Posts Tagged ‘being accessible as a leader’

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Hello-I Am a Slave

June 11, 2009

In my day to day job, I live for the introduction.  There is much in an introduction.  Think about it for a minute.  In someone’s introduction, you could easily determine the following (even if it were over the phone):

  • Age – help you make inferences about how they are interpreting what you are saying.
  • Nationality – easily determined by accent or dialect
  • Job Title – may help you understand what motivates this person like ego, thrill of the kill, or the numbers
  • Last Name – again, a little about the heritage and perhaps, depending on the town, you could tell some about their “rank” in society

As you can see, there is a lot you can discover about a person in their introduction.

Recently, I have had the opportunity to prepare for teaching the book of Romans.  It has been a while since I have actually taken some time to study the book, and I believe now is the providential time for me to do so.

In preparing for the first lesson, I could not move past the first verse for a while.  Read Romans 1:1

1 Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God…

slave

Now in thinking about how I introduce myself, I usually mention that I am a husband, a father, and where I work and attend church.  Paul truly taught me how flawed my introduction was in Romans 1:1.   Let’s look at this a bit deeper.

1.  Paul introduces himself as a slave to Christ.  In his day, slaves were not even human, more like property, owned by someone else.  Their will and very existence depended upon their master.  In this short phrase, Paul is identifying himself as one who is not in control.  He names his master later in the passage as being Jesus.  Think for a second.  If you were to add this to your introduction, would it be true?  Could people honestly look at how you live your life and see that Christ was the “master” of your life and that your will was not your own?

2.  Slaves were bought by someone else.  Again, in this phrase, Paul is ultimately setting up his case for Christ.  By identifying himself as a slave of Christ, he is also implying that Christ paid for him.  In2 Corinthians 5:21 is states:

21 Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Wow, how humbling is it to know that the sinless son of God took on our sin as ransom for us?  He purchased us out of the slavery of the world to become slaves for Him.  Paul knew that better than most and it should not surprise us that he first identified himself as being “owned” or paid for by Christ.

3.  In saying all of this, Paul was identifying himself in Christ.  In Romans 6, Paul delves deeper into his identity in Christ.  Do you identify yourself in Christ?  I know there are times I do not and then again, the times I do, I am quite sure I should not.  Paul’s identity was not even his own.  He identified his master.

So the next time you go to introduce yourself, I hope you think of Romans 1:1 and give yourself a little “self-check”.  Those are always good to have, especially at the beginning of a new relationship.  Helps set the bar for how others may interpret you, and who knows, it may even introduce them to your master.

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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Enemy Behind the Lines-Fear Part II

April 6, 2009

Fear cripples most of us and we do not know how infested our camp is with fear until we are faced with one of these moments.  Most of the time, myself included, we back down and simply retreat thinking there will be another day to fight.  I have thought the same, but have been asked by Christ through my spirit, “What if the battle you needed to fight was today?”  That’s a hard question to answer.

Paul and Silas may have had some fear about singing hymns while in prison, but then again, what did they have to lose?  Chances are, they were told they would be executed or beaten.  They had a bodily threat where today, most of us only have a threat to our egos.  Paul and Silas had a greater fear though: the fear of the Lord.  They knew who was truly in control and submitted themselves to Christ again, in the midst of their fear.  Sometimes, that is all Christ is wanting from us, simple submission.  I am quite sure that as these two men sang, their fear began to subside back into the darkened corners of the prison where it belonged.

What are some of the fears most Christians have but may not know about? Here are just a few!

Confession

Ok, I realize they are not major things to others, but to me, the sight of a rooster or a clown begins the slow shutting down of major life systems in my body. My chest gets tight; I can hear my heartbeat in my head, and get physically ill, all within only two or three seconds of the initial sighting. So, regardless of what anyone else sees in these evil winged animals and demonic looking clowns, I am petrified.

