CMF eZine The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship. 18 April Lead by Example By Rudy Swigart Leadership 0 Comment Lead by Example Why is leading by example so important? 6 Attributes to Consider While Walking in Leadership Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:2-5 We hear it all the time: “Lead By Example” but do we ever take the time to conduct a self-check to ensure that we have an understanding of the breadth and depth of the application? What makes leading by example so important to the hierarchal health of the organization? In order to answer the questions, we’ll need to break down the approach through the lens of others. Firstly, we need to consider the “whys” in order to understand why leading by example is important to our flock, our subordinates, our children and our followership. Then we need to understand the application of the “whys” so that we can fill the gaps. 1. Modeled Traits How do our children first begin to learn? From the time that we are babies, naturally we begin to behave in ways that we learn from our environment. Some things are inherent and God-given. Have you ever watched an infant stretch and yawn? How do they know how to do that? They just do, they didn’t have to model your behavior in order to learn how to do those things. But what about other learned habits and traits, where do they first learn how to behave and how is their journey of personality and character development shaped? It’s shaped through your behaviors and your habits. When you get angry, they cry. When you are happy and playful, they respond in kind (usually). They learn how to treat others and how to make decisions by your example and your tutelage. Plan accordingly and be aware of the weight of your role. Jesus compels us to model His behavior, as this is pleasing to the Lord as evidenced through scripture: “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?” 1 Timothy 3:1-7. As parents of young children, we’re thrust into the office of overseer, whether we’re prepared for it or not and the child will flourish and naturally follow your example. In leadership, whether explicit or implicit, all eyes are on you, constantly measuring whether or not you’re to be trusted, and whether or not you’re worthy of a followership. Think about how you gauge a good leader. What attributes do they possess that you respond to and want to follow? How do you behave if your boss or church pastor is not practicing what they preach? How do you view that leader and how does that effect your perception of the organization? Your decisions and behaviors have a direct impact on the lives, perceptions, and character development of your followership. While those are the “whys”, what do they imply (in our leadership behavior)? 2. Responsibility Where we’re responsible for the well-being of others, we have a greater level of responsibility, not only for the “care and feeding” of those within our sphere of influence, but for continuous improvement and professional (and often personal) development of those within our care. Having and understanding our roles as leaders, having responsibility for others causes us to place the needs of others before our own. “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 3. Sacrifice Placing the needs of others before our own will ultimately lead to times of self-sacrifice. We have to give of ourselves for the betterment of others. In the new-baby example, we sacrifice many things as new parents, primarily our sleep as we adjust to the new “baby-schedule”. As leaders in the military, business, or church we sacrifice our time as we pour into our subordinates, protégés, or our flock. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11 4. Integrity The definition of integrity is: “The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.” You may have also heard the application of integrity as “doing the right thing, even when nobody is looking.” Either definition gives you a moral and ethical framework and compass for which to gauge your decisions and your activities. Acting with integrity is important in the eyes of your followership as it creates and nurtures trust within your relationship and can foster as a culture of trust within your organization. Having integrity in your actions, and being trustworthy to your subordinates creates an open and healthy work environment for your people. “My lips will not speak falsehood, and my tongue will not utter deceit. Far be it from me to say that you are right; till I die I will not put away my integrity from me. I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go; my heart does not reproach me for any of my days.” Job 27:4-6 5. Consistency Above all, we need to remain consistent. Consistency provides a safe-haven within a messy and inconsistent world. Where you’re consistent in your behaviors as a leader, your followership will benefit. If you’ve displayed that you’re approachable, methodical, intentional, and deliberate then your followership will know where they stand with you, and can be made to feel comfortable to confide in you during times of indecision or workplace conflict. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 6. Continuous Improvement How do you measure up? They say that a true scholar never stops learning. I’ll say the same of a true student of leadership, in that we never stop improving or adding tools to our leadership toolbox. Whether you lead at home, as a parent, or you lead in your church ministry, your role at work, or just in general as the “leader” within your sphere of influence as somebody that people trust to make decisions; we never stagnate, we never stop improving ourselves as the landscape of leadership is an often fluid and dynamic environment. The ways we lead in the military, don’t always transition to the ways we lead in our homes, or in our civilian work occupation, or in our church ministry leadership role. Understanding situational leadership implies a well-rounded approach so in that, we need to stay relevant and up to date with the traditions of leadership so that we can continue to lead effectively in our roles. What courses are you enrolled in for this year? How are you improving in your role? “About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,” Hebrews 5:11-12 Shalom. Lead by Example Why is leading by example so important? 6 Attributes to Consider While Walking in Leadership Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:2-5 We hear it all the time: “Lead By Example” but do we ever take the time to conduct a self-check to ensure that we have an understanding of the breadth and depth of the application? What makes leading by example so important to the hierarchal health of the organization? In order to answer the questions, we’ll need to break down the approach through the lens of others. Firstly, we need to consider the “whys” in order to understand why leading by example is important to our flock, our subordinates, our children and our followership. Then we need to understand the application of the “whys” so that we can fill the gaps. 1. Modeled Traits How do our children first begin to learn? From the time that we are babies, naturally we begin to behave in ways that we learn from our environment. Some things are inherent and God-given. Have you ever watched an infant stretch and yawn? How do they know how to do that? They just do, they didn’t have to model your behavior in order to learn how to do those things. But what about other learned habits and traits, where do they first learn how to behave and how is their journey of personality and character development shaped? It’s shaped through your behaviors and your habits. When you get angry, they cry. When you are happy and playful, they respond in kind (usually). They learn how to treat others and how to make decisions by your example and your tutelage. Plan accordingly and be aware of the weight of your role. Jesus compels us to model His behavior, as this is pleasing to the Lord as evidenced through scripture: “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?” 1 Timothy 3:1-7. As parents of young children, we’re thrust into the office of overseer, whether we’re prepared for it or not and the child will flourish and naturally follow your example. In leadership, whether explicit or implicit, all eyes are on you, constantly measuring whether or not you’re to be trusted, and whether or not you’re worthy of a followership. Think about how you gauge a good leader. What attributes do they possess that you respond to and want to follow? How do you behave if your boss or church pastor is not practicing what they preach? How do you view that leader and how does that effect your perception of the organization? Your decisions and behaviors have a direct impact on the lives, perceptions, and character development of your followership. While those are the “whys”, what do they imply (in our leadership behavior)? 2. Responsibility Where we’re responsible for the well-being of others, we have a greater level of responsibility, not only for the “care and feeding” of those within our sphere of influence, but for continuous improvement and professional (and often personal) development of those within our care. Having and understanding our roles as leaders, having responsibility for others causes us to place the needs of others before our own. “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 3. Sacrifice Placing the needs of others before our own will ultimately lead to times of self-sacrifice. We have to give of ourselves for the betterment of others. In the new-baby example, we sacrifice many things as new parents, primarily our sleep as we adjust to the new “baby-schedule”. As leaders in the military, business, or church we sacrifice our time as we pour into our subordinates, protégés, or our flock. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11 4. Integrity The definition of integrity is: “The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.” You may have also heard the application of integrity as “doing the right thing, even when nobody is looking.” Either definition gives you a moral and ethical framework and compass for which to gauge your decisions and your activities. Acting with integrity is important in the eyes of your followership as it creates and nurtures trust within your relationship and can foster as a culture of trust within your organization. Having integrity in your actions, and being trustworthy to your subordinates creates an open and healthy work environment for your people. “My lips will not speak falsehood, and my tongue will not utter deceit. Far be it from me to say that you are right; till I die I will not put away my integrity from me. I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go; my heart does not reproach me for any of my days.” Job 27:4-6 5. Consistency Above all, we need to remain consistent. Consistency provides a safe-haven within a messy and inconsistent world. Where you’re consistent in your behaviors as a leader, your followership will benefit. If you’ve displayed that you’re approachable, methodical, intentional, and deliberate then your followership will know where they stand with you, and can be made to feel comfortable to confide in you during times of indecision or workplace conflict. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 6. Continuous Improvement How do you measure up? They say that a true scholar never stops learning. I’ll say the same of a true student of leadership, in that we never stop improving or adding tools to our leadership toolbox. Whether you lead at home, as a parent, or you lead in your church ministry, your role at work, or just in general as the “leader” within your sphere of influence as somebody that people trust to make decisions; we never stagnate, we never stop improving ourselves as the landscape of leadership is an often fluid and dynamic environment. The ways we lead in the military, don’t always transition to the ways we lead in our homes, or in our civilian work occupation, or in our church ministry leadership role. Understanding situational leadership implies a well-rounded approach so in that, we need to stay relevant and up to date with the traditions of leadership so that we can continue to lead effectively in our roles. What courses are you enrolled in for this year? How are you improving in your role? “About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,” Hebrews 5:11-12 Shalom. Related 7 Impactful Insights for Servant Leadership 7 Impactful insights for Servant Leadership in Business or at Home As leaders, in a business environment or at home with your children, it’s important that your leadership toolbox is full and robust so that you can access the tools that you need in any given situation. If you’re familiar with the concept of Situational Leadership, then you’ll understand practical application of the “when and how” to apply certain leadership tools. If the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, then your protégés will potentially learn how to lead by responding to your continuous example of anger and rigidity. While we can agree that there are situations when the hammer is required (as your child is chasing the ball towards the traffic-filled street, when a military regiment is required to move quickly, or when a potential safety mishap is to be averted), it is not the preferred tool to be employed in all situations. Where do we first begin to learn to lead? Sometimes we learn without even knowing that we’re learning. Our parents, guardians, and teachers were our first examples that we learned from and you can take the good attributes from them, and throw away the not-so-good attributes from them. As a leader, I’m continuously evaluating myself for effectiveness and often reflect on what should be intuitive and ask myself simple questions for those that have others within their sphere of care such as parents, pastors, or business leaders. If you call yourself a Christian, and if you have direct or indirect leadership of others, you have to consider the following questions: “How would Jesus lead in this situation?” What does the Servant Leader’s toolbox look like? “A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” Luke 22:24-27 ESV 1. Love How important is it to have love in your toolbox? It’s so important, that Jesus highlights this as the greatest over all of the commandments. “And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.’” Matthew 22:37-40 But how are we to lead others from a position of love? Love compels us to do things that are often out of the ordinary, or are beyond the capacities or expectations of our role. In the business environment, this might pertain to a situation where a person needs to leave work, for one reason or another for what is only revealed as a pressing personal issue. However, the deadline is rapidly approaching and that person is one of the only people that can answer the data call. What do you do? Do you decide that the needs of the business are greater than the needs of the employee, or do you let love lead and excuse the person knowing that the data call will be critically impacted? As a parent, this is easier as we love our children as parents do but as a business leader, this might be an uncomfortable area for you as you learn to love your subordinates. Keep love at the ready in your leadership toolbox and relationships will be deeply rooted in trust and respect, and work productivity can flourish as a result. “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 ESV 2. Lead With (or from) Weakness We want our subordinates or protégés to see us as confident and strong leaders, exuding qualities and traits from which they can emulate. Any signs of weakness can reduce their respect for you, as they become disappointed as the chinks in your armor are revealed, right? Wrong! Studies have shown that in a work environment, subordinates are more likely to respond to a personable and human boss that can admit and take ownership of his or her mistakes publicly and with humility. This fosters an environment of inclusion and productivity is directly impacted in a positive manner. “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV  https://hbr.org/2014/05/the-best-leaders-are-humble-leaders 3. Empathize From the time that we are children, God has blessed us with a natural ability to care for one another, on an internal and often subconscious level. We are all connected through this internal bond that can be associated with the “mother’s instinct” where “mama bear or papa bear” are revealed when their cubs are found to be in dangerous situations. We place ourselves in the paws of our cubs, or the feet of others as we empathize with them in their given situation, whatever that may be. “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Romans 12:9-13 But how are we to lead with empathy? We have deadlines to meet and requirements to uphold. Adults are adults and professionals are expected to carry their own weight. We’re not running daycare centers (well, maybe we are but you get the point). Does empathy and compassion have any room in a production or military environment? Should it? Let’s “take-it-to-the-book” and see what our leadership examples have shown us: “And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:42-45 As we serve others, we’re to do so from a position of empathy, where regardless of the business requirements, establishing and fostering the human element, as with a “family first” regimen, workers are more likely to support the infrastructure and provide quality workmanship and pride in delivered product as a result. 4. Sympathize Empathy and sympathy go hand-in-hand. Jesus compels us to address each other’s needs and carry the burdens of others on a personal level. Where we’re stumbling and find ourselves in a position of need, we’re required to help each other through whatever circumstances those may be. “But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?” John 3:17 ESV But how are we to lead from a position of sympathy? We can’t be expected to physically help out everybody in our shop through situations of need, can we? Everybody arrives to work with their own sets of struggles that they’re working through, how can I help them all and still be a productive leader? The answer may be simple, and may not require much time but for the body of the workforce, as leaders we have one crucial sympathetic tool in our toolbox, and that is the power of prayer! Pray for your coworkers, your students, your flock, your soldiers, and your children. With a sympathetic ear, hear their trials and pray for them individually and collectively. “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4 5. Wisdom The Bible tells us that if we’re to seek with our whole hearts, then we’ll find our answers there, within the text. Wisdom and discernment not only assist us in making critical ethical and moral decisions, but if we rely on wisdom before we react, then our ability to lead others through every situation becomes more predictable, credible, and sustainable. “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” Proverbs 3:13-18 ESV As somebody that serves their followership by leading with wisdom in their toolbox, we then create an environment of approachability and an open forum for creativity and ideas to flow freely through the workplace. This methodology impacts a culture and the work culture that you create through your leadership traits then permeates through all functions and elements of the business, or church, or battleground, or household. 