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Fill Your Relationship Fuel Tank

 
If you find yourself feeling a bit empty, and can’t quite put your finger on exactly why, examine your relationships with people. Oftentimes, that empty feeling is the byproduct of an empty – or nearly empty – relationship “fuel tank.” Refill it, and you just might see a change in how you feel.

IT’S TOO EASY TO BE SIDE-TRACKED FROM LIVING LARGE. By “large”, I’m not talking about pursuing material things, like a bigger, better home, or car, or a lifestyle of luxury. I’m talking about being a big person who really makes healthy, rewarding relationships life’s highest priority. It’s too easy to go through the motions of work, and life, and have life itself elude us. After all, if we don’t have healthy, rewarding relationships with people, what have we really accomplished? No other “success” compensates for a void in the area of relationships.

If you find yourself feeling a bit empty, and can’t quite put your finger on exactly why, examine your relationships with people. Oftentimes, that empty feeling is the byproduct from an empty – or nearly empty – relationship “fuel tank.” Refill it, and you just might see a change in how you feel. The change might not happen immediately – but if you remain committed, over time you could see a marked improvement in your feelings. Here are some tips on developing healthy, rewarding relationships:

1. STOP APPROACHING GOOD RELATIONSHIPS LIKE “ACCIDENTS.” Yes, we’ve all met people with whom we immediately hit it off – but such relationships are rare, and that is the reason why they stand out in our minds. They caught us off guard, because they are not the norm of life. Good, growing relationships, no matter how easy they may begin, require intentional cultivation. Any garden, no matter how immaculate and productive, would begin to grow weeds and decline if it was not cared for. The garden of an “old” friendship must be weeded, fertilized and watered in order to continue bearing enjoyable fruits and vegetables. New, potential friends, cannot be taken for granted. You’ve got to tend to your relationships with the diligence of an eager gardener who wants to see the seeds he/she planted become beautiful vegetables and fruits. If you want to fill your relationship fuel tank, tend to the garden of your relationships, and stop assuming good relationships are accidents.

2. TIME DOES NOT EQUAL FRIENDSHIP. Working beside people will not make you friends with your co-workers. (And, yes, you can be friends with your co-workers). Being in close physical proximity to another human being does not make you friends with them. It only gives you the opportunity to become friends and cultivate the friendship.

In the same way that married people can assume that years of marriage makes for a strong marriage, you could wrongly assume that the amount of time you spend around another person makes you friends with them. Many people have worked side-by-side, and merely have, after many, many years, a working co-existence. They are not nearly as close, supportive, encouraging  productive – as possible. Granted, friendship is a two-sided venture. Both parties must be dedicated to the friendship – but are you doing your part? Are you doing all you can to be the best possible friend you can be? Remember the words of Jesus in Luke 6:38:

“. . . give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. for with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

When Jesus spoke of things being “shaken together, running over”, it was NOT ABOUT MONEY. It drives me nuts when I see televangelists and pastors reducing Jesus’ words about relationships to money. There is no mention of money anywhere in the context. Jesus is teaching us that the way we treat people will come back to us in the way they treat us. This leads me to the “boomerang principle”, my next point . . .

3. RELATIONSHIPS ARE LIKE BOOMERANGS.Eventually, you get what you toss. Generally speaking, that is. Of course, there are exceptions. Some people will not reciprocate no matter what you do for them. No, you can’t be friends with everyone. In general, people tend to treat us the way we treat them. Start tossing great things to the people in your life, and see what begins to come back to you. Be forgiving. Be gracious. Be kind. You will find these same things, eventually, coming back to you. You have Jesus’ word on it in Luke 6:38. Give and it will be given to you. And, don’t spend a lot of time fixating on the one or two people who are not reciprocating. Many people didn’t get the teachings of Jesus during His day. Many people won’t get the teachings of Jesus in our day. Press on, and you will find good people who will reciprocate for your efforts. You’ll know who they are as you toss good things their way and they return the kindness.