I remember the first time I confessed my fear of roosters and clowns to someone close to me. It was a major leap of faith for me to confess such a fear to anyone and actually have to admit I was vulnerable. Before you ask the question, yes, this person laughed when I told them. In that moment, however, I realized the tremendous fear of confession I was harboring. It was almost harder telling someone else I had a flaw than it would be facing a clown holding a rooster.

A fear of confession is real and needs to be dealt with. I would venture to say all of us, on some level, have a fear of confession. It is not easy for us to dismount from our pedestal to mention even so much as one of the flaws we have.

If you don’t think you have this particular fear, let me ask you one question. What is that one sin you try your hardest to ensure no one knows about? Now, think about telling that sin to someone close to you, a way of confessing it and dealing with it. Do you realize now you have this fear?

Humiliation

As mentioned above, sometimes fear and pride go hand in hand, as would be the case with humiliation. We all try our hardest to “save face” in front of our friends, families, and co-workers. It seems there are some things in life that are not much different than grade school. Whether we admit it or not, we are still in the race to be sure we are wearing the right clothes, listening to the right music, have the right technology, driving the right car, etc.

A fear of humiliation is a devastating enemy behind the line. This particular fear might keep you from sharing your testimony with one of your co-workers. It could keep you from asking a burning question for fear of not knowing the answer. The fear of humiliation keeps us on the bench, spectators to Christianity. Fear of humiliation would be the equivalent of a soccer player having the fear of running. It’s counter to the Christian DNA.

The fear of humiliation is usually brought about through a past experience. It can be brought about through bullying, intimidation, physical or mental mistreatment or trickery, or by embarrassment if a person is revealed to have committed a socially or legally unacceptable act. In most instances, humiliation may not be known to anyone but you, even if it happens in a room full of people. I have seen some who later tell of events where they were humiliated, yet on the outside, they were laughing at themselves along with everyone else.

Rejection

Rejection and humiliation are different animals, but close in kin. Humiliation is not as personal to me as rejection is. In my humble definition, rejection involves the submission of myself to someone, only to be rejected by them. Humiliation can be done unintentionally, however, rejection, almost by definition, has to be personal. It is a devilish beast to deal with.

If you think about people in your life, most have this fear which may be tied to something that happened in their families, a past relationship or some other type of situation. It is a far reaching, deeply rooted fear that eventually permeates everywhere in their lives.

The fear of rejection works a lot like humiliation when it comes to a Christian’s walk. Rejection often prevents a Christian from being involved in a small group, or an evangelistic group. Of all the fears, however, I believe this has the greatest potential for change. Why? Christ, of all people, knows the feeling of rejection all to well. He was rejected by followers, Peter, teachers, clerics, politicians and numerous others. From the cross he yelled, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Someone who is dealing with the fear of rejection might want to cry out the same sometimes.

Failure

Atychiphobia-the official name of the fear of failure. I can identify with this one in particular. Most of us have a fear of failure, disappointing those you love or simply just failing. People who fear failure do not take any type of risks, play not to lose-if they even play at all. It can be a crippling and at times, but it is not beyond victory.

If we find ourselves with the fear of failure, we should be greatly comforted by several of the characters of the Bible. Failure seems to be a great theme throughout Scriptures. Of all of the great failures, Peter is my favorite. He seemed to be a complete pro at it. He slipped up while trying to walk on water. He sliced off the ear of the high priest’s servant. When the time came to step up, he denied knowing Christ three times. Regardless of these, Christ still had an affection for him. Christ saw the reasoning behind his failures… passion. That is something Christ can work with.

As I mentioned before, I have had my own struggles with the fear of failure. I always equated Christian with holiness and holiness with perfection. Warped vision I know. In prayer, I brought my fear of failure to the Cross several times, but always managed to take it back. There was one time, however, Christ did not let me take it back. It was time I learned to get past this fear.

