Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership A manual to help children’s workers in theirrelationships to others and to outline the responsibilities and joys of those in leadership positions BY SAM DOHERTY
Table of ContentsForeword ............................................................................................................. viiIntroduction ......................................................................................................... ixSection I: Personal Relationships Chapter 1: The Blessing Of Unity ............................................................. 3 The Statement The Psalmist Makes ........................................................ 3 The Illustrations The Psalmist Uses ........................................................ 4 The Consequences The Psalmist Sees .................................................... 5 Chapter 2: First Steps ............................................................................... 1 0 Principles To Follow .............................................................................. 1 0 The Problem Of The Tongue ................................................................ 1 0 The Problem Of The Heart ................................................................... 1 3 Chapter 3: Watch Your Attitudes ............................................................ 1 5 A Loving Attitude To All ........................................................................ 1 5 A Submissive Attitude To Your Leaders ............................................... 1 7 An Unselfish Attitude To Others .......................................................... 1 8 A Quiet Attitude Towards Opposition And Criticism ........................ 2 0 A Contented Attitude Towards Circumstances ................................... 2 1 Chapter 4: Watch Your Ears .................................................................... 2 4 Be A Good Listener To People As They Share With You .................... 2 4 Be A Bad Listener To Those Who Gossip About Others .................... 2 5 Chapter 5: Watch Your Words ................................................................ 2 8 You Need To Watch Your Words To Others ........................................ 2 8 James’ Teaching On The Tongue ..................................................... 2 9 Be Slow To Speak ............................................................................. 3 0 Be In Control ..................................................................................... 3 1 Be Tacktful ......................................................................................... 3 4 Be Honest .......................................................................................... 3 4 Do No Exaggerate ............................................................................. 3 5 You Need To Watch Your Words About Others .................................. 3 5 Chapter 6: Do Not Speak Against God’s Servants ................................ 4 0 Miriam And Aaron Criticize Moses ...................................................... 4 0 God Hears Them ................................................................................... 4 1 God Speaks To Them ............................................................................. 4 1 God Disciplines Them .......................................................................... 4 2 Lessons To Learn .................................................................................... 4 3
Chapter 7: How Can You Control Your Tongue? .................................. 4 5 You Can Control Your Tongue .............................................................. 4 5 Your Tongue Can Bless ......................................................................... 4 7 Chapter 8: The Teaching Of Proverbs Concerning The Tongue .......... 5 3 Be Thoughtful Before You Speak ......................................................... 5 3 Be Careful While You Speak ................................................................ 5 5 Chapter 9: Watch Your Letters ................................................................ 5 8 Be Careful What You Write .................................................................. 5 8 Be Helpful When You Write ................................................................. 6 0 Chapter 10: Watch Your Temper ............................................................ 6 2 Be Slow To React ................................................................................... 6 2 Exercise Self-Control ............................................................................. 6 3 Chapter 11: Watch Your Humour .......................................................... 6 6 Be Careful .............................................................................................. 6 6 Avoid Hurtful Humour ......................................................................... 6 7 Avoid Irreverent Humour ..................................................................... 6 7 Avoid Suggestive Humour .................................................................... 6 7 Enjoy Helpful Humour ......................................................................... 6 8 Chapter 12: Watch Your Reactions ........................................................ 6 9 Wrong Reactions Cause Problems ...................................................... 6 9 Bible Commands To Obey ................................................................... 7 0 Bible Examples To Imitate .................................................................... 7 2 Chapter 13: Problem Situations And How To Solve Them .................. 7 6 Problem 1: You Have Done Wrong To Someone and You Are Convicted About It .......................................................... 7 6 Problem 2: You Feel That Someone Has Done Wrong To You .............................................................................. 7 9 Problem 3: You Feel That Something Is Wrong Between Another Person And Yourself—But You Don’t Know Why ........................... 8 2 Chapter 14: The Blessings Of Good Personal Relationships ............... 8 5 Blessed Are The Peacemakers ............................................................... 8 6Section II: Leadership Chapter 15: Follow The Leader ............................................................... 9 1 What Is Leadership? .............................................................................. 9 1 Are Leaders Born Or Made? ................................................................. 9 2 How Can Leadership Abilities Be Developed? .................................. 9 4 The Biblical Steps For Leadership ........................................................ 9 5 The Importance Of Leadership ............................................................ 9 7 Paul, One Of the Greatest Leaders Of All Time ................................. 9 7 The Apostles And Their Leadership Abilities ....................................... 9 8
Chapter 16: Six Qualities For A Leader To Aim At .............................. 1 0 1 Be Humble ........................................................................................... 1 0 1 Be Gentle ............................................................................................. 1 0 3 Be Trustful ............................................................................................ 1 0 4 Be Optimistic ....................................................................................... 1 0 6 Be Patient ............................................................................................. 1 0 7 Develop A Sense Of Humour ............................................................ 1 0 8 The Secret of Good Leadership ......................................................... 1 0 9Chapter 17: Six Responsibilities For A Leader To Assume ................. 1 1 1 A Leader Leads .................................................................................... 1 1 1 A Leader Feeds ..................................................................................... 1 1 2 A Leader Does What Is Right ............................................................. 1 1 4 A Leader Invests ................................................................................... 1 1 5 A Leader Perseveres ............................................................................. 1 1 6 A Leader Looks For A Successor ........................................................ 1 1 8Chapter 18: Six Lessons For A Leader To Learn ................................... 1 2 1 You Need To Guard Your Own Devotional Life .............................. 1 2 1 You Need To Be Clear About Your Guidance Into Your Leadership Position ........................................................ 1 2 2 You Need To Learn Not To Worry ..................................................... 1 2 3 You Need To Watch Your Attitudes .................................................... 1 2 4 You Need To Learn How To Delegate ............................................... 1 2 5 You Need To Learn To Relax And Rest .............................................. 1 2 7 Fifteen Points To Help A CEF Leader Plan His Work And Time ...... 1 2 8Chapter 19: Lessons In Long-Distance Leadership ............................. 1 3 0 What Should the Long-Distance Leader Understand? .................... 1 3 1 What Should The Long-Distance Leader Do? .................................. 1 3 2Chapter 20: Your Responsibilities To Your Leader ............................. 1 3 5 Respect Your Leader ............................................................................ 1 3 6 Listen To Your Leader .......................................................................... 1 3 6 Follow Your Leader ............................................................................. 1 3 6 Be Loyal To Your Leader ..................................................................... 1 3 7 Help Your Leader ................................................................................. 1 3 7 Appreciate Your Leader ...................................................................... 1 3 7 Guard And Protect Your Relationship With Your Leader ................ 1 3 8 Pray For Your Leader ........................................................................... 1 3 8 Postscript For CEF Directors ............................................................... 1 3 8Chapter 21: To Obey Or Not To Obey? .............................................. 1 4 0 The Biblical Principle ......................................................................... 1 4 0 The Explanation ................................................................................... 1 4 1 The Exceptions ..................................................................................... 1 4 2Chapter 22: A Biblical Example Of Leadership .................................. 1 4 5 God Prepares A Leader ....................................................................... 1 4 5 God Reveals His Plan To A Leader .................................................... 1 4 8
God Shows The Problems To A Leader ............................................. 1 4 8 God Gives His Promises To A Leader ................................................ 1 4 9 God Gives Two Precepts To A Leader ............................................... 1 5 0 A Picture Of A Leader At Work .......................................................... 1 5 1 The Personal Relationship Of A Leader To His Lord ....................... 1 5 3Chapter 23: Self-Examination For Leaders .......................................... 1 5 5 Four Tests For Leaders ......................................................................... 1 5 5 Twenty Questions For Leaders ........................................................... 1 5 6Chapter 24: Ten Lessons I Have Tried To Learn in Leadership ........... 1 5 8 To Be Loving And Appreciative ......................................................... 1 5 8 To Be Gentle ........................................................................................ 1 5 9 To Be Helpful ...................................................................................... 1 5 9 To Be Careful ....................................................................................... 1 6 0 To Be Trustful ....................................................................................... 1 6 0 To Be Loyal .......................................................................................... 1 6 0 To Be Flexible And Not Too Dogmatic ............................................. 1 6 1 To Be Slow With Regard To The Making Of Decisions ................... 1 6 2 To Be Optimistic ................................................................................. 1 6 2 To Be Relaxed ...................................................................................... 1 6 2
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership vii FOREWORD I consider it a great privilege to introduce the author and his latest (andin my opinion greatest) of his efforts to put in pen and ink the biblical basisfor godly relationships. Sam Doherty has spent much of his life praying for, and ministering to,children for Jesus’ sake. He is in the process of authoring 43 books forchildren and teachers, many of which have been already translated andprinted and distributed in many languages worldwide. This, his latest book, is biblically based and will, most surely, prove tobe a great help to both students and teachers who have love for Jesus, andhearts for children. Thank you, Sam, for your availability to our Father God and your heartinvolvement for children. God will use your books to help children andchildren’s workers long after you have gone to Glory. In the Name of Jesus and for His sake, Gene Warr Oklahoma City, USA (Christian businessman, evangelist and leader)
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership ix INTRODUCTION This book consists of two separate yet closely related sections andsubjects: “Personal Relationships” “Leadership” These subjects have been included in one book for two reasons: These two subjects are very closely connected. One of the most important aspects of personal relationships is to understand how to relate to those who lead us. In addition, no one can be an effective leader if he/she has not mastered the art of relating well to other people. This is clearly illustrated by comparison to a great sailing ship. The crew needs to learn to work together; they need to learn how to work under the leadership of the captain; and the captain needs to learn how to lead them. All of this is also true of children’s workers. When all is in order everyone will enjoy the blessing of “smooth sailing.” So each of the two “ships” have been incorporated into this one book. It is much cheaper to print them and mail them together as one book—rather than as two books. Several years ago God, I believe, laid upon our hearts, and gave us a desire, to produce a series of books which would help children’s workers in their lives and ministries. At the same time, we felt that He wanted us to make these books available to those who work with children all over the world—FREE OF CHARGE. The costs of printing and mailing are high, but God has supplied all the finance needed thus far, and we believe that He will continue to do so. However, we feel that it is our responsibility to keep the costs as low as we can, and to do this we have brought these two books together into one book. I trust that you will find both sections to be really helpful for your lifeand ministry, and that you will know “smooth sailing” in the days which lieahead.
x Introduction I am thankful to Mr. Gene Warr for writing the foreword to this book.Mr. Warr is a businessman in Oklahoma City, USA, the friend and counsellorof many Christian workers and, for many years, an outstanding Christianleader and evangelist. He, and his wife, Irma, have been a continual sourceof help and encouragement to my wife and myself, and have also played akey role in the setting up and growth of the writing ministry to which thisbook is the latest addition. Personal Relationships The subject of personal relationships should be one of the most important,and most necessary, concerns wherever Christians live and/or work together.A correct understanding of this subject is vital in the Christian home, to thelocal church, to a missionary organisation, to a Bible school or to an Institute. None of us lives or works alone. You and I are continually in contact -often close contact—with others. If there is a problem in our relationshipwith someone else, the result can be disastrous both for us and for theother person; and it will be a great hindrance to our Christian service. One Christian leader said, “That which brings most friction anddismemberment to the Body of Christ is the simple ethical problem ofpersonal relationships.” The leader of one large and well known missionaryorganisation has blamed broken relationships for 60% of its missionaryfailures—either in unsuccessful adjustment to fellow workers, or inunsuccessful adjustment to mission authority. This problem of bad relationships can be found in Christian homes, inchurches, in Bible schools and Institutes, and in missionary organisations.In many ways the problem of incompatibility is even greater on the missionfield, or in a mission work at home, than in the fellowship of one’s homechurch. There are fewer possibilities “to escape” from the other person!Problems such as these can play havoc with ministry and with health, andcan also affect those who try to resolve the problems. A problem in personal relationships also existed even in the earlyChristian church. In Philippi, for example, a relationship problem existedbetween Euodias and Syntyche who were otherwise two zealous and ableworkers (Philippians 4 v2 and 3). They could not get on with each other.We don’t know the details; but there was obviously a problem of disunityand this affected the whole church. This problem of disunity is referred toagain in Philippians chapter 1 v27, chapter 2 v2 and chapter 3 v15.
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership xi The problem of disunity can also be seen, more seriously, in the churchat Corinth. This spirit of division and disunity is introduced in chapter 1 v9-13. It is more specifically dealt with in chapter 3 v3-9, and then in thewhole of chapter 12. The awful consequences of disunity at Corinth canbe seen in chapter 6 verses 1-8. Paul is at great pains in this epistle toemphasize on the one hand the carnality of disunity (1 Corinthians 3 v3)and on the other hand the blessing of unity (1 Corinthians 10 v14-17). You yourself have three levels of relationships which you need to watch,guard and control: Your relationship to your leader. He is the person who has been placed above you in your church, missionary organisation, or school. Your relationship to those who see you as their leader. Most, if not all of us, are leaders in some way—whether as a CEF director or as a Good News Club teacher or even as a parent. The subject of leadership and, to a lesser extent, the subject of how to “follow a leader” will be dealt with in much more detail in the second section of this book. Your relationship to those on the same level as yourself. These would include your co-worker and, for those who are married, your husband or wife. The vast majority of us are involved in all three of these relationshipsat the same time. We must be careful not to allow anything to enter intoany of them which would cause a problem, or create disunity. The greatestproblems in our work and in our ministry do not come from outside ourranks but from inside. Disunity and breakdowns in relationships do moreharm to us, and to our work, than anything else, and the devil knows this.So he tries to sow and nurture the seeds of dissension in Christian families,missionary organisations, churches and Bible schools. This is why the subject of personal relationships is so vital in our livesand ministries. As you and I read and study this section together I trustthat each of us will examine himself and ask the question—“Lord, is it I?”It is easy to see the faults of others; and to feel that this is the very teachingwhich they need! But all of us need to be more concerned with ourselvesthan with them; and we need to find out if there is anything in ourrelationships with others which needs to be changed or corrected. So letus ask God to show us any weakness we might have in our relationships.Then let us pray that, when we see this weakness, He will, in turn, give us
xii Introductionthe strength and grace to overcome it and solve any problem which mightexist as a result of it. When you and I do that, God will bless. When ourrelationships are right, we will enjoy God’s blessing on both our lives andour ministry. Do not be like the person who said: Faults in others I can see But praise the Lord there’s none in me! I have so many faults myself, Which I can seldom see, A defect in another’s life, Is very clear to me. Although I have so many faults I always like to find A bit of fault in anyone When I’m so far behind. It is better to be like the person who said: I used to censure everyone; I was a Pharisee, Until one day I got a shock - I got a glimpse of me! The Bible showed me my mistakes. (The mirror cannot lie). I could not justify myself Or find an alibi. So whenever I’m inclined Some other’s judge to be, I always go and take a look At him whom I call me. I find this is a splendid thing. Just try it and you’ll see: To keep from criticizing folks, Each day I look at ME. (Author unknown) This section of the book is the result of many years of teaching thesubject of personal relationships in the European CEF Leadership TrainingInstitute and to groups of CEF workers all over Europe. Much of what iscontained in this section has come from other books I have read, or fromspoken messages I have heard on the subject, and I want to express
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership xiiiappreciation for all the wise words I have both read and heard. But becausethe contents of this section have been assembled gradually, and over aperiod of time, and because there has been much adaptation of thosecontents, I have not been able, in a number of cases, to acknowledge thesources of the help I have received. Leadership Some of you may react to this second section of the book with thestatement “What, another book on leadership?” Many books—both spiritualand non spiritual—have been written on this subject. But I would suggestthat the chapters I have written on this subject are a little different. Whilethe contents apply to all Christian workers, they are directed primarilytowards children’s workers, and towards those who are involved in anyministry or organisation whose aim is to evangelize the children. The aimof these chapters on leadership is therefore to help you, my dear readerand children’s worker in your ministry. Some of you may be hesitant about reading these chapters onleadership. You may think that you are not a leader, and you may neversee yourself giving leadership to others. You may, instead, feel that you area follower, and that you want to be led by others. I would like to point out several facts to all who have such reactionsand reservations: Most Christians, perhaps all Christians, are leaders in some way. You may not see yourself as a great or gifted leader, but if you look closely at your life and ministry you will probably see that you are leading someone! It may be a child in your family, a group of children in your Sunday School class or Good News Club, a teenager who looks to you for advice and help, or someone with whom you work who has questions about the Christian faith. If you are in any of these situations, or any other similar situations, you are, to some extent, a leader - even though you are not, perhaps the dynamic figure which many people expect a leader to be. Personally, I doubt very much if you are only, and exclusively, a follower. Almost all of us are both leaders and followers. It is not a question of being one or the other. It is possible, and often necessary, to be both. A Sunday School teacher leads her children and, at the same
xiv Introduction time, follows the pastor or Sunday school superintendent. A missionary leads the people who are responsible to him, but he himself is directly responsible to his mission director. A full-time CEF worker who works in a local area is looked upon as leader by the teachers who attend his training class and by the young people who work as summer missionaries; but he is responsible to his committee and to his state or national director. I have also included in this section of the book some guidelines for followers—as well as for leaders. We all need to be as practical and as skilled in the art of following as we are in the art of leadership. I want to emphasize that I don’t see myself as an expert on the subjectof leadership. I have written these chapters because I feel that there aremany children’s workers who need help in this area and, because I thinkthat I may be able to give them some guidance, I myself am still in thelearning process! Much of what I have written has been culled from others whose booksI have read or to whom I have listened. Indeed so much helpful informationhas been gathered here and there down through the years that I oftendon’t know where it came from and so I am usually not able to pinpoint thesource. But I have also included many lessons which I have learned ortried to learn (or failed to learn) during almost 50 years in a leadershipposition in Child Evangelism Fellowship. My wife and I were the nationaldirectors of Child Evangelism Fellowship of Ireland for 14 years, and wewere then regional directors of European Child Evangelism Fellowship for29 years. During those years the work of CEF in Ireland and in Europegrew in a wonderful way. When we handed over the European leadershipto our successors in 1993 there were 375 full-time CEF workers in Europewhom we had been responsible to lead! And this number continues togrow! I trust that these chapters will help you to learn the lessons I havelearned and not to make some of the mistakes which I have made, and thatit will also communicate to you how you can become a better leader. Thechurch of Jesus Christ needs leaders today; the children and young peopleneed leaders; God is looking for and appointing leaders. I trust, dear reader, that you will be one of those leaders!
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 1 Section I:Personal Relationships
2 Section I — Chapter 1
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 3 Chapter 1: The Blessing Of UnityU nity is not something which occurs automatically. It doesn’t just happen. It must be worked at and built up. We need to desire it,and set our minds on it, and do all we can to foster it. At the same time weneed to avoid saying or doing anything which would hinder it, or evendestroy it. Unity does not mean uniformity. We are all different one from theother—in temperament, background and, often, in nationality and/ordenomination. Nor does unity mean that we always have automatic andcomplete agreement on every subject. It is possible to see things differentlyand even to differ or disagree with each other, provided it is done in theright spirit, and without sharpness, tension or friction. Unity is: Oneness of goal and burden Oneness of heart and spirit Oneness of faith and conviction A willingness to accept, consider and listen to others with whom we don’t agree A willingness to accept and abide by the wishes of our leadership, or in some cases, by the wishes and decision of the majority; and to do so in the right spirit A willingness to work together with those who are in the same Mission or church, even if we don’t agree with them on every point It is a help to read carefully, study and conscientiously apply the wordsof Psalm 133. The Statement The Psalmist Makes “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren (and, ofcourse, sisters) to dwell (or work) together in unity” (Psalm 133 v1). The Psalmist describes unity among brethren and sisters in two ways: Unity is good.
4 Section I — Chapter 1 Biblically, ethically and morally it is right, correct and good to dwell together in unity. Disunity is bad and wrong. Unity is pleasant. Unity feels good, and is enjoyable to look at and to experience. Disunity is unpleasant and distasteful. Some things are good but not pleasant. Some things are pleasant butnot good. But unity is both good and pleasant. In the German Bible the Hebrew word which is translated “unity”, inthe English Bible, is translated “harmony”. This translation is very interestingand indeed very helpful. In an orchestra there are many different instrumentswith different sounds, and they don’t all play the same notes; but whenthey play the same melody together there is harmony. The Illustrations The Psalmist Uses As a good teacher the Psalmist knows that illustrations help andencourage understanding. Therefore he compares unity to two things withwhich his readers were already well acquainted. Unity “is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard; that went down to the skirts of his garment” (Psalm 133 v2). Unity is like the precious ointment used by the priest. Unity smells good. Unity is fragrant. It smells good to those who are “inside the tent.” Unity is a preciousblessing, and a wonderful experience to us within the ranks of God’s people.Everything works well, and goes well. There is nothing to cause friction“in the machinery.” Unity smells good to those “who are outside.” There is nothing whichattracts outsiders more to us than the fragrance of unity; and there isnothing which repels them more from us than division and quarrelling. Thiswas why the Lord Jesus prayed in John 17 v21:“that they all may be one . . . that the world may believe that Thouhast sent Me.”
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 5 Above all, unity rises up as a sweet fragrance to God. He is wellpleased when we dwell and work together in unity. Unity is “as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion” (Psalm 133 v3a). Unity is like dew in a dry land. Unity feels good. Unity is fresh. In a very dry country the dew comes as a welcome agent of moistureand freshness. It helps the vegetation to grow and it makes the landscapegreen and beautiful. Unity brings freshness, growth and beauty to the lifeof the family, church or mission. The Consequences The Psalmist Sees In Psalm 133 verse 3b God promises two special results when there isunity. Where there is unity God promises His blessing. “For there (where there is unity) the Lord commanded the blessing.” He blesses the family which is united, the church which is united, andthe missionary organisation which is united. At the same time the converseis also true. God does not bless the family, church or missionary organisationwhich has brought disunity and division upon itself. I have witnessed thishappen on several occasions. Serious divisions have appeared betweenco-workers or between a leader and a worker, or between a worker andhis committee. The work seems to continue but the blessing is gone. Ihave also seen on many occasions the very opposite. The work is unified,there is harmony, there are no divisions and God is blessing. Where there is unity there is life for ever more— “For there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for ever more.” Those who are unified do not, of course, “earn” eternal life. Eternallife is a gift from God to those who trust Jesus Christ. But when we areunified, and God is blessing our ministry, boys and girls are saved, and theyreceive eternal life. Unity is not only a blessing for us, but it brings blessingto others.
6 Section I — Chapter 1 The opposite is also true. If we are not unified, our work is hindered,and fewer, if any, boys and girls will come to Christ. Be On Your Guard Paul writes: “Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to belikeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: that yemay with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father ofour Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15 v5 and 6). God wants to see harmonious personal relationships in our every daylives; and He wants Christians to work together to glorify Him. We areinterdependent and not independent. We need each other for encouragement,exhortation, correction and the utilization of one another’s unique gifts withinthe body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12 v14-15 and 18; Romans 12 v3-6). The devil is fully aware of all that we have outlined in these pages. Allof this is clearly taught in the Word of God, and the devil knows the contentsof Psalm 133. He often finds it difficult to stop our ministry through oppositionand through attacks from the outside. But he knows that if he can encouragedivision inside our ranks, the work will be hindered or even stopped.Consequently, his main strategy today is to sow and water the seeds ofdiscord, and try to cause problems in our personal relationships. That which starts off as a small disagreement (one which could easilybe dissolved, or tolerated) may often lead to vocal and then written criticism.This criticism grows and in turn becomes bigger and bigger. All of thisinvolves much emotional energy, time and stress which could be betterspent in the work. Eventually, if not dealt with, it results in division - openor hidden. The work may continue but beneath the façade the problemssimmer and grow. And the result is barrenness, and loss of blessing, Thechildren are neglected and it is possible that eventually God may evenwithdraw both His Glory and His Presence and the result could be “Ichabod”(1 Samuel 4 v21). John Newton, the English pastor and author of many hymns, wrote toGeorge Whitefield, the evangelist, in 1757 as follows: “The longer I live the more I see of the vanity and the sinfulnessof unchristian disputes. They cut up the very vitals of religion. I grieveto think of how often I have lost my time and my temper in thisway.”
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 7 On the other hand unity is a source of blessing to everyone and a greattestimony to our Saviour. Several illustrations might help to show how God blesses unity: My wife and I had the privilege of starting the work of Child Evangelism Fellowship in Ireland in 1950. We were National Directors for 14 years. Our successors David and Mollie McQuilken were Directors for 30 years and their successors, in turn, Henry and Madeline Berry, have been the leaders since 1995. Throughout all those years there has never been any division or disunity in the work. There have of course been differences of viewpoint and, from time to time, disagreements. But where such differences existed, those responsible always came to a decision after much prayer and consultation, and then everybody rallied behind that decision in unity. Therefore there have never been any problems or splits in the work. As a consequence God has blessed the work of CEF in Ireland and today it is one of the strongest CEFs in the world. There are now over 100 full-time CEF workers from a little country of 1½ million. Almost half of these are CEF missionaries in other countries. CEF in Northern Ireland is reaching one child in every nine of the country’s population each year with the Gospel. From 1964 until 1993 we were CEF Regional Directors for Europe. During those 29 years there was never any disunity or division among our workers (apart from one short episode which soon came to an end when the four people concerned left the work). As a result of this unity God blessed the work in an unusual way; the number of full-time workers grew from 45 to 375 during these years; many children were reached and saved; and many new and exciting projects were commenced and developed - including a growing outreach to the multitudes of children in Communist Europe. I believe that all of this was, to a large extent, the result of a unity which God had given and which He blessed. All of us in Child Evangelism Fellowship have been thrilled to see the growth of our Mission all over the world in recent years. New countries have been entered, new missionaries have been appointed, many national workers have come into the work and, above all, many children have come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour. To what can we attribute this growth and the obvious
8 Section I — Chapter 1 blessings attached to it? I feel that one of the main reasons must be the unity that exists in the work of our Mission worldwide. I have been in CEF work for 49 years. But there seems to be more unity now than ever before. This does not mean that there is complete uniformity. We come from many different countries, cultures and denominations and there are differences of viewpoint. That is normal. But underlying it all there is a deep unity of spirit and purpose which links us all together—and God is blessing!PLEASE READ PSALM 133 AGAIN, PRAYERFULLY ANDCAREFULLY, ASKING GOD TO HELP YOU TO SEE IF YOU HAVEDONE SOMETHING, OR ARE DOING SOMETHING WHICHCAUSES DISUNITY AND DIVISION. THEN IF HE DOES, ASK HIMFOR FORGIVENESS AND FOR THE STRENGTH AND GRACENEEDED TO RESOLVE THE PROBLEM. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwelltogether in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran downupon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts ofhis garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon themountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, evenlife for evermore” (Psalm 133). QUESTIONS TO ANSWER/THINK ABOUT Does what I have outlined in this chapter agree with your own experience? Does unity bring blessing? Does division result in a loss of blessing? Can you yourself give any examples of either of these consequences? As you think back over the last year can you remember any time when you have done something which caused division and disunity—in your home, in your church, in your missionary organisation? What did you do about it? Do you agree with the distinction I have made between unity and uniformity?
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 9Can you give examples of people with whom you have completeunity, but with whom you have differences which you have agreedto accept. What are these differences? Are there, on the otherhand, some differences which would make unity impossible? Whatare they?
10 Section I — Chapter 2 Chapter 2: First Steps e need to determine, and see clearly, the basis on which goodW personal relationships should be built, and we need to know howto find the principles and guidelines which will show us what to do andwhat not to do. Principles To Follow There are two sets of principles which will help us to understand thesubject of personal relationships and will then help us to ensure that ourrelationships with others are what God wants them to be: Biblical principles are the most important. The principles we find in the Word of God form the essential basis of good personal relationships. God has spoken and we need to know and understand what He has said. As you will see throughout the book there are many, many places in the Bible where this subject is dealt with, in detail. It is therefore necessary to understand what the Bible teaches on this subject. Consequently, we will quote many Bible verses and make frequent references to the Scriptures as we proceed. Common sense principles also play their part. No gimmicks are necessary; no great knowledge of psychology is essential. Much of what we need to know and do is obvious and clear to the simple enquiring mind. When there is a breakdown in relationships there are usually two mainagents involved. It is necessary at the very beginning of our study to identifythese agents and to understand the problems they can cause. We will dealwith each of them later in more detail. The Problem Of The Tongue The greatest problem in personal relationships always seems to be thetongue. It is amazing how much the Bible has to say about this little memberof the body. It is only several centimeters or inches in length and it is
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 11generally hidden from view. Yet with it we can build or destroy ourrelationships with others. Of all God’s creation man is the only creature endowed with the gift ofspeech. Animals cannot speak. Dogs bark; cows moo; pigs squeal; horsesneigh; ducks quack; but none of them can speak. But we, by way ofcomplete contrast, can not only think, but we can put our thoughts intowords, and express ourselves so as to be understood. The gift of speech is a marvelous gift; but because the average person(according to experts in the area of speech) speaks thirty thousand wordsa day we need to be reminded continually about the proper use of thetongue. Indeed, someone has estimated that the average person talks forabout 13 years of his or her whole life time. The words you and I use can change a life for good or ill. They candestroy hope, erase happiness, or assassinate character. But they can alsobe vehicles of blessing - conveying comfort, encouragement, joy andassurance. With words we may attract people to Christ or drive themaway. The words of some people bring blessing whilst those of others chillthe heart. So the words we speak should be carefully chosen. In Ephesians 5 v18 we are commanded “to be filled with the Spirit”.In the verses which follow the four results of being filled with the Spirit areoutlined: “Speaking to each other in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Ephesians 5 v19a) “Singing and make melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5 v19b) “Giving thanks always” (Ephesians 5 v20a) “Submitting yourselves one to another” (Ephesians 5 v21) The tongue is involved in at least three of these results if not all four. In Ephesians 4 v30 we are commanded “Grieve not the Holy Spirit”. The context of this command makes it clear how we grieve the HolySpirit: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth” (Ephesians 4 v29). “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you” (Ephesians 4 v31). “Be ye kind one to another” (Ephesians 4 v32).
