But again, here I am. I have opened my computer, resisted to check my email, struggled to fight the urge of knowing what is the latest news on Apple products and rushed quickly to greet my big old friend the elephant who always helps me remember the words that fly out of my mind.
The possibility of not having anything to say or process about scripture and its self-application never popped in the minds of the men known as the Puritans. One of the greatest traits of the Puritans was their ability to apply expository preaching not to others but to themselves during their personal time with God. Leadership expert Dee Hock suggests that self-leadership needs to occupy 50 percent of a leader’s time and long time before Hock, these guys knew exactly what they were doing. Leaders are called to nurture and care for themselves, refocusing their eyes and hearts to their original purpose and continually evaluating their walk with God. I am far from being a full fledged leader and probably the few who read this feel the same way, but this sounds like something we should be doing right?
I had the following note written down in my computer:
"When challenges arise and decisions need to be made, no amount of personal insight or energy can make up for not knowing Scripture."
I'm not sure how I got this and I'm still not certain if I can claim this my own (probably not… it sounds too good) but it helped me connect some dots regarding self-leadership. First of all, when I think about leadership I immediately think about two things, decision making and crisis control, and this quote covers both. I guess an excelling leader is known for handling both of these in an elegant and efficient way. Crisis management and decision making are like the two edges of a sword that well gripped will help produce a solid path to victory. Firm resolves help a leader cut sharply through the clutter of options, variables and the increasing blurred lines between truth and relatives. Trials and unexpected challenges help the leader cut the fat and laziness produced by predictability and over planning. This is dot number one.
Going back to our mysteriously conceived quote, we see that no matter what amount of personal insight, energy or, might we say, drive, a leader has it will never make up for not knowing Scripture. The interesting word here is personal. We still need insight, we still need drive and energy so where do we get it from?
To start, the bible has one entire book dedicated to the pursuit of wisdom. Here are snippets from Proverbs 4:1-11:
"Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention…. Do not forsake my teaching…. Get wisdom, get understanding…. Do not forsake wisdom…. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost you all you have, get understanding…. Accept what I say…. I guide you in the way of wisdom."
And on Proverbs 3:13-14:
"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."
Alright, knowing now that wisdom is important how do we attain it? Here is an answer from our Lord through James 1:5:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
God also tells us through James 3:17:
"But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere."
So no amount of personal energy and knowledge will suffice because it is not meant to. As we lead others into new grounds, as we share with others our vision and as we invite them to walk with us, self-leadership must be the first tool we carry with us… it should be what we use to sharpen the sword of crisis management and decision making. And what is the material that makes up this sharpening tool? Scripture, the word of God. We sharpen our noble sword when we know scripture, when we pray when we meditate and when we teach it to ourselves through expository self-preaching.
In Psalm 32:8, God as a loving father tells us "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye."
There it is, dot number two.
Now I know why it is so awesome for me to write these things down. As I go through these verses and as I elaborate a structure of ideas, I am preaching to myself… surely not in any degree as the great Puritans but in my own rudimentary way. So there it is, I am selfish and I am actually doing all this for me… but you know what? As I do this for myself I end up being more able and capable of serving you all… Thinking back to Dee Hock's comment about spending 50% of my time leading myself I probably invest 60% or more on me, but doing the wrong things and nurturing the wrong attitudes, desires and pleasures… that definitely needs to change, and in the power of My Savior I will, by His grace and mercy.