In my Prayer Place, I was shown a cup and a nail. Every time I thought of a failure, the nail would put a hole in the cup. Eventually, there were several holes in the cup. Christ asked me, “What do you see?” Of course, my answer was, “the holes.” Christ pointed out that His Grace was like water being poured into the cup. As the water poured out through holes, it was clear to me that my faults, weaknesses, my holes was what allowed his grace to pour through my life… minister to others if you will.

Although I thought it was over, Christ turned the cup open face down and placed a candle under it. As you would guess, the light from the candle shown through the holes. It was quite apparent the message given to me… embrace my failures, they are what Christ uses to glorify himself.

Overcoming our Fear

I love the story of Paul and Silas and I believe it has a lot to tell us about fear. In a way, all of us become imprisoned by our various fears. My fear keeps me from farms and circuses. For some, it keeps them from flying, others might not ever take a risk and share the Gospel with someone out of fear of rejection or humiliation. Fear can be a powerful enemy.

Let’s look at Paul and Silas and how they dealt with fear. As a result of their prayers and praise through their fear, a Phillippian jailer was converted.  Their choice to overcome their fear through fervent prayer and worship saved not only the jailer, but his family.  What a testimony we have in this passage!  As a Christian Warrior, we are called to be bold and fearless in Christ.  Greater is he that we serve than he that comes against us.  If we all were to realize this slippery enemy in our own camp, perhaps Christ could use us more to reach out to the lost men we are constantly working with, speaking to, working out with, coaching with, etc.  Could you imagine the impact it would have on the Kingdom?

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear.”
H.P. Lovecraft

If you liked this post, you might want to check out the others in this series:

Unforgiveness

Regret

Self-Reliance

The Lie

Fear

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Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
Share/Save/Bookmark

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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Enemy Behind the Line: Unwillingness to Change

March 26, 2009

Change.  Such a small word brings such different emotions from different people.  Continuing our series on the “Enemy Behind the Line“, I wanted to spend some time on one enemy I see challenging every Christian, especially Christian Men; that of Unwillingness to change.

change-1For some, the emotion is pure excitement and thrill.  There are those who earnestly live to have the adrenaline rush associated with change.  They seek to change large and small things in life.  Sometimes, they will simply move the phone from one area of the desk to the other, simply to have change.  Their enemy is monotony.

For others, the emotion associated with the word change is pure anxiety.  Losing control is not an option they embrace and any type of change, regardless of the size, will send them into orbit.  They enjoy knowing what will happen, when it will happen, and to what degree it will happen.

Unfortunately, as the aphorism goes, “Change happens.”  It is inevitable.  In fact, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle says, “There will always be an element of uncertainty in the universe.”  So, if something is not certain, wouldn’t that indicate there is change on the horizon?

Change Agents, or people who initiate change,  can be some of the most well-liked or deeply-despised people in any organization, office, church, or even family.  It seems they have a mug shot to live up to with their energy, out of the box thinking, and convictions.  Depending on what they are changing in your life, you either love them or hate them.  If anyone understood the meaning of this, it was Christ.

Being the ultimate Change Agent, Christ knew his ways would be embraced by some and hated by the multitudes.  A common day for Christ was experiencing such a variety of emotions.  He might have begun his morning being embraced by the father whose son was just healed to being taunted by the Pharisees for challenging one of the rituals they had in place to … you get the point.  Christ himself said he came to change the world and redeem it.  After all, it was in his DNA.

If you were to go through the lineage of Christ’s human side, you would find a whole slew of Change Agents.  This cast of characters ranges from Abraham to Moses to David to Solomon to even John the Baptist.  (Ok, John the Baptist was a cousin, but still in the family tree.)  Not only was Jesus fully God, the Creator of heaven and earth, the “Changer”, Jesus was fully human and of a line of men who embraced change.  Even Jesus’ last command, the Great Commission, was a challenge to change the world, so why is it so hard for some of us who believe in Christ to change or become agents for change?

