LIFESTYLE LEADERSHIP: Lifestyle traits of character

LIFESTYLE LEADERSHIP: Lifestyle traits of character
BY MAXWELL FRATT

EXCELLENCE

In the church, today, there are many programs and classes being held for all kinds of reasons and for all kinds of purposes. Some of these result in changed lives and others seem to, at best, add to the status quo. The SPIRIT of EXCELLENCE must be a major quality of any leader called of God to be the residence for the Holy Spirit. If the leader strives for excellence, the leader will never be counted as part of the “also-rans’ of life. It is an attribute that is developed within the leader – but how do we acquire this trait? How can we, as leaders, acquire a trait of excellence when the world is willing (even demanding) for anything to be considered “good enough?’ We, as members of the EKKLESIA of God, have an easier path to acquire this, we ONLY have to look to the excellence of God!

We need to remember that God’s name is excellent: “Oh Lord our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth! Who hast set Thy glory above the heavens” (Psalms 8:1). “Let them praise the name of the Lord: for His name alone is excellent; His glory is above the earth and heaven.” (Psalms 148:13)

We need to remember that God’s loving kindness is excellent.  “How excellent is thy loving-kindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings” (Psalms 36:7).

We need to remember that God’s salvation is excellent. “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation.

Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. And in that day shall ye say, ‘Praise the Lord, call upon His name, declare His doings among the people, make mention that His name is exalted. Sing unto the Lord; for He hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth'” (Isaiah 12:2-5).

We need to remember that God’s work is excellent. “Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth … Because I will publish the name of the Lord: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He.” (Deuteronomy 32:1-4)

We need to remember that God’s way is excellent. “As for God, His way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: He is a shield to all them that trust in Him.” (II Samuel 22:31)

We need to remember that God’s will is excellent. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your
reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)

I need not go further. Many verses of the Old Testament and the New are dedicated to this theme of the excellence of God. We, many times read these verses and associate the excellence of God to God ONLY. The Holy Bible is filled with the exhortation to mimic God’s attributes. As leaders, our LIFESTYLE should show that the spirit of excellence is a reflection, in the leader, of one of God’s attributes.

This is not to be confused with efforts of the flesh, or ambitions to SUCCEED. SUCCESS and FAILURE, again, are not terms of the Bible – they are terms of man. God looks at the hearts purpose for everything that we do.

Turn to I Chronicles 22:5. Here we see David insisting that the temple of God be of ‘exceeding magnificence’ in quality. Why?

Because David knew that it reflected on the very name of God. We must be mindful of the FACT that what we do or we DON’T DO will reflect upon God and our Savior. We must always be mindful of the FACT that what we do in the name of God must reflect well on that name. We must be certain that it is ‘magnificent’ for our Lord.

Mark relates that “He hath done all things well” (7:37). Many times we see leaders of the church show the compassion and love that Jesus would expect, yet the work that they do is haphazard and sloppy.

Sometimes so much so that they are a disgrace. It seems that many people don’t find it necessary to strive for excellence in EVERYTHING.

Wouldn’t it be sad if the God we worship wasn’t a God of perfection and excellence? Everything done by God is perfection and complete.

Keep in mind the parable of the talents. The slothful servant is denounced as WICKED because of his slothfulness. In God, we find perfection and strength to strive for the same perfection.

Several Scriptures allow us to see how God can bring about this excellence in each of us – make it a part of our LIFESTYLE.

As we search the Scriptures for our own edification. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (II Timothy 3:16-17).

Through the prayers of others. “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in the will of God” (Colossians 4:12).

By helping us realize our own weaknesses. “And He said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my
infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (II Corinthians 12:9)

Through someone sharing the Word with us. “Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith” (I Thessalonians 3:10).

Through sufferings. “But the God of all grace, who hath called upon us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle
you.” I Peter 5:10)

By giving us a hunger for holiness. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (II
Corinthians 7:1).

By our desire to have the fruit of our lives brought to perfection. “And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when that have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and
pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection” (Luke 8:14).

All the above will work to bring excellence into our very character – when we recognize that our MOTIVATION is the key that unlocks the door to allow God to do His work in us. If our motivation
is incorrect – if we do anything because WE HAVE TO FOR DUTY or WE WANT TO BE SEEN – whatever, we close the door to His perfection. Mark told us that Jesus did ALL things well. Unless it has escaped you, Jesus is the ONLY person who ever lived who was able to have such a claim made! Read Hebrews 13:20 and 21.

No amount of effort on my part can accomplish what Christ can accomplish THROUGH us. Only THROUGH JESUS can any leader make a LIFESTYLE of excellence. Only THROUGH HIM, who did ALL THINGS well, can it be done.

INITIATIVE

A person who has a LIFESTYLE of leadership does not wait for something to happen – the leader helps make things happen. This is one reason many people do not step out into leadership responsibility.  As we discussed in the first session, a leader (teacher) will be held more accountable before the Lord. A leader knows and accepts the FACT that all are called to lead, only some refuse to participate.

Joab, of the Old Testament, is one example of such initiative.  In I Chronicles 11:6, we read “And David said, ‘Whosoever smiteth the Jebusites first shall be chief and captain.’ So Joab the son of
Zeruiah went first up, and was chief.” We also have discussed the calling of Isaiah: “Whom shall I send and who will go for Us? Then said I, ‘Here am I; send me.'” – Isaiah 6:8.