6. Active Listening Have you ever heard the expression about having two ears and one mouth for a reason? Active listening can aid in your servant leadership attributes by allowing your responses to be in alignment with the needs of the persons or body that you’re serving. Listening is a vitally important tool to have in our leadership toolbox as it’s one of the first things that we’re taught as children. “Pay attention” or “listen to me” are words that I heard often in my early childhood and leadership development. We want our protégés to hear, and practically apply our instructions in order to accomplish tasks. And with that reasoning in mind, we’re to offer them the same benefit by actively listening to their needs, hearing and affirming their circumstances (empathy and/or sympathy), and enacting a course of action to assist in the resolution of their needs. “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;” James 1:19 ESV 7. Offer Sage Advice You know what they say about advice and opinions? Everybody has an opinion and with regards to advice, you’ll want to consider the source. As leaders, we are the source! So for those to consider, listen to and follow your advice, you’ll want to establish credibility by lovingly offering sage advice to your employees, soldiers, protégés, or children. The apostle Paul offers: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29 To have the above tools for your toolbox and the knowledge of each is just one element to the entirety of your leadership strategy. The other elements of your leadership strategy arrive during your “boots-on-ground” real world practical application of tool usage in your work, home, church, or military environments. The ability to incorporate critical thinking skills and discern the tools to employ in dynamic and fluid environments will help to sharpen you as a leader, and benefit greatly those in your charge. Until next time, think of ways where you can be of service to those that you lead. Shalom. 5 Ways God Compels Us to Lead Coming up through the ranks as a military leader there were, on many occasions, times that I was able to learn from my leaders, my peers, and my subordinates alike. From each subset of the populous with whom I interacted on a daily basis, I began to formulate my own leadership styles at a very young age. You see, I learned from all of my leaders, which you would think to be a good thing. However, there were also occasions where I learned how not to lead. As a young Sailor I learned a lot about myself. As subordinate, I learned which traits and mannerisms of my leaders to which I best responded. There were days that they had to be creative in order to appeal to my motivators in order to obtain the best levels of my work. My best leaders knew what my motivators were, and managed accordingly. There were also other leaders who didn’t seem to know or care what motivated me. As a result my attitude, my morale and of course my quality of work waned. It was important to me that I was able to see a realistic path to ascend through the ranks. I held in high regard the office of those appointed over me and endeavored to show the proper respect to those persons who held the office. So with that, a natural tendency for me at that young age was to emulate the leader(s) that I felt had the best leadership attributes. These attributes contributed to my daily habits as a sailor, and through my habits, my leadership character was formed. Along the way, I learned the elements of those attributes and how to apply them in specific situations. Through my journey up through the ranks, I began to understand and assimilate into my leadership style, those characteristics that were displayed to me not only by men and women in uniform, but by our almighty God. In fact, when I began to “take it to the book” (the Holy Bible) did I first begin to realize how I was created, for what I was created, and the character that God displayed befor me every step of the way. God truly leads by example! 1. Lead by Example Colossians 3:17 says: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Jesus shows us many ways where He presents the theme of leading by example as being at the forefront of His actions! If you haven’t heard it before, you should hear it now: as a leader, in any capacity, where you have the ability to teach and mentor protégés, they are watching and learning from your every move! Make no mistake, like little children they are learning from your mannerisms, your speech, your ethics and your values and at each step, they are internally assessing your ability to lead them, in any capacity. We do it all the time. How many Pastors have you “sized up” when investigating a new home church? Paul writes to Timothy: “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 ESV The Gospel of John says that we’re to be an example in service to each other. “When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” John 13:12-15 ESV 2. Be a Servant Leader “But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28 ESV Chief among the attributes of servant leadership, Jesus compels us to put down our pride, and serve each other with grace and empathy. We have to remember that not only are we in the business of completing well-orchestrated (most of the time) strategic missions, that we’re also in the business of shaping and molding people. Jesus compels us to serve our brothers and sisters and that through that service, we are providing those within our charge with the best attributes of leadership possible, both morally and ethically. 3. Lead with Wisdom Wisdom and discernment come with time, age and experience. As a young leader, don’t be afraid to plant your flagpole and make a decision. Subordinates and protégés don’t always benefit from indecision. However, be deliberate in your decision making methodology, otherwise the ripple effects of your decisions can be impactful in other potentially unforeseen areas. Take as many factors into consideration as possible before leading the charge in any one direction. The benefits of your deliberate decision making process will be many. Proverbs 8:1-36 ESV states, “Does not wisdom call? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud: “To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man. O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense.” 4. Have Trust Have trust in those around you, as the camaraderie and bonds that you have formed through your traditions and training will be displayed during the most stressful of times. In leading young service members individually or collectively, there must be trust among those you empower, to be able to carry out the orders with precision, as they have been trained to do. Trust in each other, and trust in the Lord. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce” Proverbs 3:5-10 ESV As Paul again writes to Timothy: “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” 1 Timothy 3:1-7 ESV 5. Lead with Love As leaders, whether we’re leading in a military capacity, or as teachers of education, or trainers for our business or our church, or as stay at home parents; the greatest of attributes that we could ever adorn in leadership or other capacities is on distinct display by our Lord and Savior. Of the many attributes that Jesus teaches us for how to behave and what is most consistent with the expectations that God has for us on this earth, he sums up with two very specific commandments. They are found within the Gospels, and Matthew tells us this is how the conversation occurred: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40 ESV The apostle Paul also gives us, in his letter to the Romans: “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Romans 12:9-13 ESV The Gap: Where Do Leaders Fail? The Gap: Where Do Leaders Fail? 8 Tools to Leadership Success Knowing the landscape of what becomes well rounded leadership is only half the battle. In most cases, we fight ourselves and our cultural upbringing along the way. As a result, there can be gaps, or chinks in our armor. Our backgrounds and experiences can help or hinder in our abilities to lead others. Have you ever completed a SWOT analysis 1 on yourself? If you have, you know that the “W” is for Weaknesses. While we’d like to assume that we make very little mistakes and take calculated and well thought out mitigated risks, the truth of the matter is that upwards of 40 percent of leaders fail 2 within the first 18 months and have a gap in their toolbox in at least one of the following areas. What are your weaknesses? How do you know?  SWOT Analysis: acronym (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) is a simple but useful framework for analyzing your organization's strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and threats that you face. It helps you focus on your strengths, minimize threats, and take the greatest possible advantage of opportunities available to you.  Staffing Talk: http://staffingtalk.com/40-percent-new-leaders-fail-within-first-18-months 1. Organization — Understand Where You Fit! Knowing the landscape of the organization is also a large part of your leadership effectiveness. I call it “swimming through the muck.” In a large corporation, knowing your organizational structure, especially if you’re a “small fish in a big pond,” is paramount to being effective in your role. In some businesses, there are business areas, mission areas, business units, and then the “enterprise” corporate level Leadership Team. “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” (Proverbs 18:15 ESV) Knowing where you fit, and understanding your customer base, and who you support in your role are of vital importance in your ability to be an effective leader. In leadership, having the wisdom of placement, and knowing “who’s who in the zoo” assists in your abilities to lead others. Proverbs 3:13-18 (ESV) says: “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace....” 2. Be Concise The ability to provide specific direction to your subordinates will prevent them from floundering and wasting time. It also helps to keep up morale! Studies have shown that subordinates are more productive, and effective in a mission driven environment however if that mission is unclear, then they’re left potentially aimless and working in other directions rather than those which are intended. The “Commanders Intent” needs to be clear and concise. In addition to a clear vision or mission statement, subordinates need to have an “action plan” that shows them how