A Kingdom Priority

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

I wonder sometimes how often we make seeking God’s kingdom a priority in life.  Do we make it a priority some of the time but not all of the time?  Or, do we simply wait until it comes to us like on Sundays?

How important is God’s Kingdom to us after all?
I don’t mean “Heaven” in the clouds, I mean here on earth.
Jesus even said, in reference to Himself as well as God’s presence, “…the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Luke 17:21)  This means that God’s kingdom isn’t so much about a place far, far away, but rather a presence within and near us every moment of every day.
Jesus
There’s a very interesting portion in the New Testament when Jesus does something rather peculiar.  This is after His death and resurrection.  He appears again before His disciples and breathes on them.  Now, picture this for a moment with me.  God’s Son who was present at the beginning of creation.  Who was there when human life first began.  Who may have been the very one to breathe life into creation, now does it again.  It’s recorded in this sort of obscure verse we sometimes neglect – John 20:22 “And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

Think about that for a second.  A former dead guy, now gloriously resurrected (but not fully in human form anymore) breathes onto His disciples.  The One who was there at the very beginning giving and breathing life into Creation is now breathing new life into His disciples…and then He says “Receive the Holy Spirit“.

brethIt seems to me that the Kingdom of Heaven isn’t some far off place, but a place that has been closer than we could ever imagine.  If we are to actively seek God’s kingdom here on earth and bring His Kingdom to others still lost in the world, then we have to make His Kingdom a priority in our lives EVERYDAY!

Seek first His Kingdom – and all these things will be added to our lives.
Jesus is still breathing life into His Church.
He wants us to be His and His alone.
We are called to bring His Kingdom to those without hope.
We are called to be His very hands and feet, His ambassadors into foreign sometimes hostile places.

Is His Kingdom a priority in your life today?
What can we do to make it a #1 priority in all that we do?

Build Your Kingdom Here

Prayer: 

Dear Lord, breathe new life into these lungs today.
Help us when we have neglected Your kingdom.
Guide us when we have lost our way.  Restore us today, O Lord.
Fill us with Your Holy Spirit again.  May we be Your people, Holy and true.
Remind us of what is most important in our busy lives.  May we earnestly seek you in all seasons of life.   -Amen.

Something more to ponder today – To God be the glory!

Human Sacrifices…they still happen (A Lesson in leadership)

Image

We would most likely all agree that mission and purpose in ministries as well as organizations are vital to its effectiveness and success.  But is there a trade off to achieving certain goals along the pathway to fulfilling our missions?    Are there casualties along the way?  Do we become so mission focused that we lose, in some way, our compassion and care for individuals which includes team members?  

The old adage “too much of a good thing is probably bad for you” could become true when all that we do, eat, sleep and breathe is our mission.  I am not insinuating that we discard our mission and lose our focus, but sometimes we must check our motivations and ask ourselves some difficult questions in order to realign and correct possible missteps.  

Mission is vital, but so are the people who embody the driving force behind the mission.  Leaders aren’t leaders unless there are people who are willing to follow them.  Whatever system is put in place, without the “fight force” (people) mission cannot be accomplished.  

Are we sacrificing humans?  

Image

Truths: 1.  There will be people who might not catch the vision.  2.  There might be those who dissent and disagree.  
But we, as leaders, must be mindful that we cannot simply continue to plow through our goal steps, chug along on the path that we have plotted without the “team” around us.  If we choose to go this way and disregard those who disagree with us, we may not heed (at times) those who cry out with the voice of reason.  Sometimes we as leaders have to acknowledge that we do not always have all of the right answers.  Pride can enter in, and we may feel as if these decisions (which we have made) cannot be allowed to be discarded for to do so will reveal our inadequacies and/or human short-comings.  

Good leaders should admit when they are wrong.  Good leaders need to listen to the voice(s) of counsel, and in spite of the interpretations of others as the course is corrected; change that course.  

Misguided (I wouldn’t use the term ‘bad’) leaders refuse to admit wrong doing.  Misguided leaders only listen to the counsel of the ‘yes’ people and punish those who voice and/or question their authority.  

Human sacrifices are still being made in organizations when mission and purpose moves at a pace which is faster than the followers can run.  Mission is important, but without those who can carry out the mission, any attempt for success will be futile.  

3 Preventive Steps:

 

Image

1. Genuine Compassion: 
In order to have followers, leaders must go to them.  Leaders need to understand how their followers live, think and also what they are (and aren’t) capable of.  Compassion goes a long way to ensuring the success of any mission plans.  When we stop and care for the needs of those we lead we inevitably open the doors to not only obedience but healthy loyalty and love.  Compassion oils the cogs of motivation and loyalty.  

2. Listen

Image

I have found myself guilty of this one.  I have plotted certain paths of mission and neglected to actually listen to those with whom I was given the charge to lead.  Good leaders understand the great importance of active listening.  When they gather their followers they not only engage in productive planning but also engage in active listening.  These moments of active listening (it is ongoing) include concerns, desires, skills, and dreams.  Once leaders listen, certain plans along the way of mission may need to be altered in order to further strengthen the foundation of the “team”.  These aren’t necessarily always concessions but perhaps better solutions and alternatives which will help the group to arrive at the completion of goals within the mission.  

3. Motivate

Image


It is essential to understand that battles are primarily won in the hearts of men. Men respond to leadership in a most remarkable way and once you have won his heart, he will follow you anywhere.”  -Vince Lombardi
</strong/>
Good leaders understand how to lovingly challenge people, how to push them but not sacrifice them to the mission.  What is in the hearts of those you lead?  How can you motivate them to accept the mission and embrace the pathway towards achieving that mission?  Motivation can be challenging because all people are different, but when we are actively engaged in listening to those we lead we will find the means to appropriately motivate them.  These motivations shouldn't be seen as punishments or a negative thing either.  Positive reinforcement, encouragement and guidance is crucial when challenging those you lead.  Find the appropriate source(s) of motivation for your team and embark on helping them see how capable and valued they truly are.  Don't neglect this step because the members of your team need your motivation to achieve the goals you are setting out to accomplish.  

Caution & Completion:
If you find yourself leading only to turn around and find no one is following then perhaps you’ve sacrificed the humans on the altars of mission.  Beware of the dangers of leadership.  Leadership carries both a burden and a blessing if used correctly.  The burden being people are seen as people, not just another number or group to lead.  Compassion is vital; active listening is crucial and motivation is paramount to walking across the finish line with those you began it with.  Don’t sacrifice the humans for the mission…we need each other and we cannot accomplish anything without every component and every person.

 

***Disclaimer, leaders carry a tremendous burden and those who follow must also try to recognize where leadership is coming from and as the old phrase says “the door swings both ways”.  Much of what has been written here should also be applied in reverse.  Those who follow should carefully consider their motivations and consider what may be best for all concerned.  Mission cannot be accomplished unless both leader and follower can work together. ***

-Just something else to ponder today.