#512 - WISDOM FROM GREG POPOVICH

Though I am a very faithful and committed Warriors fan and fully expect the Warriors to beat the San Antonio Spurs tonight to lock in a third NBA Finals appearance in the last 3 years, today, I read an article about the culture of the San Antonio Spurs in which Popovich shared what I believe to be some very wise thoughts. Popovich stated that the primary question in player evaluation for the San Antonio Spurs was...

Has this person gotten over himself?
— Greg Popovich

He would go onto say... 

"He should take pride in the work, but shouldn't be prideful. I have a problem with proud."

Whether you are a leader of a team or a member of a team, I think these are wise thoughts to consider. Here are several questions you can ask yourself to see if you have "gotten over yourself."

  1. Have you placed the mission of the team ahead of the furthering of your career?
  2. Do you desire for the team to win more than you desire to personally succeed?
  3. Can you be genuinely happy for a teammate's success even if it overshadows your contribution?
  4. If the team is advancing, but you aren't receiving the amount of recognition or notoriety that you would like, can you still enjoy being on the team?
  5. Is your primary concern your prominence or the team's effectiveness?
  6. What would you rather be remembered as, a great player or a great teammate?

I think that these are very important questions that we should all be willing to ask ourselves. There are too many examples of "players" who never reached their potential because of an unwillingness to "get over themselves." 

Let's not let that be our story. 

#511 - 3 THOUGHTS THAT MAKE PATIENCE POSSIBLE

I know. You're ready. You were ready 6 months ago. For the business to take off. For the idea to gain traction. For the opportunity to arrive. For the significant other to notice you. For "your time" to come.

I know how you feel.

It always seems like everyone else's time has come. It always seems like everyone but you is operating in the fullness of their gifts and abilities. It always seems like people who haven't worked as hard as you are getting the breaks you know you deserve.   

But here you are, still waiting. I wish I could tell you why you find yourself still waiting but, I can't.

What I can do is share with you three thoughts that encourage me when it seems like God is trying to lodge the lesson of patience deep within my being

1. GOD'S TIMING IS PERFECT.

Whenever God has poured out another measure of blessing, opportunity, or favor in my life, it has always been at the perfect time. It comes right when I need it. It comes right when others can benefit from it. It comes right when God can be most glorified by it. 

If I do not currently have the opportunity, influence, or impact I desire, it is because, right now, it is not in the best interests of myself, those around me, or the Kingdom of God for me to have what I want.

2. MY HEART NEEDS PURIFYING.

Why am I so anxious anyways? Am I not grateful for the opportunities I already have been given? (Ingratitude) Do I think I am more capable than I actually am? (Pride) Do I think time is running out? (Worry) Am I assuming that I know something that God doesn't? (Arrogance)

Nothing more clearly reveals the condition of your heart towards others and towards God than how you respond when you don't get what you think you deserve.

3. IS GOD NOT ENOUGH?

Is His love for me unable to fulfill? Is His grace for me insufficient to satisfy? Is His presence in my life incapable to comfort? Is my view of God's goodness only tied to God's gifts?

If so, this is a problem. If so, I have made an idol of the wrong things. If so, I've got it all backwards. 

The truth is, if Christ alone is not enough for me, nothing ever will be. 

What if God is withholding what He is withholding from you because He wants to strengthen your trust in His sovereignty, purify your heart, and become enough for you? Wouldn't those be great reasons? Shouldn't those be reasons you appreciate? Couldn't those be reasons that give you the willingness to joyfully persevere in patiently and humbly following Him?

#510 - INEFFECTIVE REPENTANCE

You want your repentance to work, right? You want your repentance to be effective in making you right before a Holy God, correct? If so, there is something very important that you need to understand: 

Regret is not repentance.

Regret is primarily sorrow for the pain you've brought upon yourself. Regret is disappointment for how your actions have negatively impacted you. Regret is wishing you would have done something different so you could have experienced a different result. Regret is all about you.

Repentance is something totally different. 

Repentance is sorrow for the pain you've brought upon God. Repentance is disappointment for your sins against God. Repentance is wishing you would have done something different so that God would have been pleased rather than grieved. Repentance is all about God.  

Regret is about your ego. Repentance is about God's glory.
Regret is about your image. Repentance is about God's majesty.
Regret is about your circumstances. Repentance is about God's kingdom.

Regret is all about you. Repentance is all about God.

Godly sorrow produces repentance and reformation, and will end in salvation; but worldly sorrow worketh death.
— Matthew Henry

Regret makes you mad. Repentance makes you humble.
Regret draws you inward. Repentance points you upward.
Regret causes frustration. Repentance births faithfulness.

