Posts Tagged ‘situational leadership’

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Circumcision Part II

September 3, 2009

We are continuing our conversation on men’s favorite subject: Circumcision.  (Please understand the sarcasm there!)  Paul, in Romans 2:25-29, deals a lot with circumcision.   Let’s look at Paul’s take on this subject.

25 Circumcision does indeed profit if you keep the Law; but if you habitually transgress the Law, your circumcision is made uncircumcision.  26 So if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be credited to him as [equivalent to] circumcision? 27 Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the Law will condemn you who, although you have the code in writing and have circumcision, break the Law.  29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and [true] circumcision is of the heart, a spiritual and not a literal [matter]. His praise is not from men but from God.

98844[1]The Jews boasted in this sign of their covenant with God.  They acknowledge God’s covenant with them, but did not honor it with their actions.   Interestingly, uncircumcision is defined as the equivalent of being a Gentile (which greatly offended most Jews most likely).  Uncircumcision is also described as a condition in which the corrupt desires rooted in the flesh were not yet extinct.  Paul is addressing those who “appear” to be Christians, yet their lives still show a lot of “fleshy” desires.

Matthew Henry puts it this way: “And restest in the law; that is, they took a pride in this, that they had the law among them, had it in their books, read it in their synagogues. They were mightily puffed up with this privilege, and thought this enough to bring them to heaven, though they did not live, up to the law. To rest in the law, with a rest of complacency and acquiescence, is good; but to rest in it with a rest of pride, and slothfulness, and carnal security, is the ruin of souls.”

Here he describes what true circumcision is, it is not only an outward sign, but an inward transformation.  You can be baptized, but if your life does not show the redemption and transformation, it is as useful as being a circumcised Jew who lives the most evil of lives.  Again, a favorite quote of mine is from DC Talk in their song What if I Stumble!

The leading cause of atheism today  is Christians who acknowledge Christ with their lips, but deny Him with their actions.

William Newell summarizes Romans 2 with “Seven Great Principles of God’s Judgment” that are worth noting:

  1. God’s judgment is according to truth (Romans 2:2)
  2. God’s judgment is according to accumulated guilt (Romans 2:5)
  3. God’s judgment is according to works (Romans 2:6)
  4. God’s judgment is without partiality (Romans 2:11)
  5. God’s judgment is according to performance, not knowledge (Romans 2:13)
  6. God’s judgment reaches the secrets of the heart (Romans 2:16)
  7. God’s judgment is according to reality, not religious profession (Romans 2:17-29)

In the next post, we will bring this topic home, not literally of course.  I hope you’ll join me in the next post: Circumcising the Heart.

If you liked this post, please read the previous post and the sequel to this one!

A Difficult Study for Men: Circumcision

Circumcising the Heart!

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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

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A Difficult Study for Men: Circumcision

August 29, 2009

scaredmanLet’s face it, if you are a part of a men’s Bible Study, the last subject you would expect to have would be one on circumcision.  Unfortunately, when covering a book in the Bible in sequential order, you have to discuss some topics you would normally just skip over.  If you cover any of the epistles, chances are, you will come across the great debate of the time, “circumcision vs. no circumcision.”

Just some information on circumcision for you to consider before we get started.

In Paul’s day, some Rabbis taught that Abraham sat at the entrance of Hell and made certain that none of his circumcised descendants went there. Some Rabbis also taught “God will judge the Gentiles with one measure and the Jews with another” and “All Israelites will have part in the world to come.”  I recently read that circumcision and baptism do about the same thing that a label on a can does. If the outer label doesn’t match with what is on the inside, something is wrong! If there are carrots inside the can, you can put a label says “Peas” but it doesn’t change what is inside the can. Being born again changes what is inside the can, and then you can put the appropriate label on the outside.

So where is the beginning of Circumcision?  Let’s start in Genesis 17:10-14.

10 This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your posterity after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.11 And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be a token or sign of the covenant (the promise or pledge) between Me and you.12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male throughout your generations, whether born in [your] house or bought with [your] money from any foreigner not of your offspring.13 He that is born in your house and he that is bought with your money must be circumcised; and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.14 And the male who is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.

This particular passage marks a change and the fathering of the Jewish nation.  God sets apart his people with this covenant through Abraham.

Notice that it is a token or a sign of the covenant, much like a wedding ring or fraternity tattoo.  It marks we are.  The covenant is in the flesh, an everlasting covenant.  God made it known that now part of our bodies is outside of this covenant.   It is no irony that the covenant was made with this particular part of the male body symbolizing a new birth or the birth of a new nation.  Most covenants have something you have to give, it may hurt, this definitely meets the bill on this.

