Thursday, 28 June 2012

Seven Warning Signs before leadership failure

Today I have been very challenged and blessed by this article by Joseph Mattera on warning signs for leadership failure. It is very sobering and a challenge for those of us in ministry and leadership to guard ourselves
Unfortunately, in every level and realm of life we have all witnessed serious leadership failure! It is no longer a surprise when we read about a high-level pastor, celebrity, sports figure or politician who is disgraced because of ethical or moral failure.
As one who has worked with many struggling church and marketplace leaders on a very personal level for the past 30+ years I have made the following observations regarding warning signs before a fall, which I teach younger leaders so they will avoid the mistakes of the present generation of many leaders.
All of us have fallen into the following in one way, shape or form. Hopefully we will have learned the hard leadership lessons of life so we can pass on wisdom to the next generation! Here are seven warning signs before leadership failure:
First, often before falling a leader will cram so much into his or her schedule for a prolonged amount of time that they don’t get enough time for personal renewal and rest. Much activity is not always kingdom productivity; when a person is constantly running around from meeting to meeting, from state to state, from event to event without seeking God and personal times for reflection, they do violence to their soul and will eventually be operating on will power and fumes instead of the Spirit of God. This can lead to them being tempted to escaping from the pressure of life with adulterous relationships, pornography, excess entertainment and foolish endeavors.
Activity without clarity will also lead to making poor decisions. When we are always in a rush we will not have the proper time to process things, which leads to a lack of discernment and disastrous leadership decisions. This will compound the pressure even more and create more work to get out of the mess they are in! Sometimes less is more!
I am not saying leaders shouldn’t be very busy or have a lot of responsibility. But what I am saying is there always has to be enough time in between events and days of meetings for daily reflection, prayer and seeking God so that our level of discernment is high and we are walking in the grace and power of God to do His work instead of our own will power and strength!
Secondly, I have noticed that before falling a leader avoids intimate contact with their peers or overseers who can speak into their life. They live a life of isolation which is very dangerous!
As busy as I am, there are a number of mentors and spiritual sons that I open up to who give input and prayer; I am always open to hearing God’s voice through their prayers or exhortations to me. The more responsibility I have the more community I need to keep myself on track!
We also need intimate relationships to keep the human side of us active. It is very easy to go from one productive business meeting or anointed service to another and always be in front of strangers or crowds of people or with leaders who don’t know us well. There is no real community in those settings; even in the midst of a crowd we can still isolate ourselves because in a crowd a leader doesn’t have to be intimate or accountable since they are the ones calling the shots, doing the leading and speaking instead of the other way around.
Third, a leader is heading for a fall when he or she is not spending adequate time with their spouse and/or family. God told us that it is not good for man to be alone. I have seen many leaders, especially those who travel a lot, who are not in regular touch with their spouses and who rarely ever spend time at home. Being with family helps keep a leader grounded. Without that, they will be surrounded by superficial relationships related only to their productivity as a minister or business person, where they are always receiving accolades (from sycophants), as opposed to being a father, mother, husband or wife who has to constantly strive to work hard at intimacy in their family relationships—which God intended for us to keep us humble and grounded. A leader may get praise from everyone around him but the spouse really knows them and will tell them like it is and keep them in touch with reality!
Fourth, leaders are heading for trouble when they don’t exercise self-discipline in eating and indulging their pleasures. If a leader cannot control their eating patterns then most likely that is a reflection of a larger issue; that is, they are medicating themselves with food and most likely are vulnerable to other lusts of the flesh that will enable them to escape from the pressures of reality. Obesity is a social sin that has become acceptable in the Body of Christ even though Jesus warns against it (Luke 21:34).
Furthermore, when we as leaders have bad diets it begins to affect our minds, emotions and spirits in negative ways because it creates sluggishness, fatigue, and clouds our spirits with our carnality. Many leaders have died or have serious health issues once they hit their forties and fifties because of a poor diet. God will judge us if we prematurely meet Him and miss half our lives because of our lack of discipline and obedience.
Fifth, leaders are heading for trouble when they don’t seek God for God and only pray and read the Bible when they have to preach a sermon or minister. Worse than our lack of intimacy with the Lord is the fact that we are only using Him to make a living or using His word to achieve certain outcomes. However good they may be, our highest call in life is to know and love God. Matthew 7:22-23 teaches us that we can minister for God effectively and still fail if He doesn’t know us! Leaders who only seek God for a sermon have a professional relationship with the Lord and will eventually not have the grace and spiritual power to deal with all the pressures of marriage, life and ministry, which can lead to moral failure.
Sixth, leaders who love titles, positions, recognition, constantly join boards, and get involved in large events for public prominence are heading for a fall unless they repent.  When we exalt ourselves God says He will humble us (Luke 14:11) and he who seeks his own glory is not glory (Proverbs 25:27).
We are not far from a fall when we try to lift ourselves up, promote ourselves, or get involved in events without hearing from the Lord; we are like the Pharisees who loved titles, prominent positions, greetings in the marketplace and to be called leader or reverend or bishop or doctor (Matthew 23:6-7). Leaders who are broken have learned not to try to create names for themselves by marketing their accomplishments and hype; they have learned that only when God exalts a person does it really last (Psalm 75:6).
Lastly, when leaders use people as objects for their businesses or ministries instead of having a motivation of empowering people to walk in their purpose—when leaders put programs over people and tasks ahead of relationships—eventually they will have no one around them who is loyal or who they can trust. They will have burned many bridges behind them because, eventually, their followers will become weary of them and leave them! Leadership is a lonely road to walk; leaders more than anyone else need to minister to people with a servant’s heart. When leaders come into the ministry with the attitude of being served instead of serving others they develop an entitlement mentality that can lead them to pride, arrogance and eventually to destruction.
May God help all of us who serve the kingdom as leaders to glory only in knowing Him (Philippians 3:7-11; Jeremiah 9:23-24)!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Today has been a busy day of ministry and I would like to share something of the testimony with you.