12 Section I — Chapter 2 These verses indicate that we grieve the Holy Spirit primarily by theincorrect use of the tongue, just as the correct use of the tongue shows weare filled with the Spirit. Angry words are the fuel which makes the flames of discord burnmore fiercely. Hasty bitter words can never be unsaid. Trivial, idle gossipcauses much unnecessary pain and heartache. Watch your step and watch your lip. Words as well as stones can trip, Stones can cut and bruise your shin, Words can hurt the heart within. Watch your lips well so that you Never let unkind words through. The Lord Jesus often spoke about the tongue and how it should or should not be used. He made it clear that our words would be judged. “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgement. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matthew 12 v36 and 37). He stated that what really counts is not what goes into our mouth but what comes out of it. “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man” (Matthew 15 v11). He also made it clear that our words help to show our resemblance (or lack of resemblance) to God. “But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5 v44,45). Solomon, in the book of Proverbs, often spoke about the importance of silence (e.g. 17 v28, 26 v4), about the value of a well used tongue (e.g. 12 v25; 15 v23) and about the harm caused by a badly used
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 13 tongue (e.g. 17 v9; 25 v18). James teaches that the use of the tongue demonstrates if a person is saved or not. “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain” (James 1 v26). James also makes it clear that when a person is saved, the use of his tongue determines and demonstrates the level of his maturity and spirituality. “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body” (James 3 v2). The Problem Of The Heart However, we must always remember that the tongue is controlled bythe heart. The tongue only says what is in the heart. What we say is theoverflow of what we think and how we feel. So the problems of the tongueare the result of the problems in the heart. The Lord Jesus makes this clear. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil; for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh” (Luke 6 v45). Many years previously Solomon had said exactly the same: “Keep thy heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4 v23). It is interesting that in the last chapter of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, after writing in the early verses of the chapter about the division and disunity which existed in the church, Paul should write these precious words: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4 v8). Those words sum everything up. That’s why Paul uses the word
14 Section I — Chapter 2 “Finally.” If my mind and my heart are full of, and focusing upon, “things” such as Paul outlines there will be no “overflow problem” and no breakdown in relationships. My tongue said a word it shouldn’t have said. It came from a thought rolling round in my head. My head put the blame on a different part. It said, “That came right out of your heart.” (Author unknown) Your relationship with others depends on the right and correct use ofyour tongue; but that, in turn, hinges on your heart attitudes towards others.Our next chapter will deal in detail with the subject of attitudes. Kind hearts are the garden. Kind thoughts are the roots. Kind words are the blossoms. Kind deeds are the fruits. (Author unknown) QUESTIONS TO ANSWER/THINK ABOUT Do you agree that most problems in personal relationships come out of the heart through the tongue? Think back to a problem situation you were in recently. What caused it? Can you remember any recent example of your heart-attitude flowing over onto your tongue and causing a problem?What should you have done to prevent this happening? Read through the Ten Commandments as outlined in Exodus 20 verses 3 to 17. How many of these involve, directly or indirectly, the correct use of the tongue, or warn against its incorrect use?
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 15 Chapter 3: Watch Your Attitudes ood relationships are based upon good attitudes. The Bible teachesG us that we need to have the right attitude to other people at alltimes if we are to live and work together in a way which pleases God. Andthis is also obvious from the viewpoint of common sense. Our attitudes are what we think about each other; and how we feeltowards each other. These attitudes are, in turn, the basis of what we sayand what we do in our relationships with each other. Someone has said, “The longer I live the more I realize the impact ofattitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is moreimportant than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances,than failures, than successes, than our position or work, than what otherpeople think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftednessor skill. It will make or break a mission, a church or a home. Attitude keepsus going or disables our progress. When our attitudes are right there are nobarriers too high, no valley too deep, no dreams too excessive, no challengetoo great for us. The remarkable thing is that we have a choice every day regardingthe attitude we will embrace that day. We cannot change our past and wecannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannotchange the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one stringwe have and that is attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happensto me and 90% how I react to it.” There are five biblical attitudes which you and I need to aim at, cultivateand develop. We need to pray that God, the Holy Spirit, will, as we do so,encourage and nurture these more and more in our lives and in ourrelationships: A Loving Attitude To All This attitude is outlined clearly, and in much detail, in 1 Corinthianschapter 13. This attitude of love is not just a sentimental feeling. It is an attitude ofthe heart which is expressed by, and evidenced by, what you say and what
16 Section I — Chapter 3you do. This attitude can be demonstrated in different ways:- By seeing the good things in other people It is so easy to see, and to be aware of, the bad things. This often means that the good things are not recognized. You should not focus on people’s weaknesses but on their strengths. By not being upset or irritated by those actions and attitudes in other people which could upset you Perfectionists can be easily upset by those who are careless and untidy. Those who move slowly can be irritated by those who go quickly. Those who rise up early in the morning can be irritated by those who rise up late. I understand that Hudson Taylor said on one occasion, “My greatest temptation is to lose my temper over the slackness and inefficiency so disappointing in those on whom I depended.” But you need to take people as they are, and to take in your stride their human limitations (if such they are). Others have the right to be what they are. You need firstly to be aware of your own faults, and then to be tolerant of others’ differences. By thinking of others’ needs and not just your own This is clearly illustrated by the Lord Jesus in John 13 verses 1-17 as He washed His disciples’ feet. It would seem that no one else was willing to do so; or perhaps it was just thoughtlessness on their part. So He did it. And He added in verse 17: “If ye know these things, happy (or blessed) are ye if ye do them.” You should always want the very best for others, and be continually looking for opportunities to help and encourage them. Can you do something to help? Can you avoid doing something which would harm or hurt? Can you give a word of encouragement and praise? Are you looking for such opportunities, or are you thoughtless like the disciples? By seeking the good of others, and by giving priority to their needs instead of your own Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11 v1:
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 17 “Be ye followers (imitators) of me, as I also am of Christ.” The context of that command is one of seeking the good and the salvation of others (1 Corinthians 10 v33). This was Jesus Christ’s desire and goal, and it was Paul’s also; and the Lord Jesus wants you and me to follow in the same footsteps. Earlier in the same epistle Paul had used almost the same words: “Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers (imitators) of me” (1 Corinthians 4 v16). This verse was in the context of teaching and serving others (1 Corinthians 4 v14, 15 and 17). Even little acts which flow from a loving and a caring heart are a great help as you and I seek to serve others, and as we help and encourage those who have needs. It is often these little acts which demonstrate our love, and our heart attitude. I believe, with all my heart, that if you and I could develop this lovingattitude to all those with whom we work, and with whom we live, therewould be very few relationship problems. To love the whole world For me is no chore. My only real problem Is my neighbour next door. (Author unknown) A Submissive Attitude To Your Leaders Each of us is responsible to someone; most of us, perhaps all of us, liveor work under the leadership of another person. The Bible makes it very clear what your attitude to your leader shouldalways be. “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the older” (1 Peter5 v5). “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves:for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, thatthey may do it with joy, and not with grief” (Hebrews 13 v17). This latter verse teaches four truths: You should submit to your leaders. They are responsible for your welfare.
18 Section I — Chapter 3 Your submission will make their work a joy. They will help you. The teaching of Romans 13 v1-6 is similar. Submission is a difficult concept for many to understand and practisein today’s world. We live in a world where authority is criticized and notrespected. This is even sometimes true in Christian circles. But you areresponsible always to accept, and to follow joyfully, the decisions made byyour leader, provided they are not morally or ethically wrong. You need, atall times, to cultivate a respect for, and loyalty to, your leaders even thoughthey are not perfect. (More information on the subject of submission to leadership can befound on pages 135 to 139). An Unselfish Attitude To Others There was, as we have seen, a problem in the church at Philippi, andPaul was very concerned about it. He refers to it in each chapter of hisletter to the church. He wants them to be united (chapter 1 v27), he warnsthem against disunity (chapter 2 v2-11), he encourages unity of purpose(chapter 3 v15), and he pinpoints the problem, and one of the reasons forthis disunity (chapter 4 v2). He wanted the aim of the church at Philippi to be ONENESS despite any differences of personality, age or background. These differences were much much fewer in number than the many things they had in common. He wanted their attitudes to display sacrifice, humility and unselfishness. When such attitudes exist there will always be a genuine sense of unity and oneness. And he wanted action. Unity does not happen automatically. It must be worked out. It is so easy for you and me to be selfish and self-centred in our thoughts,words and actions. I think about and speak about my work, my family, myfuture, my health. What will I gain or lose? How does this affect me? Thebiblical attitude is the opposite. God wants you and me to be unselfish. Paul explains this biblical attitude of unselfishness to the Philippians inthe first eleven verses of chapter 2. He shows that it is clearly demonstratedin the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, and that we should seek to display
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 19the same attitude. In verse 6 we see what He left. “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” He had no selfish ambition. He was God. But He was willing to forfeit His privileges and position, and not to hold onto them, even though He had every right to do so. In verse 7 and 8a we see what He became. “But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” He had no pride. The Bible, over and over again, shows us how wrong pride is - and its awful consequences (Proverbs 13 v10; Proverbs 28 v25). The Lord Jesus humbled Himself and became a man. What condescension! Try to imagine a man becoming a worm. But He stooped down much much lower than that (Psalm 22 v6; 2 Corinthians 8 v9). In verse 8b we see what He did. “And became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” He showed no selfishness. He became obedient unto death. He thought only of us and of our interests, and not of Himself. He is your example. Paul writes to the Philippian church and to us: “Let this mind (or attitude) be in you which was also in ChristJesus”(Philippians 2 v5). “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowlinessof mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2v3). The result of this will be the unity Paul speaks about in verse 2—“having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” If you have no selfish ambition, no pride and no selfishness, you willnever cause friction or division; you will have the right heart attitude towardsothers, and your tongue will be a means of blessing to them. I must not climb over people. I must not look down on people. I must not turn away from people.
20 Section I — Chapter 3 A Quiet Attitude Towards Opposition And Criticism How should you react when people hurt you, or say harsh things toyou or about you? What should you do if people criticise you, ridicule youor oppose you? The world’s reaction is to fight back, and to “give” the other person asmuch as, or more than, he “gave” you. But the Lord Jesus shows you how you should react. Once again Hesets an example for all of us to follow; and displays the attitude you and Ishould have in such circumstances. “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye shouldfollow His steps: . . . when He was reviled He reviled not again . . . when He suffered He threatened not . . . but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously” (1Peter 2 v21-23). These verses show His suffering, His silence and then His commitmentto His heavenly Father. He had the ability and the authority to “hit back”.He could have destroyed them with a word or a look. But He didn’t. Hetook everything they said, and did so quietly and without fighting back.Instead He left the issues and the results in the Hands of His HeavenlyFather. You must learn to be quiet, not to fight back and then to leave theissues and the results in God’s Hands. At the same time you need to examineyourself, and whatever criticism you have heard, so that you can see if it istrue or not true, and also find out for yourself if some change is needed. Don’t try to give as good as you get. When the spirit behind the criticismis wrong it can only be overcome by responding in a contrary spirit— If it is driven by contention – respond in peaceableness If it is driven by malice – respond in love If it is driven by meanness – respond in generosity If it is driven by pride – respond in humility If it is driven by arrogance – respond in teachableness If it is driven by deception – respond in truth If it is driven by mistrust – respond in faith The Bible teaches us that this quiet attitude should also be demonstratedwhen facing controversy and difference of opinion. The worldly attitude is
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 21division and bitterness. The biblical attitude is quietness, unity and harmony.But this needs work and effort. Differences of opinion are possible andeven normal. But you and I can give and take without sacrificing what webelieve, and we can do so without bitterness and with respect for the otherperson. You should continually ask yourself these questions: Do I see his point of view? Why does he see things differently? Can I help him in any way? Am I praying for him? Will it all matter in two/three years’ time? In eternity? God gives us a precious promise in the book of Isaiah: “In quietness (towards people and problems) and confidence (in God) shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30 v15). A Contented Attitude Towards Circumstances When things go wrong the world murmurs, complains, criticizes, pitiesitself and/or blames someone else. You are not to do that: “Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and weredestroyed of the destroyer” (1 Corinthians 10 v10). You can be like the person who said, “I had no shoes and complaineduntil I met a man who had no feet.” There will be many difficulties and problems. There might be sickness,tiredness, discouragement, disappointment, misunderstandings and shortageof finance—or, even, bad weather or a car breakdown. But the Bibleteaches clearly that you should have a contented attitude in all thesecircumstances. So often we as Christians react to difficult circumstances in one oftwo ways (or in both): We blame someone else, and become bitter We feel sorry for ourselves and become miserable However, we read in the Bible: “Do all things without murmurings and disputings” (Philippians 2
22 Section I — Chapter 3v14). The verse which follows explains that this will be a good testimony inthe world: “that ye may be blameless and harmless ... without rebuke ...among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2 v15). Paul could write: “I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content”(Philippians 4 v11). He was able to do this: “through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4 v13). What a testimony a contented attitude is to the world, and to our fellowworkers! May each of us show such an attitude in all circumstances. Set Of The Sail One ship goes east, another west, By the self same winds that blow. Tis the set of the sail And not the gale That determines the way they go. Like the winds of the sea Are the ways of time, As we voyage along through life. Tis the set of the soul That determines the goal And not the calm or the strife. (Author unknown) Conclusion It is interesting—and challenging—to see the difference between thebiblical attitudes which we have outlined and the worldly attitudes whichwe can see around us: The biblical attitude to others is love; the worldly attitude is indifference. The biblical attitude to leadership is submission; the worldly attitude is rebellion, criticism and independence. The biblical attitude to others is unselfishness; the worldly attitude is selfishness. The biblical attitude to opposition is quietness; the worldly attitude is to fight back.
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 23 The biblical attitude to circumstances is contentment; the worldly attitude is complaining. It is tragic that so often we as Christians have worldly attitudes ratherthan those which are biblical. Let us examine ourselves! Good Advice From John Wesley, the Founder of the Methodist church “Believe evil of no one, and put the best construction on everything. Speak evil of no one; keep your thoughts to yourself till you go to the person concerned. Be diligent; never while away time nor spend more time than is necessary in unprofitable talk or occupation. Converse sparingly and cautiously with the opposite sex. You have nothing to do but to .. spend and be spent in the work of the Lord. Be ashamed of nothing but sin .. not of cleaning your own boots or your neighbour’s, or such things. In all things act according not to your own will, but rather according to God’s will.” More Good Advice From John Wesley “Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, As long as ever you can.” QUESTIONS TO ANSWER/THINK ABOUT As you examine the five types of attitudes outlined in this chapter is it possible that you have adopted a worldly attitude as opposed to a biblical attitude in any one area? Can you see any way to correct this in the future? Do you, right now, have any harsh thoughts about someone who you feel has harmed you or criticized you? What do you see the solution to be? What do you need to do? Give examples from the life of the Lord Jesus of how He displayed the biblical attitudes outlined in this chapter (one example for each attitude). Examine the list of the fruits of the Spirit as outlined in Galatians 5 v22 and 23, and show how they are related to these five biblical attitudes.
24 Section I — Chapter 4 Chapter 4: Watch Your Ears f you are going to have good relationships with others it is important toI know what you should hear, and to whom you listen. Someone hassaid, “We have two ears and only one mouth. Therefore what we hear istwice as important as what we say.” There are two simple rules to follow with regard to listening: Be A Good Listener To People As They Share With You “Wherefore my beloved brethren let every man be swift to hear”(James 1 v19). The command of James is not only that we should listen to, or hear,those who are speaking to us; but that we should be eager and quick to doso. Every Christian worker needs to be a good listener. Listening is animportant part of your ministry, whether listening to your leader, or to thoseyou are leading, or to your friends and co-workers. Someone has said, “How few Christians possess the gift of being wiselysilent.” A compliment paid to someone was, “He could be silent in sevendifferent languages.” Watchman Nee writes: “A servant of the Lord must acquire the habitof listening to what people say. Not just listening in a casual fashion, butwith attention. This is not easy. Our ears must be trained to hear.” He writes again, “Bad listeners will never be good workers. Somethink that the main essential is to be able to speak. No—it is to be able tolisten.” How can you help people if you have only learned to use your mouthand not your ears? I always find it irritating when the person I am speaking to is obviouslynot really listening to me. His eyes are wandering; or his eyes, while fixedon mine, are glazed; or he is obviously only thinking of what he is going tosay (as soon as he gets a chance to do so!). You must be sure that you do not listen like that to others.
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 25It often happens that when you have listened intently to a person for 20or 30 minutes, and without saying anything, that that person will say,“Thank you for being such a help.” Even though you said nothing, youhelped by just listening! Listening in the right way communicates to theperson concerned that you do care and that you understand. There willbe times when you won’t know what to say, and in such a case it is betternot to say anything. A sympathetic nod may often be enough. Or to respond“I will pray for you” or just “Thanks for sharing that with me.” There is a time to speak but there is also a time to be silent (Ecclesiastes3 v7). A wise old owl lived in an oak. The more he saw the less he spoke. The less he spoke the more he heard. Why can’t we all be like that bird? This does not mean, of course, that you should only listen, and nevertalk. There are times when you should, and you need to, talk. But you needto remember how important it is to be—A GOOD LISTENER. A young man typed five rules on a card and stuck it upon his mirror sohe would be reminded daily of what he had resolved to do: Do more than think - ponder Do more than hear - listen Do more than listen - understand Do more than talk - say something Do more than read - absorb Be A Bad Listener To Those Who Gossip About Others D.E. Hoste, the successor to Hudson Taylor as director of the ChinaInland Mission, said, “In these last 50 years the thing which has causedmost harm and sorrow and division in the Lord’s work is telling stories andtale-bearing.” We will come back to this subject later, but note what the Bible says: “He that repeateth a matter separateth very friends” (Proverbs 17v9). “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out; so where there is notalebearer, the strife ceaseth” (Proverbs 26 v20).
26 Section I — Chapter 4 Many of us have seen the well known picture of three monkeys. Oneof them covers his eyes, the second covers his mouth, and the third has hishands over his ears. “See no evil.” “Speak no evil.” “Hear no evil.” There are times when we need to imitate this third monkey.You and Icould well pray David’s prayer in Psalm 141 v3 in a slightly different way: “Set a watch, O Lord, before my ears.” It is said that Augustine, the famous theologian of the 5th century, hada plaque on the wall of his dining-room which read: “Whoever speaks an unkind word about an absent brother is notwelcome at this table.” What should you do when people come to you with gossip, and storieswhich are critical of, and derogatory to, other people? You should stop the gossiper, and not listen to him. You should rebuke the gossiper—gently and with love. Remind him that such stories can cause much harm. He will now be less likely to gossip to you again. Remember also that silence on your part, or, worse, a knowing look, or, still worse, a nod of agreement, will indicate your approval and encourage him to continue. You should not pass on anything you hear. Let it stop with you. You should remember that the person who gossips to you about someone else will probably gossip to someone else about you! You should ask yourself these questions. Why does he come to me with these stories? Is it because he knows that I like to hear them? Do you? If you follow these guidelines he will not come again! QUESTIONS TO ANSWER/THINK ABOUT Have you developed the ability to listen carefully and with attention to other people? If not, what can you do to develop this ability? What have you done when other Christians have shared gossip with you? What do you plan to do the next time they do? Do other people often bring gossip and stories to you?
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 27Have you ever asked yourself the question – why do they do so? Whatis the answer?
28 Section I — Chapter 5 Chapter 5: Watch Your Words hapter 2 emphasized that the most significant factor in the area ofC personal relationships, and the one which causes more problemsthan anything else is the tongue. In almost every breakdown in relationshipsthe tongue invariably plays a crucial and vital role. Extreme vigilance istherefore necessary with regard to how you use your tongue. Watchman Nee writes, “We can repent our faults and be forgiven, butwe cannot retrieve what we have released. An unbridled tongue is themost serious defect of character possible in the life and ministry of aChristian because the careless words the tongue utters release a deadlystream that flows on and on spreading death wherever it goes.” He writes again, “When we stand before the judgment seat we maydiscover that the damage done by light loose talk exceeds that done inmany other ways. It works great havoc in other lives as well as our own.Words that have once escaped our lips cannot be recovered. They may goon and on from mouth to ear spreading damage as they go.” The words that we speak can cause harm, or bring blessing, in twoways: Through the words we speak to each other. Through the words we speak about each other. You and I need to be very careful that we do not cause any harm ineither of these ways. You Need To Watch Your Words To Others This is the main problem. Words can wound; and we often hurt eachother too much. We say things to co-workers, to those we lead, to ourleaders, or to our family, that we should never have said. Criticism, sarcasm,ill-advised humour, or a wrong tone of voice can cause great harm. Paul writes: “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, thatye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4 v6). And he commands us:
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 29 “to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showingall meekness unto all men” (Titus 3 v2). You might think to yourself after you have hurt someone, “I wish Ihadn’t said that.” But it is too late. You have said it, and it cannot be takenback. The time to solve “tongue problems” is before they happen ratherthan afterwards. Prevention is much better than cure. You need to understand the power of the tongue—both for evil or forgood.James’ Teaching On The Tongue James deals with this subject in great detail in the third chapter of hisepistle. He gives six pictures of the tongue in verses 3 to 12:The Tongue Directs The tongue is like a bit in a horse’s mouth. It is small but it controlswhere the horse goes (verse 3). The tongue is like the rudder of a ship which is so small in comparisonto the size of the ship. Yet when it turns the ship turns (verse 4).The Tongue Destroys The tongue is like a fire. The tongue can destroy people and theirtestimonies in the same way as fire can burn down a house (verse 6). Dr. Warren Wiersbe, the well known author and conference speaker,writes: “If the heart is filled with hatred Satan will light the fire. But ifthe heart is filled with love, God will light the fire.” The tongue is like a wild animal which can do so much damage whenuncontrolled (verses 7 and 8). Someone has said, “The tongue is but three inches long, yet it cankill a man six feet high!”The Tongue Delights But the tongue is also like a fountain. How pleasant is the sweet waterof a fountain in a dry country. It brings freshness and growth (verse 11). And the tongue is like a tree in a dry country. It provides fruit for foodand refreshment, and shade and shelter for rest and comfort (verse 12). In the light of the fact that the tongue can direct and destroy, James
30 Section I — Chapter 5writes: “Wherefore my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hearslow to speak . . . (James 1 v19). It is interesting that this command immediately follows doctrinalteaching about God in verse 17, and about the regenerating work of theHoly Spirit in verse 18. And it is preceded by the word “wherefore” whichlinks it to the preceding doctrinal teaching. Doctrine and duty are closelylinked. Belief and behaviour go together, and should never be separated.Be Slow To Speak The main problem we have with our tongues is that we speak tooquickly, and that we react too hastily and without thought, reflection orprayer. We need, of course, to be slow to speak about ourselves. So oftenwe speak about what we have, what we do. “I,” “me” and “my” are ourthree favourite words, and we speak too much about “us.” This might giveus a greater earthly reward and more thanks from men, but we lose theheavenly word of commendation which is promised in Matthew 6 v1-6;16-18 to those who give their alms, pray and fast in secret. If such activitiesare engaged in publicly to gain the praise of people they may well succeedin doing so. But they will not be rewarded by our Heavenly Father. We should always beware of talking too much about ourselves andour work; and we should especially shun at all times boasting of any kind. But I believe that James wants especially to emphasize that we shouldbe slow to speak to others or about others and that we should have ourtongues under strict control at all times. “The heart of the righteous studieth to answer (or a good manthinks before he speaks): but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evilthings” (or the evil man pours out his evil words without a thought)(Proverbs 15 v28). “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he thatrefraineth his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10 v19). “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and hethat shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding” (Proverbs17 v28). “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul fromtroubles” (Proverbs 21 v23).
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 31 An elderly woman was well liked by many in her community. Someoneasked her what her secret was and she replied, “Well, sir, I am alwayscareful to taste my words before I let them pass my teeth.” That’s goodadvice!Be In Control The control of the tongue is, according to James, a barometer whichmeasures the maturity and spiritual development of a Christian. “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect (or mature)man, and able also to bridle the whole body” (James 3 v2). A hospital attendant with the British forces in North Africa duringWorld War 2 tells this story: “Every morning the doctor and I visited and spoke with the patients. The doctor always used the same two sentences: ‘How are you?’ ‘Show me your tongue.’ I noticed that the doctor was more interested in the state of the patient’s tongue than in the answer he received to the first question, ‘How are you?’ I have come to the conclusion that the same is true of our relationship with God. We may offer to God an answer to the first question which is our own estimate of our spiritual condition. But God like the doctor judges mainly from our tongue.” Sometimes you may try to excuse what you say by calling it constructivecriticism (when it is, often, destructive); or by claiming that you are dealingwith principles and not people (when it is usually both) or by saying there isnothing personal in what you say; or by covering it over with humour orsarcasm. But people are sensitive, and it is so easy to hurt them when youdo not control your tongue. Charles Spurgeon, the well known 19th centuryEnglish pastor, wrote: “Some men’s tongues bite more than their teeth.” “There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongueof the wise is health” (Proverbs 12 v18). Just as a broadsword wounds with a wide swing, or an épée woundswith sharp thrusts, so in different ways the tongue can wound and causeconsiderable damage. Washington Irvine, the novelist, wrote: “A sharptongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use.” “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openethwide his lips shall have destruction” (Proverbs 13 v3).
32 Section I — Chapter 5 The Bible uses the word “froward” with regard to the use of ourtongue. For example: “The mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness” (Proverbs 10v32b). Froward speech consists of words which are filled with strife andcontention. A person who is froward likes to get into an argument overtrivial issues; he insists that he is right and opposes every idea which doesn’tagree with his own thinking. “A fool’s lips enter into contention and his mouth calleth forstrokes” (Proverbs 18 v6). There is nothing wrong with a friendly discussion nor even a debate inwhich both sides of an issue are considered. But when voices are raisedand tempers run high and a spirit of contention prevails it is best to stop thediscussion quickly. If people get heated over a subject the discussion shouldbe postponed by suggesting that everyone concerned goes away to thinkand pray about this matter. A person who is contentious and easily flies “off the handle” simplymoves from one storm centre to another leaving broken hearts behind. Hissharp, cutting remarks add fuel to the flames and stir up strife.Be Gentle Paul gives you and me a very clear and vital command - which couldwell be your key verse with regard to personal relationships: “The servant of the Lord must not strive (it is never right for us tofight or quarrel); but be gentle unto all men” (2 Timothy 2 v24). His exhortation to you and me is to be gentle. This means to begentle to everybody and not just to those who are nice to us. What does it mean to be gentle? The only other place where thisGreek word is used in the New Testament is in Paul’s letter to the churchat Thessalonica. Paul describes himself and his ministry: “We were gentle among you, even as a nurse (or nursing mother)cherisheth her children” (1 Thessalonians 2 v7). What better and clearer picture of gentleness is there than that of amother with her little new-born infant. That should be the picture of us inour relationships with others. We need to be GENTLE with everyone andat all times. Someone has said, “Nothing is ever lost by courtesy (or bygentleness). It is the cheapest of the pleasures. It costs nothing but gives
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 33much. It pleases him who gives it, and also him who receives it. Likemercy it is twice blessed.” Another person has truly said, “The bigger soulyou are, the gentler you will be with little people.” This gentleness is what Paul refers to when he writes to the Colossians: “Let your speech be always with grace” (Colossians 4 v6). We need always to be gracious in our speech to others, and be sureour words are the result of our concern and love for them: “Pleasant words are as a honeycomb; sweet to the soul, andhealth to the bones” (Proverbs 16 v24). William Shakespeare, the world famous English dramatist, wrote inthe Merchant of Venice ”The quality of mercy is not strained; it droppethas the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath; it is twicebless’d; it blesseth him that gives and him that takes.” Of course there are times when rebuke is necessary but, even then,that rebuke should be given with love and gentleness. It is not just whatyou say that alienates people; it is how you say it. It is possible to be rightin what you say, but wrong in the way you say it. That then makes itwrong! “Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; and the youngermen as brethren” (1 Timothy 5 v1). “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual,restore such a one in the spirit of meekness” (Galatians 6 v1). Remember too that gentleness is not just what you say. It also includesthe tone of your voice and even the expression on your face. It is not so much what you say, As the manner in which you say it; It is not so much the language you use, As the tone in which you convey it. “Come here!” I sharply said, And the baby cowered and wept, “Come here!” I cooed; he looked and smiled, And straight to my lap he crept. The words may be mild and fair, And the tones may pierce like a dart; The words may be soft as the summer air, And the tones may break the heart.
