leadership

Are you Seeking the approval of God or of Man?

Do you worry about what other people think of you? Do you fear people’s reactions to your decisions? Do you often find yourself feeling guilty when you can’t be there for someone?

If you identify with those feelings, you are not alone. Many people struggle with people-pleasing. It comes subtly and twists the best of intentions. Getting rid of people-pleasing has been a huge lesson in my life, I  check my motives and heart daily to make sure I’m living for the approval of God rather than the approval of other people.

The Lord ministered to me in this area through a passage of scripture I’d read many times before. This time, I read it with a set of fresh eyes, able to see truths I hadn’t noticed before.

In 2 Kings 5:1-6 we find the wealthy army commander, Naaman, who was a leper seeking healing. Through a series of events, Naaman sought the prophet Elisha to find healing. Arriving at Elisha’s house, he was met by Elisha’s servant who delivered instructions on how to receive healing. The servant told Naaman to go wash in the Jordan seven times to be clean. Naaman was furious Elisha didn’t come to him directly and wave his hand over him to heal him. But his servants convinced him to give the advice a try. Naaman went away furious but still dipped in the Jordan as instructed, emerging with skin like a child, completely healed. Naaman came back to the prophet Elisha declaring there was no other God but in Israel and offering a generous gift to Elisha, but Elisha refused the gift.

In this passage of scripture I noted 5 significant aspects revealing Elisha as a God-pleaser rather than a people-pleaser:

  1. Elisha didn’t feel the need to be the one to deliver the message.

Elisha sent his servant to tell Naaman the instructions on healing. Too often times, we feel the need to be the hero of people’s stories. We want to be the ones to always show up and come to the rescue. Elisha raised up another leader and delegated the work of the ministry to that leader. I don’t know what line of work you are in, but in ministry, I can’t possibly be there for everyone. I’ve tried and exhausted myself. Especially as my church grows, I need to trust the leaders we’ve put in place to help shepherd the flock and help carry the load – none of us can do it alone. 

Many times we pray to God for help and guess how he answers that prayer? He sends someone in our life to help us, but often we refuse the help they offer. In humility, we need to accept people in our lives God brought to help carry our load.

2. Elisha didn’t give an explanation.

I used to send long explanations for why I couldn’t be somewhere. I wanted to say yes to every birthday party, bridal and baby shower, every volunteer opportunity, every playdate. If I couldn’t make it, in addition to a long explanation, I carried around backpack of guilt. I should have been there for that person. They really needed me. My husband helped me realize I don’t need to give an explanation for everything, nor do I need to feel guilty or apologize for prioritizing my family and times of rest.

3. Elisha wasn’t afraid of Naaman’s response.

Naaman got angry and enraged because Elisha’s method disappointed him. Well, here is a truth which never gets old: We can’t please everyone. We will disappoint people. We won’t always do things the way others want us to. Sometimes, people will get angry or critical, but we can’t let the fear of people’s response stop us from obeying God’s direction. We have to continue to do what God calls us to do, regardless of how it might be perceived. Naaman was momentarily angry, but when he finally listened to the instructions, he received healing and made a declaration about the one true God. Sometimes people will react a certain way in the moment, but will later praise God for the results.

4. Elisha’s method brought glory to God and not to himself.

If Elisha were to lay his hands on the man directly, Naaman could have went back and declared what a powerful prophet Elisha was, one with incredibly healing powers. Instead, Elisha’s instructions made it so Elisha wasn’t present when the healing took place. Naaman later said, “Now I know there is no other God in Israel.” This isn’t to say we can’t pray for people’s healing, or lay our hands on them directly (I do all the time), that’s not the point. The point is to examine our motives and our methods. Do our methods bring glory to God or ourselves?

5. Elisha didn’t want the credit.

Elisha’s refusal of the gift Naaman offered was significant, it meant he did want to take credit for the healing. He wanted it clear it was not him who performed a miracle, it was God. People-pleasing is a pride issue. It seeks credit from man rather than obedience to God.

 

One of the verses I now try to live by is Galatians 1:10 “Am I now seeking the approval of God or of man? If I were seeking the approval of man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Living to please God (instead of people) keeps my pride in check and reminds me who I’m doing it for and who I’m pointing others to. It also strengthens my family, snuffs out fear, and gives me peace and endurance to run the race I’m called to. Burn-out isn’t an option – I’m in this for the long haul, enjoying the journey and keeping my eyes on Him. I hope you’ll join me in daily asking the powerful question from Galatians: Am I now seeking the approval of God or of man?

 

Why I went from dodging feedback to seeking it

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I don’t ever beg, so please know this won’t happen often. But I’m begging you to do something right now: Grab your phone and download the iBethel app. Watch the (Dec. 9th) message “School of Ministry with Danny Silk.”  The message is about inviting feedback into your life, and it is one of the most powerful, impactful, and rich-with-truth messages I’ve ever heard. Please do it! You won’t regret it.

Now that my begging is out of the way, I’ll explain why this impacted me so much and why I think everyone should watch it.

For the first (and large) portion of my life, I struggled with insecurity. Not so much in the way I look, but the overall feeling that I wasn’t good enough or that I had something to earn or prove. I feared correction or feedback because I thought that it would dig a deeper whole of insecurity for me. I surrounded myself with people who would encourage me, but not often people who would tell me what I needed to hear.

As I grew in my maturity and faith (and read all those verses about fools despising correction), I became more open to this idea of feedback, but I still dreaded it. Any evaluation or email containing feedback made me woozy. Because I loathed feedback so much I rarely gave it to others, because I assumed they felt the same way. I lived in a bubble where I couldn’t approach others in truth, and they couldn’t approach me.

