Editorial discretion…

As I write, and find my words published with other publications, I see myself growing, changing in how I view Editors. The first time a work was published in a particular publication, I was of course excited. And when I read it, felt a bit of embarrassment for the amount that was pruned, cut. The next one, still published, still excited–and still a shade of blush for the words that were changed.

The next, a smoothing. They were my words, but polished. Cleaned up. Like a good spring pruning. And my analytical mind went into overdrive, trying to figure out how to write exactly what the editor wants.

The next, I let go of the analyzation. Because only the editor knows what is in the editor’s mind. I cannot write like he can. I can, however, keep writing like I write. And apparently that is enough. Because he will polish it. He will make it exactly what is needed for each publication.

And now. Again, another work published. No embarrassment, no analyzing. And as I read words I know were not mine, but added impact, added more sensory notes, all I feel is grace. The grace of an editor, to take the words my fingers put to electronic paper. To see the bits, the pieces, that will make the whole piece better. The sentence needed to fill out the story, to give context to the analogy. The reader will never know which words were mine, yet my byline gives me all the credit for each word. I cannot imagine–it is with humble gratitude I receive the grace given by editors who choose to be behind the scene.

And I realize, Jesus is our great Editor. He polishes up our contribution. I have left meetings at work knowing that the words that came out of my mouth were polished up and put together in a way my sinful self could not have done. Going in frustrated and walking away in reconciliation–because I gave my care to Jesus, He polished it up, and presented it in the way my deepest heart really meant underneath the humanness getting in the way.

He gives us grace, shines up the attempt, and in this world, people will look at us–give us the byline. And if we’re wise, we will recognize the grace and nudge our neighbor with a, “Hey, look what Jesus did today!” We know without Him, we would stumble more than we already do. What a grace He gives us. We would be wise to keep sharing our weakness, the ways in which we couldn’t have done what He did with a situation.

It’s all grace.

Published: Let’s Tear Down the Walls

“A quick trip to the grocery store, and I am ready to sub into any kids’ Sunday school class. Graham crackers, frosting, and plastic knives building, building, building the walls of Jericho…” –read the rest on page 4 of the April 2017 issue of The Christian Journal 

Published: Let the Little Children Come

“Children are unruly, not yet practiced in culture and politeness. They can be unintentionally rude. They do not conform to the society around them. Their hands are sticky as they run up and grab your pant leg, pointing at something they want you to see…” –read the rest on page 4 of the March 2017 issue of The Christian Journal 

Saul–The Lord’s anointed king…

The book of 1 Samuel provides a relevant chronicle of Saul’s rise to kingship and the resolution of that kingship. God chose Saul to lead the people of Israel (1 Sam 9:17). Saul initially thought this was a mistaken, describing himself as being from the least of Israel’s tribes, the tribe of Benjamin (1 Sam 9:21). Saul didn’t begin his rise to power thinking he would ever be in that position. He had no dreams of kingship, nor thoughts of taking over the highest leadership position of the people. Saul’s response to Samuel telling him of what God had planned for Saul’s future stunned Saul. And in the years that come, Saul’s humble approach to leadership seem to indicate that his stunned reaction was genuine. Saul was anointed by Samuel to

“be prince over (God’s) people Israel. And you shall reign over the people of the Lord and you will save them from the hand of their surrounding enemies…” (1 Samuel 10:1, ESV).

Saul, a man humbled at being called, had quite the calling to fulfill. The subsequent chapters in 1 Samuel show Saul’s love for the commands of God and his continually fighting for the people of God by God’s sovereign hand.

But chapter 13 shows us a bit of insight into Saul’s kingship. Israel became surrounded by the Philistine army, and the Philistine intent was clear: they were there to take out Israel. Saul wanted to seek the Lord’s favor and grew impatient waiting for Samuel to come offer a sacrifice to the Lord. When Samuel arrived, Samuel’s first words to Saul are telling: “What have you done?” (1 Samuel 10:11, ESV). Saul offered all the justification he had, which boiled down to Samuel wasn’t there and Saul needed to seek the Lord’s favor for the battle to come. Saul moved ahead of God’s anointed prophet. Saul wanted the Lord’s favor, but he moved to gain it ahead of the Lord’s timing. Samuel was the Lord’s prophet, the one to seek the Lord’s favor on behalf of Saul and the people. This was not Saul’s role. In that moment of time, when Saul was deciding whether to move ahead with Samuel or not, he chose to take another’s anointing. Even if just for a small bit, Saul overlooked his own calling for a moment and presumed to take the responsibilities of another.

It might have been a one-time deal. We all make mistakes. We each, as leaders, have stepped in some unpleasant things when we have stepped outside our role or moved ahead before the right time. We cannot get a full picture of a leader based on one snapshot. We can, however, see where a potential weakness might be. And Saul’s potential weakness emerging from this situation was acting to get the benefits God offers without following the process God requires. Haven’t we all wanted that at some point or another? The key is this: Saul let his want move to action in his own time rather than in God’s.

At what points in your leadership have you suffered from the same weakness?

Motivation in action…

In leadership, motivation is king. The drive to lead, the reason behind your desire to be here will seep into every aspect of your leadership experience. If you seek power, then you must be careful how you wield it. Seeking power through following the rules, creating a positive environment, and moving the organization forward provides opportunity for good to come from that power. Seeking power by undermining your supervisor, exerting inappropriate influence on others, and demanding that others come to your terms is not good.

Understanding our own motivation sometimes takes analyzing others’. Let’s take two biblical men and see how their leadership journeys played out. Saul and Peter both became mighty men in their respective societies. Saul was anointed king and Peter led the development of the post-resurrection church. Both began their individual journey seeking God’s best. But both journeys did not end the same way. In the next weeks we’ll take a closer look at what went right and what went sideways for them, helping us identify those same markers in our own leadership. In the meantime, consider what you would desire your leadership end to be. Having the end in mind helps in making decisions in the here and now.