A Spirit of Fear

If you are like me, you know 2 Timothy 1:7 by heart: "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (NKJV). I use this verse often when I coach people to find purpose or to be creative, and I have felt free to use this truth in many other areas of life and ministry, including my own. Therefore I was surprised this week when I looked at this verse in the context where it is found, and discovered that I should not be as free to use this verse as I have been, for it seems to be  specific and focused in one and not all areas of life.

In the verse before seven, Paul wrote these words: "Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God FanIntoFlamePicwhich is in you through the laying on of my hands" (2 Timothy 1:6 NKJV). Paul was urging Timothy to recognize the gift he had and instructed him to fan the gift into flames. When our homes had a fireplace, I would often have to employ this tactic. If I could get a small flame going, I would gently blow on it, giving it more oxygen so that it would spread. That is what Paul was telling Timothy to do: Take the smallest spark of his gift and do what he had to do to make it burn hotter and brighter.

So the context for not having a spirit of fear is not applied to all areas of life, but to the expression of our purpose and gifts. Paul would not tell us not to be afraid where our gift is concerned unless it was a common tendency for it to happen. We shrink back in fear when we have a chance to express who we are instead of taking every opportunity to do so and to learn how to do it more effectively.

Where are you afraid to express your gift? In fact, do you know what your gift is? Have others laid hands on you to confirm or release the gift? What can you do to fan it into flames, giving it the oxygen it needs to flourish and prosper. I have been on a search and destroy mission the last few years of my life to find and eradicate fear, and it's been a large task. I suspect this will continue for the rest of my life.

What are you doing to confront and neutralize the fear where your gift is concerned? I encourage you to read these verses and the others in 2 Timothy 1 and do what Paul was advising Timothy to do, which was to stop hiding behind his fears but to step out into the light of self-expression, which is the only way to honor God for making you who He made you to be.

W51D4 - Spirituality

"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no
grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and
the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep
in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice
in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior" - Habakkuk 3:17-18.

Every business, church, family, and organization will go through hard times from time to time. Life happens and when it does, it often brings with it the unexpected downturn, setback, loss, or failure. The role of leadership in those times is not to allow the down time to define the future by helping keep it in perspective, keeping hope alive and helping to address any proactive steps the entity can take to lessen or soften the hard time. In times of difficulty, leaders must be purveyors of hope, keeping the vision alive and reminding people of the good times past and the good times yet to come - and to keep their own eyes on the Lord who will sustain them.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to examine your spiritual resolve when tough times come. Do you panic or do you keep your hope and faith alive by reminding yourself that this is not permanent, that God is up to and after something? Do you keep an optimistic outlook when talking with others? Do you keep everyone involved informed of the current reality without hiding the facts? Do you pray more and with a listening ear? Do you seek the Lord for wisdom?

W46D4: Spiritual Growth

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all
the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it
to the right or to the left, that you may be successful
wherever you go" - Joshua 1:7.

Joshua was about to lead the people into the Promised Land, completing a journey that Moses had begun but could not finish due to his temper when he misrepresented the Lord (see Numbers 20:9-13). God gave Joshua five directives as he prepared to lead the people in: 1) be strong; 2) have courage; 3) be careful; 4) be obedient; and 5) walk in all the Law's commandments. Those five warnings are relevant for all leaders to heed, for there are times when their spirituality must translate into practical action that calls for obedient courage. Courage is never the absence of fear, but rather learning to function and act in the midst of or in spite of fear, as Joshua was to discover time and time again as they crossed the Jordan to enter God's inheritance.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to reflect on whether or not fear is hindering your walk with the Lord and your obedience to His commands as you lead. The challenge is that fear seldom identifies itself, but appears to be rational and reasonable. "We don't have the finances" can really mean "I am afraid we don't have them" or "I don't have time" is "I'm afraid I don't have time." Where is fear holding you back your journey into God's Promised Land for you?


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W41D4 - Spiritual Growth

"And without faith it is impossible to please God,
because anyone who comes to him must believe
that he exists and that he rewards those who
earnestly seek him"' - Hebrews 11:6.

If it is true that without faith it is impossible to please God, then it is also true that with faith it is possible to please Him. Faith is the currency with which transactions with God are made. Believers spend faith, receive the object of their faith and the Lord fills their pockets with more faith, thus creating a faith cycle and lifestyle of which God approves. While leaders are required to take a rational approach to life and business, they must also look for ways to express faith - faith that people can do the work, faith that risk and hard work will be rewarded, faith that people can change, faith that God is watching their efforts and will bless the work of their hands. Faith is not to be an event, but rather a lifestyle, even for leaders who are working in non-faith-based organizations.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Your Step today is to examine the role of faith in your work and leadership style. On a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent), rate your faith in the following areas: 1) delegating work to other people; 2) stepping out of your comfort zone to learn new things; 3) taking calculated risks; 4) investing money in people and new ventures; 5) hiring new people or promoting others; 6) allowing people to make and learn from mistakes; and 7) a succession plan for your role.

W36D4 - Spiritual Growth

"You, Lord, took up my case;
    you redeemed my life.
Lord, you have seen the wrong done to me.
    Uphold my cause!
You have seen the depth of their vengeance,
    all their plots against me" - Lamentations 3:58-60.