4. GOD CALLS YOU TO A BE A MINORITY IN A MAJORITY WORLD. In speaking of what the world will look like prior to His return, Jesus said “because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). The love of many will grow cold. These words are followed by Jesus’ admonition: “But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13). Part of that endurance is to not be like other people. Most people will be cold, unloving. Do you want to be among the majority, or among God’s minority? How is your life characterized? Again, a great degree of intentionality is required, because the natural state of things is to gravitate toward living life far below what God intends. Wake up. Be among the minority and live for Jesus by growing increasingly warm toward people while others are growing cold. This is a fight that is never over, and this leads me to the next point . . .

5. WALK CLOSELY WITH GOD. People who don’t love people don’t love God. This is frightening, sobering and motivating. The way to measure love for God is by your love for people. And the way to love people is to spend regular  time with God, in His Word, the Bible, and to surrender to Him perpetually. But it’s not merely reading the Bible that will bring transformation. You must apply what you read. The Bible is a relationship handbook. If you say you read the Bible, and that you are a Christ-follower, and your relationships are a shambles, something is wrong with you. Ouch, I know, that hurts. But it’s true. Isn’t the whole word of God summarized by loving God and people? Remember Mark 12:28-33? Read it again – for the first time. If you’re like me, you are continually forgetting Mark 12:28-33 and what it means for the daily grind of life. But this passage is the compass for LIFE. Memorize it, reflect on it often, and it will guide you into making perpetual decisions that shape everything you do here and now – and the quality of your eternity. (And yes, I’m purposely not writing out what Mark 12:28-33 says so that you get your Bible, open it up and spend time reading, reflecting, praying and applying).

6. STOP POSTPONING JOY. Life is best when experienced with people. God didn’t make a human being. He created human beings. By design, you and I were created to be in healthy relationships with other people. It’s not merely enough to be around people. We were created to be in relationship with other people. To go through life with  people. Too much of life these days is spent avoiding people. No wonder so many are running on empty. Much of the joy in life is missed whenever we try to live life apart from our design. If we avoid people we postpone joy. Don’t do that any longer. Prioritize joy by prioritizing good, healthy relationships. Don’t avoid people, pursue them. If this idea seems bizarre to you, or completely undesirable, it may be that you simply need to be a better discerner at who to pursue. But don’t throw the baby out with the diaper bucket and avoid everyone. That’s a recipe for a joyless life. The right people will bring joy into your life.

7. LOOK TO GOD, NOT PEOPLE. Be careful you don’t subtly begin to do things for people to get something in return. People will let you down if you put your hope in them rather than God. Don’t love people as a strategy to get love. Love people because they are loved by God, and because life is best when we live as God designed us.  Your reward is in doing what is right, period. The more people you are loving, kind and gracious toward, the higher your chances of people reciprocating, eventually. It’s only a matter of time. But all along the way, you must look to God, not people, for relational satisfaction. Only He can fill your fuel tank and keep it from running out.

Your thoughts? 

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Listen to podcasts, watch 3 minute inspirational videos  – and more – with the FREE GODFACTOR APP or on Godfactor.com. You can also listen on iTUNES, here. (Search iTunes for “Godfactor” or “Michael Anthony”). If you live in or near York, Pa, visit graceyork.com Sundays for life-changing inspiration. 

aaaamike

About the Author: Michael Anthony is the President and Co-Founder ofGodfactor, the creator of the Godfactor App (search for “Godfactor” in your app store), and the Lead Pastor of Grace Fellowship in York, Pa. He believes that all of life is relationships.

3 “Not Alls” You Need to Watch For

Things aren’t always what they appear to be. In some instances, they are exactly the opposite of what they seem. When it comes to leadership, life and ministry, you need to take a closer look.