34 Section I — Chapter 5 Whether you know it or not, Whether you mean or care; Gentleness, kindness, love and hate, Envy and anger are there. Then would you quarrels avoid, And in peace and love rejoice; Keep anger not only out of your words, But keep it out of your voice. (Author unknown)Be Tactful Tact is a quick perception and appreciation of what is fit, proper andright to say, and what not to say, in any situation. It especially involves a fine sense of how to avoid giving offense. Thesame thing can be said either in a tactful and/or in an untactful manner. One shoe salesman said to his client, “I am sorry, Madam, but yourfoot is too large for this shoe.” The other salesman who was in a similarsituation said, “I’m sorry, Madam, but this shoe is too small for your foot.”Both were correct in what they said but which one was tactful? Tactlessness is usually the result of speaking without thought. Try toput yourself in the other person’s place and think carefully before youmake a judgment or express an opinion. An imaginary (and quite humorous) prayer reads like this: Dear Heavenly Father, So far today I have done alright. I haven’t gossiped. I haven’t lost my temper. I haven’t been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish or indulgent. I haven’t been rude or tactless. I haven’t spoken too quickly or said anything I shouldn’t have said. And I’m very thankful for all of that. But in a few minutes, Heavenly Father, I am going to get out of bed! And from then on I am going to need a lot more help. Amen.Be Honest A Christian should never be guilty of telling lies. A lie is deceit or anyattempt to deceive in word, act, or attitude. You and I can deceive throughsilence, cheating, or exaggeration; by distortion of the truth, by the creationof a false impression, or by the breaking of a promise. Honesty is the clear teaching of the Word of God (Exodus 20 v16;
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 35Leviticus 19 v11; Psalm 52 v2-4; Acts 5 v1-11; Colossians 3 v9 and 1Peter 3 v10). Dishonesty, in any form, is sin against God, harmful to yourselfand often results in a breakdown in relationships. It is not easy to be frank and honest on all occasions but that is noexcuse for “double talk” when we say one thing to a person’s face andanother behind his back. A direct question demands a direct answer onmost occasions. It is cowardice to shrink from speaking honestly tosomeone; and it is double talk to say to others what you have refrainedfrom saying to the person concerned. Although honesty is sometimes difficultand may not be appreciated at first, the right thinking person will appreciateit eventually. However, you must always be gentle at the same time as youare honest. Honesty and gentleness should complement each other notcontradict each other. Sometimes it is not appropriate or necessary to reveal all we know.But we should never lie. Sometimes we may have to say “I’m sorry but Iam not able to share that information at this time.”Do Not Exaggerate Exaggeration is really a form of lying, and is based upon a desire toimpress others by trying to be sensational, or interesting or evenmanipulative. It leads to a lack of trust and confidence on the part ofothers and introduces a suspicion into relationships which can eventuallycause problems. Sometimes we exaggerate to make ourselves appear better than weare. Other times we do it to give a better impression of our work andministry. Sometimes we do it so people will listen to us and think that whatwe are saying is important. But whatever the reason or motivation weneed to recognize that exaggerations are often nothing but lies, or at leastattempts to deceive people by distorting the facts. You Need To Watch Your Words About Others We have already referred to the danger of listening to gossip. But it isan even greater danger to be the one who gossips. Someone has said; “With churches, committees, councils, fellowships,and Christian groups of every kind, there is a disgraceful amount of evil-speaking one of another. Often things seem to go on as before. The workplods on. Apparently there is a measure of blessing. But partnership is not
36 Section I — Chapter 5real. Fellowship is marred. There is a need for honest confession andwhole-hearted forgiveness in the whole area of Christian relationships.” The Bible makes it clear that gossip—or evil speaking about anotherperson—is wrong. “Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile”(Psalm 34 v13). “The words of a talebearer are as wounds and they go downinto the innermost parts” (Proverbs 18 v8). There are three kinds of gossip: Malicious gossip or slander when a person deliberately tries to hurt another person and his reputation. Sometimes this gossip is true; often it is false. Rationalized gossip. It can have similar content to the first type and can have the same results, but the motive is different. The gossiper persuades himself that what he relates is for the other person’s good, or that it is just for helpful information. In doing this he tries to excuse himself. Innocent gossip. This is probably the most common kind. It is the result of thoughtlessness, insensitivity, lack of wisdom and desire to talk. But it can cause as much harm as the other types of gossip. Slander is a false report maliciously circulated with the goal of ruininganother person’s reputation. The slanderer relates things which would farbetter be left unsaid. Slander involves passing along doubtful information, exaggerating faults,and even perhaps telling truth (but without love). It is obvious what theBible says on this subject. “He that uttereth a slander is a fool” (Proverbs 10 v18b). Gossip or slander about another Christian probably causes more harmthan almost anything else in the sphere of personal relationships. The Biblemakes it very clear what God thinks of gossip, slander and evil-speaking. “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are anabomination unto Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and handsthat shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations,feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness thatspeaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren ”(Proverbs 6 v16-19).
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 37 Many of these seven things which God hates are connected, in oneway or another, with gossip or slander. There is nothing more efficient inthe world than the evangelical grapevine or telephone system. Bad newsabout another Christian (whether true or false) travels around the world ina matter of hours. Slander (or gossip) is referred to at least twice in the New Testamentin connection with believers. In 1 Timothy 3 v11 Christian wives are exhortedto be “not slanderers”. In Titus 2 v3 the aged women are commanded tobe “not false accusers”. The Greek word is the same in both cases. Thesame word is used to describe unsaved people in 2 Timothy 3 v3. TheGreek word used is “diabolos” from which comes the word “devil” (John8 v44). It means “accuser”. The devil is the accuser, the slanderer, thegossip. When you as a believer slander or falsely accuse or gossip, you arein fact carrying on the devil’s work. Unfortunately the lives and testimonies of many of the Lord’s servantshave been wrecked by gossip, and especially by stories which were nottrue, or which were slanted. So often the story gets worse, and evendifferent, as it passes from mouth to ear. The man who with the breath lent him by heaven, Speaks words that soil the whiteness of a life, Is but a murderer, for death is given As surely by the tongue as by the knife. You need to resolve never to say anything about another person: which would not help or build up that person which would harm him or his testimony which you would not say to the person himself which you would not be willing to put through the filter of God’s wisdom and goodness You can decide what to say and what not to say about another personby asking yourself some or even all of the following questions: Will it create harmony and peace in the body of Christ? Is it the most merciful thing to do? Will it produce good fruit? Does it reflect a submissive attitude on my part? Am I truly sincere and unselfish in wanting to share this information?
38 Section I — Chapter 5 Am I being impartial and objective? Do I really have the facts? Am I truly considerate of this person in sharing this information? Do I feel envy towards this person? Do I want to hurt him? Am I motivated by selfish ambitions? Will this create disorder and lack of unity in the Body of Christ? Am I practising evil or good? If you are tempted to reveal A tale to you someone has told About another—make it pass Before you speak, three gates of gold: The first gate asks you—is it true? Then ask if you a need for it can find. Give truthful answers; and then the next Is last and narrowest—is it kind? And if to reach your lips at last It passes through these gateways three Then you may tell the tale nor fear What the resulting speech may be. (Author unknown) Gossip shows that the gossiper is not worthy of another person’s trust.In Proverbs 11 v13 we read: “A gossip betrays a confidence; but a trustworthy man keeps asecret.” So a trustworthy man is the opposite to a gossip. Gossips kills! And it needs to be remembered again that “the killer” isnot only what is said, but what is implied by the listener through a nod ofthe head, a knowing look, or even by silence. Remember you can never recall what you say about another person.It just goes on . . . and on . . . and on, and usually gets worse and worse asit does. Wouldn’t this old world be better if the folks We meet would say: “I know something good about you.” And Then treat us just that way!
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 39 Wouldn’t it be fine and dandy if each hand- clasp warm and true, Carried with it this assurance, “I know something good about you!” Wouldn’t things here be more pleasant if the good that’s in us all Were the only thing about us that folks bothered to recall! Wouldn’t life be lots more happy if we’d praise the good we see, For there’s such a lot of goodness in the worst of you and me! Wouldn’t it be nice to practise this fine way of thinking, too— “You know something good about me, I know something good about you.” (Author unknown) I would suggest a prayer from the Bible which we should all praycontinually: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart beacceptable in Thy sight, O Lord my strength and my redeemer”(Psalm 19 v14). QUESTIONS TO ANSWER/THINK ABOUT Have you said anything recently to someone and you know it really hurt them? Have you done anything about this? If not, what should you do? Have you been guilty, recently, of saying something about another person which you should not have said? What can you do to solve this problem? Would you agree with me when I say that the best way to solve both problems is before they occur and not afterwards? Could you give an example, from your own experience, about a problem you faced in relationships because you did not act sooner? Should we teach the contents of this chapter to our children? Why? How?
40 Section I — Chapter 6 Chapter 6: Do Not Speak Against God’s ServantsY ou and I need to be careful never to attack or speak against any of God’s servants because of jealousy, or even malice, on our part.This includes our leaders, our co-workers and also those who are responsibleto us. They are all God’s servants. Miriam And Aaron Criticize Moses There is an example of this jealousy and malice in the words whichMiriam and Aaron spoke against their brother Moses in Numbers chapter12. Miriam and Aaron were conducting a smear campaign against Moses.They brought two charges against him: he had married a Cushite womanand he had monopolized the leadership of the children of Israel, ignoringother able people (such as themselves!). “And Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of theEthiopian woman whom he had married” (verse 1). This was a pretty poor charge, if, as may well have been the case,“the Cushite woman” was Zipporah, the daughter of Jethro, the womanwhom Moses had married in Midian forty years earlier! And the secondcharge was even weaker. “They said, Has the Lord indeed only spoken by Moses? Has Henot spoken also by us?” (verse 2). Miriam and Aaron were prophets too, and they felt that Moses washaving all the show to himself! Moses was an egotist and a dictator,according to his older brother and sister. In actual fact, Moses was nothingof the kind; he was humble and self-effacing. The Bible says: “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men whowere upon the face of the earth” (verse 3). There was nothing small or petty about Moses. He was big andgenerous-minded, as story after story proves.
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 41 God Hears Them “And the Lord heard it” (verse 2). God heard what Miriam and Aaron were saying against Moses. Heheard everything: not only their words, but their thoughts and rationalisations.God misses nothing! Miriam and Aaron tried to camouflage their jealousy.But God saw through their smoke screen. What God saw was somethingugly: slander, the overflow of a jealous heart. God Speaks To Them Then the Lord spoke. Miriam and Aaron had complained that Moseswas the sole leader of the nation. Now God told them: “You are right!Moses is the leader, but not self-appointed. I chose him; I planned thatIsrael should be led by one man at the top—your brother Moses.” Moses had two qualities which every spiritual leader should have: hewas in close touch with God, and he was trustworthy. First, Moses was in direct contact with God. Miriam and Aaron did not know God in the way Moses did: Moses knew God “face to face”. And it was his close communion with God, and his insight into His will, which fitted Moses to be the leader of Israel. Moses knew God intimately, “face to face.” And this is why God made him the leader. To be leaders in spiritual things you and I must have a somewhat similar experience to Moses. The Lord spoke to him directly, face to face, and God must speak to us today directly and personally through the Bible. Moses was in touch with God, more in touch than anybody else in the nation, and therefore God vested more authority in him. Secondly, God had committed spiritual authority to Moses because he was absolutely trustworthy. “Moses is faithful in all My house” (verse 7). But this was not true of Miriam and Aaron. Neither of them could be absolutely counted upon to do their duty. Miriam was unreliable out of the limelight. She was a gifted woman, to be sure; she was “Miriam the prophetess.” And she had her inspired moments (Exodus 15 v20). But still she could not be completely trusted: she could not be trusted with the second place,
42 Section I — Chapter 6 or with no place. She demanded her own place in the sun. Miriam had to be noticed. As a leader, Miriam fell down because she wanted to have the limelight. And Aaron fell down because he wanted to be popular. He was so anxious to curry favour with the people that he was too weak to resist their demands for an image to worship (Exodus 32). While Moses was away on Mount Sinai receiving the commandments, the people demanded that Aaron should make them gods to go ahead of them. Aaron gave in and made an image of a bull calf. God wants us to be people whom He can trust absolutely, people who will stem every tide and weather every storm. God Disciplines Them Now a word of warning. Listen to the last thing God said to Miriamand Aaron. After vindicating Moses’ leadership, God said to them: “Then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?”(verse 8). Miriam and Aaron should have been scared to speak against God’sservant, because God punished such evil speaking. “And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Miriam andAaron” (verse 9). Miriam became diseased. Divine judgment fell on her, and she became “leprous, white as snow” (verse 10). Miriam’s leprosy warns us that God could also punish us if we slander His servants. When Miriam became diseased, Aaron was distressed. “And Aaron looked on Miriam; and behold she was leprous” (verse 10). Aaron looked on his sister’s diseased skin with horror and anguish. Only misery follows a whispering campaign. Aaron, however, did the right thing. He confessed his sin and pleaded with Moses to pray for his sister’s healing. Which Moses did. “Moses cried to the Lord, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech Thee” (verse 13). And God heard his prayer. But even so, Miriam was disciplined. Though Miriam was saved from the full judgment of leprosy, she had to pay for her sin of haughtiness and envy. She had to endure the public disgrace of
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 43 being excluded from the camp of Israel. Miriam was cut off from God’s people for seven days. Miriam’s jealousy and evil-speaking against Moses had another sad consequence: God’s programme was held up. “. . . and the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in again” (verse 15). Israel’s march to the Promised Land was held up because of Miriam’s jealousy. Lessons To Learn What can you and I do to avoid this sin of evil speaking?Rule 1. Remember that God hears every word you say, wherever youare. “And the Lord heard it” (verse 2). Always speak so as to pleaseGod.Rule 2. Remember that God will be angry if you hurt one of His childrenwith your tongue, and He may chastise you as He punished Miriam –although probably in a different way.Rule 3. If you have spoken evil of, or to, somebody, confess your sin toGod at once, and, as He directs, to the person you have hurt, just as Aaronconfessed his sin to Moses.Rule 4. Remember that your speech could hold up God’s programme.And as a preventive medicine, pray daily the Psalmist’s prayers: “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth. Keep the door of mylips” (Psalm 141 v3). “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart beacceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer”(Psalm 19 v14).(The contents of this chapter were taken from an article written by Rev.Gerald B. Griffiths, pastor of Calvary Church in Toronto.)
44 Section I — Chapter 6 QUESTIONS TO ANSWER/THINK ABOUT: What lessons can you and I learn from this chapter concerning our responsibility to our leader (complete the sentences)? I should . . . I should . . . I should never . . . What would your reaction be if someone came to you and criticized your leader’s spirituality, ability and life style? What should you do if you knew that your leader was doing something which was morally and ethically wrong? Would you say something to him about it? Would you say something to others about it? To whom? Would you just keep quiet, and pray for him? Do you feel it is equally possible to be guilty of evil speaking against others besides a leader, for example, a co-worker or against someone you lead? Have you ever heard examples of such evil speaking?
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 45 Chapter 7: How Can You Control Your Tongue? he tongue has great potential for evil—whether it is used to speak toT someone or to speak about someone. It has been well said, “Peoplewho cannot control their tongues cannot be entrusted with the Lord’s work.” How can you control your tongue so that it doesn’t cause any harm ineither of these directions? You Can Control Your Tongue James writes: “The tongue can no man tame”? (James 3 v8). That verse simply means you cannot tame it or control it on yourown. Is it at all possible then for you to control, or tame your tongue? TheBible exhorts you and me to have a controlled tongue. So it must be possiblefor this to be so. “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he thatrefraineth his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10 v19). “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul fromtroubles” (Proverbs 21 v23). Solomon speaks again about “a time to keep silence, and a time tospeak” (Ecclesiastes 3 v7b). If you are driving a car, and you want to control it and stop it, whatshould you do? You need to understand that the power to control the car lies in the car’s brakes. You yourself do not have that power. But the brakes do. David writes: “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips” (Psalm 141 v3). He realizes that only God has the power to control his tongue, and so he asks Him to give the power and strength he needs to do so. God’s power is the brake! Do you pray when the telephone rings, when you meet a friend for lunch, or when a group gathers together—and ask God to guard
46 Section I — Chapter 7 what you say and make you sensitive to His Voice of warning and control? Do you pray to be kind instead of cruel, gentle instead of harsh, building up instead of tearing down? You need to be willing to put your foot on the brake. The brake will not stop the car on its own. Your foot has a part to play. While God gives power to control the tongue, there must be a desire, a willingness and a sense of discipline on your part. You, yourself, have a responsibility to think, to wait, to pray, to keep your mouth closed, and really to want God’s help and power. David vows: “I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue:. I will keep my mouth with a bridle” (Psalm 39 v1). Here the emphasis is upon desire, decision and discipline. David knew that God gives the power to control his tongue and he prayed for it. But he also knew that he had a responsibility to want to have it controlled, and to do whatever he could to control it. There is a little door That everyone can close And that’s the little door Just underneath your nose GOD’S POWER PLUS MY DESIRE = CONTROL “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, ordisciple” (or of the one who has been disciplined) (Isaiah 50 v4). This control is not something which happens overnight. It is a processwhich continues and develops. The four key words are: discernment (you need to know the kind of tongue God wants you to have), desire (you need to want to have that kind of tongue), discipline (you need to learn how to keep your mouth closed), dependence (you need to trust God who will give you the strength to exercise control).
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 47 Your Tongue Can Bless We have been thinking about what we should not do with our tongues- and it is necessary to do so. But we also need to be positive and to thinkof what we can do with our tongues. Your tongue can help, as well as harm. Your tongue can build up, aswell as tear down. The tongue has almost unlimited potential for good. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18 v21). “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, andhealth to the bones” (Proverbs 16 v24). “The tongue of the just is as choice silver; . . . the lips of therighteous feed many” (Proverbs 10 v20 and 21). “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver”(Proverbs 25 v11). “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, butthat which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister graceunto the hearers” (Ephesians 4 v29). I want to have a tongue like that. Don’t you? I want to help people andbuild them up. How can you and I use our tongues in this way? You can help others by giving words of encouragement. Many Christians are discouraged, both with themselves and with their ministry. You can be a Barnabas, a son (or daughter) of comfort and encouragement. You can help them to grow and develop by using loving and well chosen words, accompanied by a shake of the hand or an arm around the shoulder. Some seem to think it is enough merely to act in a kind and loving manner to others. It is not. People all around you are in need of your encouraging loving words. This doesn’t mean that you are to ooze with flattery and sentimental words; but if you appreciate another person and what he is doing tell him so. Love requires that you encourage others with kind words. I personally praise God for the many men and women who have encouraged my wife and myself down through the years: Fred Orr the man who led us to Jesus Christ, who encouraged us as young Christians to become involved in the evangelism of children, and who has continued to encourage us in our lives and ministries in the many years since then.
48 Section I — Chapter 7 Jimmy Magill and Johnny Maguire, elders in the fine evangelical church we joined as young believers. I remember how they invited me to be the speaker at one of the weekly Bible classes in the church and praised me, afterwards, for my teaching even though (after hours of preparation) I had only spoken for 10 minutes instead of the scheduled 30 minutes! Mrs. Major, Miss Pollock and Mrs. Symington, three dear ladies who lived near to where we spent the first few years of our married lives. Each of them had Bible study groups in their homes and I became a regular speaker at all of them. They were real “mothers in Israel” and had the wonderful ability to overlook my inexperience, and to encourage me to preach. Stewart Johnston was the leader of the ministry in one of the “mission halls” which dot the countryside of Northern Ireland. He took us “under his wing”, encouraged me to testify and preach at the Sunday evening Gospel services, and introduced me to open-air evangelism. The help and encouragement of these dear friends, and others, when we were young Christians, meant so much to us. And many others have given us encouragement in our lives and ministries throughout the years which followed. I hope there will be people who will be equally thankful for us and our encouragement. You can help others by expressing praise and appreciation to them for who they are and for what they have done. You need to see the good things in other people, and then tell them what you have seen. This is not flattery. Flattery praises people for what is not there. Your expression of appreciation will be based upon fact and what you have seen. The simplest way to bring out the best in others is to tell them that you appreciate that which is good about who they are and what they do. A regular dose of honest affirmation and appreciation can transform a person. “Thanks for being so cheerful”. “Thank you for being so faithful in coming to Bible study. Your presence is a real help and encouragement.” “I have always appreciated how you stick at your work and don’t give up.”
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 49“Your patience is so amazing.”“Your smile and happy disposition mean so much to all of us.”Praise has wonderful and mysterious powers. When we complimentpeople openly and honestly we help them and encourage themtremendously.We Europeans find this very difficult. We do feel appreciation andwe are appreciative; but we find it difficult to express thisappreciation. When was the last time you told your pastor howmuch you appreciated his preaching; or your wife how much youappreciated her cooking? When did you last tell your parents howmuch you loved them and thanked them for all they have done foryou? Why not do so now - today? Even if they live far away youcould telephone them. When did you last tell your children howmuch you love them and express appreciation for their good points.There are also ways to show appreciation besides saying it. Puttingyour appreciation, in writing, in a note or card can make the commentseven more concrete and helpful.One lady sat down each Monday morning to write a note ofappreciation to her pastor for the Sunday services, and was acontinual source of encouragement and blessing to him.What a blessing your tongue can be as it expresses appreciation.Start now! Is there someone you appreciate? Tell them so. Theyare not expecting it. But what a joy it will be when it comes. Askyourself the question “How can I show this person that I really carefor him/her?” Then - do it.However, we must always make it our goal to avoid flattery - asopposed to appreciation. Flattery is smooth speech aimed at makinga favourable impression on others thereby hoping to gain some selfishadvantage. When a person flatters he compliments insincerely.Appreciating a person and complimenting him is so helpful andencouraging if it is sincere. But flattery is not good and is actuallyan attempt to deceive the person being flattered.“He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favourthan he that flattereth with the tongue” (Proverbs 28 v23).There are also certain “magic words” which you need to know, anduse sincerely and frequently. These include the following: Please.
50 Section I — Chapter 7 Thank you. I appreciate it. I enjoy your fellowship. You have been a blessing. Also it is helpful in the area of personal relationships if you can always remember the names of the people to whom you are speaking, and use their names frequently. People appreciate hearing their names and the fact that you remembered them. Incidentally, you and I need to learn not only how to express appreciation, but how to receive it when it does come. Don’t tell the person who expresses his appreciation for you that he is wrong! To do so means that you feel he is telling a lie. Just smile and say, “Thank you for saying that; I appreciate it very much.” You can help others by ministering to them from the Word of God. “The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters” (Proverbs 18 v4). That means that these words come from the well springs of his heart. “The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life” (Proverbs 10 v11a). That means that the mouth shares the message of life with others. In order to witness effectively to the unsaved we must not only show the way with our lives, but share the message of life with our lips. For a person to believe in Christ he must hear about Christ (Romans 10 v14). We must use our tongues to convey to others the content of the Gospel message. We must also use our tongue to teach and encourage believers and to share with them insights we have received from the Scriptures. You can help others by saying nice and good things about them when they are not present. What a help that will be to them, and also what a testimony to the one you are speaking to. God wants you to have a consecrated tongue, a clean tongue, a concerned tongue, a cheerful tongue, a comforting tongue, a compassionate tongue, a complimentary tongue and a courteous tongue. But this will only be possible if your tongue is a Christ-like tongue. And for that to be true your tongue must be a controlled tongue. Do remember at all times the wise words of James when he encourages us and commands us to be careful concerning what we
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 51 say. “Let every man be slow to speak” (James 1 v19). Be careful you do not hurt anyone. But when you do speak, use your tongue to encourage, to build up and to edify. The example for every Christian to follow and imitate is that of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ when He was here on earth. We should make it our aim to speak like Him, and to use our tongues in a gracious and helpful way, as He did. “And all bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth” (Luke 4 v22). “Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into Thy lips: therefore God hath blessed Thee forever” (Psalm 45 v2). “He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench, till He send forth judgment unto victory” (Matthew 12 v19, 20). Guard my lips and keep them still. Keep my words inside until I’ve had a chance to think them through. And then as I make this review I pray that Thou wilt take away The words that I need not to say: Words of anger, full of hate, Things that I with force debate, Words of bitterness unkind, Critical with faults I find, Words of gossip, tales untrue, Things that I’ve seen others do. Words that I cannot reclaim May bring dishonour to Thy Name. Precious Father, by Thy Will Guard my lips and keep them still. (Author unknown) QUESTIONS TO ANSWER/THINK ABOUTHave you found this chapter a help? Why?How would you rate your own level of spiritual maturity on a scale ofone to ten if it were determined by your control of your tongue (as
52 Section I — Chapter 7 James says it is in chapter 3 v2)? Do you feel you should teach the contents of this chapter to children? Why? How? Do you feel that the car and its brakes is a good illustration? Do you have any other illustrations which would help? Has anyone said something to you recently which was a help and encouragement to you? Why did those words help you? Are you conscious of having helped someone recently by what you said to them? How do you know your words helped? What was the person’s reaction?
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 53 Chapter 8:The Teaching Of Proverbs Concerning The Tongue ne of the most practical books in the Bible is the book of Proverbs.O It is no surprise, therefore, to discover the enormous volume ofteaching in that book concerning the tongue; and it is helpful, and challenging,for us to find and to study the many verses in that book which are relatedto this subject. It is also interesting to see how the teaching of Proverbs onthis important subject backs up and further explains all the truths we havealready discovered concerning the key part the tongue plays in our personalrelationships. There are at least ten commands or guidelines concerning the tongueeither given or implied in the book of Proverbs - and most of these havealready been touched upon in the earlier chapters of this book. Time andspace do not allow us to go into each command in detail; but you canengage in further study of these commands by referring to the versesgiven. Five of these commands or guidelines are connected with what youand I should do before we speak, and the following five will help us toknow what we should do while we speak. Be Thoughtful Before You Speak The book of Proverbs gives us some key guidelines to remember andmeditate upon before we open our mouths to speak. Understand the source of your words “The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learningto his lips” (Proverbs 16 v23). Words are the overflow of the heart. Words spoken, especially in haste,reveal the quality of the source from which they come. If the source isclean the words will be clean; and the opposite is also true. That is why thetongue can be seen as a spiritual thermometer which measures the level ofa person’s spiritual maturity (or lack of it). Other related verses are—4 v20-24; 6 v12, 14, 18 and 19; 15 v28; 16v1, 2. Realize the power of your words “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love
54 Section I — Chapter 8it shall eat the fruit thereof” (Proverbs 18 v21). It is sometimes difficult for us to understand how very powerful ourwords are. They can bring life; they can bring death. They can build up;they can knock down; they can help; they can hinder; they can encourage;they can bring joy; they can bring deep grief; and this power is in our handsto use for either good or evil. Dr. Warren Wiersbe makes an interesting and helpful comment on thissubject “What a wonderful thing it is to say the right words and help toheal a broken spirit” (see Proverbs 15 v4). Other related verses are 11 v9; 12 v18; 15 v4; 18 v4; 18 v8; 25 v11; 26v22.Listen to Others “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly andshame unto him” (Proverbs 18 v13). One of the greatest mistakes we make is to speak, express an opinion,or even make a decision before we have heard all that needs to be said.This error is usually caused by impatience and finds its roots in our prideand lack of humility. If we would only listen better, and more fully, beforewe answer, we could avoid many of the problems which result from ahasty and ill-conceived response. Other related verses are—15 v31; 18 v15; 19 v20; 21 v28.Think Before You Speak “The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth ofthe wicked poureth out evil things” (Proverbs 15 v28). The emphasis in this verse is upon the words “studieth to answer” or“ponders, thinks about, his answer.” We have seen, over and over again,the relationship problems which result from quick and hasty responses.These problems could be avoided if we would just take time to think, ponderand study before making a reply. This verse also graphically portrays theopposite kind of response, the response of the wicked, which “pours outevil things” just like an uncontrolled river. Other related verses are—12 v18; 14 v29; 16 v32; 21 v23; 26 v4; 29v20.
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 55Say Nothing “The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his gloryto pass over a transgression” (Proverbs 19 v11). There are times when it is better not to say anything. “Silence” it issaid “is golden.” And at certain times this is absolutely true. That is why itis so important to realise the power of our words, to listen to others and tothink before speaking. As you follow these principles you may in yourwisdom decide not to say anything. Also if you are not sure whether to saysomething or not—don’t say it. You can always correct that at a later dateif, on reflection, you feel it is necessary to do so. If you speak and thenregret it, you cannot correct it. Other related verses are—12 v16; 15 v1; 16 v32; 17 v1; 17 v14. Be Careful While You Speak The book of Proverbs also gives us guidelines to help us during ourconversations with others.Speak the Truth “He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a falsewitness deceit” (Proverbs 12 v17). It is never right to deceive, exaggerate or tell a lie. There are no“white lies”. All lies are wrong and an abomination to God. We as Christiansshould always be known by our honesty. In this way we gain the confidenceof our family, our co-workers, and our unsaved friends. But, if the oppositehappens, they will have no confidence in us or in anything we say. Ourtestimony will be valueless. Other related verses are—12 v22; 16 v13; 19 v5; 26 v17, 18, 19; 26v22; 28 v23; 29 v5.Don’t Talk Too Much “He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man ofunderstanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdethhis peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed aman of understanding” (Proverbs 17 v27, 28). So often we Christians talk too much - and too loudly. There is a timeand place to talk. But there is also a time and place to be quiet and to listen.
