How to build Trust

“People will follow you for a while because they picked you. But they’ll follow you over the long term because they trust you.”

“Charm and charisma are like a glider; they fly, but not indefinitely. And they do not do well in turbulent times”

Trust is essential for leadership. But it is also essential for everyday living. My parents used to tell me that in order to drive on the motorway, you needed to attribute a certain level of trust to the drivers on the road – that they would continue to move forward.

But the level of trust required for effective leadership is a little higher. So how can we build more trust?

  1. Consistency (in good and bad, in the secret place as well as the public place)
  2. Dependability (do we make good on what we say)
  3. Openness and honesty (even, and especially, in areas of failure and weakness)
  4. Hard work (oftentimes a reputation of being a hard worker will trump success)
  5. Impartiality
  6. Longevity (it can be harder for a new leader to acquire the same level of trust as one who has ‘stuck around’)
  7. Intimacy and Pursuit of Jesus (As Christian leaders, and Church leaders, people will cotton on to your motives. We can do “all the right things” without a passionate pursuit of Jesus – and people will notice. In contrast, we can make all the mistakes, yet have an evident intimacy with God – and people will notice. Consider the words of the great king: We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You. Consider the words of the great church founder: I made to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ. Whatever were gains to me I now consider loss. I did not come with wise and eloquent words, but rather with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.

May we, as Church leaders, as Christian leaders, be people who have large accounts of trustworthiness. In a world where trust is savagely dismembered towards our leaders, may the Church step up with leaders who are trustworthy.

3 Prayers to Go deeper with God

The following Prayers were extracted from Moses’ conversation with God in Exodus 33:

  1. “Teach me Your ways.” We are surrounded with the ways of our society, culture, friends, family and social media. Depending on where we live, we may be subject to capitalist or communist ideals. But we are from another Kingdom, and Kingdom of people belonging to God. And so we ask God, to teach us His ways, the ways of His culture, His Kingdom, His methods.
  2. “Guarantee to me, Your Presence.” Without His presence, how can we partner with Him in His global, eternal mission. How can we be distinct like stars in the midst of a dark world? How can we set an example to believers in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity?
  3. “Show me Your glory.” This is a prayer of a brave man or woman, who dares to speak to God face to face. This is the prayer of someone who is not satisfied with seeing worldly vision statements, plans, and ambitions. Who wants a Why that will empower all their actions. This is the prayer of a man or woman who hungers for the fulness of joy and pleasure forever more. This is the prayer of the person who wants to overcome sin, shame, addiction and brokenness. This is the prayer of the saint who wants to worship God powerfully.

Spiritual Regimen, Rhythm or Intention

If you’re anything like me, you will know the feeling of setting yourself new resolutions and goals. After hearing a talk, reading a book or meditating on scripture we may feel prompted to act on the message we’ve received.

But how should we respond.

It may be tempting to respond by implementing a Spiritual discipline, such as prayer, fasting or solitude. We may want to commit to a 30 day plan of Bible reading, purity or a couple of months of attending Church whatever the weather.

This is all well and good. I love spiritual disciplines! But as many devoted Christians will have already discovered, after the 10th quiet time, our lives can quickly become full of new spiritual practices. And we soon struggle to maintain our new morning routine, exercise regimen, Thursday Fast, 1-on-1 weekly discipleship meeting, helping out at a local charity shop on the weekends, all the while serving our family with lovingly made dinners each night.

This is why the framework of Spiritual Regimens, Rhythms or Intentions is helpful!

Dr. John Coe, in his course on Spiritual Formation, recognises that as zealous Christians we may be tempted to overload our lives with activities and plans. But we must also remember that we are finite Christians as well (- and his finiteness, should draw us to God, just as much as our zealousness!) And so Dr. Coe suggests three categories of response (and they’re not complicated!):

  1. Spiritual Regimens – This could be a set time period (e.g. a week, month or year) whereby we will stick to a plan/regimen of particular conduct, in order to give God room to challenge and grow us in the area. For example: taking an online course, watching a series of lectures, starting a small group for a book, not buying anything online, etc.
  2. Spiritual Rhythms – This could be a particular discipline, such as Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, fasting from cakes, Netflix or video games, silence, etc. We agree to incorporate such a discipline in our daily/weekly lives to strengthen the “muscles” of our faith.
  3. Spiritual Intentions: This is where we acknowledge, a calling from God to change our behaviour, grow our character, exhibit a virtue. But also acknowledge that there isn’t room in our finiteness, to incorporate yet another discipline towards this end. And so we offer up ourselves in prayer to God.
    • Present – “God, here I am, confronted by the challenge/example/conviction of x, y, z”
    • Recollect – “God, I understand that this is my current status because of everything you have done for me”
    • Honesty – “And yet, I am reluctant for whatever reason to change, thank You for revealing this to me.”
    • Discernment – “God, what are you doing, what is Your will, what is from You and what is not. Please give me wisdom on how to respond”.