to support the mission or vision within their role. The action plan, and what can be a workable list can also aid in evaluating individual performance against requirements. Set your team up for success! In your walk as a Christian, how do you know the direction that God has for you? Have you studied His word and discerned your followership? What role in your personal leadership development does God play? Have you considered His word as you exemplify your own leadership role? “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 ESV) 3. Equip Your Team As you’ve clearly communicated your intent, or the intent of the organization with regards to the vision and mission, have you set your subordinates up for success by equipping them with the tools, equipment, and accesses that they’ll require in order to perform effectively in their role? What do they need in order to carry out the mission? Will they require training, special certifications, gear or supplies to begin the mission? Once equipped, have you thought about how they’re to be sustained in their work environment? While Napoleon said, “An Army marches on its stomach,” Jesus says: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4 ESV) 4. Be Ethical This should go without saying but you’d be surprised (or maybe not) at the business decisions of corporate leaders, military leaders, and the like. One of the biggest career killers in senior military leadership is in fraternization, or sexual harassment. In the corporate world, the darkness is often brought to the light when the unethical train begins to run freely down the tracks. Make a decision already! But do it ethically. There’s a time where you have to take your emotion out of the equation and consider ethical decision making reasoning approaches to weigh the potential outputs of your decision. Are you running through the ethical decision making approaches, for the tough ethical dilemmas of teleological (costs vs. benefits), ontological (rules, rights, justice) and deontological (virtues) reasoning? The Lord will guide in your ethical decision making. Are you listening before you act? “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21 ESV) 5. Embrace the Culture Through Diversity, Equality, and Tolerance One of the greatest benefits that we have as leaders, whether in a corporate business environment or out on the battlefield, is diversity of the labor pool! Age, ethnicity, education, technical background, and the like can help to add value to a robust team of performers! Be careful to check your cultural biases at the door for God does the greatest things with the most unlikely people. “And David said to Saul, ‘Let no man's heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.’” (1 Samuel 17:32 ESV) So put off your first impressions and give everybody a fair shake. Assess, assign, monitor, trust, and reinforce and your teams will perform like pistons in a vehicle: powerful and moving in a manner that advances the mission. 6. Empowerment This brings us to empowerment. Empowerment is one of the most beneficial tools that you can ever carry in your leadership toolbox. Not only is it liberating for the subordinate, but it also encourages them to undertake acts of leadership implied or specified in their newly empowered role! Empowerment gives your subordinates confidence to make decisions on their own, and to potentially lead others as they develop into young leaders themselves. Giving a subordinate an element of autonomy greatly assists in their inherent development and maturity in the work force. If you find that a subordinate is constantly questioning your decisions or leadership motives, perhaps making them a “trusted agent” by empowering them and including them in the solution decision making process is the answer. Jesus says: “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:19-20 ESV) 7. Empathy Self-check: is the hammer the biggest and most utilized tool in your leadership toolbox? If so, you may be missing out on some critical developmental opportunities not only for yourself, but for those that you mentor. Leading with empathy doesn’t make you soft, it makes you approachable and human. Have you ever had a boss or mentor that led by fear? How effective were they and how effective were you in your capacity to complete assigned tasks? Empathy will encourage your subordinates to be open and honest in a trusted environment without fear of repercussion and will improve and enhance workplace morale. Having an empathetic boss, or being an empathetic leader reflects Christ in areas where perhaps those attributes are lacking. Not only are you charged with the knowledge of the walk, but the enactment of the walk. In one Biblical example, the Apostle Paul compels us to: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15 ESV) 8. Identity First and foremost we must never forget, that our identity does not lie within our vocational position. While our working role is that of a corporate or military leader, our identity is not found there. Our identity is not in the clothes that we wear, the watch on our wrist, the car that we drive, our golf swing, our experiences, our mistakes, our successes, or other places where we place our value. Our identity is only to be found as a true and loving child of the one true living God. From that, and only that standpoint, can we begin to shape our thoughts, our actions, and our decisions to go forth and embody the attributes of Christ and display for those with whom we come into contact. As leaders, we are held to a higher regard, which encompasses greater responsibilities, to exude leadership and to lead by example. As Christ believers and followers, we must consider and give credence to the Lord of Lords, the one who puts breath in our lungs each and every second of every moment of every day. Shalom. ERT: Lead By Example This reproducible really applies to all who seek to “Engage & Run Together.” We owe it to our brothers and sisters to follow Jesus, to live, care, and serve in a way that helps them follow Him, to grow in grace, to be conformed to the image of His Son. Whether we think of ourselves as newcomers, steady participants, emerging or established “leaders”, our example affects those around us. Live as an example. Sincerely do what you’re asking others to do, starting with an attitude of continuous repentance, a continuous emphasis on living in the presence of God. And actively living the Reproducibles: Inductive Bible Study, Conversational Prayer, Scripture Memorization, personal and professional Excellence, Grow Together, Pray & Plan (P&P). The Fort Benning statue says it clearly: Let’s go, get moving, do what I’m doing, Follow Me! The spiritual warrior-leader is strong, as expected of a military leader, not threatened or offended by different points of view, and able to bring a discussion back to “the main things”, for they “are the plain things”. able to admit that some questions are “above my pay grade”, sometimes to be left there, sometimes to be taken up with a chaplain or another leader in his/her “abundance of counselors” (Pr 24:5-6). gaining strength by absorbing and acting on The Word, able to receive wise guidance, new ideas, Spirit-led reproof, Godly counsel. The leader knows there are hungry lions prowling about, giants in the land, and that “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” (Numbers 13:30) For us, to “take possession” is to fully follow the Lord in a way that others recognize as real, strong in Him, pressing toward the mark so that we converge individually and as a community on what He intends for us. As we become living examples of what Paul taught Timothy in the presence of many witnesses, we will be able to teach others also to Engage & Run Together. Help the group grow together. Make sure the pleasure of warm fellowship doesn’t distract us from concern for the lost or individual closeness to God. Ask the Holy Spirit, and P&P to find the balance. Stick to the things make for peace and the building up of one another (Romans 14:19). Remember Jesus, how He reacted, how He related. Keep the focus on Him. Review, discuss, and use the seven reproducibles and the foundational Bible verses. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide to the right understanding and application of any Bible passage being discussed. Use marginal references to find clarification from related passages. Explore together; avoid imposing personal or denominational conclusions. Begin the Bible study sequence with the 3 sets of memory verses found at the link below. Newcomers can go through them “offline” or when the group does them each year (or as locally needed). The idea is to have used everything you’ll need to reproduce this approach at your next duty station. Pray and Plan to select follow-on studies, plan outreaches & activities: Some may be unfamiliar with basic Christian standards of conduct; others may have learned and rejected them earlier. The P&P could choose a study in Ephesians, Colossians, Timothy or Peter as a way for them to discover the need and rationale for lifestyle changes. Prioritize low-overhead activities … chapel services when available & small group gatherings in living or work areas; enjoy the occasional “big deal” activities without becoming dependent on them. Think of “fellowship” as purposeful activity together: study, prayer, planning, serving … “team building” by engaging together! Try a before-duty-hours Bible Study, a trip to the pistol range for Chapel people, P&P and run a service project! The spiritual nature of the team is caught from the unforced way we offer all aspects of life, including work & relationships, to Jesus! In any context we soon learn “the rules” we have to live with, and eventually find that most of them actually make sense for that context. Given the realities of military culture, it takes time for some to feel free to interact or take initiative in a small-group context. They hesitate out of respect for people of higher rank or deeper experience. Help them know they really are welcome to interact, to question, to explore and discuss and still honor the old saying that “while the senior never remembers his/her rank, the junior never forgets.” We Engage & Run Together to help people move: from external motivation (food, great worship music, good fellowship, etc) to internal motivation (pleasing Christ, serving Him and each other, concern for the lost), from consumer to contributor, from passive to proactive, from limiting faith to a place or centrally planned activities to engaging with others. Invite, include, & empower emerging leaders. Make ways for emerging leaders to trust God for empowerment to do “greater things”, to grow from speaking up during a Bible study, to co-leading a session, joining a “leaders meeting”, walking a newcomer through the reproducibles and verse sets, starting up another group, … “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.” (John14:13, NASB) Work with Chaplains, Pastors, and other Christian ministries to build the Kingdom of God. There’s no place for power struggles and competition; they are destructive. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. (James 3:16, NLT) Wrap-up …let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus,… (Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV, emphasis added) This is the fourth article in the “Engage & Run Together (E&RT)” series. For the previous articles, briefing, & further resources see http://ow.ly/qCfk30e12lm Let’s live, and invite others to join us in living a self-reproducing integrated life of faith. Romans 2:04 - God's Kindness Leads to Repentance Romans 2:4 "Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?" (NASB) "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?" (KJV) "Don't you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can't you see that His kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? " (NLT) "Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know that God's kindness leads you to repentance?" (NET) Are you unaware that God will lead you home? Instead you hold His longsuffering in utter contempt! The word repentance occurs 24 times in the New Testament (Mat 3:8, Mat 3:11, Mat 9:13, Mar 1:4, Mar 2:17, Luk 3:3, Luk 3:8, Luk 5:32, Luk 15:7, Luk 24:47, Acts 5:31, Acts 11:18, Acts 13:24, Acts 19:4, Acts 20:21, Acts 26:20, Rom 2:4, 2Co 7:9-10 (2), 2Ti 2:25, Heb 6:1, Heb 6:6, Heb 12:17, 2Pe 3:9). But what is this word that seems to have so many different meanings? Our good friend Dr. James Strong says: μετα?νοια metanoia met-an'-oy-ah From G3340; (subjectively) compunction (for guilt, including reformation); by implication reversal (of [another’s] decision): - repentance. G3341 μετα?νοια metanoia Thayer Definition: 1) a change of mind, as it appears to one who repents, of a purpose he has formed or of something he has done Compunction COMPUNCTION, n. [L. To prick or sting.] 1. A pricking; stimulation; irritation; seldom used in a literal sense. 2. A pricking of heart; poignant grief or remorse proceeding from a consciousness of guilt; the pain of sorrow or regret for having offended God, and incurred his wrath; the sting of conscience proceeding from a conviction of having violated a moral duty. He acknowledged his disloyalty to the king, with expressions of great compunction. Our friend Noah Webster says that Repentance is: Repentance REPENT'ANCE, n. 1. Sorrow for any thing done or said; the pain or grief which a person experiences in consequence of the injury or inconvenience produced by his own conduct. 2. In theology, the pain, regret or affliction which a person feels on account of his past conduct, because it exposes him to punishment. This sorrow proceeding merely from the fear of punishment, is called legal repentance, as being excited by the terrors of legal penalties, and it may exist without an amendment of life. 3. Real penitence; sorrow or deep contrition for sin, as an offense and dishonor to God, a violation of his holy law, and the basest ingratitude towards a Being of infinite benevolence. This is called evangelical repentance, and is accompanied and followed by amendment of life. Repentance is a change of mind, or a conversion from sin to God. Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation. 2 Cor 7. Mat 3. Repentance is the relinquishment of any practice, from conviction that it has offended God. John Bunyan: The pilgrim's progress : From this world to that which is to come, delivered under the similitude of a dream, wherein is discovered the manner of his setting out, his dongerous journey, and safe arrival at the desired country. Faith. Faithful Chr. Christian Man. the man The Second Stage: Man. God hath denied me repentance. His word gives me no encouragement to believe; yea, himself hath shut me up in this iron cage: nor can all the men in the world let me out. Oh eternity! eternity! how shall I grapple with the misery that I must meet with in eternity? The Fifth Stage: Faith. Say you so? Then am I in this man greatly deceived. Chr. Deceived! you may be sure of it. Remember the proverb, "They say, and do not;" but the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. Matt. 23:3; 1 Cor. 4:20. He talketh of prayer, of repentance, of faith, and of the new birth; but he knows but only to talk of them. I have been in his family, and have observed him both at home and abroad; and I know what I say of him is the truth. His house is as empty of religion as the white of an egg is of savor. There is there neither prayer, nor sign of repentance for sin; yea, the brute, in his kind, serves God far better than he. He is the very stain, reproach, and shame of religion to all that know him, Rom. 2:24,25; it can hardly have a good word in all that end of the town where he dwells, through him. Thus say the common people that know him, "A saint abroad, and a devil at home." His poor family finds it so; he is such a churl, such a railer at, and so unreasonable with his servants, that they neither know how to do for or speak to him. Men that have any dealings with him say, It is better to deal with a Turk than with him, for fairer dealings they shall have at their hands. This Talkative (if it be possible) will go beyond them, defraud, beguile, and overreach them. Besides, he brings up his sons to follow his steps; and if he finds in any of them a foolish timorousness, (for so he calls the first appearance of a tender conscience,) he calls them fools and blockheads, and by no means will employ them in much, or speak to their commendation before others. For my part, I am of opinion that he has, by his wicked life, caused many to stumble and fall; and will be, if God prevents not, the ruin of many more. The Necessity and Benefits of Religious Society The Necessity and Benefits of Religious Society Eccles. 4:9, 10, 11, 12 Two are better than One, because they have a good Reward for their Labour. For if they fall, the One will lift up his Fellow: But woe be to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if Two lie together, then they have heat; but how can One be warm alone? And if One prevail against him, Two Shall withstand him; and a threefold Cord is not quickly broken. AMONG the many reasons assignable for the sad decay of true christianity, perhaps the neglecting to assemble ourselves together, in religious societies, may not be one of the least. That I may therefore do my endeavour towards promoting so excellent a means of piety, I have selected a passage of scripture drawn from the experience of the wisest of men, which being a little enlarged on and illustrated, will fully answer my present design; being to shew, in the best manner I can, the necessity and benefits of society in general, and of religious society in particular. "Two are better than one, &c." From which words I shall take occasion to prove, First, The truth of the wise man’s assertion, "Two are better than one," and that in reference to society in general, and religious society in particular. Secondly, To assign some reasons why two are better than one, especially as to the last particular. 1. Because men can raise up one another when they chance to slip: "For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow." 2. Because they can impart heat to each other: "Again, if two lie together, then they have heat; but how can one be warm alone?" 3. Because they can secure each other from those that do oppose them: "And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken." From hence, Thirdly, I shall take occasion to shew the duty incumbent on every member of a religious society. And Fourthly, I shall draw an inference or two from what may be said; and then conclude with a word or two of exhortation. First, I am to prove the truth of the wise man’s assertion, that "two are better than one," and that in reference to society in general, and religious societies in particular. And how can this be done better, than by shewing that it is absolutely necessary for the welfare both of the bodies and souls of men? Indeed, if we look upon man as he came out of the hands of his Maker, we imagine him to be perfect, entire, lacking nothing. But God, whose thoughts are not as our thoughts, saw something still wanting to make Adam happy. And what was that? Why, an help meet for him. For thus speaketh the scripture: "And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone, I will make an help meet for him." Observe, God said, "It is not good," thereby implying that the creation would have been imperfect, in some sort, unless an help was found out meet for Adam. And if this was the case of man before the fall; if an help was meet for him in a state of perfection; surely since the fall, when we come naked and helpless out of our mother’s womb, when our wants increase with our years, and we can scarcely subsist a day without the mutual assistance of each other, well may we say, "It is not good for man to be alone." Society then, we see, is absolutely necessary in respect to our bodily and personal wants. If we carry our view farther, and consider mankind as divided