56 Section I — Chapter 8We do not have to express an opinion on every conceivable subject whetherwe know something about it, or not. Someone has said, “It is better to bequiet and be thought to be a fool, than to open our mouths and remove alldoubt.” Proverbs 10 v19 reminds us that “in the multitude of words therewanteth not sin but he that refraineth his lips is wise.” To refrain the lips is often difficult but it is the evidence of true wisdom. Other related verses are—11 v12, 13; 13 v3; 18 v6, 7; 20 v19; 21 v23.Give a Calm, Soft Answer “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir upanger” Proverbs 15 v1. When people use nasty and unpleasant words when speaking to us weare tempted to retort in the same way. By doing so we only create asecond problem. If we respond with calmness and gentleness we will notsin with our lips; and indeed our gentle response could be used by God toconvict the person involved and lead him to repentance. But even if not, itis still the right way to respond. Solomon also gives strong advice with regard to this matter of calmnessand gentleness when he writes that women (and this applies also to men)should not be contentious (21 v9; 25 v24) or angry (21 v19). Other related verses are—15 v4; 16 v1; 25 v15.Do Not Gossip “A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spiritconcealeth the matter” Proverbs 11 v13. We have already referred to this problem in much detail. But it is goodand necessary to remind ourselves of this great evil which is so prevalentin Christian circles. Christians tell tales about other Christians. Some aretrue, and some are not. Some have been exaggerated as they have gonefrom person to person. Gossip and tale bearing can cause great damage tothe testimony, standing and even health of others. It also harms the personwho is guilty of repeating it and spreading it. There are times when one needs to share with the proper authority aconcern about another person. But there is a tremendous differencebetween reporting one who has committed a crime or a moralmisdemeanor—and peddling malicious tales which are unkind, unnecessary,
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 57and often untrue. If a brother has sinned there are far better ways to dealwith the matter than to spread the story of his shame. Other related verses are—6 v16-19; 11 v9; 16 v28; 17 v9; 18 v8; 20v19; 26 v20.Watch Your Timing “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver”Proverbs 25 v11. Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3 v1-8 writes about timing in much detail; andone of his statements is that there is “a time to keep silence and a time tospeak” (verse 7b). The art of conversation, and the ability to help othersthrough conversation often depends on a sense of timing. It is not just whatwe say which counts, but when we say it. It is the word which is “fitlyspoken” or “spoken in the right circumstances” which is a means of blessing. Consequently, we need to be able to discern when to speak and whento keep silent, when to be serious and when to be more free in what wesay. The right word is needed so often - in comforting someone who isbereaved or in breaking bad news or in explaining a seriousmisunderstanding. This is an art which we need to cultivate. Other related verses are—Proverbs 10 v32; 15 v23; 27 v6. QUESTIONS TO ANSWER/THINK ABOUT Can you find, or think of, any other guidelines in the book of Proverbs concerning the tongue? Give some examples of times when you and I should be quiet and say nothing? Could there ever be circumstances when it would be permissible not to tell the truth—and even to tell a lie? Think of the following situations: A lady wearing a most unattractive hat asks you if you like it. You meet someone who says, “Hello, you know me, don’t you?” (and you don’t). You were smuggling Bibles into a Communist country a number of years ago. At the border the guard asks you if you have any Bibles in your car.Discuss each of these situations and what your correct response shouldbe.
58 Section I — Chapter 9 Chapter 9: Watch Your LettersW hat you write is simply an extension of what you say. The person you want to communicate with is some distance away and youcannot speak with him personally. So instead of speaking words you writethem in a letter. Be Careful What You Write But you need to be especially careful what you write. Letters can hurtand wound, sometimes more than spoken words. There is no voice, or tone, to moderate what is written. They can often “sound” different from what you meant when you wrote them. They can be read over and over again, with increasing damage They can be shown to others I have seen and read (and received) letters which should never havebeen written. Usually such letters have been written quickly and withoutthought, reflection and prayer. If you feel that, for some reason, you needto write such a letter, write it and then burn it. Don’t send it. There is a number of key principles which you should always keep inmind when you write a letter to your leader, co-worker or to someone wholooks to you as their leader. These principles are especially necessarywhen responding to a letter which has hurt you in some way. Try to visualize, in your mind, the person who will receive the letter, and imagine what that person’s reaction will be. Will he be pleased, interested, helped, bored, disgusted, worried, hurt or annoyed by its contents? Some of us are very bold in our letters, but would never dream of saying what we have written to the person concerned if he was in the same room. Think carefully, reflect and pray before answering a letter. When you are asked to speak at a meeting you prepare carefully what you will say. Similar preparation is needed before you write. Letters can hurt and wound. It is therefore essential that you do not respond to a letter—especially
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 59a difficult letter—too quickly or hastily. “Be slow to write.” Neverwrite a letter in haste or anger. It can be a help to draft your letterseveral times and to make changes over and over again in it untilyou are satisfied with it. Do not send such a letter immediately. Letit rest for a few days and then read it again before sending it.It can really be helpful before sending the letter to read it out loud toyourself, imagining that you are the person who receives it. It mayalso be good to ask a close friend or co-worker to read the letterthrough and give you their opinion and advice before sending it.A good and important principle to remember, not only in the writingof letters, but in all parts of your ministry is to counsel with othersand seek their advice and help.“Where no counsel is the people fall; but in the multitude ofcounsellors there is safety” (Proverbs 11 v14).Even the strongest of Christians can commit blunders and errors ofdiscernment; and before making a weighty decision in writing animportant letter it is good to counsel with someone who is wise andprudent.Simplicity is a very important principle in the writing of letters. Trynot to wander, or to go into endless complicated details which canoften hide the main purpose and goal of the letter. You do not wantyour letters to be too short and abrupt. But do not go to the otherextreme of being long-winded and ponderous. Letters which arewritten without thought, care and preparation are often rambling,muddled and not too clear. They can, because of their lack of thought,lead to misunderstandings and problems.Someone has said that letters should be correct, clear, concise,complete and courteous. How true!Rudeness is a sign of incompetence, immaturity and lack of selfcontrol. Politeness should be the invariable rule in all that you say,and write. Your letters can be clear and, if necessary, forceful withoutbeing rude, or abrupt or discourteous. Any display of temper in aletter is always undignified and demeaning to our standing as servantsand ambassadors of the King of kings.“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentleunto all men, apt to teach, patient” (2 Timothy 2 v24).Consider very carefully whether it is wise to send a letter at all. Afew words on the telephone can sometimes clear up an awkward
60 Section I — Chapter 9 situation more quickly and satisfactorily than the most tactful of letters. Indeed there are times when silence is the best reaction of all. Be sure that you are not choosing to write a letter as an easy option which will avoid you having to speak openly with the person concerned. Pray as you read letters when they come. Pray that you will read them correctly and not see things in them which are not there. Be Helpful When You Write On the one hand letters can hurt, wound and cause much harm anddamage. On the other hand letters can be a great blessing andencouragement to those who receive them, provided they are carefullyand lovingly written. I personally have always been thankful for the lettersof encouragement and appreciation which I have received. They havemeant so much to me, and have often helped me and encouraged me in myministry. You could have a letter-writing ministry—by sending letters ofencouragement and appreciation to others. Such letters do not need to belong; a few lines are often sufficient. Little notes of encouragement leftunder a plate, or on an office desk, can be a great help to someone. Try it today. Write a little note of appreciation to someone and assurethem of your prayers. Before It Is Too Late If you’ve a gray-haired mother in the old home far away, Sit down and write the letter you’ve put off day by day; Don’t wait until her tired steps reach Heaven’s pearly gate, But show her that you think of her before it is too late. If you’ve a tender message or a longing word to say, Don’t wait till you forget it, but whisper it today. Who knows what bitter memories may haunt you if you wait, So make the loved one happy before it is too late. We live but in the present, the future is unknown: Tomorrow is a mystery, today is all your own. The chance that fortune lends to us may vanish while we wait, So spend your life’s rich treasure before it is too late.
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 61 The tender words unspoken, the letters never sent, The long forgotten messages, the wealth of love unspent, For these some hearts are breaking, for these some loved ones wait; So show them that you care for them before it is too late. (Author unknown) QUESTIONS TO ANSWER/THINK ABOUTHave you received any letters recently which hurt you? Why were theyso hurtful? How did you respond to them? Do you now feel that yourresponse was the correct one?Have you written any letters recently which may have hurt the receiver?Why? Did you follow the advice given in this chapter?Have you received any letters of encouragement recently? Were theya blessing to you? Why?Have you written any letters of encouragement recently to someone?Can you think of any to whom you can and should write now?
62 Section I — Chapter 10 Chapter 10: Watch Your TemperT emper is anger out of control. There are times when it is right and necessary to be angry, but it must be a righteous and prayerful angerand one that is well under control. Paul refers to this latter kind of anger inhis letter to the Ephesians. “Be ye angry and sin not” (Ephesians 4 v26). However, there is an anger which is sinful. It is much more commonand that is the one which we need to avoid. What do you do when someone says something to you, when someonehurts you, or criticizes you? How do you react? Do you retaliate? Do youeven try to hurt them more than they hurt you? What do you do when youfeel the blood pressure rising because of something said, or done, to you?Will there be an EXPLOSION? Be Slow To React James deals with this also in chapter 1 verse 19 of his epistle. Do youremember this key verse? “Wherefore my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1 v19) We have already seen the importance of being a “swift” listener, anda “slow” speaker. James now adds a third command. We need to be “slow”with regard to wrath, anger and temper. You must be careful not to react quickly when you are hurt, criticizedor misunderstood. It is that quick reaction, and that quick anger, whichcause problems and breakdowns in relationships: Bite your tongue Count to 100, 1,000 or 10,000 if necessary Go away, think and pray about it. Perhaps it will be necessary to take action. But after prayer, thought
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 63and meditation, you will be in a better position to react in the right way. Youmight even find that it is not necessary to say or do anything. A quickoutburst of temper, or a thoughtless reaction can cause great harm to theperson you are speaking to, and also to yourself. Two wrongs do not makea right. If he has sinned against you, sinning against him will not solve theproblem. It will only double the problem, and make you equally guilty. You should always keep the words of 2 Timothy 2 v24 in mind: “The servant of the Lord must not strive (or quarrel or fight).” Do not lose your dignity. You are a servant of the Lord. Be undercontrol and don’t let yourself down. More important, don’t let your Lorddown. Exercise Self-Control The Bible continually emphasizes the need for Christians—andespecially Christian workers—to exercise self-control at all times. Severaldifferent Greek words are used to describe this desirable trait. But all ofthese words mean self-control, temperance, sobriety and restraint. It istherefore your specific responsibility to control your emotions and not toallow them to “run wild.” One of the qualifications for those in positions of leadership in the local church is to be self-controlled. Elders are exhorted to be self-controlled (Titus 1 v8 and 1 Timothy 3 v2). Older men are exhorted to be self-controlled (Titus 2 v2). Deacons’ wives are exhorted to be self-controlled (1 Timothy 3 v11). But self-control is expected, and indeed commanded, to be an essential part of every believer’s life. Younger women are exhorted to be discreet or self-controlled (Titus 2 v5). Young men are exhorted to be sober minded or self-controlled (Titus 2 v6). All believers are exhorted to live in a disciplined, self-controlled way (Titus 2 v12). All believers are exhorted to be self-controlled and prayerful (1 Peter 4 v7).
64 Section I — Chapter 10 All believers are exhorted to add self-control to their knowledge (2 Peter 1 v6). All believers are exhorted to be self-controlled in their thinking (Romans 12 v3). All believers are exhorted to be temperate or self-controlled in all things (1 Corinthians 9 v25). The Christian worker is therefore expected to watch and guard histemper, and ensure that it never gets out of control. This involves, first ofall, a desire to do so, and then a willingness to exercise discipline uponhimself. But, at the same time, the Bible teaches that the ability to controlone’s temper and one’s emotions comes from God, and specifically fromGod the Holy Spirit. That is why Paul includes “self-control” as the ninth of the fruits of theSpirit in Galatians 5 v22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering,gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (or self-control);against such there is no law.” The Holy Spirit is the One who is able to produce this self-control inour lives, if we really want Him to. Also longsuffering (which is anotherfruit of the Spirit) is directly linked to, and is a result of, self-control. Paul reminds Timothy that he “has received the Spirit of power, andof love and of self-control” (2 Timothy 1 v7). HIS POWER, PLUS OUR DESIRE, PLUS OUR DISCIPLINE =SELF-CONTROL. When I have lost my temper I have lost my reason too. I’m never proud of anything which angrily I do. When I have talked in anger and my cheeks are flaming red, I have always uttered something which I wish I hadn’t said. In anger I have never done a kindly deed or wise, But many things for which I felt I should apologize. In looking back across my life and all I’ve lost or made, I can’t recall a single time when fury ever paid. So I struggle to be patient for I’ve reached a wiser age. I do not want to do a thing or speak a word in rage. I have learned by sad experience that when my temper flies, I never do a worthy thing, a decent deed or wise. (Author unknown)
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 65 QUESTIONS TO ANSWER/THINK ABOUTAre you a choleric person who is tempted to react quickly whensomething happens to you?Have you been learning more “self-control”? How?What advice would you give to a young worker with the same problem?Are the concepts of self-control and “Holy Spirit-control” contradictoryor complementary? Explain your answer.
66 Section I —Chapter 11 Chapter 11: Watch Your HumourH umour is, I believe, a gift from God. Christian leaders like Charles Spurgeon and D.L. Moody always enjoyed, and often displayed,good humour. We all appreciate jokes and funny stories and we like tolaugh; and it is good for us to do so. A sense of humour often helps relievethe tensions which bear upon us in both life and in ministry. Words ofhumour which relax the mind are not necessarily idle words. Humour canbe to the mind what exercise is to the body, and therefore humour and witshould always have a proper place also. The person whose heart is merryand who whistles a cheerful tune is often pleasing to be around. We needmore people who cheer us and help us look on the bright side of life!Someone has said, “You are never dressed for work until you have put ona smile.” This should not be a fake smile but one which is a true expressionof your inner gladness and the fact that you belong to God and that youknow Him. “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine” (Proverbs 17 v22). Be Careful But you need to be careful how you joke and what you say, especiallyif you have a very strong and pronounced sense of humour. People are often very sensitive, and you can hurt people by your jokes,even if they laugh and seem to enjoy them. Your humour can really woundpeople even though you don’t intend it to. If you have any doubts about ajoke, don’t tell it. The Bible makes it clear that we should not speak foolishly. “The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright but the mouthof fools poureth out foolishness” (Proverbs 15 v2). Paul condemns “foolish talking” (or useless talking) in Ephesians 5 v4.He is speaking about what we should say and how we should speak andhe writes, “Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which arenot convenient: but rather giving of thanks” (Ephesians 5 v4). This text does not forbid all jesting. Not at all! But it does forbid “jestingwhich is not convenient.” The word “convenient” means “befitting” or
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 67“suitable.” That means you and I should be careful to avoid any humourwhich is not in keeping with our position and standing as servants of theLord. There are three kinds of humour you and I should avoid if we are toobey this command in Ephesians 5 v4 and if you and I want to have goodrelationships with others. Avoid Hurtful Humour You can hurt others by making a joke about their accent, about theirname, about their height (or lack of it), about their weight, about theirappearance, or about their misfortunes. You may not mean any harm bydoing this. Such jokes are usually told without any malice intended. Butthey can cause irreparable harm to others and can lead to a seriousbreakdown in your relationships. The worst form of hurtful humour is sarcasm; and you as a Christianshould never hurt people by a sarcastic remark. Children can be especiallyhurt and harmed by this kind of “humour.” Avoid Irreverent Humour You need to be careful what you joke about. There are certain subjectsabout which we as Christians should never make fun. Subjects to be avoidedinclude God, the Bible, the Lord Jesus, Heaven and Bible characters. Dr. Isaac Page who was deputy secretary of the China Inland Missionwas very fond of jokes but had definite convictions against mixing Scripturewith humour. At a dinner he heard the question asked, “Who will go outand get the bread?” He heard a voice reply, “Here am I; send me” and heimmediately demanded, “Who said that?” Meekly a young college girl ownedup. He gave her “a sermonette” which was never forgotten by her. Also if Bible verses, or even hymns, are quoted or used thoughtlesslyor humorously there is the risk of irreverence. Avoid Suggestive Humour Ephesians 5 v4 probably refers primarily to suggestive and even immoralhumour, as the context of verse 3 would indicate. A Christian must neverjest or make jokes which are, in any way, immoral. You must, at all times,avoid saying anything, or listening with interest to anything, which borders
68 Section I —Chapter 11on good taste. This is especially important in today’s world where this typeof humour is so rampant. Enjoy Helpful Humour But there is a humour which is good and it is helpful to enjoy it. We allrecognize the importance of having a good sense of humour and the valueof laughing. Humour used in the right way can be a help and blessing to all,and it can strengthen our relationships. BUT—BE CAREFUL. Value of a Smile It costs nothing but creates much. It enriches those who receive it without the one who gives it losing anything. It happens in a flash, but the memory of it lasts forever. None are so rich they don’t need it. The poor are greatly enriched by it. It creates happiness in the home and fosters good will in the work place. It is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad and nature’s best antidote for trouble. Yet it cannot be bought, begged, borrowed or stolen; for it is something that is no good to anybody until it is given away. If sometimes I am so rushed or too tired to give you a smile, please give me one of yours for nobody needs a smile so much as those who have none to give. (Author unknown) QUESTIONS TO ANSWER/THINK ABOUT Do you like humour? Do you often tell jokes? Do you feel there is a danger of hurting others through your humour? Are you careful about this? Have you ever been hurt by someone else’s humour? Do you remember hurting someone by some joke that you told? What kind of jokes should a Christian never tell—or listen to?
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 69 Chapter 12: Watch Your ReactionsY our character can be better judged by your reactions than by your actions! Your actions are what you do or say, and you usually havetime to think and prepare before you act. However, your reactions arewhat you do or say when someone else does or says something to you.The problem is that you don’t have time, or take time, to think or preparebefore you react. Your reactions are therefore a good evidence of your character andwhat is in your heart. What comes out from you is—YOU. What is spilledwhen a cup is upset shows what is inside the cup. A child can look so pleasant when playing with his toys until another child takes one of his toys—and he reacts. A car driver can seem so pleasant and relaxed until another driver cuts in front of him—and he reacts. A Christian can be so pleasant in his fellowship with his co-worker until something is said or done which he does not like or with which he does not agree—and he reacts quickly and without thinking. And it is this reaction which shows and reveals the real person. Wrong Reactions Cause Problems Many of the problems you and I have with our words are due to quickand wrong reactions. If we would only take time to think and pray wewould never react in the way we often do. But it is then too late. Wecannot take it back. We need to learn how to control our reactions - perhapsmore than anything else. Your reactions can hurt others but they can alsohurt yourself. Paul teaches us that everything which happens in our lives is there tohelp us and not to hurt us: “And we know that all things work together for good to themthat love God, to them who are the called according to His purposes”(Romans 8 v28). There are, for example, times when you need criticism and rebuke
70 Section I — Chapter 12from others and you must be careful how you react to these. It can be theprivilege of a friend to draw something to your attention which you do notlike and the temptation is to react forcefully and with self-justification. But the Bible teaches that the just criticism of a friend can be a greathelp to you and me: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27 v6a). Charles Spurgeon said, “Get a friend to tell you your faults or, betterstill, welcome an enemy who will watch you heavily and sting you savagely.What a blessing such an irritating criticism will be to a wise man; what anintolerable nuisance to a fool.” But if you react wrongly to anything which is said to you, or whichhappens to you, you harm yourself. Resentment ruins you. Bitterness blightsyou. Self-pity sickens you. Anger attacks you. Hatred harms you. Indeedbad reactions can be the source and cause of all kinds of ailments andillnesses. Wrong reactions are also a bad testimony to others. If you reactas the world does you have not witnessed to your Lord. You have, instead,let Him down. What does the Bible teach on the subject of reactions? Bible Commands To Obey What does the Bible command on this subject? Has James something to say? “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1 v19). “Slow” is the key word. Quick reactions are usually the wrong ones. You need to control your tongue. In a situation where there is the possibility and the danger of a quick reaction you need to think, to pray and to be slow. Has the wise Solomon something to say? “By long forbearing (or patience) is a prince persuaded, and a soft (or gentle) tongue breaketh the bone” (Proverbs 25 v15). A prince is powerful; and a bone is strong. Patience persuades the prince; a gentle answer breaks the bone. A wrong reaction will do the opposite. “A soft answer turneth away wrath” (Proverbs 15 v1). This is surely, in many ways, the key verse concerning reactions. When someone “lashes” you and displays sinful wrath, answer him
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 71sweetly and with a smile. Ask God to give you genuine love for himin your heart, and show that love to him. This is, I realise, desperatelydifficult; but the Word of God says that this is the way to turn awaywrath.Has Paul something to say?The subject of reactions appears very frequently in Paul’s epistlesbecause he knows how essential good reactions are to the witnessof a Christian. “Bless them which persecute you: bless and curse not” (Romans 12 v14). “Recompense to no man evil for evil” (Romans 12 v17). “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves” (Romans 12 v19). “If thine enemy hunger feed him; if he thirst give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head” (Romans 12 v20). “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12 v21). “See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men” (1 Thessalonians 5 v15).The flesh says, “Get your own back”. God says, “Leave it in myhands”. Two wrongs do not make a right. If you retaliate, you reduceyourself to the other’s level and become equally guilty. Either evilwill overcome you; or you can overcome evil with good.Paul himself gives us an example to follow in 1 Corinthians 4 v16when he says, “Be ye imitators of me”; and he explains what hemeans in verses 12 and 13: Being reviled—we bless Being persecuted—we suffer it Being defamed—we entreatHas Peter something to say?Peter knew from his own experience how important it was to havegood reactions.“Finally be ye all of one mind, having compassion one ofanother, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous. Not renderingevil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing;knowing that you are thereunto called, that ye should inherita blessing” (1 Peter 3 v8, 9).
72 Section I — Chapter 12 “Do not fight back,” writes Peter. You should, instead, bless the person concerned and, as a result, you yourself will be blessed. There are three kinds of reactions: The devil’s reaction is to return evil for good. Man’s reaction is to return evil for evil, and good for good. God’s reaction is to return good for evil, and it is this reaction which Peter is recommending. Has the Lord Jesus anything to say? Perhaps the most challenging verses of all can be found in Matthew 5 verses 38-48. “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5 v44). “That ye may be the children of (similar to, like) your Father which is in Heaven” (Matthew 5 v45). God’s standards and commands in His Word concerning reactions arevery high, and desperately difficult (even impossible) to achieve. But thesereactions are what the Bible teaches and commands and they should bethe goal towards which we continually aim and strive. Bible Examples To Imitate The Bible gives many examples of those who reacted to people anddifficulties in the right way. These people should be our examples. Joseph reacted to his brothers with a sweet, gentle and forgiving spirit (Genesis 50 v19-21).He had every reason to be bitter, critical and vengeful. But he wasn’t, and God blessed him and many others through him, including those who hurt him. A man like this cannot be hurt. Everything serves him, everyone helps him and God is glorified through him. Stephen reacted to his murderers with prayer and a forgiving spirit (Acts 7 v60). And God saved a bystander who was to become the world’s greatest missionary. The Lord Jesus is our supreme Example and the One we should always endeavour to imitate. He reacted to His enemies and killers with quietness and confidence (1 Peter 2 v21-24), even though He did not deserve their opposition:
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 73 He was silent when they reviled Him and He did not, in turn, revile them or threaten them—although He was in a position where He could have punished them. “When He was reviled He reviled not again. When He suffered He threatened not” (verse 23a). He committed them and the situation to His Heavenly Father. He did not try to justify Himself but instead He left all in His Father’s Hands. “He committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously” (verse 23b). We are specifically told in verse 21 that we are to imitate the LordJesus and His reactions when we are criticized, reviled and are sufferingas a result: “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also sufferedfor us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps”(1 Peter 2 v21). Isaiah 30 v15 is a key verse with regard to reactions, as we havealready seen earlier in the book: “In quietness—(towards people, towards criticism, towardscircumstances) and confidence—(in God and His ability to handle the situation) shall be your strength”—(you are then both blessed and strong). QUIETNESS + CONFIDENCE = STRENGTH Conclusion When someone criticizes you or opposes you there are six steps youshould take: Examine yourself to see if the criticism is true. Someone has said, “If one calls you a donkey ignore him. If two call you a donkey check for hoof prints. If three call you a donkey get a saddle.” Be quiet—and do not react to what has been said. It is most important not to be quick to take offence. Leave the whole matter in God’s Hands. Do not lift a finger to defend yourself—unless you are sure that God cannot handle it! Wait for God and, strangely enough, wait for
74 Section I — Chapter 12 yourself. You are not static; you are constantly changing, growing, advancing, and learning. If you don’t have the answer to some problem in your relationships, commit it to the Lord and wait. You will find yourself saying someday, “Now why didn’t I think of that before?” Pray for your critics. Keep on doing your work. Let God take care of your critics. If your heart is right your critic cannot go on hating you and stay right with God. If you are in the Will of God, be encouraged. The one who is against you today may be with you tomorrow! A Recipe For Children’s Workers Ingredients: 4 cups of sound biblical doctrine 2 cups of love 1 cup of sincerity 1 cup of willingness 3 spoons of understanding 3 spoons of friendship 3 spoons of determination 2 cups of laughter Mix the sound doctrine and love together with sincerity. Blend with willingness and understanding; and then add friendship. Knead vigorously with determination. Let rise until the goal is reached. Sprinkle abundantly with laughter. Bake and serve generous helpings while hot. A Test For Children’s Workers It is easy enough to be pleasant When life flows by like a song But the man worthwhile is one who will smile When everything goes dead wrong For the test of the heart is trouble And it always comes with the years And the smile that is worth the praises of earth Is the one that shines through the tears (Ellen Wheeler Welcox)
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 75 QUESTIONS TO ANSWER/THINK ABOUTDo you agree with me that it is very difficult to react to criticism, difficultyand misunderstanding in the correct biblical way? But do you see progressin your reactions? To what do you attribute this?Do you feel that we should teach our children how to react to otherchildren in a correct and biblical way? How should we do this?Are we careful about our own reactions to the children? Is there adanger that our reactions may speak more loudly than our words?