In the English and Romance languages the derivation of the word ‘male’ and ‘masculine’ is derived from the Latin ‘mas’, a root meaning heavy or the strong one, whereas the Hebrew word for male is zachar, which has the same root letters as ‘to remember’.  We are to “remember” our covenant with Christ.

As men, especially today, I think there are a lot of things we need to “remember.”   We will continue this discussion by picking up Paul’s take on the whole subject.  Romans 2:25-29 deals a lot with circumcision.   We will discuss this in the next post : Circumcision Part II.  Hope you will join us for that discussion.

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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.

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Little Mermaid’s Ursula Helps Teach us about Sin

June 21, 2009

Teaching the subject of sin to children can be fairly challenging and intimidating.  I know personally, sometimes teaching the subject of sin to adults can be a daunting task as well.  Sin and temptation are common themes throughout all of Scripture.  Using various Bible stories as teaching tools is a great idea.  If you need to take the message a step further and need some help, let me introduce you to a great character to use… Ursula.

I guess I know so much about The Little Mermaid because it is one of my little girl’s favorite movies.  After watching it several times, I became intrigued with the correlation Ursula’s character has to the reality of sin and temptation.

Here are some helpful hints on how to use Ursula’s character to teach your children about sin and temptation:

1.  Ursula plotted to trap Ariel, using her own weakness/passion against her. If you have seen the movie, you will remember how Ursula watches Ariel’s passion for Eric develop and decides to use this as a ploy to trap her.  Unfortunately, our enemy does the same thing with us.  Like Ariel, when our mind becomes focused on something more than pleasing our father, we can easily be beguiled by the slippery words Satan uses.  Unfortunately, many have fallen to this temptation, never seeing or knowing that Satan had been plotting their temptation for some time.   We have to teach our children to be on their guard at all times.  Ephesians 6 tells us,

12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

2.  Temptation usually sounds like a deal that can’t go wrong… but it does. A number of us have fallen prey to the temptation of believing a deal that was not true.  Unfortunately, when we become obsessed with something, our rational approach to things and of all things, our spiritual compass, seems to go out the window.  Teach your children about how to guard against such things and be wary of making decisions before praying about them.  Just like Ursula’s deal with Ariel, sin sounds so inviting until we find ourselves caught in its snares.

3.  Sin affects those we love the most, even when we don’t mean for them to. Ariel’s deal with Ursula affected her friends, Eric and her father.  When the contracted was called to be paid, Ariel’s father had to pay with his life to save Ariel’s.  This is a great lesson to teach your children about sin.  As we covered in an earlier post, A Father’s Love, the king’s sacrifice for his daughter’s deal is much like the sacrifice Christ made for our sin.  As it states in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Teach your children that sin affects all of us, but that there is redemptive mercy in Christ’ sacrifice for our “contract”.

4.  The enemy makes the rules, but will cheat to win. I love how Ariel’s plan begins working, but when the scenerio seems to play in her favor, Ursula takes matters into her own hands and competes against Ariel, making it difficult to win.  Many of us think that for some reason, sin will work out in our favor and will not have the same effect other people’s sin has had.  This is simply untrue.  Like Ursual, Satan will not follow any rules that will further our relationship with Christ.  In fact, he lives to destroy it.  We have to teach our children how to know when we are being tempted and how to pray against it.  Additionally, as fathers, we need to actively pray for our children’s decisions, regardless of their ages.

5.  The deal will always take something from you. In this movie, Ariel’s voice is taken from her as part of the deal.  Help your children understand John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  Just like Ursula, the devil will steal something from them in every sin transaction.

Here’s a great idea for you to consider.  Let your children know prior to watching the movie the similarities of Ursula’s plot to that of Satan’s.  Have them be on the look out throughout the movie for different instances where the similarities are apparent.  You might be surprised what they come up with.  And better yet, you might just learn something new yourself!

If you would like more in this series, please be sure to check out the other articles in Using Movies to Witness.

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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.

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Enemy Behind the Lines: Fear

April 3, 2009

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

Here is an interesting list for you to consider:

  1. The number 13
  2. Air
  3. Body Odors
  4. Dentists
  5. Dust

So what do all of these have in common?  They are all listed as diagnosed phobias.  The list of diagnosed phobias was pretty exhaustive and surprising.

Alektorophobia.  That is the phobia I have.  Pretty terrifying and to save you some time researching, let me define it for you.  I have a gripping fear of chickens, well, roosters primarily.  Oh, and I have another one, Coulrophobia.  Again, another serious phobia I have of clowns.  I know you are laughing to yourself, but you have them too.  Those silent, hidden fears that keep you caged in yourself.

I found it interesting that when trying to determine the total number of phobias, the answer was quite simple, “there are as many phobias as there are things and situation.”  When I reread over Genesis, I read about the numerous items God created, but found it interesting that fear was not one of them.  So when did fear become so common and accepted as something just to name and accept.  Who comes up with all of these names for the million phobias listed? I would daresay Adam had the easier job naming all of the animals.

