I’m in the middle of another month long military exercise – Vibrant Response. The goal is to train our homeland response forces dedicated to protecting us in the event of an attack here at home. I will not share the location or specific activities until they are concluded but I will share this, our military is stronger than ever. The exercise involves thousands of airmen, soldiers, sailors and marines responding to a major attack on a US city. While the Department of Defense, NSA, FBI and CIA work hard to prevent such attacks, if one does happen, we will be ready. We are running two sessions of the same exercise to provide training for two different Command and Control elements and double the number of forces being trained. The rules within the constitution prevent our Title 10 forces from being used on US soil unless they are under the direction of Civilian Authorities – Governors, and not the Commander in Chief. Title 32 forces (National Guard) forces are already under the direction of a governor but can be federalized to go to war. This separation safeguards our country from a military coup and training the C&C staff to work in that situation is as equally important as the work the forces are doing. I couldn’t help but think about wrath and not make the connection to the US Armed Forces.
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” John 3:36
God’s word has been very clear throughout the bible; He can be made angry easy, has a long memory and gave His one and only Son to save the world. If the Son is rejected, He will send His wrath and not let them see eternal life. The promises of God have not been broken. Jesus told us of the wonders of eternal life and the glory that we have, don’t we want that for everyone? I thought about the people that do not know Christ, which means they have rejected Him. What about the people that I know who don’t have a relationship with Christ or who have children that haven’t been baptized? I became very sad when I thought about God’s wrath that remains on them. In reflection, this is why I keep writing these weekly devotions. Maybe, I can reach one person that is lost or sustain a relationship in someone else. The month-long exercise and this verse are about safeguarding. Please reach those that are lost and help them find Christ. We are all busy in this life but an eternal life is not possible without Christ.
We all know someone who is suffering, even if just a little bit. People react differently to what they perceive to be suffering. A teenager is “suffering” when they go on vacation to a place without cell phone coverage. I’ve done work in an organization that saw suffering. No one in management would listen to the workforce, suggestions were ignored, benefits were minimalized and employee terminations were inconsistent; they were working in a culture of fear. Look in your contact list; I’d imagine that you could identify a number of people who are suffering from a financial or medical condition. How many people in your contact list would you like to trade places with? We all have troubles. Some people thrive when they are under pressure to push through difficult times and come out stronger while others crumble. How do you react? Knowing before it happens may have a big affect on how you manage the situation. When my wife and I used to (notice – used to) golf together she was always finding something good about a bad shot. When I hit the ball into the water she’d say, “at least it isn’t in the sand” and when I hit it into the sand, she would say, “at least it isn’t in the water”. I suffered during that round. What about the real suffering that goes on? Why does it happen? Every patch of trouble or each time we suffer we are becoming stronger. If you look back in your life, I would guess that you could find a connection to another event that occurred later. You were stronger because of it or you learned something or you met someone. Something better comes out of our suffering.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18
God has told us that we aren’t promised a trouble free life so suffering should not be a surprise. None of us wants to hear our suffering or pain compared to another person’s worse case. Why are we suffering? People asked after the attacks on September 11th how could God let this happen? However, we heard story after story about people who got to work late that day or who made appointments when they normally would be at work and survived. Two buildings that normally house tens of thousands people collapsed and less than 3000 died, God was there. Again, think about St. Paul sitting in jail suffering and enduring punishment for his faith telling his Roman followers not to worry about the suffering. He knew that by sharing his faith, God’s Glory would be revealed and millions would be saved. Paul suffered so that millions would read his letters and come to faith in God through Jesus Christ. Would you react/respond differently to suffering if you knew that others could be saved? A few weeks ago I talked about being worthy, this is yet another way that says, “You are worthy!” When we suffer and still show our faith in Him, God uses us to be His messenger of what a life in Christ is like. No matter what you are suffering with, your reward is in the promise of eternal life.