76 Section I — Chapter 13 Chapter 13: Problem Situations And How To Solve Them he best time to solve a problem is before it starts! If the guidelinesT given in the previous chapters are followed there is very little possibilityof a problem developing in your personal relationships. But sometimes aproblem does develop. So you need to learn from the Bible how to dealwith it. Almost invariably you yourself are the one to do something aboutsuch problems. The “ball is in your court” and you need to take the firststep. Problem 1: You Have Done Wrong To Someone and You Are Convicted About It There are times when the Holy Spirit convicts you of having donesomething to hurt or harm another person. This is usually because of thewrong and sinful use of your tongue. Such conviction would seem to beIsaiah’s experience when he cried: “Woe is me—for I am a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6 v5). But how wonderful it was when the convicted tongue of verse 5abecame the confessing tongue of verse 5b and this in turn led to the cleansedtongue of verse 7. The basic Bible text which shows how this problem should be dealtwith is Matthew 5 v23 and 24. It is important to understand the immediate context of these verses. Inverse 22 the Lord Jesus refers to the sin of being angry with a brotherwithout a cause, and the sin of calling a brother Raca (or a “block-head”or a fool). The context is that of saying something to a brother whichshould not be said, something which is wrong. The verses which follow outline what you should do where any situationlike this has occurred, and you are convicted about it. “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberestthat thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift beforethe altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and thencome and offer thy gift” (verse 23 and 24). You have sinned against your brother. You said something to him that
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 77you should not have said or you did something you should not have done.On your way to prayer meeting, or when on your knees in prayer, youremember what you have said, or done, you are convicted about it and youknow you were wrong. What should you do? The first step is to confess your sin to God. All sins, whether they be of word, thought and deed, must be confessed to Him, according to 1 John 1 v9, and He promises to forgive. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The second step is the one outlined in Matthew 5 v23. You need to go to the brother you have wronged (by word or deed), and confess it to him and ask him for forgiveness. “I am sorry I said that; I was wrong; would you please forgive me?” You should not be vague. “If I said anything which hurt you . . .” You should not blame him. “I am sorry, but you were as much to blame as I was . . .” You should not excuse yourself. “I said something yesterday which I shouldn’t have said, but I had good reason to do so. Let me explain . . .” No, it is a simple question of confessing, and asking for forgiveness -nothing more and nothing less. Perhaps the other person did say something or do something wrong.But that is his problem. You need to resolve your problem, and the onlyway to do it is through your seeking forgiveness, and with it reconciliation.What he has done, and how he reacts to your approach, is a matter forhimself, not for you. You must determine to solve your problem and to doso in the biblical way. You will often find that when you ask for forgiveness like this, theperson you have wronged will also ask for forgiveness, or recognize hisresponsibility concerning what happened, and this will make the reconciliationcomplete. But even if he doesn’t, you are still responsible to do what theBible tells you to do. The third step needs to be taken if others were involved. They should know about your confession and repentance. If you said
78 Section I — Chapter 13 something wrong to someone before a group of people, then you should endeavour to make your apology before that same group. And that is difficult! That is why it is so much better to avoid such problems before they come, rather than solving them afterwards. A theological student interrupted D. L. Moody when he was preaching; and he snapped an irritated retort. At the end of the sermon he said publicly, “Friends, I want to confess before you all that I made a great mistake at the beginning of this meeting. I answered my young brother down there foolishly. I ask God to forgive me. I ask him to forgive me.” And he went down and shook the young man’s hand. One who was present at the meeting said, “It was the greatest thing I ever saw Mr. Moody do.” In some cases, in addition, restitution is also necessary as a fourth step. For example, if a person has, through what has happened, received something, which properly belongs to the other person, it should be given to him. Sins of thought should be confessed to God alone. The extent of yourconfession should be the extent of knowledge concerning the sin in question.To say “I am sorry, I was rude to you” or “I am sorry I did not keep mypromise” is right. But you should not say “I am afraid I had jealous thoughtsabout you all day!” Such a confession only embarrasses and leads toproblems. “Secret sins” should be confessed only to God. Having understood the steps to be followed when such a problem hasarisen, it is necessary to act on each one of them. At the same time thereare several additional points which, I trust, will give some more help: It is most important that you don’t become a “professional confessor,” and go around confessing everything to everybody. This applies especially to people with a sensitive nature. If a verbal confession to the person you have wronged is not possible because of distance, a letter of confession is the next best thing. There is no point in your coming to the altar (or prayer meeting), and expecting blessing, if there is something which you need to make right with someone whom you have wronged. Reconciliation and conflict resolution are more important than religious observances. First of all you need to be reconciled, and then you can go to the prayer meeting, or speak to the children. You cannot
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 79 expect God’s blessing if a problem such as this remains unresolved. How much better it is to make sure that this type of problem does not arise rather than go through the difficult and costly process of resolving it afterwards. Problem 2: You Feel That Someone Has Done Wrong To You In this case you are not conscious of having done or said somethingwrong to the other person, and you have no sense of conviction. But youbelieve that the other person did say, or do, something wrong to you. Whatshould you do? What should you not do? You should not fight back and try to do, or say, to him something which will hurt him. Two wrongs do not make a right. You should not pity yourself, and start sulking silently about it. You should not allow yourself to become bitter. You should not talk about it, or about him, to others. At the same time you should not overlook it unless after prayer and reflection you feel it is better for him and yourself to do so. However, it is generally wrong to overlook what has happened and to imagine that we are fine Christians in doing so. Usually, when we do overlook it, it is due to cowardice on our part, and not generosity! What should you do? Matthew 18 v15-17 gives the answer: “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tellhim his fault between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thouhast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take withthee one or two more . . . and if he should neglect to hear them tell itunto the church.” The first and most important step is to go to your brother and speak with him alone about what he has said or done. Don’t go to other people and tell them about it. Keep it confidential. You should go to your brother and point out that what he did was wrong, and you should explain why it was wrong. You do this because you want to help your brother and not to humiliate him. You are not trying to justify yourself, or prove something. If you overlook what he has
80 Section I — Chapter 13 done and he doesn’t know how wrong it is, he is likely to do it again. Your purpose is to correct and not to condemn. “He that rebuketh a man afterward shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue” (Proverbs 28 v23). “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27 v6a). While it is obviously best that you go and speak to the person concerned face to face it may not be possible to do so, either because of your lack of courage, or because of the unfavourable reaction you know he will display or because he is no longer accessible or reachable. In this situation the only other alternative is to write to him. But the spoken word is much better and more effective. It is important that you go, and speak, with the right attitude, with a gentle spirit and with a gentle voice. This is made clear in Galatians 6 v1: “Brethren if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness.” There are times when a rebuke is necessary and, if this rebuke is given in the right spirit and with kindness, it will be a tremendous help to the one concerned. In the end he will love you more for having been honest with him. You need to be honest and sincere. But you must not be brutal. Some people pride themselves on a frankness which is close to rudeness. Tactfulness, wisdom and gentleness are all required in a situation such as this. The Apostle Paul once withstood Peter to the face but some years after Peter addressed him as “Our beloved brother Paul” (2 Peter 3 v15). However, it should be pointed out again that there are some times when, with a problem such as this, it is best just to keep quiet and, if your heart is at ease, to commit the whole matter to God. But you need to be sure that the reason for this is not fear of confrontation. It is also important to be sure that you yourself are completely guiltless in this matter. You need to examine yourself carefully to see if you have contributed at all to the problem. If so, you need to ask forgiveness first of all for what you have done wrong. If he sees his fault and asks for forgiveness, you should be ready to forgive him immediately and completely (Matthew 18 v21-22). The Bible teaches us that we must always forgive the one who repents (Luke 17 v3), just as God forgives us when we repent.
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 81However, we must not cheapen forgiveness. God’s forgiveness ofus and our forgiveness of one another are both conditional onrepentance. If a brother who has sinned against us refuses to repentwe should not forgive him – that is in the fullest sense of the word.Of course we must forgive him in the sense that our thoughtstowards him are free of all animosity and full of love; and in ourhearts there must be a readiness and willingness to forgive. Butreal forgiveness includes restoration to fellowship; and if we restoreto intimate fellowship a sinning and unrepentant brother we are notdoing it for his highest good. A forgiveness which bypasses theneed for repentance issues not from love but from sentimentality.However, it is absolutely essential that you learn to forgive the harmwhich has been caused when it is confessed. Later on, and little bylittle, you will also be able to forget it. In the meantime you mustendeavour not to think about it or dwell upon it.God forgives and He does not remember or dwell upon your sin—and He wants you to be like Him (Ephesians 4 v32; Psalm 103 v3;Psalm 130 v3-4; Isaiah 55 v7; Acts 5 v31; 13 v38; Ephesians 1 v7).This is what the Lord Jesus did (Luke 23 v34). This is what Stephendid (Acts 7 v60). This is well illustrated in Matthew 18 v21-35 in theparable which follows the verses on the subject of reconciliationwhich we have been studying; and we see a beautiful picture ofthat forgiveness in the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15 v20-24).This is what you are commanded to do (Mark 11 v25,26; Matthew18 v21,22; Matthew 6 v14,15), and there must be no limit to thenumber of times you forgive (Matthew 18 v21-22). We should forgiveuntil 490 times!Indeed the Bible makes it clear that our forgiveness of others is aclear indication that we, ourselves, have been forgiven (Matthew 6v12-15). In other words, the “Christian” who has a permanent hardunforgiving spirit has every reason to doubt his own forgivenessand salvation.The second step should only be taken if he will not listen and thefirst step has not succeeded. You then need to take one or twoothers along with you. They should be, preferably, those he knows,respects and trusts, those who will not “take sides” and those whoshare your goal of loving restoration according to Galatians 6 v1).You trust and pray that their presence and/or contribution will help
82 Section I — Chapter 13 solve the problem. They could be your co-workers, or committee members. The third step, if neither of the first two was successful, is to “tell it to the church”. This would probably mean, in your case, that you should inform the pastor of his church to see if he can help, and leave the situation in his hands. However, these verses in Matthew 18 v15-17 make it clear that others should only be involved in this problem if your private approach is completely unsuccessful. If this does not succeed it would seem that the problem cannot be solved, and there will be a more or less permanent division between you and the person concerned. However, don’t give up hope. Continue to pray for reconciliation.Problem 3: You Feel That Something Is Wrong BetweenAnother Person And Yourself—But You Don’t Know Why In this case you have examined yourself and you cannot see anythingwhich you have done to cause this problem. You have thought also aboutthe other person and you cannot think of anything which he has done. Butyou know that something is wrong. In this situation you need to take the first step and go to the personconcerned and say to him “I feel there is something wrong between us. Idon’t know why and I don’t know what it is. Have I done something orhave I said something which has affected our fellowship? Please tell me.” It is important to open the window and let the light in. 1 John 1 v7 says, “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, wehave fellowship one with another.” Walking in the light means to walk together in love, in fellowship, inopenness, with no division, no friction, no misunderstanding, and no criticism.And you should never be afraid to talk, to confess and, if necessary, tomake things right. Some Key Principles In all three problem situations there are several key principles toremember, and to act on: Don’t keep things hidden. This means that they usually get bigger and worse.
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 83Deal quickly with problems, and keep short accounts. Even littlepieces of grit can upset and even destroy the machinery!Do everything face to face if at all possible. Only use letters ifconversation is not possible.Take the initiative and the first step in solving a problem yourself.Don’t wait for the other person to do so.Develop more and more your sense of humour. Learn to laugh atyour own mistakes. There are times when you need to laugh atyourself, and to laugh at that which has caused you so much stress.All too often we take ourselves far too seriously with the result thatwe make mountains out of molehills.Patience is called “the queen of virtues.” Cultivate it at all times,and you will reap its blessings.Try to keep things in perspective. Ask yourself the question “Is thisreally important? What will be the results in five years time?” ASpanish proverb says, “There is no evil or sickness that a hundredyears will not cure.” Time can so often make the difference. Whatseems terribly important today may not matter at all tomorrow. IT IS NOT EASY To apologize, To begin over, To be unselfish, To take advice, To admit error, To face a sneer, To be charitable, To keep on trying, To be considerate, To avoid mistakes, To endure success, To profit by mistakes, To forgive and forget, To think and then act, To keep out of the rut, To make the best of little, To subdue an unruly temper, To maintain a high standard, To shoulder a deserved blame, To recognize the silver lining— BUT IT ALWAYS PAYS.
84 Section I — Chapter 13 QUESTIONS TO ANSWER/THINK ABOUT Can you think of anyone you have hurt recently through your words or actions? Have you taken any steps to resolve the situation? Is there something you are now going to do? Has someone hurt you recently without cause? What was your reaction? Did you do something? What? Why? Is there something you still need to do? Have you ever been in a situation where you feel there is something wrong between a co-worker and yourself and you don’t know why? What did you do to resolve the situation? Were you successful?
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 85 Chapter 14: The Blessings Of Good Personal Relationships s we look back over the previous chapters you and I can see, on theA one hand, the dangers we need to avoid and the problems we needto be aware of. But, on the other hand, we also need to see again,especially as we come towards the end of this first book, the wonderfulblessings which are the result of good relationships with others. The blessing of a good attitude towards others. As you understand others and love them, you will be a blessing to them. But this will also be a blessing to yourself. You will feel better emotionally and physically, and you will be aware of the blessing of God on your ministry. The blessing of listening to others. People are helped and encouraged because someone wants to listen to them, intently and with interest and concern. At the same time you will be blessed through the knowledge of having helped others, even though you have only listened to them. The blessing of using words to help and encourage people. There are so many people who are discouraged and depressed. A comforting word with a loving look can build up the lives of these people. Also there is great blessing to yourself and to all those concerned when you praise and speak well about other people. The blessing of writing letters of encouragement. For example, “I just wanted you to know that I prayed for you this morning.” These letters do not need to be long, but they can mean a lot to those who are finding “the going tough,” and you will find that you are blessed and encouraged by writing them. The blessing to yourself, and especially to others, of being able to keep your emotions and your anger under control, and never to “fly off the handle.” The peaceful atmosphere which comes to your home or church as a result of this will be experienced and appreciated by all concerned. It will also strengthen your own testimony before them.
86 Section I — Chapter 14 The blessing of having a good sense of humour, the right kind of humour. What a help it is to be able to laugh, and not to take things too seriously. How good it is for our health also. Blessed Are The Peacemakers The greatest blessing of all, both to you and those with whom you live,work or come into contact is the blessing of being a maker of peace, theblessing of being a peacemaker rather than a peace-breaker. The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 5 v9: “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the childrenof God.” Peace can be broken by jealousy, pride, impatience, lack of love,misunderstandings, oversensitivity and, above all, by an uncontrolled tongue. You and I need so much wisdom to help us in our personal relationshipsand to overcome the problems which break peace. The Lord Jesus makes it clear that the wisdom which God gives (fromabove) is in answer to prayer (James 1 v5); and it is a wisdom which ispeaceable and results in peace (James 3 v17). This wisdom is, Jameswrites, also pure and gentle, approachable, merciful, fruitful, impartial,genuine and righteous. And he writes that this fruit is sown in peace bythem that make peace (James 3 v18). There is another “wisdom,” a worldly wisdom, which is earthly (James3 v15) and results in envying, confusion, strife and evil words (James 3v16) and a breakdown in peace. We can therefore identify the wisdomwe possess and practice by its fruits. The wisdom from above results inpeace; and the earthly wisdom results in confusion and strife. We want to pray for this wisdom from above which results in peaceand to avoid at all costs the earthly wisdom which destroys peace. God’s purpose for His people as revealed in His Word is that we shouldlive and work together in harmony with Himself and with each other. Weare according to Colossians 3 v15 called to peace: “And let the peace of God rule (or referee) in your hearts, to thewhich also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” The peace of Christ should, first of all, rule in our own hearts; but weare also called together into one body and in this body we are to promotepeace and spiritual oneness. We can of course only do this when the
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 87peace of Christ rules in our hearts. The Bible exhorts us to live peaceably with all men. “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with allmen” (Romans 12 v18). You and I need continually to ask ourselves this question - “Am I apeacemaker, or a peacebreaker?” How wonderful it would be to be known everywhere as a peacemaker and as one who leaves behind him a fragrance of peace and not atrail of destruction everywhere he goes! May God give each of us peace in our own hearts. May He also helpus at all times in our relationships to make PEACE. An Old Man’s Prayer Lord, thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing older, and will some day be old. Keep me from getting talkative, and particularly from the fatal habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving to try to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details—give me wings to get to the point. I ask for grace enough to listen to the tales of others’ pains. Help me to endure them with patience. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains - they are increasing and my love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally it is possible that I may be mistaken. Keep me reasonably sweet; I do not want to be a saint—some of them are so hard to live with—but a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Make me thoughtful, but not moody; helpful, but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all—but Thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end. (Author unknown)
88 Section I — Chapter 14 QUESTIONS TO ANSWER/THINK ABOUT Can you think of someone you know who is a real peacemaker? How does he/she make peace? Can you think of someone you know who is a real peacebreaker? How does he/she do this? How would you describe yourself? How do others see you? A peacemaker? Or a peacebreaker?
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 89 Section II: Leadership
90 Section II — Chapter 15
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 91 Chapter 15: Follow The LeaderW e need to start by asking, and endeavouring to answer, three simple questions: What Is Leadership? It is always good to start off with definitions. We need to know clearlywhat we are talking, or writing, about before going into details.A Definition of Leadership Here are several definitions of leadership which I have read: “Leadership is the activity of influencing people to follow in the achievement of a common goal.” “A leader is someone who gives guidance and direction to others.’” “A leader is someone who knows where he is going and is able to take others with him.” “A leader is a man (or woman) who knows the road, who can keep ahead and who pulls others after him.” “Leadership is the ability of one person to influence others.” “Leadership is that capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose, and the character which inspires confidence.” All of these are very good definitions. Perhaps the simplest one (andone of the best) is: “A leader is someone who is being followed.” Is anyone following you? It may be just one person; it may be a child.Then YOU are a leader. Remember that being called a leader does notmean that you are one; and remember also that you may well be a leaderalthough you are not called one.
92 Section II — Chapter 15Biblical Insights into Leadership Peter writes about leadership in the local church in 1 Peter 5 v1-4 andfrom these verses we can learn much about leadership: The qualifications of leadership To see yourself as equal with others, and have no feeling of superiority (verse 1a). To be motivated by the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ (verse 1b). To have your eyes set on future glory rather than present problems (verse 1c). The functions of leadership To shepherd those responsible to you: • to provide their food (verse 2a) • to protect them from danger (verse 2b) To supervise those responsible to you (verse 2-3): • giving them direction without being a dictator (verse 3a) • giving them devotion (verse 3a) To set an example to those responsible to you (verse 3b): The conditions for leadership A willingness to do what God wants (verse 2a): A renunciation of financial gain (verse 2c) A humble attitude (verse 3) The expectations of leadership The coming of the chief Shepherd (verse 4a) The giving of an eternal crown of glory (verse 4b) Are Leaders Born Or Made? We often think of leaders as those who naturally possess strong intellect,character and personality. In other words they are naturally equipped forthe ministry of leadership. They are, as we often say, “born leaders.” But I don’t feel that this is completely true. God does give suchendowments which, if properly developed, result in leadership. But there isa sense in which leadership can be developed. It needs hard work, patienceand diligence but it can be done. Actually some of the finest Christianleaders were not endowed naturally with strong personalities and the naturalability to lead others. But they felt that God was leading them into a position
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 93of leadership and they quietly and patiently developed, with of course God’shelp, the ability to lead. Someone has wisely said, “Although potential leaders are born,effective leaders are made.” Another writer stated that “Christian leadershipis a blend of natural and spiritual qualities, or a blend of natural talents andspiritual gifts.” There are certainly those leaders who could be described as natural leaders. These individuals are obviously gifted for leadership - either naturally from birth, or supernaturally at or after conversion. In either case leadership is an ability which God has given to them. This gift of leadership is obvious to all; and the person concerned will always tend to lead - sometimes almost unconsciously. Such a person makes situations, creates work, plans, organizes and guides in a natural fashion. Do you know someone like that? Are you like that? There are a number of such natural leaders portrayed in Scripture— men like Moses, Paul, Peter, Daniel, Nehemiah and Joseph. Having a natural gift of leadership does not mean that help and development are not necessary. The opposite is generally true although the leader concerned may not realise it. He may be quite inefficient in some areas of his leadership and his gifts will generally need development and control. Peter, for example, was a natural leader who fits into this category. The potential was there; the ability to lead was there. But both his gifts and abilities needed to be developed, and he especially needed to learn “the art of self-control”. Then there are leaders who have been projected into, or appointed to, a position of leadership without seeming to have the natural gifts for it. Dr. Tozer, the American author and pastor, wrote: “A true and safe leader is likely to be one who has no desire to lead but is forced into a position of leadership by the inward pressure of the Holy Spirit and the press of the external situation. Such were Moses (when first called to be a leader) and David and a number of the Old Testament prophets.” These people take up such a position of leadership almost against their own wishes and desires, but they accept the appointment or invitation only because they feel it is God’s Will for them. Such leaders are inclined to feel limited, and they need, and want, help
94 Section II — Chapter 15 and development. Are you a leader like this? I hope this book will help in your development. Biblical examples of this type of leader include Joshua, Timothy and Jeremiah. Are leaders born or made? Both. Some are born but still need to be made! Others are not born—and need to be made. How Can Leadership Abilities Be Developed? In both types of leadership cited above development is needed. This isalso true for all those who see themselves as somewhere in between thesetwo groups. It should be pointed out, first of all, that leadership is one of the gifts ofthe Spirit. It is listed in Romans 12 v8 as “ruling”, and in 1 Corinthians 12v28 as “government” or “administration.” A gift of the Spirit is asupernatural ability which God the Holy Spirit gives to an individual at, orafter, conversion to help build up the Church of Jesus Christ. In this wayGod has raised up some of the most unlikely people to be leaders and hasblessed and used them in that ministry. But their ministry was based on thefact that God had given them, or was going to give them, the ability to lead. At the same time we need to recognize that some Christian leadershad already demonstrated an ability to lead before they were converted.But this ability also came from God and, while not, strictly speaking, a giftof the Spirit, it was a God-given ability which God then consecrated andused to His Glory at and after conversion. In both cases the gift or ability needs to be developed. Timothy wasexhorted not to neglect the gift that was in him (1 Timothy 4 v14), andencouraged to stir up the gift of God which was in him (2 Timothy 1 v6): You need to ask God to help you develop your leadership ability. You need to use your ability and not neglect it in any way. You need to learn what you can do to become a better leader. I hope this book will help. You need to work hard in the development process and put into practice what you have learned. You need to be patient. Transformation and progress take time and does not happen overnight.
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 95 It would, I feel, be a help, at this time, to have a brief look at the biblicalplan for leadership, and also to see how important leadership is in thepurposes of God. The Biblical Steps For Leadership When God calls a person into His service, be it in leadership orelsewhere, His plan for that ministry generally follows four steps. Thesesteps are explained in detail in my fifth book—“Obedience to the HeavenlyVision”. If you don’t have a copy of this book, please write to the addressgiven at the front of this book, and a copy will be sent to you. Let me summarize the four steps a leader either needs to take or willtake: Vision He needs to have four “visions” from the Word of God. These “visions” are not seen with the eyes but understood in his heart: A vision of God and His Sovereignty A vision of the children and their needs A vision of the Gospel and its power A vision of himself and his responsibility Venture He needs to move, to act and to obey the vision which God has granted to him. Valley Almost invariably after he starts to venture, there will be valleys - valleys of disappointment, discouragement, and even depression. But he must remember his vision or call and not give up. And he must reflect on the character of God, and have peace. Victory Victory is the realization of the vision at some time in the future. But victory is also the ability to persevere in the present, and to enjoy the peace of God. These are the steps which all leaders have experienced whether theywere leaders in the Bible like Abraham, Moses, Nehemiah, or Paul orleaders in church and missionary history like William Carey, Hudson Taylor,Charles Spurgeon or C. T. Studd. These four steps can be clearly seen in the ministry of Peter and in the
96 Section II — Chapter 15development of his leadership: In Peter’s life we can see a two-fold vision: The Lord Jesus showed him: What he would do (Luke 5 v8,10). He would become a fisher of men. What he would be (John 1 v42; Matthew 16 v17,18). He would become a rock. Both of these seemed impossible at that time. Peter ventured all on the basis of that vision (Luke 5 v11; Mark 10 v28). Peter experienced several valleys. He was corrected by his Master (John 13 v6-10). He was rebuked by his Master (Matthew 16 v23). He had the wrong reactions (John 18 v10, 11). He fell asleep at the wrong time (Matthew 26 v36-46). But the deepest valley of all was his denial of His Master (Matthew26 v69-75). Although Peter was upset and even devastated by his failures, he didlearn lessons from those failures which were to help in his later ministry.They would also help him in his writing of the two letters which wouldbecome one of the most important parts of his ministry—for many centuriesto come. A leader who has made mistakes, and knows he has, is in a goodposition to help others not to make the same mistakes.The Lord Jesus graciously restored him and led him onto the fourth step: Victory for Peter was the fulfillment of the vision outlined by the words of the Lord Jesus several years previously. : He “fished” 3,000 men (and women) on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2 v41). He demonstrated his new stability and rock-like nature in his preaching, often before a hostile or indifferent audience (Acts 2 v14-40; Acts 3 v8-22; Acts 5 v29-32); in his writing (1 Peter and 2 Peter), in his leadership and wisdom (Acts 5 v3, 4; Acts 10 v9-48; and in his courage and fearlessness (Acts 12 v3- 19).
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 97 The Importance Of Leadership A ship without a rudder will never get anywhere. An organisation or agroup of any kind which lacks leadership or has the wrong kind of leadershipwill be comparatively ineffective. So much depends upon the hand on thesteering wheel. It is that hand which determines the direction in which togo, and which holds the group together. Also a work of any kind—be it an organisation, a church, a group, afamily or whatever—is the reflection of its leader. The right kind ofleadership will usually result in the right kind of organisation or church; andthe opposite, unfortunately, is also true.Will you be a leader? The right kind of leader? Paul, One Of the Greatest Leaders Of All Time I thought you might be interested to read a rather humorous letterwhich is an imaginary response to an imaginary application by the ApostlePaul to become a missionary and leader. I am sure you will smile as you read it. But it is a humorous illustrationof how wrong people can be in their estimation of potential leaders. The Apostle Paul, Independent Missionary Corinth, Greece Dear Mr Paul: We recently received an application from you for service under our board. We have made an exhaustive survey of your case and, frankly, we are surprised that you have been able to “pass” as a bona-fide missionary. 1. In the first place we are told that you are afflicted with severe eye trouble which is almost certain to be an insuperable handicap to any effective ministry. We normally require 20-20 vision. 2. Secondly, we take a dim view of a full-time missionary doing part-time secular work, but we hear that you are making tents on the side. You admitted in a letter to the church at Philippi that they are the only group supporting you. We wonder why this is. 3. Further, is it true that you have a jail record? Certain brethren report that you did two years’ time at Caesarea and were also imprisoned in Rome. 4. Moreover, it is reported from Ephesus that you made so much trouble for the businessmen there that they refer to you as “the man
98 Section II — Chapter 15 who turned the world upside down.” We feel such sensationalism has no place in missions. We also deplore the “over-the-wall-in-a- basket” episode at Damascus. 5. In one of your letters you refer to yourself as “Paul the Aged.” Our new pension policies do not anticipate a surplus of elderly recipients. 6. Your ministry has been far too flighty to be successful. First Asia Minor, then Macedonia, then Greece, then Italy, and now you are talking about a wild-goose chase into Spain. Concentration is more important than dissipation of one’s powers. 7. Finally, Dr. Luke the physician reports that you are a thin little man, rather bald, frequently sick, and always so agitated over your churches that you sleep very poorly. He indicates that you pad around the house praying half the night. Our ideal for all applicants is a healthy mind in a robust body. We believe that a good night’s sleep will give you zest and zip so that you wake up full of zing. We regret to inform you, Brother Paul, but in all our experience we have never met a candidate so opposite to the requirements of our mission board. If we should accept you we would be breaking every principle of current missionary practice. Most sincerely, J. Flavius Fluffyhead Secretary, Foreign Mission Board (Source Unknown) The Apostles And Their Leadership Abilities Who would have dreamed that this little group of disciples whom theLord Jesus had called (or at least most of them) would become outstandingleaders, and the pioneers and founders of the largest organisation in thehistory of the world—the Christian church. To the world they were nonentities. But to the Lord they had thepotential to become some of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen. To illustrate how the world (including the modern world) can be wrongin its estimation of leadership ability, I include an imaginary memorandumconcerning the twelve apostles. This is, of course, completely imaginary;and it is humorous and lighthearted. But I thought you would like to read it,to smile at it—and, at the same time, realise that it does illustrate theviewpoint of the world both now and in the past:
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 99 MEMORANDUMTo: Jesus, Woodcrafters Shop, NazarethFrom: Jordan Management Consultants, JerusalemSubject: Leadership Aptitude EvaluationThank you for submitting the resumes of the 12 men you have pickedfor management positions in your new organisation. All of them havenow taken our battery of tests, and we have not only run the resultsthrough our computer but also have arranged personal interviews foreach of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant.It is the staff opinion that most of your nominees are lacking inbackground, education and vocational aptitude for the type ofenterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept.We would recommend that you continue your search for persons ofexperience in managerial ability and proven capability.Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrewhas absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, Jamesand John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above companyloyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tendto undermine morale. We feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthewhas been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau.James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus definitely have radicalleanings, and they both registered a high score on the manic depressivescale.One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a manof ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen businessmind and has contact in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitiousand innovative. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller andright hand man. All the other profiles are self-explanatory.We wish you every success in your new venture. (Author unknown)
100 Section II — Chapter 15 QUESTIONS TO ANSWER/DISCUSS How would you define leadership? Describe one or two leaders whom you admire. What leadership qualities do they display? What qualities of leadership can you find in Acts 20 v17-38? How would you apply them today? Read 1 Peter 5 and outline the vital lessons Peter had learned since first meeting the Lord Jesus? When someone becomes a Christian how does it affect the gifts, talents and qualities which he possessed before? And how is his temperament affected? Have you ever followed the wrong leader? What happened? What did you learn from that experience?