Why is fear considered an enemy behind the line?  Interestingly enough, even when you would describe yourself as fearless, you truly are not.  I found this to be true personally.  Granted, I have a distorted fear of clowns and roosters, I thought when it came to faith, I could be considered as fearless.   After comparing myself to some of the people in Scripture, I am not that fearless.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,  – Acts 16:25

After reading about Paul and Silas singing in the midst of facing almost certain execution… painful execution, I can’t really say I am all that fearless.  Of all of the emotions and all of the possible behaviors to display in a time like that, I can’t say that I I would have necessarily chosen to sing hymns to God first.  That, in my humble opinion, is pretty fearless. In today’s environment, we need more of that type of fearlessness.

Most of us, however, would recognize our other fears or phobias.  Those who are afraid of heights stay away from high places.  Others who are afraid of flying don’t even go to http://www.travelosity.com to price flights, it’s just not an option to consider.  And those of us who are afraid of clowns, we steer clear of circuses.  We are able to embrace the fears we know about, but not the fears that are “behind the line.”

If I asked you to speak to a group of people regarding your testimony or to simply share the Gospel with them, unless you were agorophobic, you would not have a tremendous problem with it right?  Chances are, the group I assembled would be somewhat believers ready to receive or at least listen to what you had to say right?  Let’s change the situation.  What if I were to ask you to stand up in a crowded movie theater before a movie started share the Gospel?  Ok, that feeling you just felt in the pit of your stomach, that is the enemy behind the lines… fear.

We all have it, fear of failure, embarrassment, humiliation, or rejection.  This fear is the fear crippling many Christians, especially Christian Men in today’s society.  As a man, it is easy to be the bold one in business, the “take no prisoners” type.  Personally, at one time in my life, I felt great pride in taking down an opponent whether it be a competitor in business or simply someone who, in my opinion, needed to be put in their place.  It was almost second nature.  The tide has shifted though for those of us who have submitted ourselves to Christ.

There is a fear infested in us that lies dormant, it seems, until we commit ourselves to Christ and take up His armor and mission rather than our own?  Suddenly, your ability to “take down enemies” seems to be nonexistent when it comes to defending your faith.  What am I speaking of?  Let’s say someone in your office speaks about women in a lewd and disgraceful manner.  Will you stand up and tell them that it is no longer acceptable to speak in those ways about women?  Ok, if you answered yes, let’s take it one step further.  If you were asked why the sudden change, would your answer be, “Because I have committed myself to Christ and we are to love and honor our wives as Christ loves the church, not speak about them so harshly.”  Yeah, not as easy.

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.

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?

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

Unforgiveness

Regret

Self-Reliance

The Lie

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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.

urch Development as a Church Consultant.

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Enemy Behind the Lines – Regret

March 31, 2009

Continuing our series on the “Enemy Behind the Line“, I wanted to spend some time on one enemy I have had to confront in my own spiritual walk: regret.

How would you define regret?  It can be a somewhat ambiguous word.  Of the various definitions researched, I believe the best found defined regret as a feeling of sorrow or remorse for a fault, act, loss, disappointment, etc.

Are there memories, decisions, or events that once they enter your mind, the immediate effect is regret?  Personally, I equate regret with a deep sense of darkness that overtakes my soul.  Physically, there are times where I feel everything from a headache forming in the base of my head to a burning in my chest.  It amazes me how one emotion can cause such serious physical manifestations.

There are decisions in life I regret, perhaps minor decisions that could have had a tremendous effect on my life and the lives of those around me.  There are events or situations I handled that leave me with a tremendous sense of regret.  The most dangerous of regrets is that over our sin.  This is the enemy that not only sneaks behind the line of defense most Christian Men put up, but it tends to camp out and slowly corrupt the rest of the troops if left undetected. What is the difference between conviction and regret?

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

2 Corinthians 7:10

There is a difference in godly grief versus regret.  For the longest time,  I struggled trying to understand the difference between conviction and regret or guilt.  Honestly, I still struggle with this aspect of my faith and consistently have to remind myself of 2 Corinthians 7:10.  One great way I learned to discern the difference between the two was by simply asking myself, “Is this feeling pushing me toward or away from Christ?”

Godly grief or conviction generally draws us closer to Christ.  Most of the time, when I feel convicted over a particular event or behavior, the Holy Spirit is convicting me on the need for confession and repentance.  Guilt or regret usually has me wanting to hide myself from Christ, embarrassed and unwilling at times to go before the throne.  Regret is the motivator for taking those events, decisions or other items I had previously taken to the cross and left in Christ’s hands back into my own hands to try to “fix.”  It never works, but for some reason, a number of Christians fall prey to this deadly, and at times, elusive enemy.