THE STORY OF THE WOMAN WITH A BACK PROBLEM TEACHES US SEVERAL KEY THINGS ABOUT LIFE, LEADERSHIP AND MINISTRY. It’s found in Luke 13:10-21. Here are three lessons from that account, and a companion podcast, that can help you take your next steps in your walk with God:

1. NOT ALL PHYSICAL PROBLEMS HAVE PHYSICAL CAUSES. You may be smarter than a sixth grader, but you’re definitely not smarter than Jesus. Even a casual look at Luke 13:10-16 should convince us that some problems that appear to be merely physical have a spiritual cause. How can you determine whether a seemingly physical problem has a spiritual root? Here are some suggestions:

  1. Ask God to probe you and see if there is any unconfessed, unresolved sin in your life – repent and make restitution where applicable. We all have issues we’re working on, and sin. But it’s quite another thing to have conscious, unresolved sin. Such sin creates a “foothold” or “opportunity to the devil” (see Ephesians 4:27). Don’t give the devil an opportunity to wreak havoc in your life by allowing sin to remain unresolved. If you need to face up to anything, rest assured that if you are truly surrendered to God, He will show you what it is and how to resolve it. You may need assistance from friends or peers to help you overcome the sin. You may need to make restitution (pay someone back if you stole from them, for instance). You may need to seek forgiveness. Whatever it is, repent intentionally if there is an issue, thoroughly. And, remember, perpetual repentance is the practice of any true Christ-follower. We should always be turning from sin, ourselves, and the world, toward God.
  2. Deal responsibly with personal, practical matters. Don’t expect God to handle the things you need to handle. If you drive on the wrong side of the road, don’t pray for God to keep you safe. Instead, steer your car to the proper side, and drive accordingly. In other words, be responsible for the things you can handle.
  3. Pray against satanic opposition, asking God to protect, direct and overcome all the obstacles of the devil. Persist in warfare praying.
  4. Ask others to pray for you, with you, trusting God for deliverance. Ask the elders of your church to pray for you and anoint you with oil, keeping in mind there’s no magic here. Oil symbolizes the blessing of God, the Holy Spirit, and God’s healing touch. The elders, and you, must pray in faith, and not do this as a ritual. And you, along with them, must realize that it is God who heals, as we submit to Him. See James 5:13-15.

If the physical problem stops, great. But if it doesn’t, God has other plans, such as developing your character, and a “last hurrah” that you and others may not understand yet. God is writing a book with your life, not a paragraph. He may have a  chapter that comes after the one you are currently in that resolves whatever it is you are currently experiencing. Trust in God, delight yourself in Him, and leave the consequences to Him. I know, as a cancer survivor who lost both parents to cancer, this can be hard! But it is possible. In fact, it’s a certainty if you fully surrender to Jesus. You can trust God to provide you with peace, comfort and power through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4).

2. NOT ALL LEADERS ARE LEADERS. Being in a leadership position only gives you the opportunity to lead. It doesn’t make you a leader. Learn a lesson from the synagogue ruler. He was in a leadership position – but He was not leading the people toward Jesus. He was actually doing the opposite, preserving and protecting the religious activities of the day. But those practices were stifling the movement of God in the midst of the people. And this is where the conflict stems. Here was a man, in position by God, and He missed God when He showed up. Moreover, he was opposed to the plan, purpose and power of God. This should shake every leader or potential leader to the core. The same could happen to you and me. God could put us in a position of leadership – but then we must lead, and lead well. Leaders lead. Get going. Never assume that because you have a title or a position that that makes you a good leader. Good leaders actually lead. And don’t get a big head about it. Godly leaders are humble leaders.

3. NOT ALL MINISTRY IS MINISTRY. The synagogue ruler got mad at Jesus for interrupting the “ministry” he was overseeing. The truth is, Jesus was doing the real ministry, leading a movement of God. The synagogue ruler had a “ministry,” but as far as God was concerned, it was insignificant to the movement of God, the presence of Jesus, and the fruit such real ministry produces. Any true work and movement of God must prioritize loosing of people from satanic bondage and mere religious ritual. Ritual without the movement and presence of Jesus, which alone sets people free, is a waste of everyone’s time. Be careful you’re not calling something a “ministry” when it’s really a miserable comparison. Real ministry is characterized by the movement of God. If you are a church or ministry leader, don’t ever forget this. But even if you are not, and you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you’ve been called into the ministry. (1 Peter 2:5 reminds us that every believer is a priest, ministering to God). Your ministry – God’s ministry in which you have a role – must be ministry done God’s way. Not all “ministry” is ministry. Make God’s ministry through you count. Revisit this need continually.

