Job 33:4 “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” I recently started reading “Heroic Leadership: Best Practices from a 450-Year-Old Company That Changed The World.” The author, Chris Lowney, gave up a career as a Jesuit Priest to join JP Morgan where he eventually became one of the firm’s most senior executives. At one point, the House of Morgan started to implement 360 reviews for all employees, which was revolutionary in the business world at the time. But Mr Lowney remembered that the Jesuits had implemented this practice hundreds of years prior, and started to research a book on this and other lessons the business world might learn from this incredibly successful “company.” “Founded in 1540 by ten men with no capital and no business plan, the Jesuits built, within little more than a generation, the world’s most influential company of its kind. As confidants to European monarchs, China’s Ming emperor, the Japanese shogun, and the Mughal emperor in India, they boasted a Rolodex unmatched by that of any commercial, religious, or government entity… With exactly no experience running schools, they somehow managed to have more than thirty colleges up and running within a decade. By the late eighteenth century, seven hundred secondary schools and colleges sprawled across five continents. By one estimate, Jesuits were educating nearly 20 percent of all Europeans pursuing a classical higher education.” With 21,000 professionals running two thousand institutions in more than 100 countries, it has long since become the world’s largest religious order, largely on the back of its ability to identify and foster leadership amongst its ranks. “Heroic Leadership” outlines the four principles that allowed the Jesuits to do so, and today I just wanted to throw out the first of those… “self-awareness.” While I think God often calls us to do things that are outside of who we are or what we feel capable of doing, I’ve recently come to understand that knowing how God designed us is a necessary starting point for living and leading well. I’ll share a bit more about some of the revelations God has imparted in the coming days, but suffice it to say that I believe the Spirit of God has created us all beautifully. I’m excited to explore more of my identity and uncover more of my blind spots in the months and years ahead. Lord, I’ve felt kind of down over the past few weeks. But I feel a new wind as I come into alignment with the fact that the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Thank you for creating me and loving me. In your son’s name, Amen.
Jeremiah 27:6 “Now I will give your countries to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, who is my servant.” Today is September 11th. Looking back on the last 20 years, one can spot moments where it might have been hard to see God’s presence in the “War on Terror.” World leaders from all sides have played with countless lives as casually as a chess game. I’ve especially struggled to understand God’s plan in the recent US pullout in Afghanistan. I believe God loves the Taliban. I believe God wants relationship with Taliban leaders so they can experience his love. But when I hear about how they are hunting down pastors and selling their daughters into sexual slavery, I just have to suspend my belief for some time and ask “why God?” Today as I reflect on the last twenty years, I’m reminded of an article that I read a few weeks back. In response to a question of God’s sovereignty in the face of defeat, one Afghan evangelist said “Don’t forget that God called the most wicked king on earth, Nebudchadnezzar, ‘my servant’ in Jeremiah 27:6 and Jeremiah 43:10. God is most certainly calling the Taliban ‘my servant.’” Lord, I don’t know why you place suffering in my life sometimes. I don’t know why you let bad guys win sometimes. But I know that all creation bows to you. I know that in the long term you have a hope and a future in store. I cling to that today. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Hebrews 3:3 “Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses.” Many of you reached out over the last couple weeks to let me know that you were praying for me. Sunday’s sermon was just fine, but it was probably the hardest message I’ve ever prepared. I shared about some of the struggles and how an encounter with God cleared the writer’s block. When I focused on the sermon, I couldn’t get a word. But when God invited me to forget the sermon and focus on him, I got an incredible love encounter, and the sermon thrown in for free. You can check it out here. https://fb.watch/7Sxa-6bSUA/ (starts at 39:00) The book of Hebrews serves as a reminder that Jesus is greater than all things. He’s greater than bad things like cancer, unemployment or loneliness. But he’s also greater than the good things, like family, ministry and delivering His word. The reality is that both bad things, and good things, can keep us from the greatest thing. Moses served as the greatest prophet in the entire faith of the Jewish people. So the author used the illustration that Jesus is greater than Moses to bring the Hebrew Christians back into divine alignment. It’s hard for us to understand how extreme that statement is when we didn’t grow up memorizing Torah. But today God reminds us that whatever it is that we honor, whatever our Moses is… Jesus is greater. Lord, thanks for loving me and bringing me back into your presence. I commit to putting you first and setting my thoughts on you today. In your son’s most precious name, Amen.