into different cities, countries, and nations, the necessity of it will appear yet more evident. For how can communities be kept up, or commerce carried on, without society? Certainly not at all, since providence seems wisely to have assigned a particular product to almost each particular country, on purpose, as it were, to oblige us to be social; and hath so admirably mingled the parts of the whole body of mankind together, "that the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again, the hand to the foot, I have no need of thee." Many other instances might be given of the necessity of society, in reference to our bodily, personal, and national wants. But what are all these when weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, in comparison of the infinite greater need of it, with respect to the soul? It was chiefly in regard to this better part, no doubt, that God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone." For, let us suppose Adam to be as happy as may be, placed as the Lord of the creation in the paradise of God, and spending all his hours in adoring and praising the blessed Author of his being; yet as his soul was the very copy of the divine nature, whose peculiar property it is to be communicative, without the divine all-sufficiency he could not be compleatly happy, because he was alone and incommunicative, nor even content in paradise, for want of a partner in his joys. God knew this, and therefore said, "It is not good that the man shall be alone, I will make a help meet for him." And though this proved a fatal means of his falling; yet that was not owing to any natural consequence of society; but partly to that cursed apostate, who craftily lies in wait to deceive; partly to Adam’s own folly, in rather chusing to be miserable with one he loved, than trust in God to raise him up another spouse. If we reflect indeed on that familiar intercourse, our first parent could carry on with heaven, in a state of innocence, we shall be apt to think he had as little need of society, as to his soul, as before we supposed him to have, in respect to his body. But yet, as God and the holy angels were so far above him on the one hand, and the beasts so far beneath him on the other, there was nothing like having one to converse with, who was "bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh." Man, then, could not be fully happy, we see, even in paradise, without a companion of his own species, much less now he is driven out. For, let us view him a little in his natural estate now, since the fall, as "having his understanding darkened, his mind alienated from the life of God;" as no more able to see his way wherein he should go, than a blind man to describe the fun: that notwithstanding this, he must receive his sight ere he can see God: and that if he never sees him, he never can be happy. Let us view him in this light (or rather this darkness) and deny the necessity of society if we can. A divine revelation we find is absolutely necessary, we being by nature as unable to know, as we are to do our duty. And how shall we learn except one teach us? But was God to do this himself, how should we, but with Moses, exceedingly quake and fear? Nor would the ministry of angels in this affair, be without too much terror. It is necessary, therefore (at least God’s dealing with us hath shewed it to be so) that we should be drawn with the cords of a man. And that a divine revelation being granted, we should use one another’s assistance, under God, to instruct each other in the knowledge, and to exhort one another to the practice of those things which belong to our everlasting peace. This is undoubtedly the great end of society intended by God since the fall, and a strong argument it is, why "two are better than one," and why we should "not forsake the assembling ourselves together." But farther, let us consider ourselves as christians, as having this natural veil, in some measure, taken off from our eyes by the assistance of God’s holy Spirit, and so enabled to see what he requires of us. Let us suppose ourselves in some degree to have tasted the good word of life, and to have felt the powers of the world to come, influencing and moulding our souls into a religious frame: to be fully and heartily convinced that we are soldiers listed under the banner of Christ, and to have proclaimed open war at our baptism, against the world, the flesh, and the devil; and have, perhaps, frequently renewed our obligations so to do, by partaking of the Lord’s supper: that we are surrounded with millions of foes without, and infested with a legion of enemies within: that we are commanded to shine as lights in the world, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation: that we are travelling to a long eternity, and need all imaginable helps to shew, and encourage us in our way thither. Let us, I say, reflect on all this, and then how shall each of us cry out, brethren, what a necessary thing it is to meet together in religious societies? The primitive christians were fully sensible of this, and therefore we find them continually keeping up communion with each other: for what says the scripture? They continued stedfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, Acts 2:42. Peter and John were no sooner dismissed by the great council, than they haste away to their companions. "And being set at liberty they came to their own, and told them all these things which the high priest had said unto them," Acts 4:23. Paul, as soon as converted, "tarried three days with the disciples that were at Damascus," Acts 9:19. And Peter afterwards, when released from prison, immediately goes to the house of Mary, where there were "great multitudes assembled, praying," Acts 12:12. And it is reported of the christians in after-ages, that they used to assemble together before day-light, to sing a psalm to Christ as God. So precious was the Communion of Saints in those days. If it be asked, what advantages we shall reap from such a procedure now? I answer, much every way. "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labour: for if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe be to him that is alone when he falleth, for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat; but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken." Which directly leads me to my Second general head, under which I was to assign some reasons why "two are better than one," especially in Religious Society. 1. As man in his present condition cannot always stand upright, but by reason of the frailty of his nature cannot but fall; one eminent reason why two are better than one, or, in other words, one great advantage of religious society is, "That when they fall, the one will lift up his fellow. And an excellent reason this, indeed! For alas! when we reflect how prone we are to be drawn into error in our judgments, and into vice in our practice; and how unable, at least how very unwilling, to espy or correct our own mis-carriages; when we consider how apt the world is to flatter us in our faults, and how few there are so kind as to tell us the truth; what an inestimable privilege must it be to have a set of true, judicious, hearty friends about us, continually watching over our souls, to inform us where we have fallen, and to warn us that we fall not again for the future. Surely it is such a privilege, that (to use the words of an eminent christian) we shall never know the value thereof, till we come to glory. But this is not all; for supposing that we could always stand upright, yet whosoever reflects on the difficulties of religion in general, and his own propensity to lukewarmness and indifference in particular, will find that he must be zealous as well as steady, if ever he expects to enter the kingdom of heaven. Here, then, the wise man points out to us another excellent reason why two are better than one. "Again, if two lye together, then they have heat; but how can one be warm alone?". Which was the next thing to be considered. 2. A second reason why two are better than one, is because they can impart heat to each other. It is an observation no less true than common, that kindled coals, if placed asunder, soon go out, but if heaped together, quicken and enliven each other, and afford a lasting heat. The same will hold good in the case now before us. If christians kindled by the grace of God, unite, they will quicken and enliven each other; but if they separate and keep asunder, no marvel if they soon grow cool or tepid. If two or three meet together in Christ’s name, they will have heat: but how can one be warm alone? Observe, "How can one be warm alone?" The wise man’s expressing himself by way of question, implies an impossibility, at least a very great difficulty, to be warm in religion without company, where it may be had. Behold here, then, another excellent benefit flowing from religious society; it will keep us zealous, as well as steady, in the ways of godliness. But to illustrate this a little farther by a comparison or two. Let us look upon ourselves (as was above hinted) as soldiers lifted under Christ’s banner; as going out with "ten thousand, to meet one that cometh against us with twenty thousand;" as persons that are to "wrestle not only with flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, and spiritual wickednesses in high places." And then tell me, all ye that fear God, if it be not an invaluable privilege to have a company of fellow soldiers continually about us, animating and exhorting each other to stand our ground, to keep our ranks, and manfully to follow the captain of our salvation, though it be through a sea of blood? Let us consider ourselves in another view before mentioned, as persons travelling to a long eternity; as rescued by the free grace of God, in some measure, from our natural Egyptian bondage, and marching under the conduct of our spiritual Joshua, through the wilderness of this world, to the land of our heavenly Canaan. Let us farther reflect how apt we are to startle at every