Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Gift of Leadership

At a women's leadership conference a few years ago the speaker invited the audience to participate in an exercise. She asked all of us to stand, and then she proceeded to ask how many years we had been in leadership. Those who had been leading for one or two years were invited to sit down. Then she started to work in increments of five, always congratulating and thanking the new batch of "sitters" for their service and dedication. Gradually there were only a few of us left standing. At the end of the exercise she asked all of us to think about our age when we first actually "led" something. The next question was very pointed: At what age were you saved? I was astounded; I began to lead at almost the very age that I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior! Yes, I have taken numerous spiritual gift surveys and yes, I have the gift of administration/leadership. But this was the first time that I had actually come to terms with the fact that I, Dolly, was given not only the gift of eternal life with our Lord, but I was newly aware of the immediacy of my spiritual gift: the gift of administration/leadership. 

Before Moses came in contact with the burning bush, he only thought he had lived a complicated life. Suddenly (to him) he was placed in a position of authority over the people of Israel and told that he would now lead them out of slavery and into a land rich with freedom and promise. 


Not only did Moses protest, he actually argued with God. He used all the excuses: "I'm not worthy; they won't believe me; I have difficulty speaking..." You know, the usual thoughts that run through our head when we see someone from the Nominating Committee heading our way! "Oh, no, not me. I don't have the experience!" Or, "No, I'll serve, but I'm not a leader." And indeed, some of us aren't leaders. That's not a gift that we all possess. Only God knows if we have it and only He can truly equip us for serving Him in a leadership role. Imagine His joy when we submit to His will and try. Just try. Let's examine some of Moses' protests and how we can overcome our own. 

 But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” Exodus 3:11

Of course Moses was uncertain. He had only minimal leadership experience- certainly, in his mind, nothing that had prepared him to lead an entire nation out of slavery! Moses knew there was a HUGE difference between leading a flock of his father-in-law's sheep and leading a people on a journey to a foreign land. 

Oh, Moses, no. There's really not that much difference. There's not. You'll see. 

So what does God tell him? "I will be with you." And He was! 

And He is!

My sisters, He is with you! As a daughter of the King you have the Holy Spirit with you in all times and at all times, the good and the bad, the easy and the difficult. And you have the power of the one true living God and He will never, ever leave you. So what's your next excuse?

“If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?” Exodus 3:13

Now see, here's where you or I would have said something like, "What do you think you should tell them??" God is so patient, isn't He? (And this is only Exodus) So God tells Moses EVERYTHING he should say in a way that must have blown Moses' mind, right? Not only is he told exactly Who God is, but he is told how the Father will equip him in order to achieve the task he has been assigned. 

Do you really think God will lead you to a task and then not equip you? 

The Father reminds Moses that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Moses is told that God has been watching him and that He sees how the Eqyptians are treating him. Stay with me here: imagine God telling you that He has been watching you and that He sees how your coworkers are treating you. Or how the neighbors treat you. God Himself telling you He cares. 

Even after God continues to assure Moses that the land is rich and plentiful and that He will provide for his needs in every way, Moses still wants to deny the calling. Are you in denial? 

“What if they won’t believe me or listen to me? What if they say, ‘The Lord never appeared to you’?”Exodus 4:1

Okay, maybe now Moses' protests are beginning to hit a little close to home for some of us. Are you sensing a call to lead a group of women who may not know you well? How about the group whose leader just retired after MANY years of faithful service. Or the group that desperately needs new energy. Listen, Sister, if God called you into this role He will give you everything you need and I mean EVERYTHING! Trust Him. Only Him. Ask for His guidance and direction and strength and power. Obey Him when He directs. Look, Moses had to pick up a snake so that God could turn it into a rod. 
But do know that constant communication and obedience to the Father is crucial to your success as a leader. Pray hard. And be still and know. Listen to His voice and use the tools He gives us. 

So you know the story. Moses still, STILL argued with God, this time saying that he was not a good speaker. That he had a problem speaking. 

But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.” Exodus 4:10        “Lord, please! Send anyone else.” Exodus 4:13

Poor Moses. Doesn't your heart just break for him? He really didn't want to do this. He tried so hard to deny God. But now we see that not only does he believe Who God is, but there is a glimmer of hope. It's like he's thinking, "Ok, say I do this. You go with me. You are God. And You provide me with this really cool stick that will show them all Your power...but You know I still can't speak well." 

In complaining about his speech affliction, Moses offends God. After all, God reminds Moses that He made Moses' mouth! So what does God do? Turn away from him? Visit His wrath upon him? Turn him into a pillar of salt? He does get angry-- He was insulted because Moses was ungrateful.

