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The Courage to Try

Leadership C

The Courage to Try

So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.  (1 Kings 3:9)

Solomon was King David’s son and upon David’s death, Solomon took the throne. He was now in charge of Israel and responsible for leading the people.

The verse above is something that Solomon said to God when God came to him in a dream. It is clear that the dream was a sign of the things that were most on Solomon’s mind. How could he lead? Where would he gain the skills and the knowledge to make good decisions? How would he know the right thing to do when there were so many factors at play?

This feeling of insecurity and worry is not unusual when someone takes on a new challenge. It makes even more sense when that new challenge is to rule a nation. Nervousness and anxiety come with the territory.

This story is instructive for all of us. Often we fail to take on a new challenge because we feel nervous about how it will go or unsure if we have what it takes to do it right. There may even be something inside us that tells us, “Try, you can do it!” But the louder voice says in our other ear, “Don’t get involved. You may struggle to do it well or just look stupid when you fail. It is safer to sit on the sidelines.”

Solomon was thrust into a role that he felt ill equipped to take on. He prayed for what he needed to do it well. God gave him what he needed to do the work that God had called him to take on.

You may not feel qualified to do certain things that God wants to have done. But you may also sense God saying, “Go ahead. You can do it!” Faith sometimes calls us to risk feeling awkward for a bit in order to do what matters most to God. Remember, if God asks you to do it, you can. Otherwise God would have asked someone else!

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Integrity Has a Cost

Integrity

And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; he remained there in prison.  (Genesis 39:20)

Joseph is a talented guy. But he has a way of getting in trouble in ways that result in major problems. He makes his brothers jealous and angry and they stick him in a hole in the ground, convince his dad that he’s dead, and then he winds up being sold into slavery. In Egypt as a slave, he uses his talent to become a trusted advisor and manager to Potiphar – a key leader in the land. But Potiphar’s wife wants to have an affair with him and when he refuses, she lies about it and has him thrown into prison. In this case, doing the right thing comes with a price. All he had to do to stay out of jail was sleep with his master’s wife! But in doing the right thing, she is angry and he ends up paying a price.

This may sound familiar. Perhaps you have had times in your life when you have been faced with a dilemma. It is tempting and there may be pressure from family, your boss, or someone else who wants yo to do something that you know is not right. The payback would be nice though – more status, more money, more of something as a result. All you have to do is ignore what is right and do what someone wants you to do anyway. And then you have to decide, “Who am I in my core and can I bring myself to so this thing that I know is wrong?” It may be easier and the payback might be higher to just do the wrong thing. What stops you.

Jesus understands this. When he came into the world, he came to people who had been waiting for the Messiah to show up. But when he came, they wanted him to be a different kind of Messiah and to do things he didn’t want to be involved in. He often said “no” to their requests and stayed true to who he was. But the result was a number of people who were irritated by Jesus. Sick of his ideas, the crowds wanted him crucified. Doing the right thing for Jesus resulted in crucifixion. It is not always easy to be true to who you are and the purposes for which God has made and called you!

Your life is filled with choices. Some of them can be difficult and the world may even encourage you to do something you think will disappoint or anger God. But scripture encourages us to stay true to being the people God made us to be. It may not be easy and it may not pay off, at least in a way the world will honor. But you will be standing in line with Joseph and Jesus and many who have gone before us who chose to do the right thing in spite of the costs.

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God’s Thoughts – Higher Than Ours

Einstein Quote

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8)

Are you listening for God’s direction? Often we find ourselves in a tough spot and can’t figure out how to work our way out of it. We think during the day. We toss and turn at night. But the best we can come up with seems inadequate.

Contrast that with the approach that Martin Luther took. He said that the more difficult the day that was ahead, the earlier he would wake up – not to get a head start on the work but to pray! Only with a meaningful prayer life could he have what he needed to deal with the most difficult things that came up.

Isaiah’s message from God to us is that rather than settling for the best we can come up with ourselves, we would do much better to listen for God’s guidance. The best we can come up with is a mere fraction of what God has to offer. Take time to listen for God’s voice in your life – especially regarding the most difficult things you face. You will discover a rich source of wisdom and strength that may change your life in ways you could never dream up for yourself.