As I mentioned a few months ago, I’m in a Master’s program for Public Administration at GCU. I’m wrapping up a class on Servant Leadership, a leadership style developed by Robert Greenleaf in 1977. Since that time a number of researchers have tried to define the attributes of what a Servant Leader “looks like”. For me, the answer was simple – Jesus Christ. However, the business world needed more. Skip Prichard (2013) posted a unique summary of many of the scholarly attributes that he believes summarizes why leaders using Servant Leadership:
- Values diverse opinions
- Cultivates a culture of trust
- Develops other leaders
- Helps people with life issues
- Sells instead of tells
- Thinks you, not me
- Thinks long-term
- Acts with humility
The attributes of the Servant Leadership model focus the leader on the needs of the follower. When the organization’s goals are aligned with the employee’s and each individual understands his/her role and the expectations, the organization is set-up for success. It made me think about how we treat each other and how leaders influence other people. Throughout the class, many of my fellow students described some pretty amazing working environments taking place in 2014. At the end of the class we were asked, “should more leaders be using the concepts of servant leadership?” No matter where you sit in your career – leader or follower, after seeing this list I hope you answer the same as I did; with a yes. I wanted to share this little bit of research on the subject to see how we all can apply the principles of servant leadership to our lives.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
When I’m asked about Jesus as a servant, my first thought always goes to the night of the last supper when He washed the feet of His disciples; nothing says servant like washing feet. Today, we heard in church about Jesus feeding of the thousands. A story we all are familiar with. What I heard today that caught my attention was that as that event ended, the people were asking Jesus to be their King. He wanted nothng to do with it and left immediately. He did not come to be served. He didn’t want earthly things. Every story we read about Jesus is how he served – healing the sick, feeding the hungry, turning water to wine at the wedding and teaching everyone the true meaning of the words His Father had written in the scriptures. The most important part of this verse is this: He came to “give His life as ransom for many.” He understood that and continued to serve others until His work was done. No matter what our place in life is, we can be comforted in the fact that Jesus died for us – a final act of Servant Leadership. We are forgiven through him and that’s what I call service!
As the holiday weekend comes to a close, I am reminded about the sacrifices that have been made to keep America free. Its been hard to focus on the idea of “fighting for freedom” since we have been involved in military action (war) for more than a decade. Many Americans have viewed the Iraq War as one of questionable intent and the war in Afghanistan as simply a fight against the terrorists. The irony there is that if we don’t stop the terrorists, we are not really free. We often hear people say that America doesn’t need to be the word’s peacekeeper. How do we maintain our freedom if vital parts of the world are controlled by radical governments? This is not a political blog so; I’ll bridge this conversation back to those that have sacrificed for us. We honor men and women for their service on Veteran’s Day and we remember those that gave all on Memorial Day; July Fourth is our celebration of the freedom to hold those and many other ceremonies. Those that serve or have served answered a calling much like each of us have. We all have talents and skills that make us unique in this life. Some people are too confident and we can’t stand being around them and yet others will say: “I’m not special or I don’t have anything to offer”. We all have something special to offer, our trouble is that we aren’t very good at recognizing it. I’ve had conversations about my having no trouble picking up body parts or working on people who were critically wounded but don’t ask me to pull a tooth – yuk! We all have something to offer, that’s why cops don’t like fires and firefighters don’t like bad guys. Don’t waste your time swimming in pity because you don’t feel special or feel like you don’t offer anything worthy. Start spending time seeking to understand what you do offer. Simply being a good listener is a skill that not everyone can do. Find your purpose and then, put it to work.
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” Ephesians 4:1
God knows the talents that He gave each of us and then calls on us to use them when He sees a need. Too often, we get wrapped up in our own circumstances or needs that we forget to notice what God has done for us. We have all been blessed by wonderful lives and God has put us where He needs us. Sometimes we are the inspiration for others and other times He gives us people to be inspired by. It’s only when we are open to His will that we realize what is happening. St. Paul continued to write inspirational letters despite being a prisoner for his faith. He stayed strong and reminded others to live as Jesus instructed/demonstrated. He reminds us that we have a life worth living because it came from God. Are we worthy enough – absolutely! We are all worthy. No matter what we do, God says we are worthy because He sent Jesus to die for us. Our job, our bank account, our house or car or whatever we have do not make us worthy. God wants us near him and that is a life worthy of the calling we have received.