Chances are, if you are reading this book, you are either one who enjoys change or are looking for ways to become a change agent.  I am not invoking an overhaul to Christian Doctrine, but rather, a simple action plan for embracing the teachings of Christ.

The fact remains that every door swings on at least two hinges.  Regardless of the size, make, or design…two hinges is what you are dealing with.  The same goes in life for all of us.  With every opportunity, we have one of two decisions to make, should we embrace the opportunity to spark change, or do we merely settle for the ways of yesterday.  Most of all of the great heroes of the Bible are noted not because they were ordinary, but because they were extraordinary.  In their lives, they made pivotal decisions affecting not only their lives and the people of their time, but the lives of many to come, including you.  Had Abraham not chosen to listen to God’s calling and follow the path God designed for him, he would not have been the one God used to form the nation of Israel.  Had Moses not embraced the call to free the Israelites from the oppression of Pharaoh, he would have missed out on the opportunity to lead the Exodus, part the Red Sea, receive the Commandments, and much more.  Had David not embraced the challenge from Goliath, would he have been so popular of a king in the early years?   Each of these men had one of two decisions to make, they chose to embrace the call from God to become a change agent and most of them at great costs.

If you liked this post, you might want to check out the others in this series:

Coveting

Unforgiveness

Regret

Self-Reliance

The Lie

Have new posts delivered right to your email, click here.
Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
Share/Save/Bookmark

Subscribe//

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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We are Salt of the Earth…

March 24, 2009

Salt. Not much to think about. It’s white, tasty, useful, and cheap. Did you know it is a change agent? Did you know that it is one of the most widely used change agents? Did you know that it was Christ’s secret word for us to become change agents? No?

Salt is such a basic that we rarely consider the ramifications it has in the world. It touches so many things. Let’s look at some interesting salt facts:

· Salt is a commonly occurring mineral, the technical name of which is sodium chloride. It is the sodium part of salt that is important. The body needs a certain amount of sodium to function properly.

· Sodium helps to maintain the concentration of body fluids at correct levels.

· It also plays a central role in the transmission of electrical impulses in the nerves, and helps cells to take up nutrients. Salt plays an important part in the body’s main function in energy conversion-change.

· In various ages throughout history, salt was actually more valuable than gold. In fact, it was trade for gold.

· Slaves were traded for salt, which is where we get the aphorism, “not worth their weight in salt.”

· Salt was used to spice and preserve foods.

Not bad for a chemical compound you most likely thought very little of. Jesus, however, made it a point to mention in his Sermon on the Mount accounted for in Luke and John. The exact meaning of the expression salt of the earth is disputed, in part because salt had a wide number of uses in the ancient world. There are several different possibilities for the originally intended meaning of the salt metaphor:

  • Exodus, Ezekiel, and Kings present salt as a purifying agent
  • Leviticus, Numbers, and Chronicles present it as a sign of God’s covenant.
  • The most important use of salt was as a preservative and hence the most common interpretation of the metaphor is as asserting the duty to preserve the purity of the world.
  • In the Rabbinic literature of the period salt was a metaphor for wisdom.
  • Salt was a minor but essential ingredient in fertilizer and so a few scholars such as Gundry believe that earth should be translated as soil (i.e. salt of the soil), and hence the metaphor asserts that the audience should help the world grow and prosper.
  • One interpretation of salt of the earth is that it orders the audience to take part in the world rather than withdraw from it
  • Among the ancient Hebrews salt was used as a preservative, in seasoning food, and in all animal sacrifices. Lev. 2:13; Ezek. 43:24; Mark 9:49-50. So essential was it to the sacrificial ordinance that it was the symbol of the covenant made between God and His people in connection with that sacred performance. Lev. 2:13; Num. 18:19; 2 Chron. 13:5. [1]

Am I the only one amazed at the number of uses and Scriptural references to Salt? So why bring this up in a topic labeled “Change Agent?” The answer is quite simple and can be explained using an equation like this:

If Salt = Change Agent

Then we could substitute the variable in the verse to reflect the following:

BEFORE:

Matthew 5:13-16:

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its ability, how shall its saltiness be restored? … You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

AFTER:

Matthew 5:13-16:

You are the change agent of the earth; but if the change has lost its ability, how shall its ability be restored? … You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Christ was very intentional in most everything he said. He knew the meaning behind his statements and what is so funny to me is there are numerous songs, poems, books, and dissertations debating the meaning behind the use of the phrase, “salt of the earth.”