Last example for you regarding regret.  Have you ever tried driving in rush hour traffic while looking only in your rear  view mirror?  Not very helpful is it?  I cannot think of a better example of regret.  Sometimes, the Enemy will convince us to believe The Lie and we spend more of our time focusing on the sins of the past.  Again, if they are sins needing to be confessed and repented of, they would not qualify as regret, rather, they would qualify as the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

The Enemy knows if he can get our focus more on what we didn’t do for Christ in our past, we would miss the potential opportunities for us to work within Christ’s will for our lives in the present.  So many Christian Men remain trapped by regret and do not find the opportunities for ministry in their offices, families, churches or communities.  Regret serves as an anchor holding one in place rather than moving forward toward their Savior.  How do you get this enemy out of your camp?  Prayer is the obvious answer, but I challenge you to embrace the aspect of prayer that will help you most with this particular enemy… Surrender.

Surrender is a subject we will discuss in the next post, it warrants its own post.  Just to give you a mental picture of what surrender looks like, I found a picture of what Christ might be telling you if you are suffering from regret or the “rear view mirror syndrome.”

rearview-mirror1

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

Unforgiveness

Unwillingness to Change

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//

logo_facebook

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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Leading in Turbulent Times

February 25, 2009

This is a repost of an earlier article.  With everything going on in the current events, thought it would be good to revisit it.

As a Christian leader, please know now is the time to shine. Because of our stature within the organizations we serve and the natural disposition of associates to seek our counsel, we are poised to be able to show the fruits of putting 1 Thessalonians 5:19 to work. Those around us naturally look to us for cues on how to act or interpret the most recent news in the market.

With the market in turmoil, I’ve been exposed to a number of my clients’ anxious phone calls, questions about the future of the company, and more close to home, how are they going to be affected. I could be worried about the status of my position, whether my bills would be paid, how would I provide for my family and the other items on the list of eternal worries, but if I did that, would I not be any better than those who did not know Christ? Aren’t we supposed to be in the world but not of the world? If we have anxiety and spend time biting our nails about the economy and the state of the world market, what then do we have to offer the lost? After all, acting in this manner, we are not showing we have anything more to give them than what the world does. This should not be the case.

I understand there are restrictions around what we can and cannot say in the workplace about our faith. (Even though, based on my reading of Title VII, it protects Christians too, but that’s another blog.) There are ways we can show Christ through our actions, words, and most of all, silent conviction. Think for a moment of the old adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” If that is truly the case, what picture do you present when you have the opportunity to interact with one of the clients you support? Is it a picture of worry? Anxiety? Anger?

If we portray the “solid rock” we stand on through our actions, we do not have to necessarily lead a Bible study in our office, or carry the Bible in our hands during meetings, or place a poster of Christ behind our desk for people to know we are more than just card-carrying Christians… we are true believers. When the disciples were upset with the waves and the wind of the storm they were facing, Jesus was asleep. He knew His destiny, He knew that God would protect Him and He rested in that faith. When the disciples awoke him, he almost seemed (at least through my version) as if he could not believe they woke him up for that “little storm” that was tossing their boat. With only a few words, “Peace be still,” the waves, rain, and wind came to a screeching halt. They were no more. Christ knew the providential protection of his father in heaven, but was still trying to teach that to his disciples. If you notice, they remark at his calm nature when trying to wake him, the thought had entered their minds, “What does he have that I don’t that he can remain so calm?” Jesus had honest, pure faith. Jesus did not begin a huge “lesson on the boat” series, choosing rather, to teach them through his actions.

As a Christian leader, we have the wonderful ability to touch several divisions within the organizations we serve. Right now, if we were to look outside of our boat, we would see the storms of this life. We would recognize the fear and anxiety of those around us. With this said, we have a critical choice to make in this moment. Do we choose to show anxiety about the storm tossing our boat, or do we choose to do like Jesus did and rest in the sweet faith that God is ultimately in control. If we show that type of silent, convicting faith through our actions, those who do not understand will come to us, seeking that which we have… peace. It will be in those moments the Holy Spirit will be with you and allow you to work great mini-miracles of faith by simply sharing your own personal testimony with someone who is standing on the shifting sands of life.

Do not let your position in the company be a hindrance, but rather

  • Choose to fan the flame of your Spirit’s fire by daily spending time with Christ in prayer and in the Word
  • Test everything and only hold on to what is good. How do we do that? Recognize the feelings we possess by their fruits. (more on that in another blog)
  • Make the conscious effort to stay away from evil. With the market crashing as it is and the anxiety level of those around us, the temptation to jump in the hog mire will become more attainable. Remember, Christ will always provide you a chance to flee.

Do you have some ways that you’ve used in the past that work? How about stories? Please share.

Stumble It!

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.