Your thoughts? 

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Follow Mike on Social Media:

Listen to podcasts, watch 3 minute inspirational videos  – and more – with the FREE GODFACTOR APP or on Godfactor.com. You can also listen on iTUNES, here. (Search iTunes for “Godfactor” or “Michael Anthony”). If you live in or near York, Pa, visit graceyork.com Sundays for life-changing inspiration. 

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About the Author: Michael Anthony is the President and Co-Founder ofGodfactor, the creator of the Godfactor App (search for “Godfactor” in your app store), and the Lead Pastor of Grace Fellowship in York, Pa. He believes that leadership is hard and painful at times. But there’s also nothing like leading people to the feet of Jesus and helping them follow His lead.

3 Mistakes You Can Avoid With God

3 Mistakes You Can Avoid With God

  There are 3 big mistakes you can make with God. But you don’t have to. The choice is up to you.

WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES. Some are small and others big. While all mistakes are costly, the big ones can be so significant that they affect every area of life. And, sometimes, big mistakes can cost us for the rest of our lives. Here are three big mistakes you can make with God – and how you can avoid them.

1. BIG MISTAKE #1: CONCERN YOURSELF WITH THE OPINIONS OF PEOPLE RATHER THAN THE OPINION OF GOD. There’s something in each of us that seeks to find significance by comparing ourselves to others. But that doesn’t make it right. Doing so is a slow boat to nowhere. Recognize your own propensity to compare yourself to other people, and make it your ambition to know and embrace only what God says about you. Read the Bible, and look for what God says about you. Disregard everything else. Choose to do so. It takes  a lifetime to master – but it can be mastered. It’s also THE greatest motivator in all of life. You can’t afford to delay this any longer. Get busy and discover the truth about you – from God’s perspective.

2. BIG MISTAKE #2: IGNORE WAYS THAT GOD MIGHT BE TRYING TO GET YOUR ATTENTION. Take a long look at Proverbs 3:11 and Hebrews 12:5-13 and ask yourself if God has been trying to get your attention through the circumstances of your life. Have you been listening? It’s a big mistake to go through life with a deaf ear toward God. Don’t just take a casual look at Hebrews 12:5-13. Find a quiet place, pray before you read it, and then read through it – slowly. How has God been trying to get your attention? What is He trying to teach you about Himself, and about yourself, in the circumstances of life? Stop fighting what He’s trying to teach you. Resisting God is an exercise in futility anyway. Stop wasting precious time you’ll never get back. Pay attention – God has been speaking to YOU.

3. BIG MISTAKE #3: SEE REPENTANCE AS A ONE-TIME EVENT RATHER THAN A PERPETUAL PRACTICE. We often think that repentance is something we do once. But the whole idea of surrendering to Jesus Christ in the first place is that it’s the beginning of a new lifestyle. True repentance leads to repentance. Think about it, and God will give you insight. Take it one step further and put it into action.

Your thoughts? 

How to Prevent Spiritual Stagnation

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“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come,” (1 Timothy 4:8). It’s good to exercise, and to keep your body in shape. But just as the body gets flabby and out of shape without exercise, the soul can begin to suffer the signs of spiritual atrophy if not intentionally nurtured. Here are some tips on how to exercise your faith, feed your soul, and prevent spiritual atrophy.

[T]HE OLDER I GET, THE MORE I SEE THE CORRELATION BETWEEN NEGLECT AND DEMISE. Simply put, things that get attention grow; things that don’t diminish. If I don’t exercise my body, I get flabby. I begin to have health problems. And, if I don’t feed my soul, the same thing happens, spiritually speaking. My faith grows or declines in proportion to how I neglect or care for it. The things I prioritize in life simply . . . grow. The things I neglect, at best, go away. In the worst-case scenario (which is often frequent), things don’t go away at all – they end up haunting us. I have found that there are indeed a few things that make a significant difference in whether my faith grows or diminishes. I want to share a several with you, because I think they will help you in your journey, too.