But God doesn't give up on him. Instead, God gives him a helper:  Moses' brother. So kind. Was this a negotiation with God? Did Moses "wear God down?" Not at all. See, God never told Moses that he wanted him to lead alone. The Maker of heaven and earth most certainly knew that He was going to provide help for the man he was choosing. He was just waiting for Moses to see his own potential. 

In leadership, no matter how big or how small, we all need help. Not only will the help be beneficial to the work of the kingdom, but by asking other women to join us we will gain new, fresh insight, perspective, and energy. And we will be fulfilling the Titus 2 mandate of mentorship. A variety of voices on a team provides checks and balances. Strong Christian women can point out our own errors with love and grace.  

Remember: "Iron sharpens iron" (Proverbs 27:17) isn't only for men. 

So where are you in your Moses journey? Are you still arguing with God and denying His calling? Are you doubting that you have "believability?" Or are you praying and seeking and striving to serve the God who called the baby hidden in the weeds to lead His people out of slavery? The God who equipped a man to show Pharaoh who was really in charge! 

I want to encourage you to examine what gifts you were given at the time of your salvation, but first you have to make sure that you do know Jesus as your Savior. Seek out a pastor. Contact a Bible-believing church. But if the Lord is speaking to you and calling you to lead, recognize that as a gift. It is a perfect gift, since it is from God, and it is never to be abused or used for anything less than for His glory. And don't ever be afraid. He is always as close as you allow Him to be. Let Him lead, and you follow right behind Him. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Beth Came to Norfolk

The stage lights fade. Bibles are closed. The last notes of "Shout to the Lord" dissolve into the air. It's over.

Beth Moore came to our area three weeks ago. Three weeks ago I was deeply involved in the final tasks of serving on the core team of women who assisted in the event. Almost a year of prayer, organization, and activities, were culminating in a conference designed to glorify God and lead women to a closer relationship with Christ.

I cannot stress enough how much prayer was a factor in this event. Prayer on the street in front of the venue. Monthly prayer meetings in a beautiful sanctuary surrounded by sisters of all denominations, united by the love we have for Jesus. Prayer in our own homes, prayer at a mid-winter rally, prayer calendars distributed for personal use, and a prayer rally, held just a week before the event, walking a mile up the street and circling the building. This event was bathed in prayer. Fervent prayers. We prayed for Beth and her team. We prayed for the worship team. We prayed for the vendors, the staff, and the surrounding area. We had asked God to send exactly who He wanted to attend, and asked Him to get everyone there safely in a world that is anything but safe. 

Early Friday morning we arrived with 8500 bookmarks, each one hand-made and hand-signed. Each one prayed over by more than one person. And each one now placed on a seat in the auditorium- and each seat touched with prayer. It all came down to this: the Ted Constant Convocation Center at Old Dominion University was, for one weekend, a House of Prayer. 

The team was allowed to enter early, and we were all on the floor of the arena as the guests began arriving. One by one the seats filled up, then the sections were full. Then empty seats were difficult to find, as more bus loads of women arrived. 

Music swelled and lights went up-- hearts sang love songs to our Lord. Upwards of 7000 women, and a few men, joined in one voice to worship the only one Who is worthy. 

Then we sat. And we listened. And we learned. We laughed, we cried, we were challenged and we were inspired. The word of God was taught with reverence and respect. His servant constantly poured herself out, so that she would be filled with the Spirit. You see, not only does Beth Moore prepare a lesson specifically for the area where she is teaching, she constantly seeks God's will in how to teach it and leaves herself open to His changing it as He sees necessary. She comes to your city to minister to you by His words, not hers. And through Him, she delivers. 

And then she is gone. 

We are all left with a little bit of a vacuum in our joy. A sense of "what now?" But beneath the veil of emptiness burns a fire. A challenge. A sense of urgency that I had started feeling before she even arrived. We have only a set portion of time here on this earth, and we must reach those who do not know this Savior we sang about. This Spirit that lives within us and rises up whenever we call on Him. We must do whatever we can to meet needs, minster to, and ultimately love the very people Jesus loves: everyone. 

Late Friday evening we learned that Beth wanted to meet our team-- that she was changing how the next lesson would go and that she wanted us to come backstage. Why did she want to meet us? What would she say?

She wanted to thank us for praying. 

She could feel the love that was a result of our seeking God's will for this event. And she returned the Favor by praying with us. And right then it came full-circle. 

So now we press on. We carry the love and the joy and the hope and the promise to each person God places in our path. We continue to seek Him and serve Him and allow Him to direct our paths. The lights may have faded, but the Light will continue to burn. Because what Jesus finished on the cross was His purpose- but ours has just begun. 

Why I Choose to be Southern Baptist

These have been tough days for those of us who call ourselves “Southern Baptists.” I won’t go into all the details. I don't think it’s S...