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 101 Chapter 16: Six Qualities For A Leader To Aim AtE very Christian leader should continually pray for, and seek to develop, six qualities in his own life and ministry. These qualities will makehim more attractive to those he is leading, and more effective in his ministry. Be Humble This quality of humility may seem, at first glance, to contradict muchof what we have written previously about leadership, especially in definitionslike “A leader is someone whom others follow.” Also humility is certainlynot part of the world’s image of leadership. Worldly leaders are oftenproud, and very opinionated people with a desire to exercise power andauthority. But the biblical picture of leadership is one of humility. The words“leader” and “leadership” are not used very often in the New Testament.The biblical word used in this context is rather “minister” or “servant.”The Lord Jesus taught His disciples: “Whosoever will be great among you shall be your minister orservant” (Mark 10 v43). Robert Morrison, a missionary leader in China many years ago wrote: “The great fault, I think, in our mission is that no one likes to be second.Perhaps the advantages predominate, but I have not been able to see them.” The symbols of leadership according to the Lord Jesus are a towel, abasin and some water (John 13 v5; 13-15). The Lord Jesus said to His disciples: “If I then your Lord and Master (or leader) have washed yourfeet ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given youan example that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, Isay unto you, the servant is not greater than his Lord (or leader)”(John 13 v14-16). The leader who serves those who follow him is more likely to befollowed. Humility and service are the true hallmarks of leadership. TheChristian leader is not a dictator or an employer. He is a guide whoendeavours to learn the art of team work and how to serve the other
102 Section II — Chapter 16members of the team so as to bring out the best in them and encouragethem to work better as a team. Someone has suggested that the first step in organisation and leadershipis to construct a diagram to show all the lines of responsibility in theorganisation. The leader will obviously be at the top of this triangulardiagram. Then the second step is to reverse the diagram so that the leaderis at the bottom, and to indicate that his responsibility is to serve the rest ofthe triangle which is above him. There can be no true and effective leadership for God where there isnot humility. Dr. Tozer wrote: “The man who is ambitious to lead is disqualified as a leader. The trueleader will have no desire to lord it over God’s heritage, but will be humble,gentle, self-sacrificing and, altogether as ready to follow as to lead whenthe Spirit makes it clear that a wiser and more gifted man than himself hasappeared.” Whenever there is trouble in a church or an organisation it can oftenbe traced to pride on the part of the leader. When a Diotrephes wants tohave the preeminence and begins to run the show, acting in a self-assertiveand domineering way there is bound to be trouble (3 John 9). But wherethe hearts of God’s leaders are filled with true humility, “in honour preferringone another” (Romans 12 v10b) what a difference! We always need toremember that the Lord Jesus, the greatest Leader of all, made Himself ofno reputation and took upon Himself the form of a servant (Philippians 2v5-7). Someone has said, “The need is not so much for leaders as for saintsand servants, and unless that fact is held steadily in mind the whole idea ofleadership training becomes dangerous.” I have had the privilege of visiting Poland many times during the last30 years to train and help Polish Christians to reach their children with theGospel. In 1990 I had the opportunity to share in the founding of anorganisation called MED, with 10 full-time workers, to help evangelize thechildren of that country. I felt, at the time, that this organisation shouldhave a committee to guide it and direct it, and I contacted a number ofChristians to ask them to serve on it. The key person on a committee isalways the chairman, and I believed that this position could best be filledby the wife of a well known pastor. She had a real burden for children andhad played an important role in the development of this organisation and itsministry to children. So I wrote to her, in English, and asked her if she
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 103would become the “chairwoman” of this new committee. Her knowledgeof English was limited, and she told me afterwards that she went to herEnglish dictionary to find out what the word “chairwoman” meant.Unfortunately she looked at the wrong word in the dictionary. She lookedat the word “charwoman” instead of “chairwoman” and discovered that a“charwoman” is the “woman who cleans rooms and sweeps floors”. Shethought that this was a strange request, but she was immediately willing todo it. If the committee needs a charwoman, she thought, I am more thanhappy to be that person. What a humble attitude from a precious lady! (She eventually becamethe vice-chairwoman of the committee). Do you and I have that samehumble attitude? As leaders are we willing to serve others—in anycapacity? In the secular world, leaders feel themselves to be on a level abovethose responsible to them, and are sometimes purposely separated fromthem. Privileges and facilities are given to the leaders which are differentfrom those enjoyed by the rest. Leaders stay aloof from workers. And thissometimes happens in Christian circles. There are certain burdens and responsibilities which only the leadercan bear and which he cannot share with his staff. But staying completelyaway from them is a mistake. Close association and fellowship is vital tospiritual leadership. There must be a sense of unity, fellowship, partnershipand love, and these are only possible when the leader is truly humble. Be Gentle Your ministry of leadership can be completely destroyed if you displaythe wrong kind of attitudes to those whom you lead. When Paul wrote to Timothy to help and encourage him in his leadershipresponsibilities he underlined one very important quality which he shouldalways aim at. “The servant of the Lord must not strive (fight or quarrel); but BEGENTLE unto all men” (2 Timothy 2 v24). As we saw earlier in the book on “Personal Relationships” themeaning of the Greek word translated “gentle” can best be seen in theonly other place it is used in the New Testament. We read in Paul’s firstletter to the Thessalonians. “We were GENTLE among you even as a nurse (or nursing
104 Section II — Chapter 16mother) cherisheth her children” (1 Timothy 2 v7). What a beautiful picture of a leader. A leader is a “gentle man” or“gentle woman.” You should make it your goal always to be gentle, andnever to hurt or wound those you are leading with words, humour or evenlooks. I knew a man who had been appointed to a position of key Christianleadership. He was extremely talented and had every quality and abilitywhich could be desired, or wished for, in a leader—except one! He wasnot gentle. He continually hurt and wounded people by his words and hisactions; and he did not stay in that position of leadership for very long. I think of another very gifted and extremely capable Christian leaderwho has accomplished much; but in the process he has hurt and woundedmany of those who “follow” him. How much more effective he couldhave been if he had only learned to be GENTLE. An important aspect of this gentleness is the need to be courteous atall times. Courtesy means being considerate of others in little things. Itmeans knowing how to refuse a request gracefully, how to show respectfor what others revere, how to treat bores with consideration, how to beeager to do a favour and how to be calm under provocation and affableunder pressure. It is obvious that there will frequently be times when a leader needs tobe firm, and when he needs to exercise discipline and give rebuke. But,even when these are necessary, they should still be exercised in love andgentleness. The leader always needs to speak the truth in love. Truth minuslove is brutality; love without truth is hypocrisy. “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual,restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lestthou also be tempted” (Galatians 6 v1). Be Trustful One of the main qualities necessary for a leader is trustfulness and theability to have confidence in others besides himself. The leader who canonly trust himself and his own abilities will be limited in what he can do andwill, in the long run, be comparatively ineffective. This quality of trustfulness needs to be exercised in two directions: You need to learn how to trust other people.
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 105 You need to understand that to be an effective leader you cannot do everything yourself, and you must know how to delegate tasks and responsibilities to others. Some leaders find this very difficult. They feel, consciously, or unconsciously, that no one else can do the work or perform the task as well and as efficiently as they can. So they either don’t delegate at all, or else they try to delegate but interfere so much that the person to whom the task has been delegated feels that he is not trusted, and suffers from the resulting lack of confidence. You need to learn to delegate some of your work and responsibilities to others. And when you do delegate you should be available for advice and help, and you need to keep a friendly and kindly eye on the one to whom you have delegated the responsibility. But you should do so without continual interference. Some form of accountability is necessary, but do let the worker get on with the work, and trust him. You need to learn to trust God. This may seem a strange statement to make concerning Christian leaders. But it is so easy for you and me to depend, more and more, upon ourselves and less and less on God. For example, some leaders will try to manipulate the people on a committee so that they will make the decisions the leader wants to be made. This practice is sometimes called “politicking” for obvious reasons, and it is an evidence of lack of trust in God Himself. You can safely leave such issues in His hands. He knows best and He is sovereign. You never need to manipulate or “politick.” Manipulation also shows a lack of confidence in co-workers and committee members because it indicates that they cannot be trusted to come to the right decisions by themselves. Leaders often find themselves in difficult situations. You should trust God for the solution and for the help needed to solve the problems you face. Leaders often find themselves criticized. If you are in this position you do not need to justify yourself. God can do that better than you can. Do what you can, and leave the results with Him.TRUST HIM.
106 Section II — Chapter 16 Be Optimistic No one can pretend that leadership is easy. Far from it. With leadershipcome all kinds of problems, and stressful situations. One of the best ways to handle such difficulties is to cultivate thequality of optimism. It is so helpful to be able always to see the bright sideof any situation, and not always to concentrate on the dark side. It is betterto look forward to what God is going to do, and not worry about what isgoing to happen. “Twixt optimist and pessimist, the difference is droll The optimist sees the dough-nut, the pessimist the hole.” “Two men looked out through prison bars One saw earth, the other stars.” “The optimist sees his cup as half full, the pessimist sees it as half empty. “ The way we look at circumstances is more important then thecircumstances themselves. The following story is told of Matthew Henry, the well known Biblecommentator. He was on his way, on horse back, to preach at a meeting. Ahighwayman accosted him and demanded his money. “Your money or yourlife,” he shouted. Matthew Henry gave him his purse and his money. He continued on his way rejoicing, and when he arrived at his destinationand shared what had happened he did so with joy. “Why are you so joyful?” he was asked. “I have three reasons for my joy,” he replied. “Firstly, because the thief took my money but not my life. Secondly, because he robbed me and not someone else. Thirdly, because I had so little money in my purse!” Now that is real joy, pure thanksgiving—and great OPTIMISM. However two facts need to be remembered: It is still possible for optimists to have periods of depression and discouragement. We are all human. Pessimists are certainly not ruled out of leadership positions. Indeed there are times when a pessimist can be more in touch with reality than an enthusiast optimist!
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 107 Be Patient Patience is the ability to “endure with composure and without complaint;and the ability to keep your emotions under control and remain calm.”Patience enables leaders to be calm and level headed even during themost trying situations. Because patience is an expression of love, it is farmore valuable than power when it comes to leading people. The problem with many leaders is that they expect results too quickly.Chrysostom, an early Christian preacher and writer, called patience the“queen of virtues.” Oswald Saunders, a former director of the China InlandMission, wrote: “A liberal endowment of this quality is essential to sound leadership.” You need to learn to wait when you are in a hurry You need to learn to be patient with those who are responsible to you as their leader, and to let God work in their lives just as He works in yours. You need to allow people to grow at their pace, and remember that growth takes time. You need to be patient with yourself and not to expect too much too soon from yourself. You need to learn to be at peace with unresolved questions in your own life, or in the lives of those you lead. Quick answers cannot always be found. However, patience does not mean that we sit down with folded handsto simply bear things and do nothing. It means endurance and steadfastness.It means courageous acceptance of every situation and problem, but italso means doing what you can to resolve the situation without pressure orstress. But in leadership the bull dozer technique is always out of place. Youwant to sow the seeds of your ideas early, and not try to force them uponpeople before they are ready to receive them. You should never be in ahurry if you have doubts about whether you are carrying your people alongwith you in what you propose. Patience is required! How wonderful it is to have a God who is patient with us (Romans 15v5; Revelation 1 v9). If it were not for that, none of us would be heretoday.
108 Section II — Chapter 16 Develop A Sense Of Humour If you, as a leader, do not have a sense of humour you will find itdifficult to survive! Try not to be too serious. The ability to see a joke andto laugh at yourself is indispensable. A sense of humour will always relievea tense situation which threatens harmony. Learn to have a good laugh atyourself, and at whatever problem you are facing. After all, will it matterin five years time? If you do not cultivate a controlled sense of humour youwill tend to take yourself too seriously, and be in a position of leadershipthat may turn very quickly to pompousness. Someone has said, “A kindly sense of humour delivers us out of makingmountains out of mole hills and gives a sense of perspective when we arein danger of exaggerating difficulties and problems.” Another writer said, “I have never seen effective leadership without asense of humour. This ability to stand outside one’s self and one’scircumstances to see things in perspective, and laugh, is a great safetyvalve. You will never lead others far without the joy of the Lord and itscompanion—a sense of humour.” Another person said, “Clean wholesome humour will relax tension andrelieve a situation more than anything else.” It is significant that the words “the joy of the Lord is your strength”appears in the book of Nehemiah, the main theme of which is leadership(Nehemiah 8 v10). A smile or a laugh is not a sin. A sense of humour is an indication offriendliness and makes people favorably disposed to those who possess it.When people see you are ready to laugh at yourself they will be muchkinder in their criticism. If you take yourself too seriously you can soonbecome conceited, pompous and dull. At the same time you need to remember that everything can be carriedto an extreme. God has called us to be His ambassadors and not comediansor clowns. While some leaders need to encourage and develop a sense ofhumour, there are others who must always be careful to keep their humourunder control, and not to use it to hurt or offend their co-workers.
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 109 The Secret of Good Leadership Having the respect of others, and a good reputation, is an indispensablefactor in any type of work—but especially in Christian work and leadership. This is true in the secular world. A recent business study revealed thatthe difference between top salesmen and average ones was not talent butrespect and reputation. People trusted the top salesmen more. No onelikes to do business with someone they don’t respect. The same principleapplies to Christian leadership. The Bible says: “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches” (Proverbs22 v1). In other words your self-worth (the person you are) is more importantthan your net-worth (the possessions, or even talents, you have). Respectand reputation are more to be desired than riches. The common mistake most people make is thinking respect andreputation are a matter of image. So they worry themselves with questionslike “How do I look?” or “Did I say the right thing?” To build long timegood respect and reputation you must focus on your character, not yourimage. Respect must be earned, and it can be earned, as character qualitiessuch as those outlined in this chapter are evident in your life and ministry.Respect is also earned through other qualities such as: Integrity and honesty (Proverbs 17 v7). Dependability (Psalm 15 v4). Generosity (Psalm 112 v9). “Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck:write them upon the table of thine heart. So shalt thou find favourand good understanding in the sight of God and man” (Proverbs 3v3, 4). QUESTIONS TO ANSWER/DISCUSS: How do you react when another is selected to lead a ministry on which you had set your heart? How do you react when another outshines you in gifts and accomplishments? Especially if you are that person’s leader. How do you react to criticism—especially when this criticism agrees with your own self-criticism?
110 Section II — Chapter 16 Do you try to prove your critics wrong, when you know they are right? Do you hasten to criticise the critic? What practical steps can a leader take to ensure that he remains humble? Have you ever known a leader who had many gifts but you found him unpleasant and unattractive? What was it that “turned you off”? What does it mean to be a servant? How does being a servant make a difference to your work, your attitude and your decisions?
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 111 Chapter 17: Six Responsibilities For A Leader To AssumeI n our last chapter we looked at the six qualities which a leader needs, and wants, to see developed in his life. The man is more importantthan his ministry; what he is, is more important than what he does; hisattitudes are more important than his actions. But now we need to look at a leader’s responsibilities, at his activitiesand at his ministries so that we can discover what a leader is supposed todo. A Leader Leads A leader’s first responsibility is to lead. We remember again thedefinition “A leader is someone whom others follow”; and, if you want toknow whether you are a leader or not, look behind you to see if there isanyone following you! Your responsibility is to determine, under God’s guidance, the directionwhich is best for the work, the workers, and the children; and then tomove forward, in front, with others following you. Your task is not to find out the general direction in which everyonewants to go, and then to move in that direction (although you should alwaysbe willing to ask others for their thoughts and be open to their suggestions).Strictly speaking, Christian work is not a complete democracy. Leadershipis always needed. Many will have different viewpoints and all theirviewpoints should be carefully and prayerfully considered. But the resultsof attempted consensus or agreement could often be confusion. Your job is not to agree with what everyone wants to do, but toencourage everyone to see what you have seen, and to encourage themto move in the same direction as yourself. You will often be the first tosee “a vision”. Your task is then to communicate that vision to others andhelp them to see it. You need to lead from the front and not from theback. In Acts 16 v9 God granted a vision to the Apostle Paul, the leader ofthat little group of intrepid missionaries. God spoke to him and showedhim that he should go over into Macedonia and evangelize them. We read
112 Section II — Chapter 17then in verse 10: “After he had seen the vision immediately we endeavoured to gointo Macedonia assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us topreach the Gospel unto them.” The leader saw the vision and the direction he and they should movein. But he also had the ability to communicate that vision to his followers sothat they would also see it as God’s direction for them. However, as a leader, you need to be patient and persevere in yourministry of influencing, guiding and leading others. Often it takes time toinfluence others. You need to be firm but not authoritative. You need toinfluence and not compel. You can only lead those who are willing to follow.You cannot compel others to give you the right kind of obedience if theydon’t voluntarily choose to place themselves under your authority. Even“discipline” of some kind won’t necessarily bring the type of heart submissionwhich you long for. There is a type of submission which can be coercedbut it is not helpful or productive to anyone. Someone has said, “Leadershipis a gift from people under you.” This is why the responsibilities which follow are so important. If, forexample, a leader feeds his followers, invests in them, and seeks always todo what is right, then they will want to follow him - and that makes all thedifference. Someone has said: “An effective leader guides people and commands respect. He inspiresthem and gives enthusiasm. An ineffective leader drives people and demandsrespect. He uses fear and authority.” Someone else said: “A Christian leader can accomplish God’s Will in, with and through,people to the glory of God. He must know God’s Will He accomplishes God’s Will in people He accomplishes God’s Will with people He accomplishes God’s Will through people” A Leader Feeds When Peter speaks about the responsibility of leaders or elders heemphasizes that their top priority is to “feed the flock of God which isamong you” (1 Peter 5 v2). The picture here is that of a shepherd and
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 113the main responsibility of a shepherd is to feed his sheep. David was one of the greatest leaders of all time. He was a shepherdby profession: “He chose David also His servant and took him from thesheepfolds” (Psalm 78 v70). God called him to be a shepherd of his people: “From following the ewes great with young He brought him tofeed Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance. So he fed themaccording to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by theskilfulness of his hands” (Psalm 78 v71, 72). He fed his people—and he led them. It has often been said that the main responsibility of a leader is not todevote himself to the work he does, but to devote himself to the workerswho are responsible to him. His first priority is to love them, help them andfeed them. Personal interest, concern and counsel can often be of greatervalue and benefit to them than just giving direction; and can help in givingthat direction. The work must not keep you from your workers. I was at a seminar on leadership a number of years ago and the speaker,who was himself a leader in a well known missionary organisation said,“Your ministry as a leader is to minister to your workers and not to thework. Even if you do nothing else that is enough.” He said that he hadtwelve men who were directly responsible to him. They carried on thework, and his responsibility was to minister to them. I was convicted about this and resolved from then on to spend moretime “feeding” and not just “leading.” Many of us are too busy to get involved in this way but, if we do, Godwill bless both the work and the workers in a special way and, as we carefor them, they will in turn demonstrate their love and loyalty to us. There is an excellent example of this type of leadership (or“feedership”) in 1 Chronicles chapter 11. There is a record in this chapterof David’s mighty men. These were men whom, according to Psalm 78v71 and 72, David loved, led and fed. What was the consequence? Theyloved him. When three of them heard that David longed for a drink fromthe well at Bethlehem they went, at great danger to themselves, and broughthim the water he longed for (1 Chronicles 11 v15-19). What a picture oflove, loyalty and devotion. But it was their natural response to a leaderwho really cared for them and looked after them, and he also showed thatcare by refusing to drink the water they brought. They would die for him
114 Section II — Chapter 17because they knew he would die for them. So fully did he capture theiraffection and allegiance that a whispered wish was to them a command. Their reaction was “He cares for me, I’ll do anything for him.” Dear leader, take time to listen to your workers, to talk to them, to helpthem, to advise them and to encourage them. Take time TO FEED THEM.The more you feed them, the better you will lead them. A Leader Does What Is Right One of the greatest dangers for any leader is that of pragmatism. Thepragmatic leader makes decisions only on the basis of what will work, andwhat will bring most success. The foundation of what he does, and thedecisions he makes, is pragmatism and not morality. A leader must always do what is right and just and correct—no matterwhether it works or not, no matter whether it is successful or not, and nomatter what the consequences are: “And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight ofthe Lord” (Deuteronomy 6 v18). One of the main responsibilities of a leader is to make decisions. Butthis means that what you do, and the decisions you make should be biblicallycorrect, and therefore the decisions which are best for the workers andfor the work. If these decisions are biblically correct, they will be best forthe work in the long run, even though they may seem to be unsuccessful inthe short run. There are several guidelines to follow when you are making decisions,and following these guidelines will help to ensure that they are the rightones: Do not make quick decisions. Pray, read the Word and think carefully through all that is involved. Then act on the principles of God’s Word. Do not make any decisions until all the facts have been gathered and are completely understood. Undue haste in making a decision can cause many problems. When you are not sure—wait. This also applies in direct conversations. If you are asked a question, or if you are asked to give advice and you are not sure what to say, it is better to wait, to reflect and then to come back to the person with your response at a later time. At the same time you should not hesitate to make a decision quickly if after prayer, thought and consultation you are sure it is the right
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 115 one—even if it is a hard one, or one which would lead to difficulties. Your decisions should always be characterized by wisdom. If you feel your lack of this quality ask God for it (James 1 v5). Do not be too dogmatic in your decisions. Allow for some flexibility by being open with those you lead, and by asking them for their thoughts. Remember you are a servant and not a dictator. You are, or should be, a leader who is not thirsty for power or preeminence. While you have your own convictions, do not try to force them on others if it is obvious that, for some reason, they are completely unacceptable. Think again! Realise that there are times when you are wrong and do not be afraid to say so. There may be times when you need to change a decision and, if this is the case, do not hesitate to do so. Do not be forced to make a decision by “blackmail” on the part of anyone involved or by pressure from someone. Threatening to resign should not force you to make a decision which is not correct. Avoid “politicking” at all times. “Politicking,” as we have already indicated, is the use of underhand means and manipulation to achieve one’s purpose. The manipulator thinks, “If I say this to her, and do that to him, I will get their support and achieve my purpose.” No! This is God’s work and requires dignity at all times. When you have made your decision and you know it was the right one, do not worry about it. Leave the results with God. Trust God to work and bring the correct results to fruition. A Leader Invests Investment is a commercial term. A businessman has a certain amountof capital; and he looks for a business into which he can put that capital sothat in the future he will get good returns from it. That is investment. A Christian leader possesses capital. The Bible calls that capital“talents” (Matthew 25 v14). His capital consists of the ability and giftswhich God has given him, the truths which God has taught him, the time hehas at his disposal and the love and care God has put in his heart for thosewho work with him. Consequently, the leader now needs to look for thoseworkers in whom he can invest his ability, his time, his love and the truthshe has learned. The Lord Jesus invested much of His time, love and teaching in His
116 Section II — Chapter 17disciples for 3½ years. He knew that they were the key to the futureexpansion of the Gospel, even though they seemed a strange and motleycrew! Paul invested and poured much of himself into men like Timothy, Titus,Luke, Mark and others. He emphasized the importance of investment whenwriting to Timothy: “And the things that thou hast heard of me among manywitnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be ableto teach others also” (2 Timothy 2 v2). Effective investment—in business or in Christian leadership - requiresseveral qualities: Understanding. The leader needs wisdom to know in whom he should invest. He does not want to waste his capital. Sacrifice. Investment means that the present enjoyment of one’s capital is sacrificed so that there can be future returns. When you invest something, you do not possess what you have invested for your present and personal use. Risk. You cannot be sure that your investment will be successful. While you are as careful as possible as to where you invest there is always an element of risk involved. Patience. Investment never brings immediate returns. You usually need to wait to see the result of your investment, and this may involve a number of years. BUT good investment eventually brings returns—and it is the bestway for you as a leader to use your capital. If you keep all your capital foryourself and don’t invest it, you are more likely, eventually, to lose it.Someone has wisely said, “You lose that which you don’t use.” A Leader Perseveres You will not be in a leadership position very long before you faceproblems. These could be problems with those you lead, or with your ownleader, problems with decision-making, problems with criticism andmisunderstanding, problems with finance and, possibly, bad health, andproblems with indifference and opposition. The leader may be tempted, in such circumstances, to give up and tryto find a ministry where he feels he would be more appreciated, less under
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 117pressure, and faced with fewer problems. But if he is sure that God has led him into his leadership position hemust never, under any circumstances, give up or quit. Our Lord’scommendation to the obedient and persevering leader is “Well done, thougood and faithful servant” (Matthew 25 v21). Faithfulness is the abilityto stick at a task and not give up. When a leader gives up on a ministry intowhich he believed God had called him, it is usually either because he had aproblem knowing God’s Will and was in the wrong place; or he was in theright place and in God’s Will but he did not have the ability, or desire, topersevere. The Lord Jesus Himself said, “I have finished the work which Thougavest Me to do” (John 17 v3). What would have been the consequencesfor you and me if He had not persevered, and had not finished His work? Dr. John Stott, the well known English preacher and leader, writes,“The real leader has the resilience to take setbacks in his stride, the tenacityto overcome fatigue and discouragement and the wisdom to ‘turn stumblingblocks into stepping stones.’ ” He then writes about Moses and the multitude of problems he faced.He says, “A lesser man would have given up. But not Moses. He neverforgot that these were God’s people by God’s covenant who by God’spromise would inherit the land. The true leader does not waver in his basicconviction of what God has called him to do. Whatever the oppositionaroused or the sacrifice entailed he perseveres.” Someone has written: “A leader is a lonely man. He follows visions that others cannot see.He moves ahead when others lag behind. He walks in solitude with God.Driven on by a burning desire to achieve goals that to others seem visionaryor impractical they are looked upon with suspicion by others. Men andwomen who lead are certain targets for the biting barks of criticism. Theirfearless clear compelling manner makes them a prey to those who do notunderstand them. But Jesus Christ needs leaders today—men (and women)who will bear criticism, who will bear reproach for the cause of Christ andthe children; men (and women) who will stand up when others fall; whowill go on when others faint. Will you be a leader?”
118 Section II — Chapter 17 A Leader Looks For A Successor When the time comes for you to hand over your leadership position toanother, you want to be sure that “another” is there, and that you haveprepared and trained him to take over. There can be problems in any groupor organization when a leader leaves or dies, and leaves a gap which is notfilled for months or even years. You should make it your goal to make surethat there is no such vacuum if for some reason you were to leave yourposition. The leader must not feel that he should just leave the question of hissuccessor for someone else to decide after he is gone. Looking for, andpreparing, his successor should be one of his top priorities. Someone has written as follows: “One of the most awesome responsibilities a leader faces is that ofselecting and developing a person to take his place in the future. Choosinga successor can be very difficult. What if he fails? What if he is not faithfulin carrying out his tasks? Difficult as it may be, there is no successfulalternative. God’s work must be entrusted to chosen men. The Scriptures record that Moses publicly placed Joshua as hissuccessor to lead the people of Israel. We can learn several things fromMoses’ example which are applicable whenever we are in a position tochoose a successor. First we need to remember that selection is not based merely on seniority. Moses choice lay between two faithful and courageous men, Caleb and Joshua. Though Caleb had seniority he was not chosen as the next leader. Secondly, Moses made his choice before he gave up his position of leadership. He did not delay the decision thus leaving the people without a leader if he were to die. A leaderless army or team is the prey of the enemy. Timing in the appointment of any person to responsibility is vitally important. Appointments should be made well enough in advance to prepare both the new leader and the people for new relationships. Lastly, the choice of a successor was, in this instance, made by the leader not by the people. Moses prayed and sought God’s choice before announcing his decision. He did not leave Caleb and Joshua to decide between themselves nor did he ask the people to select
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 119 the successor by popular vote. The responsibility for the choice belonged to Moses and he accepted it.” These are good basic principles to understand and put into practicealthough the official approval and appointment in your case will probablyneed to be the responsibility of the committee concerned. When a successor is appointed the former leader needs to get out ofthe way and not interfere with the new leader or look over his shoulder.Much harm has sometimes been done when a former leader refuses tohand over all the responsibilities he had, and continues to exercise hisinfluence and authority. This can cause confusion to those who are beingled and can even, eventually, lead to friction and division. Also when the old leader is still there (and has been there for a longtime) there are those, especially the older people, who will go to him forhelp, advice and guidance instead of the new leader, and this can alsocause problems. My own personal recommendation is that when you hand over theleadership of the work to your successor you should leave the workcompletely. You could either go into and join another completely separatework, or you could, if you are old enough, retire. It may even be helpful tochange your place of residence. I believe that this principle applies to ALLin leadership position when the time comes to hand over – mission directors,pastors, Bible school principals, leaders of youth groups/Bible study groupsand many others. This has been our own personal experience when, on two occasions,we have handed over our leadership role to our successors: When we handed over the leadership of Irish CEF to David and Mollie McQuilken in 1965 we stepped out of the work completely and moved over to live in Switzerland to begin our new ministry as European CEF Directors. When we handed over the leadership of European CEF to Roy and Ruth Harrison in 1993 we left the work of European CEF completely and moved back to live in Ireland, and started our new writing ministry. However, in both cases the ground was well prepared for the handoverduring the preceding months so that it could be implemented as smoothlyand as imperceptibly as possible.
120 Section II — Chapter 17If he wants help, the new leader should feel free to approach the formerleader, but it is the new leader who should take the initiative and not theother. In the light of the above paragraphs it is good for you, as a leader, tolook for, and pray for, an assistant. Just as Moses had his Joshua, as Elijahhad his Elisha, and Paul had his Timothy, so you need someone who willhelp you, work with you, be trained by you and, perhaps one day becomeyour successor. Also, the right kind of assistant, who is not afraid to adviseyou or to tell you when he feels something is wrong, can be absolutelyinvaluable in your present leadership ministry. He can lessen the danger ofyou becoming a dictator or a “one-man band.” Many (if not all) leadersneed this kind of assistant. QUESTIONS TO ANSWER/DISCUSS Do you know of any organisation, mission, work or church which declined, or even disintegrated, when the leader, or leaders, left or retired from the work without having a successor? How could this have been avoided? Do you know of any example of a leader staying on in his position longer than he should have—without handing over to his successor? Why does such a situation occur? What would you advise a leader to do after he hands over to his successor? What people do you regard as outstanding leaders? Name the leaders you admire from history, from today’s world scene, from your personal life, or from Christian circles? Why do you admire these people? What have they done in the area of leadership to justify your admiration? Do any of those who are responsible to you as leader resist or ignore your leadership? Have you discovered why? What can you do to resolve this situation?