1. LIFT PAPER, STRENGTHEN YOUR FAITH. Romans 10:17 says “So faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” If you find yourself spiritually flabby, in a funk, if your soul is out of shape, it could be because you have not been in God’s Word. I have found this to be true in my own life; maybe you can relate. Can I expect my faith to grow if I neglect God’s Word, the Bible? No. Not the way it will grow if I am in it. There is a relationship between whether or not I am in the Bible and whether or not I am walking and growing in my faith. Faith comes by hearing the word of Christ, which is the Bible. Lift the pages of Scripture and you will build up your faith, your soul, your spiritual strength.

2. WHEN YOU BUILD OTHERS UP, YOU BUILD YOURSELF UP.  Verse 6 of Philemon says “I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.” There is something about sharing your faith – in any measure – that builds YOU up.  You don’t have to be an evangelist to share your faith. But sharing one’s faith is fundamental to every Christian. If you are not sharing your faith, being a witness for Christ by intentionally looking for ways to share Him in the circle of influence God has given you, you will not grow in your faith the way you otherwise would. Seek to build others up by sharing your faith, and you will also build yourself up.

3. PRIORITIZE WHAT LASTS, NOT WHAT WILL PASS. REMEMBER THAT YOUR SOUL, NOT YOUR BODY, WILL LIVE FOREVER.  1 Timothy 4:8 teaches us that there is indeed benefit in physical exercise, training, working out. But the benefits are temporary because the body is temporary. The one who builds the soul invests in something eternal. Your soul is the most worthy part of who you are, and worth your deliberate, intentional cultivation. As there is physical evidence of physical exercise (sweat, muscle growth, increased oxygen flow, better mental acuity), so there is evidence of spiritual soul-building: the growth of faith, increased trust in God, fuller surrender, peace, reduced anxiety, clarity of thought, power against temptation, freedom, etc.). When you invest in your soul, you invest in yourforever and you invest in the here and now. It’s a great return on your investment that simply can’t be beat. In fact, you may be beaten up, unnecessarily, if you don’t prioritize the building up of your faith. It affects everything.

Your thoughts? I’d love to hear your comments. 

The Bad Math of the Morning After

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Bad math? Does the morning after pill really provide a healthy option after a night of passion? Two poor decisions do not add up to one healthy outcome. Amazon.com now offers the “emergency contraception” pill. The online company has come a long way in what it offers to consumers.

[I]f you are considering this solution for a pregnancy you didn’t expect, or know of someone who is, here are some things to carefully consider in the midst of your unexpected “emergency.”

1. Many people have had “unwanted” or unplanned pregnancies and lived to be glad nonetheless. Life is full of surprises that cause pain at first, but have unexpected blessings. Are you more interested in controlling your life, or in rolling with the punches, and allowing God to make something beautiful out of chaos? He is a Master at doing this. Give Him a chance – perhaps more of a chance – than you have up to this point. My wife and I met because she extended her time in college to contend with her mother’s diagnosis of cancer. Had her mother never had cancer, she would not have protracted her stay in college – and we’d never have met. It’s not true to conclude that nothing good can ever happen after something unexpected, bad or painful. In fact, life teaches us that the exact opposite is often true. Good things often come after “bad.” Remember that one poor decision is not made better by another poor decision. This simply adds up to two poor decisions, and sets a precedent for more poor decision-making. 

2. One poor decision after another does not make for good math or reasoning.Instead of one painful decision, you may now be choosing to make two, and they may both haunt you for the rest of your life. Be careful you don’t add insult to your perceived injury by making a rash decision to abort the life within you. If you are pregnant, it means that life is inside of you. It may seem like the end of your world, but it isn’t. You may not be thinking rationally now, any more than you were when you did something designed to create life. But now is the time to think rationally, practically. It must not be forgotten that pregnancy means a human life has begun. A decision to end life is the most significant decision a person will ever face. Nothing is greater. 

