What is Your Rank and Title?

“He was doubly honored above the Three and became their commander, even though he was not included among them.”  (1 Chronicles 11:21)

How many of us are waiting for the title before we feel we can do anything effectively?  One day several years ago I went home from work in my navy officer’s uniform and the next day I put on a suit and went to work in a church (yeah I used to wear suits every day back then – now it’s only if I’m marrying or burying someone). After about a week I realized I didn’t know what to call myself.  Was I a pastor?  A staff member?  In the navy it was naval_rank_insignia_and_uniforms_by_regicollis-d658diapretty easy to describe myself; I had a rank and a position and they both had names.  I don’t remember how it got resolved but about a year later I decided I must be a pastor because I was doing what a pastor did.

People who find and follow Jesus will always be working in areas without well defined ranks and titles and will usually only discover what they are by reflecting back rather than projecting forward.  This makes perfect sense when you consider Jesus holds the only position and the only rank that matters.  If we wait to be included in anything or wait upon someone to bestow a title upon us in order to serve Christ we will never serve Him.  Honor, inclusion and titles are things which come to people who serve Christ with nothing but a recognition of who He is and what He has done – and they mean very little compared to knowing Him.

Do We Have Room for Enemies to Become Allies?

“The mighty men were…”  1 Chronicles 11:26

Trying to read the list of David’s elite fighting men is not easy.  The names of the men and the names of their tribes run together.  There are so many different histories here; names that will become famous in the modern world like Bethlehem.  Names that will live in infamy like Uriah.  And names no one can pronounce like Eliahba the Shaalbonite (and that’s an easy one).  I’m no expert on the history of the tribes living in the ancient lands recorded in the Bible, frankly the ‘ites’ give me a headache when they start popping up in scripture. download (1)But I do sense something unusual about this list.  Some people in the list are recorded as parts of well known tribes of Israel, but most of them aren’t.  In fact at least two of the men are definitely not of Israel; Zelek the Ammonite and Uriah the Hittite.  Both the Ammonites and the Hittites are enemies of Israel, yet here are two mighty men from those tribes.  Evidently God’s purposes can trump bloodlines and make a cohesive group capable of accomplishing His goals.  If our God following doesn’t leave room for enemies to become not just friends, but also allies integral to accomplishing our mission, we are not seeing the full scope of God possibilities or plans.

Risk and Leadership

“Caligula or Nero, those treasure-seekers, those desirers of the impossible, would have accorded to the poor wretch, in exchange for his wealth, the liberty he so earnestly prayed for. But the kings of modern times, restrained by the limits of mere probability, have neither courage nor desire. They fear the ear that hears their orders, and the eye that scrutinizes their actions.”  (from The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexander Dumas – on the Abbe Faria’s offer of his treasure for his freedom)

The is no leadership without risk.  Sad to say it is often the evil men; the Caligula’s and the Nero’s who are worse men and better leaders than “good” men because their lust for wealth or power drives them to attempt the impossible.  They do not fear the eyes that scrutinize or the ears that hear their plans.  They risk all.  It takes more than good character and good intentions and even good beliefs to be a good leader.  It takes faith.  It takes 225px-Louis_Français-Dantès_sur_son_rocherwillingness to risk all in pursuit of those good things, and to take whatever may come.  It would be insanity to risk our reputation on the crazy old Abbe Faria’s treasure.  Much safer to keep him and our reputation locked up safe and sound in the Château d’If.  But leaders don’t lead by protecting themselves or their reputations; leaders always lead at the risk of their reputations.  This is why the greatest leader ever took the greatest risk when he gave up his good name to rescue us from our prison, and in the process gained the Name that is above all names.

What the Standard Mean Means

Wherever standardization is the goal, mediocrity eventually rules.  The gospel is not an invitation to fall in line with God’s standards, it is the proposition of growing up into a fullness unhindered by the need to stay in line.  God didn’t create an average universe.  Everything he made is excellent and has in it the potential of greatness.  Redemption is not graded on a curve.standard_mean_t_shirts-r8bf5171641d44b94b0aa068fd50aecfc_804gs_512

Who is Doing the Work?

download (6)“There is a difference between “fruit” and “results.” You can get “results” by following surefire formulas, manipulating people, or turning on your charisma; but “fruit” comes from life.  Results are counted and soon become silent statistics, but living fruit remains and continues to multiply to the glory of God ( John 15:16)”  Warren Wiersbe, On Being a Servant of God
 
My friend Mike Wells used to say that when you walk through an apple orchard you don’t hear the apple trees grunting and groaning with all the effort of producing their fruit, but if you went to a factory making plastic apples it would be full of noise and smells…watch out for people claiming to work for God who are noisy and smelly.

Why Fear Success?

When Saul saw how successful (David) was, he was afraid of him.  1 Sam 18:15

A good indication of godlessness is the fear of someone else’s success.  In Saul’s case it is double blindness.  All of David’s accomplishments could have belonged to King Saul.  A hand clenched in pride is not open to received any honor.  Successful leadership makes room for others to succeed and allows the warmth and sunshine of individual accomplishment to heat and light the whole organization.images (5)