For our discussion it is quite simple. Salt is fairly basic, but is used in a variety of ways as a change agent. It is used in our bodies to change or help convert various elements of our body into energy. Salt is used the change various things in the earth but the ironic fact is that salt doesn’t change. Once formed, it holds its taste and its abilities. Even though it can be dissolved in water, salt does not change its chemical makeup. It is still salt. That is the beauty of this change agent.

One of the most trying situations for most novices in the area of becoming a change agent is that of solvency. Rather than serving as a real change agent, most of the time, through various trials, tribulations and influences, we become stagnant, ineffective, or just plain… bland. I have seen so many people who were fired up for a mission or directive provided to them by Christ. They would leave their mountaintop visit with a vision and soon lose it to the circle of buzzards, also known as committees. (That was not a stab, a group of buzzards are called committees… ironic, but true)

As a change agent, we are to be the salt of the earth, or better put, change for the earth. Salt is composed of sodium chloride and is extremely stable, thus, unable to lose its flavor. So salt that has lost its flavor cannot ever literally refer to actual salt. The most common explanation for this is that salt in the era was quite impure, not only due to extraction methods, but also due to unscrupulous merchants mixing it with other substances. So what was Christ implying? If salt cannot lose its flavor…

The words translated lost its flavor actually translate from the Greek as became foolish, but the Aramaic for both phrases is the same, and English language translators universally accept that the verse is talking about flavor rather than intelligence. Some scholars do however feel that this may be wordplay related to the Rabbinic use of salt as a metaphor for intelligence.

The other aspect to consider is there are two chemicals in salt: Sodium and Chloride. The chemicals are dynamic together. In order for salt to lose its flavor, something would have to be mixed in with it, in effect, slightly contaminating it or quite simply, making it impure. The same can happen in our lives when we get out of balance. Allowing various sins and distractions into our lives can essentially introduce various “impurities” to create some instability in our spiritual formula. In a sense, it dampens our ability to become true, stable, change agents (with taste).

Part of the manifesto for this book is to help all of us called to be change agents to focus on the qualities, characteristics, abilities, practices, and beliefs of the various change agents throughout the Scriptures. They changed their surroundings by answering the call. Some lost their flavor by introducing some impurities in their lives, but we will study the ways Christ calls us back to him.

If you go through Scripture like most do, you almost live for those characters who add a little spice to your reading don’t you? I wonder if they would be so “spicy” if they were unwilling to be change agents for God.

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Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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The Enemy Behind the Lines- Self-Reliance

March 4, 2009

This series began with the first blog article entitled; “The Enemy Behind the Lines-The Lie” which focused on the lies Satan has convinced many of the men of today in believing. As a man, I believe one of the “enemies behind the lines” I have had to face is that of self-reliance. Unfortunately, it has been a lesson that has been excruciating at times, but one needing serious attention.

My grandfather always had a garden, and I have the greatest memories of being out there with him, working on the various crops. At the time, I only saw it as a way to get away from my normal, everyday routine during the summer. As I look back on it, I know now it was Christ’s way of training me for the life ahead with the mini life lessons my grandfather taught me in that garden in south Alabama. One of those lessons applies to the subject of self-reliance is Paw Paw’s simple saying regarding weeds. “It only takes one, then they take over.” Self-reliance works in much the same manner.