3. Once life is terminated, the person making the decision will forever be reminded of it. The convenience sought by a termination of life will be overshadowed by a lifetime of perpetual reminders that someone, perhaps you, made that decision. Think about this, because if you terminate life, you will always, perpetually, be reminded of this – at inconvenient, unexpected times – forever.

4. Consider what trend you may be starting, or furthering, by a decision as drastic as ending a human life.If you are willing to do this, what pattern does this establish or reinforce in your own life? Are you willing to set that kind of pattern in stone, with the only life you have this side of eternity?

5. Consider the thoughts that will very possibly haunt you about the child you could have had.You may very well wonder what the child inside you would have become had you let him or her come into the world.

6. Consider another morning-after decision: adoption.Your unwanted, unexpected, undesired pregnancy could be the answer to prayer for a couple who wants, expects and desires a little boy or girl to raise, love and cherish. If you think abortion of any kind is the only solution, you are incredibly wrong. Your surprise could be the biggest blessing in the world for someone else. You have before you one of the greatest opportunities you may ever have in your life – to turn something seemingly tragic into something “magic.” You can make a decision that will be a huge blessing to others, to you, and to the life now inside you. The child could grow up to be a remarkable blessing to others as a teacher, a doctor, a social worker, a kind and loving person who is so needed in today’s world where only me, myself and I seem to be of importance. Your child can be part of a solution we all need so desperately at this time in world history.

Your thoughts? Don’t be rash in your decision. You have your whole life ahead of you, and another one – perhaps even two – within.

Will the misguided, inept person in a leadership position please step away from the platform?

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No one wakes up in the morning and thinks “Yup, today I’d like to be a hypocrite.” Be careful, however, because hypocrisy is the auto-pilot of life. If you want people to soar, you have to be in orbit . . .

Listen to a companion podcast by the same title, here, on iTunes, or with the free Godfactor App.

Being in a leadership position doesn’t make you a leader.Neither does having a leadership title. These things only suggest that you might be a leader. They proclaim potential, not success.

There are two essential questions for people holding leadership titles and positions. The first is “Am I really leading people?” The second is “Should people really follow me?” Both questions lead us to an especially potent third question everyone in a leadership position should ask before it’s too late: “In the eternal scheme of life, am I worthy to be followed?”

Think about that third question, because it’s a game-changer. It may entirely revolutionize the way you lead – and who you follow.

Before you continue reading, let these three questions really sink in, and answer them in light of the past three months of your life. Are you really leading people?Should people really follow you? In the eternal scheme of life, are you worthy of being followed? Then, make these three questions part of your ongoing self-evaluation process as a leader. If you cannot answer with a resounding “yes” to all three questions, you are merely a person in a leadership position, or possessing a title, with only the opportunity to lead. Or, you may have slipped from the height in which you once soared. You are not living up to God’s potential for your life. But don’t despair. There is hope for you.

THE MAGNETIC DRIFT The drift toward unintentional hypocrisy is stealthy and magnetic. It’s difficult to see coming because it usually happens gradually, by nearly imperceptible measurements. The slide is difficult to resist because with the passage of time – and some success – we can begin to lead on auto-pilot. We can begin to tell other people what to do, and how to do it – while neglecting to do the very same things ourselves.

What exactly is hypocrisy?Why did Jesus warn against it? Why is it so dangerous? In Luke 12:1-2, we read these words that should make everyone in a leadership position sit up and take notice:

“In the meantime, when so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he  (Jesus) began to say to his disciples first, ‘Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.'”

Yikes. Thank you, again, Jesus, for hitting me in the head – and the heart – awakening me to my potential drift, as a disciple, toward hypocrisy. In other words, Jesus warns His followers that they too could begin to behave exactly as His arch enemies, the Pharisees. A Pharisee was a hypocrite. And, by Jesus’ words, a disciple could evolve into the same. Watch it. Hypocrisy is the auto-pilot of life.