difficulty; to cry, "There are lions! There are lions in the way! There are the sons of Anak" to be grappled with, ere we can possess the promised land: How prone we are, with Lot’s wise, to look wishfully back on our spiritual Sodom, or, with the foolish Israelites, to long again for the flesh-pots of Egypt; and to return to our former natural state of bondage and slavery. Consider this, my brethren, and see what a blessed privilege it will be to have a set of Israelites indeed about us, always reminding us of the folly of any such cowardly design, and of the intolerable misery we shall run into, if we fall in the least short of the promised land. More might be said on this particular, did not the limits of a discourse of this nature oblige me to hasten, 3. To give a third reason, mentioned by the wise man in the text, why two are better than one; because they can secure each other from enemies without. "And if one prevail against him, yet two shall withstand him: and a threefold cord is not quickly broken." Hitherto we have considered the advantages of religious societies, as a great preservative against falling (at least dangerously falling) into sin and lukewarmness, and that too from our own corruptions. But what says the wise son of Sirach? "My son, when thou goest to serve the Lord, prepare thy soul for temptation:" and that not only from inward, but outward foes; particularly from those two grand adversaries, the world and the devil: for no sooner will thine eye be bent heavenward, but the former will be immediately diverting it another way, telling thee thou needest not be singular in order to be religious; that you may be a christian without going so much out of the common road. Nor will the devil be wanting in his artful insinuations, or impious suggestions, to divert or terrify thee from pressing forwards, "that thou mayst lay hold on the crown of life." And if he cannot prevail this way, he will try another; and, in order to make his temptation the more undiscerned, but withal more successful, he will employ, perhaps, some of thy nearest relatives, or most powerful friends, (as he set Peter on our blessed Master) who will always be bidding thee to spare thyself; telling thee thou needst not take so much pains; that it is not so difficult a matter to get to heaven as some people would make of it, nor the way so narrow as others imagine it to be. But see here the advantage of religious company; for supposing thou findest thyself thus surrounded on every side, and unable to withstand such horrid (though seemingly friendly) counsels, haste away to thy companions, and they will teach thee a truer and better lesson; they will tell thee, that thou must be singular if thou wilt be religious: and that it is as impossible for a christian, as for a city set upon a hill, to be hidden: that if thou wilt be an almost christian (and as good be none at all) thou mayest live in the same idle, indifferent manner as thou seest most other people do: but if thou wilt be not only almost, but altogether a christian, they will inform thee thou must go a great deal farther: that thou must not only faintly seek, but "earnestly strive to enter in at the strait gate:" that there is but one way now to heaven as formerly, even through the narrow passage of a found conversion: and that in order to bring about this mighty work, thou must undergo a constant, but necessary discipline of fasting, watching, and prayer. And therefore, the only reason why those friends give thee such advice, is, because they are not willing to take so much pains themselves; or, as our Saviour told Peter on a like occasion, because they "favour not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men." This then, is another excellent blessing arising from religious society, that friends can hereby secure each other from those who oppose them. The devil is fully sensible of this, and therefore he has always done his utmost to suppress, and put a stop to the communion of saints. This was his grand artifice at the first planting of the gospel; to persecute the professors of it, in order to separate them. Which, though God, as he always will, over-ruled for the better; yet, it shews, what an enmity he has against christians assembling themselves together. Nor has he yet left off his old stratagem; it being his usual way to entice us by ourselves, in order to tempt us; where, by being destitute of one another’s help, he hopes to lead us captive at his will. But, on the contrary, knowing his own interest is strengthened by society, he would first persuade us to neglect the communion of saints, and then bid us "stand in the way of sinners," hoping thereby to put us into the feat of the scornful. Judas and Peter are melancholy instances of this. The former had no sooner left his company at supper, but he went out and betrayed his master: and the dismal downfal of the latter, when he would venture himself amongst a company of enemies, plainly shews us what the devil will endeavour to do, when he gets us by ourselves. Had Peter kept his own company, he might have kept his integrity; but a single cord, alas! how quickly was it broken? Our blessed Saviour knew this full well, and therefore it is very observable, that he always sent out his disciples "two by two." And now, after so many advantages to be reaped from religious society, may we not very justly cry out with the wise man in my text, "Woe be to him that is alone; for when he falleth, he hath not another to lift him up?" When he is cold, he hath not a friend to warm him; when he is assaulted, he hath not a second to help him to withstand his enemy. III. I now come to my third general head, under which was to be shewn the several duties incumbent on every member of a religious society, as such, which are three. 1. Mutual reproof; 2. Mutual exhortation; 3. Mutual assisting and desending each other. 1. Mutual reproof. "Two are better than one; for when they fall, the one will lift up his fellow." Now, reproof may be taken either in a more extensive sense, and then it signifies our raising a brother by the gentlest means, when he falls into sin and error; or in a more restrained signification, as reaching no farther than those miscarriages, which unavoidably happen in the most holy men living. The wise man, in the text, supposes all of us subject to both: "For when they fall (thereby implying that each of us may fall) the one will lift up his fellow." From whence we may infer, that "when any brother is overtaken with a fault, he that is spiritual (that is, regenerate, and knows the corruption and weakness of human nature) ought to restore such a one in the spirit of meekness." And why he should do so, the apostle subjoins a reason "considering thyself, left thou also be tempted;" i. e. considering thy own frailty, left thou also fall by the like temptation. We are all frail unstable creatures; and it is merely owing to the free grace and good providence of God that we run not into the same excess of riot with other men. Every offending brother, therefore, claims our pity rather than our resentment; and each member should strive to be the most forward, as well as most gentle, in restoring him to his former state. But supposing a person not to be overtaken, but to fall wilfully into a crime; yet who art thou that deniest forgiveness to thy offending brother? "Let him that standeth take heed left he fall." Take ye, brethren, the holy apostles as eminent examples for you to learn by, how you ought to behave in this matter. Consider how quickly they joined the right hand of fellowship with Peter, who had so wilfully denied his master: for we find John and him together but two days after, John 20:2. And ver. 19, we find him assembled with the rest. So soon did they forgive, so soon associate with their sinful, yet relenting brother. "Let us go and do likewise." But there is another kind of reproof incumbent on every member of a religious society; namely, a gentle rebuke for some miscarriage or other, which though not actually sinful, yet may become the occasion of sin. This indeed seems a more easy, but perhaps will be found a more difficult point than the former: for when a person has really sinned, he cannot but own his brethrens reproof to be just; whereas, when it was only for some little misconduct, the pride that is in our natures will scarce suffer us to brook it. But however ungrateful this pill may be to our brother, yet if we have any concern for his welfare, it must be administered by some friendly hand or other. By all means then let it be applied; only, like a skilful physician, gild over the ungrateful pill, and endeavour, if possible, to deceive thy brother into health and foundness. "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and malice, and evil-speaking, be put away" from it. Let the patient know, his recovery is the only thing aimed at, and that thou delightest not causelesly to grieve thy brother; then thou canst not want success. 2. Mutual exhortation is the second duty resulting from the words of the text. "Again, if two lye together, then they have heat." Observe, the wise man supposes it as impossible for religious persons to meet together, and not to be the warmer for each other’s company, as for two persons to lye in the same bed, and yet freeze with cold. But now, how is it possible to communicate heat to each other, without mutually stirring up the gift of God which is in us, by brotherly exhortation? Let every member then of a religious society write that zealous apostle’s advice on the tables of his heart; "See that ye exhort, and provoke one another to love, and to good works; and so much the more, as you see the day of the Lord approaching." Believe me, brethren, we have need of exhortation to rouse up our sleepy souls, to set us upon our watch against the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil; to excite us to renounce ourselves, to take up our crosses, and follow our blessed matter, and the glorious company of saints and martyrs, "who through faith have fought the good fight, and are gone before us to inherit the promises." A third part, therefore, of the time wherein a religious society meets, seems necessary to be spent in this important duty: for what avails it to have our understandings enlightened by pious reading, unless our wills are at the same time inclined, and inflamed by mutual exhortation, to put it in practice? Add also, that this is the best way both to receive and impart light, and the only means to preserve and increase that warmth and heat which each person first brought with him; God so ordering this, as all other spiritual gifts, that "to him that hath, i. e. improves and communicates what he hath, shall be given; but from him that hath not, or does not improve the heat he hath, shall be taken away even that which he seemed to have." So needful, so essentially necessary, is exhortation to the good of society. 