This quote humbled me big time today:

There is something deeply spiritual about honoring the limitations of our lives and the boundaries of what God has given us to do as leaders. Narcissistic leaders are always looking beyond their sphere of influence with visions of grandiosity far out of proportion to what is actually being given. Living within our limits means living within the finiteness of who we are as individuals and as a community- the limits of time and space, the limits of our physical, emotional, relational and spiritual capacities, the limits of our stage of life… and the limits of the calling God has given. It means doing this and not that. It means doing this much and not more.” – Ruth Haley Barton

I don’t know if you’re like me, but I tend to live in the future.  I’m a dreamer.  I have “visions of grandiosity” and sometimes forget what is right in front of me.  While taking time to dream is important, I want to “live within the limits of the calling God has given me.” 

(HT: Todd Heistand)


Valentine’s Day is just a few days away.  Most of us have heard of the Love Dare made popular by the movie, Fireproof.  But here’s a different kind of dare from the mouth of C.J. Mahaney:

Gentlemen, here is a gift you can give to your wife this week. Set aside a few hours of uninterrupted time, and ask her to honestly evaluate your personal example of godliness and your leadership in the home.

I dare you to ask her this question:

  • Where do I need to grow in serving and leading you?

For bonus points, ask this question:

  • Where do I need to grow in serving and leading the children? 

This one conversation could initiate dramatic changes in your life.

After you’ve talked to your wife, I would encourage you to relate the details to a fellow elder, pastor or friend. Invite their questions and observations and make yourself accountable to them for application. This step will weaken pride and cultivate humility. Because God gives grace to the humble, this is a very smart thing to do. In fact, it would be stupid not to, since God opposes the proud.

I double dare you to ask your wife that question.

10 Characteristics of a Spiritually Plateaued Leader

1. Avoids relationships of personal accountability

2. Rarely applies the truths of God’s Word to himself personally

3. Has replaced his joy, peace, and love with envy and resentment

4. Frequently looks for greener pastures in other places

5. Finds faults in others more often than in self

6. Burned out with busyness that has been substituted for simply intimacy with Christ

7. Compromises on ethical principles once held dear

8. Stays w/in safe areas of expertise rather than new learning endeavors

9. Unable to acknowledge  the wisdom of others

10. Has reduced the Christian life to a routine

(Taken from Neil Cole’s book, Organic Leadership, pg. 22-25: list by Terry Walling)

Because of the recent ice storm that hit Kentucky this past week, 93 of its 120 counties and 71 cities have been declared states of emergencies.  Many are still without power.  And while the first few days may seem fun for the kids, a week or longer is costly and terribly challenging for everyone.

Yet in all this God is teaching us.  He’s teaching us that we need each other.  David Whitlock, pastor of Lebanon Baptist Church, writes:

Isn’t it strange that we long for what we seem to dread: time alone with ourselves, our families and friends?

It may take hours for enough ice to accumulate on power lines before they are paralyzed. One may not notice the weight of ice on trees before they suddenly snap, and, as if in unison, ricochet like thunder rolling through the forest.

And so it is with one another. Over time we inadvertently create devices that distance ourselves from those we love the most. We don’t realize what is happening. At some point, we feel as disconnected. The power lines uniting us with others have been broken.

The power doesn’t have to go out for us to return to these things that make life with others meaningful and purposeful. We only have to take the time for the little things that bring us together and better ourselves. Corralling a family and friends from the tyranny of modern technology may not be easy, but it is possible. It can be done with forethought and deliberation. It might take planning and agreement with one another, but time together is possible.

One member of our church came up to me on Sunday and told me how the message I preached last week on doing life together could not have come at a better time.  Although her family was without power, she had witnessed the love of her church family in the way they opened up their homes and provided meals.

None of us would ever ask for an ice storm, but in his wisdom God gave us one.  So let us remember one another and remember these words from God’s Word:

By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast.  He loads the thick cloud with moisture; the clouds scatter his lightning.  They turn around and around by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world.  Whether for correction or for his land or for his love, he causes it to happen.  Hear this O Job; stop and consider the wondrous works of God.  ~ Job 37:10-14

  • Read David Whitlock’s entire article: Lessons from the Ice Storm

I’ve heard it said that sanctification happens in small steps.  So if I desire to grow in my relationship with God and others this year, it matters what I do today.  Interestingly enough, I saw this truth in the Sports Page from a quote by Arizona Cardinals all-pro receiver Larry Fitzgerald.  He said,

I don’t look too far in the future.  I just look at today.  How can I be the best player I can be on Wednesday?   How can I be the best player I can be on Thursday?  If I can continue to chip away like that, then I can be the best player on Sunday.

If you’ve seen Fitzgerald play you know he is an extremely gifted athlete.  But his success is directly related to his willingness to work hard each day.  I want to translate that to my own life in ministry.  All I have is today.  So I want to say with the Apostle Paul,

I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.  ~ 1 Cor. 15:10b

So often I come home from the office ready to relax instead of serve my wife and family.  I found C.J. Mahaney’s thoughts on “seizing your commute” to very helpful:

I saw that my commute could best be utilized as a time of transition, so that I might be prepared to finish the day by loving and serving my family well.  So I made it a practice of pulling the car over a few blocks from home so I could take a couple of minutes to make an effective transition in my soul.  There on the side of the road, I meditated on Epheisans 5 as well as some other passages.  I confessed to God my sinful tendency to be selfish and sought to prepare my heart to serve my wife and children when I arrived home.  (Sex, Romance and the Glory of God, p. 49)

“Christianity is the only major religion to have as its central event the humility of its God.”

– Bruce Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, p. 3

(HT: Zach Nielsen)

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