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 121 Chapter 18: Six Lessons For A Leader To Learn here are many warnings which leaders need to heed, and lessonsT which leaders need to learn, so as to avoid some of the problemsthey will face in their ministry. You Need To Guard Your Own Devotional Life You as a leader can become so busy with your work and with yourresponsibilities that you have little time for what should always be yourvery first priority—to be alone with God on a regular daily basis, to listen toHim speaking to you personally through His Word, to talk to Him in prayerand, above all, to worship Him. The Father still seeks those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth(John 4 v23) and that includes leaders. All the great leaders in the Bible were men who knew their God andwho realised the importance of building their ministry for God on the basisof their relationship with God. Satan wants to upset and destroy the ministryof every Christian leader, and one of his main strategies is to interfere withyour Quiet Time and reduce it both in quality and quantity. Make it your goal to spend at least 30 or 40 minutes alone with God every morning before your work commences. Be sure not to allow anything or anyone to interfere with this special time and keep you away from it. Ensure that your Quiet Time is also “quality time”; that it is time well spent and invested; and do not allow business or tiredness to dilute it. Commence by reading a passage from your Bible slowly, carefully and prayerfully. Ask yourself, especially, the question “What does this verse or passage teach me about God?” Follow a systematic Bible reading plan from day to day. Worship God on the basis of what you have read about Him in your Bible reading. Spend time interceding for yourself, your ministry, the needs of your work, for your co-workers and others who are involved in the Lord’s
122 Section II — Chapter 18 work, and especially for those who look to you as their leader - just as Paul prayed for Timothy. You will find it a great help to use a prayer book to record the names of those you should pray for on a daily, a weekly or a monthly basis. Three lessons I have learned which have helped me in my devotional life are: The Word of God is about God The Will of God is to worship God The Work of God depends upon God Remember that you are setting an example to all those who look toyou for leadership, and this is especially true of your devotional life. You Need To Be Clear About Your Guidance Into Your Leadership Position We have already referred, on a number of occasions, to the problemsfaced by leaders in their ministry, and to the consequent temptation to giveup and move into another ministry with less responsibility. How can aleader handle this temptation to quit, and how can he ensure that he willpersevere and keep going despite the problems he is facing? Why are you in your position of leadership? I trust it is because youhave been aware of God’s guidance, and not because it was a position ofpower that you wanted for yourself, or were pushed into by someone else.When you are clear about God’s guidance and problems come, they shouldnot move you or cause you to leave your position. Perhaps your call was “spectacular.” Usually it is not so. God guidesus gently: He speaks through His Word He opens and closes doors He helps us to think clearly He enables others to give us advice He grants us peace and assurance But once we know His will and we start to obey that will we shouldnever be “disobedient to the Heavenly vision” (Acts 26 v19). I would like to refer you again to my book “Obedience to theHeavenly Vision”? If you do not have it, please write to the address given
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 123in this book and you will be sent a copy. In that book I outline the four stepsin Christian service, and they apply also to Christian leadership. Let meremind you of these again:Step 1: Vision. We first of all need to understand what God wants us todo—and where.Step 2: Venture. When we know God’s Will we step out and “obey thevision.”Step 3: Valley. As soon as we obey God, problems come and we oftenfind ourselves in a valley. We may be discouraged, depressed and defeatedand we are tempted to give up.Step 4: Victory. As we remember God’s call, and as we focus our thoughtsupon Him (and not the problem) He helps us to persevere and grants usHis peace; and that is victory. You Need To Learn Not To Worry One of the greatest problems faced by many leaders is the tendencythey have to worry about the past and what they have done; and also toworry about the future and what they still need to do. Often they worry somuch about yesterday’s problems and tomorrow’s problems that they haveno time and energy left to deal with today’s problems. The Bible teaches that there are three steps a leader needs to takewhich will help him deal with the crippling effects of worry: Think about God Focus your thoughts, not on the problem, not on people and not on yourself, but on God. This is what the Lord Jesus taught His group of future leaders in Matthew 6 v25-34 as He dealt with the danger of worry in their lives and ministries. He spoke concerning the worries they would encounter—worries about their life (v25), about what they should eat or drink (v25), about what they would wear (v26), about their height or about the length of their life (v27) and about tomorrow (v34). However, He does not just tell His disciples not to worry. He gives them a reason why they should not worry. He tells them twice that God is their Heavenly Father: He knows (v32) He cares (v26)
124 Section II — Chapter 18 Why worry when you have a Father like that? Tell God about your worries It is more important to share your worries with Him than with other people. Paul writes in Philippians 4 v6: “Be careful for nothing . . . let your requests be known unto God.” And the result ? “The peace of God . . . shall keep your heart and mind through Jesus Christ.” Throw all your worries unto God This is what Peter teaches us in 1 Peter 5 v7: “Casting all your care (worries) upon Him for He careth for you .” The only other place in the New Testament where this Greek word translated “casting” appears is Luke 19 v35. It is also translated “cast”, and it shows that the disciples cast or threw their garments unto the donkey. You and I are, similarly, to throw all our worries unto the Lord. However, it is important not just to throw your worries onto Him. You need to leave them there and not creep back afterwards to take them again. You Need To Watch Your Attitudes As a leader you are in full public view. You need therefore always towatch your attitudes. Your attitudes are how you act and react towardsothers—especially those who are responsible to you. Your ministry ofleadership can be completely destroyed if your attitudes to them are wrong. Be loving and appreciative. You need to see the best in the people you lead and you need to ask God to give you love and appreciation for them. But be sure also to show and express that love in word, action and also by facial expression. Avoid undue or unjust criticism of others. So often words are said which should never be said. Keep such thoughts, if there are any, to yourself! Also be sure to avoid the receiving, or the passing on, of any kind of idle gossip.
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 125 Give encouragement at all times. It is easy to see faults in those whom you are leading. But look for their good points and strengths and then express appreciation for them. This is what Paul did with regard to Timothy. Then tell others about their good points. Guard your relationships jealously. Do not allow anything to develop which could cause problems. Watch carefully for possible problems, and go to the person concerned in a spirit of meekness and try to solve these problems right away. Be ready to correct those you lead whenever this is necessary. But always do this in love, with a kind attitude and a loving voice, and in a way which is positive and constructive, rather than negative and destructive: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians 6 v1). Be loyal to your Mission, to your co-workers, and to those you lead. Defend them and stick up for them when necessary and don’t allow others to criticise them. If they do—always add a “BUT,” and point out the good things about them. Also do not criticise your co-workers to anyone else. Be open to the thoughts and suggestions of those who are responsible to you. Don’t be afraid to say you are wrong, and don’t hesitate to change your decision if you are convinced you are wrong. You Need To Learn How To Delegate Leaders often find themselves overworked and under severe pressure.There are a number of reasons for this, but perhaps the main one is thatthey feel that they have to do everything themselves, and find it impossibleto entrust others with any part of the ministry. It is this attitude which leadsto burn-out and nervous exhaustion. We have touched upon the matter ofdelegation on a previous page. But it is an important subject, and we needto return to it. Every leader needs to learn the lesson which Moses learned from hisfather in law in Exodus chapter 18. Moses, as the leader of the vast multitude of the Jewish nation, wasunder great pressure. His tendency was to do everything himself. He feltkeenly the responsibilities of leadership and was very diligent in fulfilling
126 Section II — Chapter 18them. But he was trying to do too much and, as a consequence, he himselfwas completely exhausted and, as a further consequence, the people werealso suffering. Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, saw what was happening and toldMoses: “The thing thou doest is not good. Thou wilt surely wear away... and the people that is with thee . . . thou art not able to perform itthyself alone” (verse 18). He then advised him to appoint a number of men who would look afterthe main needs of the people. This would then leave him responsible onlyto handle the major matters which were brought to him. Jethro was advisingMoses to DELEGATE. And he told him that, if he could do this, he himselfwould endure and the people would have peace and be satisfied. Mosestook Jethro’s advice and delegated much of what he was doing to others.It was timely advice. It was well taken, and it was a great help to Mosesand his leadership. It also meant that, by following his father-in-law’s advice, Moses hadmore time for two of his main leadership responsibilities: To pray for his people “Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God” (Exodus 18 v19b). To teach his people “And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do” (Exodus 18 v20). Delegation according to Oswald Sanders is an art and an essentialquality of true leadership; and he defines delegation as follows: “Delegation is the ability to choose men to whom a leader can safelydelegate authority, and then actually to delegate it.” Have you learned to delegate? Have you handed over some of yourresponsibilities to others, and have you allowed them to get on with thedischarge of those responsibilities without your continual interference? Unfortunately some leaders find it difficult, even impossible, to delegate.They are reluctant to let the reins of power slip from their hands. They feelthat no one else can do the work as well as they can. Such an attitude mayalso be maintained by the one who, eventually, decides to delegate. Thiswill show a lack of confidence in those who have been given responsibility
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 127and will restrict and not develop their potential. Delegate to others andthen show your confidence in them as Paul did when he wrote, “I have confidence in the Lord concerning you” (Galatians 5 v10). Let them know you are available, keep a kindly eye on them, trustthem, and let them go ahead. Who knows? They might even do a betterjob than you! It was said of the leader of a large missionary society “He had a greatgift of leadership in that he never interfered with those who worked underhim. Everyone was left to do his own work.” There are some leaders who don’t like to have people around themwho have greater gifts than they have and who are, therefore, possiblesuccessors. These are dictators - not leaders. A true leader doesn’t mindif there are others more gifted than he is, and who would be perhaps morecapable in his leadership post. On the contrary he rejoices. You Need To Learn To Relax And Rest It is absolutely essential that you do not become a workaholic. Youneed to get away from your work and your leadership responsibilities fromtime to time, and do something completely different which will lift yourmind off your work. It is necessary for the physical system, and especiallyfor the emotional system that time is taken to do something which iscompletely relaxing. If a violinist always keeps the strings of his instrumenttaut and under pressure they will snap; and the same could also be true ofyou. I know that you have many things to do; and I know that you havereasons why you should not take time off. But it is important to realise thatif you don’t take time to relax and rest you, your family and your co-workers, will suffer. Your work will also suffer, and in the long run you willachieve less. You need to plan, therefore, to include the following in your schedule: Some free time each day One free day each week Your full holidays each year and completely away from your work You also need to have a hobby, or something which will help you torelax in your free time throughout the year. Some leaders develop a guilt complex about taking time to relax, or
128 Section II — Chapter 18planning free days, or enjoying proper holidays. They are afraid of whatpeople might say. Why should you be? You are responsible to God and notto them. Some say, “The devil never takes a holiday.” My answer wouldbe “Is he your example?” The Lord Jesus told His disciples to come apart and rest awhile. If youdon’t come apart, you will come apart! Fifteen Points To Help A CEF Leader Plan His Work And Time First priority should be given to daily devotions—for yourself, for your family and in your office. Take time each week to read some good literature. You should read at least one new book each month. Have some recreation each week. Make some personal contacts each week—with pastors, workers, donors, etc. Teach at least one teacher training class and one children’s class each week. Visit one or more Good News Clubs each week. Meet, and pray with, your co-workers regularly. Take time each week to lay out your plans for your immediate and future work programme. Take time to study for your speaking and teaching engagements, and to prepare your visual aids. Make sure your prayer letters are regular and often. Remember the importance of appearance and what people see. This includes your personal appearance, and the appearance of your house and garden. Avoid borrowing and debts. Be faithful in your letter writing. Aim at prompt answers to all your correspondence, particularly with regard to the payment of bills, and the sending of receipts. Be sure to send frequent personal thank you notes to those who support you, and your ministry, financially. Always make it your goal to do a good work, a work which is biblical, thorough and consistent, and let people know what the results are. If you do this, you will have few financial problems.
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 129 QUESTIONS TO ANSWER/DISCUSSCan you handle criticism of your leadership from others without beingdiscouraged? How do you handle it? What advice would you give to ayoung leader in this situation?What advice and guidance would you give to a younger person cominginto a leadership position with regard to his devotional life/daily QuietTime?How do you know that your present Christian service is what God wantsyou to do? Outline the steps by which God led you into it. How wouldyou advise someone who had been invited to take on a leadership positionand asked you the question, “How can I know if this is what God wantsme to do?”What is your response, and advice, to a leader who is a continual worrier?How can you help him from your own experience?Why is it sometimes so difficult for some leaders to delegate work andresponsibility to others? What advice would you give to someone who isseriously overworking because he insists on doing everything himself?How do you relax? Do you have a free day each week? Do you takeyour full holidays? If not, why not?
130 Section II — Chapter 19 Chapter 19: Lessons In Long-Distance Leadership ome of us are leaders of a closely-knit group of workers all of whomS live and work closely together; and we can see and talk to those whoare responsible to us almost at will. But, on the other hand, some of us are placed in leadership positions,giving direction and guidance to those who live and work a long distancefrom where we are, and we need to learn and practise the art of “long-distance leadership.” For example, I was the regional director of Child Evangelism Fellowshipin Europe for 29 years. I had two main leadership responsibilities: I was the leader at our European regional headquarters in Switzerland and the director of the two 3 month training institutes which were held there each year. Those who were responsible to me as leader (the headquarters staff, the institute teachers and students) were right there where I was (although I could not be there all the time). That is an example of “short-distance leadership.” If you are a local director in Child Evangelism Fellowship you would also be a “short distance leader.” I was also the leader of the CEF workers scattered around Europe. Some of them lived and worked two or three hours away (by car); others two or three days. My region was considerably larger than USA and had three times the population of that country! When I started my ministry there were just over 40 full-time workers in Europe. Twenty-nine years later there were 375 workers! 80% of the workers were not under my direct leadership because they were directly responsible to their independent national organisation. But all of them accepted my leadership because of the close “family ties” we had built up. The other 20% were directly responsible to me. That is an example of “long-distance leadership.” CEF state directors, national directors and regional directors are therefore long-distance leaders.
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 131 I would like to share with you some of the lessons I tried to learnconcerning long-distance leadership. I can now, on reflection, see that someof my ministries and some of my activities were a help to those I wasleading at a distance; but I can also see, and I want to recommend to you,ministries and activities which I should have introduced and built up. What Should the Long-Distance Leader Understand? Before examining your responsibilities and activities you need to besure of several underlying principles concerning this type of leadership. You need to understand and to be willing to pay the price of long- distance leadership. This type of ministry involves much travel and frequent, and sometimes quite long, periods of separation from home and family. Consequently, you need to be sure that this is what God wants you to do. It may, and probably will, involve long car journeys, overnight train journeys and travelling by aeroplane, and sleeping in different beds! It is not easy. I must confess that the greatest difficulty and hardship of my 29 years as European long-distance leader were my frequent absences from home. It was not easy but I knew that it was what God wanted me to do. You need to understand that you should never make distance a reason or excuse for not doing what needs to be done. You must not let the work, or workers, drift. You must keep your hand on the pulse of the work in your whole area. If you cannot do this by your presence, then you need to do it by letters or by telephone calls. Consequently, it is important that you develop a style of long-distance leadership which, while similar in many ways to its short distance partner, also varies from it in some ways. The underlying factor in any successful work or organisation is stability. The more changes there are in staff and leadership the less trust and confidence the Christian public has in the work. But a work which shows real stability and a minimum of personal change is more likely to be supported and more likely to grow. It is your responsibility, as far as possible, to build up and to maintain that stability. From time to time there may be vacancies in some of the leadership positions which are responsible to you. In such cases, one of your
132 Section II — Chapter 19 responsibilities could be to step in and take over the responsibility of that position until a new leader is appointed. What Should The Long-Distance Leader Do? A long-distance leader has many responsibilities and goals; and, whileI will endeavour to outline these as comprehensively as possible, it shouldbe understood that he can only do what his time and health allow him to do.And, when he is, for any reason, limited in what he can do, he needs to sethis priorities correctly and concentrate on those aspects of his ministrywhich are the most important until he can find the help needed to fulfil theother responsibilities too. Build up a personal relationship with each worker who is responsible to you. Endeavour to develop a family spirit in your area and among your workers—with you as the father/mother, and your workers as the children! This is not just an organisation, nor is it a business. You are part of a fellowship and a family, and your first responsibility is to your workers. This means, for example, that you will be a good listener to them at all times. Make it your aim to build up unity among all your workers. This should be a family unity, and a unity of heart. If there is any problem deal with it quickly. This unity does not necessarily mean uniformity. You must allow for differences of viewpoint and background - provided they do not contradict the fundamental principles of the ministry. Travel and spend time with each worker periodically, and in his home if possible. The frequency of such visits will depend upon the size of your area, the number of workers and the availability of finances for travelling. Be patient and persevere if you do not feel welcome. If those you visit are married and have children bring some chocolate for the children! But be careful with regard to travel and visitation that you do not overdo it and wear yourself out. Have regular meetings for the workers to come together for fellowship, encouragement, help and instruction. All of them should be expected to attend. The frequency and length of such meetings will depend upon the size of the area and the finances available.
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 133The CEF workers in Northern Ireland come together for one day(morning and afternoon) each month; and also annually, in September,for 3½ days. In Germany the CEF workers meet twice each yearfor three days each time. Meetings such as these give you a goodopportunity to be with a number of workers at the same time.These meetings or retreats should include reports from everyonepresent, times of prayer, Bible teaching and fellowship - plus anymatters of business which need to be dealt with.Produce a regular publication, of some kind, to give up-to-date news,views and family items. This “in house organ” would be only for theworkers in your area. It does not need to be elaborate.Write personal letters from time to time—especially if it is notpossible to visit as often as you would wish. Always endeavour toinclude words of appreciation. As your work grows, a secretarywill become essential.Use the telephone to keep in contact. But do not use it only forwork purposes. A personal call is always welcome and gives youthe opportunity to ask if all is well. Using the telephone is a goodinvestment of time and finance.Let your workers know that you are always available to help andcounsel on a personal level and not just with regard to the work.Check carefully and regularly on the financial needs of your workerseither through the sending in, and examination of, financial reportsor by personal inquiry. It would be helpful to have an emergencyfund to help workers with urgent financial needs.Always make it clear to your workers that you trust them and haveconfidence in them. Some leaders try to exercise too much controland are too inflexible.You need to understand what the workers need for their work andyou need to do what you can to provide those needs: Make available the literature they need. Organize the training they need through Leadership Training Institutes, refreshers and retreats. Be available to speak at special meetings they have organized e.g. at conferences or in Bible schools. Meet with their committee from time to time. Watch their financial situation and give help and advice on how to build it up.
134 Section II — Chapter 19 Check their family needs. Feed them from the Word of God. Keep an eye on the work which is being done. Encourage the workers but also correct and discipline them if necessary (Galatians 6 v1). Influence, guide and help your workers to move in what you feel to be the best direction for the work. To encourage them to follow you, you need to generate their trust and confidence. Be a role model for your co-workers. You should be an example to them: in your life in your home in your work If you are a workaholic and work too hard, it is possible that your workers will do the same. You may not crackup; but they might. Try to involve the workers in the overall decision-making process. This can be done by consultation or by the formation of some kind of advisory body elected by the workers themselves. At all times make it your goal to BE GENTLE with all your workers. “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient” (2 Timothy 2 v24). QUESTIONS TO ANSWER/DISCUSS What do you understand, or have you experienced, concerning the cost or difficulty of being a long-distance leader? How would you advise someone who was thinking of taking on such a responsibility? How can a long-distance leader build up a personal relationship with those he leads? Give some clear guidelines. It is obvious that one of the main problems faced by a long-distance leader is to establish his priorities—because he cannot do everything outlined in the last 3 pages. Write down what you feel his main responsibilities are in order of priority. Are there any other responsibilities apart from those listed on these pages which you feel should also be included?
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 135 Chapter 20: Your Responsibilities To Your LeaderS o far we have been examining the responsibilities of a leader to those he leads. But each of us, including almost all of those who are leaders,also have responsibilities to someone who has been placed above us in theorganisational structure and we need to know how to relate to them. Thosepeople to whom we are responsible could include mission directors, fieldleaders, pastors, Bible College principals or even parents. I believe it istrue to say that no one can be a good leader of others unless he/she haslearned how to follow, and how to be responsible to his/her own leader.Certainly one of the key prerequisites for being a good leader is learninghow to be a good follower. It is always good to remember, therefore, that good leadership is basedupon an ability and a desire to follow. Many who fail in their leadershipcapacity do so because they have never learned to follow. They are likethe boys who were “playing war” in the street when a passer-by inquiredwhy they were so quiet and doing nothing. One boy replied, “We are allgenerals. We cannot get anyone to do the fighting.” There are several introductory principles which need to be rememberedby both leaders and followers: Those who “follow their leader” are not expected to be robots without any right to speak, react or respond. Leaders should never act as dictators with followers as vassals. No kind of tyranny with its complement of subjection is permissible. Complete uniformity in any organisation should neither be expected nor demanded. There should always be room for variety in personality, background and approaches. The important factor to aim at is a unity of heart and purpose which is based upon the principles which are held in common . We have studied the responsibilities of leaders. Many books have beenwritten and courses organized on the subject of leadership. But there hasbeen little written, taught or presented on the subject of “following,” andthat is the subject we now want to address in the two chapters whichfollow.
136 Section II — Chapter 20There are at least eight guidelines or rules which “followers” need tounderstand and put into practice. Respect Your Leader If you are in God’s plan and in His Will, and you are under the leadershipof another person, then you are required to respect that person as God’schosen leader for you. Such respect will mean that you are careful whatyou say to him, and what you say about him to others. According to the dictionary the word “respect” means: To pay heed to To regard with esteem and honour To avoid insulting, degrading or injuring To treat with consideration To refrain from offending Do you make it our goal to respect your leader? Listen To Your Leader A follower is one who listens. Listening is not just allowing soundwaves to vibrate our ear drums. To truly listen means to absorb what issaid and then to respond. Listening is, usually, not easy. It takes concentration,openness, and the will to respond. Your leader’s advice, guidance and direction will be a great help toyou. You, on your own, can made mistakes. That is why God sets us underleaders so that we can benefit from their experience. Sometimes youngmissionaries think they know better than older, and perhaps moreconservative, leaders. But time will show the value of their wisdom andexperience. Follow Your Leader His responsibility is to lead; yours is to follow. As a follower you arerequired to obey, and submit to, your leader. When he indicates a direction,or moves in a particular direction, you are to follow. The next chapterdeals, in more detail, with the possible problems with regard to this issue.
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 137 Be Loyal To Your Leader This involves two responsibilities: Never criticise him to others. Do not allow others to criticise him. According to the dictionary the word “loyal” means: To be true and faithful to duty or obligation To be faithful in allegiance to the one who leads us. Loyalty is a rare commodity in our society today but it is extremelyimportant in any mission or organisation if it is to survive, and to be strong.Leaders should demonstrate their loyalty to their followers; and they shouldthen, likewise, expect the same commitment and the same loyalty fromthem. The loyal follower sees his leader as more important than anyoneelse; and he will stay with his leader through bad times and good times,through thick and thin. That is loyalty! Help Your Leader Don’t be afraid to share ideas with him if the opportunity arises. Theseideas would be, of course, only suggestions and should be shared in theright way and with the right attitude, recognizing that your leader is the oneto make the decision. You might see what he doesn’t see, and a goodleader is always open to those who can help and advise in a constructiveway. But you shouldn’t be hurt or offended if your ideas are not accepted. Appreciate Your Leader According to the dictionary the word “appreciate” means: To esteem highly To be grateful for You should not only appreciate your leader and his leadership in yourheart and thoughts, but you should let him know by word of mouth or, ifthat is not possible, by letter, how much you appreciate him. For somereason, we are often very hesitant to express appreciation to our leaders,or else we wait until it is too late. Leaders are human beings and appreciateappreciation!
138 Section II — Chapter 20Guard And Protect Your Relationship With Your Leader There are several points to remember: Remember that no one is perfect and that includes both your leader and yourself. Make sure that there is nothing wrong between you and him. Always be slow to react. Think and pray before responding, and when you respond be sure to respond with the right spirit. Be quick to apologize, if this is necessary; and do not try to justify yourself if you have done something you should not have done. Pray For Your Leader He really needs it! We often forget that our leader faces many of the problems andstruggles we ourselves face - and, in addition, many problems which areconnected with leadership. We must never assume that Christian leadersare immune from temptations, trials, pains, buffetings and struggles. NoChristian leader can exercise a fruitful ministry if he doesn’t enjoy thesupportive fellowship of prayer warriors. Leaders are fragile—handle with care (and prayer). Postscript For CEF Directors Local CEF directors are responsible to their state or national directors.This relationship should be similar to a family relationship with the state /national director taking the place of the parent and the local directors theplace of the child. Therefore the state/national director should have thesame understanding and concerns for the welfare of the local work as aparent shows for his child. At the same time the local director should show to his state/nationaldirector the kind of respect and co-operation which a child should show tohis parents. This would mean that there are a number of responsibilities heneeds to fulfil: He should send in his reports on time. He should keep his national/state director well informed about his activities. He should welcome him to the local committee meetings.
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 139 He should invite him to special functions. He should attend all retreats and conferences planned for his benefit by the national/state director. He should not resent suggestions or guidelines from his state/national director. He should answer all correspondence and fulfil all requests for information promptly. He should fulfil promptly any financial obligations involved e.g. the payment for literature etc received the payment (in CEF circles) of a tenth of local income to the state or country to help with their ministry He should keep his local work and workers informed concerning what is happening nationally or statewide. QUESTIONS TO ANSWER/DISCUSSIf a new co-worker joins the team of which you are a member how can you help him to respect the leader to whom you are both responsible? Is there any way (which of course you should avoid) you could lessen that respect? In what way do you actually try to build up, guard and protect your relationship with your leader? What should you do if your co-worker criticizes your leader? In what ways could you show appreciation to your leader? Which of these have you actually put into practice? Do you feel free to share ideas and give suggestions to your leader? If not, why not? What do you do if your suggestions are not followed?
140 Section II — Chapter 21 Chapter 21: To Obey Or Not To Obey?T he question of obedience to leadership is so important to both leaders and followers that this one whole chapter is devoted to it. This is an issue which is of vital importance to leaders. One of theirmain questions is; “When I ask those who are responsible to me to do something should I expect immediate obedience?” This is also an issue which is of vital importance to those who are led.They ask the question: “When I am asked to do something by my leader should I obey immediately—no matter what the command is?” The Biblical Principle It is right and good and biblical (as a general principle) for leaders toexpect obedience, and for “followers” to give obedience. The Bible makesthis very clear—over and over again. “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves:for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, thatthey may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable toyou” (Hebrews 13 v17). “Remember them which have the rule over you who have spokenunto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the endof their conversation” (way of life) (Hebrews 13 v7). “The elders . . . taking the oversight . . . neither as being lords overGod’s heritage but being ensamples to the flock . . . likewise, yeyounger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subjectone to another and be clothed with humility” (1 Peter 5 v1-5). “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God”(Ephesians 5 v21). These verses teach, I believe, the principle of obedience and submissionto leadership. But there are, at the same time, certain indications that this
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 141should not be a blind obedience to the leader’s directions no matter whatthey might be. The Explanation Peter Masters, the pastor of Spurgeon’s Tabernacle in London, hasseveral interesting comments to make upon Hebrews 13 v7. “The word ‘obey’ used here is the Greek verb to persuade or convinceas used in Romans 8 v38-39 and Hebrews 11 v13. This text then refers toan obedience which comes from persuasion. It is not a submission toauthority as such but a response to biblical persuasion. The text could beparaphrased ‘Be persuaded by the scriptural reasoning of your teachers(or leaders).’ ” The sense of this passage is—do not be obedient in a servile way. Donot just comply because the preacher (leader) exhorts something. Do notaccept everything without thought. Follow the reasoning intelligently.Consider the biblical basis of all that is said, because you want to be trulyconvinced in your heart and mind and you want to make this teaching youropinion. You want to be a fully persuaded person.” It is obvious then that, if Peter Masters’ explanation is correct, muchresponsibility and onus is placed upon the leader not just to command andgive direction but, at the same time, to give convincing and reasonedexplanations for those directions. If that type of leadership is given, it should be no problem for thoseconcerned to obey (because they are persuaded) and to submit (as alsoexhorted in this same verse). The word “submit” here means to yield, orgive place to a higher authority. At the same time there is a sense in whichwe all submit to each other (Ephesians 5 v21; 1 Peter 5 v5), and leadersare exhorted by Peter not to be “lords over (or to tyrannize) God’s heritage”. D.E. Hoste who succeeded Hudson Taylor as the director of the ChinaInland Mission wrote: “What is the essential difference between spurious and true Christianleadership? When a man, in virtue of an official position in the church,demands the obedience of another irrespective of the latter’s reason andconscience, this is the spirit of tyranny. When, on the other hand, by theexercise of tact and sympathy, by prayer, spiritual power and sound wisdom,one Christian worker is able to influence and enlighten another so that thelatter, through the medium of his own reason and conscience is led to alter
142 Section II — Chapter 21one course and adopt another, this is true spiritual leadership.” John Stott wrote, “The authority by which the Christian leader leads isnot power but love; not force but example; not coercion but reasonedpersuasion. Leaders have power but power is safe only in the hands ofthose who humble themselves to serve.” Dr. Wiersbe wrote: “. . . submission is not subjugation or slavery.Submission is a voluntary surrender to authority, and it is motivated by loveand not by fear.” One writer on the subject of leadership points out the great dangers ofa dictatorial leader who says, “I will determine the direction for I am theleader and I know best,” and who surrounds himself with “yes men.” Hisfavorite phrase is “It has been decided”—even though sometimes he addsthe words “by the committee” to try to give the idea that it was not just hisdecision. The implication of this phrase is that a decision has been madethat he, as the leader, had nothing to do with and that he can do nothingabout!—when the opposite is often the case! This writer insists that it is better and wiser for leaders to try as oftenas possible to let those he is leading help make decisions rather than alwaysdictating them. He adds the interesting thought that experience shows thatmost of the ideas and innovations in a Christian organisation come frombelow rather than above—from the “radical fringe” rather than the“institutional core”. We can therefore conclude that it is a general principle that those whoare responsible to a leader should follow his directions but that the leader isalways responsible to give a reasoned persuasion as to why these directionsshould be followed and should allow opportunity for comments, questionsand suggestions. The Exceptions There may be times when a worker feels he cannot follow or obey thedirections of his leader. There are three possibilities: If a moral or ethical issue is involved and you feel you cannot follow the directions given because you have been asked to do something which is against biblical teaching, there are some guidelines you should follow.