Regret is an expression of the self while repentance is a work of the Spirit. 

Are you regretful or are you repentant?

Leaning into the former will only bring you grief while committing yourself to the latter will surely bring you grace.  

Choose repentance.

Choose being broken over breaking the heart of God.
Choose experiencing sorrow for bringing God sorrow.
Choose feeling pained by the pain you've made God feel. 

Choose repentance.  

GRACE AWAITS.

#509 - THE TIGHTROPE I DESPISE

Humble confidence. It's not an oxymoron, but it might as well be. It's such a difficult tension to manage and, most times, I end up neglecting one at the expense of the other. Or, I end up emphasizing one at the expense of the other.

In its' most simple terms, the challenge is:  

How does one confidently and expectantly walk in all that God has for them without developing an attitude of arrogance and presumption?

And for church leaders, the stakes are high. Whether a leader can get this right can be the difference between someone being attracted to the gospel or disgusted by it. Whether a leader can get this right can be the difference between high-capacity leaders being drawn to the church or repelled by it. Whether a leader can get this right can be the difference between the reputation of Christians being improved or diminished.

Cockiness or false humility. How can you avoid the danger of falling prey to either of the extremes?

One of my favorite passages of Scripture is currently providing a tremendous amount of insight in regards to how this can be done.

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5

"Much fruit" (productivity, results, blessing) is a result of living a life connected to Christ. This is where our confidence should find its source. Fruit is a promise. But, apart from Christ we can do nothing. This is where our humility should find its source. Fruit is something only Christ can produce. 

In short, humble confidence can be achieved by being absolutely convinced of both what is promised and who makes it possible...at the very same time.   

Christ promises fruit - walk confidently in this promise! Fruit apart from Christ is impossible - walk humbly in this reality!

#508 - MY WORST NIGHTMARE

Sin has consequences. Some of the consequences are anticipated and expected, others are unanticipated and unexpected. The problem is, certain sins, when committed, have irreversible consequences that can change the course of a person's life forever. 

Though this is true for anyone, regardless of their occupation, this is particularly true for a person in vocational ministry. The number of men and women who I know personally and whom I have seen from afar lose their families, ministries, and influence, within the Kingdom of God, because of a single bad decision is disheartening.

It's not that God doesn't extend grace. It's not that God doesn't forgive. It's not even that people don't forgive. It's just that certain sins committed by men and women in leadership positions in vocational ministry can cause a person to lose their ministerial privileges forever. The consequences of sin, especially for a ministry leader, are nothing to take lightly.  

Being that I NEVER want to experience or endure such consequences, here is a list of all of the things that I can expect to experience if I allow certain sins to get the best of me. (Note: I do not write this list so that I will live in an unhealthy fear, but I do this so that the reality of the consequences of my sin can clearly be before me.)

  1. I will grieve my Heavenly Father who sent His Son to pay for the price for my freedom from the very sin I committed.   
  2. I will break my wife's heart, cause her to question God's faithfulness, and lose her trust in me and my marriage to her.  
  3. I will bring upon my parents a huge amount of unnecessary pain, sorrow, and heartache.  
  4. I will letdown my younger siblings who look up to me and expect me to be an example of godliness and faithfulness.  
  5. I will sadden my extended family members who have believed in me and God's calling on my life. 
  6. I will disappoint the staff I lead and put their jobs and financial well-being at risk. 
  7. I will inconvenience the pastoral team and place them in the extremely difficult position of having to lead the church in the aftermath of my sin. 
  8. I will confuse, anger, and discourage many of the people in my congregation and cause a number of them to have a crisis of faith which cause many to give up on Christ and the local church.  
  9. I will fail the church partners, denominations, and networks that invested in my success. 
  10. I will give an excuse to the skeptics and unbelievers who stay away from the church, because of scandal within the church, to continue to keep themselves at an arm's distance. 
  11. I will tarnish the reputation of the local church in the city of Oakland. 
  12. I will invalidate the ministry of theMOVEMENT.  
  13. I will disqualify myself from pastoring the church I've invested the last four years of my life loving and leading.  

This is heavy. This is real. This is my worst nightmare. And...this is possible

If the "right" sin is committed, the above consequences could, one day, become my reality. 

But, the exercise of writing out a list like this provides me with a deep motivation to be vigilant about uprooting the current sin in my life and guarding myself against the sin that is "crouching at my door."

Writing out a list like this puts me on notice. Writing out a list like this keeps me "woke." Writing out a list like this causes me to take very seriously the consequences of indulging in the desires of my flesh.

My list is written. I am "scared straight." 

Would writing a list like this be beneficial to you? What do you stand to lose if you do not get serious about uprooting the sin in your life?