Bear Bryant’s Secret of Success

Leadership is so important. Jesus was the greatest model of leadership and Ken Blanchard has developed seminars and written books on how we can Lead Like Jesus.

I recently read about legendary football coach of Alabama’s Crimson Tide, Bear Bryant, who once said: I’m just a plowhand from Arkansas, but I have learned how to hold a team together. How to lift some men up, how to calm others down, until finally they’ve got one heartbeat together, a team. There’s just three things I’d ever say:

  • If anything goes bad, I did it.
  • If anything goes semi-good, then we did it.
  • If anything goes real good, then you did it.

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Connectors Inspire Other People

Bill Hybels once said, “Motivated employees are 87 percent less likely to leave an organization compared to an unmotivated employee.” There is no doubt that everyone benefits from motivation. Think back to a teacher or coach who inspired you to something greater. The fact is that some people inspire us more than others do.

It all Adds up to Inspiration: As someone begins to communicate with them, people ask questions. They want to know what’s in it for them. Maxwell gives an Inspiration Equation:

What they know + What they see + What they feel = Inspiration

What People Need to Know: When non-connecting teachers think about what their students needs to know, they focus on information. Maxwell states that in the context of connecting, people need to know you’re on their side. Aristotle wrote about pathos, a communicator’s ability to connect with the feelings, desires, wishes, fears and passions of their listeners.

That you understand them and are focused on them: No one is inspired by people who are concerned about themselves. Self-centered people don’t generally connect with others. Good connectors get to know their students. They need to know that you are for them and in their corner. People do things, like making changes in their lives, for their own reasons, not for the reasons of the teacher.

Maxwell writes that a gossip is someone who talks about others, a bore talks about himself, but a brilliant conversationalist is one who talks to you about yourself. What are people thinking? What are their dreams? About what do they worry?

  1. What are people saying? The most called upon prerequisite of a friend is an accessible ear. Good leaders are good listeners. Maxwell has this pattern: listen, learn then lead.
  2. What are people doing? Watch them and their behavior; including their body language.

That You Have High Expectations of Them: Abraham Lincoln once said of a sermon that it was brilliantly conceived, biblical, relevant and well presented; but it failed because it did not ask us to do something great. Inspiring communicators always expect a lot from their students. Maxwell says that management is about getting people to do what they do not want to do, while leadership is inspiring people to do what they never thought they could.

What People Need to See: If these are not present, people will simply turn you off.

  1. Your Conviction: Conviction is something you cannot fake. If the teacher does not have conviction about his subject, why should the students?
  2. Your Credibility: When people trust you, they will listen to you. If you walk does not match your talk, credibility will be lacking.
  3. Your Character: They need to see evidence of your character. A mediocre teacher tells, a good teacher explains, a great teacher demonstrates. As teachers and leaders we must strive to be the message. Connecting has a lot to do with letting who you are influence everything you do. The decision of your students to listen every week is based on a deeper perception related to the teacher’s credibility.

What People Need to Feel: This is the most important factor in the Inspiration Equation. People may not remember what your said or what you did, but they will remember how you made them feel.

Your passion for the subject and them: Vision alone does not inspire change; it must be strengthened by passion. Your teaching will be nothing if it does not come from your heart. Teaching is not just going through the motions and showing up Sunday to lead the lesson. Ask these questions each week:

  1. Do I believe what I teach?
  2. Has it changed me?
  3. Do I believe it will help others?
  4. Have I seen it change others?

You will do more than light a fire under people, you will ignite a fire within them.

Your confidence in yourself and them: Passion motivates because the questions asked is, “Is it worth it?” People must also see your confidence and ask, “Can I do it?” If you don’t have confidence in a speaker, are you likely to follow that person?

Your gratitude for them: This may be the most neglected and least expressed virtue. Silent gratitude is not good for anyone. Matthew Henry once wrote in his diary about being robbed, “Let me be thankful first because I was never robbed before; second, although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”

Action – Inspiration at the Highest Level: Often we encourage people, make them feel good, help them to feel confident, but they never more on toward action. Action changes lives.

Say the right words at the right time: Timing is often the difference between success and failure.

Give people an action plan: For most people, their knowledge far outweighs their follow-through. A motivational speaker wants you to feel good; while the motivational teacher wants you to do good. Make lists of what you have learned by using this ACT plan:

  1. Put an A next to the items you want to apply.
  2. Put a C next to the items you need to change.
  3. Put a T next to the items you need to teach to others.

Make a Commitment to Continually Inspire Others: One linguist notes that in 20 primitive languages, the word hearing and doing is the same word. Actor Will Smith once said, “The way I like to measure greatness is: How many people do you affect? In your time on earth, how many people can you affect? How many people can you want to make better? Or how many people can you inspire?” The true test of inspiration is action.

Summary:
Connecting Practice: Connectors inspire people.
Key Concept: What people remember most is how you make them feel.

Practical Steps:
Character, above all else, will make the greatest impression on people.