In Genesis 24:14-21, God tells us about Rebekah, who became the wife of Isaac because she took the initiative and served water to the servant of Abraham. This act of initiative marked her as God’s chosen bride for Isaac.

In John 6:9-11 a small boy was made the focal point of the Holy Scriptures because he took the initiative and offered his small lunch to help feed the multitude. Can you imagine the attack of Satan in that matter? “What’s wrong with you? You can plainly see that there are THOUSANDS of people here and you want to offer you little amount of food? You could cause a riot here! Better that you just kept quiet!” But the boy did not remain quiet and was the instrument that God used to have a miracle happen.

In reality, isn’t that the primary function of Christian leadership – to make an opportunity for God to pour forth His blessings. A leader with initiative opens doors for the miracles of
God to come forth when the leader responds to the commands of God and listens NOT to the advice of the world.

But the greatest act of initiative is found in God, Himself. In Acts 15:14, we are told: “Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name.” If
we had been left to ourselves, we would never have come to God. God took the initiative: “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8.

If we take the initiative, we demonstrate one more characteristic of God. Service to one another in the primary area that we need to demonstrate initiative. Another important area is in our function as the Priest of God’s kingdom – to reconciliation. Matthew 5:23-24 gives us clear guidance: “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the alter, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee: leave there thy gift before the alter, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” In Matthew 18:15, we have reinforcement of this: “Moreover, if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained a brother.”

In the world, it seems unfair – If WE offend a brother, we are to take the initiative AND if a brother offends US, we are to take the initiative! In either case, WE ARE TO TAKE THE INITIATIVE!

Pride is the obstacle to initiative of this kind. Satan wants us to think that if we humble ourselves before our mate or friend that they will look down on us. Nothing could be farther from the truth of God. When we act in this manner, we demonstrate the love and initiative of God, and the brother will recognize this as truth. God will honor the leader and the leader may gain a loyal follower, friend or brother in the course of acting in this godly manner.

One more area of initiative need is in gaining the knowledge and wisdom of God. Proverbs 20:5 tells us: “Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.”

A leader can NEVER know ALL there is to know about everything.  It is imperative that the leader seek out knowledgeable disciples of Christ and learn from them. Obtain the wisdom that they have gained in trying what you may be about to attempt. How many times have we been in gatherings or meetings where we failed to speak up for fear that we would show our ignorance! This, again, is the counsel of Satan. If we ask the “dumb” questions, we will find that we are not the only ones that needed the information, and we can open doors that will allow ourselves, and possibly many others, to serve more properly. Pride prohibits the Godly from being useful. Pride closes the door to the heart, and cools the love we need to show our brethren.

The SPIRIT NEEDED TO ORIGINATE ACTION is a good definition of initiative. To develop this quality, we need to use the brains that God gave us and the ability to utilize our imaginations – to think ahead and visualize the results that we seek. We, as leaders, must see MORE than others do, see FARTHER than others do, and see BEFORE others do. (See I Corinthians 1:25)

CREATIVITY
Leaders must be creative to show excellence. In the flesh we struggle to conform. The apostles were never found to be stiff or monotonous, they never tried to conform to man’s standard. The factor to look at is that they represented the very nature of God rather than the nature of man. Look at the creation. The Creator made variety while maintaining order. Man seems to thrive on conformity, which always ends in disorder. How different the standard of God. Think of the possibility of God making creation like the developers of our “modern” homes! Row of row of men that look exactly alike! YUK! God loves variety. Now think of a zoo. Look at the wonder of the variety that God has made. Science tells us that NO TWO snowflakes are identical! Make a comparison of the work we do for God against the work that HE does. To say that we lack creativity in our LIFESTYLE falls short of the depth of that shortcoming.

The creativity that we should have in the concern for others is clearly given to us in the story found in the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 2, verses 2 through 5. Read them carefully. Do we have that much concern for the terminal cases we know to do all we can to bring them to Christ? Would that we would be so bold as to do what has not been done before. Think of the open-mindedness of these four men. They weren’t concerned for the impact that the crowd may have had – they only knew that Jesus could help their beloved friend. Because they had open minds and BECAUSE they were creative, Holy Scripture records their deed. Just to tell an interesting story? “All scripture is for …..” Which reason has God used to touch you by recording this story?

The next question, “How do I develop this LIFESTYLE of creativity?”

Set your heart and your mind, especially your “mind of Christ” to find the “better way” to do anything and everything. Question. “Test all things; Hold fast to that which is true.” Ask God for boldness, for courage to try a new way, when His Spirit moves you. This is impossible without prayer-intimate communication and fellowship with the living God, through Christ Jesus.

Scripture tells us that Jesus made everything – nothing was made that was not made by Jesus. If we are to have a creative nature or LIFESTYLE, then we must have more fellowship, more time in prayer with Jesus, the CREATOR of all things. Jesus did things differently than the men of His time. Jesus spoke differently than the men of His time. Praise God that He did! Allow Jesus to place His hand on you and say “Behold, I will do a new thing!”

To sum up this section .. As a LIFESTYLE, excellence, initiative and creativity must be ours. Once we have committed to this path, we must ABIDE in the only source of provision of these traits, the Lord, Jesus Christ. Remember always that Jesus, and ONLY Jesus, “did all things well.”

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