3. Thirdly, The text points out another duty incumbent on every member of a religious society, to defend each other from those that do oppose them. "And if one prevail against him, yet two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken." Here the wise man takes it for granted, that offences will come, nay, and that they may prevail too. And this is no more than our blessed matter has long since told us. Not, indeed, that there is any thing in christianity itself that has the least tendency to give rise to, or promote such offences: No, on the contrary, it breathes nothing but unity and love. But so it is, that ever since the fatal sentence pronounced by God, after our first parents fall, "I will put enmity between thy feed and her feed;" he that is born after the flesh, the unregenerate unconverted sinner, has in all ages "persecuted him that is born after the spirit:" and so it always will be. Accordingly we find an early proof given of this in the instance of Cain and Abel; of Ishmael and Isaac; and of Jacob and Esau. And, indeed, the whole Bible contains little else but an history of the great and continued opposition between the children of this world, and the children of God. The first christians were remarkable examples of this; and though those troublesome times, blessed be God, are now over, yet the apostle has laid it down as a general rule, and all who are sincere experimentally prove the truth of it; that "they that will live godly in Christ Jesus, must (to the end of the world, in some degree or other) suffer persecution." That therefore this may not make us desert our blessed master’s cause, every member should unite their forces, in order to stand against it. And for the better effecting this, each would do well, from time to time, to communicate his experiences, grievances, and temptations, and beg his companions (first asking God’s assistance, without which all is nothing) to administer reproof, exhortation, or comfort, as his case requires: so that "if one cannot prevail against it, yet two shall withstand it; and a threefold (much less a many-fold) cord will not be quickly broken." IV. But it is time for me to proceed to the fourth general thing proposed, to draw an inference or two from what has been said. 1. And first, if "two are better than one," and the advantages of religious society are so many and so great; then it is the duty of every true christian to set on foot, establish and promote, as much as in him lyes, societies of this nature. And I believe we may venture to affirm, that if ever a spirit of true christianity is revived in the world, it must be brought about by some such means as this. Motives, surely, cannot be wanting, to stir us up to this commendable and necessary undertaking: for, granting all hitherto advanced to be of no force, yet methinks the single consideration, that great part of our happiness in heaven will consist in the Communion of Saints; or that the interest as well as piety of those who differ from us, is strengthened and supported by nothing more than their frequent meetings; either of these considerations, I say, one would think, should induce us to do our utmost to copy after their good example, and settle a lasting and pious communion of the saints on earth. Add to this, that we find the kingdom of darkness established daily by such like means; and shall not the kingdom of Christ be set in opposition against it? Shall the children of Belial assemble and strengthen each other in wickedness; and shall not the children of God unite, and strengthen themselves in piety? Shall societies on societies be countenanced for midnight revellings, and the promoting of vice, and scarcely one be found intended for the propagation of virtue? Be astonished, O heavens at this! 2. But this leads me to a second inference; namely, to warn persons of the great danger those are in, who either by their subscriptions, presence, or approbation, promote societies of a quite opposite nature to religion. And here I would not be understood, to mean only those public meetings which are designed manifestly for nothing else but revellings and banquetings, for chambering and wantonness, and at which a modest heathen would blush to be present; but also those seemingly innocent entertainments and meetings, which the politer part of the world are so very fond of, and spend so much time in: but which, notwithstanding, keep as many persons from a sense of true religion, as doth intemperance, debauchery, or any other crime whatever. Indeed, whilst we are in this world, we must have proper relaxations, to fit us both for the business of our profession, and religion. But then, for persons who call themselves christians, that have solemnly vowed at their baptism, to renounce the vanities of this sinful world; that are commanded in scripture "to abstain from all appearance of evil, and to have their conversation in heaven:" for such persons as these to support meetings, which (to say no worse of them) are vain and trifling, and have a natural tendency to draw off our minds from God, is absurd, ridiculous, and sinful. Surely two are not better than one in this case: No; it is to be wished there was not one to be found concerned in it. The sooner we forsake the assembling ourselves together in such a manner, the better; and no matter how quickly the cord that holds such societies (was it a thousand-fold) is broken. But you, brethren, have not so learned Christ: but, on the contrary, like true disciples of your Lord and Master, have by the blessing of God (as this evening’s solemnity abundantly testifies) happily formed yourselves into such societies, which, if duly attended on, and improved, cannot but strengthen you in your christian warfare, and "make you fruitful in every good word and work." What remains for me, but, as was proposed, in the last place, to close what has been said, in a word or two, by way of exhortation, and to beseech you, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to go on in the way you have begun; and by a constant conscientious attendance on your respective for societies, to discountenance vice, encourage virtue, and build each other up in the knowledge and fear of God. Only permit me to "stir up your pure minds, by way of remembrance," and to exhort you, "if there be any consolation in Christ, any fellowship of the spirit," again and again to consider, that as all christians in general, so all members of religious societies in particular, are in an especial manner, as houses built upon an hill; and that therefore it highly concerns you to walk circumspectly towards those that are without, and to take heed to yourselves, that your conversation, in common life, be as becometh such an open and peculiar profession of the gospel of Christ: knowing that the eyes of all men are upon you, narrowly to inspect every circumstance of your behaviour: and that every notorious wilful miscarriage of any single member will, in some measure, redound to the scandal and dishonour of your whole fraternity. Labour, therefore, my beloved brethren, to let your practice correspond to your profession: and think not that it will be sufficient for you to plead at the last day, Lord have we not assembled ourselves together in thy name, and enlivened each other, by singing psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs? For verily, I say unto you, notwithstanding this, our blessed Lord will bid you depart from him; nay, you shall receive a greater damnation, if, in the midst of these great pretensions, you are found to be workers of iniquity. But God forbid that any such evil should befal you; that there should be ever a Judas, a traitor, amongst such distinguished followers of our common master. No, on the contrary, the excellency of your rules, the regularity of your meetings, and more especially your pious zeal in assembling in such a public and solemn manner so frequently in the year, persuade me to think, that you are willing, not barely to seem, but to be in reality, christians; and hope to be found at the last day, what you would be esteemed now, holy, sincere disciples of crucified Redeemer. Oh, may you always continue thus minded! and make it your daily, constant endeavour, both by precept and example, to turn all your converse with, more especially those of your own societies, into the same most blessed spirit and temper. Thus will you adorn the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in all things: Thus will you anticipate the happiness of a future state; and by attending on, and improving the communion of saints on earth, be made meet to join the communion and fellowship of the spirits of just men made perfect, of the holy angels, nay, of the ever-blessed and eternal God in heaven. Which God of his infinite mercy grant through Jesus Christ our Lord; to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost, three persons and one God, be ascribed, as is most due, all honour and praise, might, majesty and dominion, now and for ever. Amen. Whitefield, G. (1772). The Works of the Reverend George Whitefield (Vol. 5). London: Edward and Charles Dilly. (Public Domain) Comments are closed.