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 143 You should have the right attitude—one of love, meekness and humility. You should talk with your leader and explain why you cannot follow. You should not, yet, go to anyone above him. If he cannot see or understand what is wrong then you should ask him to talk it over with his leader—either with you there or without you there. If he still insists that you obey him, and it really is a moral or ethical issue, then you should feel free to approach the person or committee to which he is responsible, explain your position and then resign. But you should do all of this in a quiet, respectful and dignified way—without strife or bitterness.If you are absolutely sure that God is leading you in a differentdirection from the direction your leader wants you to go you shouldfollow these guidelines. Explain to your leader the direction you feel God wants you to go in. You need to give clear and reasoned explanations of why you are sure. It is not enough just to say “God is leading me, or God is not leading me.” Ask your leader for advice as to what he feels you should do. Suggest, and be open to, some way to compromise. Don’t dig your heels in and refuse to move. If no compromise is possible and, if you are still absolutely sure that God wants you to move in a different direction from what your leader wants, the only alternative is to resign. In this case you should obey God rather than man. If you do resign be sure that everything is done with the right spirit, in love without acrimony of any kind; and try to keep the whole matter as private as possible. Do not start a letter campaign!If it is not a moral or ethical issue, and it is not a question of youbeing absolutely sure that God wants you to go in another directionbut it is only a difference of viewpoint or opinion, then you shouldfollow the guidelines given by your leader and obey him: Be sure you have the right attitude—one of quietness, humility and graciousness. Speak to your leader and give your views, remembering to do so in a gracious way.
144 Section II — Chapter 21 If your leader insists that you do what he has asked you to do, than do it graciously. Be sure not to gossip or criticise behind his back. Pray and ask God, if it be His will, to change and overrule your leader’s decision. QUESTIONS TO ANSWER/DISCUSS Do you see and recognize the biblical principle of submission and obedience to your leader? Explain what is involved in such submission and what, you feel, is not involved. Do you feel that your leader is a spiritual leader who leads in accord with the principles outlined in this chapter? Or do you see him as a dictator? Is there anything in this latter case you feel you could do to help him change his style of leadership? Have you ever been asked by a leader to do something which you felt to be morally or ethically wrong? What did you do? What would you advise others to do in the same situation? Have you ever been absolutely sure that God is leading you in a different direction from that in which your human leader is leading you? What did you do? What would you advise others to do? What should be your reaction if your leader asks you to do something which you don’t want to do even though it is not morally or ethically wrong and is not clearly against God’s will?
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 145 Chapter 22: A Biblical Example Of Leadership here are many outstanding examples of leadership in the Bible. TheseT include men like Moses, David, Nehemiah, Daniel and Paul. But Ifeel it would be more helpful for us to take as our example a leader whowas, in a sense, forced into that position (by the death of his predecessor)and who felt very nervous and incapable about taking over the reins ofleadership. Many of us can identify with such a person. This man becameone of the greatest leaders of all time. His name is, of course, Joshua! God Prepares A Leader God moulds us as leaders before we become leaders, and also afterwe assume our leadership position. It is God Who determines our homebackground, our ability, our appearance and our personality. God also putsus deliberately into certain situations before and after conversion, beforeand after our call, for two reasons. The first reason is to prepare us forwhat He wants us to do. The second reason is to test us in each step ofHis plan before proceeding to the next step and to see how we measure upto what He wants to see, and do, in our lives. Consequently, before God called and commissioned Joshua to his newministry of leadership He had already been working with him for thesetwo reasons: To prepare him for his leadership responsibilities To test him and show that he was “the man for the job” Joshua was in many ways an ordinary person. He was easilydiscouraged and easily frightened. But he was open to God’s Word and hewas obedient to God’s way, and it was those two qualities which made thedifference. The Bible gives us three pictures of Joshua during those years ofpreparation: Joshua the soldier (Exodus 17 v8-14) As a soldier he demonstrated an ability to be led (verse 9,10), an
146 Section II — Chapter 22 ability to lead (verse 10), an ability to lean on the prayers of others and upon God’s answer to those prayers (verse 10-12), and an ability to last and not give up (verses 10, 13). In his capacity as a soldier he displayed outstanding obedience, courage and perseverance—all of which were qualities necessary for his future leadership position. Obedience. He did what he was told to do (v10). One of the first lessons a future leader needs to learn is to be obedient to his leader. Some may have felt bad about Moses’ “comfortable position” away from the battle—but not Joshua. He trusted his leader and obeyed him implicitly. Courage. Joshua showed his courage by leading his army against the formidable Amalekites. Leadership is no place for the weak-kneed. It is a place where sacrifice is required. It was President Truman who said, “If you don’t want to get burned, stay out of the boiler room.” Perseverance. The battle went backwards and forwards. It is easy to fight when the battle is going well. But Joshua continued even when the situation was difficult. It is interesting to note that this passage in Exodus 17 is the very first mention of Joshua in the Bible. Most Bible scholars feel that we can learn very much from what is first recorded about a person in the Bible; and it is believed that we have here a little thumb-nail sketch of this man. Joshua the servant (Exodus 24 v13 onwards) He was “apprenticed” to Moses for 40 years and served him faithfully as his servant. This is a reminder that we should not rush people (especially young people) too quickly into a position of leadership (1 Timothy 3 v6). Indeed the “official” title given to Joshua was “the servant of Moses” (Numbers 11 v28; Joshua 1 v1). The thought of servanthood is rather unpopular today; but we see here the servant-qualities of Joshua as God continues to prepare him. What servant-like quality does God want to see, and develop, in a leader? Humility In Exodus 24 v13-15 Moses and Joshua arise and go up into the mountain. From now on, only Moses is mentioned. Joshua
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 147 takes the unnamed second place. He was willing to serve Moses and get no glory and reward for it; and he did this, it would seem, for about 40 years. There was never any envy, any attempt, or even any desire, to take over the position of leadership from Moses. What an example for us! Patience Patience is an essential quality for a leader. Moses and Joshua went up the mountain together. But only Moses went to the top to meet with God. Joshua had to wait somewhere on the mountainside until Moses came back—and we learn that he waited (from Exodus 24 to Exodus 32) almost 6 weeks. Thirst for God In Exodus 33 v11 we read that Joshua did not depart out of the tabernacle. He had gone into the Lord’s presence with Moses, but when Moses left, he, the servant, stayed there. It is interesting to have this insight into his devotional life and his thirst for God and His Presence.Joshua the spy (Numbers 13 and 14)Numbers 13 v8 was the beginning of a critical period in Joshua’slife. His whole future depended upon the decisions he was nowgoing to make. Selected as a spy, he and his co-spy Caleb were theonly ones of the twelve who came back with a good report.As a spy he displayed: Insight (Numbers 14 v8, 9). He understood the situation clearly. He did not have a false optimism but a true realism. Faith (Numbers 14 v8). But this realism was based upon the faith he had in God. As a spy he received: Reward. At, or soon after his appointment as a spy, God, through Moses, gave him his new name Joshua, which means—“He by whom Jehovah will save” (Numbers 13 v16) and then, after his return from Canaan, the promise of Numbers 14 v30 and 38—an entrance into, and an inheritance in, the Promised Land. What was the two-fold secret of this remarkable man? He wholly followed the Lord (Numbers 32 v12). He was wholly filled by the Spirit (Deuteronomy 34 v9).
148 Section II — Chapter 22 God Reveals His Plan To A Leader God’s guidance that Joshua should be the new leader of the childrenof Israel and the successor to Moses was revealed in two main stages. Itwas a gradual unfolding of what God wanted him to be, and do. God oftenreveals His plan gradually. God spoke to Moses and told him that Joshua was to be his successor (Numbers 27 v18) and Moses, at the same time, laid his hands on him and commissioned him for this task. Then, just before Moses died, God spoke to him again and asked that Joshua be called and charged for his new leadership position and responsibilities (Deuteronomy 31 v14). In the same chapter Moses spoke with Joshua privately and made it clear to him that he would be the new leader (Deuteronomy 31 v7, 8). We can also see from these passages the importance of a leader praying and preparing for a successor, and also the fact that God often uses other people to help us to know God’s will. God spoke directly to Joshua in Joshua chapter 1 and told him clearly in verse 2 that he was to become the new leader of the children of Israel. This was to be God’s plan for Joshua for the rest of his life. It was notan easy ministry by any means. To step into the shoes of a great leadersuch as Moses was a really daunting task for this comparatively youngman. God Shows The Problems To A Leader When God spoke to Joshua and gave him, as it were, his final call intoleadership He also, at the same time, showed him the four main problemshe would face in his new position and ministry. Obstacles to overcome Before Joshua’s eyes lay his first obstacle—the river Jordan. “Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan” (Joshua 1 v2) Opposition to conquer On the other side of the river was the land which they were to conquer, and the first place of opposition was the city of Jericho which seemed unconquerable.
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 149 “Go over this Jordan . . . unto the land” (Joshua 1 v2). Others to lead But it wasn’t just a question of Joshua crossing the river and entering the land. He had to take almost two million people with him, to lead them and to handle all their problems. “Go over this Jordan thou and all this people” (Joshua 1 v2). Oneself to control Perhaps the greatest problem for any leader is himself. “Arise, go over this Jordan, thou and all this people unto the land which I do give to them even to the children of Israel” (Joshua 1 v2). Joshua saw that he faced four problems—the Jordan, Jericho, theJews and Joshua!! God Gives His Promises To A Leader As God outlined the four problems Joshua would face in his new positionHe, at the same time, gave him four promises. These promises are alsoavailable to us today! The promise of Possession “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon that have I given unto you” (Joshua 1 v3). All Joshua needed to do was to put his feet down on the promised land, and everywhere his foot touched would be his. The promise of Power “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life” (Joshua 1 v5). The many responsibilities which Joshua would assume and the decisions he would need to make would need a power which he himself did not possess. The promise of Provision “I will not fail thee” (Joshua 1 v5). There would be many times when Joshua would be at an end to himself and would need to depend completely upon the Lord. How wonderful it was that the Lord made it clear that He would never let Joshua down. The promise of God’s Presence
150 Section II — Chapter 22 “As I was with Moses so I will be with thee . . . I will not forsake thee” (Joshua 1 v5). The great promise of all, and the most wonderful experience that Joshua could look forward to, was that the Lord would always be there—right at his side, and that He would never, never leave him. The leadership of the nation might change. But God does not change.If Joshua looked at his task he could have doubts; if he looked at himselfthe result would be dismay. But when he listened to Jehovah—he receivedclear direction. God Gives Two Precepts To A Leader A person may have two reactions when God calls him into a positionof leadership, and Joshua is no exception. His first reaction must havebeen “I can’t”; and his second reaction “I am afraid.” So when God called Joshua into this position He gave him, in additionto the promises he should believe, two precepts or commands to obey—sothat he could deal with these two reactions. These commands are alsorelevant to us and our leadership ministry. A precept concerning God’s work Be strong . . . be strong . . . be strong This is a precept or command which is given in the light of the problems which have been outlined and the promises which have been given. This strength was needed because Joshua felt so inadequate and so incapable concerning the great task and responsibilities which lay ahead of him. It was repeated three times because it was so important (Joshua 1 v6, 7 and 9). The command in verse 6 is related to God’s Will, the command in verse 7 to God’s Word, and the command in verse 9 to God’s Way. All three areas needed strength and courage. Be strong “You feel weak but I will give you the strength and power you need.” Be of a good courage. “You do not need to feel nervous or afraid. I will be with you at all times.” A precept concerning God’s Word “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 151 observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Joshua 1 v8). Joshua was the first “man of the book.” He was the first to be exhorted to study and obey the Word of God. He was commanded to read it and speak it God’s Word was to be in his mouth. He was commanded to think about it. God’s Word was to be in his mind. He was commanded to obey it. God’s Word was to be in his ministry. The consequences of obedience to God’s precepts In verse 8 God tells Joshua the two results which will occur if he obeys the commands he has been given: His way will be prosperous. He will have good success. A Picture Of A Leader At Work Joshua was called directly into a position of leadership in the first nineverses of Joshua chapter one. Joshua started his new ministry immediatelyand we can see him at work as a leader in the remaining nine verses of thechapter. The six words used below to describe his activities as a leaderwere indeed, to prove characteristic of his whole life. These words togetherare an acrostic of the word “leader.” We can learn much about our own leadership ministry as we watchJoshua at work. He listened During the previous verses (verses 1-9) Joshua listened to his Lord and said nothing. This attitude was to be typical of him throughout his ministry and is best described in Joshua 5 v14 when he said to the Lord Jesus “What saith my Lord unto His servant?” The Christian leader is responsible to his leader, the Lord Jesus Christ, and his first responsibility is to listen to Him as He speaks through His Word and through the Holy Spirit. He enlisted others A key to good leadership is to involve others and make sure that they follow you. So Joshua’s first and immediate response to what
152 Section II — Chapter 22 the Lord had told him, was to speak with the officers and delegate to them the task of speaking directly to the people. This was the first time Joshua had used his new authority. This shows also the value Joshua placed on organisation, delegation and team work. “Then Joshua commanded the officers to the people, saying, Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the Lord your God giveth you to possess it” (Joshua 1 v10, 11). The word “commanded” may be too strong for us. As leaders we do not usually command just like that. But the basic principle is good and necessary for us. People need and often want leadership— and that includes children and young people. The first job of a leader is to lead. He acted Leaders should always obey their Lord implicitly. The intimate relationship which Joshua had with his Lord results in an immediate response from him. There might be doubts and fears but there is no argument. The leader finds out what is right, and does it, no matter what it costs. And so Joshua in verse 10 and 11 acts and starts his new ministry. He decided God’s call does not rule out common sense. There is no indication that God told him everything. He needed to make decisions himself as guided by the Holy Spirit (Deuteronomy 34 v9). So in verse 11 he encouraged them to get supplies ready and he decided to leave in three days’ time. This would give time for the people to prepare and get their supplies ready, for the two spies to return and for some in Jericho to repent (e.g. Rahab and her family). It also shows his composure and lack of tension or pressure. He expected Verse 11 shows that Joshua believed God when He told him that they would cross the river (verse 2) and conquer the land (verse 3- 6). The obstacles would be overcome, and the opposition would be conquered. He didn’t look at the problem; this was a work of faith. He looked at God, and he expected that what God had said would become a reality; and that they would cross the river and conquer the land (commencing with Jericho).
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 153 As he thought about crossing the river he was interested in:- Victuals not vessels Bread not boats. He recruited The first major task which faced Joshua was to recruit and involve the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh in the conquest of the land of Israel. They had settled on the east side of the Jordan; but they had previously given to Moses a commitment that their 40,000 soldiers would cross over the Jordan and lead the other 9½ tribes in the conquest of the land. Now Joshua needs to ensure that they kept to that commitment because they were tough pastoral people who were essential for the future battles. How did Joshua recruit them and involve them? He encouraged them to do four things: “Look around and realise what God has done for you” (verse 13). “Look back and remember what God has said to you” (verse 14). “Look forward and rejoice in what God is going to do” (verse 15). “Look inward and respond to what God is saying to you” (verse 16). And they did respond, and they went with Joshua and the rest of his army. And the result was – Victory! The Personal Relationship Of A Leader To His Lord We have already seen, over and over again, how important it is for aleader to be in close relationship with his Lord, and before concluding thisstudy of Joshua’s leadership, it is interesting and helpful to see how closelyhe related to the Lord Jesus. “And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he liftedup his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over againsthim with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him,and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And hesaid, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come.And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said
154 Section II — Chapter 22unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?” (Joshua 5 v13, 14). Just before the advance and attack on Jericho, Joshua was visited by,and had an encounter with, a very special Person who called Himself theCaptain of the Host of the Lord. This was a pre incarnation appearance ofGod the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was also, sometimes, called, inthe Old Testament, the Angel of the Lord. The text shows clearly that itcould not have been anyone else. What did Joshua do when he met His Lord in this way and at thiscritical time? He listened to Him. “Loose thy shoe from off thy feet for the place whereon thou standest is holy.” We all as leaders need to listen to our Lord as He speaks to us in His Word. He prayed to Him. “What saith my Lord unto His servant?” The success of our leadership for God is determined by our prayers to God He worshipped Him. “Joshua fell on his face to the earth and did worship.” God is looking for those, including leaders, who will worship Him. He obeyed Him “And Joshua did so.” A leader’s obedience is better than any sacrifice Listen and pray; worship and obey. That’s how the relationship ofleaders with their Lord is built up. QUESTIONS TO ANSWER/DISCUSS List four attributes of the Lord Jesus which made Him a great leader when He was here on earth. Why were these important? How can you improve your leadership by imitating Him? List four qualities in the leadership ability of Joshua which made him a leader men and women wanted to follow. As you look at how God prepared Joshua for his leadership position, outline how God prepared you for your leadership position. Is He still preparing you? How? Which of the problems faced by Joshua are in any way similar to your problems? Which of the promises he received also apply to you? What lessons can you learn from Joshua’s leadership to help you with your leadership?
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 155 Chapter 23: Self-Examination For LeadersE very person who has been placed by God in a position of leadership needs, periodically and regularly, to examine himself and his leadership– to ensure that he is the kind of leader God wants him to be. I trust that allthe preceding chapters have challenged you to do this. But there are severalmore ways we can examine ourselves and our ministry in more detail. Four Tests For Leaders To examine ourselves as leaders we need to ask ourselves at leastfour key questions. Three of these questions are illustrated in Luke 5 v1-11in the actions and reactions of Simon Peter. He was to become a greatleader and he passed all these three tests successfully. How do I respond to failure? Success is the big word today. Peter had failed (verse 5). He could have quit. He could have made excuses. He could have blamed his partners. He could have even blamed God. But he didn’t. He did not quit. He acknowledged his failure. He was open and honest about it. The main type of failure is that which happens on the inside—not the outside. Spurgeon said: “Most people quit too soon.” Peter is, in this case, an example of a potential leader who did not quit. At his Lord’s command he tried again. A few hours later Peter’s failure had become his success. How do I respond to authority? A leader needs to recognize his leader—his Divine Leader and also his human leadership, and to know how to respond with obedience. When the Lord Jesus entered Peter’s boat, He asked him to thrust out from the land, and then told him to let down his nets. Peter obeyed immediately. He could have said, “This is my boat.” He could have said, “What do You know about fishing? You are a carpenter.” He could have insisted. “It’s no good—it’s impossible”; or “We can never catch fish during the day, and in deep water; only at night in shallow water.” One of the biggest obstacles to blessing
156 Section II — Chapter 23 is past experience. Or he might have questioned, “What will others say—if I do such a silly thing?” But he didn’t. He obeyed and he submitted himself to his Leader’s authority. “At thy word”—that’s the key. How do I respond to success? This is often the most difficult and most revealing test. Would I have fallen at His knees or would I have wanted some of the credit? How we respond to praise is as important as how we respond to criticism. Success often proves a hindrance to leaders and sets them back. Peter’s reactions as he fell at Jesus’ knees included: a recognition that it was the Lord Jesus who had done this a sense of humility without any sign of pride or self esteem a feeling of sinfulness in the presence of a mighty and sinless Lord a clear response to the call of the Lord Jesus to fish men a deeper dedication - as he left everything to follow Him (v11) How do I respond to criticism? This test is not included in Luke 5 v1-11; but it is, nevertheless, a vital test for every leader. There are five reactions which a leader should have towards criticism: Don’t reject it Don’t be discouraged by it Don’t be ruled by it Don’t take it personally Learn from it Twenty Questions For Leaders It is helpful for us as leaders periodically to keep assessing ourselvesand our ministry. This can best be done by asking ourselves a series ofquestions such as the following: Do I possess the ability to secure agreement without having to resort to a show of authority? Can I encourage people to do happily some legitimate thing which they would not normally wish to do? Can I accept opposition to my viewpoint or decision without considering it a personal reproach and affront and reacting
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 157 accordingly? Am I willing and able to change my decisions when I realise they are wrong? Do I readily secure the co-operation, and win the respect and confidence of others? Can I handle criticism objectively and remain unmoved by it? Do I retain control of myself when things go wrong? Am I unduly dependent on the praise or appraisal of others? Can I hold a steady course in the face of disapproval? Am I reasonably optimistic? Pessimism is no asset to a leader. Do I possess tact? Can I anticipate the likely effect of a statement before I make it? Do I find it easy to make and keep friends? Do I frequently express appreciation to others for what they are and what they have done? Am I a good listener? Do I direct people or develop people? Do I shun the problem person or seek him out? Do I criticize, or encourage? Do other people’s failures annoy me or challenge me? Do I nurse resentment or do I readily forgive injuries or insults I have received? None of us can answer these questions perfectly—but our answerswill help us to see the weaknesses in our leadership ministry which need tobe strengthened.
158 Section II — Chapter 24 Chapter 24: Ten Lessons I Have Tried To Learn In LeadershipI would like to bring this book to a close by sharing some very personal thoughts about, and some very personal experiences of, leadership. Ishared these ten lessons with those of whom I had been the leader, at theconclusion of 43 years of leadership in Child Evangelism Fellowship (14years as National Director of Irish CEF and 29 years as Regional Directorof European CEF). Some of them - perhaps most of them - have appearedearlier in the book but, if so, they are, I feel, worth repeating. These are ten of the lessons I have tried to learn. I want to lay specialemphasis on the words “tried” and “learn”. Down through my years ofleadership I have seen the importance of, and need for, these lessons, andI have tried to put them into practice. Sometimes I succeeded and sometimesI didn’t. But it became my goal, more and more, during these years, to bea leader who tried to learn and practise the lessons which follow. To be loving and appreciative I have tried to learn to see the best in people and to ask God to give me love and appreciation for the people I have had the responsibility and privilege to lead. And, at the same time, I have learned that it is necessary to show and express that love in word and action, and also by facial expression. Someone has said: “A spiritual leader will be a lover of men and will have a large capacity for friendship.” This was true of David in the Old Testament and Paul in the New Testament. Both of them loved and appreciated those who followed them and they, in turn, loved and appreciated their leaders. People need love and they need to know that their leader loves them, and that takes time. Many people don’t really feel appreciated and needed; and I have seen more and more that one of my major responsibilities was to respond to this need. I must keep reminding my workers of their importance to the ministry, and how greatly they are needed. They need to see how essential they are and that the work cannot be done effectively without them. This should, then, lead naturally to
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 159an expression of my appreciation for them and their ministry. Everyworker should feel important, needed and appreciated; and I havetried to learn the importance of this truth.To be gentleI feel that one of the main lessons that I have learned in leadership,especially over these last years, is to be gentle in my relationshipswith those I am leading. I have seen that the more gentle and lovingI could be with them (without sacrificing any necessary firmness),the more God blessed my leadership and my relationship with thosepeople. For example, I found that the three month European CEFTraining Institute of which I was the director for 27 years becamebetter and better down through the years, and had fewer and fewerproblems. Why? I don’t feel it was necessarily because the studentswere any better nor was it because our teaching had improved! Ibelieve it was because all of us, as leaders, were learning thisimportant lesson - that we should be loving and gentle and have adeep concern for our students. We found, then, that the studentsresponded with love and concern, and were more open to whatthey were being taught.This gentleness should always be obvious in our words and also inour letters.To be helpfulI have learned that a leader is a shepherd who feeds and helps hissheep (1 Peter 5 v1-4), and that the more I help and encourage, andpour myself into, those I lead, the more they will follow me.I have found that personal interest, concern and counsel can oftenbe of greater value and benefit than just giving direction. Indeed itcan also help in giving that direction.I have tried to learn that I must never see myself as a dictator oremployer, but as a guide and as a team leader whose job is to developand help those who are responsible to me. A leader who holdshimself aloof will stimulate a chill among his followers. A leaderwho reaches out in friendship to them will generate warmth andaffection.I have endeavoured to learn, also, that if I am to help those who areresponsible to me I must respect them. Although they are “undermy authority,” they and their work are of equal value and importanceto me and mine. My leadership must, at all times, be based on love
160 Section II — Chapter 24 and respect for those who follow me. I have come to the conclusion that I can be most helpful by praying for those whom I lead. This means that I should include all their names in the lists of those for whom I pray, and that I should bring their needs regularly and systematically before the Throne of Grace. To be careful I have seen, over and over again, how important it is to have good relationships with my co-workers, and that I should never allow a bad relationship to develop between me and those I lead. I have tried to learn how to keep short accounts, to watch carefully for possible problems, and, if necessary, to go to the person concerned in a spirit of meekness and solve the problem right away. To be trustful One of the most important lessons which I have endeavoured to learn is to develop a spirit of trustfulness. This has two applications: I need to trust people. I have tried to learn four things: • To delegate work to others, and not to try to do it all myself. • To be available to them for advice and help. • To keep a “kindly” eye on them, with some type of accountability. • To let them do their work and trust them. I need to trust God. • I have tried to learn that I must not try to “politick” or manipulate people or decisions; but that I should leave the issues and the results in God’s hands. At the same time I have tried my best to learn that I do not need to justify myself. God can do that better than I can. Someone has said, “In whatever man does without God he must fail miserably—or succeed more miserably.” • One of the greatest lessons I have ever learned, or perhaps the greatest, is the truth that God is completely sovereign and in full control of all people, and all circumstances—of everything. Can I not, therefore, trust Him? To be loyal I have tried to learn the importance of loyalty: To my Mission—to stand up for it when it is criticized by those
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 161 outside. To my leader—to avoid criticizing him to others and to stand up for him when he is criticized. To my co-workers and those I lead—to defend them when necessary, and to avoid saying anything derogatory about them to others.I believe that a leader must stick with those he leads through thickand thin. He cannot just walk off when the person fails in hisresponsibility or suffers a setback in his spiritual life. A loyal andcaring leader will show his concern and will do all he can to help hisco-worker in his adversity. Loyalty like this will be reciprocated bythose he leads.To be flexible and not too dogmaticWhile I always have had my own convictions and I have believedthey are right, I have tried to realise that I should not force them onothers if it is obvious that, for some reason, they are not acceptable.And I have also tried to realise how important it is to listen toothers.Also I have seen that there are times when I need to be like LordNelson and “put the telescope to my blind eye,” and purposely notsee things! I have learned that there are times when it is better to“let sleeping dogs lie.”In addition, I have tried to learn that there are times when I waswrong (and that I should not be afraid to say so), and times when Ineeded to change (and that I should not be afraid to do so).It is always important for a leader not to be “pig-headed,” and notto have fixed ideas which he refuses to change on “grounds ofprinciple”—especially because it might prove that he is wrong.This quality of flexibility—the ability to be adaptable in one’sapproach to situations and people—is one of the supreme marks ofgood leadership. I have tried to learn that it is so important to knowwhen to resist and when to yield; when to abandon a cherishedtradition and when to hold fast to that which is good; when to forsakeone method for another one and when to resist change.Consistency and flexibility are not enemies. They are good friends.The only way a leader can be consistent in changing circumstancesis to change with those circumstances (if such change is necessaryand does not involve compromise of any kind) while keeping his
162 Section II — Chapter 24 dominating purposes and principles the same. To be slow with regard to the making of decisions I have seen more and more clearly that I should not make any decision until all the facts have been gathered and are completely understood. Undue haste in making a decision can cause many problems—and has caused me problems. When I was not sure, I tried to learn how to wait and be patient. This also applied to direct conversation. When I was asked a question, or asked to give advice and I was not sure about the answer, I gradually learned that it is better to wait, reflect, and then come back to the person again, rather than give a quick answer which had not been thought through carefully. At the same time I have tried to see the importance of making decisions quickly when after prayer, thought and consultation, I was convinced they were the right ones. To be optimistic I feel that I have learned that I should always try to see the bright side of things, and that I should not worry too much about what is going wrong. I have always tried to learn to commit such matters to the Lord. I have come to the conclusion that I should not expect too much from those with whom I am working, and that I should be patient and let God work in their lives just as He is working in mine. To be relaxed One of the main lessons I have learned in CEF leadership was to get away from my work, from time to time, and do something which took my mind off what I was doing. It is good for the emotional system, and also for the physical system, to take time off to do something which is completely relaxing. I think that one of the best bits of advice I can give is - play volley ball with your co-workers or students for one hour every day! No matter what happens! I always had many reasons why I should not play volley ball, and I always had many things to do. But I still played! I learned that, if I didn’t take time off, then eventually something would crack. I also learned that I needed to have a good sense of humour with the ability to see things in perspective, to be not too serious, and to be able to laugh even in difficulties. Someone has said that a sense of humour delivers us from “making mountains out of mole-hills.”
Smooth Sailing in Personal Relationships and Leadership 163 QUESTION TO ANSWER/DISCUSSAs you look back over and examine your own experiences in leadershipwhat advice would you give to others who are in, or are coming into,leadership positions? What lessons have you learned?