In this passage, the prophet Jeremiah is pleading his case to the Lord because of how his contemporaries have treated him. He was leading Judah as their prophet, but the people would not listen to him, even persecuting him for telling them the truth. It is only a matter of time before leaders encounter enemies, who for various reasons - jealousy, ambition, ignorance, greed, just to name a few - oppose, criticize, undermine, and even rebel against their leadership decisions or position. When this happens, godly leaders must learn to look to God for help and wisdom and not seek revenge, give in to hatred or carry a grudge.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Today's Step is to prepare for the day when your enemies come after you, just like they did Jeremiah and Jesus. First, don't be surprised when it happens - it is part of man's fallen nature to rebel and be ambitious. Second, don't be naive, for it may be someone close to you. Third, be open  that God may use your enemies to reposition you or teach you more about trusting Him. Finally, be prepared to use prayer as your primary means of defense.

W31D4 - Spiritual Growth

"Let us not become weary in doing
good, for at the proper time we will
reap a harvest if we do not give up" - Galatians 6:9.

Leaders must seize every opportunity to do good, no matter what business they are in. This includes not only their personal lives, but also their business or community lives as well. What's more, Paul encouraged the readers to endure in doing good, for there is always a season when it seems like the doing of good deeds receives no notice or has no reward. It may seem like God doesn't notice, but He has a big book and a sharp pencil, so to speak, and He never forgets or allows good deeds to go unrewarded.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Have you grown weary in doing good? Does it seem like your good deeds go unnoticed or unrequited? Your Step today is to encourage yourself and your organization (or your family) in your benevolent strategies. First of all, make sure your strategy is clear. Then, identify the causes to which you are committed to give time and resources. Finally, communicate your work not to trumpet your good deeds but to benefit your cause(s) even further.

W26D4 - Spiritual Growth

"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.
A man reaps what he sows" - Galatians 6:7.

No matter how anointed or effective leaders are, they are not exempt from the laws of nature or of God. For example, if a great leader steps off a cliff, he or she is subject to the law of gravity and will plummet to the ground below, no matter how loved or successful that leader is (or was). Leaders are also subject to the law of reaping and sowing. If they sow kind words, they will reap encouragement. If they sow into others, they will reap followers. If they sow into the community, they will reap friends. If they sow negativity, they will reap suspicion and distrust. Leaders cannot ignore or circumvent the law of reaping and sowing without serious repercussions to their leadership fruit.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Where in your leadership or your organization are you not reaping what you would like or hope to reap? Then perhaps you must examine your sowing habits. Today's Step is to examine your sowing habits where others are concerned. Look at the time, effort and money you are investing into others and see if they are sufficient to reap exceptional followers. If not what more can you do to insure that you will have an abundant crop of exceptional teammates.

W21D4 - Spiritual Growth

"When Jonah’s warning reached the king
of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took
off his royal robes, covered himself with
sackcloth and sat down in the dust" - Jonah 3:6.

The king of Nineveh was not part of the Jewish community but a worshiper of idols. Yet when the warning came from Jonah, he humbled himself, fasted and prayed, and ordered his subjects to do the same. Leaders cannot ignore their own spiritual side, or look past the spiritual life of those who follow. Leaders should consider the ethical implications of what they do and the decisions they make, and that they will answer to the Lord not only for what they do in their personal lives, but also what they do in their business lives. In other words, leaders need to keep in mind that God is watching them - all the time.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Are you paying attention to your spiritual side as you express your business side? Do you give people leeway to do the same? Today's Step is to find one thing you can do to raise the spiritual awareness of your team or company. That may be a seminar on values, a book on ethics, or a speaker for a staff meeting who will talk about creativity and the spiritual parts of people that are just as important as business knowledge and strategy.

W16D4 - Spiritual Growth

"These commandments that I give you today
are to be on your hearts" - Deuteronomy 6:6.

Leaders should fill their hearts with good things because leadership is not only a head but also a heart matter. The Lord expects His requirements for righteous leadership to be assimilated in the heart so they can readily find their way into daily decisions and work relationships. While the Bible does not give specific directions for how to build a business, it does give specific directions for ethics, business practices and fairness.

LEADERSHIP STEP: Today you should do a quick search on the topic of leadership in the book of Proverbs. Go to the online Bible and do a search for the words 'king' and 'prince' in Proverbs. Then substitute the word 'leader' wherever you find king or prince, and see what Proverbs has to say to the one in charge or overseeing other people. What can you learn from those verses to apply to your leadership work? Print and carry that list with you for the rest of the week.

W11D4 - Spiritual Growth

"It is the glory of God to conceal a matter;
    to search out a matter is the glory of kings" - Proverbs 25:2.

Leadership can be hard work, especially where growth and innovation are concerned. God hides things, not to be a prankster, but so that leaders will have to search out a matter of importance or innovation. It's called seeking, and it actually enhances appreciation of the final answer when it is found. If things come too easily, they can be taken for granted and not appreciated. But scaling a height that no one thought possible (or even thought to scale) can be a rewarding and memorable experience.

LEADERSHIP STEP: There is one practice that can keep you seeking and searching, and that is to set a goal. If you set a goal and know how you are going to achieve it, it's not really a goal - it's simply a forecast. Your step today is to gather your team (or your family) and determine what you would like to be or achieve whether or not you have any idea how you will reach it. Then set the goal and begin searching out the matter with God's help.