Self-reliance is just that, relying on one’s own abilities to accomplish one’s ambitions. How is this one of the lies or enemies behind the line? If you are truly attempting to be a Christian man, one following the path to the cross, Self-reliance is one of the first weeds you need to pluck or prune. My grandfather explained to me that one weed, although it did not seem like a major problem, would eventually germinate quicker than the real vegetation in the garden and eventually choke the life out of the plants you were actually trying to harvest. Self-reliance works in much the same manner, slowly taking over your spiritual garden and choking the life out of the vines that produce the fruits of the Spirit.

Self-reliance calls for accountability only to oneself, not to God. It submits only to the authority of self-ambition and rebukes any correction offered by Christ. Self-reliance slowly takes the divinity of Christ off of the thrown in our own Holy of Holies and replaces it with our own image. Rather than worshiping the one true God, we begin worshiping our own creations and furthermore, we begin to expect others to do the same. If one who is Self-reliant ever finds their circle of friends, their family, or their co-workers are not praising their endeavors, it becomes a major bone of contention and could even result in a major stumbling block in any of those relationships. Christ, in numerous parables, relates the Kingdom of God to that of a field and often speaks of the vegetation versus the weeds war. James 3:16 puts it another way, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition [Self-reliance ] exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” As James says, “every vile practice” is the eventual result of selfish ambition or self-reliance.

Personally, I never had any idea just how deeply rooted this issue of self-reliance was for me. In 2007, I rededicated my life to Christ and said a prayer that changed my life’s course. In the silence of the night, I prayed, “Christ, break me and mold me.” What I really meant was, “Christ, break me and mold me, but only the way I want you to.” Fortunately, Christ doesn’t work that way. Once the prayer left my lips, the work Christ had begun in me was kicked into high gear. The heat, used to mold me to conform to the image of Christ, was turned up about 250 degrees and my little castle of cards began to fall, one story at a time.

At the time, I was a Vice President of Human Resources for a major bank in the Southeast. In my late twenties, a lot of “power” and “influence” was not the best thing for me. Submitting to Christ meant I had to begin “unsubmitting” to myself. Although I had the same sense of false humility that most Christians seemed to have, Christ was calling me to something deeper. Within only a couple of weeks, I was released from my position at the bank and so began a 90 day journey jobless. For such a long time, I introduced myself as Trent Cotton, Vice President of HR for *** Bank. So much of my identity was wrapped in the person I had made myself to be, not in whom Christ had made and called me to be.

So when my job was eliminated, I initially thought, “Not a big deal, I am marketable, everyone will want me.” After about 90 days, I soon realized I was not all I cracked up to be. I prayed for days to understand what was happening, why was I not getting anything. While searching for answers, I heard a lesson based on this verse:

37 And He will say, Where are their gods, the rock in which they took refuge, 38 Who ate the fat of their sacrifices and drank the wine of their drink offering? Let them rise up and help you, let them be your protection! 39 See now that I, I am He, and there is no god beside Me… Deuteronomy 32: 37-39

This particular verse shows the warnings against a Self-reliant spirit. What are the consequences? For me, Christ watched as the perfect storm in my life soon consumed me and chipped away at the self-reliance I had acquired over the years. When I cried out to Christ for help in my plight, I could almost hear, “And where is your god? Aren’t you the all-powerful god that can do anything? See now that I, I am He and there is NO god beside Me …”

As I looked back, I could see where my self-reliant defiance against the authority of Christ in my life had ruined so many aspects of my life. I saw the character others saw in me and was pretty displeased, borderline embarrassed by what I saw. While I was preaching to be a great Christian man, I did not have enough confidence in the one who saved me to guide me, mold me, and yes, save me. In my mind, all of those tasks fell under my authority and jurisdiction. Essentially, I wanted to be saved by Christ, but wanted him to be this little figure in the corner of my life that I could bring out every Sunday and talk about as if I truly knew of his grace and divinity, but then place him back in the closet of reason and doubt during the week. Fortunately, his grace saved me from living a life believing that lie.

