not give us everything we expect or even want because it would undoubtedly ruin our lives. We give ourselves to God with no expectation of what he will do with our life. We simply know that he has our best at heart.

Thirdly, we will get along better with others if we lower our expectations of them. Not only are you imperfect but so is everyone else. Let’s stop judging others by our own standards. That does not mean we expect nothing but let’s realize that there is a lot more going on than we realize and we need to be as generous as possible in expressing our judgment of others. We can afford to lower our expectations of others and it will reap large dividends.

When God became a man over 2000 years ago and lived among us, he gave up all his Kingly prerogatives to show us how much he loved us. In this Christmas Season are you willing to follow his example? This is the secret to a long-lasting relationship with God and others.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11-12 King James Version (KJV)