Life Matter: A Spacious Place

"He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
 he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
 from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
 but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place;
 he rescued me because he delighted in me" - Psalm 18:16-19.

Time and again in the book of Psalms, the writer wrote and sang about his trouble and how the Lord had rescued and delivered him. In today's passage, the psalmist stated that the Lord brought him into a 'spacious place.' What does a spacious place represent for you? A bigger house? A new business? More ministry opportunities? A role where you can be who God made you to be, surrounded by people who appreciate and don't envy or limit you? In your journal, take a few minutes to write about what an ideal 'spacious place' would look like for you. Then trust the Lord for such a place!

Today's Reading: Psalms 16-20

W50D4 - Productivity

"Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do
the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater
things than these, because I am going to the Father" - John 14:12.

Leaders of faith have as much right to claim and pursue the promises of God as anyone else, regardless of what field of endeavor they work, for the "the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it" (Psalm 24:1). Therefore they should look not simply to maintain what they do, but expand, broadcast, publish, multiply, innovate, create or change it for God's purpose and glory as He reveals it to, in and through them. Today's verse promises that those who know the Lord, even in business, education, industry, ministry or social work, will actually do greater things than Jesus did because it is God's will that they do so to validate and extend the message and impact of God's kingdom.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to reflect on the greater things that Jesus would want you to do in your current position in your leadership role. Once you stop fighting or talking yourself out of those things, it will be time to face your fears and misgivings, and allow that truth to set you free to lead, grow and develop your department, team, company or ministry. Then set goals for next year and beyond to help lead your people to do greater things.

W45D4 - Productivity

“If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my
commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the
ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. Your
threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape
harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the
food you want and live in safety in your land" - Leviticus 26:3-5.

In this passage, the Lord promised to take care of the things His people had no power to control - like weather, growing conditions, crop yield - if His people would take of the things that were in their control - obedience to His commands and decrees. This was commonly known as a covenant in Old Testament times in which both parties outlined mutual responsibilities with the benefits and punishments for keeping or breaking the covenant clearly defined. Leaders must humble themselves and realize that, while they work hard and usually have tremendous skills and expertise, they are still dependent on God's help in what they do, for there is much out of their control. Consequently, they should recognize their dependence on Him and thank Him for their ability to lead and be productive.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to examine your productivity to recognize God's role in your accomplishments. Can you see God's hand in your work? When you do, thank Him for His protection and empowerment. Also acknowledge also that He had a hand in the things that you do well, for He equipped you with the gifts and skills to get the job done. If your productivity has slipped, however, is it due to faulty obedience to God's commands?

W40D4 - Productivity

“I will look on you with favor and make you
fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will
keep my covenant with you" - Leviticus 26:9.

God is not intimidated by increase and His motto is not 'small is better.' In fact God expects His followers to take what they have and make it 'more,' whether it be a church, a business, an idea, a family, a righteous behavior or attitude, generosity, hospitality, an opportunity, good deeds or excellence of service. This means that leaders must equip themselves to think more, to handle more, to organize more, to produce more, to reach more, to touch more, to envision more, to build more, to speak more, to think more, to talk more, to lead more, to write more, or to handle more in general. Leaders who work to shrink their world down to the size with which they are comfortable are not always doing what God wants but what they prefer and with what they are more comfortable.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to examine your attitude toward increase and see if it allows you to make more happen, or if your attitude is one of fear that causes you to keep things manageable. If it is the latter, why are you afraid of more? Do you see that God is desirous of more? What do you need to do to grow your ability to handle more? Your 'more' theology must align itself with God's plans and His desire throughout the Bible seems to endorse 'more.'

W35D4 - Productivity

"All hard work brings a profit,
    but mere talk leads only to poverty" - Proverbs 14:23.

While it is important that leaders help set the vision for an organization and then communicate that vision far and wide, the leaders must do more than talk. They must help direct the organization and its people to activities that will most probably produce the vision they have designed. Leaders in particular must determine what they can do that few others (if any) can do to help bring about the desired results for which the organization exists. Then leaders help rally followers to a better future by continuing to keep the vision fresh and vibrant, all the while working and contributing, being careful not to become idle because others are doing much of the work.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Today's Step is to evaluate your own productivity as a leader or follower. First of all, do some work to define your gifts and strengths - what it is that you bring to the team that others cannot bring. Second, reflect on how you can express those strengths more often. Third, think about how you can keep the vision uppermost in your mind and the minds of your colleagues. Finally, determine how you will measure your productivity for the sake of accountability.