So, how do you tell if you are Self-reliant ? Let’s look at some questions to ask yourself:

  • When I am not noticed for the work I do, is it hard for me not to throw an internal fit?
  • When I have a major project, do I rely totally on my own abilities rather than praying for specific guidance?
  • Am I hard to teach?
  • Am I unwilling to listen to correction from someone, even if it is on how to become closer to Christ?
  • Do I shrink away from accountability?
  • Do I only go to Christ when all chaos has broken loose?

If you answered yes to any of these, chances are, you have a weed of Self-reliance in your spirit. Just like my grandfather said, only one can be enough to start a complete takeover of your spiritual gifts. Self-Reliance prohibits self-control, joy without limits, patience in others… and the list goes on. Self-Reliance takes Christ out of the situation and focuses more on us being the God of our universe. It can lead to false hope, false beliefs and most importantly, false relationships.

As a Christian man, we are to be Christ-Like. I cannot think of one passage in Scripture where Christ was Self-reliant. In fact, he openly prayed for guidance and gave thanks openly for the miracles God had proven through him. In the garden, Christ went to God the Father for guidance and support before walking to the cross. Of all things, Christ was not self-reliant and neither should we be. If you find yourself battling a spirit of self-reliance, here are a couple of suggestions on how to combat it:

  • Constant, intentional, daily prayer
  • Ask for an accountability partner and be humble and willing enough to listen-you might want to consider asking a fellow Christian Warrior
  • Pray for humility and to be broken
  • Try to listen more than you speak. If you truly have a problem with self-reliance (like I did) this will be torture at times, but will help keep things in check
  • Daily assess how you did and look for ways Christ could have been exalted rather than you exalting yourself.

Gentlemen, Self-reliance can destroy all types of relationships, even marriages if you don’t pluck that weed to its root and quickly. Remember, it only takes one weed of self-reliance to take over. Be the warrior and eliminate the enemy’s chance to destroy from behind the line.

If you liked this post, you might want to check out the others in this series:

Unforgiveness

Self-Reliance

The Lie

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.

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SERVANT Leadership- A is for Accessible

November 12, 2008

Of all the SERVANT Leadership traits, this has to be one of the most difficult to address.  Why?  Well, this is one of those traits that has to have an absolute balance, there’s no wiggle room.  First, let’s look at some of the characteristics of an Accessible Leader :

  • One word- COMMUNICATOR
  • Responds to every voice mail or email
  • As a leader, they have a passion and focus to recognize all attempts to communicate with them.
  • This is the leader who will respond to emails or send out emails late at night or early in the morning
  • Driven by the need felt for their advice on a subject-which is one of the reasons they are so addicted to responding to everyone.
  • Out of a crowd, this person will often be cornered for long periods of time by individuals wanting to speak with them.

42-17526725Accessible Leaders are most likely going to be your most visible; after all, they love people!  Chances are, your most Accessible Leader are considered Yellows on the Colorful Masterpiece scale.  (If you are unfamiliar with this, please refer to the Colorful Masterpiece series or click here.)  One of the great aspects or traits of an Accessible Leader is that they seem to have a pretty good idea of what is going on in their organization and more importantly, on their team. You know these types!  They have the blackberry in their hand typing a message while listening to a group conversation to be able to make a comment and all the while, making a note to themselves to follow up with someone else about that “thing” they were to discuss.  Whoa… did your head spin during all of that?

Granted, there are some people who are great at this and have it mastered.  Chances are, if you are reading this, you do not do so well in this area.  Perhaps you are one who is owned by your communication time lines and gadgets.  If you are unsure, let me ask you this question, does it kill you to know that there are emails you have not yet answered?  Or how about this.  If you were to lose your PDA or messaging device, would you lose your mind until you get back on track or would you simply take your time and be cool about it?  If the mere questions before this sent a chill up your spine or caused a spike in your heart rate, chances are, you are addicted to your communication.  This is the result of an Accessible Leader being “too accessible.”