I was up at 5.30am this morning and picked up by taxi to take me to the airport at 6.15am. On the flight at 8.20am and in Belfast, Northern Ireland at 9.40am. I picked up a one day car hire and drove to visit some friends about one hour's drive from the airport. One of my friends is M. who has been struggling with cancer. Two nights ago I had a dream - in my dream I laid my hands on M in Jesus Name and the cancer tumour in her stomach disappeared. I shared this with them and then prayed. I am really believing the God has done the work. M. went through a terrible time last week with chemotherapy but was much brighter today although she has lost a lot of weight. She has been going on special diets, like eating flax seed, apricot seeds, cutting out red meat and anything with sugar in it but it has caused her to lose so much weight, so now she is eating normally and we are trusting the Lord for complete healing.

Talking about eating normally, we had the most beautiful lunch of soup, sandwiches and the most exquisite home-baked cakes together. I eventually left my friends at 2.30pm and took the 30 minute drive to meet my dear friend A. God has done so much in him and his family since I first met them. He has such a longing and a hunger for the Lord. We went out for a meal together - I had a healthy salad. We ate in the restaurant of another christian friend who shared a tremendous testimony. The restaurant was struggling badly and one day recently Paul and his wife decided to give the restaurant away to Jesus and told Him it was now His responsibility and His restaurant. That lunch time crowds started coming in and it has been busy every day since! For his staff who knew of Paul's surrendering of the restaurant it was a tremendous  testimony. It reminded me of Dr. Cho's statement that the Holy Spirit is his managing director!

I sensed that all was not well with A. - there was a heaviness about him that I haven't seen for a long time. He shared of negative words spoken over him by someone and told me that the other person had apologized but for A. the words were still very deep in his spirit. I prayed and broke the power of the curse of negative words and immediately his face changed. Before I left to head for the airport I knew that he was totally free. On Saturday he and his wife, with their two lovely girls, will travel to Australia for a three week holiday in the home of a friend, and will spend a night in Singapore on the way.

