A Word for Leaders: HUMILITY

March 3, 2016

“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.”   (1 Peter 5:6)

Humility is a standard Peter sets for leaders.  He writes that leaders should lead as examples and not as lords over the flock they shepherd.  Humility is a challenging concept.  If we think we are humble we are probably not humble.  You probably heard of the church that gave their pastor a medal for humility, but had to take it back because he wore it every Sunday.

In Scotland a young seminary graduate was about to give a sermon as candidate for a church that had an elderly pastor about to retire.  The pulpit was one of those old elevated ones where you had to climb many steps in order to preach.  With a pride that bordered on arrogance the young man climbed up to preach.  He had a disaster of a sermon.  When he came down in tears the old retiring pastor said to him, “Lad if you had gone up the way you came down, you would have come down the way you went up!”

I Peter 5:6 describes a covenant with God’s part and our part.  Our part is to humble ourselves.  It is God’s part to exalt us.  C. S. Lewis wrote that pride is the mother of all sins.  “To live above with the saints we have loved Oh that will be glory.  But to live below with those we know that’s another story.”  As a veteran pastor I can tell you that when there is a sharp dispute among two disciples a pastor will often find somebody’s pride at the bottom of the dispute.

Humble yourself.  That’s your business.  Exalting you is God’s business.

Dick Woodward, 16 August 2013

Divine Requirements: Justice, Mercy & Humility

August 2, 2014

“And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

The great prophet Micah asked a very important question, in effect:  what are the divine requirements of God? What does God expect, require, demand, and command from me?  Micah gives us three answers to that question.

His first answer is that we should do justly.  In other words, we should be a conduit of justice. We should stand up against injustice anytime and anywhere we see injustice.  Since we live in a world that is filled with injustice this could be very dangerous.  Jesus Christ did this perfectly and it got Him crucified.

Micah’s second answer is that we should love mercy.  Mercy is unconditional love.  This is the chief characteristic of the love of God.  David believed that the mercy and the unconditional love of God would follow or pursue him all the days of his life.

Micah’s final answer to his profound question is that we are to walk humbly with our God. Humility has consistently been a characteristic of the great old souls we have known in this life.  C.S. Lewis wrote that pride is the mother of all sins and we read in the Proverbs that God hates pride.  We can see why God would hate pride because He hates sin.

Are you willing to be the person Micah profiled?  There is a sense in which we cannot become that just, merciful and humble person through our own efforts.  But these three answers give us a profile of the person God wants us to be.

Are you willing to let God give you the grace to cultivate the divine requirements of justice, mercy and humility to be that person?

Dick Woodward, 20 March 2011

Keys to Oneness

November 1, 2013

“… fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love… being of one accord of one mind.  In lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out… for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2: 2-4)

As Paul writes to his favorite church he is burdened that they experience oneness.  He wants them to be “like minded…of one accord” and “of one mind.”  To that end he gives them two keys to oneness.

One key is humility, what Paul calls “lowliness of mind.”  He instructs and challenges the Philippians to esteem others better than themselves.  C. S. Lewis told us that pride is the mother of all sins.  As a pastor I learned that when there is a dispute among two disciples you will often find somebody’s pride at the bottom of it.  Humility is an antidote that resolves disputes and restores oneness.

The other critical key is love.  When Paul writes of “the same love,” I believe he means the love of Christ in us. At least one application of that love is when we “look out for the interests of others.”  We might call this love “other centeredness.” We must realize and remember that this love is the fruit and evidence of the Holy Spirit living in us.  It is not natural.  It is supernatural.  We can’t do it.  Only He can.

So, Paul’s keys for being like minded are humility and love.  By application you will find his keys bringing oneness to your marriage, family, church, ministry and any relationship.

Our greatest challenges are relationships.  I challenge you to insert these keys into your most challenging relationships and watch God bring oneness.

In Step with Eternal Values

July 13, 2013

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”   (2 Corinthians 4:18)

According to C. S. Lewis, “Life was not meant for pleasure only, nor for ease, but for discipline.  Not for temporal, but for eternal values; not for the satisfying of a life here on earth, but for the development of a life for heaven.”   He also wrote that “the clergy have been set aside and trained to look after what concerns us as creatures who are going to live forever.”

Some believers live as if their life span is everything and eternity is nothing, while some live as if eternity is everything and their life span is nothing.  Some are so heavenly minded they are no earthly good while some are so earthly minded they are no heavenly good.  As in everything there is a need for balance, but there are many Scriptures that exhort us to be more heavenly minded and to hold eternity’s values in view while we live out our lives here on earth.

One eternal value is that the invisible is a greater value than the visible.  A reason for this is described in the verse above.  What is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.  The Old Testament prophets were called “Seers” because they saw the unseen God and many things God wanted them to see and then share with the people of God.

God is a Spirit and a spirit is unseen.  We are told in the Scripture that faith is the evidence of that which we cannot see.  Do you value that which you cannot see more than what you can see?

Surprised by Joy

July 6, 2013

“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11)

C.S. Lewis entitled the story of his conversion Surprised by Joy.  According to Jesus any disciple of His who follows Him and is fruitful will be surprised by joy when they discover one of the reasons why He exhorted us to be fruitful.  Jesus was the most fruitful human being who ever lived and it brought Him great joy.  He wanted that same joy to be our experience and He wants us to experience the joy that comes along with being fruitful.

When I first started in the ministry I worked with a senior pastor I loved and wanted to serve for a long time, but he placed me in a satellite startup new church.  As I complained he shared this verse in the letter of Paul to the Galatians: “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.”  Some time passed before I became fruitful in that new church but when that happened I cannot begin to describe the joy that came along with knowing that God could use even me.

The Gospel of John tells us in chapter four that when Jesus gave the woman at a well an experience He described as a drink of living water Jesus was obviously euphoric and filled with joy.  The apostles offered Him food to eat.  He refused their offer and told them He had food to eat they knew nothing about.  He said that His meat was to do the will of His Father and to finish His Father’s work.

Have you been surprised by the joy that comes from proving that God can use even you?

Applied Resurrection

March 29, 2013

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” (1 Corinthians 15:19 NKJV)

A mother of small twin daughters realized her bone marrow transplants were not going to work.  In beautiful handwriting she wrote out The Living Bible Paraphrase of three chapters written by Paul about resurrection.  When she gave them to me she asked me to explain them at her memorial service simply so her daughters would understand them.

The first was the great resurrection chapter of the Bible, the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians.  The other two were the fourth and fifth chapters of Second Corinthians.  I call these last two chapters: “Applied Resurrection.”

The first application of the resurrection of Christ is that just as Jesus was buried and raised from the dead, we are buried in the hope of our own resurrection.  If that is not going to happen we should be pitied because we suffered for Christ in this life.

If you want to have a personal Easter I challenge you to read these three chapters slowly and devotionally in a good translation or paraphrase you can understand like The Living Bible Paraphrase or The Message.

C.S. Lewis told us the clergy are people who have been set aside to remind us that we are creatures who are going to live forever.  They are also to teach us that life is a school in which we are to learn eternal values.

Applied Resurrection teaches us that though our outward man is perishing, it is possible for our inward man to be renewed every day while we’re learning to appreciate the difference between the visible and the invisible, the temporal and eternal values.

May your Easter be a time of reflection on eternal resurrection values.