Freedom?

We just celebrated Independence Day in the U.S this past weekend. A time for us to reflect on being free from the control of the King of England and what being free really means. It is ironic that our road to freedom started with riots and protests. Also ironic, at this point in our history, the U.S. is still struggling to be “the land of the free”. We have racial inequality that honestly has never been resolved. Our forefathers and the founders of our democracy were slave owners; it was an unfortunate part of life in those times. No human being should ever be owned. In fact, when you look back in history, the human race was pretty barbaric towards one another. In the Roman Colosseum, they watched “man vs. beast” events for entertainment. So, owning another human being wasn’t too far removed. Sure, over time these events stopped but it was over 1800 years before slavey did.

The United States declared war on itself over this very issue in 1861. Citizen fought citizen over the “right” to own another human being. For four years, this war went on and it is estimated that as many as 750,000 people died. Despite efforts ensure that “All men are created equal” and the changes to the constitution ensuring “equality”, the reality was that things were never equal; for another 100 years, racial inequality persisted. The Civil Rights act of 1964 was supposed to “fix” it but here we are in 2020 and we still have not achieved balance.

So why this tirade, you might ask? The hypocrisy is killing me! For weeks I’ve been hearing, watching and reading “Christians” go on about statues and rioting without the slightest care toward the HUMAN BEINGS involved in this issue. No one is talking or writing about the racial inequities that exist – they never did, and they aren’t now. Myself included! None of us can truly understand the challenges of being Black in America (or the world) but we should surely be empathetic and work toward solutions that genuinely put everyone on a level playing field. I’m not talking about wealth distribution, but we’ve got to invest in strategies that will work. In leadership, I often say that a vision is needed for people to get behind a leader. What do we envision our future looking like? When you strip away all of the politics, all of the “I’ve got mine” beliefs, and the other distractions, ask yourself what is really on your heart and who put it there?

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

God knows we are easily distracted; look how long it took for Eve to get distracted/tempted from the one rule they had “Don’t eat from the tree in the middle of the garden”? God set in our minds and hearts that we will find Him when we seek Him with all of our heart. This isn’t a “microwave” solution: fast and when we want it. The lesson here is that we need to become immersed in God’s word, seek him with all of our heart; not just a minute or two and only when we need Him. The only true way forward in today’s world is with a God loving heart and spirit.

Spend time with God, everyday. If you are like everyone who receives e-mails, you’ll read 15 minutes of “funny” e-mails, check the stories on a news website or spend an hour looking at the feed on Twitter. Are you devoting that much time to seeking the Lord with all your heart? God is always accessible to hear your prayers, accept your thanks, receive your praise and forgive your sins. God can be that old friend who you tell all of your secrets to but like your dearest of friends, it doesn’t happen overnight. God has done so much for us and He just asks for us get close to Him and to seek Him with all your heart.

Diligence

The word diligent is defined as, “Characterized by care and perseverance in carrying out tasks”. How can we live diligently? We can start by paying attention. The social movements that are occurring today are forcing people to pay attention; some for the first time. The racial issues that are being brought into focus are not new issues; we’ve simply ignored them for years (or forever). Many people are uncomfortable because the topic of racial inequality isn’t going away. They would rather focus on the physical damage rather than address the underlying cause. The issue will take perseverance to create change.

At work, we often pay attention to the details and generally try not to let things fall through the cracks; that’s diligence. The communities that we live in depend on all of us paying attention to the details: while driving, interacting with each other and maintaining an orderly society. Rules and laws provide the structure of a society that allows billions of people to live together.

Diligence also requires accountability; you must ensure you are meeting your obligations. We are responsible for each other and accountable to one another for our actions. Too often we see people going through life paying attention to only themselves and what they are doing. In the firehouse we used to call these types of people “one way’s”. They had only one way of thinking and it was all about their needs. We are all leaders in our lives no matter our position. As parents, we lead our families, as adults we lead children, as Christians we lead through our example. Regardless of your place of life you are a leader, so provide leadership diligently.

“If a man’s gift is … leadership, let him govern diligently…” Romans 12:6, 8

As Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, if we are to lead, we must do it diligently. We must pay attention to the small things; the devil is in the details. It is easy to obey the straightforward commandments like not stealing or killing but what about the “details” of the other commandments; like not being jealous of what others have or putting other activities before worship with God, especially during football season.

Who is keeping you accountable for what is happening in your life? Confess your sin, give it to the Lord, repent and turn toward God. The good news is that Jesus took it all upon himself on the cross for us. Be diligent in your daily study and time with the Lord, it will make leading much easier. We often do not seek Christian leadership role models in our lives. Whether you have chosen it or not, God has chosen you to be an example for others. Do you carry out your Christian duties with care and perseverance? You don’t have to be the designated leader to have people follow you, but you do have to be aware that people will follow you, good and bad, so why not be better prepared?  You’ll be rewarded in many ways.