It may be after praying in such a way, God will lead us to a regimen or a rhythm. Or it may be the case, that God simply wanted us to talk to Him about it and leave it in His hands. In Spiritual Intentions, we lean upon God’s power to transform us, and rely on His grace to work in our weakness. Yes, there will be times to actively co-labour with God, but there are also times to trust God’s Spirit at work – producing fruit – in us.

There is a real danger when we try and bring about the formation in our own strength, with countless lists of disciplines and plans. Rather, it is better to seek wisdom and ask God how we ought to respond to such truth.

And so next time you are challenged in a quiet time or talk, or even a walk in the park. Consider whether to turn this challenge into a Regimen, a Rhythm or an Intention.

Why do I pursue God’s heart?

I’ve been taking a course online over the last month and a bit, and I hit a bit of a wall. In the course we are taught a little about The Dark Night of the Soul, a season in life where we find very little pleasure in pursuing God’s heart. We may be reading our Bible, praying, worshipping, going to Church and all of this, but to be frank it is: tough going.

We just don’t feel like it.

One of the aims of the course is to explore the purpose of these seasons and help believers understand the work God is doing. So we can be encouraged and encourage others.

The course guides us to consider that God is weaning us of the ‘pursuit of spirituality for pleasure’s sake’.

It is here that I hit a wall. So I stopped reading and started thinking through why this troubled me.

It wasn’t long before I identified my main obstacle.

Belief 1 (from before the course): God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.
Belief 2 (from the course): Pursuing God for pleasure’s sake is immature.

So how can I reconcile these beliefs, are they compatible. Is one true and one wrong. What does wisdom say? Pen and paper out, Bible opened up.

I wrote down the beliefs more fully on a notepad:

Belief 1: God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. Therefore, God promises pleasure to those who pursue Him (Psalm 16:11)
Belief 2: Pursuing God for pleasure’s sake is immature. Therefore, God uses seasons of “Desolation” to teach us to pursue Him for His sake rather than pleasure. (James 1:2-3)

Then I asked myself some questions: What motivates me to pursue God? What should motivate me? What do I want to motivate me? Is there scripture to back up these reasons.

  1. I pursue God for my sake and He is glorified in this (Exodus 33:12-19)
  2. I pursue God because it is Right and He has taught/convinced me of this (therefore I cannot boast!) (1 Corinthians 1:28-31)
  3. I pursue God for His Glory’s sake and His glory fills the earth (Isaiah 6:3-8)

Perhaps both beliefs are true, and yet, incomplete without each other. I would phrase slightly differently to demonstrate this:

Belief 1: God is glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him, He is gracious to fulfil His promises of pleasure to those who pursue Him.
Belief 2: Pursuing God for pleasure’s sake alone is immature, though it is not necessarily wrong. Oftentimes, God will uses seasons of desolation/dark night of the soul, to teach us to pursue Him for His glory’s sake.

I hope this helped. Why do you pursue God’s heart?

I want to know You more

Sorry for a quiet week of posts (or lack of!) I promise I’ve got a meaty one lined up!

In the meantime I wanted to briefly share a song that blessed me tonight: knowing You Jesus , by Graham Kendrick.

It’s largely based off Philippians 3. I count all I once held dear as garbage compared to knowing Christ.

If you read the whole chapter and continue into chapter 4, there are some pretty cool verses that add to this theme and establish the mindset further.

V12 not that I’ve already attained all this (including the mindset) but one thing I do…

V15 all of us who are mature should take such a view of things

V17 join with me in following my example in this…

V18 because, as I have told you before, even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross…when we hold our religion, our self-righteousness, our tallies of good deeds, our material possessions etc, when we hold onto these things instead of knowing Christ, we make ourselves enemies of the cross. No! Let us count them as garbage.

4:1 therefore…stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!!! We must be reminded and encouraged to continue counting as garbage what we once held dear.

Such a powerful message and scripture passage. I pray that God would subdue the various idols in my mind and enable me to see them as garbage, to persevere in the race of treasuring Christ about all! I pray that God would bring me to maturity, that I would not be flattered by the things of this world but be content with Him.

Knowing You, Jesus
Knowing You
There is no greater thing
You’re my all, You’re the best
You’re my joy, my righteousness
And I love You, Lord

When in trouble…

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray.