And so home by 10.20pm this evening. A long day, but what joy in serving Jesus!

On the plane I was reading a wonderful book that I would recommend, "Honors Reward" by John Bevere. It has blessed me deeply and I will share some of the lessons on this blog soon.

God bless you.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

I was very blessed this morning as I read this devotional word from "Our Daily Bread." I trust that it will also touch your heart

READ: Luke 6:27-36

Pray for those who spitefully use you. —Luke 6:28

One Sunday morning, D. L. Moody entered a house in Chicago to escort some children to Sunday school. During his visit, three men backed him into a corner and threatened him. “Look here,” Moody said. “Give a fellow a chance to say his prayers, won’t you?” The men actually allowed him to call out to God, and Moody prayed for them so earnestly that they left the room.
Had I been in Moody’s situation, I might have called for help or looked for the back door. I’m not sure I would have acted on Jesus’ command to His followers: “Pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28 NIV).
Praying for the people who treat us with contempt is one way to “do good to those who hate [us]” (v.27). Jesus explained that Christians get no credit for swapping acts of kindness with other “nice” people. He said, “Even sinners do the same” (v.33). However, blessing our persecutors (Rom. 12:14) sets us apart from them and aligns us with the Most High, because God is kind even to wicked people (Luke 6:35).
Today, if you feel “cornered” by someone, seek safety if the situation calls for it, and follow Jesus’ teaching: Pray for that person (Luke 23:34). Prayer is your best defense. —Jennifer Benson Schuldt
We want to know Your heart, Lord, and have Your
wisdom to know how to handle opposition.
Give us patience to show kindness.
Guide us, we pray.
Returning good for good is human; returning good for evil is divine.

Monday, 25 June 2012

It is good to be back home after a long seven weeks away in South-East Asia. In that time we have ministered in Singapore, Indonesia twice and have been to Malaysia three times for church retreats. We have been so blessed and thrilled to see God at work in so many lives. The highlights - many, but our 40th wedding anniversary meal with our Indonesian family, together with Angela and Mario is right up there at the top.

In terms of ministry highlights:
[a] the joy of speaking in 9 forty-five minute sessions at the River Life Church in Singapore from a Friday evening through to Sunday lunch-time
[b] the hunger among those who attended the St. James' Church retreat, held in Malacca, Malaysia
[c] to be with our beloved Church of our Saviour, both in week end services and at the Cell Retreat. Wonderful and blessed times.
[d] to minister in Gateway Church, a Malaysian church at their retreat in the mountains north of Kuala Lumpur. We travelled with two very special Singaporean friends who also had a wonderful ministering time to people on a one-to-one basis.

Now we are home for six weeks before returning to Singapore for further ministry.

Today I have listened to a wonderful message about Patmos, where John was exiled - God giving revelation in solitude. Please follow the following link to listen to this short message by Robert Weston:

I have been reading a wonderful 64 page book today by Derek Prince and I can thoroughly recommend it to you - it is called, "Protection from Deception" and helps us to navigate through the minefield of signs and wonders. Here are four keys to protection:
[a] Humble ourselves
[b] Receive the love of the truth
[c] Cultivate the fear of the Lord
[d] Make and keep the cross central

Finally, we have had some good times in Singapore with our son, Timothy. He is really learning to walk with God and trust Him to meet his needs. After getting home I was thinking about how much I love Tim, when suddenly the thought came about Jesus on the cross, and the Father turned his face away. What amazing grace - just the idea of turning my face away from our son is unbearable and yet the Heavenly did that for us as Jesus bore our sins!

"I cannot boast about my love for God because so often I have failed, but I can boast about His love for me because He has never failed!" Hallelujah!