  1. A heart to serve.
  2. A person of good values.
  3. A helping hand.
  4. A caring spirit.
  5. A believing attitude.

People want to know what you have done, this adds credibility.

  1. That you can lead by example.
  2. That you will only ask them to do what you have done or are wiling to do.
  3. That you will teach them only what you have already done.
  4. That their success is more important than your success.
  5. That they will get credit for accomplishments.
  6. That you will celebrate their success.

Your students need to know that you enjoy being with them and want to help them; that you are a friend, that you are not perfect, but growing, that you are conversing with them, not talking down to them, that you believe in them and they can believe in themselves.

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The Grounds for Faith

This Sunday we continue in Second Peter, which begs the question as to why would we have faith at all? How can we know God’s plan for us? Can we really trust what is recorded in Scripture? Peter will also address his thoughts as he nears the end of his earthly life. How can we know that what we have followed all these years was right? If you could convey a final message to people whom you hoped would continue and persevere in the Christian faith, what would you say? What would you want them to know?

This letter is in many ways Peter’s farewell address. He reminded them of their source of faith. It was not built on the apostles, but upon another source.

Invoking His Memory

What God revealed to Peter: Peter wants to remind his readers of what they already know, Peter was not holding anything back (2 Peter 1:12). These believers have been established in the truth. He mentions that stirring them up, teaching and encouraging them was the right thing to do, even though his execution was drawing near (2 Peter 1:13, 14). Jesus made it clear that he would not live to a ripe old age, but a martyr’s death (John 21:18, 19).

What Peter requires of us: Peter wants these believers to remember the great spiritual truths he has written in these letters, especially after “his departure” (2 Peter 1:15).

Identifying His Majesty

Here, Peter reviews what we call the Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-13, Matthew 17:1-13). He and the disciples did not follow cleverly devised tales or stories about Jesus; he proclaimed that which he experienced. He was an eyewitness to the glory of Jesus (2 Peter 1:16, 17). The glory faded on the mountaintop, but the Word of God will never fade (1 Peter 1:24, 25). There was a sight (2 Peter 1:16) and there was a sound (2 Peter 1:17, 18). Peter experienced Christ, he did not just believe the right stuff about Him. Peter had a first-hand faith rather than a second-hand faith.

Inspiration of His Message

First Peter addresses the accomplishments of the Bible, moving toward giving us hope for the future (2 Peter 1:19). God’s Word is a light that shines in the darkness. As Galadriel spoke to Frodo giving him a gift of the special lamp, she said, “May it be a light in the dark places, when all other lights go out.”He challenges us to “make more sure” about the prophetic Word, which we “do well to pay attention.”

Then Peter moves to the author of the Bible (2 Peter 1:20, 21). So we beg the questions… can we trust the Word of God? How has it been preserved for us to read today? Is it reliable? Do we interpret the text properly? What does the word inspiration mean anyway? The message did not come from human writers, but from the power of God, people moved by the Holy Spirit.

Questions to Consider this Week:

  1. What people and events does Peter remind his readers (2 Peter 1:16-21)?
  2. What responsibilities did Peter seem to feel he had for his readers (2 Peter 1:12-15)?
  3. What phrases indicate Peter’s view of death?
  4. What can we assume was his attitude toward death?
  5. What do you hope will be your own attitude when death approaches?
  6. What could you be doing now to build toward a “good death?”
  7. In what ways did the transfiguration reveal the majesty of Jesus?
  8. What difference does it make to know that Peter’s teaching about Jesus came from eyewitness testimony?
  9. What difference does it make that the Father said of Jesus, “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him.” (Matthew 17:5)
  10. What does this passage tells us about the design and purpose of Scripture (2 Peter 1:19-21)?
  11. What are some ways we can show respect for the Bible?
  12. Other verse to consider about the Messiah: Isaiah 40:1-11, 53:1-12, Micah 2:2-5, Zechariah 9:9, Revelation 21:22-22:7

Commentary:

Peter’s readers needed a reminder that rested on apostolic authority that was in harmony with other Scripture.

The Need for a Reminder (2 Peter 1:12–15)
Returning to the subject of God’s promises (2 Peter 1:4), Peter developed the importance of the Scriptures as the believers’ resource. This was designed to enable his readers to appreciate the value of the Scriptures and to motivate them to draw on God’s Word so they would grow in grace.

Peter’s previous words were a reminder to his readers, not new instruction. 2 Peter 1:3–11 contain basic truths about the Christian life. Peter apparently believed that he would soon die as a martyr. He said he wrote this epistle so that after his death the exhortation in it would be a permanent reminder to his readers.

The Trustworthiness of the Apostles’ Witness (2 Peter 1:16–18)
Peter explained that his reminder came from one who was an eyewitness of Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry, which would have heightened respect for his words in his readers’ minds. This section begins Peter’s defense of the faith that the false teachers were attacking, defense which continues through most of the rest of the letter.