These are the simple words of James 5:13.

As Christians, it’s good to be aware of the various self-help strategies. But I think, oftentimes, God will let us be in a place where no amount of self-help will help. Where no amount of strategic thinking, leadership expertise, experience or teamwork will do. He brings us to this place, where we are exhausted of all our effort and intelligence and power…

…SO THAT, we can learn to rely on Him. So that our relationship with Him can go deeper, as we learn what it means to depend on Him.

I pleaded with Him to take it from me…THREE TIMES….but He said to me: My grace is sufficient for you, and my power is made perfect and complete in weakness. – 2 Corinthians 12

Prayer is NOT the posture of power, but it is the posture of dependence. It is NOT the promise of safety, rescue or even changed circumstances, but it is the promise of being heard, known, loved. It is NOT the invitation of self-reliance, but it is the invitation for God’s will to be done.

Jesus, moments before the cross, prayed “God, please let this cup pass from me”….”but not My will, but Yours be done”

Shadrach, Meesach and Abednego, moments before being thrown into a furnace declared: “Our God is able to save….but even if He doesn’t we will not bow”

Moses, upon hearing that God would leave him, pleaded: “unless You are with us, we will not leave this place”.

When in trouble, pray.

See also: 2 Chronicles 20. Ezekiel 37. Isaiah 37.

Advent #2 Peace

This talk was given by Sean Alan Page at Alliance Bible Church on Isaiah 9:2-7. Fantastic talk and another great preacher, apparently he works with incarcerated youth as a prison chaplain. I wanted to share three things that stood out to me:

  1. Prepare with Prayer…stresses and pressures come, and in many cases we know when they are due. When the meeting is, when the deadline approaches, when you are sitting down with the person you dislike for a difficult conversation. In the talk Sean encouraged us to prepare for those situations ‘like a Christian’, in prayer, by turning to the ‘Prince of Peace’.

This mirrored something else I read in James this week. James 5:13 – “If anyone is in trouble, let him pray”. My work is pretty stressful at the moment, and it’s due to be that way for a few months. As we cycle through the various annual deadlines, reports, committees and reviews. There is a lot expected of me, and little room for ‘peace’.

A secular point of view would be to ‘get some perspective’, ‘delegate’, ‘practice mindfulness’, ‘make a to-do list’ etc etc, all good things. But as a Christian I have a hidden weapon: Prayer.

2) There is one religion with a ‘Prince of Peace’. Surely, He is the One we need.

3) I was encouraged and challenged by the life work of the Pastor who spoke. He goes into these prison and speaks of hope, peace and future for young guys who have made the biggest blunders and been caught. This week, I also heard of a UK Christian organisation called The Message, that does a similar thing. This is something I want to be looking more into. Especially if God has brought it into my awareness twice, from two different sources, in a week.

Simply Sit and Be Still

God’s presence is so good. We can just sit and abide in it.

Bring Him questions, ideas, thoughts, fears, wishes and dreams.

Jesus has worked this privilege for us. We can enter God’s presence and dwell there.

Try it. Make yourself physically comfortable, and sit, be still. Once you’ve finished pouring yourself, emotionally, mentally etc, to Him…let Him pour Himself out to you.

It really is incredible. We can become one with God.

On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you (John 14:20)…. may they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are One – I in them and You in Me…. (John 17:21-23)

We would be foolish to pass up the opportunity.

God the All

I am slowly working through some puritan prayers, this one impacts me on many levels.

Oh God, it is amazing that men can talk so much about man’s creatures power and goodness, when, if thou didn’t not hold us back every moment, we should be devils incarnate.

I know this to be true of myself, although I frequently forget it and tell myself I am a “good person” because of x, y, and z. No, the truth is God is kind to me that my sinful nature does not dominate me to the fullest extent it could. Thank you Jesus.

I know that thou are the author and finisher of faith, that the whole work of redemption is thine alone.

This is something I have been realising more and more recently. I actually don’t have the power, capacity or drive to be a better person, to be holy. I need to rely on Jesus to do this, I need to abide in Him. I need to receive His work of redemption and sanctification and formation, and I need to put to death by the spirit my fleshly attempts to earn redemption, sanctification and formation.

If thou bidst me to decide for myself in any affair, I would choose to refer all to thee, for thou art infinitely wise and cannot do amiss, as I am in danger of doing.

As I pray this, I ask for this particular perspective to permeate my conscious and sub-conscious mind. I long for the wisdom to surrender to Him who is Good, without fear or reservation.

Then prayer turns wholly into praise.

When my mantra in life becomes “He must increase, I must decrease”, all that is left for me is to adore and bless Him.