I am participating in the Dave Ramsey EntreLeadership event at Regent University this Friday (November 5), so I was already thinking about leadership. I was recently reminded about Isaiah 1:19, which has always been one of my favorite leadership Scriptures. The NIV says it this way, “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.”
Add the next verse in Peterson’s paraphrase and we get this, “If you’ll willingly obey, you’ll feast like kings. But if you’re willful and stubborn, you’ll die like dogs. That’s right. God says so” (The Message) – Isaiah 1:19-20.
The word eat means satisfied, fulfilled, content, and to enjoy. I suppose that is something all of us want out of life. Sometimes I read on Facebook where a friend might say, “I love my life,” but can I honestly say that? Or do I allow disappointments, stress or unrealistic expectations to distract me from the pure pleasure of ministry; serving God and others?
This verse promises we can live fulfilled, enjoyable lives. But there’s a catch! First, we must be willing and obedient; willing to do things God’s way and be obedient to His leadership. As a leader (or parent, spouse, boss, deacon, employee, worship leader, children’s teacher, or whatever) we must be willing to do things that others are not doing. It sort of comes with the territory. Leaders do what is necessary to get the job done, not looking for credit or passing blame.We see a need and we do whatever it takes to meet that need.
The question then becomes, “When others criticize, or disappoint, or abandon you, are you still willing to let God shape you through His refining process?” In other words, are you willing to be stretched? Are you willing to do things that you know are beyond your abilities. Wait a minute! If we do things beyond our abilities, it seems that we are allowing God to work through us; using our weaknesses for His glory and His kingdom. It’s hard to boast about ourselves when there is no doubt that God accomplished the task (through us).
Consider 1 Peter 5:10 “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace … will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
Being stretched by God means you will:
- Be uncomfortable: allow God to push you beyond your comfort zone, forced to grow, change, and be vulnerable to others.
- Give up your rights: to be offended, to not forgive, to be right, to judge, to not care or walk away when things get tough.
- Discipline your flesh: change your habits, introduce new disciplines, deal with stress in a healthy manner.
- Only do now that which you can live with tomorrow: always keep the big picture in mind, even when you want to react to the moment.
- Turn your back on the ordinary: accept the fact that God has extraordinary things for you, and be willing to take steps of faith in that direction.
To fulfill our calling as leaders, we don’t have the luxury of staying the same lovable person we are today! Remember that while this stretching ultimately glorifies God in our lives; our fulfillment and enjoyment comes as we are better able to impact others for the Kingdom.