The apostles had not preached myths to their hearers, as the false teachers were doing. They had seen Jesus’ power in action as God’s anointed Messiah. God had clearly revealed that Jesus is the Christ at His transfiguration when God had announced that Jesus is His beloved Son (2 Peter 1:18).

The Divine Origin of Scripture (2 Peter 1:19–21)
The prophetic Old Testament Scriptures confirm the witness of the apostles. That witness is similar to a light shining in a darkened heart and world. Until the Lord returns, we should give attention to the Old Testament and to the apostles’ teaching. That is the only real light available to us. What we have in Scripture originated not in the minds of men but in the mind of God (2 Peter 1:21). The prophets did not simply give their interpretation of how things were or would be. They spoke as God’s mouthpieces, articulating His thoughts in words that accurately represented those thoughts. The Holy Spirit “carried along” the prophets to do so.

The next lesson we will take a look at false teachers. Have a great week.

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Inspiration, Faith & Integrity

My Sunday morning Bible study is taking a fresh look at Peter and how his life often mirrors our own at various times in life. This week we are looking at the power of God that filled Peter’s life, and how that made a difference.

Pilate’s wife warned him not to mess with Jesus (Matthew 27:19). The guards who stood at the tomb didn’t really know what happened that night (Matthew 28:11-15) but were paid to give false testimony. Right at seven weeks after these amazing events, the next Jewish feast had arrived. We find the disciples gathered in an upper room praying. They saw Jesus ascend to heaven but had not yet received what Jesus had promised, the Spirit, power, and they did not even know what to look for. Would they even recognize it when it came?

Inspired Words: Acts 2:1-40 (primarily Acts 2:1-14)
On the streets below the room where the believers are gathered, Jerusalem is busy. Jewish pilgrims from all over the world have come to Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. The believers have been in prayer (Acts 1:14), as instructed by Jesus, and waiting to see what he promised (Acts 1:8). Suddenly, a roaring wind fills the house and tongues of fire fall on each person. The visitation is unmistakable, and the promised power has arrived.

Peter is filled with words to explain the amazing event. A miracle occurs as visitors in town for the feast hear the good news about Jesus in their native tongue (Acts 2:11). They are touched by the message and confused by the messengers (Acts 2:12-13). Then Peter takes the lead. He stands up and preaches the world’s first post-ascension sermon (Acts 2:14). He steps into the role he will fill for the rest of his life: a vocal leader of the Jesus movement.

  1. Peter’s regrets and failures are nowhere evident in Acts 2. It’s as though they never happened. He has “moved on” and gotten busy doing what God called him to do. Is anything from your past hindering your ability to be completely available to God?
  2. If so, how do you think God would want you to deal with it? Why is it so hard sometimes to move on?

Daring Faith: Acts 3:1-26 (primarily Acts 3:1-10)
Peter and John encounter a familiar scene on their way to the temple to pray. A crippled man is being carried to the gate so he can beg for alms from people (Acts 3:2). Today is different than most other days; the disciples are now filled with boldness in their faith, like they never experienced while Jesus walked in the flesh. They look the man in the eyes and offer him something far better than silver or gold. Peter grabs his hand, pulls him to his feet before seeing any evidence of healing, and tells him to walk (Acts 3:7). Only then do the man’s ankles and legs grow strong. He walks, jumps, and praises God vocally and visibly.

It’s a very public miracle. People who have know this man for years are amazed at the sight. They are filled with wonder and awe, and Peter sees another opportunity. Again, he begins to preach.

  1. People all around you are hurting physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually. How much of your reputation or your dignity would you be willing to risk to help them?
  2. How much faith do you have that your intervention can change their lives?
  3. Peter seized an opportunity to display the glory of Jesus. How diligently do you look for those kinds of opportunities?
  4. What is one act of faith you can do this week to help someone who’s hurting?

Courageous Leadership: Acts 5:1-10
Many believers are selling their possessions, pooling their resources, and sharing with each other so that no one would have any needs. It’s a remarkable reflection of the love of Christ in their lives. Though the generosity isn’t required of anyone, it’s a natural response to the Spirit’s presence.

But there are always those who try to see how little they can get by with. In this case, it’s a married couple named Ananias and Sapphira who boast greater generosity than they actually have. They secretly keep a portion of a land sale for themselves (Acts 5:1-2).

But there are no secrets with the Holy Spirit, and there is no room for a lack of integrity. The couple has lied to God, to Peter and the other leaders, and to the fellowship of believers (Acts 5:4). Unlike many later church leaders who would ignore the deception as a personal issue, Peter confronts the couple. When he bluntly exposes Ananias’ lie, the deceiver falls down dead (Acts 5:5). Later, his wife does the same when she is confronted (Acts 5:10). In these first days of the new church, integrity seems to be a vital issue both to the Spirit and to Peter.

  1. To what degree do you think the church today is known for its integrity?
  2. Do you think the Spirit does (or will) have as harsh a response to deception as he did with Ananias and Sapphira? Why or why not?
  3. How meticulous are you about your own integrity?
  4. Do you present yourself as more generous, loving, or honest than you really are? If so, why?

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