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And for those of you laughing at the readers categorized above, now it is your turn.  If you are not bothered as much or at all when you are unable to return an email or answer someone’s question, this is not the best thing either. As a leader, you need to have a great communication avenue not only with your peers, but more importantly, with your staff.  One of the greatest causes of discontent in the workplace are employees who feel as if they work for the Wizard of Oz.  (you know, the man behind the curtain with the big voice)  It is always good to have a stable balance with honoring your position but also remembering who you are to serve as a leader.

If you were to grade yourself in this area and would declare this was your lowest score on a self assessment, I would consider implementing some of the following:

  • This is a tricky one because you want to be accessible and approachable to all, but not to the point that you strangle other needed qualities.
  • Set an attainable bar or expectations for follow up and interaction with your staff first, and then with everyone else.  This could be something as simply as a before 2pm = Sundown Rule.  Simply put, if someone leaves you a voice mail or sends and email, you will return it by sundown that same day.  Even if this means you simply call/say/email, “I will get back to you, today has been crazy.”
  • If group interaction intimidates or scares you, be sure to slowly expose yourself to more situations that will put you outside of your comfort zone.

If we were to ask your team to grade you in this area and this would be the lowest grade on your survey, this could mean a variety of things:

  • Your team does not approve of your follow up skills
  • Perhaps you are too busy or too “stuffy” or “lofty” in your presence that may discourage your team from speaking with you openly.
  • Chain of command is a great thing, especially for a large staff, but you still want to somehow convey that you are approachable.

In the beginning of this post, I mentioned this was the hardest topic of the SERVANT Leadership series.  Let me give you a reason in list form.  When I was sitting down to write a “top reasons list”, this is what I came up with:

1.  Be an Accessible Leader, but do not let your communication style, tactics, needs, etc overtake you.

2.  Accessible Leaders need to be approachable, yet they have to have boundries considering time, place, etc

3.  The team of an Accessible Leader should feel able to bring topics to the leader, yet still respect the chain of command

4.  Leaders cannot simple lead the battle from the hill, but also cannot spend the entire time on the front lines.  Learn how to and when to delegate.

5.  Being accessible to your team allows you to bond, coach, and observe them, however, it can also consume your day, break your concentration, and monopolize your schedule.

So, if you are truly wanting to be an Accessible Leader, I would stress this more in this topic than others, achieve BALANCE!!!!  Again, this is a great trait to have and I would argue, a necessary trait to have if you are to be an effective SERVANT Leader.  If we look to Jesus as the ultimate example of being an Accessible Leader, we would find several times where he would separate himself for prayer, but it was after mingling with his flock.  He met people on their level and like the woman with the hemorrhage, he gave everyone their moment.  For this reason, and for so many more, Jesus had a following.  People loved him because he was accessible, but even Jesus put necessary parameters in place.  If you are struggling either as or struggling to be more of an Accessible Leader, I would definitely look to Christ, the Perfecter of this and every other great trait.

If you are interested in learning more about the SERVANT Leadership series, please contact Christian Management Consulting. We offer a complete training on this and many more topics. Typically, we provide you with a test to measure your key signatures in each of the SERVANT Leadership areas. A survey would also be sent out to your team/direct reports to provide feedback on your performance and behaviors in all of the SERVANT Leadership areas as well. We will go over the key signatures as well as the positive and negative extremes of each in one-day training with you and other leaders in your area. Once we go over the signatures, from a high level, we will provide you with your results and spend some time going over how to read your personalized chart. We will also provide some time for you to personally review your results and reconvene to go over questions.

Once the training has been completed, Christian Management Consulting will meet with you regularly via phone to discuss your progress and to walk alongside you in this time of development. At the end of six months or one year, we will resend the test to you and your team to measure the changes in your behavior and make modifications to our plan.

This is a great program and a great way for any organization to implement succession strategies and train both their current and up and coming leaders.

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About the Writer:

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Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.