THE RIGHT KIND OF TRANSFORMATION Romans 12:1 tells us that we are to be transformed – but what and who we transform into is of paramount importance. As a leader, you have to be vigilant so that your transformation honors, and doesn’t disgrace, God. (I hesitate to even write this, for obvious personal reasons. But if I intend to go deeper with God, to continue to develop as a leader, the buck stops here, with me. I am responsible for my spiritual maturity. I am responsible for how I develop as a leader. Great leadership begins and ends by being a great follower. I must follow Jesus, or I won’t become like Jesus. And if I am not like Jesus, in character, and dependance upon my Heavenly Father, no one should follow me – regardless of my position or title).

There are plenty of people in spiritual leadership positions who shouldn’t be followed at all. Are you one of them?If you are not following Jesus, you won’t become like Jesus. And if you are not like Jesus in character, with dependance upon your Heavenly Father, then why in the world should anyone be encouraged to follow you? And, why in the world are you even remotely interested in spiritual leadership in the first place? These are good questions that might serve as good additions to the three above. Are you in danger of being a hypocritical leader? If so, you must do something about it. Not tomorrow. Today. Right now.

WATCH IT!The word Jesus uses to warn His disciples against the drift toward hypocrisy is beware. In other words, if they were not proactive – if they were not diligent and vigilant – the drift toward hypocrisy would run its course. The same is true of you and me.If you’re human, you’re vulnerable. The best of people have been unwittingly fashioned into the mold of a hypocrite. No one strives toward hypocrisy. It’s what automatically happens when we’re not careful.

WHAT IS IT? Spiritual hypocrisy is best defined not merely as play-acting, pretending to be spiritual when you are not. It is better understood as being misguided in your understanding of what God wants from you – and others. Spiritual intimacy is what He wants. He is not interested in mere behavior if the behavior does not have spiritual intimacy with God as the objective. Let’s get this through our thick skulls, because people’s spiritual livelihood is at stake here, beginning with our own. If something can’t be done for the glory of God, as a means of drawing nearer to Him and honoring Him, then it simply shouldn’t be encouraged. Let’s make sure we aren’t heading in the wrong direction – and leading others along this misguided path with us.

Spiritual hypocrisy is also being inept, even unintentionally, in understanding that the primary reason for the Word of God, the Bible, is to bring readers into a growing intimacy with God. When a person in a leadership position, holding a leadership title, loses sight of what God wants (is misguided), and what the Bible is about (becomes inept), and they continue to influence people, he or she cannot help but be entirely incapable of spiritual success. When this happens, hypocrisy comes by default. What’s worse is that they begin to replicate.This is the real heart-breaker for God. But it should also break our hearts, and lead us to repentance. The position of leadership, and the leadership title, may remain – but titles and positions don’t guarantee ongoing success. A spiritual leader is always one decision away from unintentional hypocrisy, and one decision away from having people follow the wrong example that will lead them away from what God desires. Many are unintentional hypocrites, but are hypocrites nonetheless. Jesus makes no excuse for His disciples in Luke 12. He makes no excuse for us.

IT’S A TRAGIC IRONY Why did Jesus warn against hypocrisy?Because it is the exact opposite of the truth, authenticity, and the very nature of God. Spiritual hypocrisy is the greatest, most tragic, devastating form of irony possible. This is why hypocrisy bakes Jesus’ biscuits unlike any other sin. It’s seriously sobering. When you think about it you’ll understand. You may even need to repent. Your future leadership and spiritual success may depend upon it.

HYPOCRISY IS DANGEROUS Why is hypocrisy so dangerous? Because it leads people into a counterfeit spiritual pursuit that Jesus absolutely detests. Think about this, too, and you will realize that making people think they are doing something worthwhile when all along it is worthless to God, is about as dastardly a thing as anyone could endeavor. But again, we don’t need to be intentional in the endeavor to engage in it. Hypocrisy is the auto-pilot of life. Beware the dastardly leader lurking within. He’ll never go away.

THERE IS AN ANTIDOTE The antidote for spiritual hypocrisy is perpetual repentance and unconditional surrender to Jesus Christ. Daily. Hourly. Moment by moment. Let your transformation be in the right direction, or it will be in the wrong direction, by default. We have Jesus’ word on it. “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” says Jesus. Now, it’s up to you and me to take His words to heart . . .

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