W30D4 - Productivity

"Where there are no oxen, the manger
is empty, but from the strength of an
ox come abundant harvests- Proverbs 14:4.

An ox is a big animal capable of working hard and moving heavy objects. While a valuable asset to have, the ox creates its own problems because it has to be fed and then creates a lot of manure. This verse is not about care for oxen, but rather teaches that leadership is sometimes a messy process. Leaders cannot always play it safe, keeping their world simple and their manger clean from all mess. At times, they must work with people and processes that, while complex or creating certain own problems, bring tremendous opportunities for growth and innovation. And fear of risk or change can keep a company and its people stuck in a rut that can lead to serious problems down the road.

LEADERSHIP STEP: How prone are you to risk? Do you realize that deciding to do nothing, thus keeping your manger clean, is actually a decision that has serious implications? Your Step today is to ponder whether your aversion to risk is costing your organization future opportunities and growth. You can do this by listening to others who are less fearful of risk and carefully considering what they say, and not just focusing on what can go wrong, but also what can go right.

W25D4 - Productivity

"Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly
to them, so that everyone may see your progress.
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in
them, because if you do, you will save both yourself
and your hearers" - 1 Timothy 4:15-16.

Leaders are role models and not only what they do but also what they become are significant teaching examples that others tend to emulate. Thus leaders are the standard bearers for the organization and set the tone for ethics, attitude and example. In today's passage, Paul urged Timothy to make progress by giving himself wholly to the work at hand and to have a public posture so that everyone would see his progress. Leaders must model humility, but must do it in a public kind of way so followers can know what that humility looks like in action and see leaders as they respond to the pressures and temptations of daily work.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to open up your life for the benefit of others. While everything in you might want to hide your growth, productivity and decision-making process, you have a responsibility to work in a glass office so others can see into it. How can you do this? A few examples would be teaching at your staff meetings, holding special teaching sessions via video or in person, writing a book, starting a blog or being more transparent with those you mentor.

W20D4 - Productivity

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control. Against such things
there is no law" - Galatians 5:22.

There is no asterisk after this verse starting that leaders are exempt from producing, or allowing the Spirit to produce, the examples of character fruit mentioned in this verse. It does not say here, "Leaders are permitted to be impatient, angry, unkind, unpredictable and undisciplined because they have important work to do, and have to get it done by being tough." In other words, leaders are expected to allow God's work in their lives and discover ways to lead while being an example of God's man or woman in their role at work, in ministry or at home.

LEADERSHIP STEP: As you have done with other Steps, today you will do a self-evaluation. Write each of the examples of fruit in this verse on a sheet in your journal, and then evaluate yourself in each by assigning a number from 1 (missing in action) to 5 (almost always present in my life) for work and home. If you have the courage, have someone else do it also and compare their results to yours. Then pray and allow the Spirit access to your heart to develop that area.

W15D4 - Productivity

"Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can
bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither
can you bear fruit unless you remain in me" - John 15:4.

Organizations expect their leaders to be fruitful and productive on behalf of the organization. They are expected to lead new initiatives that lead to growth among their team, the product line or the mission of the nonprofit organization's purpose. When this doesn't happen, the organization goes into 'maintenance mode' and that is not leadership; that is management. While leaders may have to manage some things, they are paid or chosen to bear fruit as leaders and will be held accountable for that to happen.

LEADERSHIP STEP: In W10D4, you were challenged to find ways to measure productivity in your organization. Today you will develop a personal scorecard for productivity in your organization (or family). Set five areas in which you would like to be productive personally for the remainder of this year. Then define what fruit you would like to bear in each area. You will then review these areas for the rest of the year to be accountable to yourself not just maintain but also grow.

W10D4 - Productivity

"Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them,
so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life
and doctrine closely. Persevere in them . . ." - 1 Timothy 4:15-16.

Leaders are expected to grow and make progress in the work they are leading. This requires them to be diligent, and to provide a role model for others to learn from and follow. When the going gets tough, leaders are expected to persevere. And all this is so that a leader can be productive, not just maintaining, but growing and expanding the work area that he or she is assigned. The key words from this verse are diligent, wholly, progress, watch and persevere.

LEADERSHIP STEP: How do you measure growth or progress in your organization?  Personally? While this may be difficult to measure, you must at least try. Choose some metric(s) that will give you a chance to measure the job you are doing or the personal growth you are encountering. Once you choose the metric(s), then you must determine how you will measure it and how often will do so. The metrics can be financial, or attendance numbers, or books read or reduced costs. We will revisit this from time to time to measure your growth.