I could brag about Danny Silk’s message all day long, but I’ll spare you the recap and beg you (yet again) to listen to it.

After I listened to it, I sent an email to the five people who interact with me the most (besides my kids, haha). I chose people who love me and want the best for me. I asked them to give me feedback in different areas of my life. I asked questions such as; What can I do to improve as a wife/mother? What can I do to improve as a friend? What can I do to improve in my communication? What can I do to improve as a servant at Canvas Church? Is there anything else I can improve on?

I probably could have come up with better questions if I had more time, but I wanted to send them email quickly before I had the chance to talk myself out of it. I asked a core five people to honestly point out my blind spots. I made a decision ahead of time, that I would not defend myself. I would trust and value their perspectives because I trust and value them. I would not get defensive, but my only response would be: “Thank you. Is there anything else?”

I opened myself up to 5 different potentially difficult conversations that revolve around the topic of my eh-hem, shortcomings. This is something I would have avoided before. Yet, isn’t this why we see the doctor or the dentist? We intentionally invite them to search us for things that are wrong with us. Things that we might not be able to see, but an outside perspective can. And a smart person makes adjustments based on that feedback.

Proverbs 27:17 says “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” We like the way this verse sounds, because we like the thought of other people getting sharpened. We see their faults and flaws and it’s easier to point the finger at someone else’s blind spots than it is to hand the blade over to someone else and say, “would you please sharpen me?”

I went from dodging feedback to dreading feedback, but now it’s time for me to start seeking feedback.

I received one response so far, and I truly felt loved by that person. I felt empowered even in the midst of them explaining how I’ve affected them at times. I prayed through everything they said, and asked God to help me in those areas. I’ll continue to add to the list of my “dull” areas as I get more feedback so I can make adjustments.

**Have you downloaded the iBethel App yet and found the message?** Download the app here for Android or here for iphone.

There are people in your life who love you, who are rooting for you and want the best for you. They have valuable thoughts and perspectives that could sharpen you and help you become better…have you given these trustworthy people an invitation to share?  Or have you created a shield of defensiveness?

Go watch the message, Danny preaches a lot better than I do.

 

3 Leadership Wins from the Centurion

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My husband works for a fantastic company. If you want to get promoted, they insist that you invest in a professional (John Maxwell certified) leadership coach. It was no small financial investment for us, but we agree in the principle; if you aren’t willing to invest in yourself, you aren’t ready to be a leader. My husband is on his second week of leadership coaching. Naturally, it has our family talking about leadership more than ever. Brandon comes home admitting he has a lot to learn about leadership and I wait eagerly for a word-for-word replay of his sessions (I wish I could be a fly on the wall).

As I was reading my Bible yesterday, I came across the passage about the Centurion in Luke 7. There were verses that stood out to me that I never noticed before, and principles that go right along with what Brandon’s learning through leadership coaching.

 Luke 7:1-10:After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him.  When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him,  for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.”  And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord,do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed.  For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”  And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.” 

  1. The Centurion Highly Valued His Servant (Luke 7:2)

Sadly, it feels like we live in an age where leaders are more concerned about using people than they are valuing them. Many leaders care about the results but have little regard for the people who work hard to make those results happen. It was refreshing to read that the centurion highly valued a man who was “just a servant.” When the centurion sent the elders of the Jews to request the servants healing, guess what they did? They raved about their leader and bragged about how deserving he was. Perhaps because the centurion was a leader who highly valued his servants, the servants in turn cared about the results he cared about.

I recently read an article titled, “The Hottest New Leadership Trend: Actually Caring.” The article compared the difference between someone who cares vs. someone who acts like they care. People are not buying insincerity anymore — and we’ve all been there. A friend whom you haven’t heard from in 10 years seems excited to reconnect, but once you show up for coffee they try to sell you something or recruit you. It feels like a let-down when the only time you hear from someone is when they want something. But when it’s someone who genuinely cares, giving back to them is a no-brainer.

2.  The Centurion Understood Authority (Luke 7:8)

The Centurion noted that he is both under authority and in authority. He could have just said, “I’m in charge, I know how authority works.” But instead he mentioned that he was also under authority. He understood a principle that Michael Hyatt writes about: “If you want to be a great leader, you must first become a great follower.”

If we skip the step of becoming a great follower and try to jump straight to leader, we won’t develop the character we need to reproduce when we step into leadership. We will become dictators rather than ones who lead by example. We won’t learn what it takes to be loyal, to submit when we disagree, to serve humbly or protect unity. If you aspire a position in leadership and have been frustrated in the waiting season, don’t underestimate the value of learning how to follow well. It might not always feel like it, but it’s the best training ground for leadership. (Read Matthew 23:10-12 on God’s game plan to become the greatest.)

3. The Centurion was Humble but Full of Faith (Luke 7:6-7)

The misconception about humble people is that they are weak. The Centurion admits that he isn’t worthy to have Jesus come under his roof — but at the same time also recognizes that all Jesus has to do is say the word for a miracle to happen. That doesn’t sound like a weak man to me, it sounds like a man who knows where real power comes from.

We can be fully aware of how unworthy we are to receive God’s amazing grace, yet fully confident that miracles can happen in our lives. We can lead boldly, speak confidently, pray audacious prayers, take risks, fiercely pursue dreams, stand up for truth, be unshakable in our values, and believe for the impossible. We don’t have to shrink back to be humble, but we do have to rely on His strength and not our own. Self-reliance breeds pride but God-reliance will keep us continually leading from a humble stance.

 

P.S. I really don’t know what the picture of our family above has to do with leadership or this verse. I just like it. My husband is a great leader of our family…Just go with it.